Feed on
Posts
Comments

Over the last few days I have written about Affiliate Assembly at ALA and my favorite ALA Events. While ALA was a seriously busy conference, we did manage to squeeze a little fun in the after hours that weren’t filled with banquets and other ALA sponsored events. Every time we went somewhere we asked our cab or Uber drivers to share things to see and do, and places to eat. We gave it a good college try that’s for sure. Here is a sampling of some of the ones we enjoyed!

Chicago Cultural Museum

I enjoyed touring the Chicago Cultural Museum, an institution in Chicago. The Cultural Museum was filled with five floors of artifacts and displays. The most unique one showcased a Tiffany Glass domed ceiling. I visited the museum with two Affiliate Assembly pals from California, Jane Lofton and Katie Williams. I learned that the building was originally stocked with 8,000 books gifted by English donors after the Great Chicago Fire, making it the city’s first public library. It wasn’t until nearly 100 years later, in 1991, that it became the Chicago Cultural Center. We went specifically to see the Tiffany Glass Dome.

Checkout Katie W., Jane L., and myself getting a selfie with the Tiffany Glassed Dome. Made with Canva

Palmer Hotel Lobby Bar

Jane, Katie and I went on to visit the Palmer House Hotel’s Lobby Bar next, on recommendation of Katie’s relatives who work in the area.  Several ALA events were held in some of the Palmer spaces. I learned this place is touted as the home of the brownie. Check out the  gold peacock doors!  In my research (you knew I had to) I found out that the Peacock Doors pay homage to House of Peacock, Chicago’s first incorporated business from 1837. House of Peacock was a Palmer House retail establishment known for fine jewelry and luxury goods like fine china, silver and gold. The arched ceiling was really special too. 

A few of our shared pictures from the Palmer House Bar – Made with Canva

Chicago Crime Tour

I walked so much after my first day, I had blisters on my feet, causing me to ditch the cute sandals in favor of comfy shoes after that. So I missed our AASL Region 4 Affiliate Assembly outing, which was a Chicago Crime Tour! My SCASL colleagues reported that I missed a lot of fun. The following pictures were on Region 4 Chair Misti Jenkins’ Twitter here and here. After the Bus Tour, they went to have Chicago deep dish pizza at Lou Malnati’s. (Confession, this was the deal breaker for me in my decision to skip it. Sore feet and, ick, deep dish pizza! I decided to rest my feet back at the hotel, eating a sandwich from a neighboring deli instead.)

Pictures captured by the AASL Region 4 Gang – Made with Canva

Hamilton

In  other exciting news, SCASL President Cindy Symonds and colleague Katie High scored tickets to the broadway show Hamilton, which was in town and very close to the ALA venues. We were all rather jealous! Worse, I haven’t seen the first picture of their fun. 

Brittanica Event

All of Region 4 was invited to an evening out over at the Brittanica Corporate Office. Gladys Brown of Brittanica (and friend of SCASL) certainly showed us a good time! There was a tour and everything. The building is a classic, and it was featured on our boat tour the next night. Here is a shot of the building that I took from the boat tour.

My photo of the Brittanica Corporate Offices from the boat tour.

Ditka’s

We left the Brittanica event early because we made reservations at Ditka’s. Of course we had to try it. It came highly recommended several times, and I shared that David Jakes years ago at a Science Leadership Academy Conference I attended raved about the Pot Roast Nacho’s. It didn’t take too much convincing for our party to make reservations. We were not disappointed.

Our visit to Ditka’s – Made with Canva

Favorite Meal in Chicago

We had some really awesome meals while in Chicago, but I suffered greatly from sticker-shock. I was dumbfounded by the cost of food and drinks! I so wish I had a photo from the Brittanica gig, as that was the most ridiculously good food I had, possibly even the best. But for me personally, a breakfast person, I loved the small little diner we found called Eggy’s. It was certainly off the beaten trail, and one had to be determined to find it, but Eggy’s did not disappoint. It serves both breakfast and lunch, and will not break the bank, and shocking most of all, they had GRITS!

Eggy’s Breakfast – Made with Canva

Chicago Architecture Boat Tour

At the encouragement of my friend, Heather Loy, we signed up for the twilight Chicago Architecture Boat Tour. While it was a fascinating tour along the river, and we even had to stop one time for a drawbridge lifting, it was freezing cold. These southern gals were ill prepared for the cool temps that dropped to the upper 50s by dark that evening. Factor in a stiff breeze off the water, sandals and only light weight jackets, and you can imagine how cold we were. No matter though, it was the best after conference event I participated in! The SCASL entourage and the CASL friends who joined us had an absolute blast. I heard on the news late that night that those cool temps were unseasonable for Chicago this time of the year.


Made with Canva

Time to say Good Bye Chicago

We bid a final good bye to Chicago by eating at yet another local’s recommendation. The cheese fries were to die for! Heather T had the highly prized chocolate cake shake. While Portillo’s is a chain, it was certainly new to us, and best, the food and fare was very reasonably priced. Based on the really long lines, we could tell it is a favorite.

IMG_1377

Next ALA Annual

Next summer your SCASL cohort travels to New Orleans for the ALA Annual Conference. I’d better start saving now as my per diem did not go very far on Chicago food. I imagine that will be the same in New Orleans!

