Thursday, July 25, 2013

eBooks and Audio Books

I am furiously working away through my Plan to Read list.  I've read some really amazing books in the last few months, but I seem to keep adding titles, both new and classic.  I kind of feel that I'll never catch up with Junior titles the way I want to and be able to keep up with the Adult Fiction and Young Adult fiction I read.  I hate having to drive on long trips because it's time I could be reading - yes, I'm one of those lucky people who can read in the car.  That being said, the girls and I have a 7 or 8 hour drive to Grandma & Grandpa's house coming up next week.  My husband isn't going, and so that leaves all the driving to me.  It occurred to me that I should take some audio books with me that I can enjoy with the girls.  I picked a few titles from my Plan to Read list and a few that I hadn't thought of yet (those got added to my Shelfari shelf.)  I know we won't get through all of those titles on our trip, but at least 1 or 2 would be great to mark off my list.

Then I realized that I've been wondering how to upload and play more of my music on the computer at the school library while I'm working in the summer.  Duh.  I should be listening to books!  I don't have to listen extremely closely, I just need to catch the gist of the story.  And if it really intrigues me, I can go back and read the book itself.  I can't believe I didn't think of this sooner.

As for eBooks, I am still waiting to hear from the school district tech team if I will be able to install Adobe Digital Editions on my school computers.  I'd like to use the public library's Overdrive to check out picture books to read to the kids during story time on my projector screen.   I do appreciate the quick access that Overdrive allows me.  Today I was in training for classroom management, and I finished Paint the Wind by Pam Munoz Ryan - 5 star book, by the way - on a break and wanted something on my lunch hour.  I jumped onto Overdrive using my Kindle Fire and grabbed Angus and Sadie by Cynthia Voigt.  I don't think either the public or school library owns it as a print book so this is the only way I'll get it read. (I didn't realize it until I started the book, but Angus and Sadie are the dogs who appear in Voigt's later book Young Fredle.  I love story connections!)

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Reading kids' fiction

I have been working very hard to catch myself up on a lot of kids' books.  I've read middle grade fiction off and on for years, sometimes out loud to my girls and sometimes just for my own enjoyment.  I started reading adult fiction when I was about 11 and so I missed out on a lot of those great childhood classics.  I since starting the Daydreamer's Book Club at the public library, I have read at least 1 junior title a month, and when I took the job at the school, I started alternating 1 adult fiction to 1 junior fiction.  As school draws ever closer, I've decided I probably need to read just junior titles for awhile. 

As you can see from my Shelfari widget, I have a lot of classics picked out to read as well as some contemporary works.  It's funny, with adult books I stick to 1 or 2 genres, with kids books, I'll read about anything.  But I have officially come across the first book I couldn't stand -- so badly that I quit before even reaching page 50.  That's pretty shocking for me with a kids book.  I tried to read the first of the Dork Diaries by Rachel Renee Russell, but I couldn't do it.  The language bothered me and the references to pop culture bugged me too (I'm a pop culture fan but I don't think kids as young as 3rd grade need to know celebrity girls go partying without their underwear!)

But these books are popular and the school has the whole series.  I'm not going to stop purchasing them, but I'll treat them with kid gloves.  I have never had a qualm telling kids that I didn't enjoy the Series of Unfortunate Events books by Lemony Snickett - I didn't like that Count Olaf told the kids outright that after he got their money he was going to kill them.  I don't believe you can hide children from the realities of the world, but I also think that some of the saddest facts about mankind can be learned later on.  Let them have their innocence for a while longer.  I'll just have to explain that about the Dork Diaries: the kids don't need to rush into being popular or not popular based on clothes, electronics or your parent's income.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Teaching how to use the Internet responsibly & I Spy Dewey Decimal display

I have said it so many times, I'm not a teacher.  So, there are some things I know are important but don't really know how to teach.  I've been working my way through books on Library Skills & Manners, and I found one by Toni Buzzeo (she's a lot of great ones on this subject) called But I Read It On the Internet.  It had a great worksheet in it to help kids figure out if the site they are using is a reliable source of information.  I used that worksheet to create my own, and I plan to use it to help the 3rd grade and up classes learn to use the Internet responsibly.  You can download my version of the worksheet here.

I really loved all of the books by Toni Buzzeo.  In her book, The Great Dewey Hunt, she had the kids find small objects to represent the different classes of the Dewey Decimal system.  I have been trying to decide the best way to make the DD system seem easy to understand to the kids.  I was tossing around the idea of some kind of 3d collage for each DD class.  I thought of maybe mounting them on half sphere's of Styrofoam and mounting them on the wall, but then I worried about the little objects being pried off.  So my thinking switched to shadow boxes.  This would be great, but my budget doesn't allow me to go buy 10 shadow boxes.  But then it occurred to me out of the blue, I might have the perfect thing already in my possession!

