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