NYLA Breakdown-Part One

Woot woot. That’s how I feel about the first NYLA conference I attended. As soon as I got there I immediately wished I had been able to sign up for more days (like all of them). Saturday was the last day of the conference so there were only three program slots on the schedule. The first session I attended was a double session so, I really only sat in on two programs but I still, a great day.

Today I’ll be sharing some of the haphazard notes I took during the first program and tomorrow I’ll fill you in on the tips and tricks I jotted down during the second session I attended. Some of this may be old news if you follow me on Twitter (and if you aren’t following me on Twitter, what are you waiting for?!?) but I couldn’t possible tweet everything I jotted down so….let’s get this recap started.

The double morning session I attended was called Design on a Dime and was hosted by Paul Mays from Butler Rowland Mays Architects, LLC and Gillian Thorpe from the Julia L. Butterfield Memorial Library.  I took three pages of notes. Here they are:

  • Invite local business leaders to the library for weekly talks. This gives them free advertising and helps the library reinforce it is part of the community. Also, those business leaders can act as experts who help you weed out parts of your collection. The example library had the local auto mechanic owner go through their car manuals and car repair books and tell them what could go and what they should consider getting instead.
  • Don’t give up on a project because you don’t know from where funding will come. Gillian mentioned that she couldn’t get anyone on board with funding a project she wanted to do until she secured a grant that would allow them to start funding the project. Once word spread she said people came out of the woodwork to offer funds, supplies, and other means of support.Sometimes, we just have to give people something they can attach themselves.
  • It can be tough to justify spending money on cosmetic issues in your library. But think of it this way, many libraries are struggling to prove they are still relevant in this day and age of technology. 30 year old carpet and ugly wallpaper from the 70’s does not say “current, modern, up-to-date and able to compete with Google.”
  • Rethink how you see spaces in your library and what they can be. We saw several examples of how spaces as small as 5’x8′ closets made a big impact in how the library looked just by re-imaging what they could be. One was turned into a copy room which cleared clutter from the circulation desk. Another closet had the doors removed and was turned into stroller parking and backpack storage off the children’s section which freed up floor space in the area.
  • Invest in better, more functional storage solutions to cut down on clutter and keep areas organized.
  • Don’t underestimate the simple power of paint. But please, don’t shy away from color. There is no law that says libraries have to be white and only white.
  • Instead of being the “no” police (no talking on cellphones, no food or drink in the library) find designated areas in your library where you’ll be comfortable allowing these activities to happen. Even opening a small part of the library to these “forbidden” activities can go a long way in how people think about the library.
  • Do you have a tutor or quiet study room? Think about renting it out to as a conference room to people who work from home.
  • Furniture on wheels can be your best friend. It makes it easy to shift furniture around and create new zones and spaces as needed.
  • And remember, your library is its own billboard and marketing tool. Keep it maintained so it sends the right message to the public.

Finally, here are the questions they recommend you ask yourself when thinking about any kind of redesign, big or small:

  1. What does your library need long term?
  2. What could the library do in the meantime?
  3. What would the goals of the short term improvement be?
  4. Who are the stakeholders? Staff? Community? Children (aka Future Stakeholders)?
  5. What expertise should be engaged?
  6. What are the other possible partnerships?
  7. What are the funding options? Referendum? Private funding? Grants?
  8. What are the phasing options? (You don’t have to do everything all at once).

Finally, they left us with this quote and piece of advice:

Just do it, even if you can’t do everything you wanted to do.” 

~Rosemary Cooper, Director of the Albert Wisner Public Library

Join me tomorrow when I walk you through part two, Teaching with Historical Documents.

See you then,



Library Leadership Academy Workshop-A Quick Recap

This was my first workshop/conference experience so you’ll have to forgive me for my somewhat incomplete notes and complete lack of pictures. I’ll do my best to recap the day and share some tips, tricks and snippets of knowledge that I picked up throughout the day.

