Archive | May, 2011

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.

Overheard in the Library

20 May

“But I’m the one who did the cutting and pasting so it’s my own work.”

And here’s a link to the Prezi that I’ve created for the lesson I will be doing with this class on plagiarism. http://prezi.com/lmlgwu8widat/avoiding-plagiarism/

I’m in love…with a man with a beard

18 May

I have a new love. It’s an older man with a massive, scraggly beard. But please don’t tell my husband. You can tell him about my new love, but not about the beard. Every November my husband grows a beard for Mo-vember at his office and I hate it!! I am constantly beggin him to shave his face.

However, on my new love, a beard works.

My love’s name is Mr. Seer, Book Seer. We have only just met but it was love at first sight. He likes all the same things I do – simplicity, straightforwardness and, of course, books. And not only that, but he wants to talk about books! I told him what books I’ve read and he suggested so many more wonderful books that I might want to read. What a great conversationalist.

The best part is that he has come into my life just in time to be a summer fling. While I have time away from the library, I will have so much more free time to spend time with Mr. Seer, talking about all the books that I should read next.

You should meet him too! I may become jealous of your relationship with him, but I can’t keep him all to myself. It’s worth checking him out!

Isn't he dreamy?!?

Science on the Simpsons

12 May

I am not a fan of the Simpsons (unlike my best friend who has been a life long fan) but I do appreciate some of their social commentary and integration of themes. Surprisingly, one theme that the Simpsons seems to play around with is science. I’m not sure how, but today I stumbled upon a site that is dedicated to science processes, theories and laws as explained by video clips of the Simpsons. The site Science on the Simpsons has a glaring yellow background, but don’t let that detract from the quality that is here. Each video has a clear title and small description of what you can expect to see. This collection is a great resource to keep in mind for lesson hooks or small intros to new theories.

My very own QR codes

10 May

I have been wanting to use QR codes in the library for a while now. I’ve been ruminating over them. Chewing my proverbial library cud, if you will. I wanted to use them in a way that would make sense, but not make more work for myself. Enter the New and Hot display.

We have two bulletin boards to highlight new books in the library. One of them is inside the library area in front of a study desk and the other is in the big glass window facing into the main atrium of the school. I decided to do some scientific observation of the logistics and use of each display.

BOARD #1: Library Area

Hypothesis: Students will see books and will check out books because they look so awesome.

Observations: The in-library display is in a quiet area where people are moving slowly and often sitting right in front of the board. During that time, students often take brain breaks and look (sometimes blankly) at the board in front of them. We have even had requests based on the books currently posted on the board.  

Conclusion: This board is successful.

BOARD #2: Library Window

Hypothesis: Students will crowd around the window, excited and bubbling over with enthusiasm about the new books we have for them to enjoy.

Observations: Window display? What window display?

Nuff said.

Conclusion: Maybe I shouldn’t have paragraphs of information for students to read in an area where students are rushing quickly past. Hmmm.

After this objective and extensive study of student bulletin board behaviour, I decided to keep Board #1 inside the library the same (i.e. with words to read) and change Board #2 in the library window so that it is word free. After all, who would think that a library would want to encourage reading. That’s just crazy talk.

One way that I want to encourage students to pick up books is by highlighting book trailers (like movie trailers, but for books). Some publishers make awesome book trailers for their new releases and others make some not so great trailers. Teenagers are a fickle brood so I try to link to only the great book trailers (even I have been turned off by some really poorly done ones – I mean, if you’re going to make one, I would think that you would actually want to encourage people to read the book, not make it look so lame that no one would want to try it). One of my favourite trailers is Fallen by Lauren Kate.

It is simple, clear and, while the book isn’t the best I’ve ever read, this makes me think maybe it was better than I thought.

Another great one is Incarceron by Catherine Fisher (which actually is also a good book for those who like dystopian fiction).

The Maze Runner by James Dashner has a trailer that looks super creepy. I haven’t read this one yet, but it is on my list of summer reads and the students love it.

Anyways, I have linked some of the book trailers that I have found to our library Facebook page, but they were not being viewed by our students. I decided that this would be the perfect way to try to introduce QR codes into the library.

Before I created my first QR codes, I thought the process would be difficult, but it was actually incredibly easy!

1. Using bit.ly, I shortened the URL of the video that I wanted to share.

2. I used Kawya QR Generator, plugged the shortened URL in, and saved the resulting QR code to my computer.

3. Next, I simply printed an image of the QR code and posted it in the new display.

Here it is:

(I even included a QR code for our library Facebook page. I’m desperate to get more than 4 followers. Dare I even hope for double digits?!)

It is somewhat ironic that I’m so excited about using QR codes in the library since my phone is so old that I can’t even access them. Oh well, I’ve seen some of the technology hardware that these kids tote around and none of them have a tracking ball held in place with medical tape. Now I will just have to wait and see if the QR codes are used.

Meanwhile, here are some other ways to use QR codes:

1. Record a lab or other special event that occurs in your class. Upload it to the internet, create a QR code, and post it where absent students can easily link to what they missed.

2. Post a QR code of the class blog or class Facebook page for easy access.

3. Create QR codes that have supplemental material or extra practice that students can make use of before a test or the end of a unit.

4. Assign QR codes to each online photo album that you create. Parents can capture the QR code and print off the photos that they want to add to their child’s memory book or photo album.