Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Ten Things I Did to Get a Library Job

I have my dream job and sometimes people ask how I was able to get it.  I can't tell you exactly what made the difference, because I can't read the minds of the people who hired me, but here are the things that I did to try to put myself above the rest and get a job, in no particular order.  

I'm guessing I did something right!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

SGO's and Library Media Specialists: Problems and Solutions

If you're like many of the other public school professionals out there, you've probably recently had to do your SGOs for the year.  In my district, School Library Media Specialists must do SGOs as well.  We were permitted to do a traditional SGO as well as an FGO (facility growth objective).  For my FGO this year I'm doing it on my fiction circulation, the baseline data for which is accessible with a few clicks, but my SGO was much harder to implement.

If you're like me - and many other High School Library Media Specialists - you don't have scheduled classes.  I don't have a specific pool of students that I see all of the time.  I don't grade.  I rarely do lesson plans.  That's just not how I service my students.  Guidance counselors, school psychologists, nurses, and other fellow non-instructional staff also have the same problem.  We need to show measurable student growth without access to our own students.

I'm by no means an expert on SGOs and how to write them, but here's a list of obstacles I've personally experienced in trying to come up with SGOs, and suggestions on how to overcome them:

Monday, June 2, 2014

What is a #Hashtag Anyway?

If you’re a beginning social media user, you may have bumped into this weird symbol:

That symbol, commonly known as a pound or number sign, is now known in the social media world as a hashtag.  It was originally made popular via twitter, but has gained popularity through many other social media programs like instagram, facebook, and google+.

A hashtag is a means of categorizing a conversation.  Think of it like a folder, except each item can be placed in multiple folders by applying multiple hashtags.  In programs like twitter, placing a hashtag allows you to join a conversation or track one that is already in progress.  It also ensures that whatever you have written will be read by others interested in the same hashtag.

For example, if you write a twitter post that may be of interest to your colleagues, you might want to use the #ltps hashtag. All you need to do is type “#ltps” anywhere in your tweet and anyone following the #ltps hashtag will read your message.  Always using that same hashtag will ensure that you stay in that conversation. 

Hashtags can be temporary – as in a hasthag for a specific education conference – or they can be permanent.

And you can make a new hashtag any time you want!  Make one for your classroom or for a particular lesson plan.

My favorite hashtags to follow are #edchat, #edtech, and #libchat.  There’s a hashtag for every hobby and profession though, so give it a try!

Chrome Webstore

In my last post I talked about the Tweet Deck Chrome Extension, but let’s dial it back a bit and talk about how to find it and what the Chrome Webstore is anyway.

Think of the Chrome Webstore as a free way for you to “pimp out” your Chrome browser.  You can change the color using themes.  You can add small programs (like the Tweet Deck Chrome Extension) to make your life easier.  There are even games you can add to your browser, not that you’d ever play them in school *wink*.

To get started, visit It should look something like this:

On the left you’ll see categories through which you can browse, or you can use their search bar for something specific (like the Tweet Deck Chrome Extension).

Poke around and see what you can find.  From video creation to productivity improvement, there’s something for everyone.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Tweet Deck Chrome Extension

Are you a twitter hater? I was too until I found the Tweet Deck extension for the chrome browser!

As a quick recap, a browser is the program you use to access the internet. In our school we have two choices: Chrome or Internet Explorer (IE). Each has their strengths and weaknesses and the ability to add smaller programs to tailor them to your needs. Since our student’s 1:1 devices are Chromebooks, which only use the Chrome browser, I’m always looking for new tips and tricks to make using Chrome better for both students and teachers.

My latest fave is Tweet Deck. Tweet Deck is a free Chrome extension that allows you to monitor multiple twitter accounts and hashtags at the same time! Before I found Tweet Deck I hated Twitter. I didn’t know how to stay on top of it despite trying a dozen different iPhone apps. And trying to keep me to 140 characters or less was a learning curve too. The whole thing was confusing and overwhelming.

But with Tweet Deck I can see everything – my notifications, lists, hashtags, etc. – at a glance. With just a couple minutes a day you too can finally join the Twitterverse. In our next issue I’ll be sure to explain a bit more about Twitter and how to navigate the Chrome Web Store so you can find Tweet Deck – and other goodies – to make your life easier. Or you can of course just swing by and I’ll be happy to show you.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Do We Still Need Paper Books?

Has anyone ever asked you why we still need libraries because e-books are the wave of the future?  Or perhaps you have a golden opportunity to renovate your library and you're wondering if you really need all those books since e-books don't take up any space!  

I am 1/2 way through a $100,000 renovation myself and have been asked these questions - and many like them - multiple times.  I have come up with the following arsenal of responses and thought they might come in handy for you: 

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Right Questions to Ask While Genrefying Your Fiction

Someone recently asked me how I pick where a book would go if it meets multiple genres.  The truth is, it is extremely rare that a book ONLY falls in to one genre.  Many westerns have romance in them.  Time travel stories can happen entirely in the past and therefore be attractive to historical fiction readers.  I can go on and on with examples.  

