What a year. Here’s to the next one!

28 Jun

With only one more day to go at school this year, I have been dreading writing this post. My contract this year was only a maternity leave coverage and I am so sad to be leaving the school and having to move on. But exciting news is that I have a forever home to move on to. I’ve been given a continuing contract in an elementary school library and I couldn’t be happier (that’s a lie… I would be happier if I could stay right where I am now but since that’s not possible, I couldn’t be happier to go to my new school).

I was considering ending this blog before I knew about this new blessing in my life but now that I have a new library, I can just keep going with it! And the most exciting thing is that the library will be going through a full renovation and I will get to help with the redesign! Be still my beating heart. I have already pinned some images on Pinterest (my latest love). I can’t wait to see how many of these I can get into the new library.

Books don’t grow on trees… or do they?
I love the idea but I’m pretty sure that a wheel on the bottom would be trouble!
Book art. Easy, breezy, beautiful.
Animal space holders for when kids are choosing their books.

So, yes, it’s the end of the year and summer is coming up but I’m not done in the library. There are many more exciting blessings coming in my life and I can’t wait to share them all!


Our magical library elves

16 Jun

Like Harry Potter has house elves to keep everything running, we, in the library, have library elves. They prefer to be known as library monitors but I think of them as magical, like elves, so library elves they will be. Our library elves are a dedicated group of nine who come in to the library for one shift a week and do shelving, shelf reading, book pulling and other little jobs that we may have for them. Their help this year has been invaluable!

To say thank you to this little bunch, we put together small gift bags for them. These gift bags had a $15 Chapters gift cards (how appropriate), some candy and a little message from us in the library. While I had a hundred other things to do the weekend that I put these together, I thought that it was the least that we could do to make the small thank yous look like a big deal. Enter Adobe InDesign. I made little bag toppers for each of the bags with the title “Your help has been so sweet!” and a little personal thank you message on the back. After packing in 29 jellybeans, 7 gummies and a gift card, I sealed the top of the mini Ziploc-style bags and stapled a bag topper on. A simple process for a well-deserved and special thank you.

At the end of the school year, these bag toppers may be something that can help you make that simple thank you a little bit sweeter!

Download your here!


7 Jun

While I haven’t made use of this idea this year (being in the library and all), I still think that it is an idea worth sharing.
For Mother’s Day or Father’s Day, it can sometimes be a challenge to find a craft or gift idea that elicits enthusiasm in the students (especially if you teach older students). This idea is guaranteed to be one that kids will love and parents will enjoy for many years to come. (And, I mean, legitimately enjoy. Not like how my dad enjoys his best dad ever thug life sized necklace on yarn or my mom enjoys her symbolic rock family with oversized googly eyes.)
Have your class practise reciting a poem about families, love or the importance of caring. Once they have mastered that, film their recitation. Each student should then prepare their own piece that they would like to say to their parents. It can be in the form of a poem, speech or song that they would like to sing on camera. One at a time, the students will be filmed performing their original piece.
Next, it is off to the editing room! iMovie is an example of a video editing program that you can use to splice the bits of the video together to create individual montages for each student. Many of the students may even be able to do this step for themselves (little geniuses!). Each child’s video will begin with the poem read by the whole class and then move on to the portion created by the parents’ own child. These videos can be emailed to parents or burned onto DVDs and sent to the parents as a video reminder of the love and appreciation that their children have for them.

Library Subway Art

6 Jun


I have a good friend who loves subway art. I think she squeals everytime one of her favourite blogs puts up new subway art to download. And download she does! So, Desiree, this one is for you…

Of course, I had to balance that quote with a serious book quote as well.

Want to use this art in your library (or home office/reading nook/etc)? You can download the pdf here: Library Quote Subway Art

I wanted to put it up in the window of our library but I didn’t think an 8.5 x 11 would have much impact. After a bit of rigmarole I uploaded my jpg of the file to www.blockposter.com and converted it to a printable poster. Since Block Poster creates a chopped up version of your file that you can print on multiple sheets and tape together, I had to be aware of pixelation issues but in the end I found a happy medium between a large size and a clear image. I am quite happy with the results! There is a good reason why Block Poster could be a teacher (or librarian’s) best friend. Fast and easy poster creation has never been so simple (or so cheap!)

