Wednesday, February 7, 2018

NEIT Conference Recap

By: Celia Dillon
The Brearley School

*If anyone is interested in hearing more about the sessions mentioned below feel free to reach out to me at and I'd be happy to share my notes!

On January 24, 25, and 26th I went to the New York Association of Independent Schools Education and Technology (NEIT) Conference as a first time attendee. The conference uses an unconference model to bring together librarians and technologists. With the unconference model, there was a planning meeting where anyone could pitch a suggestion for an open space session and other attendees could choose which open space session they wanted to attend, feeling free to move between different sessions in the time time slot. Having colleagues lead sessions gave the conference a welcome conversational feeling of collaboration and brainstorming, that differed from a traditional conference where information is shared in a one way manner. It also meant the conference a was a collection practitioners addressing practical questions in real time. There was more than one pitch that started with “I’ve noticed something at my school and wanted to see what other schools are doing to address this.”

The open space sessions geared toward librarians included discussing academic streaming solutions, big-picture K-12 research instruction, gamification of teaching research, news literacy, library/technology website integration, and creating a reading culture in high schools. Many of these sessions were lead by HVLA librarians, including Karyn Silverman, Bethany Martin, Maria Falgoust, and Sarah Kresberg. The nature of the conference also encouraged chance collaboration and idea sharing outside of the open space sessions. Getting a chance to meet and talk with other librarians over dinners and during break times was a highlight of the conference. And there was plenty time for socializing outside of the conference sessions over karaoke, board games, and Black Mirror viewings. Some other thoughts about the conference from HVLA librarians:

Re-imagining research was a theme for me at this year's conference — from Berkeley Carroll's radical Meme Literacy work shared by Megan Saxelby in a session about News Literacy  to Karyn Silverman and Bethany Martin hosting a session on the Gamification of Research:  How can research skills be more engaging (and therefore better learned)?  How can news literacy be made sensible to 4th-8th graders and beyond?  There were chances to share creative ideas and great successes we've had — and chances to brainstorm new possibilities together.

The opportunity to relax a bit and enjoy each other's company is also super valuable — so much happens in the in-between time. The roles of librarian and technologist can be so isolated — even when there's a team sharing the work in a school. Every year, this conference creates the rare space for a true retreat — a real chance to feel connected to our work and each other, to feel supported by a network, and to think about our individual schools in the context of our peer schools.

-Rebecca Duvall, Brooklyn Heights Montessori School

For me, NEIT is all about developing significant relationships with colleagues from other schools and learning together. This year, a chance connection with a librarian at an open space session led to a working lunch and soon, I hope, a visit to her school. This year’s karaoke party was also brilliant fun!

-Sarah Kresberg, Allen-Stevenson

Friday, February 2, 2018

Interview with Lisa Greenwald

HVLA librarians wear many hats, including the hat of published author. Check out Rhonda Rigrodsky's interview with Lisa Greenwald, an HVLA librarian and author of new book TBH This Is So Awkward. 

Lisa Greenwald has been my colleague at The Birch Wathen Lenox School for twelve years. She’s a HVLA member and tween author of 10 books. Lisa’s most recent, TBH This is so Awkward was released in January.

RR: Where did you get the idea for TBH?
LG: I actually got the idea from an HVLA listserv post. A colleague posted that she was looking for books that were similar in format to TTYL (Myracle) but were more appropriate for younger students. I knew I HAD to write TBH. While I was working on it, my 6th grade Library students helped me with the texting lingo.

RR: How does working in the BWL Library inspire you?
LG: It keeps me up to date with current trends in tween and YA literature. I love to be surrounded by books. It helps me to see different reading levels in an age group. I wanted to write a book that would obviously interest all tweens, but may hold a special appeal for reluctant readers.
Observing the way kids interact is so interesting! The drama is similar to what I experienced in  my childhood, but there are so many changes in the way that kids communicate with technology. I’m fascinated by the latest slang, such as “things are lit” . Personally, I hated being in Middle School, but as an adult working with tweens, I can see the rapid changes in their growth and the way they straddle the line between childhood and adolescence.They switch back and forth so quickly!