Picture Attributions: All the photos in this post are mine with the exception of the two Twitter photos which have links to the original posts.  Many of them were made using Canva. I have not yet taken the time to organize my photos, but if you’d like to scroll through the album, here is the link.

We are still wrapping our head around SCASL’s recent Chicago Trip to ALA. As we reflected at the airport waiting for our flight home, we began listing the wonderful events directly from the conference that we participated in.  I’ve already shared our Affiliate Assembly events, so I’ll focus this post on sessions and the exhibit hall. The following are events your SCASL friends were involved in as either a speaker or attendee.

Karen Gavigan & Heather Moorefield-Lang both led multiple sessions at this conference, making all of SCASL, the University of South Carolina, and all of South Carolina PROUD. Karen presented two sessions:

  • Transforming Learning in K-12 Libraries through Inclusionary Best Practices
  • Telling Their Stories Through Graphic Novels – Views from behind the Fence

Heather Moorefield-Lang presented twice as well. She is outgoing chair for the AASL Best Websites for Teaching and Learning, soon to be assuming the role of AASL Region Four Director. Her two sessions were as follows:

  • Exploring AASL’s Best Websites for Teaching and Learning
    This session was the big reveal of the 2017  AASL Best Websites for Teaching and Learning, and there were MANY tweets and retweets, Facebook postings and more sharing the newly curated list! It always draws a big crowd! It followed the AASL Best Apps 2017 Reveal Session.
  • MakerSpaces: The View from Here
    This session also draws a lot of fans. Many are still clamoring for makerspace information.

 


Sarah Jessica Parker, ALA President’s Program

The ALA President’s Program featured Sarah Jessica Parker who glowed when she spoke of libraries in her life as a child, and how she has made sure it is a part of her own children’s life. No trip is taken without a book!  Many lucked out at ALA, getting an autographed copy of No One is Coming to Save Us after hearing SJP and Author Stephanie Powell Watts talk of the book in this session.


Hillary Clinton, Closing Keynote

ALA did not announce until way late that Hillary Clinton would be our closing keynote, and there were all kinds of rules about filing in, no saving seats, bags had to be checked, etc.  I’m super excited we didn’t miss it. Jennifer Tazerouti and her sister Jackie were some of the first people in, so they had really close seats. (See picture) My group (myself, Heather Thore, and Cindy Symonds) strolled in with less than thirty minutes to go, and found seats near the back. Breakfast was more important to us than a front row seat. It was a great, short speech! Favorite Hillary quote: “You [librarians] have to be on the front lines to defend truth, reason, evidence and fact.” I was hoping to get a arc of her book, It Takes a Village, or minimum a promise of it’s in the mail from ALA!, but sadly that did not happen.

Picture belongs to Jennifer Tazerouti

 

My picture from the far, far back of the room (cropped so it appears I’m closer.)

Watch the full speech here.

 

Newbery-Caldecott-Wilder Awards Banquet

Some of my SCASL friends had a remarkable evening enjoying the the 2017 Newberry-Caldecott-Wilder Banquet. I’m too cheap to pay for the ticketed event, but ever since my Min-EE-so-ta friend Sally Mays introduced me to free gallery seating that opens around 8, this has been a must attend event for me. Funny that when I usually get there I get to see and speak to a lot of friends, and this year that included John Schumacher,  recent SCASL Conference Author Jason Reynolds, SCASL Past Presidents Jennifer Tazerouti and Ida Thompson, SCASL member Michael Giller, SLJ’s Rocco Staino, and twitter friend Sarah Kelly Johns. You never know who you will bump into! When I can find it I’ll post link to the recorded speeches.  I did manage to nab a program, artwork by Caldecott Winner Javaka Steptoe!

 

Coretta Scott King Awards Breakfast

Our very own SCASL Past Presidents Jennifer Tazerouti and Ida Thompson attended this event, and the word on the street around ALA was that there wasn’t a dry eye in the room; each and every awardee that spoke choked up the audience.

Jennifer Tazerout’s photo shows SCASL Past Presdient Ida Thompson posing with R. Gregory Christie, 2017 CSK Honor Book illustrator of Congo is Not a Square.

 

Odyssey Awards

I think a lot of folks skip this because it’s listed like a breakout session, and posts that it is 2.5 hours. Thanks to Heather Loy several years ago (ALA in Anaheim) I was introduced to this annual ALA event. The session is actually part session with speakers and part celebratory cocktail reception, sponsored by the Audio Publishers Association. In the middle there is an opportunity for attendees to grab winning audiocopies of the winners and honor books. Hearing the story of how Anna and the Swallow Man came to be produced and packaged; hearing from the author Gavriel Savit, and especially hearing the audiobook narrator Allan Corduner marvel us with a melodic and endearing reading made this such a special session. Attendees were showered with gifts, from the CD sampler of the winners and honor books, to AudioBook sponsored earbuds WITH a keychain zip purse, to your choice of one of the actual audiobooks! Bonus, the audiobook keychain held a coupon for three free audiobooks. SCORE! (Sorry I blurred out the code!)

This shows a collage of Cathy Jo Nelson’s pictures of the free gifts given out at the Odyssey Awards Reception/Session. Collage made using Canva.

 

Opening Keynote

Sadly I missed the opening keynote due to a snafu with my room, and I had to return to change my room location before my roommate Heather T. arrived later that evening. Maybe our SCASL President Cindy Symonds will share her takeaways with everyone. At least I had heard the speaker before, and her books and buttons were snapped up at the conference in a hurry!

