Monday, December 21, 2015

Social Media for 2016

New Social Media for the New Year

Snap Code

Snapchat Stories -  username libfeet

Hey webbies, we are going to put
stories on Snapchat in 2016.

Insta - Theme for Instagram  libfeet

In the new year we will feature a theme
for each day on Instagram.

The Webb School Library
& Archives Facebook  -  WebbLibrary

Mrs. Little's Tweets @hannahlittle

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

The Messy Makerspace

6th Graders Coding

Is Anyone else having trouble keeping the "MakerSpace" AKA "MessySpace" in order?

First, none of our MakerSpace would exist, if not for our technology director, Raymond Pryor.
We are so happy that his office is in the library!

Well, we are certainly using the Maker-space, but keeping the room neat and tidy has been a challenge.  Some of the things we are using include craft organizers and multipurpose flexible furniture.  We purchased ten 5-feet long multi-purpose flip tables with locking casters so that the room can have a great deal of flexibility as both a classroom and maker-space.  The next step may be peg boards to keep surfaces workable.

There is one thing we have to remember is that the space cannot be all things to all people.  In other words, a makerspace is too distracting for testing and study halls which the space was tapped for in the past.  This creates the challenge of finding places for the activities that require quiet and minimal distraction.

Who knew that libraries would struggle with finding quiet spots?  Like Buffy, mine is an unquiet library.  I slipped and called it the "Loudbrary" the other day, maybe it shouldn't go that far ... that would make me the "Loudbrarian."


Current Projects in the MakerSpace


Raspberry Pi

Meet Edison


Thursday, November 19, 2015


Author Vince Vawter

"The book you don’t read won’t help." 

– Jim Rohn

This Spring my school welcomed author Vince Vawter for an author visit.  Vince's novel Paperboy is a powerful story about growing up in Memphis in the late 1950s.  The novel's protagonist "Little Man" wrestles with a serious stuttering condition.  I couldn't help but think how much this novel might help a child struggling with a disability.  Additionally, the story puts you into the mind of the little boy and provokes empathy for the battle against his own tongue.  Vince Vawter's novel is somewhat autobiographical and his struggle with speech drove him to write as a child on his very own typewriter, and then later to a long fulfilling career as a newspaper  journalist.

Author David Mitchell
Paul Stuart /Deckle Edge
Flash forward to this week  -- On the way to work I heard an excellent interview by Fresh Air's Sam Briger with author David Mitchell.  David Mitchell like Vince Vawter has a speech impediment causing him to stammer.  When asked about his stammer "It's this curse; it's this invisible doppelganger that's just out to wreck your life and destroy you and humiliate you and mortify you whenever it can. [That] is how you think about it and you view it as something you have to fight."

I write about these two authors as I further investigate the idea of bibliotherapy.  David Mitchell not only struggles with his own disability he also has a child with autism.  This is one of the reasons he gives for translating "The Reason I Jump", by Naoki Higashida, about a boy with autism.  David states "But as it happens, there was quite a useful overlap between Naoki's autism and our son's — that's reason one."

I believe that reading can have a therapeutic effect for those seeking specific help or solace.  This is why I am so interested in the study of bibliotherapy.  “Bibliotherapy is…a new science,” Bagster explains. “A book may be a stimulant or a sedative or an irritant or a soporific. The point is that it must do something to you, and you ought to know what it is. A book may be of the nature of a soothing syrup or it may be of the nature of a mustard plaster.” - Bagster quoted in a 1916 article in The Atlantic Monthly  and then again in June 2015 New Yorker.

For more on practical recommendations for YA bibliotherapy check out the SLJ blog by Karen Jensen "Teen Lit Toolbox."

Check out these links to articles about Bibliotherapy

Monday, November 16, 2015

Teens Need Sleep

A Librarian Mom never sleeps:

As the mom of teenagers, I work very hard to make sure that my teens are healthy.  I organize healthy meals, make certain that my kids have exercise, and of course I want them to get a good night’s sleep.  As a librarian, I see the research about adolescents and their need for additional sleep.  Research studies from UCLA, University of British Columbia, and The National Sleep Foundation, point out that puberty and the onset of puberty shifts the timing of a teens' circadian rhythms and that makes it hard for them to fall asleep before 10 pm.  Knowing all of this sent me on another research journey to find a solution, so that my teens get enough sleep.  Some articles suggest that the answer is simple, "start school later."  However, corporate business schedules within a community often drive school schedules, so recommending that we start school at 9 or 10 am is somewhat unrealistic.  Focusing on the things that we can change is the key.    Based on research and personal trial and error, the solutions for my family have been in routines and rituals.
Too much exposure to
smartphone screens ruins your sleep, study shows

