Tuesday, August 20, 2013

I wore my "guess what I'm reading? shirt yesterday (Thank you, Unshelved).  No one ever tries to guess, though.  The lady at the fruit stand asked me if I were a reading teacher or a librarian.  My camping buddy said "are you going to tell us, or do we have to guess?"  I was able to describe a book in every medium -- my book club book, The Piano Shop on the Left Bank (print),  Roger Ebert's memoir, Life Itself (audiobook on CD for the car) and Mr. Churchill's Secretary (ebook from the library's Overdrive collection).  I have a couple of additional print books, but am determined to read my book club book first to be ready for next week's meeting.

And now the blog and I are officially on vacation, so that I can take more pictures for future blogs.  Enjoy the end of the summer!  And take as many books as you can on vacation with you!

Monday, August 19, 2013


In my mixed media life, I've copied some of the comments I got on my Facebook page about children's books into the comment stream here on the blog, posting them all anonymously.  Check out the comments on the post "What is your favorite children's book?"  Is your list the same or different?

Most of the comments focused on the need for additional categories or a longer list. Only two people provided a title and author with no cavats.  A relative:  A Girl Of The Limberlost, by Gene Stratton-Porter;  A friend: Winnie The Pooh.

The use of language is so critical to our understanding and thought processes that the word 'favorite' seems to have created conversation -- but not about books.   The implication of choosing a favorite is that all those not picked are somehow less important to you than the chosen one.    Sometimes you do need to choose a single thing, but often the person asking the question really means not, which thing in this category do you love above all things, but, which thing in this category do you really like a lot.

Feel free to list your top 20 or 100 Children's Books in the comments, or comment on choosing favorites if you prefer. 
One of my favorite cities
I'm rephrasing my question -- or rather, asking more questions:

Was there a book that you read over and over again as a child? 

A book your child asked for again and again?

What memories are attached to books or reading?  What do you hope the children or students in your life will remember about reading?

Allowing the list to be as long as you like, which children's books are among your favorites?

Thanks for continuing the conversation.


Saturday, August 17, 2013

Favorite? Who can pick a favorite?

The original question on the ALA Forum was -- is it ok for a child to have a favorite book?  I can't see any downside, so I found the question confusing.  A friend of mine said, in conversation "is it ok for a child to learn to read?"  Memorizing your favorite book and pretending to read it is a key pre-reading skill.  I can only imagine that the question was posed by a parent who was tired of reading the same story again and again, and it made me think about favorite books.
Sorting donated books at: KAN Cool for School  supply give away (photo by Anne S)

My father could recite Green Eggs and Ham from memory, years after my sister had moved on to the Babysitter's Club and beyond to college level texts.   He would sometimes throw a few lines into a conversation, mostly to amuse and distract grandchildren in a restaurant "I do not like them with a fox, I do not like them in a box, I do not like Green Eggs and Ham, I do not like them, Sam I am".  While Green Eggs was not my personal favorite, even of the Seuss/Cerf beginning readers (I liked Go Dogs Go) I treasure the memory of the Rev. Jesse Jackson reading the book aloud on Saturday Night Live when Mr. Giesel passed on.  It was such a fitting tribute to an author who changed a lot of children's lives.  Of all the books, my favorite comes from the longer stories -- I love Thidwick the Big Hearted Moose.  

Many of us are filled with insatiable curiosity

As a child, I was often read to from Just So Stories, The Princess and Curdie, and Grimm's Fairy Tales.  My father often chose "The Elephant's Child" when it was his turn to pick, although his real favorite was the story of how the alphabet was made.  I had less interest in linguistic evolution than either my father or Mr. Kipling, but if he imagined that Elephant's Child would serve as a cautionary tale, he was doomed to disappointment.  I just didn't see getting the coolest nose in the animal kingdom as being a punishment.  I am afraid to this day, I am full of " 'satiable curiosity'."  As a journalist, librarian, writer and researcher, it has defined my life.  Children like a lot of things about reading aloud -- the attention of their parents, the plot of the story, the pictures in the book, and the coziness of the experience.  I am most grateful today for the appreciation I developed for the beauty of language.  My father taught speech and theater and was a great reader.  My mother also had a flair for the dramatic.  Who wouldn't love a story that included lines like this? I can still hear it in my father's voice:

 'It is,' said the Elephant's Child, and before he thought what he was doing he schlooped up a schloop of mud from the banks of the great grey-green, greasy Limpopo, and slapped it on his head, where it made a cool schloopy-sloshy mud-cap all trickly behind his ears. 

