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Saturday, September 30, 2006

Happy October!

Whew...wait...can I just take another breath?

Whew!

Book Fair is officially over! It was great fun, and we got a lot of great books out of the deal, but I'm so glad I don't have to deal with it again next week!

Now it's time to deal with
APR's fund drive. Remember, if you listen and don't contribute, Kathryn Tucker Windham says that's "just plain tacky."

Anyway, I was going to give you a "
27 by 27" update...since we're more than halfway there (yikes)...but I left my journal at home. So I'll make this brief and promise the update soon!

Please please pick up a copy of the new
Junie B. book. It's my favorite "first grader" so far...I laughed and laughed, then laughed some more. And all I can tell you is that she gets a bird stuck in her head (hopefully she won't grow up to have a phobia like mine)!

Also worth checking out is the movie "
The Lake House." I told Jason it had time travel for him, romance for me and a puppy for Fred! Cute...no Academy Award in its future, but all movies don't have to be award-winners!

Lastly...I'm going to try (for the ump-teenth time) to get a picture onto my profile. If not, this is the
school's picture of me. My hair is much, much, much longer. (More on that later.)














OK, have a great October, and, while you're reading, pick up something by Jean Craighead George. She's our "featured author" for this month, and she's wonderful, of course!

BOO!

Book Fair--Whew!

Well, we have officially wrapped up this year's Book Fair at ACA...setting new records and proud of it!

And...since I've been there around the clock (or at least that's how it feels)...I'm copping out a little bit and leaving you with some links as we head into October. Enjoy!

The latest installment of the Google Librarian Newsletter

Incredibly beautiful libraries...I now want to go to all of them...after visiting all the SEC stadiums (is that the correct plural?) of course. The pictures are from a book called Libraries (hint-hint--good Christmas gift for those librarians in your life) by author/photographer Candida Hofer.

Couple of NPR stories on the wild and wonderful Maurice Sendak...

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6139979

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4680590

And an article on whether computers will ever really be able to replace librarians...

Next time, I'll let you in on a discussion about a library position in Guantanamo Bay...as well as the latest for Alabama Public Libraries.

Happy October!

Monday, September 18, 2006

Just Some Thoughts

Haven't had a lot of spare time lately, so I just wanted to check in (if anyone's actually out there reading). I'm here late at school for a PTA meeting, but no one comes to the library for these things! Oh, well.

Things are going well on our end. School is trucking along, and Jason and I are both getting ready for big things at work. His fund drive and my Book Fair BOTH start next week. Yikes! Pray for us!

Also, I'm planning to give you an update on my "27 by 27" stuff. So be looking for that in the next week or so. Some things are going well. Others are coming along more slowly (especially those 27 pounds I'm trying to lose).

And, can I just say "Roll Tide!" A 3-0 start to the season. Nice. Gotta love Tuscaloosa in the Fall, especially with that stadium expansion.

I've been checking out a lot of espn.com and rolltide.com lately, so I'll leave you with those links.

Have a great week, and I'll try to write more soon!

Monday, September 11, 2006

In Defense of Accelerated Reader

On the national front and in individual libraries (including mine), there's been quite a firestorm over Accelerated Reader, I'm guessing since the program started.

Some love it. Some hate it.

Others, like me, think it's a necessary evil that's not as bad as most opponents make it out to be.

So far, I've refrained from saying too much about it, not only because I don't have a definite opinion (surprise, surprise), but also because my school uses the program from 1st through 12th grades.

The reason I'm writing on it now is because of comments in this month's School Library Journal by Pat Scales in her "Scales on Censorship" column.

A reader wrote in asking about restricting students to their A.R. reading levels.

Scales says "The American Library Association discourages placing prejudicial labels on library materials...it's censorship when students are only allowed to take out materials that match their reading levels."

I understand where she's coming from, and for public libraries and school libraries that do not use A.R. to the extent we do, this is definitely the way to go.

However, it's a different story here at ACA.

As far as shelving the books by grade level...for us, it's simply a matter of efficiency. We shelve our A.R. picture books by level because it just becomes impossible to keep them straight any other way. Our chapter books for younger readers and novels for older students are all shelved by the author. (We still use Dewey for non-fiction.)

On a larger issue of letting students read what they want when they want, that's a little more difficult.