RR: Who are some of your favorite MR and YA authors?
LG: My very favorite book of all time is Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt.
I also really enjoy Gabrielle Zevin’s, Coe Booth’s and J.Courtney Sullivan’s books.

RR:What are you working on now?
LG: The second in the four book texting series, TMH This May Be TMI , will be out in June.  
I’m currently working on the third, TBH Too Much Drama. Two current BWL 7th graders helped me choose the title :)

Monday, January 29, 2018

Privacy and School Libraries

By Gili Warsett, Brooklyn Friends School

School librarians have a responsibility to educate students about privacy issues, both online and off. How does privacy look in a school library setting? On January 18th, Berkeley Carroll hosted HVLA’s four panelists, Jessica Hochman, Melissa Morrone, Jessica Millstone, and Claire Fontaine for a robust conversation moderated by school librarian, Rebecca Duvall.

The panel began by asking the question, what particular concerns and in what ways does privacy come up in your school libraries? HVLA members spoke about struggles to keep circulation information shared by only the librarian and the patron, and the line school librarians walk when interacting with parents about the books their children are checking out.

One HVLA member shared strategies for maintaining student privacy. He always asks students if they want him to email their parents when a book is overdue or missing, therefore receiving consent before including parents in the conversation. He also meets with parents at the beginning of each school year and sets expectations about what books their children may check out. This prevents parents from raising objections to their children’s book choices.

At Berkeley Carroll, the middle school library has a section of books about potentially sensitive topics that students may borrow without checking out. That way there is no record of the book on a student’s account and there isn’t an overdue email that gets sent out. This keeps the students’ choices private.

Jessica H. asked us to consider how school librarians model privacy for our students. Are we self-protective?

Claire shared a strategy proposed by a young person in her research project: “cultivating young people as allies” in talking to students about privacy. Jessica M. added that Common Sense Media will help you organize a teen panel. In Claire’s research, she found that privacy is deeply important to young people. They craved adults in navigating sticky situations online. Participants tried to scrub digital footprints for college applications, church groups, and employers. The young people in the study assumed great personal responsibility; they blamed themselves even though much of their difficult digital situations were unavoidable. It is developmentally appropriate for young people to try on different personalities.

Rebecca described how what happens outside of school bleeds into school and students’ virtual lives online. While students create full lives online, educators are simultaneously trying to understand the ethics, behaviors, and experiences integral to students’ technology usage. At times, educators and administrators resort to legalities, which implies that students should know better. There is often little room for students to make mistakes online or for adults to acknowledge developmental appropriateness of these mistakes. Jessica M. suggested proactively establishing expectations about online usage. Melissa spoke about the importance of teaching librarians how the internet works. In turn, librarians can help students to navigate and map out the internet, so that they can better understand and feel agency about their online choices.

Another great resource to share with students is the terms of service in plain English website, brought to the room’s attention by Jessica H. Reading these accessible policies and agreements can be empowering to students, who can make better educated choices about how or where they choose to share personal information.
One HVLA member asked, “What do we do about handing our students over to large corporations?” Many independent schools often subscribe to Google, Microsoft, and/or Apple. For in-school educational platforms, there is a complicated relationship between intellectual privacy and data harvesting. When using educational online platforms, where students are expected to explore and learn, data harvesting is happening. Jessica M. encouraged us to push back at for-profit educational companies, inquiring about how they handle data and privacy.

As librarians, we need to participate, guide, and encourage students’ independence online and off. Melissa M. reminded us that the problem is when “everything is a hammer… It’s not one size fits all.” She spoke of the phrase appropriated from oral history projects, “evolving consent.”

Rebecca ended with asking HVLA members to consider what advertising our students are subjected to during the school day?

If there is one takeaway from the HVLA Winter Meeting about Privacy and School Libraries, it is that there are so many more conversations to be had, ideas to be discussed, and subtopics that librarians must continue to address with educators, fellow librarians, and students.

With our heads filled with new ways of approaching issues of privacy related to school libraries, the librarians of Berkeley Carroll toured HVLA through the Middle and Upper School’s libraries and Maker Space, which have recently undergone beautiful renovations. After the tour, we headed over to Woodland to continue sharing ideas.