We started our day with checkin, a light breakfast, and a morning keynote speaker. The keynote speaker, Marc Aronson, was a surprise to me since I hadn’t remembered seeing it mentioned in the brochure. I must admit, I wasn’t familiar with Marc’s work prior to the workshop but I’ve been itching to check it out since the conference. He was very engaging, funny, smart, and well-spoken. I enjoyed his presentation immensely. Here are some little nuggets of wisdom I jotted down during his presentation:

  • “School should not be passively absorbing and taking in what others know.” ~Marc Aronson
  • Resources shouldn’t stand alone in isolation from each other, they should be in conversation with each other. The example Marc used was on the number of planets in our solar system. Get out your non-fiction and fiction books out about the planets, the ones that say we have nine, they ones that say we have eight, and the new ones that advocate for an eleven planet solar system and put them on display together. Use the disagreement between the resources to spark a conversation and a curiosity in the students. Use the conversation between the resources as a teachable moment on getting information from more than one source and exploring more than one avenue to an answer.
  • He also had a great quote from Dewey that even though it was from a writing he did in 1900 could easily apply to today’s students. Unfortunately, I only noted the name and date of the quote and not the quote itself and I’m having trouble finding it for you all. If I do, I’ll update this post to include it.

Then, I attended a session on “Coring out Your Collection”. Sue Bartl taught the session and she is a dynamic personality and I’ve heard good things about her workshops from other librarians I’ve worked with in the past. She let us know we were the first group to receive this presentation and it was a little jumpy for me but still informative. Her are some of the things I noted during this session:

  • Get yourself a “Core Buddy”. Like a weeding buddy, they can help keep you motivated to move through your collection and get rid of the resources that don’t hold up to the common core standards. Your “Core Buddy” doesn’t have to be in the school or even the same state as you. As long as you keep in touch and encourage each other, you’re good.
  • Make it your mission to get to know your non-fiction section as much as your fiction section. Try to recommend non-fiction books as much as you recommend fiction books to students interested finding new books.
  • Have the kids help you evaluate your non-fiction collection. After you’ve taught them the basic parts of a non-fiction book (index, glossary, page numbers etc) pull some books you aren’t sure about keeping and have the kids look at them in groups. Ask them to find the different parts of the non-fiction book (good practice for them) and note which books are missing key elements or to which ones the students don’t respond well. Pull those on a cart and look them over later to see if they should be weeded from the collection (good for you).

The second session was about teaching research and technology skills to K-2 students. The main takeaway from this session was that, yes it is possible to start those skills, even at these young ages. The key was to keep it simple and think of it as a building block step and not feel compelled to teach them everything-that can wait until later. They should use some great, simple graphic organizers students can use to fill in information on a topic and each one had a simple line at the bottom that said, “I found this information here:_______.” Students would note the name of the website or book they found the information in and that was it. I really liked the simplicity of the act and how it will make learning about citing sources that much easier in the long run because they will be use to providing source information and will have a better concept of recognizing your sources.

Then it was time for lunch and our lunchtime key note speaker, Lee Berger. I wish I could provide you with some tidbits and nuggets from Lee’s speech but honestly, I was so entranced and enthralled with his presentation, I couldn’t stop making faces like this, much less remember to take notes:

Here are some links about Lee and his book so you can get an idea of what he talked to us about and why I was so awed by his presentation.

Finally, I attended a workshop on creating better MARC records. I was especially looking forward to this one because, I’ll level with you all here, I was not the best at my class on cataloging. It is such tedious, detail oriented work and I actually thought it might be right up my ally but alas, my brain must think differently than catalogers because I rarely identified the correct subject headings in our exercises. I digress. Things I learned from my workshop on better MARC records:

  • Consistency and uniformity are key components of good records. She gave us some worksheets we could use to figure out how we want things labeled so we and our staff/helpers can all be on the same page.
  • Only fill in what is absolutely necessary in your MARC records to make it possible for students to find books in the OPAC.
  • MARC Wizard is your best friend. If you don’t have it, figure out who you need to talk to to get it. There is no need to manually create full records in this day and age.

So that was my day. I have a folder full of handouts and a brain full of ideas to show for it. I’m already looking forward to the next workshop they host. Fingers crossed that my first NYLA experience tomorrow is just as exciting, enthralling, and informative.

Until Monday,


ACK! Networking!