Some nighttime rituals/routines to consider
  • Lower the lights throughout the house
  • A light snack 
  • No caffeine after dinner
  • Give the devices a bedtime [30 minutes to an hour before the teens bedtime]
  • Charge the devices in another room [not the bedroom]
  • Layout clothing for the next day
  • Have prayers or meditations 

See these articles about teens and sleep:

"Teens in the U.S. have been found to be chronically sleep-deprived and pathologically sleepy. A National Sleep Foundation poll found 59 percent of 6-8th graders and 87 percent of high school students in the U.S. were getting less than the recommended 8 1/2 to 9 1/2 hours of sleep on school nights."

"Adding to the adolescent shift in circadian rhythm are myriad electronic distractions that cut further into sleep time, like smartphones, iPods, computers and televisions. A stream of text messages, tweets, and postings on Facebook and Instagram keep many awake long into the night.  Just the light from a screen can suppress melatonin, the hormone in the brain that signals sleep."

"One 2010 study from the University of British Columbia, for example, found that sleep loss can hamper neuron growth in the brain during adolescence, a critical period for cognitive development."

Sleep Rituals: Training The Body And The Mind - by Dr. Michael J. Breus Clinical Psychologist; Board Certified Sleep Specialist
"These days, it's far too easy to push bedtime aside with countless distractions, including those from the television, computer, telephone ... But sleep is not a luxury that you can push aside or save for later. Sleep is critical."

"One change in the body during puberty is closely related to how you sleep. There is a shift in the timing of your circadian rhythms. Before puberty, your body makes you sleepy around 8:00 or 9:00 pm. When puberty begins, this rhythm shifts a couple hours later. Now, your body tells you to go to sleep around 10:00 or 11:00 pm.    The natural shift in a teen's circadian rhythms is called "sleep phase delay." The need to sleep is delayed for about two hours. At first, teens may appear to be suffering from insomnia. They will have a hard time falling asleep at the usual time. While they begin going to sleep later, they still need an average of nine hours of sleep at night. Because most teens have to wake up early for school, it is important for them to go to bed on time."

See New Study from 2017
Effects of Mobile Phones on Children's and Adolescents' Health: A Commentary

 CBS News contributor Lisa Damour joins "CBS This Morning" 
| A new study in the journal Child Development shows nighttime usage of a cell phone can increase anxiety and depression in teenagers and reduce self-esteem. This is the first study that shows a direct link between screen time and mental health. Psychologist and CBS News contributor Lisa Damour joins "CBS This Morning" to discuss tips for parents who want to decrease their teens' cell phone usage and how screen time affects important sleep habits.

Monday, November 09, 2015

What is a Library and What is a Librarian?

Profession and Institution in Question:

This weekend I encountered two very different articles.  The first article was about a school district that decided to eliminate library media specialist positions. The article's title asked the question "Are school librarians going way of the milkman?"  My reaction was "What?"  A principal prominent in the article, was explaining why a library media specialist position was being "traded" for a reading specialist in her school.  According to the article "Principals are given flexibility over whether to keep media specialists or use the position differently."  So the wheels in my brain were spinning -- First, what kind of horrible school librarian did this principal have as a child?  Second, did the former librarian at her school retire, quit, do a terrible job, etc.??  I guess the question is really "Why?"  Unfortunately, the answer to 'why this is happening' is that many decisions today are being made quickly and they are often a reaction to budgetary struggles and/or test scores.  
The second article was about a re-envisioned library space for the new Cabot Science Library at Harvard University.  The idea is to incorporate the promenade into a "dynamic commons" for learning and collaboration.  Also, the renovation will make the library areas more visible and inviting.  The plans for a new flexible space sound both progressive and practical to me.  

After reading both articles, I hope that more and more school librarians begin to think with vision for the future of our profession and the institution of the school library.  I know that many are embracing the learning commons model, and I find this exciting.  

What is a Library?

"The library is no longer a warehouse for dead books.  ...The library is a house for the librarian."  The Future of the Library by Seth Godin 

“The notion of a library as a fundamentally social space, where ideas are animated and engaged in collaboratively, is really an ancient idea,” said Schnapp.
"A school library without a librarian is like a classroom without a teacher." - ilovelibraries An initiative of the American Library Association

What is a Librarian? 

