Friday, August 31, 2012

Hurricane Isaac Puts a Damper on School

Hurricane Isaac downs a tree in my neighborhood in uptown New Orleans
School begins early in southern Louisiana. The teachers' first day was August 6th, and the students entered the building with their smiling faces on August 9th. After August 9th, I was in full-on school mode. In other words, I was incredibly busy. Teachers were scheduling classes, the high school book group was selecting the new ARCs to read, I was soliciting members for the middle school book group, and I needed to do a lot of cleaning and editing of all my electronic resources. Then we hit a snag when Isaac decided to pay a visit. When we left school on Friday the 24th, we had no clue that we would not return for a week. I think that I left my printer and speakers on, though I know that I turned off all the desktop computers. I had reading material at home, but I left a stack of books that I really wanted to read sitting on the circulation desk. The time off did give me a chance to finish the novel, The Teacher's Funeral by Richard Peck, that I selected for the first meeting of BRiMS, but BRiMS was supppose to meet on August 29th when we were still feeling the effects of the hurricane. When done with that, I picked up the third in a series that did not hold my attention. I couldn't concentrate very well, so Sherry Shahan's Purple Daze written mostly in verse was a quick read. It also has an intense message as the focus is the year of 1965 when Johnson sent more and more troops to Vietnam, Malcolm X was killed, and the Civil Rights Movement moved to a new level. 

Right now I have no power at home. As you can see by the photo below, there is no power at school either. I slept in the cool at my mother's house. She got power back on yesterday. She only lives about 6 blocks from me, but her Internet is still down, so hanging out at her house would not give me a chance to get any work done. My husband is the textbook manager at Tulane University Bookstore. Today they are open for business. School was suppose to start last week, but of course did not. Anyway, the food court is open, the AC is blasting, and there is free wifi for me to use. I am sitting just outside the doors to the bookstore. After a couple of hours here, the chair is getting hard, but you know I really can't complain. 
PFTSTA is located in the black circle and the red lines indicate power outages

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Reading More Books Nominated for Teen's Top Ten

Lauren Myracle's books are very popular in my school library. When Bookmarked received an Advanced Reader's Copy (ARC) of Shine last year, I knew that I wanted to read it. We get so many boxes of ARCs that I can't begin to read even half of them. I try to save time to read a few authors that I love. Shine is a very different kind of book for Ms. Myracle. It is definitely for the mature teen as it deals with a hate crime and homophobia. Cat, the main character, has some secrets of her own, but she is loyal to a fault. She believes that she must solve the mystery of who attacked her former best friend, Patrick, because the sheriff wasn't going to do it. There is lots of intrigue in this story as Cat's friends and family try to hide what they know. Cat soon realizes that everyone has faults, but she plans to keep at it until she finds some answers. This story is riveting and many of my teens thought so too. 

One of my students wrote a review of the book that we sent to the publisher, and they were so impressed that they sent it on to the author. When ALA met in New Orleans in June of 2011, the student got to meet Ms. Myracle in person and received her very own copy of Shine. The author is standing on the right in the above photo. 

Here is what the student thought about the book: 
"As Shine demonstrates your typical rural Southern background, the coming-of-age story is fresh and the strong characters can be related with the reader and may even act as an inspiration. It is hard to not imagine this book too soon become a movie as the story was very well developed and easy for readers to follow and also make their own theories pertaining to the mystery in the story. Teens would not be disappointed with a story that is so realistic, including almost every genre and component that a teen can relate to."
What did you like or not like about the cover?  Did the cover reflect the contents?
"I like everything about the cover, as it represents the coming-of-age story and the main character shining for her and for those who she cares for. The way that that is the only flower blooming on the branch shows that even if the character was alone, she still shined through others." 
Describe the most compelling aspect of the book.
"The most compelling aspect of the book was how the narrator would react towards the mystery. I’ve read other books from Lauren Myracle which made me want to read Shine. Shine is very different from most of what she writes, which made me more curious of how the story would turned out. But, I was not disappointed of how well done the story was developed, as well the characters of the story. I liked the idea of including the newspaper article in the beginning of the book for the readers to capture the idea of the mystery. I also enjoyed the little romance the narrator was able to experience, as well as her self-discovery of many, many strengths. Lauren Myracle, thank you for yet another great read!"       

If you want to hear more about Shine, then watch this episode of Get Reading:

Get Reading 4
from Elizabeth Kahn on Vimeo.

