Friday, August 31, 2007

End of the First Month

September is Library Card Sign Up Month so get those library cards if you don't have one. The public libraries in Marin are very good and with a library account you have access to the resources of the entire county (and beyond).

As the first month of school winds down we have had four 9th grade Cultures and Geography classes go through orientation in the library.
The orientations went very well thanks to attention from students and active participation by their teacher (Thanks, Ms. Ernst!)
Seven classes will be in next week and the final five the following week. I'd like to thank all the 9th grade social studies teachers for promptly signing up their classes this year. It is essential that new students have an orientation to the library as soon as possible since they will be using the library regularly from the first weeks of school.

One addition to orientation this year is an assignment which gives students the opportunity to explore at least a couple search engines they may not have used before. When asked, students say that their most popular search engine is Google, but there are several other which have features students may find helpful including Ask and Clusty. The nice thing about both of these is that they allow the user to narrow the focus of the search by providing suggested topics which Google does not do. I'd also like students to take a look at Yahoo's Directory (Google has one as well) and a metasearch engine, too. The directory sites can teach kids how things can be arranged hierarchically, and how that can help focus their search, and a metasearch engine (like Vivisimo) allows them to search across several search engines at the same time.
I will keep working on improving the orientation to make it as fun and useful as I can for students and teachers alike.

Open House will be next Thursday and the library will be open for visiting. Come on by if you get the chance.

Friday, August 24, 2007

End of the First Week

My meeting with the Social Studies dept. on Monday has paid off. I've got three of the Cultures and Geography teachers signed up bring their 9th graders into the library for orientation (a total of 10 classes so far). There a still a couple teachers who need to sign up but this is great for the first week of school. This year I'm working with teachers to do a follow-up assignment on the differences between various search engines. Nicolle Plescia had done the assignment with her Transitions students this summer and thought it was useful and valuable and I certainly agree. This is the first time a teacher has come with an assignment specifically related to information literacy and it's great. We will be refining the assignment as we work with various classes over the next few weeks and should have something worth sharing before the end of the month.

The library is looking for a few good students who are willing to be library assistants in the IWE program this semester. If you have a good mind, are reliable and have a good attendance record, and want to work in an interesting and highly valued school resource please see Mr. Kaun in the library.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Welcome to the 2007-2008 School Year and the Bessie Chin Library Leaves Blog

Welcome back to those who are returning and welcome to the newcomers.

Over the summer I attended a wonderful school librarians' conference in
Taiwan. I was trying to figure out a way to share some of what I
experienced and eventually decided to set up a Web log to make that
possible. I realized that I could use this blog as the library newsletter as
well so I started this blog version of Bessie Chin Library Leaves. I'll be adding postings to it on a regular basis as the school year progresses and will send reminders every so often to take a look at the blog. One of the things I will be posting to the blog is my regular article in the parent newsletter so you'll be able to find that here as well. I will also add a widget so you can quickly get to the list of new materials on LibraryThing.

While in Taiwan I visited two exemplary high school libraries and made some connections to the staffs there. This might be especially handy for our kids learning Mandarin but other classes (Cultures and Geography comes to mind) might want to take advantage of the connection as well.
I've got a lot of stuff I collected there, which, with Irene's help, we might be able to translate and use, including CDs with presentations about the schools. Come on by to chat if you think any of this might be useful.

We also installed (with the help of Becky and Rose) AquaBrowser this summer. AquaBrowser is an online catalog (OPAC) interface which will take some experimenting with to use to best advantage. Our internal AB URL is, external URL (from home) is I will try to get some time at a staff meeting to introduce AquaBrowser and its' benefits. I have also put links to it on the library home page. It's kind of fun--take a look.

This year we will have a school-wide subscription to Questia, a huge database of full-text books and articles. Up to now our Questia subscription has been a single-user version but Questia is now making this multi-user version available to schools. Topics covered by the database include Art and Architecture, Communication, Economics and Business, Education, History, Law, Literature, Music and Performing Arts, Philosophy, Politics and Government, Psychology, Religion, Science and Technology, and Sociology and Anthropology. You will notice that it is much stronger in humanities topics than science but there are some interesting titles in health science and technology and civilization areas.
With this version of Questia teachers will be able to set up reading lists and other resource lists and students will be able to keep track of materials they are using for a specific project with individual accounts. As soon as I have the log-in information I will be sharing it with all of you. Staff development will also be available at some point for Questia. In the meantime if you go to Questia and log in using "redwood94939" as the User ID and "giants" as the password you can take a look at some info about use of the database by teachers and students. (Click on Classroom and then Flash Demo for an overview of some of the features).

Hope you had a great reading summer. If you've read any great books (I read the three Gormenghast novels by Mervyn Peake) and you want the library to add them to our collections let me know and I'll order them. Of course, if you just want to donate any books you're finished with we happily take donations as well.

I'll be sending a packet out to new teachers and staff with info about how to best take advantage of library resource, staff and programs. Come on down when get the chance to either take a personalized tour or re-acquaint yourselves with the Bessie Chin Library (named for the librarian here at Redwood from 1968 to 1993).
The library extensions are: 3662 (Tom Kaun--Library Media Teacher); 3664 (Karen Barrett--Library Specialist); and 3663 (Cythea Harrison--Clerk I).

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Librarian-Classroom Teacher Collaboration

Well I'm back in town after a wonderful time in Bali and visiting my sister in Java. I'll be posting some pictures on my Web Album in the next few days.
In the meantime, I'm catching up with email, including American Libraries Direct, the online newsletter of the American Library Association. I'm always finding good stuff in this newsletter which comes weekly to ALA members.
One of the more recent ones has a fun video about teacher-librarian collaboration. The video is short on content but humorous in a library media teacher sort of way!
Here it is:

Find more videos like this on TeacherLibrarianNetwork

I'll be showing this to new teachers when school starts next week and maybe even show it to the entire staff sometime in the next few weeks. I look at it as a conversation starter and I'm always trying to find ways to get that collaborative discussion going!