[The Project Gutenberg EBook of Just So Stories, by Rudyard Kipling, line 74
 http://www.gutenberg.org/files/32488/32488-h/32488-h.htm#Page_63]   There are other 
versions available on the site, and you'll find it in libraries & bookstores as well. 
Don't you want to find out how the Leopard Got His Spots?  
To be continued....
and it is not too late to add your favorite book(s) to the comment section!   

Thursday, August 15, 2013

What is your favorite children's book?

If you cannot choose just one, what are your favorite books in each category:

Picture book

Beginning Reader

Chapter Book



Parents are allowed to have their own favorite books, and their children's favorite books.  I've been thinking about this ever since someone asked the question on an ALA forum "Is it okay for a child to have a favorite book?"  I can't imagine why not, but I will talk about that more tomorrow. 

Thanks for commenting!

Social Media Platforms -- where is the audience?

This article came across my Linked In news feed today, and obviously a lot of people have read it.  I'm 13 and none of my friends have Facebook  I have been thinking about this for some time, and have asked younger people I know which social media platforms they use.  I know that Facebook is, as this young woman points out, largely used by people her parents' and grandparents' ages.  It is telling that this girl and her friends got Instagram because their parents didn't know about it when it first came out -- clearly obeying the letter, and not the spirit, of their parents' prohibition of Facebook, and Instagram's own terms of service. 

If I had a social media site, I wouldn't post silly people videos

I have college age friends and relatives who use Facebook.  My mentee, who is a senior and applying to library school, says her favorite is Tumblr but she has never seen it used effectively for information or marketing.  She did attend one ALA program that featured Tumblr.  She also uses Facebook and Twitter.  I have a nephew in high school who uses only Twitter;  his younger sister just got Facebook
I know, not a representative sample, but I think a lot of people are using more than one platform. 

The only thing that's really clear is that this market is going to change and evolve just as quickly as everything else in the online / mobile world. What's a library, or other marketing entity, to do?  I actually have an answer for that question, and it's pretty simple -- learn the concepts of social media and social marketing, not the individual platforms. 
There are as many choices as rocks on the beach -- do you have time to find the best one?

As a very young librarian, I went to a seminar on electronic resources.  The speaker gave a great presentation, but the thing I took away from his talk and have used ever since was this.  "There is no way you can learn each resource;  there are too many of them.  What you have to learn is the basic structure, and how to find more specific information if you need it."  He went on to compare some of the features of electronic resources to books, pointing out that, whatever the subject of the book, we would look for the table of contents, the index, and possibly the list of acknowledgements for the information our clients needed.

Since that time, I've used a lot of different library management systems, online course platforms, databases, web sites, electronic books and social media sites.  As I encountered each new system, I figured out how it worked, how to teach other people to use it, and how to best extract the functionality or information needed, either for myself or for my library clients.  I am grateful, often, that I went to that particular class, and so both expected  constant change, and felt prepared to handle it. 

Social media presents the same challenge and is amenable to the same solution.  Do not focus on the platform or the software -- focus on the content, and learn enough about the software or site to know how to use it to your advantage.  Make sure that staff development classes focus on the content and uses more than just on the nuts and bolts, and reward people who use a lot of different platforms and try new ones. 
If you can climb one tree, you can climb any tree (it helps to have claws!)

It would be nice if someone would take on the task of creating a list of this year's hottest social media among whomever we are trying to reach -- a social media Mindset List, if you will.  That would be easier for academic libraries with mostly traditional students, but that type of easy to identify demographic is probably also a thing of the past.  Flexibility and adaptability, and possibly posting the same content in different places, modified to fit the space, is going to be the best approach to social media -- at least for now.

What's your favorite social media site?  Do you use different ones for different groups of people? 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Back to School

As teachers and paraprofessionals all over the county set up their classrooms, libraries, and learning spaces for  the upcoming  school year, let's take a minute to say,  "Thank You, educators, for doing a difficult job and educating our children.  We understand that our future depends on a well educated electorate and workforce, even if we don't have children in your school." 