Exhibit Hall

ALA describes it as follows:

With more than 900 exhibiting organizations, multiple pavilions and stages featuring the hottest authors, and numerous related fun events, the exhibit floor is an integral part of your learning, professional development, and networking. The Exhibit Hall offers you the opportunity to explore and discuss with expert vendors the breadth and depth of new and favorite library products, services, books, online services, tools, and technologies.

I can honestly see why some come only for the exhibit hall! I met so many people standing in line for books, and fell in love with several of the vendors (4Imprint I will be a customer very soon!!) It was amazing and I still don’t think I saw everything despite visiting many times over the four days it was open! I loved all five stages and the energy and enthusiasm felt in every line a stood in. So many things to see, so many authors to sign books, and so much to wish I could afford!


I did stumble across this youtube that recaps #ALAAC17 really well!

Final Thoughts

I’ve been to ALA four times in recent years, and never have I paid for any extra events. I’ll be attending next year, and I hope to purchase the Coretta Scott King Breakfast Ticket next year. I have to go see for myself since many tell me every year how good it is. I am also once again going to make sure my flights are made so that I do not miss the closing keynotes. Each time it seems ALA one ups themselves with their opening and closing keynotes. Since I can, I will make sure I am there for both.  In the next few days, I’ll share my #ALAAC17 extra curricular activities!

I’m fresh back from the ALA Annual Conference in Chicago, and am exhausted, filled to the brim with learning, and weighted down once again with quite a bit of exhibit hall swag! The American Association of School Librarians is a division of the American Library Association, and SCASL, if you did not know, is a founding member of the American Association of School Librarians Affiliate Assembly. In accordance with our SCASL bylaws, we send our SCASL leadership, two voting delegates and a “delegate in training,” to the ALA Annual Conference each year. This year it was SCASL President Cindy Symonds, President-elect Cathy Jo Nelson (me), and the incoming President Elect, Heather Thore to the conference.

 


AASL Affiliate Assembly

AASL Affiliate Assembly logo

Used with permission http://www.ala.org/aasl/about/affils/promo

What is it? It’s made up of state and regional organizations that are currently affiliated with AASL, and as of today there are nine regions. Regional activities are coordinated by a Regional Representative and each region is represented on the AASL Board of Directors by a Regional Director. It is made up of two voting delegates per state or regional organization recognized as affiliated with AASL. South Carolina is a part of Region 4. It is exciting right now to be a part of this, as Dr. Heather Moorefield-Lang of the University of South Carolina recently ran for and was elected to be our Region 4 Director in the recent ALA Elections. Region Four includes state organization from South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, and Tennessee.

Pictures by CJN; Created using Canva

Affiliate Assembly Meetings at ALA 

Screenshot from my phone showing the Affiliate Assembly events at 2017 ALA Annual Conference

At the annual conference there are three events held at ALA Annual Conference specifically for AASL’s Affiliate Assembly. The first one, the AASL Affiliate Assembly Leadership Summit, takes place somewhat as  a pre-conference training event, followed by two sessions, Affiliate Assembly I that takes place that same day later in the evening, and then  Affiliate Assembly II on a different day. Traditionally they use the same day/time format each year, respectively, and all members are expected to attend Meetings I and II. I may be mistaken, but I believe the meetings are open for observation for non delegate attendees.

  • AASL Affiliate Assembly Leadership Summit – The First Meeting
    The Affiliate Assembly Leadership Conference is a four hour leadership training, and it is geared primarily toward the new Affiliate Assembly Members, who are provided an Affiliate Assembly Leadership handbook and are introduced to the AASL Affiliate Assembly governing body and its members and AASL Staff, who each take time to speak to the group. Many returning Affiliate Assembly delegates attend this one each year, as hearing from and interacting with the leadership team never gets old, and often one can learn just as much attending again. In this year’s Summit, AASL Leadership spoke on initiatives affecting or impacting school library programming, including ESSA and the School Librarian, Librarians Transform (Public Awareness Office campaign), the upcoming AASL Conference, locating and accessing leadership tools from AASL, and how to get involved. There were many teasers shared about the library standards slated for reveal at the  November AASL Conference, and affiliates were encouraged to offer a pre-sale of these new AASL Standards for School Librarians, as well as sign up for the Pre-Conference invitation only session to introduce them in Phoenix. Last, members were encouraged to share library success stories for potential printing in AASL’s Blog, Knowledge Quest. 
  • AASL Affiliate Meeting I
    In this two hour meeting all the delegates come together, and the meeting is run like a board meeting, using Robert’s Rules and reading the minutes for the last meeting (from ALA Midwinter.) The group is given a refresher on using the communication avenue (ALA Connect) as needed, and then the business of Affiliate Assembly is addressed. In this meeting we spent time reviewing the approved concerns and commendations submitted by the entire Affiliate Assembly. Concerns and Commendations are solicited earlier in the year and submitted to the Chair. The Affiliate Assembly Board reads and approves these for review by the Affiliate Assembly. Each region is charged with reading over them and discussing as a group, asking questions and getting clarifying information. This is done in preparation for the third meeting.
  • Affiliate Assembly II
    This four hour meeting is also run as a traditional board meeting, but the task at hand for this one is to vote on commendations and concerns. There are two voting members per organization, and the SCASL members voting were SCASL President Cindy Symonds and SCASL President Elect Cathy Jo Nelson(me). Items voted successfully are sent on the the governing board for review and action.

