Thursday, March 16, 2017

Interference Archive: an interview

On April 6, HVLA will visit the Interference Archive in Brooklyn. RSVP here to join us, and check out some of Interference's other amazing upcoming events.

To learn more about this incredible treasure of materials about social and political movements, HVLA board member Hannah Mermelstein interviewed Archive volunteer Jen Hoyer. Here's what she had to say:

HM: Can you tell us a bit about the founding and purpose of Interference Archive? What is/was the gap the archive seeks to fill?

JH: Interference Archive was created to provide really open access to material produced by social movements. It fills two gaps: in some cases this ephemeral material isn’t collected, and we believe that it gives record to important grassroots history that should be preserved. In other cases, this material is collected but is held by institutions that create access restrictions to the very communities that this social movement history is about; we continually work to lower barriers to access, both through our archival use policies as well as through our (free) educational public programming.

HM: What types of materials does Interference Archive hold?

JH: The archive contains many kinds of objects that are created as part of social movements by the participants themselves: posters, flyers, publications, photographs, books, T-shirts and buttons, moving images, audio recordings, and other materials.

HM: Are there any materials that you think would be of particular interest to NYC area school librarians?

JH: We have regular class visits, and we’ve seen young people consistently connect with our zine collection -- this offers such a personal glimpse into the lives of people like ourselves, and it provides inspiration for new self-expression. We also have a lot of material that reflects strongly on the idea of self-determination, from a wide variety of groups (women, immigrants, and more), and this is a really terrific theme to talk to students about. It resonates across all ages and areas of interest!

HM: What are some examples of exhibits that Interference Archive has hosted? How do you decide on and/or curate exhibits?

JH: Putting material on our walls for exhibitions is a way to increase access -- it makes people feel really comfortable interacting with the material, and it sparks interest to look at related material in our collection. We’ve put together exhibitions about labor organizing, tenant organizing in NYC, reproductive rights, comics and identity formation, and so much more!
Our exhibitions are generally initiated by one or two people, who then invite others -- both from within the Archive’s volunteer community and from elsewhere -- to collaborate. This forms an exhibition working group which coordinates the exhibition and related programming, and continues to interact with other working groups at the Archive. The members of each exhibition working group provide an amazing opportunity to share skills and knowledge through the broad range of experience they all bring.

HM: What types of events take place in the space? Can you tell us about one of your favorites?

Art and Feminism wikipedia edit-a-thon, March 2017
JH: We regularly curate and host public events at Interference Archive that are in keeping with our mission. More specifically, our events are geared toward fostering critical engagement with culture, art, politics, and society; featuring forms of cultural production that are representative of what is housed in our collection, such as publications and films created by and for social movements; showcasing cultural objects and organizing in relationship to larger sociopolitical concerns and transformative visions; highlighting the organizational forms, processes—human and material—and  production techniques behind the creation of cultural ephemera from below; encouraging and illustrating imaginative forms of cultural production as well as interventions in relation to political organizing, social struggles and resistance movements.
I’m not sure I could name a favourite event (maybe our block party…), but I’ve really enjoyed our wikipedia edit-a-thons! They are a really terrific combination of skill-building, diving into our collection for resources, and community building as we all work together.

HM: Can you tell us a bit about the digital component of the archive?

JH: We have an online catalog ( that we’re working to populate with descriptions of material in our collection; anyone can join in as a volunteer to help with this cataloging work! We also have a born digital working group,which handles social movement materials that were originally created in digital format, or material for which we don't have physical copies. The work of the group is split between figuring out how Interference Archive should and/or can collect, preserve, and provide access to digital material, as well as thinking conceptually about trends towards born digital material production in social movements necessitates new workflows for capturing and sharing that material and knowledge. This group is also developing workflows for digitization of materials in the archive so that digital copies can be made available online.

HM: HVLA will be visiting on April 6. What will we see?

JH: You’ll see the whole archive! Our archive is open stacks, so visitors can take boxes off shelves and open drawers themselves. A volunteer will be on hand to explain how the archive runs, how our collection is organized, and how to find things. We’ll guide you towards anything you’re interested in, but you’re also welcome to explore on your own!

HM: How can individuals support your work?

