Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Skydiving & Other Lessons from AASL2015

From the SLJ review, “The mix of author star power, participatory events, and dozens of sessions at the 17th biennial conference (Nov. 5–8) in Columbus, OH, kept librarians charged during 16-hour days. With 2,658 participants on site, including librarians and exhibitors, attendance was lower than the 2013 conference, which registered 3,000 participants”

Post-Conference state--tired (even more so after catching reflection in mirror), a tad panicked about all that did NOT get done while I was away; slightly guilt-ridden for missed work, money spent, and knowing others who would love to have gone but couldn’t for one reason or another.

Sounds inspiring, right? (sarcasm, of course).  But despite bags under my eyes, an emptier wallet, and slight pangs of guilt, I’m beyond INSPIRED and MOTIVATED and on a mission to not make my #aasl15 a stand-alone and low impact experience.  If I pack away what I learned along with my luggage, it was experience of little or no benefit to my library community.   If I continue to #leadoutloud with newfound knowledge & vision, then it was a worthwhile investment all around.

That said, here goes:

Guilt be Gone:
Right or wrong, guilt occupies much (too much) of my thinking.  If it was just healthy guilt like eat better, call my parents, send a card, don’t rob a bank, then all would be normal. But when a “Shoulda coulda woulda” focus gets consuming, it merely clogs the brain.  The biggest pang I have a hard time responding to is the post-conference comments from those who did NOT go…. “must be nice”, “how do you GET to do that”, “nice of you to come back to work” and the like.  It most often comes from those who aren’t likely to have gone no matter what, don’t even enjoy such opportunities, and are likely unsure about what actually happens at a conference like this.

Though I know there will always be “haters” or “green monsters”, I tend to worry about that more than I should, so I’m committing myself to not being defensive when such comments are made or implied.  In reality, it’s MY issue and I need to “go Elsa” and let it go.

Lovin’ Me Some Library Peeps:  
Imagine you are lucky enough to be in a profession that you love, are passionate about learning and doing more, and are open to change.   Now imagine sharing that energy with a couple thousand people who are in the same boat!  Need I say more.   Chance conversations, cab rides, coffee lines, and events were rich with exchanges beyond the 5Ws.   I initiated more “what do you think about this idea” with new friends, inquired as to how people were addressing….(various issues), and dug a little deeper to find out what was (and wasn’t ) thriving in their worlds.  And as others did the same, conversations would exponentially share the stories of our hopes, dreams, ideas, and inspiration.

Though perhaps there is no magic formula as to which workshops to attend, this year I tried to focus on space/facility topics and those that addressed data and evaluation (of librarian and the program).  I gathered significant information, but I was honestly underwhelmed by the formal sessions.  Most all I attended were “sit and get” will presentations that were sometimes hard to see from even the closet rows.  If you have to preface every slide with the comment “I know you probably can’t see this,” then do something about it AHEAD OF TIME.    I understand that it is hard to travel with props, support materials, and interactive options (sometimes wifi is an issue), but I really think the interaction from the crowd offer more than a hand in the air poll about the demographic of the crowd.  Again, I left with a great deal of information, but was only wowed by one panel group that inspired me enough to say, “you missed a great one” for those who went elsewhere.

I know the unconference offered the complete opposite in terms of engagement and left folks inspired despite the hours, but an ill-timed cold left me useless for this late night event.  I heard, however, good things from those who took part.

Vendors & Authors are our GLUE!
There is as much time and place for expanding BEYOND my peeps in like situations and that, too, was powerful for me this time.  Four vendor “mini classes”  (Britannica, MachinVia, Follett, and Springshare) in the trade show shifted my thinking in terms of the best way to curate, access, market and deploy rich resources for our communities.

I was able to get the ear of a “head honcho” to express frustration with a current product from one vendor and gain insight into other products I would like to pursue from others.  Already received a follow up and feel like progress was made!  The ideal “combo platter” for me was a school librarian doing a mini-class on one of the products being showcased.  Her perspective and “real live librarian” perspective hit home for me.

Dinner focus groups are high impact ways to combine culinary fun with focused conversations. Thank you, Rosen and Britannica for allowing me those types of evenings.   Grateful and connected as we move forward together!

