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Library Girl Jennifer Legarde is surrounded by the E-literate Librarian Tamara Cox and the Daring Librarian Gwyneth Jones.

Day Two began with a session from none other than Super Hero Library Girl Jennifer Lagarde. Plenty of SCASL attendees had already enjoyed her preconference session the day before, and the room was filled with our Librarians wanting so much more. Her session “MacGuyver Librarianship” certainly left us all wanting more.  It was a test of age and pop culture too, and Jennifer even threw in a Kahoot quiz to have us interact, and I want you to know “The Daring Librarian” Gwyneth Jones almost walked away with winner’s accolades, leading the quiz with speedy points and accuracy after every question. Many take aways from this one, and I’ve already seen a friend, Linda Waskow hard at work doing a project “MacGuyver” style in her library.  I wanted to speak to both of these dear friends, but conference duties stole me away. But I did make quick dinner plans with them. It wasn’t a keynote, but it certainly felt like one with our ballroom location and jammed packed room.

Linda Waskow’s “MacGuyver-ed table,” me getting a quick hug from Gwyneth while trying to scan badges at the end of Jennifer’s session, and Jennifer doing her presentation.



First General Session and Keynote

At 10:30 we had our first general session and Keynote with the Daring Librarian Gwyneth Jones. One of the things I dislike about conference is that we have a brief welcome from our leadership, a keynote, and a business meeting all crammed into this one and a half hour time slot. The time always catches our keynote speaker by surprise. I guess it is not emphasized enough that they may not get a full hour to speak. Year in and year out, I’ve noted the startled or totally surprised shock as a keynote speaker is rushed to wrap up their speech.  Gwyneth Jones gave us an excellent keynote, and even though she was rushed at the end, it certainly did light a fire for many of our librarians, and she had jam packed sessions the rest of the day. Our President Diana Carr welcomed everyone, and SURPRISE, gave the microphone to visiting newly elected SC Superintendent Molly Spearman. Then the mic was handed over to visiting AASL President Teri Grief, who gave a teaser for her Awards Luncheon keynote scheduled for later that day. I think all of us in the know were freaking out at the unexpected lengths of these two guests and their welcoming words. I was slated with introducing my friend Gwyneth Jone, and had planned a funny intro, but after noting the chipping away of her time, I made a brief and quick intro. We had to stop her way too soon, as we had our annual business meeting to get to, where we approve the slate of officers for next year, among other things. Whew. Now we were running into lunch, so it is no surprise many did not hang around for the fabulous door prizes my district among many painstakingly created.  SCASL, we have to fix this! It’s a little embarrassing.

All this happens in the first general session and keynote. It’s almost too much: welcome, annual business meeting, surprise guests, and a keynote! Oh and let’s not forget the door prizes!


Awards Luncheon

I attended the Awards Luncheon with a colleague, Peggy McQuade. We enjoyed the talented student strings program playing some rock and roll music! It was nice to see all the award winners get their recognition, and my most favorite USC professor, retired now, Donna Shannon, was named our “Distinguished Service Award” Recipient!  YAY!!


Authors in the Round

We had two sessions of plenty of authors, one for elementary and one for secondary, and after these two sessions a book signing bonanza. I took a few photos for conference, so didn’t hang around either of the sessions very long.  But all seemed to be having a rich and rewarding experience talking to all our visiting authors. We had in our midst: Alice Ozma, Nancy Keane, Alan Gratz, Sara Pennypacker, Sharon Flake, Sharon Dennis Wyeth, Steven Sheinkin, Megan Miranda, Jessica Khoury, Chris Grabenstein, Dave McDonald, Gregory Mone, Jewel Parker Rhodes, Dr. Annette Laing, and Carrie Ryan. I’m sure I’m missing some!! So many authors this year!!


Library School Get Together
Next I went to our USC-SLIS Tea. It is always nice to see new and veteran librarians as we reminisce about library school and catch up.  Im very excited this year since my AASL Best Websites for Teaching and Learning is a new professor in Columbia at USC. And best, she is my hostess which kept me from having to pay for a hotel room.


Last Session – More Gwyneth

I chose Gwyneth’s 4:30 session as my last session, Mobile Media in the Classroom. I didn’t get anything new, but Gwyneth’s enthusiasm and chipper personality is definitely infectious. Also, since I had made dinner plans with her in Jennifer LaGarde, I figured I should be nearby to square away how we were all going, as it had grown to a larger group. In the end, Gywneth let us out earlier, as she had started way early since her room was well jam packed long before she was to start, and so she didn’t disappoint the early arrivers, but winged it, giving the group a whole extra dose of Gwyneth-for free! SCORE.


