Three years ago, I retired from the small independent school where I’d worked for twelve years. The last ten I spent getting my library certification, while building the library and library programming there.
It was hard to leave but time to go, with family needs and the publishing company left to me by my Dad calling on my time and my heart.
But that library led me to my true calling, I believe, and they really never got rid of me, once I was able to go back as a sub the past two years. I’d shelve books and exclaim over the new acquisitions, and happily talk books with the kids (and teachers!) in the hallway and classroom.
Three years later, I have the opportunity to be a part of the school improvement plan in ways none of us could have imagined all those years ago, when I was growing a library from shelves full of used books and a room full of promise.
While others prepare to deliver curriculum in the library, I am redesigning the collection for a move to new teaching spaces after this coming school year.
The first job is a total weed of the collection, something which can never happen completely while also fulfilling a teaching and duty schedule. Over the years, this task has grown to somewhat daunting proportions.
One could say that moving a school from two buildings to one is a sad thing, that it is a downsizing of the program. Really, though, this is a right-sizing of the program designed to serve this small school population while resources grow.
My job, building a library collection that reflects the mission and vision of the school while it shrinks to fit smaller spaces, is one example of the thoughtful approach to these changes. Our school is authorized for the Middle Years Programme of the International Baccalaureate, serving students grades 6-8. The school is actively pursuing application for the Primary Years Programme, which serves early childhood through middle grade students.
Using best library practices, I’m working to make this the best possible library for our school community. I’m using the following points to approach each book we have in the library.
Does the collection include diverse voices and viewpoints? Do windows, mirrors and sliding glass doors exist in the choices of the books we choose for our students? Could ANY student find themselves reflected somewhere in our library, and could ANY student learn about people with different experiences and viewpoints than their own there?
Did we practice due diligence in examining our personal biases as we decide which books serve our community the very best way? Can we offer teachers and families a wide selection of really great books, including those that exemplify the IB’s ten Learner Profile traits?
Next, I use circulation statistics to inform my decision about a book. If no one has checked out a book that is more than ten years old in the past five years, it’s got to go, unless I happen to know that it a hidden gem no one could find before.
The last gauge I use is age (science, geography and other areas are outdated faster than others). The copyright date is one checkpoint, but smelly books always go(ewww),no matter how special!
Library staff has performed these weeding exercises by section as they were able to in the past, but this move provides great motivation to get the whole job done on the entire library, and I’m making progress. When I’m finished, the remaining collection will fit into the new teaching spaces being designed for them throughout the school, the collection will be accessible to everyone, and the great books that have in some cases been hidden within the vast number of volumes will be visible and ready to share!
It is so exciting to be part of something that will add value to a school so dear to my heart. I’m very happy to back in the bookstacks to be making a difference, also to peek between the covers of favorite middle grade books I recommended or have on my own TBR pile, and to geek out in the land of the well- designed library catalog, one of my weird and wonderful passions.
January 4, 2018
Wordplay is a new two-day book festival coming to Minnesota next year. The festival plans to bring more than 100 authors, including children’s writers, to the Twin Cities in May. Organizers envision a fresh approach to their celebration of words: offbeat events like yoga with the authors, and lots of parties. No participating authors have been announced yet.
Author Jacqueline Woodson has been named the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. She will be officially inaugurated at the Library of Congress on Tuesday, January 9, 2018. Her job as ambassador is to raise national awareness of “the importance of young people’s literature as it relates to lifelong literacy, education and the development and betterment of the lives of young people.” (from the Library of Congress web site.)
December 14, 2017
This August, author James Baldwin’s Little Man, Little Man, will be back on bookshelves. The book is the only children’s story ever written by the acclaimed novelist, essayist, playwright, and civil rights activist. Originally released in 1976, it went out of print quickly. Little Man, Little Man will be reissued by Duke University Press, complete with original illustrations. It also features a forward by Baldwin’s nephew, who was the inspiration for the story’s main character, T.J.
World Read Aloud Day is coming! Mark your calendars for February 1, 2018. The goal? Read out loud together, share our stories, and raise our voices in support of reading and writing as a basic human right. Use #WorldReadAloudDay to share and gather ideas for reading to your community.