The Project Connect Panel (Follett) had me high-fiving all over the place.  I”ve participated in one of their sessions before and was equally inspired. I look forward to being part of the movement (and rallying others along in the path) to raise awareness of the power of strong school libraries by creating higher expectations from administration AND school librarians for a dynamic and indispensable partnership that transforms student learning.  Hearing stories, expectations, visions, and concerns from school administrators and their view on school libraries/librarians was a powerful one.   I am proud that many of my administrators could easily have been at the podium to to share how their leadership shows their belief in and support of strong school librarians and library programs. It’s up to me, and each of us, to do our part to ensure that librarians are leading the way and administrators understand and support how strong programs align with their goals.

Authors never disappoint in their message, their passion, and their support of libraries.  Thank you to the entire gaggle of authors who shared their messages!  I love the frenzy, the groupies, the mile long autograph lines, and the partnerships we share with our rockstars.  

Location, Location, Location
No matter where I go, I create time to explore the area and did the same in Columbus.  Some beautiful fall weather inspired some fresh air walks all over downtown, through an evening gallery hop, a fan-filled walk to the Ohio State stadium where 100,000 plus were gathering, trips to North Market, outdoor cafes, and an amazing toy store.  

It might be tempting to unpack, file what I learned, and get back to where I was before I went.  Tempting, yes but not going to happen.  So many ideas were sparked at AASL 2015 and none of them are sitting idle.   Watch out for my leadership with:

  • Virtual Book Club
  • digital makerspace
  • Libraries Transform movement in NYS
  • an article about inquiry
  • proposals for Phoenix 2017
  • grant application for a Big Read
  • recruitment effort for more AASL members in NY
  • Embracing our Mascot/Branding our Library
  • Proposal for library staff TEAM approach
  • Shifts in Library catalog with 3 new products

Grateful to have gone....even more inspired to bring the ideas and inspiration to life!

Daily Darwin (AASL newsletters from each day)

Friday, February 13, 2015

Library without a Library-it's IMPOSSIBLE!

OK, so we are 5 months into this "RENO relationship" (and another year and some left). 
And it's official--running a library program and maintaining rich connections CAN NOT BE DONE!  As a "LEGIT" strong librarian, how can I possibly be

  • Connecting with teachers and students to digital resources to engage learning?  
  • Promoting literature for leisure and content? 
  • Collaborating with teachers?  
  • Empowering student leadership? 
  • Establishing a community presence?  
  • Hosting programs and special events?  
  • Providing professional development? 
  • Staying in touch with my networks
  • Pursuing grant support?
  • Advocating for the role of strong school libraries?
  • Thinking about our new space when I'm not really "living" in one?
when I am all over the place, traveling between 6 schools, splitting my time in ways that are never equitable, sharing spaces, places, tools, and resources, using my car (and Ms.Lindy when-if the weather turns around) to store and deliver resources, having students run one of the spaces (the Nook), and doing much of my work off-site/off-hours and online??   

You know how?   

First, I've had to transform my #LEMONS2LEMONADE theory.  Not every lemon can be transformed. In fact, I often fantasize about pummeling said lemons into a brick wall. Some "lemons" have to be put back into the bowl,tossed, or cut in half. Maybe I can use the juice or the zest, but not the whole lemon!  I (we) have to CHOOSE DIFFERENTLY.

I've had to rethink, shift priorities, find new ways to deliver instruction, resources, and ME!  I've embraced "FAIR isn't EQUAL" and have had to rethink how I "divide myself up".   Genuine conversations with partners have changed--what do you NEED? when would you PREFER? What is the biggest impact I can make for you?  I have to LEAD DIFFERENTLY.

Access to resources TRUMPS control of resources and systems to make it so have needed some shifting(though I've never been a control freak, accountability matters for sanity reasons);  more "teaching to fish" and "less fish";  though both have their place, I know!   I have to MANAGE DIFFERENTLY.

Email, texting, voxing, tweeting, Facebook, google drive/calendar/forms, phone (and phone forwarding), Dropbox, Symbaloo and Libguides have been gamechangers to deploy resources and information.  I have to COMMUNICATE DIFFERENTLY.

Maintaining and fostering connections beyond our school community are STILL important. Grants, award pursuits, conversations with Syracuse University, leading through NYLA/SSL, writing, presenting, workshops, conferences, professional development, Teen Book Fest, Bookapalooza, and overall "bigger picture" partnerships MUST happen.  I have to ADVOCATE DIFFERENTLY

Students crave leadership, involvement, community, and voice.  How we make that happen requires creativity, shared supervision, alternative approaches, innovation, and trust.  I have to EMPOWER DIFFERENTLY

Can we have a strong school library program without a library living under one roof?   Impossible......or not....