JH: All of this work at Interference Archive is possible because of people like the folks in HVLA! We cover the majority of our operating expenses through individual donations. The backbone of this community are sustainers who make a regular contribution to the archive, generally of $10 to $50 each month. More information about becoming a sustainer is available at

We are also 100% volunteer run, and volunteers can help out in so many ways! If anyone is interested in joining this work, please get in touch with us at

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Winter Meeting Recap

On February 28, HVLA hosted the Winter Meeting “Hot Books, Cold Nights,” and although the weather was unseasonably warm, the books were definitely hot!  HVLA librarians gathered in the beautiful library at The Dalton School, joined by 11 publishers, to discuss new and exciting titles for the spring.  Attendees arrived and began browsing the book fair, talking to the publishers about new titles, and perusing the literature.  After 30 minutes of browsing, ARC shopping, and networking, attendees gathered for the presentations.  Each publishing representative talked to the attendees about their publishing house’s philosophy and focus, and booktalked one notable book for the spring.  The diversity among the publishing houses meant that we were treated to a wide range of booktalks-- we heard about picture books through young adult novels, fiction and nonfiction, and books featuring a wide array of ethnicities and experiences.  

We heard about books from:
Akashic Books (Susannah Lawrence)
Candied Plums (Roxanne Feldman)
First Second Books (Calista Brill)
Feminist Press (Jisu Kim)
Enchanted Lion Books (Tasha Muresan)
Holiday House (Terry Borzumato-Greenberg)
Lee & Low Books (Hannah Erlich)
Little, Brown and Company (Jenny Choy)
Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group (Summer Ogata)
POW! Kids Books (Jordan Nielsen)
Workman Publishing (Trevor Ingerson)

The slides from the publishers can be found here.

After the stellar booktalks, we had more time to talk to publishers, find out about new titles for our schools, and fill our gift tote bags with ARCs.  The publishers also generously sponsored a series of raffles, so quite a few attendees walked away with bound copies as well.  

After the meeting was over, the fun continued at the social, which was held at Third Ave. Ale House.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Back to School at Dalton

Every year The Dalton School hosts Back to School Night; an opportunity for parents and faculty to enjoy what their children and students experience in their classrooms every day.  Organized by the Parent Association, faculty are invited to teach a class of their choice.  A course list with descriptions written by the faculty is compiled and then the list is distributed to parents and the full faculty.  Back to School Night is held on a weeknight from 7:00-8:45pm.  This is always a wonderful evening of teaching, learning, sharing, and fun.

As High School Librarian at Dalton, I teach an information literacy class called "Be a Super Searcher" which encompasses effective searching techniques with strategies for evaluating information.  This year's class included a special section on "Fake News."  It was my good fortune to have a small group of highly motivated parents -- some wanted better skills to help their students with research, but all responded eagerly to the part of my course description that described learning how to "easily get straight to the most recent, most credible information without wading through pages of (diverting but irrelevant) search results."

First, I introduced our library webpages including the Subject Guides, Bibliographies, Research Tips, and Services that highlight the value of curated, vetted information.  With a sample search, I showed the difference between our Discovery System and an open Google search.  Since one of the parents is currently a graduate student in Public Health, we explored ways of performing site specific searches for information on "zika."  I distributed a handout of Web Search Tips and demonstrated most of them.  At their request, we explored the fabulous resources of New York Public Library and sites for government documents.  Next we talked about evaluating sources for currency, authority, accuracy, and bias.  We talked about fake news and the difference between edited news outlets and blogs from those same outlets.  I shared handouts of my page of tips on how to avoid fake news sites (which is adapted from Melissa Zimdars at Merrimack College.)  And, for those parents concerned about the research skills of their students, we talked a bit about citation and plagiarism.  Their questions took us as far afield as copyright, reverse image searching, the Wayback Machine, and more.

The time flew by, and I thoroughly enjoyed sharing my passion for information literacy with a group of highly motivated parents.  If you'd like to learn more about Dalton's Back to School Night or my lesson, feel free to contact me at  I'd also be interested to hear if you are doing something similar and have any experiences or lessons learned you'd like to share.
Tobi Fineberg
High School Librarian, Dalton

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

An Insider's Guide to the NEIT Conference

Time to read: 2 minutes 30 seconds

This time last month I had the privilege of enjoying delicious food in beautiful surroundings while simultaneously getting fired up about being an independent school librarian. I wasn’t the only one. Over thirty librarians, many of them HVLA members, also attended the NYSAIS NEIT (Education and Information Technology) conference at Mohonk Mountain House. We were joined by about 120 other educators, primarily technologists and STEAM educators. At this point I’m going to take a minute to divulge that I am not without bias when it comes to this conference because I am on the committee that organizes it! That being said, I really think that it is a very valuable professional development opportunity. In this blog post I aim to share a little of what happened at NEIT this year in the hope that even more of you will join the crew next year.