These are card cases that my father-in-law built for my husband and his brother's collections.  My husband still uses his, but my brother-in-law didn't want his, so we took them.  They've been in my storage room for quite awhile.  They are very solidly built, have plexi-glass lids, lock and can be tilted up or lie flat.  Oh, and they are lined with dark blue felt, perfect for the blue and white Lincoln Leopards!  I wish they had 5 sections each, since there are 10 DD classes, but I think I can get around that.  Rather than have my husband remove the little ledges inside and put in 5 sections, I think I'll combine some of the classes that are going to be hard to display anyway.  For example, the 000s General Knowledge, the 100s Philosophy and the 200s Religion. Each DD class will have a simple breakdown of what's in that range, then the objects will signify everything you can find in the class.  Ideally, each section will look like it's own little I Spy scene.

Part of the work finding the object was to find a decent listing of the different classes and ranges of the Dewey Decimal System.  So I created an abbreviate Dewey Decimal Classifications list that I think is kid friendly.  Obviously there is more to each class, but I doubt kids would have much use for Freudian theory and frankly, I don't want to go too deeply into Religion in a school library.

I have always been a collector of - for lack of a better word - little things.  I kept a "thing box" all through elementary and junior high and in high school I created a 3D collage with my things.  I started treasure boxes for both of my girls and I keep odds and ends for scrapbooking and other projects.  We have so far gathered a lot of little plastic animals - cheap ones from the dollar store, not our nice Schleich toys, plastic bugs, plastic dinosaurs, seashells, coral, a wooden spoon, art supplies, a baseball bouncy-ball, a mini football player, sports cards, old 45 records, dice & dominoes, playing cards, a globe (it's really a pencil sharpener), an American Flag and a 1776 keychain.  I will need to keep my eyes open for other pieces that will fit into the cases; they are not deep so there is a limit on how big items can be.  I am not sure how I'll represent the 800s, but I will cross that bridge when I get to it.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Breaking out the books

Well, I didn't know how to title this post.  I have been putting up a lot of fun ideas and pictures of the decorations I've done for the library, but not what I've actually been working on book-wise.

I was able to sub 4 days before the end of the school year, as the previous librarian left 1 month before school let out.  During those days, I got a feel of some of what I needed to do to get ready for the coming school year.  The shelves are extremely full - to the point of books being incorrectly shelved because of lack of space.  One of the first big jobs that I did was to reorganize the Special Collections.  Not my favorite section, but it serves a purpose.  I recently shelf-read and weeded Fiction (anything with AR levels over 3.9).  I wasn't aggressive with my weeding, I just don't know yet what the teachers assign the kids to read and so forth.  Mostly I just go rid of severely out-dated books (like the novelization of Gremlins), and duplicates of low-circulating series like Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys.  My other solution to the space problem was to pull series of books with AR levels averaging above 5.0.  These books are going to be moved to a new collection called Intermediate Grades.

I spoke with the school's principal and she agreed wholeheartedly to buying a bookshelf for this new collection.  I ordered a double-sided shelf even though it will be flush with a wall, since eventually it will stand on it's own with the other Fiction shelves (after the new school is completed and the Intermediate books leave my library.)  In the same meeting she cautioned me about weeding too aggressively.  She agrees that books become outdated but teachers have absolute favorites and I would possibly burn bridges if I got rid of something deemed a "must have".

I have recently started re-working the Nonfiction.  The previous librarian had separated the 921s and moved them to the end of nonfiction.  I just can't abide that.  So while I was shifting them back, I started weeding.  I have a huge stack of books to go through.  I've decided to sort them into 3 categories:
  • Discard
  • Not sure (is this sports star still playing?  Is he/she some kind of legend?)
  • Update - instead of 4 books about Princess Diana written in the early 90s, I could buy 1 new one on her that encompasses her whole life, and then purchase biographies of Prince Harry, Prince William and Kate Middleton.
I think I will need help with the Not Sure category, like from my husband who knows about sports.  I can handle political figures, musicians, actors, ect, but there is a limit to my sports knowledge.

I also worked my way through the Reference section and cut it down.  I plan to eliminate 2 sets of outdated encyclopedias - and possibly the third set as well if it is older than 5 years.  I read online that you should replace them after at least 5 years.  I am not discarding all of the books, some of them will be re-cataloged and put into Nonfiction.  I'd also like to look into replacing the atlases. 

I understood the basic principle of weeding but not exactly how to go about it.  I found the CREW system and read through it.  I found it amazingly helpful.  I will keep the guidelines from CREW in mind while I finish shelf-reading and shifting the Nonfiction

I have a lot more to go before school starts but I feel like I'm making the school library into my library.  A place where I can enjoy myself while I help the kids enjoy themselves.  I want them to be excited to come to my library.  I want them to take pride in learning library skills and library manners.  I want them to love books as much as I do!