From my favorite source The Urban Dictionary"Librarians wield unfathomable power, bring order to chaos, wisdom and culture to the masses, preserve every aspect of human knowledge and rule the information universe." 
Second favorite definition The Future of the Library by Seth Godin"The librarian isn't a clerk who happens to work at a library. A librarian is a data hound, a guide, a sherpa and a teacher. The librarian is the interface between reams of data and the untrained but motivated user."

More about a librarian and libraries

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Are final exams truly college preparatory?

"the way of the dodo" - 

A number of articles were published between 2010 - 2012 explaining that the percentage of college final exams given at the nations top universities was dwindling.
"reversing the default procedure for scheduling examinations reflects a pedagogical reality.  It appears that finals are going the way of the dodo. Harris [Harvard dean] told the faculty that of 1,137 undergraduate-level courses this spring term, 259 scheduled finals  --- For the more than 500 graduate-level courses offered, just 14 had finals" -  Bye-bye, Blue Books
Many college preparatory schools still cling to traditional final exam schedules that mimic the "disappearing" university model.  So my question is - Are we truly preparing students for college by strictly giving exams?  Do we need to shift to more authentic assessment in the same way universities have shifted their practices?

Here is a reading list for the week: 

Fewer and fewer university professors are using exams as assessment.

Now some districts are considering foregoing exams at the high school level

Final Exams: A Necessary Endeavor?

One of nation’s largest school districts ditches high school final exams

Two major school districts eliminating some final exams

What Schools Could Use Instead Of Standardized Tests

Study: High Standardized Test Scores Don't Translate to Better Cognition

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

What is your research personality?

So let's begin with the most familiar

Mrs Little's personality is ENFP

Her research style is "the sky's the limit!"  She would prefer no syllabus at all.  This gives her the freedom to "knock it out of the park!"  For her, the fun is in exploring all kinds of information.  Research is an exciting journey not a destination.

So what is your "research personality?"

 You can visit to take a free personality test.
 After you find out your personality type then you can move over to the page that describes your personality type in depth.  Under 'explore your type', you will want to click on 'strengths and weaknesses' and then 'workplace habits.'  This will give you a really good idea about how you work with research and information.

How Your Personality influences your research  

Personality Strengths
Because …
Patient and determined researcher
You don’t give up on your research goals
Creative and Practical researcher
You know how to prioritize research
Imaginative and Observant researcher
You see research in everyday activities
Imaginative and curious researcher
Your curiosity fuels your ‘dig for info’
Inspiring and Convincing, insightful researcher
You can find inspiration through research
Very Creative and Hard Working  researcher
To you research is an ‘art form’
 Quick, Imaginative and Strategic researcher
Your brain is always planning
 Analysts and Abstract Thinkers
You can think outside the box / book
 Bold, but Rational and Practical  researcher
You can handle controversial research
 Enjoy Creating Order, and Excellent Organizers
You can compare /contrast with objectivity
 Bold and Original  researcher
Great at conducting your own research
 Excellent networking  researcher
Your research is often social
 Curious and observant, excellent communicators
You dig for information & translate   research
 Charismatic, reliable  researcher
You can share research in an exciting way
 Quick thinkers, excellent brainstormers
You are great at choosing the right topic
 Efficient, energetic, strategic researcher
You Don’t waste time, & have a clear plan

Thursday, October 22, 2015

What are we working on this week?

Mr. Chicken's World History

This week, the World History classes visited the library to look at books.  We have a reserve shelf for the project but on the visit students learned how to look-up a book in the catalog and how to find the physical shelf location.  This project is about A History of the World in 100 Objects.

We also used the BBC site for reference.  Students also learned about the e-books we have available in the GALE Virtual Reference Library.

The Senior Project - Annotated Bibliography

Due November 17 - to be shared with adviser and lead adviser for feedback via Google Drive.  Use Easy Bib or MLA 7th citations pasted from databases to make citations for the annotated bibliography


Find 8-10 resources for your Senior Project - can include scholarly journals, e-books, trade publications, .gov or .edu websites, official trade organizations like APA or NSTA, and statistical research like Pew Research or Berkman Center

The annotations should be at least three sentences long / Each entry should include the following elements [sentences]:
  • Summation of the source [focus on what is unique about the source]
  • A brief evaluation statement(s) [is this a "scholarly" source or not]
  • How the work is relevant to your research [How, specifically, do you intend to use the source (e.g. as evidence to support a claim, as a counter-argument, etc.)]

