I Get The Last Word

Well folks! It’s the end of my senior year, and unfortunately, the end of my independent study. I have one last activity to chat about before I take my leave, but hopefully I won’t be gone from this blog for good!

For the past two months, I have worked with Lisa on our school’s Summer Reading program. Every year, Lisa complies a list of about 40 fantastic reading choices for students to pick from to read over the summer. All levels and interests are included in the list, so picking the books (both young adult and adult, fiction and non-fiction) can be quite the challenge!  This year I was lucky enough to help Lisa out with both the selection of books, and the promotion.

When choosing the books for the list, Lisa reminded me that the choices not only should intrigue all different kinds of readers, but should have varying levels of difficulty. You want to have a literary classic for the girl reader who likes a challenge, but you also want to have a well-crafted sports book for the reluctant boy reader. Even after Lisa had a list of books, she went through it many times, organizing them in different categories to see which readers were getting chipped.  She sorted by young adult and adult, by genre, by “girl” books and “guy” books; if you could define a book by one characteristic, she considered it! If she was lacking one type of book, she would ask around and do her own research in order to fill the gap. She finalized a list of 46, which was cut to a list of 43 after consulting with our principal about some books with some possibly inappropriate content. Nothing us high-schoolers can’t handle, but nonetheless topics that could be concerning to parents. Ah, the challenges of public school libraries.

But how does one advertise 43 books to 800 students? How can one get 800 kids excited about a summer assignment? The answer is this: writing witty and intriguing descriptions, and having enthusiastic and encouraging librarians. I am proud to say I contributed to the first part of that answer this year. After my success with the Blind Date With a Book program earlier this year, Lisa requested that I help her write up short descriptions on each of the Summer Reading titles. Using my background knowledge if I had read the book, and Good Reads if I had not, I wrote up 4-5 sentence summaries of each book in a way that hopefully peaks students’ curiosity. We printed the descriptions in a list, we have them looped on a Power Point running continuously on the school TVs, we even have them as the background for every student’s computer account; pretty much any media you can think of, we’ve used it to get the word out about our fabulous list of Summer Reading choices!  It was fun for me to use my writing skills with these descriptions, and I love that I could help out Lisa and Marjie, who are swamped as it is with the other aspects of Summer Reading.

For example, here is the description I wrote for the book Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan:

“The world record for longest kiss is thirty-two hours: and it is held by two, seventeen-year-old ex-boyfriends. In a beautiful tribute to past, present, and future LGBT teens, David Levithan writes of the excruciating and elated hours when Harry and Craig become a focal point in the lives of other teen boys dealing with long-term relationships, coming out, and navigating gender identity. “

The second piece comes right from the heart of the library: the librarians. I am certain that there is no one better than Lisa and Marjie when it comes to getting kids excited about a book. Not only do they stop what they’re doing to talk to a student about a book, but they constantly work with all types of students to find a book that students will actually read by the time September comes around. They try so hard to get every student involved, and that kind of attitude really makes a difference. I could go on forever about how Summer Reading here at my school wouldn’t work if it weren’t for Lisa and Marjie, but I will leave it at this:  thoughtful and fun librarians make all the difference when it comes to participation.

And so, with a bang we kicked off Souhegan Read 2014! So far we’ve had lots of classes come in to chat about Summer Reading, and every day I’m amazed at how talented Lisa and Marjie are at being librarians!

And with an less enthusiastic bang, I am graduating next Friday. It’s crazy how fast the year gone by. I’ve had so much fun with Lisa and Marjie, and I’ve learned so much about different aspects of being a librarian. From weeding to designing programs, from chatting about books to inter-library loan, I am lucky to have experienced so many aspects of a librarian’s daily life during my time here.

Thank you for sticking around to read what I have to say about books and librarians. I’m heading off to Simmons College next year with a major of (get ready to be surprised) library sciences. Or even if it’s not my major, I will be working towards a 3+1 program in which I graduate with an undergrad degree in something and a masters degree in Library Sciences; all in four years. So who knows? Maybe I’ll bring this blog back when it comes time for me to jump into the world of librarianship again.

But we’ll all know I never really left :)




Inter-Library What?

In my not-so-surprising Senior scramble to get in all my assignments, I’m back again with a post on the happenings here in the Info Center. About two months ago, Marjie introduced me to another secret society of librarianship that most people have no clue exist: Inter-Library Loan Librarians.

The purpose of Inter-Library Loan (ILL) is to allow library patrons everywhere access all the books and reference materials they need, even if they are out of their library’s typical consortion. My state of New Hampshire has an ILL program that our high school participates in regularly; sometimes we request books to be sent to us, sometimes we lend books out for others. Most of our inter-library loan cases are for book club, and for Senior Project.