Okay, one last thing.  Did you notice the bookshelf on the right side of my blog?  It's called Shelfari and I LOVE it!  I'm not using it for everything I read, simply because I read things I don't want on my school library blog.  I do have a reading life away from children's books.  But I love sharing what I'm reading and have read - I post all my books on Facebook when I start them.  Since starting the 1 adult book 1 kid book routine, I have read so many good books.  I hope you'll find the suggestions to your liking and maybe start a bookshelf of your own!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Projects completed!! Yay!

I am so excited!  I finished up the last of the direction arrows today.  I love that Cricut!  I can't wait for the raise I'll get when the school year starts, I want to save up and buy myself a Sure Cuts A Lot software/cutter combo.  Nothing against the Cricut, I just need to be able to do a little bit more and not be limited to cartridges.

Remember this cute idea? 
I made a doorway today for I. Liebe Leabhar, the library gnome I've asked to come and live at the school library.
I cut the door out of foam core, so it is about 20" tall.  Then I made a matching arch for the door frame.  Since I used black foam core, I used the Elmer's Glue crackle technique to make the door look like wood.  I used a barn red paint on top of the glue, then I used a pencil eraser to make the plank lines.  I like that they are crooked, very fun.  I had the little gold hinges on hand from a previous project and those are attached with scrapbooking brads.  The doorknob is a drawer pull that my husband had on hand.  I used the crackle finish on it as well.  I'd like for this door to have a little stone walkway (laminated cut outs of "stones") and a few toadstools around it.  I'm planning to make the toadstools out of small bowls and pieces of wood, similar to this:
Mine are going to be smaller, using bowls I got at Wal-Mart.  We had a storm recently and a lot of people lost trees.  My husband snagged some wood from a tree at his parent's house and we'll use that to make a toadstool for my gnome.  The bowls are little clear condiment bowls. 

I started by gluing in paper circles I punched out of cardstock using Mod Podge.  After that dried I painted them with the same color of red paint I used on the door.  I used the vise on my husband's workbench to cut the lengths of wood to make the stems with a hand saw.  I am not allowed to use the power tools (something about cutting my own head off...)  I have a small drill I used to drill holes in the 3 small bowls and the bigger blue bowl.  Then I used screws to fix the stems in place before adding the toadstool heads.  To make it look more finished, I used hot glue to reinforce the stems and add the river rocks.  Now he has his toadstools and a place to hold his business card.

I. Liebe Leabhar
Library Gnome, Esquire

His name is actually a mix of 3 languages (English, German & Irish Gaelic) and means "I Love Books".  And I thought the Esquire just sounded fun.  I know I've seen it in books but wasn't sure what it meant.  According to it means: an unofficial title of respect, having no precise significance, sometimes placed, especially in its abbreviated form, after a man's surname in formal written address. Abbreviation:  Esq.  The definition makes it even funnier!  And it might be fun to send kids to the dictionary to look it up themselves.  I don't have a gnome yet to "live" at the school.  I wonder if he should be the kind that only comes out at night...I've never even seen him.  I'm sure the kids will just love that.  I am thinking if I don't find one by the time school starts the gnome who currently lives in my yard can move to the school.

I also made a fake coin slot for the gumball machine.
 It is 2 layers of foam core, with  the only difference being the "coin slot" cut out of the top one.  I got the shape the way I wanted and then I used a ruler to push in the lines - kind of like a metal plate might have.  Then I colored the whole front piece with a gold sharpie - I'm out of gold paint.  When I painted the outside edges with blue, I put a coat on top of the top piece of foam core and wiped it away immediately.  It left blue in the ruler indentations giving the appearance of depth and aging.  The last steps were to write in the cost and then I dug through my metal junk box and found a wind up key for a music box.  It is a little smaller than I would have liked but my only other idea was to buy a can opener at the thrift store and attempt to take it apart to get the crank.  Considering I sliced my finger open just making these simple projects today, taking apart a can opener might not be a great idea for me.  I'm a bit clumsy. 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Whimsical Direction Signs (almost done!)

So here we are in installment #3 of the direction signs.  My friend loaned me her Cricut and I've been working away creating the names for the signs.  She suggested using Mod Podge to attach the letters and that is definitely the easiest way to get them onto the signs - but it becomes tacky quickly and if you try to peel the letters up they don't always come away cleanly.

Here's what I have done so far:

You'll notice that the arrows don't all point in the same direction, and I tried to vary the colors and text.  The magnets on the back are button magnets that attach with adhesive foam.  I have enough for 3 magnets each so hopefully that will be enough to keep them hanging safely.

I'm sad to admit that I wasn't able to do the silhouettes.  I ran out of room on Wonderland and Zucker's Farm, so I probably won't bother with any of them.  I have Whoville, Neverland and Diagon Alley drying now and I have to pick up some more paper to finish the rest.  I don't have any solid black or gray, colors I need for both Gotham City and the Death Star.