Why is the flag at half staff today?

CC image – flickr – SoulRider.222

A patron asked why the American flag outside our building was at half staff today. I didn’t know off-hand but I guessed that it was for the victims of the Oak Creek, WI shooting. After doing a quick Internet search, I found a website, Half Staff American Flag Notifications, that can tell you why and when the flag is at half staff.
I’m surprised that the federal or state government doesn’t have a notification site for this. At least this site adds the official proclamation by the President so you know it’s official.


Abington READS!

Here I am getting our teen volunteers signed in

I’ve been running a program this summer called Abington READS! It’s a buddy-reading program where we match teen volunteers with beginning readers (Grades K-2). They read picture books and easy readers together. Teens are encouraged to let the children read to them. This builds children’s confidence as they start learning one of life’s most important skills.

It’s a great way to keep up children’s reading skills over the summer. Teens also feel empowered as they inspire a new generation of readers. I’ve loved doing this program and look forward doing this year after year.

Visit our photo gallery to see Abington READS in action!


My favorite part of School Library Journal

I cannot get enough of the fantastic tips mentioned in the “Cool Tools” column of School Library Journal. Written by Richard Byrne, he also has an excellent blog, Free Technology for Teachers. Here’s a few of my favorite posts from SLJ‘s “Cool Tools” column.

Unfortunately, the SLJ website doesn’t make it easy to find the “Cool Tools” column. What’s up with that, guys???

 


Networked Teens

The Pew Internet & American Life Project calls Millennial teens “networked learners.”  Growing up in the digital age has altered the way they learn.  The report says that teens are (my notes in the indented bullets):

  • More self-directed and less dependent on top-down instructions
    • more independent and forward-thinking
    • willing to try new technology
    • groan when assignments have a long list of instructions
    • want more freedom in learning and in styles of presenting their learning
  • Better arrayed to capture new information inputs
    • used to new technology arriving constantly
    • aware of the many multifaceted opinions on varying subjects
    • aware of the massive amount of information that is created everyday, but they may not be great at sorting, analyzing, or interpreting it all
  • More reliant on feedback and response
    • numerous methods of communication (email, text, cell phone, etc) make the feedback process easier/faster
    • have a hard time editing oneself, especially with the advent of editing technology such as spell and grammar check in Microsoft Word
    • social networks are built on this
  • More attuned to group outreach and group knowledge
    • studying in groups
    • look at crowd-sourced ratings of products online (starred ratings, customer reviews, Yelp.com, etc.)
    • the collective writing of Wikipedia entries
  • More open to cross-discipline insights, creating their own “tagged” taxonomies
    • hyperlinks enable one to make connections among all kinds of topics
    • Social networking sites that allow users to post their own tags for books, movies, etc
    • non-linear media and learning experiences
  • More oriented toward people being their own individual nodes of production
    • self-publishing (blogs, twitter, etc) and the downfall of giant publishers and editors who are the “gatekeepers”
    • create music, art, video, etc through easy-to-use computer software
    • easier ways to start something new (a charity, a business, a website, etc)

Taken from Evaluating Teen Services and Programs by Sarah Flowers

 

 


More Summer Reading Lists – 2012

flickr.com – aafromaa – CC license

Even more summer reading lists!


Oprah Summer Reading

ImageOprah’s Summer Reading is the adult version of a school summer reading list… but usually with more murder, spirituality, and extra-marital affairs.

Here’s this year’s list. I gotta go memorize it now and get used to putting lots of holds on these titles for the next few months.


An Interview for My Alma Mater

Check out the interview I did for Drexel’s Student Chapter of the American Library Association (SCALA).

I’m so happy that Drexel SCALA, a group I was involved in while at library school, is still active with a fresh group of students. I started the SCALA blog you see today and I love that it’s flourished under new leadership.

Thanks to Gail for the interview. You can see it on the SCALA blog: drexelscala.blogspot.com.

 


Quick Thinking

cc image – flickr.com – planetschwa

Some jobs require quick thinking. Air traffic controller. ER doctor. Improv actor. They have to be great at thinking quickly and intelligently, or they are out of a job.

Librarians need quick thinking too. People want answers to questions, and they want it NOW! I got a little experience thinking on my feet when I did homework that involved practice reference transactions. I would pair up with another student and we’d practice answering questions on the spot using only free internet resources.

Now that I’m working in a public library answering questions all day, I find myself wanting to jump to conclusions or habitually only looking in certain places. My quick thinking may not suffice in the end, though, and someone leaves dissatisfied or still looking for an answer that suits their needs.

