#ShelfLove Challenge: Love Letter to My Library

Shelf Love Challenge 2016Each month, the #ShelfLove Challenge has a different topic. This month’s topic:

The 2nd Week of April is Library Week. Tell us about your local library and what makes is special to you.

I have to admit that I haven’t been able to visit the Worcester Public Library in a while. It is a beautiful library, but for a variety of reasons (mostly having to do with transportation, which is a problem I resolved when I bought a new car last month), I haven’t been to the library in a while, and indeed, my library card has expired, so I need to renew it.

However, because I am a teacher, I have access to a school library. When I first started working at Worcester Academy, I was a technology integration specialist, and I worked in the library. I tried to increase the size our young adult collection, and I worked to encourage young readers by recommending books and visiting classes to do book talks.

We have a new library director this year, and she has transformed parts of the upper floor into a maker space, including a LEGO wall and 3-D printers. One wall has been painted with whiteboard paint, as have several tables. The fiction collection has been “genrefied” so that students can more easily find books they like. I took my students to the library, and our new library director conducted a “book speed dating” experience for the students, who read a book for a few minutes and either decided to pass or to keep the book. It was fun for the students and a great way to have a taste of a new book. I wrote about it on my education blog in more detail. In addition to a large collection of books, my school library has many DVD’s I can use with my students to enhance their learning. Some are movie versions of texts we study, while others are documentaries or educational films.

The library is a gathering place for students, who are encouraged to collaborate. It’s warm, inviting atmosphere has turned it into a real hub on campus. I don’t actually work out of the library anymore now that I’m the English department chair, but I go there when I can to work because it’s one of the best places on campus to be. There is a special spot looking out over the small quad in front of the building that has a great view in the fall as the leaves are changing.

I definitely need to make better use of our public library now that I don’t have any constraints that make it a challenge, but I must admit my affection for the Mildred H. McEvoy Library at my school. Our librarians make it a great space for our students to learn and help our teachers as well.

A quick check-in on how I’m doing with the #ShelfLove Challenge—not much progress this month. April is indeed the cruelest month at school, at least for a person in my role as a department chair, because it involves selecting department awards, placement of students, course ballots, and scheduling (as well as the spring fever slump and senioritis). I elected to try to read between 11-20 books that were already on my shelves (either my physical shelves or my Kindle or Audible library) before January 1, 2016, and so far, of the twelve books I’ve read up to this point, five of them have been #ShelfLove books, which is one more since last month.

Booking Through Thursday: Weeding

Booking Through ThursdayOh, my, how long has it been since I participated in Booking Through Thursday?

If you can’t tell, I’m attempting to give my blog a little more love this year. Let’s see how long that lasts. While I’m still in the resolution honeymoon period, though, I thought I’d rejoin some of the old memes I used to enjoy. This week’s question:

Do you ever weed out unwanted books from your library? And if so, what do you do with them?

I do indeed weed out books occasionally. Most often, what I do is put them up for grabs on PaperBackSwap. I suppose I could donate them to a used bookstore, but a) I’m not really sure where one is (I know, I’ve only lived here 2½ years, and I should have it figured out, right?), and b) I kind of like the fact that it’s sort of an even trade. With PaperBackSwap, I receive a credit when I send one of my books to someone, and I can use those credits to select a book I want.

The two major problems with PBS are that it’s not always easy to find books you want because books have to be posted by other members, and the waiting lists for popular books are looooong. Obviously, the first issue is a problem with any used bookstore as well. After all, any used bookstore is only going to carry books someone donated because they didn’t want them for some reason. On PBS, the pool is a little larger, so it seems like books can be somewhat easier to find than in a used bookstore. The second problem is just like the library waiting lists. Bestsellers and popular books or books that are in high demand for some reason are always hard to get. On the plus side, that means if you post one because you yourself don’t want it anymore, it’s snatched up right away, and you get a credit. On the minus side, there are books that I’ve had on my wishlist for years at PBS, and I’m not really closer to getting them.

I mostly select books I want at PBS if I’m not sure enough that I’ll like the book, so I am not sure I want to pay full price. I could get some of these books at my library, but not all of them. All in all, PBS is a pretty good deal.

Other books I don’t want in my own library, I donate to my classroom library. I still technically am keeping the book, but placing in that library means if a student really wants to keep it, that’s okay, and if it’s lost or never returned, that’s okay, too. Of course, I also buy books expressly for my classroom library as well.

So what do you do? Do you weed out books?