Impossible is not a fact, it's an opinion.

Stay tuned....Pine Grove Library is ON THE MOVE!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Yes, we're in some "unique" situations this year, but we are still making the ANIMOTO below!

Moving with Impact--Learning in and BEYOND the Library

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Get over it already!

I hit a wall...not with the bookmobile, not due to black ice, but one of those conceptual "I'm stuck" walls in the last couple weeks. In my head (and surely the voices of others) I know "get over it already" should be the rational message...but for oh so many reasons, successfully managing my "reno situation" is causing me more angst than satisfaction despite the unique (and temporary) opportunities that really do exist.

I truly believe "angels will appear" when you need them...and likewise in my professional world, I'm always open to "here's your sign"...and oh so many messages have come my way (solicited and not so much).   There will be moments, new walls, and lots more signs, but in the spirit of season I share some inspirational nuggets that are helping me manage trying to embed a library space/presence/program in and through 6 buildings.  Who knows, maybe you, too, have encountered some walls and the inspiration will be the gift that keeps on giving....

1.  If everyone's thinking alike, then someone isn't thinking  saw this on Twitter....I've always prided myself on thinking OUT of the box...when I lack mojo it's usually because I have landed back into a box that is stifling, status quo, or stagnant....goodbye, box.

2.  Perspectives from Dave Lankes--where ARE we going?   Lankes NEVER ceases to get me thinking...and again, the timing was perfect....I have to stop looking for answers and start asking the questions....thanks, Dave.   (with props to @philshapiro for pointing it out!)  

3.  Mom's words...when lamenting my "out of sorts" attitude....she suggested that maybe I need to make my "headquarters" nicer.... (she struggles with the details of many things due to alzheimers BUT this was SPOT ON!), got a few kids to help me reorganize our very small library space at PGEAST (grade 7 bldng), decorate for season, declutter the extra stuff, and rebranding it the NOOK... more to come from NOOK EAST!

4.  Nick and the Elf on the Shelf...I was sharing with my lunch club (3 kids)what we could NOT do this year like we 've done on the past because of space (programs, holiday sale, etc etc), Nick said, "No reason we still can't have fun, right Mrs. K?"     Yup.  Fun matters. Kids matter.  And the Elf will return for the season along with a spirit of magic that can happen ANYWHERE.

Kids wrote 100s of cards to soldiers
5.  "It's too bad you will have to try harder not to give a shit"   advice from a colleague....surely one option, but not my style.  I care. A lot. I'm passionate about leading in and through the school library and will continue to explore high impact ways to do just that.  

I haven't solved all the dilemma's, nor do I plan to, but I have found some much needed mojo to come back out of the box, hide an elf, and empower great things from my happy headquarters.   

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Limitless possibilities & missed opportunities

Spotted this sky a few weeks ago between sites; decided it was a symbolic reminder to see the BLUE sky among the DARKER clouds :)   

I've always viewed the school library as a place of "limitless possibilities".... the resources, the connections, the space, the programs, the staff, the books, the technology, the leadership--together a strong school library can work magic.

When we started planning for our temporary "digs" for the 2 year renovation of our building, I thought the only thing that might change would be the lack of physical space....I didn't expect to feel like we were starting from scratch...and that's where I'm at right now....and the feeling is disheartening.

In a positive way, I've been empowered to figure out the best way to deliver the program for our students located in 6 locations.  Collaboration, cooperative plans, shared expertise, and maximizing each other's talents have been key components of our embedded library program (in and OUT of the library)....and still are...but now we also have to figure in limited face time to plan, travel time between locations, sparse physical space in one school for planning or working, and 6 different time schedules that might it hard to designate times at different buildings.

Now, instead of seeing limitless possibilities, I'm seeing missed opportunities and am struggling with how to move forward to have the highest impact.

Though I continue to explore partnerships and instructional opportunities, I'm finding my time is sporadic rather than consistent, disjointed rather than focused, and I'm involved with surface coverage rather than immersed instruction.

Yes, I've connected students to literature, teachers to resources (libguides),  worked on grants, explored new strategies and tools, aligned with District initiatives, participated in committees, and have remained in engaged in professional learning.

But, wherever I "land" for the day, morning, or afternoon is a missed opportunity at another location (especially in the one building where there is no librarian/library).

I'm not clueless, I know these "part time" structures go on (unfortunately) all over the country and we know it's less than ideal.   But I am in a District that has been SUPPORTIVE of libraries and I feel like I'm not meeting expectations in our current structure.