Waiting on Friends

After being assured by Gwyneth Jones and Jennifer Lagarde that they new how to get to our dinner destination, Hunters and Gatherers, I waited for my other friends still in sessions, which weren’t over until 5:30. We immediately descended into the restaurant, and were seated in a lofty area with really bad acoustics! But we still managed to have a delicious dinner and talked about quite a bit, library related and not.


After Dinner

My roommate and I returned to her town house rather early, 8:30ish. I needed to finalize my Friday presentation materials and work through my Regional Network Breakfast Meeting scheduled for 7:15AM the next morning. After a phone convo and various text messages with my hubby about our favorite show American Idol, which I didn’t watch but sort of streamed through Twitter, and another chat with Heather M, I packed it in for bed.

Pictures are thanks to the many posted in Tweets and Facebook about our conference.

I arrived sometime around 11:00 AM with a ton of baggage! You see, not only did I have to set up in the “Committee Exploratorium” for Regional Network, I also had to set up a poster session table to showcase weeded book art projects. I was disheartened to learn I’d left at home the center board for my Regional Network Display, but PLEASED as punch with the location of the weeded books display. President-Elect/Conference Planner Jennifer Tazerouti and I decided to set up some of our projects. I found hers, and set out to make our display eye catching and a definite conversation starter. BEST, it was located right behind the table for the wine/cheese reception scheduled later in the evening. Everyone who attended would see our powerful display! Did I mention the weather was freaking fantastic in Columbia Wednesday and Thursday? It took three trips to get all my stuff in. Note to self–next time ASK for a flatbed cart!

Work and then SCASL Board Luncheon

I returned several times throughout the day to help Kevin Merritt (our SCASL honorary husband) to give out e-tracking scan cards to attendees. The SCASL Board Members had a working lunch, and we were showered with gifts from our President Diana Carr including a SCASL 40th Conference Commemorative pin and a cool USB bracelet–very useful. For the first time in many years, the boxed lunch didn’t present itself like a boxed lunch, and was actually quite yummy! Kudos to the Columbia Metro Convention Center caterers.


Session One – We’re Up!

After the luncheon, my afternoon began with Session One. Immediately my group from Spartanburg 6 was scheduled for the 3PM slot to lead our session “Flipped Libraries in Spartanburg 6.” A little nerve wracking, as one snafu we experienced was one of us not having any of our slides. Emergency resolved with OneDrive, which Spartanburg 6 recently rolled out with Office 365. I was able to make some contacts and get our tech guys to send the missing materials by going in, copying, and uploading materials to OneDrive belonging to the presenter who didn’t have her slides and videos. Our district has made this available to all professional staff, and it’s not just OneDrive, but OneDrive with1TB of storage space in our OneDrive. SWEEET!! My collaborative presenter decided to actually present from Office365. I think I made here a believer.


Project Connect

This year SCASL leadership brought into the mix a panel discussion under the sponsorship of Project Connect. Our organization worked hard to secure dynamic political leaders, school leaders, and school library leaders to have this awe inspiring session. Never have we done this before, but I’m proud to say I was a part of its planning (very small) and it was absolutely terrific. To hear attending school administrators in the audience and school librarians exchanging ideas and understandings about where we are in education in regards to student achievement, teacher (librarian) performance, and growth was quite inspiring. My favorite ah ha moment of the night was when our legislator Vince Sheheen was dumbfounded when a fellow librarian (Elizabeth Gregory) asked why 3 and 4 year olds are not counted towards school funding. He promised to return to congress and ask that very same question.

Exhibit Hall Grand Opening

This is always a fun event! Meet and greets take place all around between fellow librarians, friends, vendors and more. We get to eat and drink (wine or soda) to celebrate the opening of our conference. it really is a party atmosphere. The exhibit hall had a new floorplan from years past, and most memorable to me was that the SCASL store was up front and center–no excuse not to get your bookmarks, conference tee’s, or book award stickers this year!! Food and beverages were at the back, drawing all the Grand opening attendees deep inside! Excellent design choice by SCAL President elect Jennifer Tazerouti.

Finally, SUPPER

To culminate the evening, a few of us close friends went to dinner. We had some great choices nearer the conference center in the Vista, but opted instead to head out off the beaten trail to avoid lines, and wound up at Carrabas. Always good fun and fellowship when the three muskateers get together, along with friend Patsy Davis. I can’t believe we didn’t get a single picture of our threesome (me, Heather Loy, and Fran Bullington), especially since Fran is officially retiring (again) from k12.  But she has promised to attend next March, so we have a chance to fix that!

Apologies, and…

I was still to wordy! I’d love to know what your take aways were from Day 1! Do share.

