Wednesday, July 31, 2013

I Love Social Media

Just Finished Loading the Vehicles

Today I had to pick up 97 boxes of new library books from a school 15 minutes away from the new PFTSTA. The boxes weighed anywhere between 20 and 50 pounds. I wanted to make this move in one trip, but I wasn't sure it was possible. On our school's brand new Facebook page, I put up a notice asking for help.  I had parents, students and even alumni offering to give me a hand. I didn't know how many vehicles and muscles would actually show up. The plan was to meet early this morning with our hand trucks to try and avoid the heat of the day. With seven trucks, vans and SUVS and about 15 people and 6 dollies, we got the vehicles loaded in less than hour. We got to the new school and repeated the process of moving the boxes into the new library. I love working at Patrick Taylor. When you need help, the cavalry arrives. Now we have 2400 of brand new books to add to our collection. They aren't processed.  Anybody available to volunteer some time to get these books shelf ready?

Smiling After Finishing the Job

Friday, July 26, 2013

A Teen Reviews Sara Polsky's Debut Novel

Usually, I submit three to four teen reviews every other week to be published in SLJTeen. Since everything in the library had to be packed up this spring due to the big move, I asked the members of Bookmarked to take home a dozen ARCs each so that they would have lots of summer reading and would be able to provide me with lots of reviews over summer break. Oh well, the best laid plans ...... The students must have been as busy as me and didn't have time to read. However, part of my summer time busyness included reading two to three books a week. I hadn't read anything that has not been published yet, so I could not submit my own review. Follow this link to read a review of This is How I Find Her as well as a review by SLJTeen editor, Dodie Ownes, for Reality Boy.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A Work in Progress

New school is almost there, but ready or not school will open in August. There are workmen everywhere completing the last details. All of the teachers' boxes are sitting in the classrooms ready to be unpacked. All the new furniture is stacked up ready to be used by students on the first day of school. 

As you can see by the picture above, all of my stuff is there ready to put away in the new library. 

This is going to be the teaching area in the library. The interactive white board is going to be placed on the wall where you can see the electrical drops. There are shades that will block out the sun on the windows. 

The rows of shelving take up the middle of the library.

In front of this screen wall will be the library computers.  Behind it will be study carrels. 

This is going to be the circulation desk area.  The open door is the storage area, and the door on the left is my office. The office is completed with furniture installed and stacks of mail on my new desk. 

I was standing in one corner of the library when I took this picture.  

School begins on August 9th. Even though everything will not be unpacked by then, I hope that all the work on the room will be completed and there won't be any workmen in the way. 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Member of Bookmarked Joins Me at ALA

Thomas waiting to speak at the YALSA
BFYA session
Every year during both the Mid-Winter and Annual conferences for ALA, YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association) invites local teens to visit the conference one day to speak at the Best Fiction for Young Adult Committee meeting. It is a great day where the kids get to give their opinions on what they have read to the committee members, get fed by Penguin Publishers and meet many of the authors of the books that they have read and loved. I took a group of ten kids when ALA was in New Orleans in 2011. One of the members of Bookmarked, pictured above, spends his summers in Chicago with relatives. He didn't get to attend ALA in New Orleans, so I invited him to spend Saturday, June 29th with me. 

Thien Pham on the left and Gene Yang on the right
Hanging out in Artist Alley at ALA
We started the morning at an interview of author/illustrator Gene Yang by his friend and collaborator Thien Pham. I knew that Thomas was a manga fan, so I thought that he would be interested to hear them. Thien and Gene have been friends a long time and even taught at the same school. Gene has two books coming out in the fall that are companion books and tell the story of the Boxer Rebellion in China from two different points of view. We later visited their table in the artist alley, and I got a nice picture of Thomas with the authors. 

Author, Stephanie Kuehn, standing between Thomas and me
One of the authors that I really wanted to meet at ALA was Stephanie Kuehn who wrote Charm and Strange. One of the members of Bookmarked wrote a review of her book for SLJTeen here. This was a book that Abrania raved and raved about. She is a very discerning reader, so when she gushes over a book, I listen. I wanted to meet Stephanie and get a book autographed to bring back to Abrania. It is a long story, but by the time that I met Stephanie, there weren't any books left. Hopefully, the post office fairies will have a signed copy in my inbox when I return to school. 

Finally, it was time for us to head upstairs to the Best Fiction for Young Adults Committee meeting. There were 50 teens there to talk about all the nominated books on the BFYA list. The committee members read all year long, and the list is finalized and publicized after Mid-Winter in January of every year. The members likes to hear what the teens have to say because the books are suppose to be the best of the best, but they are also suppose to appeal to teens not just the librarians on the committee. Thomas got up to talk about Cory Doctorow's Pirate Cinema. He was a fan and thought that it should be included on the list.

D J Machale, author of the Pendragon series
Penguin Young Readers provided a pizza lunch to all the teens and their chaperones. Then several authors spoke to the kids about their books and the writing process. The students got to ask a lot of questions and participate in a book signing event when it was all over. Thomas was a super fan of the Pendragon series when he was in middle school, so it was a real treat for him to have a chance to talk to the author, D J Machale

It was a busy day for both of us. I am glad to have had a chance to share ALA with one of the students at PFTSTA. Even though I love having a chance to schmooze with my fav authors, it gives me even a greater thrill to introduce my students face to face to their fav authors. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Two Teen Reviews

When the summer temps hit the 90s in southern Louisiana, everything slows down. The members of Bookmarked are still writing reviews for SLJTeen, but this week only two students submitted reviews. Maybe the heat will give the students a chance to stay inside where it is cool and read some of the many ARCs that they brought home for the summer. Click here to find the reviews.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

YA Author Love at ALA Annual

I love meeting authors. One of the reasons that I love attending ALA Annual so much is the opportunity to meet all the authors that I read and recommend to my students. I hate to admit it, but I am a true fangirl. Luckily, I can keep it in check and not gush when I actually come face to face with these remarkable writers.