One of the primary strengths of the NEIT conference is that it provides participants with three days in which to build relationships with counterparts from other New York schools. Many people return year after year to further develop those relationships. Of course we warmly welcome new people. This year, committee members sat with new attendees at the opening lunch to talk with them about how to get the most out of the conference. Personally, I love that the attendees are a mix of librarians and technologists as it helps me to see ways that the two departments can work together. I always attend with a few technology teachers from my own school; on our drive home we discuss what ideas we want to put into action.

Each year we have three or four keynote speakers and four or five open space sessions. The committee books speakers that are on the leading edge of changes, movements, and ideas in the information and technology fields. This year we had Jimmy Diresta, host of a number of t.v. shows and YouTube videos, talking about what it takes to be a successful “maker”. Watching his cat, Spike, cut his name out of wood was hilarious. We were also joined by Clive Thompson, author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better. Since so often we hear the negatives about technology, it was refreshing to hear Thompson speak about how technology facilitates powerful public and collaborative thinking. Our final speaker was Tristan Harris, a former design ethicist at Google and a founder of the movement Time Well Spent. Respecting people’s time is at the heart of Harris’ work. He talked about the fact that we live in an attention economy in which technology companies seek to manipulate users into using their products for longer. He explains how they do it in this essay. Harris went on to explain that we should be teaching this to our students if we want them to be savvy consumers of information.  He was mobbed at the end of his talk so it was clear that his message resonated with a lot of people. 

Open space sessions represent the other end of the continuum in that there are no designated speakers. Instead, each session is proposed and facilitated by a conference attendee. During each time slot there are approximately 15 concurrent sessions taking place in various locations. Anyone can propose a topic. It might be that you want to discuss an article or a dilemma you are wrestling with or you may want to share something inspiring that you do. Some sessions are attended by just a few people, others have 25 or more people taking part. There is a philosophy at NEIT that if a session isn’t working out for you, then you can just get up and go to a different one and nobody will be offended. This year I discussed Dana Boyd’s article Did Media Literacy Backfire? I also traded tips in sessions on how to educate and reassure parents about technology, on which professional development opportunities are worthwhile, and on what constitutes digital life skills. Some of what we learn at the conference is acquired in entirely informal ways. A conversation over lunch with a new acquaintance may yield an insight or joining a group hike during free time may lead to an interesting debate.  

Some fabulous traditions at the NEIT conference enhance the fun. One of my favorites is the vendor dinner where we meet with library and technology companies and win great prizes. Also, we always have an Ignite session where people volunteer to share what they know about an interesting topic using twenty slides for twenty seconds each. Lately there has been a showing of a Black Mirror episode late in the evening. Rumor has it that some attendees bring their own traditions, such as the tech teacher who apparently does a whiskey tasting in the parlor each year.

I went to NEIT this year with plenty of ideas and practices I wanted to explore and left with a whole bunch more to think about! NEIT 18 will take place from January 24-26. Save the date!

Sarah Kresberg
Library Director, The Allen-Stevenson School 

Monday, February 6, 2017

HVLA Printzbery Recap

On Saturday, January 14th, HVLA librarians came together for the 5th annual Mock Event, affectionately named The Printzbery after we decided to expand our discussion to include both the Printz and Newbery Awards. Karyn Silverman and Joy Piedmont from LREI -Little Red School House and Elizabeth Irwin High School organized and hosted the event.
After a delicious catered lunch and a quick readership poll, we decided to start discussing our shortlist, which included the following titles:
Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina
The Lie Tree by Francis Hardinge
Lucy and Linh by Alice Pung
The Passion of Dolssa by Julie Berry
We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson

Ghost by Jason Reynolds
The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
Vietnam by Russell Freedman
Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk

Middle Grade:
The Best Man by Gregory Peck
Freedom Over Me by Ashley Bryan
Garvey’s Choice by Nikki Grimes
The Inquisitor’s Tale by Adam Gidwitz
Makoons by Louise Erdrich