Thank you for being there for your students -- supporting them not only in academics but in activities and interests in the arts, sports, and community service.

Thank you for coming in before school starts, often in the summer heat, to make sure that students have a positive learning environment and the beginning of the year is positive for everyone.

Thank you for the reading you did, classes you took, lesson plans you wrote and meetings you attended while you were off for the summer.

Thank you for being creative and compassionate and taking advantage of those teachable moments in every day.


If your community has a program like this one to help kids have the materials they need to be successful in school, consider donating or helping out.         KAN Cool for Back to School

Why do you want to thank a teacher?    Please add to the list in the comments!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Summer Weekend

It's the weekend!  Visit your local farmer's market or local farm if you can!  http://www.wifarmersmarkets.org/


My farmer's market today also featured flowers as well as Amish ice cream and organic vegetables, coffee, crafts, and live plants. 

Friday, August 9, 2013

Who knew we had our own day?

I am wearing my Unshelved "Guess What I'm Reading" tee shirt -- which makes it the second time that I've worn it appropriately but without forethought -- I  got a pin from co-creator of Unshelved Bill Barnes at the American Library Association conference for this shirt. "We're giving them to everyone wearing Unshelved merchandise," he said. I had to look down to see what I was wearing.  I have found the shirt to be a good conversation starter, even away from the ALA Convention floor.  What am I reading?  Right this second,  a lot of online news stories, following links from Twitter and Facebook and LinkedIn -- magpie reading, attracted by headlines instead of shiny objects.

I've read a lot of mysteries this summer -- my favorite form of "take me away" reading -- including the White House Chef series by Julie Hyzy.  I also participated in my public library's summer reading program for adults, which required that you read a book a week. Five of the eight books had to be different genres or types of books.  I appreciate being forced to consider life beyond the new mystery shelf, and read:
  •  a surrelistic fiction YA book by David Levithan called Every Day, about a boy who wakes up each day in a different body, which presents serious ethical and practical issues when he falls in love with the girlfriend of a body he's is occupying one day
  • my book club's pick for July, Good Poems by Garrison Keillor, which provided an interesting discussion as everyone read aloud their favorite(s) from the book
  • A Hidden Truth by Judith Miller, about a woman moving to the Amana Colonies that her mother had left.  It was an interesting subject, though the characters were a little underdeveloped, even for romance.[Christian historical romance -- 3 genres in one!]    That took me to a whole collection of Christian fiction about Amish people-- there seem to be a large number of them, just on the new book shelf.  The ones I read varied in quality, but I liked Barbara Cameron's Quilts of Lancaster County series. The first one was the best of the three, but of course I had to find out what happened next.
  • I finally read John Green's The Fault in Our Stars (realistic fiction, YA) which I had put off reading because I thought it would be too sad.  When the characters meet in a cancer support group, it doesn't seem fated to end happily -- and there's the title, if you needed more clues.  It is, however, a brilliant book, and probably Green's best.  Passages and scenes from the book stuck with me for weeks and yes, I both laughed and cried.  There are a lot of YA books about early death, and love, and friendship, but this one is exceptionally both realistic and filled with interesting, quirky characters.  Even the parents are not as throwaway as is usual in the genre.  I recommend that you read it -- on a bright, sunny day, when you have neither had nor anticipate bad news.
  • Of course,  I read a whole bunch of mysteries, including the new one by Donna Andrews, Hen of the Baskervilles.  This was not the strongest of the series, but I recommend the series, beginning with Murder With Peacocks. The characters and the laugh aloud scenes are the strength of the books.
  • What am I reading today?  Hearse and Buggy by Laura Bradford, which fell off the new book shelf into my hands, the One Year Bible, and my next book club book, The Piano Shop on the Left Bank. 
    And I have a stack of new library books on my desk. . . .
If my summer reading is too summery for your tastes, the Internet Public Library linked to  25 web sites that have book reviews of literature and which sound entertaining in their own right.  I also like Shelf Awareness from the Independent Booksellers, which covers mostly new books, and Poem-A-Day, for a quick read each and every day via now old fashioned e-mail.  And for you cutting edge folks, I'm sure you are aware  the New York Times has a list of best selling ebooks.  

What are you reading on Book Lover's Day?