Naturally, I’ve been aware of my interactions with patrons because I’m new at this. And I really like helping people so I want to get better at it. Slowly, I’ve been collecting tips and tricks from my fellow librarians who know much more than I do. The full-time cataloger who has a few shifts at the reference desk has been extremely helpful with giving me new ways to search the catalog to find books. It’s already improved my response time tremendously. I also walk around the stacks or click around on the library’s website to get acquainted with the massive amount of information we have access to. I think another great exercise would be to give myself random questions and see how fast I could answer them.

Here’s some questions I’ve gotten lately that had my brain sputtering:

  • What are the side effects or dangers of zeolite?
    • I searched online for this “zeolite.” My first reaction to the “side effects” part was that they should consult their physician. We are not in the business of giving health advice. When the patron heard this, they were immediately discouraged and ended the interaction. After searching the internet some more, I found some basic info on the Sloan Kettering website that could have been useful to them without breaking the “no medical advice” rule.
  • Do you have any audio books about math?
    • Hmm. This was a hard one because there just wasn’t anything to fill his need. I showed him some audio books in which math was mentioned as a smaller topic within a broader science context. I did use the tips I learned from the cataloger to make my catalog search more precise.
  • Which Kennedy had an annulment?
    • I guess this one was hard because she kept saying that it was Robert Kennedy and it was actually Joseph Kennedy II. Sometimes people think they have their facts right but they don’t always. A Google search for “Kennedy annulment” did the trick. But I got stuck because of her prejudgment about who had the annulment.
  • I need some easy listening music CDs.
    • We don’t have an easy listening category in our music CD collection. I know this used to be a category when browsing in some CD stores back in the day (I remember those days….). So I had to give suggestions, like jazz or classical. Sorry, dude!

 


A geocache adventure!

flickr – CC image – cokescroaks

We have a geocache at the Abington Free Library!

I can’t claim credit for setting this up, though I wish I could. A patron who loves geocaching has incorporated the Library into his newest geocache.

Don’t know what geocaching is? It’s like a modern day treasure hunt with a GPS device. They can be very simple or extremely challenging to find. Check out the official Geocaching website to learn more and join the worldwide fun.

Our geocache can be found only after an elaborate puzzle is solved. I don’t want to link to the geocache puzzle because that would give everything away! You’ll have to stumble upon the challenge on your own.

We are so excited that a patron asked us to be involved in his geocache. I see this as an excellent opportunity to get more people into the library, especially those who have never set foot in this building before. I recently read an article in an issue of YALS (Young Adult Library Services) about geocaching — I had never heard of it before. Then this stumbled into my lap and luckily I knew a thing or two about it.

In other news–

I have spent a lot of my time in my first month staffing the reference desk and working on developing the YA collection. Ordering books is a thrill! I love when the new titles come in and then immediately go out to a waiting reader.

I’ve set up an art program for tweens this summer (grades 5-8) through the ACPPA. They will be learning how to make a Pop Art Portrait in the style of Andy Warhol. Our summer annual Abington Reads! program is gearing up too. We have flyers printed out ready to be distributed to local schools calling for kids and teens to participate. It’s a buddy reading program in which teens help new readers build their skills and confident by reading books aloud together.

I have some ideas for new programs that I’d like to start planning. Hopefully fall will be a very full time for YA programming!


Talking to Teens in the Library

Tonight, I walked up to 2 teens that were working on a project in the library. It was surprisingly easy to do. I guess I have a natural ability to talk to strangers, but I didn’t know how the teens would react to my presence.

I sauntered over and started by asking what they were working on. That’s usually a good introduction and you can expand on the conversation from there. Luckily, these teens weren’t shy and they wanted to talk about how their teacher gave this assignment on spring break, and how it was due yesterday but they got an extension, and how boring it was, and then, OH! my dad’s house just burned down but that’s okay because all my stuff is gonna get replaced and I got to stay in a hotel with a pool and I thought my library book was in the fire, but it wasn’t, it was in my locker… and you get the idea.

Once they started, they didn’t want to stop! Great! They liked me enough to talk to me about all kinds of things. I think it has something to do with they way I look and how old I may seem, like I’m a college student. The biggest clue that they were comfortable with me was telling me that they thoughts their assignment was boring. Once they said that, I was in. I wasn’t an Authority Figure in their eyes. I was a relatable person who could empathize with their situation. Yes, girls. Homework can be totally boring, don’t I know it.

I also was able to steer the conversation towards books. I asked if they read The Hunger Games because who hasn’t yet? They actually hadn’t read them but want to. I suggested a different series called the Uglies by Scott Wersterfeld which piqued their interest. Later on, I swooped by YA and took a copy of the first book off the shelf, giving it to the one teen who was still hanging around. What a great way to get books directly into teens’ hands!

This gives me the courage to approach more teenagers when I see them in the library.