October 18, 2017
#USVIPubFund is live and chock full of critiques, consultations, and ARC giveaways. What is it? An auction offered by publishing professionals, editors, agents, and authors, to provide hurricane disaster relief to the hard-hit US Virgin Islands. Auction proceeds go to the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands. The auction closes Thursday at 9pm Eastern on Thursday, October 19.
October 4, 2017
#PubforPR is the hurricane relief fundraiser spearheaded by authors, agents, and publishers to help Puerto Rico recover from the devastation of Hurricane Maria. All funds raised by the online auction will go to the organizations Unidos por Puerto Rico and ConPRmetidos, both of which are on the island. More than 100 authors, agents, illustrators, and editors have offered services. Act now — the auction closes on October 5.
September 20, 2017
New York Comic Con in the library! On October 5, this major convention will partner with the New York Public Library to offer programming on comics and graphic novels for librarians and teachers. A sampling of the session includes this talk on creating stories with positive female characters: Girl Power Comics: Middle Grade Fiction for Girls and Boys,
August 30, 2017
Hurricane Harvey Book Club: A teacher from Katy, Texas started a Facebook group book club to help support and bring joy to children who have been affected by Hurricane Harvey. So far the group has nearly 56,000 members. They’re also on Twitter: @HHarveyBookClub. The club is busy — they’ve also spearheaded a fundraising campaign to sell t-shirts. Proceeds go toward replacing books in Texas teachers’ classroom libraries destroyed by the floods. So far, they’ve raised nearly $15,000.
Literary community pitches in for Hurricane Harvey Relief: Kate Messner’s KidLitCares is pitching in with an auction to help victims of Hurricane Harvey, which is still dumping rain on flood-ravaged Texas and Louisiana. More than 200 authors, agents, and editors have donated services; all proceeds go to fund Red Cross relief efforts. The auction runs until September 7, 2017. NOTE: When you click on the link, be patient. The site has been overwhelmed and crashes; if you can’t get in, try again later. It’s worth it. Among the many donors: Chelsea Clinton.
August 25, 2017
Congratulations to MUF blogger Jonathan Rosen on his debut this month, NIGHT OF THE LIVING CUDDLE BUNNIES. Check out our interview with him here, and sign up with the Rafflecopter to get your own free copy of Jonathan’s book.
In case you missed it, in July the New Yorker published this retrospective on the 50th anniversary of FROM THE MIXED UP FILES OF BASIL E. FRANKWEILER.
August 16, 2017
The American Library Association has released a statement condemning racism and the recent violence in Charlottesville. “The ALA supports voices of hope as such actions mirror the library community’s efforts to abolish bigotry and cultural invisibility,” said ALA President Jim Neal.
Teachers searching for help to start the conversation about Charlottesville with their students have a new resource: #CharlottesvilleCurriculum. Melinda Anderson, a contributing writer for The Atlantic who covers education and race, created the Twitter hashtag to share websites, videos, and other documents to use in class. One of the resources listed on the hashtag includes this book list from the National Network of State Teachers of the Year.
August 9, 2017
We have a winner for the Rafflecopter giveaway of the debut novel KARMA KHULLAR’S MUSTACHE!
Thanks, Jennifer B., and happy reading!
August 3, 2017
The popular MY WEIRD SCHOOL series by Dan Gutman also has fun games to go along. Enter this Rafflecopter for a chance to win a free copy! Giveaway ends on August 8.
MG Author Jason Reynolds, author of AS BRAVE AS YOU, will be the official spokesperson for Indies First. This is the national campaign that supports independent bookstores, and will bring together authors, readers, and publishers at events across the country. Indies First will be held on November 25.
June 28, 2017
Children’s Book Sales: Great news for readers and writers alike – books sales in children’s fiction are on the rise. Not by a lot, only 2% this month over this time last year, but we’ll take it as a sign people are reading. The larger increase is in nonfiction, by 9%. Leading the pack: Chelsea Clinton’s SHE PERSISTED, with over 13,000 copies sold.
Congratulations! Lots of great news from MUF authors. This month, Laurie J. Edwards w/a Rachel J. Good’s Book 3 in the Sisters & Friends Amish series, GIFT FROM ABOVE (YA/Adult) went on sale, as did Julie K. Rubini’s VIRGINIA HAMILTON: AMERICA’S STORYTELLER (Ohio University Press/Biographies for Young Readers). Next month, we get Beth McMullen’s MRS. SMITH’S SPY SCHOOL FOR GIRLS (S&S/Aladdin).