Senior Project is a graduation requirement for seniors, and is basically a year-long research and application project. Topics range from affects of sleep on the teenage brain, to saving marine mammals; from reforestation, to body image. Each senior is allowed to choose a topic in which they are most interested to research, and from there, they must create an application of their learning, and finally, give a presentation on their project. So, like all great research projects, students need reliable and focused reference materials. And while our library has a wide variety of non-fiction titles, we can’t have every book that a senior might want to use for Senior Project. Same goes for our school’s book club (of which I am the proud president). We don’t typically have 20-25 copies of the books we want to read in book club, so we need to borrow from lots of libraries from all over the state. In both cases, we turn to ILL.

Logging on the interface, Marjie taught me how to navigate the website. After searching for the title, author, or subject of your choice, you can go through a project to request that title from multiple libraries. She showed me how to track the requests, and how to tell if the requests have been filled. She also showed me our personal record of ILL requests, which she keeps to make sure students are held accountable for the titles we request for them. She showed me how to return an ILL as well; how to write the return slip for the book as well as how to enter the title back into the system.

It was fun to see another part of being a librarian, especially something that goes on behind the curtain! Marjie was on vacation for a week in April, and while she away, I got to take care of the various ILL requests. It was neat for me to learn a new system, and a super helpful one for students!

Be back soon with my (gasp) last post!


Out With the Old…

With the beginning of June comes the end of my senior year, and the end of my second weeding project! Back in the fall, I weeded the reference section, but this spring, I ended up weeding the non-fiction section. You might be thinking that they’re similar books, so weeding a second time wouldn’t be as hard, right?

Weeding the non-fiction section turned out to be much more difficult and time-consuming than the reference section. In the reference section, I started my weeding with the knowledge that many of the books were out-of-date, or that the information was now covered in our school’s online databases. But with the non-fiction section, I had no clue which books were frequently used by teachers, no way to judge the value of one book’s information from another.

I still used the same criteria for evaluating the books; was the book out-of-date? Was the cover and condition of the book not as nice or new? Was the information in the book better portrayed in a different title? Was the book a duplicate copy? However, even after going through all these questions, I would be at a stalemate with many of the books.

Eventually it came down to intuition. My previous project with the reference section helped significantly, because it gave me an outline for the kind of information we already had in our library, as well as some of the areas in which we were lacking. And going through the shelves, I needed to think complexly about the book as a whole, and whether or not the book would and could be used later on by a student or teacher.

I don’t have any pictures, but I weeded many more books from the non-fiction section than I did with the reference section. I was able to help Marjie and Lisa get rid of a lot of unnecessary and out-of-date titles, as well as develop my ability to judge a book by its usefulness. It was a long and sometimes grueling job (no offense, Lisa!), but I am grateful for the chance to build my skills in this area.

The end of the year is creeping in, but stay tuned for my work with our school’s Summer Reading program!


Blind Date with a Book!

I’m pretty late to be posting about Valentine’s Day- time has gotten away from me! But back in February, I wanted to create a fun display of books to get kids to fall in love with books they might not have normally chosen to read. One of the toughest parts to getting a hesitant reader to pick up a new book is getting the reader on board with the title and cover. Us avid readers tend to turn up our noses at the thought of judging a book by its cover, however for many people, it is a key factor in whether or not they pick up the book. After all, we all know the boys who will miss out on a great dystopian novel because there is a high-heeled shoe on the book’s cover (Cinder, anyone?). But how do you get these readers to look past the potentially fluffy description and cover?

My solution: Blind Date with a Book! After seeing this clever idea on Pintrest, I knew I had to adapt it to my school library. Fitting in with Valentine’s Day, the Blind Date with a Book display was fun to create and even more fun to see students’ participation! I wrapped up a variety of books with red paper and covered the titles of the books so that students could only judge each book by the short description I prepared. Naturally, I wrote each description to be as catchy and intriguing as possible, and decorated each wrapped cover with stickers and hearts. I pulled mysteries, romances, graphic novels, you name it- I wanted to catch the eye of as many readers as possible!

Here is the sign we made to hang over the entire display:



Here is an example of a covered book, with the description and the raffle card!


And here are some more pictures of the display as a whole!

bd1   bd3

With lots of help from the real librarian Marjie, I wrote descriptions and wrapped covers for over 25 titles. We even set up a raffle for students; submit a “Rate Your Book Date” card after reading your chosen book “date,” and enter your name into a raffle for library themed prizes! (ALA mugs, bags, pens and  lanyards) And to our delight, many students participated! I had countless classmates approach me to discuss the “adorable display in the Info Center” and many more coming up to me to discuss a blind date book they were considering, or had already read.

It took about two weeks to pull together a resource list of titles, write descriptions, wrap/decorate the books, and design signage and the raffle. It was a busy two weeks, but definitely the most satisfying program I’ve been involved with thus far!

Stayed tuned for more Spring Weeding; this time I’m conquering the non-fiction! Yikes!

Read, Reduce, Recycle!