LEFT: From Florida-Region 3 Elizabeth Zdrodowsk’s Twitterfeed https://twitter.com/ezdrodowski/status/878982961105969152; RIGHT: From AASL’s Twitterfeed https://twitter.com/aasl/status/879009692504248321  Made using Canva.


SCASL Can Celebrate!

Good News from our interactions at ALA/AASL Affiliate Assembly includes that Cathy Jo Nelson was elected to assume the role of Region 4 Chairperson for the next Affiliate Assembly Fiscal Year. Current Misti Jenkins is rolling off when her term as President of the Kentucky Association of School Librarians ends. We had one of our commendations approved, which commend the Columbia Fireflies Baseball Team Reading Program. SCASL is bragged on at Affiliate Assembly every year for bringing into the meetings the incoming president elect who has yet to assume office. The purpose of bringing this non-voting member to Affiliate Assembly Meetings (who for us this year is Heather Thore, incoming president-elect for SCASL) is to provide mentorship in preparation for his or her active participation at the next Affiliate Assembly Meeting.

 

Up Next

I hope I have not misrepresented anything from conference thus far, but if I have, please set me straight in the comments. My next post will share specifics that SCASL Leadership enjoyed or learned at this conference.

Our SCASL Conference two weeks ago hosted MrSchu (John Schumacher) as a featured speaker, and I tell you he did not disappoint. Since the conference I have been hearing over and over about his CBS This Morning Spot, so I finally took time to search for it. The CBS sites listed it, but it wouldn’t play. No matter, as I kept hearing that only part of it made the program…such is the way of news shows, much of what is filmed is left on the editing room’s floor.  I did find what I think may be the full clip, and it is a great video to watch. I’m sharing it here!

SCASL People LOVED him too. Mining through the #SCASL17 tweets, these really stayed with me. There are many more just as moving! Thanks John for coming to SCASL and motivating us in a job we all love, the job of making kids love reading.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over the next week, through April 14, AASL is seeking “endorsements” of the finalists named AASL Social Media Superstars. There are SEVERAL names SCASL friends should recognize, as they have been prominently featured at SCASL Conferences (even as recent as this conference.) Consider visiting that link, and clicking on the area that contains a name you recognize, and leave a ringing endorsement.  Yes, that’s right, YOU can help select the AASL Social Media Superstar by leaving a comment to endorse your choice for winner.

Below is an edited reposting (with permission) of my dear friend Jane Lofton‘s original post.  I too serve on this unique committee and am excited to participate in the naming of Social Media Superstars.  The decision is not ours (the committee) alone to make, and we are affording the social public an opportunity to help with endorsements and more in the final selection process.  Do take advantage of this! And thanks Jane, for allowing me to use your original post!

 

AASL’s Social Media Superstars!

Over the last several months, I have had the privilege of serving as Chair of AASL’s Task Force to establish new “Social Media Superstars” recognitions. And, yesterday, our task force had the excitement of announcing the inaugural group of superstar finalists. We developed seven different categories for the recognitions (in no particular order), and there are three finalists in each category:

  • Sensational Student Voice
  • Advocacy Ambassador
  • Tech Troubadour
  • Program Pioneer
  • Curriculum Champion
  • Leadership Luminary
  • Social Justice Defender

We shared the details about what each category represents on the AASL website. Here are the descriptions and the finalists for each category:

 

In every case, the finalists are, of course, exemplary in what they do in their teaching and programs, but they take it a step further by generously amplifying their ideas and messages using social media to model practice and reach more of their peers. I’m not linking to the individual categories, here, only because I REALLY want you to go to through the overall posting, then link to each category from there, to read all the wonderful things about each finalist.

 

Why is this new superstars program important? In my mind, anyway, I love that the AASL Board chose to create a new recognition for our members, appreciating the value of social media to amplify our voices for advocacy, leadership, and social justice; exchange of great program, curriculum, and technology integration ideas; and empower our students’ voices. And, equally important, I believe, is the opportunity this gives all of us – librarians, other educators, and education and library supporters, alike – to learn about 21 amazing people (7 categories x 3) you may not yet be following and add them to your Personal Learning Network for new inspiration and networking.

 

Then, once you explore all seven categories, please add endorsements for your favorites. The task force will consider all the endorsements as part of the selection of the seven top superstars. Please add your endorsements by April 14, then stand by for a webinar announcing the winners on Thursday, April 27, at 6pm Central Time.

 

And, finally, share this information far and wide so that more people in the school library and education community can benefit from learning about and following the 21 AASL Social Media Superstar finalists.

 

I’d like to thank the task force members, all of whom worked very hard on this and are definitely also great people to follow on social media!: Marifran DeMaine (@abookforfrances), Liz Dodds (@lizdodds), Elissa Malespina (@elissamalespina), and Cathy Jo Nelson (@cathyjo). Many thanks, too, to our amazing staff liaison, Jennifer Habley, and our Board liaison, Pam Harland @pamlibrarian).