My ALA began on Friday night at Penguin Teen's rock star author dinner. Laurie Halse Anderson was there. She visited my school two years ago when Forge the sequel to Chains was published. She was kind enough to say that she remembered visiting PFTSTA, and I knew that she was telling me the truth when she described our cafeteria that was surrounded by windows. Her novel that is due out this fall does not have a one name title, and it takes on some dark, contemporary themes. My box of books of ALA arrived yesterday, and this one is on my to read list.

I finally get a chance to meet Sarah Dessen

I have been a big fan of Sarah Dessen for years. Her books do not ever stay on the shelves in my library. The characters in her contemporary romance stories always pull in the high school girl readers. 

D J MacHale is a fav of the middle school boys
Okay, I haven't read D J's Pendragon series, but I never had to. The middle school fans of this series would sell it to their friends. I was glad to get a chance to meet the man who kept the boys busy reading. 

I met Marie Lu at ALA 2012. I can't get enough dystopian stories, okay I can get enough, but I loved Prodigy and Legend. In November, the third book in the trilogy, Champion, will be published. Unfortunately, no advanced reader's copy will be printed for this book. So I have to be content with this short sneak peak until November. 

On Saturday, one of my students spent the day at ALA with me, and I will write a different post just about what we did on Saturday, and all the authors we met. 

Saturday night I was invited to an intimate dinner with Egmont for the author and the illustrator of the Vordak series, Scott Seegert and John Martin. I was not familiar with the series, but I accepted the invitation because I thought these books might appeal to all the new middle school boys we will have this year. Many of them are reluctant readers and need fun reads that they can get through quickly. Scott and John were amusing dinner companions with lots of energy, and I also got a chance to chat with Katie and Regina of Egmont. 

Jewell Parker Rhodes author of Ninth Ward and Sugar

On Sunday, I hightailed it from the Hyatt Hotel to the exhibit area in the convention center to see Jewell Parker Rhodes. Jewell has visited PFTSTA twice. When our students created videos documenting their field trip to the Ninth Ward in New Orleans after reading her book, she took some of them with her to show at a conference in England. I think that I can now call her a friend. Her newest middle grade book, Sugar, came out in May. I am going to tell you that this book is wonderful. It tells the story of an ex-slave on a Louisiana plantation upriver from New Orleans. Historical fiction is not always an easy sell, but you will fall in love with the title character whose charms will reel you in. 
Chef, Giada de Laurentis
I wasn't one of the fortunate ones who actually got to meet Giada de Laurentis up close and personally. I could have stood in a loooooong line to get a signed book, but I hate those lines. I missed the first 15 minutes of her presentation, so when I got there she was already in the q and a portion of her talk. There were some great questions from the audience, and she was incredibly charming and funny. She told us that she does eat everything, but just not much of it because after three bites you know what it tastes like. I wish that I could adhere to that mantra that is so not going to happen. 

Author of contemporary realistic fiction, Sara Zarr
This was my first read from the books
I collected at ALA

I usually know when I begin to read a book by Sara Zarr that I am in for a good read. So I selected her book, The Lucy Variations, to read during my vacation after I left ALA. I finished it in two days. One of those days was spent in the airport and on an airplane, but it definitely kept my attention. I think that How to Save a Life had a more important theme, but I felt for Lucy and her difficulties dealing with her family who wanted to control her talents on the piano. 

There is more, but it will have to wait until my next post. 

Monday, July 8, 2013

American Library Association Annual in Chicago

Sign at airport welcomes
librarians to Chicago
On Friday, June 28th I left New Orleans after  being home only 36 hours after ISTE to attend ALA (American Library Association) in Chicago. I have been to the last two Annual ALA conferences and really wanted to attend this year too. Attending conferences is an expensive proposition. I was very lucky to win a scholarship along with six other librarians from EBSCO to attend this conference. You can read my winning essay here. If you are a librarian and want to attend ALA Annual or Mid-winter, you should apply next year. EBSCO paid for my conference registration and $1000 towards my travel. Our pictures and names were listed in the lobby of the McCormick Place Convention Center along with all the other ALA award winners. Below is a picture of that poster.

Click on the picture to enlarge
It was a rush to see my name hanging on the wall 
The only requirement for this scholarship was to attend a breakfast on Sunday. I thought that was going to be easy, but it started at 8AM in the Hyatt next to the convention center. The shuttle bus actually got me there in time, but the hotel was so big and the conference rooms were difficult to find. Arriving five minutes after 8 was not the big deal that I thought it was since breakfast was buffet and everyone else was just sitting down to eat and the gathering only included the scholarship winners, along with four people from EBSCO and three people from ALA.

ALA Award CeremonyD
The scholarship winners names and pictures were projected for everyone to see as
our names were called to stand up and be recognized.

Former ALA president, Dr. Camila Alire, reads the names
of all the award winners.
We were asked but not required to attend the ALA President's Award Ceremony in the afternoon on Sunday. I wanted to hear the speaker so I went. The pictures above were from that event. I know that it looks like the event was well attended since it was projected on two screens at the front of the ballroom, but I don't think that the room was half full.

The speaker for the president's program was Dan Cohen from the Digital Public Library of America which launched in last month. This free resource is a collection of the archives from history museums and institutions around the United States. The idea is to give these collections that are local a much wider audience.  The digital library is even encouraging developers of apps to use their collection to create useful apps. The ones that seemed the most interesting to me are Culture Collage, DPLA Maps and Stack Life. I see this as a great resource for my students's social studies fair projects. I plan to make sure the social studies teachers at my school know about this great new tool.

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