The young adult titles were being considered for a mock Printz award, the middle grade titles were under consideration for the mock Newbery, and the crossover titles were eligible for either or both awards.  Though even during our conversation, we moved titles around, realizing that The Inquisitor’s Tale was more of a crossover title and we also allowed a few “write-in” nominations from librarians present including: Wild Robot by Peter Brown, Some Kind of Courage by Dan Gemeinhart, Samurai Rising by Pamela S. Turner and Soar by Joan Bauer.
Each book had a nominator that spoke passionately about why that book should be considered for one of the awards and then the group discussed that title until the allotted time ran out. While deliberating, we kept in mind the criteria for both the Newbery and Printz awards which were written on the white boards. In voting, we stuck as closely to the spirit of the official award voting procedures as possible, but since we were a group of seven, the numbers had to be slightly adjusted. 
On the first vote, there were clear winners: The Passion of Dolssa for the mock Printz and Ghost for the mock Newbery. When deciding how many honor books to include, the books with the second most votes were chosen, with The Girl Who Drank the Moon, Lucy and Linh, and The Lie Tree receiving mock Printz honors and The Girl Who Drank the Moon, Wild Robot, Inquisitor’s Tale, and Samurai Rising receiving mock Newbery Honors.
Historically, a crossover book has tended to win the Printzbery and this year was no exception. Since there are no official policies and procedures for the Printzbery, the librarians present decided to vote for our “heart” books that we each felt deserved recognition. (Maybe one day, we will actually come up with some official guidelines!) Not surprisingly since it picked up honors in both other categories, The Girl Who Drank the Moon became our Printzbery winner, with Ghost and The Passion of Dolssa, winners of the other two categories, as Printzbery honors.
So here’s a quick recap of the results:
Mock Printz: The Passion of Dolssa, The Girl Who Drank the Moon (Honor), Lucy and Linh (Honor), The Lie Tree (Honor)
Mock Newbery: Ghost, Wild Robot (Honor), The Girl Who Drank the Moon (Honor), The Inquisitor’s Tale (Honor), Samurai Rising (Honor)
Mock Printzbery: The Girl Who Drank the Moon, Ghost (Honor), The Passion of Dolssa (Honor)


Of course, we weren’t perfect since we were only scratching the surface of the reading done by the real committees, but it was nice to see some overlap with the Real Awards, particularly in the Newbery Award. It was a great day of conversation and camaraderie among HVLA librarians and friends, full of insightful discussion. This has become a yearly HVLA event, so join us next year when we talk about 2017 titles!

- Carrie Shaurette, Middle/Upper School Librarian, Dwight-Englewood School

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Book Repair - You Don’t Know What You Didn’t Know

On January 30, 2017 HVLA hosted a Book Repair Workshop at Williamsburg Northside School with Sophia Kramer, a bookbinder and book conservator from White Iris Books. Currently Sophia is working as a book conservator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and is focusing on rare herbalist books (think 1425!)

As school librarians, we regularly encounter books that have been damaged: from damaged spines, to tears, to dog chewed corners, etc. Usually we attempt to repair them with book tape, a hot glue gun, and rubber bands. Apparently everything we thought we knew about book repair was WRONG. Luckily, Sophia showed us the way and blew our collective minds. There’s something about putting together a feathered tear with PVA that makes you feel really cool (or maybe that’s just us?). Regardless, picture a dozen librarians giggling in glee about about using a fan brush to paint polyvinyl acetate on a tipped in plate and you’ve got the basic idea.

Fun facts:

  • The interior of the spine is called the mull.
  • Foxing is an age-related process of deterioration that causes spots and browning.
  • A tipped-in page or, if it is an illustration, tipped-in plate is a page that is printed separately from the main text of the book, but attached to the book. If a tipped-in page falls out, one must apply glue to the page lightly and then tip it back into the book.
  • Different types of binding require different repair methods.
  • Deckled edges are the feathery, unfinished pages

Places to purchase book repair supplies:
Talas (located in Brooklyn)

Places to purchase archival products:

Book Repair Supply List for a Librarian on a Budget
  • Knitting needles
  • Filmoplast (available in different weights)
  • Paintbrush (1 inch flat brush and fan brush)
  • Ruler
  • Olfa utility knife
  • Bone folder
  • PVA glue
  • Instant wheat starch paste
  • Scissors (any kind will do)
  • Rubber cement pick-up (used to remove sticky adhesive)
  • Ace bandage

  • Remay (spun plaster!)
  • Japanese paper
  • Book cloth
  • Water pen
  • Paper Saw! (yes, we said paper saw.)
  • Heat spatula (someone please get me this for my birthday)
  • Wooden dowels
  • Blue Paper
  • Self healing mat
  • Cord (thick thread)

To learn more about classes book repair and book arts, look to The Center For Book Arts.

Also check out Esther K. Smith and Dikko Faust’s Purgatory Pie Press for more classes and books about books (Karen recommends Esther’s Making Books With Kids).

For online information: Check out this video or this guide to learn more about book repair.

-Karen Grenke, Williamsburg Northside School and Maria Falgoust, International School of Brooklyn