Our annual library conference held in Columbia, SC was one of the most memorable in years.  Ten or so years ago there was no doubt that our conference drew upwards of 1200 attendees. In recent years though, with the downward turn of the economy and schools tightening their wallets, fewer of our librarians have come. Recent years we have averaged just over 500 attendees. This downward trend has effected us so much that next year we will be in a smaller venue (Myrtle Beach’s Kingston Plantation). This year’s attendance was somewhere over 600, and I swear it felt like an even  larger crowd. But our Conference Planner/President-Elect Jennifer Tazerouti worked hard to make this year’s event something NOT to miss. It was, in a word, spectacular. As Regional Network Coordinator for SCASL, I had some obligations, but not nearly as much as the President Diana Carr and President Elect Jennifer Tazerouti. Even today as I process my conference this year, I am reminded of just how much work our executive board puts into conference each year.  They just have to forget they have families and not even consider illness (even pink-eye!!) due to their huge responsibilities to pull off our conference.

Both of these made me feel so very welcome to Conference this year!!

Usually I give a rundown of the events I attended, my take aways, and how I plan to return and use/implement new ideas. This year I’m spending more time reflecting on what I thought was MEMORABLE!! Yes, I presented twice, once on my own and once with a small group from my district. Perhaps I’ll spend another day sharing those sessions and the materials, but today I must give props 100% to SCASL.

So tune in to the next post for day one’s rundown of what was “memorable to me.” Then I’ll share a few regrets afterward (which are few!!) I’m already looking forward to this time next March (horrors, during Dr. Seuss week!!) when we’ll travel to Myrtle Beach, SC.  I already have a dinner date with my friends at Bimini’s Oyster Bar, a favorite locals dive at the beach!  Cant wait to stick my toes in the sand. I sure hope it’s warm!

Each week we’ve voted with a Google Form that was set to allow students to see the results after their vote.  There are quite a few steaming students upset with me since this week’s round has closed results! I want it to be a surprise when we announce our winner Friday, March 27th.

Being at the #SCASL15 Conference last week, I’m a little late posting it.  Here are our current Library March Madness standings.



I’m very excited to start this week.  It will be a LONG and enjoyable week.  You see Wednesday begins our annual SCASL conference, #SCASL2015. And what’s not to love? Just a few exciting things for me personally:

There are just TOO MANY good things happening this week! Apologies in advance if I am too overwhelmed to tweet or post to Facebook.

SCASL Memories




Many teachers use videos to supplement instruction in class. It’s a nice way to give your delivery of instruction variety, while at the same time ensuring different modalities are used in the instructional approach. The copyright surrounding using videos legally in classroom instruction essentially says to be in compliance, there must be some face to face instruction that goes with the video. I have first hand seen great examples of how teachers meet this need. Examples include:

  • Questions to answer after a video
  • Questions to answer during the video
  • Pair sharing following a video
  • Class wide discussions based on a video’s content

Make a Video Interactive in Class
All of these work well and often compliment the learning. How can we utilize tools to add to the list? Here is a thought. Choose your video, and before the class starts CREATE a DISCUSSION with a few threads that match topics you want to emphasize from the video. I recommend one word topics. Then launch your video and students can immediately engage in a discussion (also known as a backchannel) to compliment the learning.

ItsLearning Discussion Tool – Screenshot by CJ Nelson

There are many  tools that can provide a backchannel to learning scenarios. Some of my favorites include TodaysMeet and Padlet. These programs allow for students to create their own username, while most learning management systems automatically tie all contributions to the student’s actual name. There is even a Todays Meet educator portal that gives the teacher a little more control. Whatever you choose, research well before beginning.

Add an Assessment Element
I also recommend creating a rubric that you can apply to student contributions.  Make sure students understand before the discussion how they will be assessed. The rubric might include points for:

  • Minimum number of postings to the discussions
  • Postings to the discussion should demonstrate a thoughtful approach to the content
  • Discussions that show student attentiveness (reiterating content from the video).
  • Discussions that extend the learning (show a reflection or deeper understanding.)
  • Interaction with other students in the discussion is evidenced
  • Interaction with other students in the discussion that extends understanding/learning is evidenced.

Discussions are a great way to engage students, and if a video is embedded into a learning module, students can participate in their own time.

Not Just for Videos
Discussions can compliment any type of instruction, including face to face lectures, debates, fishbowl style discussions (small group talks aloud while the rest of the class discusses online), assigned readings, etc. A discussion can enrich any learning sequence, and can bring to life the shy, quiet student as well.  Consider adding a discussion to your next lesson.

So what is your favorite discussion/backchannel tool?


We are voting each Thursday, so today was decision day in the first round of our Library March Madness Tournament. Our Sweet Sixteen are now officially down to our Elite Eight.


Image Attributions: Book Covers are compliments of GoodReads.
All other images are my own.