“Nobody Sees It, Nobody Gets Mad”: Social Media, Privacy, and Personal Responsibility Among Low-SES Youth. This paper describes in more detail the ways in which young people drew on discourses of personal responsibility when discussing their online experiences, in marked contrast to the ways they described interactions with law enforcement, which they took to be shaped by structural discrimination.
crib of a talk Claire Fontaine gave at DML 2017 about the socio-emotional demands of navigating interpersonal and structural privacy threats.
Googlification of schools
Choose Privacy Week / American Library Association
Student Privacy Bill of Rights / Electronic Privacy Information Center 
Elana Zaide is great source on legal issues around big data in education, including FERPA

Tour of the school:

The name of the company that installed and maintains Berkeley Carroll’s US Library green wall is Town and Gardens

Friday, December 15, 2017

Newbery Awards!

By Hannah Mermelstein
St. Ann's School

On Friday, December 1, more than 100 students, an access*
of librarians, and Adam Gidwitz gathered at Brooklyn Heights Montessori School to celebrate the Newbery, mock and otherwise. The students came from five schools with Mock Newbery groups: Brooklyn Friends, Brooklyn Heights Montessori, Packer, Poly Prep, and Saint Ann’s. We heard from Adam Gidwitz about his sleepless night pre-Newbery announcement last year, his watching the clock as he ate pancakes with his one-year-old at 6 am, and the phone call that (eventually) came, informing him that The Inquisitor’s Tale had won a Newbery honor. As is typical with Gidwitz, the students were enthralled and amused, and we probably have a few more aspiring Newbery winners out there now, although Gidwitz was quick to say that a book does not have to win an award to be great!

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Net Neutrality: A Resource List

Update: The FCC will vote on the proposal to repeal net neutrality on December 14th. 

By: Celia Dillon
The Brearley School 

With the possible repeal of net neutrality regulations, librarians have been called on to speak out about this issue. As librarians we're experts at making resource lists, so here's a net neutrality resource list, for reactions ranging from "What's net neutrality?" to "Why are librarians involved?" to "What can I do about this?" The repeal is set to be announced on December 12th. 

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

An Access of Librarians: An Interview with Author Kyle Lukoff

In this post, HVLA board member Hannah Mermelstein interviews HVLA member (and former board member) and author Kyle Lukoff. Have more questions for him? Leave them in the comments and he'll respond!

Hannah Mermelstein: Your book A Storytelling of Ravens is coming out in May. Congratulations! Can you tell us a bit about the book and what specifically inspired you to write it?
Kyle Lukoff: I can't remember when I first realized how cool collective nouns were, but I think the seed for this book was planted in the fall of 2006. I was sitting in Washington Square Park with my friend Tamar looking at birds, and she idly wondered what the collective noun for sparrows was. I pulled a piece of paper out of my backpack that had a list of animal collective nouns, because that's the kind of thing I would print out and keep in my backpack, and she was delighted. Not long after I started talking to my roommate, a very talented artist, about collaborating on a picture book project together. I wrote the text (most of which made it into the final book), he did some preliminary sketches, and I vaguely researched the publication process. That iteration never went anywhere, and it took, like, seven years for me to get back to it. I'm glad I did!

Friday, November 17, 2017

Protecting Students' Privacy in School Libraries

By Gili Warsett, Hannah Mermelstein, and Maria Falgoust

At our next HVLA meeting (January 18), we plan to explore issues of privacy and digital citizenship as they relate to school librarianship. In this post, a few of us scrape the surface of this conversation as we talk about our own policies and thoughts. Please join the conversation in the comments!

Gili Warsett: As a Preschool and Lower School Librarian, my stance on patron privacy has evolved, and is evolving as the world changes. Although most of my students are happy to share their circulation history with each other, I now begin each school year by laying ground rules about privacy for our oldest lower school students, the third and fourth grade, when they are learning and/or reviewing how to do self-checkout. Our students use iPads to check their patron status and to check out books. I am very firm that they are not to look under anybody else’s library account when they are checking out books. They may not search their siblings’ or friends’ accounts. If I find that students have intentionally looked at somebody else’s account information, their iPad privileges are suspended.