Thursday, March 14, 2013

April Book Club

Tuesday, April 9, 5:30

Elizabeth Irwin High School - meet in the library
40 Charlton Street
(between 6th Ave and Varick)

What We're Reading:
Courage Has No Color, The True Story of the Triple Nickles: America's First Black Paratroopers by Tanya Lee Stone
The 39 Deaths of Adam Strand by Gregory Galloway

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Gathering - A Guest Post!

Today's guest post is written by Eve Wolfsohn from Grace Church School in support of a conference she has attended in the past.

Event: The Gathering
Dates: Friday July 18 - Sunday July 21st
Location: LaPlume, Pennsylvania 

If you’re looking for a summer conference in which you can escape to a bucolic setting within driving distance of NYC, and immerse yourself in the company of creative and compatible people, come to The Gathering at Keystone College in LaPlume, Pennsylvania.  Each day, participants are treated to a combination of writing workshops, panel discussions, lectures and performances--all of which link up with a theme.  (Past Gatherings have focused on the metaphorical meaning of food, the connection between chaos and creativity, and interpretations of “Starry Night.”)   You’ll also have time to explore the wooded trails adjacent to the campus, to meander through a real labyrinth and to wine and dine with like-minded individuals.  If you’re an amateur writer, you’ll come away with practical tips and loads of support; if you are only a “consumer” of literature, you will feel inspired and rejuvenated.  

Here are a few of the highlights that I myself experienced while attending past Gatherings:
  • Listening to Salman Rushdie and Gregory Maguire converse informally about the Fatwah, the Wizard of Oz and other scintillating topics
  • Laughing along with the charming Billy Collins as he read his poems
  • Learning from the experiences of Chris Abani, a novelist and poet whose writings were inspired by the time he spent in prison in his native country, Nigeria
  • Hearing Katherine Patterson talk about writing and the world
  • Eating food prepared by Michael Ableman, a master of sustainable agriculture

And just in case you are still not convinced that you would enjoy yourself, each Gathering culminates in a delightful outdoor brunch held at a local farm a short distance from campus.

Interested?  Check out the website or contact Eve Wolfsohn for more details.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Winter Meeting Recap

Joy Piedmont moderating a Q&A with Sarah Couri and Susan Harris

It was wonderful to see so many faces, both old and new, at our winter meeting last week.  If you weren't able to make it, here is a brief recap of the two wonderful breakout sessions you missed. 

Tali Kaplan from Ethical Culture Fieldston School discussed how her lower school library "ditched Dewey" in favor of a subject-based organization system.  In challenging the historical way of organizing the library, the question was raised of whether or not this is the best way to organize books for kids who are natural browsers.  The new system at Ethical Culture organizes books based on subject which has led to more success of kids independently finding books.  One student even commented "Oh, you actually organized the library!"  If you are thinking of making this switch, some challenges you should consider include  working with book jobbers used to Dewy, cataloging issues, and also the transition into middle school if that is a place where students will be expected to know and use Dewey.   Overall, Tali is satisfied with this new child-centered approach! 

Susan Harris from Harvey School and Sarah Couri from Grace Church School each presented on various stages of setting up a Learning Commons.  While Harvey School is still in the discussion stage, Sarah inherited her brand new space at the beginning of this school year. 

At Harvey School, because they are not looking into new construction, Susan is really looking at adapting the space they have and creating unique areas for each type of activity.  For example, putting quiet study into individual study carrels and creating a more relaxed space for group socialization generates an appropriate setting for each group.  Some challenges they have foreseen include power supply, timing, space, and money.  

The library at Grace Church School was designed as an academic shared work space which allows for cross-department collaboration.  Although different areas are designated for group work, structured classes, and individual study, one challenge that Sarah has been working around is some of the fixed furniture.  In order to be truly flexible, movable furniture would be ideal.  The learning lab and play area complete with crafting supplies speak to the creative student-centered approach at the heart of the Learning Commons.

Afterword, we had a lively Q&A moderated by HVLA Treasurer Joy Piedmont.  When asked about what is happening to the traditional library, Sarah mentions that not everybody learns from just reading, so the library needs to support all learning styles.  The point was also brought up that Learning Commons has become a buzzword and many school administrators throw it around without fully understanding its meaning.  Librarians often need to help define buzzwords and adapt concepts like the Learning Commons into their own school cultures and spaces.  The lively discussion was broken up when we ran out of time and had to continue our conversation over food and drinks at PJ Clarks! 

Thank you to our wonderful presenters and hosts at Ethical Culture Fieldston School.  Hopefully we will see everyone at the spring meeting!