As I move forward, I have to make some choices about priorities, best use of my leadership and expertise, and ways to have impact through the library despite the limitations with space, time, and routine.

Conceptually, I know we can get where we need to go.  Realistically, however, I have to hit some issues head on to and find the best way to balance the time, miles, resources, and overall role of the program.

I'm still all about "lemons to lemonade" just right now I'm finding lots of seeds in my batch and it's leaving a bad taste in my mouth.

So, onward and upward.....advice welcome!     Some happy moments on our road to figuring it out!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Lessons from a Libraryette-does size matter?

Here's what I thought  would happen when our library moved from a large bustling hub of activity to a dorm-room size office area...(and a bookmobile and 5 libraries to share)

  • fewer late days picking up, setting up, and feng shui-ing
  • so much alone time it might be eerie
  • an embedded instructional kumbayah--as we had that in place
  • some minor scheduling issues across 6 buildings
  • zero need to stock up on K cups---traffic wouldn't warrant it
  • a huge void students wanting to be involved; all out recruitment would be key

Here's what REALITY  has taught me in these few short weeks.

Feng-shuing a small space that is multipurpose and functional should be a SEPARATE INTERIOR DESIGN DEGREE...Though a stand up desk and a small pumpkin seem to be a great fit, the rest of my set up is in a constant state of "how about we try this".     

ALONE TIME...hmm....between kids for books, tech dept support, random bldngs and grounds visits updates to windows, wiring, tech; teachers for coffee, teachers and test mods, normal library-ish inquiries, and my classes at other schools--alone time I had to take a phone call in the custodian's closet down the hall.

Embedded instruction...hardest transition yet--who'd a thunk it? we had made SO much progress when were as "one" I'm balancing assertive vs more of a wimpy "if it won't be a bother" (what has happened to me :) in being an instructional partner/leader;  preparing libguides as I perceive needs,  and sharing resources, ideas, plans, & conversations. Negotiating meaningful collaboration across 6 sites, however, is definitely a work in progress as I address logistical and philosophical issues I really didn't forecast.    K-cup brainstorming time is in full swing....never know what ideas surface during a brew cycle!

Students (ones from last year AND new entries) are clamoring for being involved.  Lack of interest is NOT a concern and iStaff  has begun; they want to HELP, CHANGE, BUILD, CREATE, and MAKE THINGS HAPPEN....routinely and sporadically...

As I navigate the waters of cross campus instruction and a library that seats 4 comfortably (but stands 8), I will take my lead from the students....they aren't seeing obstacles, they see opportunities; they aren't concerned about we did before, they want to thrive at NOW...

There is no doubt I didn't forecast much of anything accurately...or so it seems...

There is also no doubt I will use my students as inspiration to moving us forward, rising above, and facing the hiccups head's what we ALL deserve....


Monday, September 29, 2014

Your place or mine? Dilemmas in collaboration...

September in CNY has brought amazing blue skies, seasonably warm temperatures, and  sunsets that are does seem, however that my overly ambitious goals (I know that now) for that same month have fell way short despite great intentions, a positive outlook, and a retro RV that accompanies me as "MsLindy the Bookmobile" on many visits.

Visit to Grade 6-Woodland Elem!

The Pine Grove Library is still on the move--literally and figuratively due to our students being relocated to 6 locations for the next 2 years due to a major building renovation.  By now I had hoped for the library program to be richly embedded (or on its way) in multiple curricular areas,  rich with student leadership, energized with technology, and moving in new and unchartered directions.  Yup, that's was the plan.   We WERE there last year.

The reality--have had a few genuine partnerships,  still trying to figure out how to make our iStaff program fit the new model, technology for students is currently sparse, and oh yes, we are moving in new directions, for sure, but so much more ground to cover!

I know (thanks to reminders from master, Dave Lankes :) that a library is MORE than a physical space that houses STUFF....but balancing the needs of a place to plan, meet with students, create, make, teach, collaborate, explore in multiple locations (5 existing and staffed libraries that I "share" and one space that is "all mine" with seating for 3 and space for about 6) is much harder to coordinate than I anticipated....