Follow up

Here's the follow up to the social media interview -- and, notice, they've used yet another media outlet and promoted it on Facebook (at least, that's where I found it).

Behind the scenes of Earnhardt's AMA, @TeamHendrick takeover

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Personal? Professional? Professional Social Media Agent?

I struggle with the relationships between the personal and the professional in online life.  I have tried to keep my professional contacts in Linked In, and my personal contacts on Facebook.  I know that some people have set up separate accounts, but that doesn't seem practical to me.  I did that with email, and ended up with nine email accounts, and the compartmentalization was, in the end, not helpful.  My social networks have a lot of overlap, but the categories do hold up, as much as possible in our complex world.  My Twitter feed, however, is a totally random collection of things I'm interested in and things I like and people I think are entertaining.  I think the conflation of the personal and professional is inevitable, in part because it is easier -- and the technology itself encourages consolidation.

Today, I'm turning to the use of social media in an area which is of interest to me, but not a part of my professional purview -- beyond the unimpeachable fact that librarians are interested in everything -- sports marketing.

NASCAR racer Dale Earnhardt, Jr., today did two chat activities, one on Reddit, and one on Twitter, to demonstrate the use of his employer's "new Digital Dashboard social media command center".   What interested me, beyond the content, was not only the interactive use of social media, which is not new, but both the high tech center, and the other media forms used by Dale Jr.'s publicity people to publish the content on the web afterwards.


Check out the photos of the command center -- it's pretty impressive. There are photos on the team twitter feed @TeamHendrick #DashChat.   This project used twitter.com, twitter pics, reddit.com (the NASCAR subreddit),  a photo site called imgur, and a site called Storyify, used by his publicity person to create a complete list of the answered questions with photos and comments. It might be the type of project a library could do, even without the high tech command center.

I can see possibilities for using the Storyify and Imgur tools to create materials for classes or other educational applications.  I also find the process fascinating -- taking a celebrity who is famously not on Twitter and having him use social media to interact with fans in a controlled environment. For peeks behind the mirror, you can follow his publicity people @MikeDavis88 and @MikeHoag88.  Mr. Earnhardt got into social media early (back in the My Space days),and encouraged NASCAR to use the web more effectively.  He owns a television/film production company, and his staff maintains a set of web sites, two Facebook pages, and a podcast.  You'll notice, however, that it takes a complete team of public relations people to maintain all of these web outlets.  http://www.dalejr.com.  On this week's podcast, Mr. Earnhardt said that he gave up maintaining a social media page himself because it "became like a small child." Mr. Davis, himself a father, pointed out that an actual small child probably is more work.  However, I understand the analogy.

On another social media front, on Linked In today I saw, in my news feed, a question and discussion about how to learn social media platforms.  One person posted a New York Times article from last March with a list of classes -- credit and non-credit, many requiring tuition -- available for people wanting to become certified in social media.  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/01/education/digital-skills-can-be-quickly-acquired.html?pagewanted=all  I was happy to see that I already know how to use most of the media listed, though, of course, I'm sure more things have been added to the social media universe in the last five months.  I did find both the question and the answer interesting -- do we all need social media certification if we need to be our own publicity agents?  Has anyone done time/benefit analyses on the use of social media?  At what point does it take too much time?  For an individual?  For an institution?

My personal feeling is that there needs to be a balance between the time spent and the benefits, and one way to maximize benefits is  to pick one or two sites and types of communication to focus on, and do them really well.  Unless and until you are earning $23 million a year...

That's a lot of text without pictures, especially if you didn't follow the links [hint:  follow the links!].  Here are some photographs far from the racetrack or the computer screen:

Basking in the sun on the special turtle raft
Waterway through the wetlands

Prairie flowers

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Beach Cat

Summer time, and living is not necessarily online.  I had the opportunity to be at my friends' beach house while caring for their cat.    A very special cat,  a cat that prefers the outdoors -- on a leash.  (She would probably forgo the leash, but she doesn't keep the same eye out for raptors and other predators that I do).  

Surveying the Lake

Lake Michigan shoreline

Fortune Cookie

Information is not knowledge.
Knowledge is not wisdom.
Wisdom is not truth.
Truth is not beauty.
Beauty is not love.
Love is not music.
Music is the best.
Frank Zappa