I’ve always been a fan of recycling, but the first time I discarded a book, my heart sunk that I had no way to re-purpose it before recycling it’s pages. I knew there must be some crafts that I could do, but I hadn’t done any before and I wasn’t sure how difficult they’d be.

I finally took the leap sometime in the spring, and the project I did was making a book clock. It was surprisingly simple, and the result was a beautiful birthday gift for my mom. Basically, to make the book clock, you have to cut a square in each page of the book using a box-cutting knife, glue the pages together, and then cut a hole in the front cover. Then all you have to do is buy a clock kit from Micheal’s, or another craft store, and put the base of the mechanism inside the hole you’ve created in the pages and the stem of the clock through the hole in the front cover. Glue the clock numbers in a circle and there you have it!



The project made me want to make lots more things with books, but I haven’t had the chance to do that until this fall, when I completed the reference weeding. With all the reference books we were going to recycle, Marjie and I decided that we could do various craft projects with them. The first craft project we found that was a really cute Thanksgiving centerpiece were paper turkeys with feathers made out of book pages! All it took was some ripped out book pages, tape, and a stapler! Taking one page at a time, I rolled it up to make a small cone, securing it with some tape. Then I stapled all the tips of the cones to a piece of card stock, so it made a fan of book pages. Then I cut out a piece of construction paper to resemble a turkey’s head and gobble, and taped that on the front of the turkey! It was a really cute addition to our other fall/Thanksgiving decorations, and it was so simple, that I ended up making one for my family’s Thanksgiving day centerpiece!


In the next few weeks, after some serious Pintrest searching, Marjie and I found someone that had made a 3-D pumpkin by cutting pages of a book and gluing the two covers together. Since we were going into December, we decided to make a 3-D snowman.

First, I found two books that were the same height, and I removed their hard covers until i just had the bound pages. Then I cut a tracer out of one page of the shape I wanted the snowman to be. The next three class periods were devoted solely to cutting, because unfortunately there is no way around the intense work of cutting each page of the two books to match the tracer. Once the books were cut, we realized we had forgotten to cut the shape for the snowman’s head!! So I had to find another book to cut the next hump for the head of the snowman. But after all the cutting was done, Marjie helped me glue the pages together in a 3-D fashion, using the super-strong, book-repairing glue that we had in the library. Since we had the extra pages for the head of the snowman, we had to cut a base out of cardboard on which to balance it,  and of course we used excessive amounts of “snow” (glitter) to hide the fact it was cardboard. Once all the pieces were glued together, we piled on more glue so that we could sprinkle fake snow and glitter over the rest of the snowman. Then I glued a red ribbon along the edge of the cardboard as a scarf, and made a 3-D top-hat out of black construction paper!

IMG_20131206_131958           IMG_20131217_122849

The project took 3 weeks of class to finish- a lot more time that it took the library volunteers to make some folded snowflakes and book trees (fold most of the pages of a book to a triangle and set up in a stand). But all of the decorations bring out the winter spirit in the library, and I can’t tell you how many compliments we’ve gotten on all of them!!

A book-recycling project we might do after break is create a charging dock out of books- we’ll see how we manage that one!

Spring Cleaning, Fall Weeding!

We all think of spring cleaning as a time to get rid of those unwanted clothes, and do a little extra dusting around the house, but in a library, getting rid of the books you don’t need anymore is simply called weeding. And while spring time at my high school brings droves of kids to the library to check out books that teachers assigned last minute, or research materials for a final project, the fall is usually a time to get those major projects done. You know, the projects you’ve been dogging for months and you’ve finally decided to get done?

Weeding the reference section is one of those projects that my librarians Lisa and Marjie had said they’d been meaning to do for awhile. They knew that many titles were out of date, and were not being used, especially since our school’s databases covered much of the same material. They decided it would be a good experience for me to have the initial run through of the section, marking the books that I thought should be weeded, and why. I spent about 5-8 class periods pulling each reference title off the shelf, flipping through it to look at what information it held, how current the title was, and if it was still of good use to students and teachers. I also compared each book to the databases that our school has access to, evaluating if the title we had in print was redundant to a database or vice-versa. I put a sticky note with my reasoning on every book I deemed fit to weed, and in the weeks following my completion, Lisa pulled those titles and made the final call of whether to weed the title or not.

I had discarded books before while working at the town library, but never before had I been given the opportunity to make the decisions on weeding. I came in one Monday, however, to see all the books on which Lisa agreed with me, lined up on the top of the bookshelves. She told me there were only 10 or so titles that she disagreed with me on, but for the rest of the books she felt that I had correctly evaluated that they needed to be discarded.

Here are all the discarded books aligned on top of the shelves!



Here are the remaining reference books in our now less crowded, and less dusty reference section!




And so goes the success of my fall weeding! The discarded books were not at the end of their lives, don’t you worry! In my next post, I’ll talk about the many crafts we used the books for before finally donating the remaining titles to a book store.