For more advice about annotated bibliographies - Purdue first-year English

Monday, October 12, 2015


Pollyannaism or positivity bias:

 You can probably tell from the title of my blog "the sky is NOT falling" I have a bias, a positivity bias.  This was not always the case, as a younger person I was incredibly  skeptical and noticed the negative before I thought about the positive.   Over time, I found this kind of attitude actually produced negative feelings and was often a self-fulfilling prophecy.  When trying to change my ways I thought back to the last time that the glass was half-full instead of half-empty.  That time was when I watched Hayley Mills in Pollyanna.  I remember thinking, shortly after watching the movie, as just a young girl , I need to do this I need to play the "glad game!" 

 There are a lot of librarians who need to play the "glad game ."  There are also a lot of teachers who need to play the "glad game."  Otherwise our negative attitude will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.  I am not saying ignore all of the problems in education , I'm just saying focus on what we can do to improve education.  

A recently retired colleague, asked me to join a sort of "think tank" on Facebook . Just half a week later I'm already thinking deeply about the larger education world.  Here are some articles that I've come across in the last half week.  My thoughts have mostly turned to the issue of why teachers are not seen as professionals and what millennials want in a career.  

First the Question of attracting and retaining new career teachers

"teaching is not seen as an ambitious or fulfilling career by most Millennials" - how do we change this?
I think the BIG question to ask is "Do future teachers want tenure?" -- 3 things millennials want in a career (hint: it’s not more money) Our insistence on sticking to traditional schedules and formats may not attract folks to the teaching profession 
"To recruit the brightest and best, teaching needs to be a high status occupation, and we need to understand better what contributes to the social standing of teachers," said Lord Adonis.
In South Korea & Finland, teachers are drawn from top 10% ... places in teacher education are strictly limited

Monday, October 05, 2015

Web 2.0 ...

What's Next?

This morning on the news I heard a report about a new social medium designed for those building a college admissions resumé.  I could not find the site that was mentioned, instead I found many articles about an 80-college coalition for a new kind of college application.
Found it!  - 

I had mixed feelings about this, and immediately thought  - will this kind of "packaging" help the students who are already at an advantage and possibly hurt those who are disadvantaged?

Looking Back

Back in the spring of 2008 I gave a presentation to a group of high school and college librarians at Belmont University at a forum called Conversations @ Belmont.
"Facebook Generation: Marketing the library to a socially networked society"
In 2008 using Facebook at all was an edgy sort of thing for school librarians. That same year I attended a YALSA symposium in Nashville where Twitter was introduced as a great way for librarians to microblog, [what ever that was.]  Sometimes I have a hard time imagining how certain social media will eventually catch on, and become "useful."  I know that I asked - Why do I want to have a Facebook, why do I want to have a Twitter, what is the purpose?  I find myself asking the same question about so many of the new social tools.  I also wonder about the longevity of some of the tools.

 It took me a little while to decide to add an Instagram account to my library's social media communication.   And just this week I have found that some authors are Snapchatting their fans, which really surprised me.  I personally don't "love" Snapchat, I am completely uncoordinated and have a hard time taking a picture and adding the text and then it disappears! All of my hard work snapping pictures and adding text and it disappears!  Also about the time I become proficient with a particular social medium, it's considered passé.  So, seven years ago Facebook was edgy and now Facebook is for grandparents, or so that's what my students tell me.

One thing that hasn't changed, you must keep on top of the research. Back in 2008 the research was revealing that social networking sites divided by demographic groups, and I believe that still might be the case.
"Danah Boyd, stirred up controversy once before, in 2007, by noting that during the period beginning in 2006 when teens began to flock to Facebook, teens’ preference for either MySpace or Facebook appeared to fall along lines of race and class."
"Snapchat is More Likely to Be Used Most Often by Wealthier Teens; Facebook Most Popular Among Lower Income Youth" See the latest data from Pew and the Internet -- Teens, Social Media & Technology Overview 2015 -

Youth and Media project, the Berkman Center 
Pew and the Internet

I have an untested theory as to why certain products are "popular" to certain socioeconomic groups . For the longest time I did not purchase a smartphone because of rural connectivity issues.  And therefore could not get an Instagram. If teens in a lower socioeconomic group whose family could not afford a smartphone only an old-fashioned flip phone would not have access to something like Instagram. Also certain products work better on high-speed Internet where some groups maybe in rural areas or maybe cannot afford high-speed Internet must use less graphic-intensive social media sites.  It might all boil down to affordability and accessibility.  If teens cannot afford or access certain apps they may turn to other means.  I have noticed that apps like Kik and GroupMe are showing up where students can text others, despite their platform [IOS, Android, or simple text messaging].