Top Ten Tuesday adapted from http://www.flickr.com/photos/ceasedesist/4812981497/

Top Ten 2013 Reading Goals

Top Ten Tuesday adapted from http://www.flickr.com/photos/ceasedesist/4812981497/

I do have some goals for reading this year:

  1. Read 52 books. That was also my goal last year, but I felt short by about half.
  2. Read at least Game of Thrones in the Song of Ice and Fire series.
  3. Read at least The Pillars of the Earth in whatever that series is called. I Googled it, but did not find an answer. Maybe I didn’t Google hard enough.
  4. Read at least two books set in France. If I can’t go there in person…
  5. Take advantage of free books. I need to use my school library, public library, Kindle book lending, Overdrive, PaperBackSwap, and NetGalley more.
  6. Read at least ten books in my back catalog of to-read books. Including some books I had to have that are still untouched on my shelf several years later.
  7. Complete the reading challenges I joined (and participate more actively on the challenge websites with comments and reviews).
  8. Figure out a way to listen to audio books now that I’m not commuting.
  9. Finish Les Misérables on DailyLit.
  10. Make more time for reading.

Do you have any reading resolutions?

Fall Foliage trip to New Hampshire 2011

Sunday Salon: Book Club

Fall Foliage trip to New Hampshire 2011

I get to live in a place that looks like this in the fall. How lucky am I? I didn’t take this picture, and it’s actually New Hampshire rather than Massachusetts. The leaves have just begun to turn here. Right now there is a very soft rain falling outside. It’s perfect weather for curling up with a cup of tea and a book.

I recently became the new advisor of the Book Club at my school, and as you might expect, it’s full of smart girls. I wish we could have talked more boys into joining. If they were smart, they’d have joined if for no other reason than that they can meet girls. For their first book, the girls picked Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower. The plan is to read half the book by our next meeting on Thursday, and then finish the other half for the following week. Then we are going to go see the movie. I am more excited than I can say about the Book Club. For one thing, it’s a proper book club. The girls are serious. They love books. It makes me so happy. If you have ever been an English teacher and tried to get students to love books, then you understand how I feel. If you feel like the world would be a better place if only more people were readers, then you also understand how I feel.

I have also become something of a go-to person for YA in the library, and in the next few weeks, I plan to request a big stack of books for the library. I believe that the school library should be driven by student interest as much as by curriculum. Certainly teachers should request books, but it is my hope that students will also see the library as a place to check out the books they want to read. I will be helping one of our librarians out with a display for Teen Read Week. I am so excited about this role because I’m excited to influence and support our students’ reading. I have been fortunate to hear from parents and former students about my role in their development as a reader, and nothing gives me more pleasure than fostering a love of lifelong reading in a student.

I am about 60 pages into Perks, and so far, what a great book! Charlie, the protagonist, makes a mixtape for his friend Patrick, whom he has drawn as a Secret Santa partner for Christmas. I recreated the playlist minus the Beatles songs, which aren’t in Spotify (I substituted with some cover versions). I shared it with the Book Club girls, so I thought I’d share it with Perks fans here. Take a listen.

Enjoy this glorious fall Sunday!

The Sunday Salon

Musing Mondays

Musing Mondays—May 16, 2011

Musing MondaysThis week’s musing asks…

The local Catholic school board is closing its school libraries, and parents and teachers—and even the students—are in an uproar. Budget cuts demanded that the board choose something to get rid of… they choose libraries. As such, many librarians have lost their jobs. And, the board is moving the books to the classrooms, instead. They feel that it is a good solution.

What do you think? Should the schools be without an actual “library” room? Is this a good solution?

I’m not sure where this school is located. No link to a news story in the post prompt. I think every school needs a library. So does every elementary school classroom, every middle school reading or language arts classroom (really, other subjects should, too), and every high school English classroom. Minimum. The library is more than just a room that houses books. It is a room that celebrates reading, books, media, and learning. It is a place for students to gather to study. It is a refuge for students like I was when I was young—a place to find new books, a place to hide, a place to think. I can’t imagine taking that away from students. Why so many people have decided we can do without libraries lately is beyond my comprehension. Even though I had moved away by the time it closed, I was saddened to learn the library I used to ride my bike to when I was a kid had closed. I wanted other children to be able to experience what I had experienced.

We also need our librarians. They stay current on good books and can help students find books to read. To push that role on overloaded teachers is not a solution. I can recommend books to my students. I read a lot. But no one can replace a librarian for expertise. How many kids have been turned on to their favorite book or even to reading in general because a librarian took an interest and made a recommendation? I loved spending time in my school library. When I was in fifth grade, I loved being chosen to be the office worker because I could finish all my school work by 11:00 and read for the rest of the day. The office staff let me go to the library to pick out books. I vividly remember asking a librarian to help me find an author’s address so I could write to him, telling him how I loved his book. She was more crushed than I was to discovered he had already passed away.

It doesn’t sound like the stakeholders—the students, parents, or teachers—want this. Surely there is a better way to save money than to remove librarians and a central library from a school.