 

 


It will take quite a while to process a state level conference that one planned from scratch! There are so many people I need to thank. I know I will miss many who helped me in so many ways, but I want to start here while I am fresh from the #SCASL17 conference and beginning to reflect. My reflection here will be from the view of not attending a single session, only the keynote and Authors Celebration Luncheon. I work Command Central the rest of the entire conference, a chaotic, challenging, and at times very difficult job, but I must confess it was a labor of love

Top Ten who I owe thanks and warm acknowledgements:

  • Diane Geddings
    She served as my Vendor/Exhibitor Chair, coming back from #SCASL16 to help out again. Diane really made me realize the importance of cultivating meaningful relationships with our loyal vendors who come each year, and why we want them to be happy in the exhibit hall.  Her easy going, friendly demeanor and persistent reminder to remember the exhibitors in anyway we could scored us so many brownie points. She is giving it up after this year, so we are looking for a new one for #SCASL18, but she certainly has laid the groundwork out for how to have a successful vendor space. Not only did she make us have a very successful exhibit hall, she scored us many sponsorships.  I am sad she is not doing it again next year. (UPDATE:  DIANE IS BACK FOR #SCASL18!!)

 

  • Heather Thore P20_SLATE_HTHORE
    Heather served this year as local arrangements chair, and I am not kidding when I say I did not have to worry about anything related to the site and making conference run smoothly. She arranged facilitators, drivers back and forth to airports, flowers and decor, and so much more. I’m a little jealous, as she will be the conference chair for next year where we will be in the same venue, so she really got to experience conference planning from an entirely different view, and will be able to improve upon anything that may need to be improved for next year’s conference. We shared to do lists using Google Keep, and so we always knew what still needed to be done. It was such a blessing having here there leading and learning, and now she can begin the preparations for next year with a huge advantage over me–she will know the site inside and out, and can make it even better than what we did this year at #SCASL17. I can’t wait to see what comes of #SCASL18!

 

  • Krystal Capps
    Krystal was our Events Manager at they Hyatt, but I cannot say enough great things about her. I realize she is a professional with many events under her belt, but I still have to say she made planning our conference at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Greenville a delight. She was quick to make any adjustments we needed to make spur of the moment, and she made them happen immediately with no questions asked.  I was extremely thankful she was our events manager. The Hyatt can rest assured we are THRILLED to be coming back next March, especially knowing Krystal will be helping us plan it again.

 

  • Doug JohnsonmyON-2color_small[2]Doug was not at our conference this year, but he was instrumental in connecting me to potential sponsors when on short notice I found out I didn’t have a sponsor for our name badges. Doug made e-introductions for me with Todd Brekhus of MyOn, and the rest was history! I had a sponsor for our badge holders that were extremely popular with attendees, and a first time vendor at conference, all the way from Minnesota. I hope they will return next year!

 

  • John Schumacher  and Colby Sharp – “MrSchuReads was supposed to be with us last year, but illness (back injury count here?) laid him out and he had to miss. Score one for me–he promised to come this year, and he did not disappoint! Every time I saw him he was surrounded by attendees, so I know he really impressed everyone here. Since he was coming this spring, we decided to add Colby Sharp to the program, and had a “SharpSchu” session too.  I felt extremely lucky to have both here, and now I’m campaigning to get Travis Jonkers here next year so we can maybe see them record a part of a “The Yarn” Podcast. Time will tell, as it’s not my call.

 

  • 22 Authors! WHAT!!??
    JasonReynoldsBoyintheBlackSuit

    Jason Reynolds poses in front of the winning SCASL 2017 Young Adult Book Banner Contest. (Picture by Heather Loy via Twitter)

    Oh my, in August I was so worried about not having an adequate number of authors at our library conference, so much so that I began online stalking them. I began with some that really impressed me at ALA Annual Conference 2016, and spread out from there. I had no idea authors booked themselves so far out from dates! Luckily enough I scored promises to attend from 2 of our 2016 book award winning authors (Kirby Larson and Alan Gratz) and then I began working to secure more. I was amazed at the number who were in proximity to Greenville, SC, and then who knew that authors share with one another about Conferences? Before I knew it, we had 22 authors lined up. Checkout the SCASL Conference Link while it’s still there to see who we had! Some were contacts form ALA in Orlando, FL, some were authors that had visited Greenville in November for ReadUp, others were from book club contacts where we’d invited authors to visit online, and more. I was so pleased to have them all in attendance. We were diverse in gender, ethnicity, age, and even experience. Having Jason Reynolds keynote our SCASL Authors Awards Luncheon, and having Kirby Larson and Alan Gratz accept their 2016 SCASL Children’s Book Award Medal and 2016 Junior Book Award Medal in person with both moving acceptance speeches, I have to pinch myself to be reminded I was there–it was real! It was also awesome having Jason Reynolds present when we announced our Young Adult Book Award Banner winner this year, which was for his book

 

  • Conference Surprises
    Lucy Green, Dacia Jones, Kitty Tripp, Heather Moorefield-Lang – We had eight pre-conference sessions, but I heard over and over through tweets and comments made at conference registration desk (Conference Command Central) over and over how fabulous these presenters did. Many have asked for us to bring all four back next year, and I’m hoping we can do it. We have already secured Heather Moorefield-Lang as our 2018 Conference Keynote, and both Dacia and Kitty have expressed interest in returning, so I am hopeful. All of our precon speakers were excellent! One more huge surprise came during the Thursday Keynote given by Dr. R. David Lankes, the Director of the School of Library and Information Science at the University of South Carolina. He surprised us all by announcing that Dr. Lucy Green from Georgia Southern University, one of our pre-conference and concurrent speakers, will be joining his staff at USC! YAY. So now I am very hopeful she will join us again next March in Greenville. Icing on the cake, we announced that Heather Moorefield-Lang will be keynoting our 2018 Conference.
    Women Speakers (4) Women Speakers (5)