Monday, August 20, 2012

LaLAMP Tour Across the State of Louisiana

Click the picture above to enlarge it so that you can read our bios
On September 10th, Lisa Valence and I will start our tour across the state of Louisiana to speak to librarians and hopefully a few teachers, too. We begin at home in New Orleans, then travel to Baton Rouge on the 11th, Lafayette on the 12th and finally, Ruston on the 13th. At each site we will give a 75 minute presentation two times. For the last three years, I have been the site coordinator for LAMP in New Orleans. I suggested that the keynote speaker this year should talk about collaboration. The powers that be said that was a great idea and that I should give the speech. If I decided not to give the keynote, then whoever is selected could pick the topic that interested them. I knew that for me to give a good presentation on collaboration, then I needed to have one of my collaborators with me. Lisa Valence teaches middle school English at PFTSTA. We have created some really excellent lessons over the last few years. I am very proud of the materials that we have created to accompany this program on collaboration. You can visit our wiki here:, and you are welcome to share with other librarians. 

The title for the event: 
1.    The action of working with someone to produce or create something.
2.    Something produced or created in this way.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Reading More Nominated Titles for Teen's Top Ten

Okay, I may have already neglected to fulfill my goal to post daily about the nominated books for Teen's Top Ten. However, since I have posted everyday, I am not going to chastise myself. I am going to soldier on and post as often as I can about one of the nominated books.

Today, I want to spread the news about Divergent by Veronica Roth. There were a slew of really great dystopian novels published last year. This was one of my favorites. I even created a digital book talk in my Get Reading series about this title. You can find out all about this wonderful book right here:

Get Reading 10 from Elizabeth Kahn on Vimeo.
I was also a big fan of Delirium by Lauren Oliver that I discuss on this episode of Get Reading. Too bad that title didn't make it into the list of nominated books.

When the second title in Roth's trilogy was published this past spring, I was so excited to purchase it. I started Insurgent. I really wanted to like Insurgent, but I did not make it passed page 50. That's okay, the students, who also loved the first in the series like I did, were happy that I had book two and are anxiously waiting their turn to read it.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Special Skype Session for PFTSTA Open House

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Advertise Nominated Books for Teen's Top Ten

On August 15, the voting poll opened for the annual Teen's Top Ten (TTT). There are 25 nominated books. This book list is created by teens, and the teens have the final vote on which books are their top ten favorites of the year. The teens have one month to cast their votes. They can select their three fav titles from the list of 25. Only teens, 12-18 years of age, can vote. There are many other lists that librarians can help select. 

I like to have the books front and center so the kids will remember to read and vote. I have some cards that you can copy and put in each book to help get the word out about TTT. 

I did not create these cards. I found them online last year. I edited them to fit on the page and updated the URL and QR code to reflect the voting poll for 2012. I copied on cardstock and when cut the cards are about the size of a business card.  I hope that you can use these cards to advertise the books in your library. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Bookmarked Members Review Upcoming YA Titles Part 3

It is Wednesday, so that means it is time again for a new edition of SLJ Teen. Bookmarked members have continued to show their excellent reviewing skills by writing more reviews of upcoming books.
You can open this link and find their reviews here of A World Away by Nancy Grossman, Blind Spot by Laura Ellen and Son by Lois Lowry.

Maybe you want to read more than the students' reviews. You can open this link to read the entire August 14th issue of SLJ Teen.

Reading Titles Nominated for Teen's Top Ten


I hope that I am not going to give myself an impossible goal, but I would like to blog every day about one of the books nominated for YALSA's Teen's Top Ten (TTT). I have read many of the titles but not all. I figure that I can find something interesting to say about all of them because I know that for every title I can find at least one student who has read it. 

I am going to start with Hourglass by Myra McEntire. I started this book the other day, but I haven't finished it yet. Though I got a good chunk of it read this afternoon as I waited in the room for the doctor to arrive. 

Anyway, Myra McEntire is going to be our first author visit of the year. She will visit PFTSTA on September 17th. Over the last three years we have had many author visits both face to face and virtually on Skype. Almost every visit has been a big hit--though I will never schedule a visit on the last day of school again. I did that twice, and I think that I have finally learned my lesson. I am expecting McEntire's presentation to be equally as good. I believe it is important to read the work of all the authors who visit, and I try to get as many students as possible to also read the author's work. Sometimes I have more success with this than other times. I love the fact that McEntire's visit coincides with her book's nomination for Teen's Top Ten. This should help sell the book.

