Monday, February 25, 2013

Book Review: Streams of Babel

What would you do if the very water you drank was making you sick?  What if you didn’t know it until people started dying?

Streams of Babel, by Carol Plum-Ucci, is about a small town in New Jersey, where bioterrorism has suddenly become a very real threat.  Four teenagers living in the same neighborhood are caught in the middle of the drama, when they and the ones they love become mysteriously sick.  Half a world away in Pakistan, a teenage computer genius working with the U.S. government stumbles upon computer chatter about “Red Vinegar,” an untraceable, lethal new drug, that they plan on releasing in a small community as a test site.  Will the terrorists be stopped in time?

The novel is a fast-paced, action-packed read.  It stretches believability to a degree, but overall the idea that something like this really could happen in America adds to a sense of fear, though the book doesn’t dwell on that emotion.  Once the people in the town start to get sick, the book really focuses on discovering and stopping the unknown terrorists.  I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a book with a lot of action--perhaps a good suggestion for boys who are looking for a thriller or spy novel.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Connected Learning

Step 1. Read this blog post by Buffy J. Hamilton.
Step 2. Register to attend the April 7 & 8 IASL Spring Conference and let Buffy rock your world.
(She's our keynote speaker)

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Top 100 Things Kids Will Miss if they don't have a school librarian in their school

If you missed the last couple issues of Library Media Connection, take a look here and here at these great graphics based on the work of Dr. Nancy Everheart of the AASL.

A great advocacy tool!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013 - 4pm / Eastern Time
Guided Inquiry Design: Tools for Learning How to Learn
Presented by: Leslie Kuhlthau Maniotes, PhD, teacher effectiveness coach in the Denver Public Schools as well as a curriculum specialist and national consultant on inquiry learning.
Tuesday, March 12, 2013 - 4pm / Eastern Time
Practical Applications Using the Big6/Super3: Putting the Common Core to Work
Presented by: Michael Eisenberg, professor and dean emeritus, University of Washington Information School; and with Bob Berkowitz, consultant and retired library media specialist.
Wednesday, April 17, 2013 - 4pm / Eastern Time
Guided Research: Shaping the Learning Environment by Being observANT
Presented by: LaDawna HarringtonSchool Library Media Specialist, Millburn High School, Millburn, N J., and Part-time Lecturer, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

School Libraries: A Lesson in Student Success

A great infographic from the New Jersey Library Association.

Register today for the IASL Spring Conference!

Registrations are starting to come in. 
Go to
for the online registration form, hotel reservation information and a list of exhibitors (updated as they are verified) and much more!

15 Free Live Webinars for Librarians in February

From the Open Education Database: 15 Free Live Webinars for Librarians in February.

This one sounds especially good!

Designing Interactive Library Spaces (Georgia Library Association)
Through this webinar, Dave Hesse and Brian Pichman of the Evolve Project will discuss the importance of redesigning library spaces to make them more interactive and collaborative. The Evolve Project is a collaborative platform that aims to change the way people see libraries through the injection of technology that fosters collaboration and exploration, including laser tag, Sphero Balls, Sifteo Cubes, interactive Legos, and so much more!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Student-Centered Library Advocacy

Advocacy is about making the value of a library program to its community so obvious that the Teacher Librarian never has to advocate on her own. Ideally, everyone would walk around town joyfully exclaiming that the school library helped such and such child do this such and such amazing thing, and wow, I can’t believe anyone would ever think that a school library isn’t absolutely necessary for a successful student!

But... until we get there, we Teacher Librarians have to do a bit of advocating for ourselves. We can’t rely on those joyous exclamations out in the streets. We can’t rely on that one wonderful administrator who “gets it” to explain library programs to their skeptical colleagues. We need to be more proactive.

Doug Johnson’s Rule #3 for Library Advocacy (found here on his Blue Skunk Blog) reminds us that we should never advocate for the librarian or the library program, but rather for our students. We know that the library is vital to our school communities, but we need to be able to express WHY the library is vital to student learning. He suggests re-framing common “advocacy” requests for a bigger budget or more clerical staffing as student needs. For example, “Without an adequate budget, students will not have access to the newest children's choice award titles and reading interest will decline." or "If the clerical position is reduced, I will not have as much time to work with teachers on collaborative units."

By taking the program need and structuring it as a student-learning need, we not only demonstrate that the library is a vital student-focused program, but reinforce that we are in fact teachers with instructional goals. Our request won’t come off as self-serving, but rather as concerned about the success of our students and how we and our programs can best provide resources, support, and collaborative learning opportunities to our school community.

The same concept applies to more than just requests to the building administration. When communicating with parents - whether in a newsletter, on Twitter, or in person- don’t mention all of the great things the library has been doing - talk about all of the great things students have done with the help of the library.

For example, instead of saying “I just taught this great lesson on finding articles using an online subscription database,” say “4th graders were so excited to learn about finding current events that relate to what they are learning in social studies. They were surprised that we have a way to search a ton of magazines and newspapers all at once!”

Instead of “I just purchased 35 new titles to add to our nonfiction collection,” say “students doing research for science now have access to up-to-date information at their reading level.”

Instead of “we hosted a great read and feed program this month,” say “students relaxed and enjoyed some great literature (and snacks) this month at a school reading event celebrating how fun it is to read!”

What other tips do you have for making our advocacy student-centered?