Of course anyone who works in a library knows it’s never “done.” But my focus has definitely shifted away from this section. I am finished focusing on it for this school year anyway. Here is a comparison of the data from when I began in September to its current status.

Date Number Avg Copyright
9/5/2014 1582 2000
3/1/2015 635 2007

How does it look?

Before, the Biography section consisted of two walls of too full shelves.

Now it has been relocated and consists of fewer, but roomier shelving, roomy enough in fact to actually display some of the titles. Circulation seems to be better too, though I haven’t really taken the time to fully analyze that. We are pleased as punch with the new location and the increased visibility of newer biography titles too!

My new focus on weeding now is our video collection.  We had roughly 1000 videos and DVDs, with the vast majority being VHS format. We are looking to completely rid our collection of VHS formatted videos in the next month. I’ve tried giving them away to teachers section by section, but they are not showing much interest. We will probably wind up truly throwing these away. They are old and dated. That they are VHS in format says it all.

So we’ll be saying so long to this cart of vhs tapes and several more just like it.  Weeding is a never ending job.

Nancy Everhart shared this in Facebook yesterday and I think it is so cute and telling! Which brings to mind our overdue notices that are going out Monday. Some may say we are slackers, as we only send them out quarterly, somewhere near midterm. We will catch immortal sin and grief from our patrons coming Monday when these offensive yellow slips go out. Most of the grief will be because students misread the information on the notice. Destiny’s notices are easily misinterpreted.  We do have safety nets and policies in place to help kids with fines though. And more often than not, those funds we do collect are used on our students.  Examples follow:

  • Safety Net: When our little snow or ice affects our schedule, we mark the library calendar “closed” in circulation so students do not get charged for late books on a day the library was not physically open. On late arrival days, just the same we mark the calendar closed.  Yes we are physically open on late arrival days and can circulate books in and out, but the system thinks we are closed so books circulating are not impacted by that date. Student do not accrue fines on those dates if their book is due. It helps as students may not be able to turn in their book, as their remaining schedule that day doesn’t bring them near the library. The system also automatically adds a “day of grace” which means they have two days to get it back to us before fines are added. This helps the students.
  • Safety Net: Students who come to talk to us about their late books usually get some kind of waiver or reduced fine amount. It’s quite easy to look a student in the face, listen to their quandary, and reduce or clear fines. It’s very easy to ignore those who just knowingly drop a late book in the box and walk away. All of this is explained in library orientation.
  • Fine Money Funds: All of our fine money in funneled right back into the library. The vast majority of this funding helps us offer library programming. Fine/fee money buys our book club titles. That funding source also allows us to purchase and provide lunch to the book club members. This way we can have an active library book club that doesn’t require students to stay after school.
  • Fine Money Funds: Sometime during early to mid March, our school budget has to be spent. Any funds remaining are zeroed out and added back to the general fund to be spent by someone higher than me, and not necessarily on or for  library programming. Having this local account assures that we can purchase more books for the collection, particularly those that become available after March. We love being able to offer our students the newest in the series or the next ever so popular YA title.
  • Fine Money Funds: We use that funding to offer prizes or treats that go with Teen Read Week, Poetry Month, and other library promotions and contests. I love the look on students faces when they learn they can choose a book as a prize.  I also enjoy giving our “Cavalier Coupons” that students may use in the cafeteria or school coffee shop.
  • Fine Money Funds: We used some of our money to purchase digital readers and ebooks when they first came out. This was a trial to see how they could be used, how hard it was to get books on and off, and if they could be applied in the school library loan model. Eventually we opted out of getting more, and now our readers are used in house and to model/demonstrate to students how to get checkout our ebooks from our system.  So they are still being used. In a nutshell, the money allows us to explore programming too.

Other source funds:  The library also sells the following at a low cost or no cost to raise small amounts of funds.

  • Earbuds – We sell earbuds for $2.00 a pair. Our network settings have sound disabled on all student devices that log in to the network unless there is a speaker device attached. Many students walk around with their earbuds, but we have a steady stream of students who want to purchase their own pair. They are cheap, costing us $1.00 or so. We make a 100% profit by selling them for $2,00
  • Flashdrives – We sell these at cost. we make no money from these, but it does keep students returning. We stock our school store which is in  another part of the building with both flash drives and earbuds.
  • Color printouts – Students can print all the black/white copies they need right from the library’s student laptops at no cost. We sell color copies from the desk at  $0.25 per page. Every little bit helps.

I realize not everyone works in a situation where they can charge fines or use the same fund raiser tactics that we use. Everyone’s teaching context is different. But I want readers to know that as a school that does charge fines, we are good stewards with that limited source of funds.  We make sure it is a total investment for the library programming.

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