By the way, I realize that you might want to know something about what happens in Hourglass. Emerson is about to start her last year of high school. She dreads going back because she has had some problems. Emerson sees things; she actually sees people from the past or you might call them ghosts. This has made her extremely shy because she has been caught several times talking to air. Well, she is talking to a ghost, but the other people in the room can't see it. There is a romance with Michael from Hourglass who is hired by Emerson's brother to help her get over these visions. That brings me to the middle of the book. I am not usually a big fan of the paranormal, but I like Emerson and her friend Lily. I don't trust Michael. Emerson's brother and sister in law are bit too nice which makes them unrealistic to me, but on the other hand everyone needs stability in their lives. They provide that for Emerson. If you are a fan of the paranormal and like some romance mixed in, then you will probably enjoy this book. Yes, I might call it chick-lit because  I really can't see many of the boys picking this one up. Maybe that will change after they meet the author in a few weeks. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Teens Get Ready to Vote

Tomorrow the polls open for the Teen's Top Ten (TTT) list sponsored by YALSA. The 25 nominated titles were selected by teens in 16 book groups across the country. Bookmarked, the high school book group at PFTSTA, is one of the book groups that has nominated books for TTT. The students and I have had a great time reading all the newly published and pre-pub books that the publishers have sent to us. This group of 25 is one of the best that I have seen in recent years. 

I don't have a lot of space in my library. The library is about 650 square feet with 6500 print volumes on the shelves. That means that I have little room for display. If I want my students reading and voting for TTT, then I need to put the books in a prominent position in the library. Above is the display that I created. I have printed out the description of the books from the YALSA site so the kids can make their choices of what to read. Tomorrow when the URL link to vote goes live, I will post the link and a QR code to the link on the board. We have three iPod Touch devices in the library, and those will be available to capture the QR code so the students can vote.

I can't wait until the polls open. You can find the link to vote right here on August 15th.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Start of a New School Year

7th graders on August 9th, first day of school
We started school for the 2012-2013 school year on August 9th. That is earlier than most of you out there. I don't know why we start so early when it is so excruciatingly hot in southern Louisiana, but I really did enjoy seeing my old friends and meeting so many new ones. I hope to have lots of avid readers this year. 

I found Buffy Hamilton's Unquiet Librarian Photoblog Tumblr page with pics of students on opening day. This photoblog is going to record pictures in the library every day that it is open this year. I love that idea. However, my library is so small that most pictures would look exactly alike except with different students. Maybe I can do something like that next year when we move into our new facility. I am counting down the days to the new building. I have never worked in a new library or even a library that was younger than 50 years old!

On the first day, I was so busy with running around the school to help where I could and getting the library ready to open that I did not take a picture of the student who checked out the first books of the year. I was excited when Jose stopped in because he wanted to finish the Cassandra Clare Mortal Instruments series that he started by checking out books from the public library. He knew that we had what he wanted, so he rushed in on the first day to continue where he left off. Once Jose got his books,  that first lunch was like a busy bee hive with students finding the books they wanted that never seemed to be on the shelves last year. 

Below are some students in the library on the second day of school. They are standing in back of a table loaded with ARCs. These ARCs are for Bookmarked, the high school library book group. The group is part of YALSA's Teen Top Ten YA Galley program. The three students on the left are part of Bookmarked and will be reading and reviewing books to nominate for Teen's Top Ten (TTT). Voting for TTT begins on August 15th. When the polls open, teens from around the country can vote on the 25 books that my students helped to select. 

Bookmarked is a very busy group. Besides reading and nominating books for TTT, they are also reading and reviewing for SLJ Teen, an online newsletter that is published twice a month. You can check out the archive here and read all their reviews that have been published beginning on June 6, 2012.  Bookmarked will be contributing to SLJ Teen until the end of May of 2013. 

For this school year, I have two words that will be forefront in my mind: collaboration and curation. Both of which I have been working towards over the last couple of years. On September 10th, I begin the LAMP tour across the state of Louisiana by speaking on collaboration to librarians in the New Orleans area. After New Orleans, I will travel to Baton Rouge, Lafayette, and Ruston. This is going to be something very new for me. I have not made that many statewide presentations. I will blog more about this later as well as share my wiki for this event in a future post. 