Saturday, I will be attending my first ever NYLA (New York Library Association) conference. Saturday is the last day of the conference and it will be the shortest day as well. However, there are still several great sessions to attend and I’m sure, some opportunities to meet and network with fellow librarians and future librarians. Naturally, this prospect excites and terrifies me (mostly terrifies).

Sometimes I find it easy to chat up random strangers and other times, I just struggle to make a connection and get a conversation off the ground. I know many librarians (and some of my fellow library students) have gone to these conferences before so many will be reunited with old conference friends. I also know many librarians (including my fellow library students) attend with a friend. With so many librarians coming in with pre-established friends I’m afraid I’ll be the sad, lonely library girl in the corner struggling to find space in other people’s conversations to join in and have some fun of my own.

So, I was very excited to find this pin from one of my favorite bloggers, EZ at Creature Comforts, floating around Pinterest this afternoon after work.

Some of these are sillier than others but, they are great reminders that starting a conversation and networking are as complicated as we make it. Enjoy the full article here. Any networking tips and tricks to share with me before I head out to Saratoga Springs this weekend? Share away in the comments and I’ll “see” you all tomorrow when I share my favorite takeaways from the workshop last week.



Let’s Get Down to Business

Friday, I finally sat down and got on some librarian-esque paperwork I’d been putting off. In addition to renewing my professional organization memberships and my School Library Journal subscription, I finally sifted through the conference/workshop paperwork I’ve accumulated and narrowed it down to the must do finalists, filled out my registrations and shipped off my payments.

On November 1st I will be attending the Library Leadership Academy Training session being hosted by Wayne Finger Lakes BOSCES.  There are three sessions over the course of the day. My first choices for the day’s sessions include:

Option B: Core Out Your Collection! with Sue Bartle- Let’s look at weeding the library collection through the lens of the Common Core. Where should you start? What qualities should you look for in your books? Do you have nonfiction on the shelf that will work? Learn the answers to all this and more in a new dynamic Common Core approach to weeding.

Option H: Research and Technology Projects for K-2 Students with Katie HerrGesell & Jennifer Waddington- You can’t do research with primary school students! Guess again! This collaborative team will share some of their research and technology projects for K-2 students from start to finish. Aligned with 21st Century Learner Standards and the ELA Common Core, these projects will show the nuts and bolts of successful learning experiences for our youngest students that lay the foundation for information literacy and technology integration.

Option I: Cataloging Tips and Tricks: What You Need to Know with Kristin Harrington- This workshop will cover the basics of cataloging, important fields in the MARC records, and how to create custom templates for easier cataloging.

My back up choice are options C, G and K.

In just four and a half weeks I will be attending my first conference EVER!!!, NYLA 2012 in Saratoga Springs, NY. I’m just attending the Saturday session but I’m still very excited to finally attend a real librarian conference. One of my (brave) classmates is even presenting during the Pecha Kucha Presentation sessions on Friday so I can’t wait to see him on Saturday and find out how it went.

Finally, I’ve already registered for the Spring NYLA/SSL conference. It will be April 25th-27th in Rochester, NY. I’ll be doing the whole three day session for this one. My student teaching mentor went last Spring (and has gone for many years) and she couldn’t say enough great things about this conference so I’m really looking forward to attending my first school librarian specific conference this Spring.

All these upcoming workshops and conferences combined with my December graduation date made me realize it’s time to get some business cards! I’m lucky enough to have a friend who actually owns her own letterpress stationary business so I’ll be working with the amazing Amy Rau of Green Girl Press on some custom business cards. Amy did our wedding stationary three years ago when she was first getting started and she was a joy to work with, more than exceeding our expectations, so I can’t wait to work with her again now that she’s even more experienced and amazing at what she does. We’ll be meeting next week to start brainstorming ideas and layout so I’ll be sure to keep you all posted on how the process goes (and of course will show off the finally product). For now, let’s look at some designs that caught me eye and I’ll be sharing with Amy as inspiration pieces:

For more details on the business cards shown, visit Bifocals & Buns on Pinterest

Anyone have any business card musts for teachers/librarians to share? Have a favorite stationary store/business card source? Don’t hold back, spill the details in the comments section.

Tomorrow, we’ll be having another Technology Tuesday. See you then.