"a funny thing happened on the way to an authentic internet: Anonymity came back into vogue."

Another untested theory - the use of Snapchat among wealthier teens might actually have to do with a backlash against helicopter parents in suburbia.  Parents Over Shoulder, no worries this message will self-destruct.  There is a constant moving from one app to the next with wealthier suburban teens.  I don't know if this is 'running' from parents, a type of 'one-upping' in their social group or if it is simply development of cliques.  I hesitate to say -- "here is the latest app"  because tomorrow something different will emerge.

Here are two new ones to add to the list -

  • After School - Funny Anonymous School News For Confessions & Compliments
  • Jott messenger app  - Jott lets you chat with and without cell reception or wifi (yes, really). Join your school network, set up private groups

I really do not have an answer for what is next.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Celebrating the Freedom to Read!

Every year our school celebrates ALA's Banned Books Week.  

We communicate to our community that this is a celebration of our freedom to read  -- and that we are not in fact 'banning books.'

I suppose for some, however, this can be an open invitation to challenge books in your collection.  So, before you celebrate "Banned Books Week" make sure you have the following in place.

A solid selection policy

The Webb School Library supports the Library Bill of Rights and we celebrate the Freedom to Read. Our library is a community library that provides materials to the following wide-range of patron reading interests: middle and high school students, faculty and staff and their families, alumni and parents, and now we provide materials for the Bell Buckle Community.

Some criteria we use as a guide for selecting materials:

  • educational significance
  • contribution the subject matter makes to the curriculum and to the interests of the students
  • favorable reviews found in standard selection sources
  • favorable recommendations based on preview and examination of materials by professional personnel
  • reputation and significance of the author, producer, and publisher
  • validity, currency, and appropriateness of material
  • contribution the material makes to breadth of representative viewpoints on controversial issues
  • high degree of potential user appeal
  • high artistic quality and/or literary style
  • quality and variety of format
  • value commensurate with cost and/or need
  • timeliness or permanence
  • integrity

Another thing you want to have handy is a
Reconsideration Request Form

Questions to ask on this form
  • What brought this resource to your attention?
  • Have you examined the entire resource?
  • What concerns you about the resource? 
  • Are there resource(s) you suggest to provide additional information and/or other viewpoints on this topic?

Monday, September 21, 2015

Choosing a Topic for the Capstone Project

Our Senior Capstone Project was introduced to our students this month.

First we explained "Why" we do this project.

To answer the question "Why?"  --
With the Junior Project, students began to explore their passions and creativity.  We want them to continue this work by contemplating the question "On whose shoulders are you standing?"    
  • Although it is important to create works of your own, it is equally important to realize and research the works of others.  Even Isaac Newton acknowledged "if I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants."
  • Another critical purpose of the Senior [capstone] project is college preparation 

Our next step in the project is choosing a topic through lots and lots of  'pre-search.'

Here are some YouTube videos we watched last week:
Choosing a Topic 
Picking Your Topic IS Research! 3 minutes 10 seconds- 
Developing a Research Topic 2 minutes 44 seconds 
Doing Background Checks on Your Research  2 minutes 18 seconds  - 

Sources for Presearch 
Using Wikipedia for Academic Research (CLIP)  3 minutes 36 seconds

Next week, the topics will be due and then we will have two weeks to refine the topics before we visit a University Library.  Thanks to Mary Ellen Sloane and Christy Groves at MTSU's Walker Library for planning an orientation to the Library’s website, services, collections, and resources, as well as a brief walking tour of the building.  

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The Night Librarian

The perfect study environment

This year I began proctoring the nighttime study hall in my boarding school library once a week until 10 p.m.  I was immediately struck by how the room we provide for this nightly event is not at all conducive to effective study.  So, I am now in pursuit of the "perfect" study environment for my residential students.  Of course, there are not many boarding school librarians writing about our unique needs, so I often turn to colleges and universities for advice.

My mission this semester is to look at the location, atmosphere, private / group study spaces, resources needed for study, and minimizing distractions in my library at night.