Overheard in the Library: Overdue Edition

31 May

Our worst offender finally handed back his book today. It was due on September 20, 2010. I you are not aware (because apparently he wasn’t), that was a long time ago. If it was me returning a book after that long, I would walk shamefaced into the library and apologize profusely for having had this book out for so long. I would come up with some excuse. My dog ate it (and then regurgiated it), my friend kidnapped the book and held it for ransom, I read the whole book – one page per day and it took awhile. Anything!

But no. Today the library offender sauntered (yes, sauntered!) into the library and handed me the book.

Me: “Oh! We’ve been looking for this book!”

Offender: “Huh.”

Me: “This book was due on September 30th!”

Offender: “Yeah.”

Me: “That was a long time ago.”

Offender: “Uh huh.”

Me: “That’s a big fine.”

Offender: (Non-plussed) “Oh.”

Me (thinking): Seriously?

Me: “Your fine is $33.25.”

Offender: “Oh.”

As you can see, it was a riviting conversation.

I wanted to tell him, “Way to go! This is our biggest fine this year. You seem so proud of your accomplishment and rightfully so.” But I held it back. Then I wanted to tell him, “Well, I expect to see $33.25 in your hand tomorrow!” but I won’t because the book only has a replacement cost of $5. So instead I told him, “Your fine is $7.25.” And he just shrugged with a blank look on his face and wandered out of the library.

At least we got the book back.


5000 pages to go

25 May

We are almost to the end of the year in the library (insert tear here). Students can only borrow books for another week and then we start book wrangling. I should probably bring back some of the 11 books that I have at home. 

I’ve finally been able to plow through some books and have some great recommendations for my friends and family. If you haven’t read The Help, by Kathryn Stockett, you should treat yourself to this book on the next rainy day. I found it easy to read and engaging which is impressive considering how the story bounces between characters. I will admit that my fascination with this bit of (all too recent) history may have impacted my opinion of the book, but as an enjoyable book, this book is solid!  

Another debut novel that I have recently read and thoroughly enjoyed is Still Alice by Lisa Genova. For a first novel, this one is incredibly well done. Warning: I spent much of the final quarter of the book in tears. The helplessness and progression of early onset Alzheimer’s disease is portrayed in a realistic and dignified way that had me thinking about the book long after I had finished it. That, I believe, is a mark of a good book.

Back to my beloved YA fiction – I have just finished reading City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare. It’s the fourth book in the Mortal Instruments series. I’m a big (closet) fan of the series, but this one, while enjoyable, is too much of a set-up for books five and six. Disappointing, but I know I’ll still be reading the next two. Stupid handsome fallen angels.

A series that I am driving, quilting, running, walking and vacuuming to (don’t worry, I’m listening to it as an audiobook) is the Chaos Walking series by Patrick Ness. This series is exhausting. I have cried (hard) over some of the things that have happened to the characters and been so stressed out through the entire series because the characters are constantly being chased. I still have a ways to go but this series offers up some new ideas to ponder (like being able to hear the “noise” of conscious and subconscious thoughts running through people’s heads – a terrible nightmare for a librarian). Another plus – there are no vampires, zombies or fallen angels (something rare in a YA book series today).

After all of this, I have been inspired. Today I found a great blog called 15,000 Pages which has the blogger setting yearly page goals for how much he or she (?) will read. After reading a book he/she gives the book grades for plot, characters and being a page turner with one final, overall mark.

This would be a great idea for a classroom to have the class set a goal for how many pages they can read in a school year and then blog about their reading. The format is simply enough that it wouldn’t be a chore and it is a good way to record great books (and not so great books).

With summer coming up and the library winding down, I should set a summer page goal. After much consideration, I think 5000 pages would be a realistic goal. This summer, I will read 5000 pages. Anyone else want to join me?

Dear Betty White, You are my library hero. Love, Amanda

22 May

We have officially put out “The Sign.”

There are 51 students with fines over $2. There is one student with a fine over $32! And that is for a book that is worth $5! But these 51 little darlings will no longer be allowed to take books out unless they have paid off their fines.

It seems tough, but I like to think of it as tough love. Who knows, maybe without this intervention, this lack of discipline with bringing back library books and paying off fines would lead to late payment on tuition during postsecondary education, forcing them to have delayed registration for courses, causing them to miss out on classes that they need to graduate, having them drop out of college because they no longer feel passionate about becoming economists, getting kicked out of their rented apartment because they forgot to pay the utility bills and were late with rent each month, and finally living in their parents’ basement thinking back to how it first started…back in high school… where if they had only returned that library book and promptly paid off the fines, none of this would have happened.

See, it’s serious stuff.