    When in doubt, don a Parrot Suit and
    make people smile at Open House. I did.
  • What teams meet when?  Which of the 6 buildings should I go to?   How do I make my days high impact AND efficient?   What do I let go?
  • I know I can lead virtually, but what must happen face to face to be effective across a campus?
  • Should a "no response" for collaboration be considered "not interested, thanks" or "so busy I would love your input, but don't have time to make it happen"
  • Should I go deeper with fewer or provide more surface support with more partners/classes?
  • Does open access to the library space at one spot trump instruction at another location?
  • I can't host, organize, initiate, take the lead from "my own space" so what do I need to consider to do it another space?   
Lots of new territory for sure...lots of miles added and lots of decisions to be considered as I (we) make the powerful connections that students deserve.....

To remind myself it hasn't been an epic fail of a month, some new and unexpected directions:

  • Food truck unit in collaboration with a FACS teacher colleague has taken off like crazy!
  • STEAM field trip in conjunction with long term study on Onondaga Lake offered some amazing hands on learning; more to follow
  • A discussion on wellness/fitness prompted 3 of us to submit a grant for snowshoes!
  • Traffic in the "library-ette" made me realize space for working was as important as space for books;  now balancing both with offsite storage
  • Student feedback about roles for what they can do is shedding light on some iStaff program options
  • Proximity between schools & great weather allowed me to walk to guest speaker (Owl Lady in conjunction with HOOT for Grade 6!)
  • Partnered with parent volunteers to add support to our Pre-K building library

Oh yeah and the sunsets are still absolutely unreal.....till next time..... still have the lemon; lemonade not quite perfected....

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Pivotfest...library on the move

Ms Lindy ready for action! 
Another week down, another week of exploring new territories as a Librarian on the MOVE!   With a "basecamp" at PGWEST--(former Catholic school renovated for our grade 7) and a parking spot for Ms Lindy the bookmobile, I'm carving a path for the program that I want to  efficient, positive AND high impact for ALL.

Book selection at the HS
Books at Minoa Elem-grade 6
Current Event Friday with gr 8

A few WOOHOOOs into the initial voyage--the weather has been AWESOME....something about bopping between schools while the sky is blue, the sun is warm, and the roads are clear is INSPIRATIONAL....the thought of doing the same in the middle of January in Syracuse is more of a mojo-buster...but for now...making connections across our "school campus" is starting to work.  I've met so many new colleagues (didn't realize how many people in our district I just had never met after 10 years in!);  I'm engaging with kids who are sitting criss-cross applesauce to students preparing portfolios for college; beautiful picture books to historical memoirs; touch pad games to 3D design programming; lined up with a line leader hands to the side to young adults sporting earbuds and slouch bags.

setting up Google Drive with 8th 
Science research/EasyBib
My professional priorities have ranged from those highly intelligent skills we learn in library school coursework to other "go-tos" in my toolbox that I'm pretty sure were mastered when I first started playing with a dollhouse.  I've been immersed in developing research portals and pathfinders for various projects; exposing students to peer reviewed journals, current events, and rigorous reads; teaching kids the best way to cite quality sources and curate credible research....

Need these?
Kids STILL want to browse;
this set up isn't working (3 had to leave
the other day so I could get to the phone :)
On the other side of the coin, I'm trying to find a way to set up our little "library-ette" to make it look homey yet professional, functional yet well stocked, cozy yet impressive.....but my first 22 decorating set ups have NOT achieved any of the above!   So...the mission continues this week....I swear this SMALL room is more work than a LARGE that POSSIBLE?  :0

We must create more practical space that balances space for books and space for humans (and mobile tech)...we'll bring some solace to our grade 7 area....we'll store MORE at the HS Library and rotate the collection to keep things fresh;  Ms Lindy's collection will rotate as well and we'll improve our balance of FICTION and NONFICTION (kids ask for BOTH, yet I leaned too heavy on the fiction though I knew that)...more title promotions, booktalks, visible displays...use of hallway tvs for ads, teasers, etc (temp tech issue on this concept--soon to be resolved I hope)

Have enjoyed MANY inspirational conversations about "what know what we COULD do...." and intentionally seek out that kind of thinking....others are "stuck" in the "glass half empty" mode and where possible, I'm intentionally investing less time in this thinking (influential as it can be)....

Coming up this week--2 road trips with MsLindy for book selection and outdoor read time; 6th grade collaboration for class novel; several necessary tech transitions/upgrades, Symbaloo/Pearltrees training, iStaff  prep, QR codes promos, and development of our outdoor work area !   Also in the works--library card sign up promos with RePete, +Twitter training for teachers, Food Truck unit with FACS, pumpkin delivery from a community friend, STEAMship LitMobile prep, iStaff rollout, and a trip to the MudBoils....yes I do have the greatest job ever!

I'm in full PIVOT about you?