Our students (1st-12th grades) are required to have a certain number of A.R. points per semester. This number of points determines their reading grade. The elementary teachers do not allow students to check out books that are not on their reading levels until they have all their points. Our hands are tied on that matter.

Meanwhile, high school reading teachers also require their students to read above a certain level until they have all of their points.

I understand that this seems restrictive, but when reading is a class (just like math or English), there have to be some restrictions in place.

Others have complained about the toll A.R. takes on public libraries. Anytime you're serving several elementary schools, you're going to have a shortage of the popular books (or the required books for English classes).

As far as our system goes, there are no required A.R. reading lists, which helps the above-mentioned problem and provides students with more options of what to read.

Also, our high school students have a reading class everyday. That's 45 minutes with nothing to do but read. No excuses. Our library has an admirable collection that gives them plenty of options. Again, there is no required reading list.

So, as I said, my overall position on A.R. is not definite. I admit there are problems, but, overall, it's forced more of our students to read on a more regular basis. Consequently, test scores have improved, and several graduates have returned to say "thanks" because they're now avid readers--voluntarily!

Moving on...what would one of my posts be without a collection of links?

A book collecting competition for UA students. I wish...I wish...I wish in vain...I wish I was a student again...

ALA resources for book displays.

Former SLIS student Paul Moxon is highlighted in TIME magazine.

I'd love to hear comments on your experiences, if I can make sure that feature works!

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Racing Into September

I can't believe it's actually September! August was a whirlwind month, but I'm so thankful to have made it through these past few weeks of school...and to have made it to our first holiday, Labor Day.

What a great weekend! Three days off (for both Jason and me)...yet another championship season of Alabama football...good things all around!

Jason and I have had so many "skillets on the stove" during the last few weeks, but I think we're learning to prioritize and focus on what's important.

For instance, we've gotten involved in a Sunday school class at church, I'm about to start a ladies' Bible study, and we're both involved with a Christian writing ministry (in the very very early stages)...not to mention choir!

Well, then we found out about a marriage class at church. It sounded great. We enjoyed our first visit. But, all in all, these activities made for a packed calendar, especially for a couple of introverts who really value that "alone time" (together and separately)!

So, we're making an effort to just spend those 45 minutes on Wednesday evening having dinner (sans television) and talking instead. Hopefully that will still benefit our marriage! Hey, it might do us even more good than a class would! Who knows?

We've also been having some interesting discussions about spiritual issues. Chief in my mind lately has been the "can a believer lose his/her salvation?" question. It's a complicated question! We've talked about some of the verses (Hebrews 6:4-6, Hebrews 10:26-29, Romans 8:31-39) and looked at some commentary (on both sides of the issue), so that's been good for both of us, I think.

Also, one good thing about school starting is that the students are always opening my eyes to new literature. This month...I re-discovered Judy Blume and Beverly Cleary (please take time to check out the Ramona or Fudge series-classic kid lit)! But I also found out about the author Dee Henderson, and, I must say, I'm hooked! Her O'Malley series is fabulous!

I've also enjoyed John Updike's Gertrude and Claudius (compliments of my aunt), and I'm about to start a book on the history of the Rothschilds (compliments of my father-in-law).

On a non-literature front...Jason and I have been slipping in our movie-watching lately because we've been intrigued with Alias! I'm so so so glad we didn't watch it as it aired because the cliffhangers would drive me crazy! What a cool show!

And even though I usually don't like this sort of thing, it might be interesting to do a Bible/Alias study on how we're "double agents" for God here on earth. Maybe something to look at in our Christian writing class. We'll see!

Sorry if this post went on too long! I'll try to do better about writing more frequently, so I won't cram so much into one blog! Oh, and I'm also still working on the photos thing--just remember I'm technically challenged! Happy September!

Happy September!

Things are still going well at ACA. It's been a busy first few weeks, but I'm pleased with the direction the library's taking so far.

I've tried to get a bit more creative for our September displays. We have Beverly Cleary as September's featured author as well as displays on Patriot Day, Talk Like a Pirate Day and National Hispanic Heritage Month.

So all is well so far!

Meanwhile, here are a few links to things going on in other library worlds...

Dolly Parton's Imagination Library

Buzzword Compliant Dictionary

So, enjoy reading, and have a happy September!

Read from the beginning...