 

  • Greenville’s Mother Nature
    We arrived at our conference venue Tuesday evening to begin setting up the rooms and conference registration. Upon doing all we could do Tuesday, we decided to wander downtown, eating at a great restaurant, Tupelo Honey. As we ate dinner we watched the evening sky darken with an approaching thunderstorm, and then once back the the hotel, we had an eight story view of the lightening that came with said storm. Amazing, but it made me thankful I was indoors. John Schumacher was stuck in Charlotte waiting to board a puddle jumper plane to Greenville. SCASL Past President was en route to Greenville from Spartanburg and shared how frightened she was driving in the storm, and we were reading posts from Facebook and Twitter where folks in our area said windshields and sunroofs were shattering from the force and sheer size of the hail in the storm.  We had a wide range of weather for the four days I was in Greenville, from 80 degree flip-flop weather to sunshiny, but cool and chilly days afterward. This brings to mind our official welcome to Greenville, which came from Tom Taylor. Check out his video of his pictures he has captured personally to share with us the Greenville he knows and loves. Job well done Tom!

 

  • Meeting New Friends/Reconnecting with Library Friends
    You just can’t beat getting together with Librarians you network with online throughout the year.  We added several opportunities to socialize, particularly withCounter Clockwise- Past Presidents Reception, Food for receptions, desserts for visitors, AASL Meetup and Voting, AASL Members Group shot! SCASL Board members. Traditionally we have a Past President’s Reception and a Regional Network Breakfast, both food events by invitation only. Most conference venues have astronomical costs associated with these kinds of functions, so we have been seeking ways to bring the cost down but continue the tradition. Last year we decided to get a condo and use it (with our own food and supplies) for the Past President’s reception. The Regional Network Meet-up was a quickie “pickup a donut and coffee in the lobby before we get caught by hotel staff” event. After conference, the board decided to look into reserving a hotel suite if not a condo, and have the Past President’s Reception and the Regional Network Meeting there. The cost of the suite was more than we had ever spent on rooms, but the cost of food and service items was significantly less, so in all we were saving money. Then during ALA Midwinter 2017, we had the genius idea to have an AASL/ALA Member meet-up for breakfast, and use the time to remind and or help our members with their voting, which closes in just a few days. We also decided to do a fun BreakoutEDU activity in our Suite the Thursday night of conference.  I cannot tell you how many attendees came thru our suite for different events, but we had a rash of folks asking how to get MORE involved, and expressing interest in being on future boards. Checkout some of our pictures from those events!!

 

  • Heather Loy
    Our organization is strong because of the members, past and present. I have been told numerous times how great this conference was. It was not perfect and without problems, but our process for developing and implementing a strong program seems to hide our flaws relatively well. Those who have planned conferences before me can attest to the tremendous amount of work that goes into it, and the sheer amount of exhaustion the Program Chair experiences afterwards. These now present and past presidents have been a godsend to me as well, all offering tips along the way, answering my many questions, and steering me in the right direction. Each conference these people have tweaked and modified our Conference Handbook to make the next Program Chair have a better conference  than theirs was. I can attest to how very helpful that handbook is, and am already planning my additions to the handbook to ensure that Heather Thore will have fewer questions for her planning of our next conference in 2018.  Then she’ll join this highly regarded and respected group. Heather Loy brought to conference a gift for me, one that I will bring back to conferences in the future. Her gift to me was a “welcome to the club” gift, the club of those who before me who have put their blood, sweat and tears into conference planning. I will give to Heather Thore the same amount of attention, assistance, ideas, and help, as much as she wants. This gift, an iron works rendition of our SCASL logo, will be a treasured gift from Heather Loy for years to come. I will bring it back to conference next year and proudly display it at registration again, if Heather Thore allows it. You see, these people, Heather Loy and all the other past presidents, they are the most passionate people in our profession and organization. I hope I live up to their standards as leader of our organization. But just as this gift is made of strong  steel and iron, so too is my passion for my profession and this organization.  And this gift will always remind me that I LOVE our SCASL organization. Thanks Heather for this reminder.

 

 

All the images in this post were given to me with permission for use with the SCASL 2017 Conference and posts on or about the conference. Tom Taylor’s video came from his sharing it (at my request) which he did via Youtube.

Now that summer is here, I have so much to do.

First up–ALA Orlando

I will be attending ALA in Orlando in just under a week from now–attending the affiliate assembly, learning how to represent SCASL and South Carolina in the coming years. Yes, that is right, I am assuming more leadership within the organization. On July 1 my role in SCASL changes from Regional Network Director to President-Elect. Much of my responsibilities will shift to the planning of our March conference. I’m just a little intimidated by that, but Ive already begun making contacts and plans for this adventure. Wish me luck. This will be a change for me as usually I attend ISTE every summer. But accepting the challenge of SCASL President elect means I’ve committed to ALA for the next three years. I will sorely miss all my ISTE friends. ISTE has always been a great way to connect face to face with members of my PLN. Don’t get me wrong, a number of my PLN attend ALA every year as well, but not all ALA attendees are school-minded, so there are just less of them there. I am looking forward to ALA. Orlando I can give or take. Living just under 8 hours away from Orlando, well, been there done that–multiple times. So I’m not looking forward to competing with all the ALA attendees and the mega tourists in Orlando to get food and have fun. Who in their right mind thought having that conference during the height of tourist season in Orlando was a good idea? ALA has it all wrong. ALA Midwinter should be in Orlando, not ALA Annual. Oh well. I’ll still manage to enjoy learning and networking.

