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.
Monday, October 2, 2017
Tuesday, September 5, 2017
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
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
Monday, August 7, 2017
Summer is not just a time to catch up on reading for pleasure, but also gives librarians a chance to read books specifically for work. The HVLA Board asked members to share a book read, to read, or in the process of being read for work over the summer.
It's interesting to note that there is crossover between some of the summer books being read for pleasure (previously posted) and for work. It's clear that work and pleasure aren't mutually exclusive for many HVLA librarians!
Below are the book covers (in alphabetical order):
Only a handful of HVLA members reported that their schools assigned an all-faculty read over this summer. Here are what those members said:
*Our Middle School faculty was asked to read one of 5 young adult fiction books "in the spirit of trying to understand our students and adolescence a little better":
1. Brown Girl Dreaming- Jacqueline Woodson 2. The Book Thief- Markus Zusak 3. Bridge to Terebithia- Katherine Paterson 4. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe- Benjamin Alire Sáenz 5. Ghost- Jason Reynolds
*Ours are all textbook-y style. Mine is called The Rules in School, by Kathryn Brady (the lower school had 4 choices)
*We pick from a list.
*Mindsets in the Classroom: Building a Culture of Success and Student Achievement in Schools by Mary Cay Ricci
*A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley
*This year there was a choice of five for Lower School: Wonder, A Long Walk to Water, Because of Mr. Terupt, Out of My Mind, El Deafo - we are promoting empathy & diversity
*We have tried in the past, and faculty resisted after a while. It is hard to pick something that will go over with a large, diverse group of people.
Thursday, August 3, 2017
Summertime can be ideal for catching up on reading for pleasure, especially for HVLA members, who often don't have time during the school year. The HVLA board asked the HVLA community to share a book read, currently being read, or to be read during this summer.
Here's what HVLA members are reading (in alphabetical order):
Maria said, "I am reading Zinn's People's History for a book club through the Human Rights Pen Pal group that matches incarcerated folks with people on the outside. I thought the graphic novel might be a good way to supplement it."
Constance said, "Gorgeous writing, makes you see and feel what our forests were like in a world before mass industry, electricity, and clear-cutting."
Susan said, "Loved Wolf Hollow."
Sarah said, "Starred, but controversial - Loved it!"
Angela said, "I think of this book as The Monuments Men, but for librarians. Can't wait to read it."
Hanna said, "Highly recommended by my colleagues."
An HVLA member said, "It was a very original first person narrative. I couldn't put it down."
Patricia said, "It's a mash up of science, historical fiction, horror, and feminism set during the Victorian era."
Michael said, "Recommended by a close friend. The intertwining of a memoir and a true crime case together made for a richer book about the two of them than if they were a stand alone."
Jennifer said, "I'm a big fan of the author and and also enjoying reading memoirs."
Gili said, "I chose Stevenson's book because I had heard his quote, 'The opposite of poverty is not wealth. In too many places, the opposite of poverty is justice.' After hearing this, I knew I had to learn more from this brilliant, articulate lawyer fighting for justice."
Gili said, "So many layers and such an original storyline. I'm perpetually in awe of women graphic novelists. I can't wait for the second one to come out in October!"
Laura read The Other Einstein.
Cheryl said, "Saw it on NetGalley, was drawn to the cover and description, and publishers were promoting it at ALA. It's set in NYC housing projects (Harlem). Protagonist is an African-American boy whose passion is building with Legos. It feels like an authentic picture of life in an under-served community, and I love the motif of architecture throughout."
Christine said, "This book was recommended to me and is absolutely one of the best YA Fantasy books I have read in a really long time. The concept is so original and different from anything else out there. The character development and world-building are spectacular- I can't wait for the next one!"
Lisa said, "It came highly recommended by a friend and I have a deep need to know the world can swerve and rediscover its humanity."
Megan said, "It's a novella so it's a quick read. It's AMAZING!! Will be a great book for discussion."
Eve said, "Adam Haslett is a terrific writer of realistic fiction--the kind that probes people's psyches. It's the second book of his that I've read. In Union Atlantic, he delves into the not-so-ethical world of finance, but don't worry if you're not an expert in this field....the drama between the characters will carry you through."
Stacy said, "I loved the first one. This one is just as good!"
Mary said, "Because I love her books--she's dark and funny at the same time, and she never disappoints. Some people characterize this and a few of her other books as 'crime,' but it still reads like a regular novel. Great characters."
Elizabeth said, "I chose tribute in prose and verse to Alexie's artistic, abusive, extraordinary mother Lillian Cox Alexie because of my affection and respect for the author's other works, including the YA The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian and the picture book Thunder Boy Jr. It's also a great read for those interested in Native identity, mental illness, the effects of the American colonization and cycles of abuse."
Laura read The Zookeeper's Wife.