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.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

USBBY Conference Highlights

By Hannah Mermelstein
Saint Ann's School

In October I attended the USBBY conference in Seattle. USBBY is the US branch of IBBY, the International Board on Books for Young People. The theme of this year’s regional conference was “Radical Change Beyond Borders: The Transforming Power of Children’s Literature in a Digital Age.” As with all conferences, some speakers more directly addressed the theme than others, but all were either entertaining, informative, or both. You can find out more about the conference and its programs here, but for now, a few highlights:

Thursday, November 2, 2017

All About that (Data) Bass Recap

By Celia Dillon
The Brearley School

Couldn't attend last Wednesday's HVLA Fall Meeting? Want to follow up with a vendor but didn't write down his or her information? Missed something when you were chatting with a fellow librarian? Here's the information you're looking for!

HVLA's Fall Meeting, All About That (Data) Bass was hosted by the Town School and librarians Karen Grenke and Cynthia Millman. It featured presentations and tabling by several organizations with a technology component. These organization included BrianPop, Brooklyn Public Library, Tiny Bop Schools, New York Public Library, InfoBase, PebbleGo/Capstone, Project MUSE & World Book Online. Both librarians and tech integrators were in attendance. Representatives from each organization gave a four-minute "elevator speech" about his or her organization and were also available before and after the presentations to answer individual questions. A keynote speech was given by Daryl Grabarek of School Library Journal about technology and education.

Meet the New Member of the HVLA Board!

Mary Beth Lemoine serves as the solo librarian and teacher at The Professional Children's School in New York City. She joins us with considerable librarian experience, having served in a number of independent schools both at the elementary and secondary levels. She also served as a French teacher at a number of schools at all levels. Most recently, Mary Beth spent two years in Lesotho, Southern Africa, as a member of the Peace Corps from 2014-2016 where she taught both English as a Second Language and Life Skills & HIV/AIDS education to primary school students.

She prides herself on tinkering with computers and technology and practicing yoga daily.

Mary Beth joins us as the Recording Secretary. 

Monday, October 2, 2017


By Karen Grenke
The Town School

As the school year gets underway, I've been finding myself closely observing all the transitions around me. From the mundane (students transitioning between classes - oh, the noise, the fun!) to the sublime (the radiant fall leaves upstate), I feel surrounded by change. I suppose I'm paying special attention because this year I find myself in the midst of professional transition as I change jobs from one school library in Brooklyn to another on the Upper East Side.

As much as I loved my previous library it was indeed time for a (here's that word again) change. I was one of the first librarians at the school and I built over 80% of the collection. I moved the library twice and packed it up by hand both times. To say I was attached to that library is an understatement. So it was with some amount of trepidation that I packed up my own boxes and left. And boy howdy, has it been reinvigorating! Here are a few of the things I've noticed.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

A Summer of Consequence

By Lisa Norberg

One of the greatest perks (and there are many) to becoming a school librarian is the extended summer break. This summer was my first and I took the opportunity to spend seven weeks in Italy helping my partner’s family with their organic farm. It is a small farm (just under 10 hectors) made up of vineyards of red and white grapes and orchards that produce amazing apricots, plums and pears. For biodiversity, the farm also maintains an enormous garden filled with tomatoes, lettuces, cucumbers, peppers, and zucchini, as well as a field of alfalfa, a dozen or more beehives and a couple of goats. While there is no shortage of work, we maintain a pretty lean crew made up of an eclectic assortment of family members, friends, two working artists, and a WWOOFer or two, usually college students from abroad.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Launching a New Library Program by Natasha Goldberg

This past year, as strapping men and women in hard hats frequently traversed our library's 
grand staircase in pursuit of a 38,000 square foot addition to our marvelous school, the librarians decided (wisely, we thought) to lay low.  No matter how many beautiful articles Laura Bishop might pen about the value of school-wide reads, 2017 didn't seem like the right moment to dream big in terms of our library program. Nevertheless, our eyes glistened (with excitement? tears?) when the charismatic Head of Middle School Humanities approached us with the idea of launching a new type of summer reading program for our middle schoolers (grades 4-7).

Upon their return to school, Chapin’s middle school students will be clustering to discuss a common theme (kindness) as it appeared in the books they chose to read over the summer.  The hope?  To give seventh graders in their last year of middle school the chance to be leaders in mixed-age discussions while reinforcing two cherished community norms (reading + kindness!)

As I sit at home awaiting my own participation in these "Choose Kind" breakout sessions, I thought it might be -- well, kind, really --  to briefly share what I learned from getting this not-quite-Book-Day program off the ground.

      Never be anything short of super-enthusiastic about a new community program, no matter how ill-timed it seems.  Negative chatter is the bane of any school.  I indulged in it briefly and got called out on it by a beloved colleague. Until then, I didn’t realize how desperately administration members relied on me as a standard-bearer of positivity.  Lesson learned.

     Put most everything else aside -- and by that, I mean all those nagging everyday tasks -- recataloging and weeding come to mind -- and focus on the new program instead.  In the end, you’ll never be remembered for your perfect collection….but a new program?  Yes.  Or, at least -- hopefully.

     Set up a time for the kids to physically interact with books that support the new program.  In my case, it was hosting a book tasting of books that met the “Choose Kind” criteria. This was in the final days of school (no small scheduling feat given all the end-of-year activities) but the girls were so eager to mingle and write their shortlist on a homespun bookmark.  In the end, I was able to guilt most of my colleagues into giving up 15 minutes of their classes that final week so that the girls could each choose a book appropriate to their personality and reading level.

     Keep reading this blog and attending HVLA’s wonderful meetings.  It’s a great way to force yourself to dream big and stay open.  And the post-meeting social always reassures me that no, I’m not going crazy, our job really is that complicated.

Hope to see you all at our next event! 

Natasha Goldberg, Middle School Librarian, Chapin