Saturday, 26 July 2008

Reflections of a First-Year Librarian

As I embark on my second year as a librarian, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on what was a fantastic first year. Often I found myself wondering why I didn't become a librarian years ago. It felt like such a natural switch and the best kept secret as the most fun job on campus.

Here is what I learned:

1. Just about every kid loves coming to the library. You can't really go wrong (unless you are grumpy, but let's not be!) with the library, and that was a blast for me.

2. Little touches really do make a huge difference! Delivering books directly to the classrooms, going the extra mile for a teacher who needs help, bending the rules on checkout limits, all these things helped me develop solid relationships with teachers, kids and parents, and they greatly appreciated my efforts.

3. Hardly anyone uses the online catalog! This was surprising to me, and I aim to figure out ways to get more people using them next year. Instead, everyone comes to me (even teachers!), which is not a bad thing, but it can get crazy if I'm fielding tons of questions.

4. I learned that people get really fired up if they think they have returned a book and our system says they didn't. I learned early on to just nod my head and say, "Don't worry about it. We'll find the book" while they insisted they returned it. Many, many times, they wound up finding the book themselves at home and returned the next day with the book in hand, tail between their legs a bit. It definitely made me glad I didn't get defensive.

5. Lots of people think librarians do nothing. I myself was surprised with the amount of managerial work involved in being a librarian. I love that kind of stuff, but a lot of time is spent behind a computer entering data or helping people look things up, or searching for information, so it may appear that librarians are not working. I made a conscious effort to not be offended by this but instead make people aware of what I was doing to again work on developing the relationships.

6. On a comical note, I learned that I am the librarian no matter where I am. In the grocery store one night, I heard a tiny kindergarten voice say, "that's the library lady!" I smiled all the way home because I love being the library lady.

Can't wait to begin my brand-new job as a library lady AND a tech lady in just a few days at the International School of Bangkok.

Friday, 11 July 2008

My New BFF, the Kindle

Me and my new Kindle, chillin' at a wifi cafe this morning. I'm at a literacy conference in downtown Seattle, and my commute of 2+ hours was so enjoyable this morning surfing the booklists on Kindle and adding tons of samples (I love the option of trying out a book before buying it). Loving every minute of it so far, and the guilt/treason I thought I might feel leaving paper behind is nonexistent. They still have a place in my life (how I could possibly live without the beauty of book covers?), but throwing the Kindle in a bag is the way to go for me right now. It was all I could do to not stop random people on the ferry to show them how fun it is!

On a different note, a huge thanks to Vicki Davis for mentioning my newbie blog on her Cool Cat Teacher blog. I had a ton of comments yesterday that I assumed were spam, so imagine my surprise to find real people commenting (other than my mother and my friend Sharon, that is). Thanks, Vicki and others, for the support of an emerging blogger.

One other observation...out of 180 international teachers at that literacy conference, only a smattering are using laptops as a means of notetaking. Found that quite surprising, and it reinforces my thinking that we have a long way to go in helping teachers use technology to their advantage.

Saturday, 5 July 2008

To Kindle or Not to Kindle?

Admittedly, I was skeptical about the release of the Kindle. Reading a book on a handheld computer? Hmmm...not sure about that. The feel of a book in the hand or simply looking at them all lined up on a shelf makes my heart flutter, and changing to an electronic device was not something that was sparking my interest. That it, until my friend Kim showed up at my house and brought out her Kindle for show-and-tell one night.
And now, to my surprise, thoughts of buying my own Kindle are percolating in my head.

Here's the rundown on the positives

1. It is the real size of a book

2. SPACE--especially for travelers! Instead of hauling around tons of books, you can fit up to 200 books on a Kindle

3. Different font sizes

4. Books are cheaper to add to a Kindle than to buy in the store

5. You can access samples of books to read the first few chapters before buying

Definitely food for thought...