 

2nd up – DENSI2016 in Chicago

In late July I’ll be attending  DENSI. Discovery Education has become a favorite resource over the years, not just for the instructional materials made available to subscribers, but also the wealth of learning and networking with its most valuable asset–> Discovery Education Network Members. You just cannot beat the human factor of learning from one another. Even though my state no longer funds Discovery Education for us anymore, it is that important to me and my school. We continue to subscribe even though it’s pricey, but it’s so worth it. Each summer there is the institute that brings together roughly 150 educators, and I made it in another year. It’s very competitive trying to get in. We’ll be in Chicago for a weeklong stint of learning the best way Discovery Education does it–through community and its members. Bonding and lifelong friendships will result from the teacher camp type atmosphere, but the real winners will be our faculty and students who will benefit immensely from the annual event when we return refreshed, rejuvenated, and full of ideas to try out and learnings to share.

 

A hopeful 3rd – Santa Barbara, CA

My oldest son moved to Santa Barbara, CA in April, so we are hoping to visit there sometime this summer. Mr frugal son #1 says he isn’t ready to entertain, but this mamma just wants to make sure he has furniture and is living in a good area. Oh and she also wants to go to the SB beach! I hope we can get out there this summer. Time will tell. On two teachers’ salaries, it’s looking iffy for sure.

 

 

 

Salt to the SeaSalt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ruta, you have hit a grand slam AGAIN. It was a fascinating story, and mid way through I had to stop and research several things, including the Amber Room, the Amber Swan, the Wilhelm Gustloff, and more! It kind of gave me an idea what might happen in the story, but I still read on, enraptured! I can’t wait for our “virtual” book club with you in April, just a few weeks away.

Dabbling in Data

Recently the librarians in my district were asked to provide our library collection number of holdings and our average collection copyright age from the group working on our district reading plan. I don’t want to assume anything about how that data will be used. As a matter of fact, I’m delighted to know the library information for our district’s libraries is being considered at all. But providing this information once again has me worried. This same information made its way for the first time this past year to the annual school report card.

  • Library Collection by the numbers = 23,472 and this is not counting subscription services & ebooks through Gale. (Note – current enrollment, 2381)
  • Library Collection Average Copyright Age = 2002

 

Tsk, Tsk

It is such a shame to feel we are being nailed on age when we in my teaching context have not seriously invested in our nonfiction in the last few years due to our patron’s preference to do research online. What librarian doesn’t struggle with some pangs of guilt over this information? Instead of getting newer nonfiction books, we have instead bought more subscription databases and services (Gale, Ebsco, Discovery Education, etc.) to supplement project based learning and research needs. The nonfiction on the shelf have been weeded some, but they are ridiculously outdated for research, and more or less now serve as a source for interest reading. We even tell students that check out from these sections to be sure to look at some of our purchased online resources for better quality and more current information.

 

Why?

I don’t mean to make excuses, but rather defend our spending practices which haven’t really focused on nonfiction print materials in quite some time. To be good stewards of our budget, we must provide what our community wants, and let’s face it, now in terms of research, I don’t even know experts in our field or any field that haven’t moved over to vetted, authoritative, and continuously updated subscription and online services that are.

 

Where is it better?

I would like to bring attention to the more respectable sections of our collection. The most dominantly checked out materials by our patrons hold more current average copyright ages; the fiction section has an average copyright date of 2008, and the arts (non fiction) has an average copyright date of 2005. These materials make up just over 43% of our collection.

 

What now?

I do not know exactly how this requested data or information will be used, but it did bear sharing and defending our data. With such a large school and large collection, it is difficult to weed more, though we all know it must be done.  Our state’s collection standards are under revision this year, and I hear these revisions will be even more strict, but also take into consideration that research has dominantly become an online entity. So I shared with my colleagues to be proactive with this data, and leverage the information to bolster a proposed budget plan, one that addresses the need for more books and more money to invest in online resources.

 

Leverage the tools

We in South Carolina have just the right mixture of data to make our case. We are very publicly a part of our school’s report card, and we have solid data from our South Carolina Library Impact Study to make the case that we make a difference in student success. Just this month School Library Journal has our Impact Study featured.  With these tools, timing is ripe to approach the powers that be who decide how much funding the library gets in our state’s dominant site based management world for school funding. Equip yourself and go forth with your data, a budget plan (shoot for the moon people), and the Impact Study. We all know in this day and age of the education landscape, our administrators respond to data. And data this year we do have.  (NOTE: Infographic representing the 2015 SC Impact Study. Click on the image to visit SCASL.net for more information.)
We are quite proud of our SC Impact Study.