For my efforts to be a better curator, I have begun using Diigo along with my older Delicious account. I have seen so many fabulous librarian and teacher collections on Pinterest, and I want to expand my use of this tool. I learned to love Livebinders last year, and I hope to make more binders to fit the needs of my students. The PFTSTA library website is always growing and changing hopefully getting more user friendly. Though I created this website for the students at my school, I hope that the sites listed there may be helpful to students and teachers anywhere. 

One of the last of my major goals for this year is to build a school of life long readers. I have been feeling that I am losing readers as the years have passed. When I first began at PFTSTA in 2006, each year my circulation stats kept rising. I was so excited to watch the numbers grow until we hit a plateau a couple of years of years ago. The last two years circulation numbers have dropped. The rise in use of electronic devices may be one cause as well as students purchasing more books at bookstores. My collection, especially fiction, has gotten so much better. I have so much wonderful reading material on the shelves. I want my students reading it. I am hoping to get our student government to help me devise a way to win more readers. If we have success, I will be sure to let you know.

Here's to a great school year for all of us. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Why I Blog . . .

I have been blogging for awhile. I have had four separate and very different kinds of blogs. There was a particular impetus for creating each one of them. However, each time I had a purpose and goal in mind. The blogs evolved over time, especially this one, but I always knew the kind of message that  I wanted to impart. 

I began blogging in 2005 when I returned to New Orleans after being in exile for 6 weeks due to the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. Our friend, Christian Crumlish (aka mediajunkie), had recently started a web magazine and encouraged us to blog about our experiences. Blogging was still new. My husband and I felt that we had a lot to say. Everyone returning home from their exile had a distinctive experience, and the world was watching.  We were lucky because our house was located in the sliver by the river, so we experienced no flooding. There was some minimal exterior damage to our home, and the gutters had to be replaced. Our home was safe, but we lost our jobs and family members and friends moved away from New Orleans permanently. Times were tenuous, and blogging about our experience helped to ease some of the emotional pain. After a couple of months, we decided that the writing was making us more depressed, so we ended it. I tried searching for that blog to give you a link, but it seems to be gone. 

The next blog that I created was in 2008. I was diagnosed with breast cancer in April of that year. Every night after work, the phone would ring incessantly with family and friends inquiring about the state of my health. I thought that if I blogged about that experience, I could keep everyone up to date and relieve some of the time that I had rehashing my experiences over the phone. That blog lasted the length of my treatment from May of 2008 until October of 2009. Once my treatment was finished, there was no reason for me to continue that blog.

In the spring of 2010, I began a complete renovation of my kitchen. Since I liked how well you could share with a blog, I decided to create a blog just to show our kitchen redo. The renovation lasted two months, and that was the length of time that I added content to that blog.

I learned that I loved blogging. I liked getting my thoughts out in a journal format that was public. I thought that maybe my blog about my experience with cancer may help others who are experiencing the same thing. Since I knew that I was going to end that blog when my treatment ended, I decided during the beginning of the 2008-2009 school year that I was ready to blog about my experiences in my school library. I believed that we were doing some pretty exciting things in the Patrick Taylor library, and I liked sharing our activities and knew that a blog was a good format for sharing. So I created Tales from a Loud Librarian and have been blogging here weekly for three school years. I am gearing up for another year that begins on August 9th. At the beginning, my entries were sporadic, but at some point I decided that I wanted to post weekly if not more often. I use the blog to document all the special events that occur in the library, some of the lessons that I think are outstanding, what I am reading in young adult literature, what I am doing professionally and tips and tricks that work well in my library setting.

I also think that this blog serves as a digital portfolio. If anyone questions what is going on in the Patrick Taylor library, I can send them a link to the blog to show that the library is the hub of Patrick Taylor. Without the library, the students at Taylor would have a school experience that is not as rich as it is now. I believe that  very strongly, and I am very lucky to be able to say that my principal, Jaime Zapico, believes it too. I have tremendous support from both the administration and the faculty at Taylor. I have developed a library program that is well integrated within the fabric of Taylor, but I could never have done it alone without the support of the faculty.

With this blog I can be a true advocate for the library and for my school. These days when school districts are cutting librarians and gutting library programs, advocacy should be high on every librarian's list of to dos. If you need some good ideas for advocacy, you can sign up for AASL's Advocacy Tip of the Day, and you need to try some of them out. I have. 
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