Fortunately I've had a lot of practice genrefying when I used to work for Realms of Fantasy, the short fiction magazine.  I was one of their editors and part of my job was helping authors to classify their stories so they market them to the right publications.  And I really enjoy figuring out what genres can be applied to a book, believe it or not.  Applying genres to a book is really similar to listing its subject headings.  

It isn't always foolproof, but I ask myself the following questions when I'm trying to genrefy a book, and they usually do the trick for me:

Friday, March 7, 2014

Let the Fiction Genrefying Begin!

I am so excited to announce that we have begun the process of genrefying the fiction section in our high school library media center!

There is a lot of controversy involving this topic in the library world, and for good reason.  At the end of the day, helping our patrons find what they're looking for is one of the core functions of our existence.  Anything that threatens that goal can turn librarians in to very scary people because it matters so much to us.

However, we believe that genrefying our fiction will serve our patrons better.  Here's why:

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Weeding the Library: Trials and Tribulations

Let's first begin with the definition of weeding.  I like Arizona State Library's definition because it's quick and easy:  "Weeding (also known as deselection) is an essential element of collection development that ensures the library’s materials are useful and accessible."

Useful and accessible.  Those are the two biggies and they affect one another.  If your library is filled with non-useful items, the useful ones are no longer accessible.  If your library is filled with useful items, they will be easily accessible.

I am about to weed my library again and I want to make sure I do it right.  I know I didn't last time and I want to correct that.  That not only means taking my time and depending on resources like CREW:  A Weeding Manual for Modern Libraries, but that also means getting the input of my teachers.

But sometimes getting the RIGHT input can be a challenge.  That's why I'm writing this post, in the hopes of explaining what information library media specialists really need when they ask, "give me a reason for keeping this book."

Friday, February 28, 2014

Staying on Top of the Crazy

As employees in education, we have a lot that is asked of us. If you’re nodding your head right now, you know exactly what I mean! And you also know that it often feels like it’s impossible to stay on top of all the crazy AND use technology.

I’m going to show you my favorite tools for staying on top of all of the latest and greatest in education, libraries, technology, and school administration. No matter what you teach or how you affect a school, these tools can help you filter the internet down in to consumable chunks that will only take a few minutes a day to use.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Why I Broke Up With Weebly on Valentine's Day

I recently left Weebly for Google Sites.  I have nothing particular against Weebly.  For the right person it's an easy tool for making beautiful websites quickly.  But, in the end, it wasn't a good tool for me.  Read on to find out why.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

My Debut Into Podcasting!

I was invited to be a guest on the podcast, House of EdTech, hosted by Christopher Nesi.  Here's a link to the full show notes and the episode.  Check it out!

Education: the Nesi Way: 4 Backchanneling and a Conversation with Carina Go...: Providing new outlets for your students to communicate through is something that all teachers should consider. At a time when career and c...

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Top 5 Things to Remember BEFORE You Start Renovating Your Library

I am currently spending the second half of a $100,000 grant issued by the Lawrence Township Education Foundation.  Along the way I have learned a few things about renovating a library, and thought I would share the top 5 things you need to remember BEFORE you start renovating your library!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

YouTube - Learning to Love Again

You love YouTube.  It has tons of videos, many by some of the greatest educators in your field. 

Yet you also hate YouTube because it’s rife with inappropriate comments and disruptive ads. 

Most people have decided the good isn’t worth the bad and have abandoned YouTube for smaller waters with mediocre content in order to avoid exposing their students to material out of their control.

Well, it’s time to learn to love YouTube again!  There are free tools that will allow you to flip that classroom like you always dreamed and get only the rich educational content you want. Try one of these:

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Human Libraries - Experts Available for Check Out

One of my board members just forwarded me an interesting concept that has my brain whirling.  I was wondering if any of you have been involved in anything like it.

It is a human library filled with human books.  Human books are volunteers who are cognitive authorities in given areas.  So for example, you may have a musician, a holocaust survivor, and a physicist.  These people are available to be “checked out” and have meetings with people who want to pick their brains for information.

I think this is so cool!  I have no idea how I could implement something like this, but I feel like it could have a huge impact on education if done correctly.  Some ideas that have already sprung to mind include having a human library full of professional development contacts for teachers.  Or a human library of artists for our fine arts students.  Thoughts?  

Friday, January 17, 2014

Thinking of going 1:1? Here's some advice...

If your district is considering going to 1:1, read this first.  It may help you in your journey.

  • Figure out how long you want the program to run.  Knowing how you're paying for it for just one year, or even three, is not enough.  You will eventually run out of money and then you're in real trouble.  When a district goes 1:1 and then backs out of it, it looks like a real public failure.  So once you're in, you're kind of stuck with it.