 

As many schools are slowly but surely moving to 1:1 or close to it, librarians are discovering that their role is changing. Here is a recent question posed in one of my networking circles, and I find that it is a legitimate concern. The person states the needs here:

In the next couple of years, my district will transition to 1:1. I would love to hear from middle and high school librarians who have been through this transition in your school/district. Specifically, those who can speak to how or if this changed the dynamic of your library and your day to day. Feel free to elaborate on the good, bad, and the ugly.

 

I love that one requesting information asks us to include the good, the bad, and the ugly. We all know the transition to any new way of thinking is not always rosy for every party involved. I’m going to respond based on my own experience. I’m also going to add another area to explore, that of “what has NOT changed.”

 

The Good

I suppose I should go ahead and share that we are not fully one-to-one yet. But we’ve enough devices (in the format of laptops for the most part) to impact the library and staff. I find that we librarians spend about half of our instructional time in classes rather than in the library nowadays, meeting them where they are at. This would truly be a struggle if I was not in a teaching context where there are two certified LMS’s and a full time assistant. Our staffing means when one or both of the librarians are out in classrooms, we don’t have to close/lock the library doors. Our teachers respect that we are willing to come to them, which is less disruptive than them packing up and coming to the library. With online resources being the preferred resource for research, we’ve transitioned to investing in online resources (ebooks, databases, Discovery Education, etc.) to make up for print resources that so rarely get used. To ensure that these materials are used, we spend time promoting and teaching the resources we have invested in. Selfishly it also allows us an opportunity to remind the school community (students, teachers, parents, administrators, etc.) that using these resources IS in essence using their library and library’s staff. It makes us even more relevant. My colibrarian and I have taken on responsibilities that serve the entire school population. We are tech trainers for our school (and even district.) We maintain the webpage, the learning management system, the school’s scrolling tv announcements, the student google accounts and more, giving us even broader visibility in the school program.

 

The Bad

My photo looking down from the upstairs hallway

For me the bad is that the physical space tends to get ignored, or worse, misused. I work in a beautiful library with high cathedral ceilings with plenty of windows that allow for large amounts of illuminating daylight. But since the space which is located in the center of the main campus is not used as much by classes for research or project based learning anymore, it almost has an empty feel to it during class time. Don’t get me wrong, we still have plenty of visitors that come independently. We are still a preferred spot before school begins each morning, during lunchtime, and for those students who have open blocks.  It is one of the only spaces in our school environment available to students for printing hard copies of any work. In our more conservative setting, we haven’t branched out to offer makerspaces yet (shame on me-what a confession!), only dabbling in small scale activities that we refer to as crafts (up-cycled books anyone?) Our layout is locked in by the design architecture, and the bookshelves and tables are not as easily moved. I want castors on my tables, and newer, more versatile furniture, but it’s not in the budget, though we are long overdue for an update and remodeling. Our library, despite the first impression of beauty and great design, quickly reveals itself as a library intended to serve a different time period. But it does look really nice, and can serve three or more classes at a time. And I won’t complain about that.

 

The Ugly

Ugly is such a harsh word. Ugly in the library is the many areas of frayed carpeting. Ugly in the library include the nonfiction shelves that are losing ground book-wise, as we weed but do not replace those rarely used printed books, opting instead for online materials referenced earlier in this post. Ugly are the boxes and boxes of weeded books as we struggle to find them new homes. Ugly is the calendar with many days the library is booked and even closed for a variety of testing–WIDA, ACT WorkKeys, End of Course Testing, and I’m sure other testing that has yet to be named for the Spring. Time will tell.  But saying that, even before the trend for our school to go one to one, we still suffered from testing dominating our mid to late spring schedule. It is just part of the public school landscape these days, and one to one didn’t cause it or effect its impact on the schedule. I’m sure many school libraries have some of these same “ugly” features.

 

So what has not changed?

We still offer great services to our school community. We still offer a variety of in library programming including book promotions, service learning activities, and book clubs. The most popular areas of our circulating books (fiction and graphic novel/manga) are healthy and growing and according to our students and even the visiting teen librarians from the local public library system rival what is offered from the area’s public libraries. We strive to get books almost on demand as students ask for or inquire about the newest or next in the series. We still do booktalks, in the library and in the classrooms. We still work with teachers, plan lessons, and assist or lead instructional activities. We still have the same number of classes schedule to visit the library as a group for book checkout. We still sponsor book clubs, promote YA Lit activities and programs, and cater to the needs of those who come to the physical space. Our school still finds value in our overall program, and we are rewarded with visits, expressions of pleasure, requests for outside visits, and acknowledgement from all that we are providing a dynamic program at school.

 

All this to say…

The library program will be a living, breathing, vital program if you work at it, making yourself and your program indispensable. Times will always change and throw curveballs at you, and going one to one is just one of many we’ll see in the foreseeable future. Just be flexible and find a way to fit in. Do not worry that your school moving to a one to one environment will adversely affect you and your program. Instead acknowledge it, embrace it, and find a way to be essential despite any change. Most important, don’t resist. As my former University of South Carolina professor Dr. Dan Barron was fond of saying, “Grow or Die.” Be whatever your school and community needs in your library program, and know that your role will evolve just as the school environment changes. I’m often prone to say to those who ask why I became a school librarian. I truthfully tell them no two days are the same, and everyday presents new and interesting challenge, so I never get bored. If you are not experiencing the same, then get worried.

 

 

Older Posts »