New directions, redirection, and all sorts of things.

I’m importing all the posts and pages from this site over to Blogspot, mostly because I’d rather have one login instead of two. Please check out:


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Diverse Books and Social Spaces

School is almost back in session. We’re in the final countdown PD days, as many teachers are. Some are back in the classroom already!

In preparation for a new year, I’m creating a book order list of diverse books. Diverse can mean skin color, socioeconomic status, gender identity, immigrant status, orientation, and numerous other definitions and combinations thereof. Basically, my students fit into multiple labels and I need books to reflect that. I’ve been looking through award winners and blogs (if you haven’t seen We Need Diverse Books, go look) and trying to curate the perfect list of mostly new books that fall into these labels.

In thinking about books for my students, I also think about the social space of the library. I have a teacher who always reminds her students to come ask me about audiobooks. I can get access to many audiobooks to help my students. But they’re often anxious about coming in and asking. Maybe it is because this is only going to be my second year and they don’t know me yet. I always feel like I’m approachable. I have pink hair! How can I not be? But I understand the difficultly in coming to speak to someone. I don’t always like speaking to people either.

I start this year wondering: how can I help make the library be a comfortable social and educational space for my students?


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The Liebster Award 2016


Cool. 🙂

Thank you to Transcribing Memory for nominating me for the Liebster Award. I love the blogger behind that blog, and I think she’s an archivist at heart (high praise!). Who else would think to find her Babu’s diaries from the 1930s, transcribe excerpts, and tell her readers what Babu remembers about those times? Go read some of her posts. I’ll wait.

What is the Liebster Award?



10 random facts about me:

  1. I haven’t seen my natural hair color for any length of time since 2001 (my favorite hair color is pink).
  2. I’ve lived in different 9 cities/towns, all on the east coast. I love being near water and history.
  3. I’m a fan of classic movies, especially musicals. I had a crush on Russ Tamblyn when I was younger.
  4. I’m completely hooked on Hamilton right now. I’m planning to read the book over the summer. If history was taught through music, I’d remember names and dates a lot better.
  5. I read almost exclusively Young Adult novels. I find the plots and characters more engaging. After all, reading is for fun, why force myself to read something I’m not interested in? It helps that I work in a high school; I get to shop for YA and YA-friendly titles.
  6. I balk at the idea of being considered an “adult.” I don’t know why. I feel like “adults” are those people who destroy the economy and tell kids to be quiet. I mean, I can mostly take care of myself: I can call the doctor to make an appointment; I can pay my bills on time; I have a job; I even pay attention to politics. But it is probably better that I’m not living alone or else I might forget to do things like buy groceries.
  7. I have trouble sitting still. I never have run-around-the-room type of energy, but I fidget.
  8. I have cats. I’ve tried having fish too, but they don’t last very long.
  9. I’m married to my best friend. We met in 2001 and we still argue over when we officially got together.
  10. I love working in an urban school district. I know my students can be demanding. I love having students ask me about my hair, tattoos, piercings, etc., and I don’t think suburbia would be as flexible. I love that students in Boston staged a walk-out to protest budget cuts. They’re passionate about their education, and that passion makes my job better.



Ukrainian Picnic: The author is my oldest friend. We met in nursery school, were close through elementary, drifted apart in junior high and high school, and reconnected after college. We’re not terribly close, but I love reading her blog; especially when she posts about her mom.

Mad Rabbit Couture: Amazing clothes and DIY stuff made by a dear friend of mine. She can see art in scraps of fabric, and actually make that art happen.

Read, Review, Repeat: Book review blog from a wicked smart former student of mine. I think he’s fallen behind in posting due to his senior year workload. I hope he’ll start posting again.

Valerie Cole Reads: Author, reader, blogger; Valerie does it all. I trust her taste in books.

Daily Geekette: I’m cheating here, since they have more than 1,000 followers, but they are worth sharing. Awesome geeky girls!


Liebster Award rules

  • Thank the person who nominated you, and post a link to their blog on your blog. Try to include a little promotion for the person who nominated you.
  • Display the award on your blog.
  • Write a short description about your favourite blog and include a link to it.
  • Provide 10 random facts about yourself.
  • Nominate 5 – 11 blogs that you feel deserve the award, and who have fewer than 1000 followers.
  • List these rules in your post.
  • Inform the blogger the happy news that you nominated them for the Liebster award and provide a link for them to your post so that they can learn more about it (they might not have even heard of it!)
  • Congratulations to the nominees and happy blogging!

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The Library as Third Space

I’m always thinking about how the school library should function as part of a whole school. Often, public libraries are called “third spaces,” i.e., “where you go and spend time in addition to your home and workplace. … ‘Third places’ are
‘anchors’ of community life and facilities and foster broader, more creative interaction” (Library as the Third Place).

School libraries are a little different, sometimes. Classes are often brought to the library as an extension of the classroom. Students find books, research, use the computers, access databases, etc. This would classify the library as part of a student’s workplace (i.e., school), and not a place outside of it. Sometimes, students are given passes to the library, again, as an extension of classwork, and expected to return to class in a matter of minutes after completing a task, such as printing a paper. During class times, the library is expected to be relatively quiet, or at least as quiet as the teacher’s classroom would be.

However, other hallmarks of third space are integral parts of a school library:

  • free or inexpensive; check. In fact, many school libraries don’t even charge late fees for books, only replacement costs if a book is lost or damaged beyond repair; 
  • food and drink, while not essential, are important; some school libraries allow students to bring in food, some have snack bars. My library allows covered drinks away from the computers, and I occasionally turn a blind eye to cold snacks as long as students clean up after themselves;
  • highly accessible; check;
  • proximity for many; check;
  • involve regulars – those who habitually congregate there; I have a dedicated morning and lunchtime group of students. At my old school, I had about 60 students who were my regular breakfast and lunchtime students, plus after school clubs.
  • welcoming and comfortable; we do our best.
  • both new friends and old should be found there. check; many times, I’ve had students just open the door looking for friends. 

Based on that list, the school library can easily fit into the third space ideal. Maybe we’re only third space during certain times, such as before school, during lunch, and after school. I’ve had students complain when I’ve told them the library is closing and I always remind them that the huge city branch is just down the street (in Springfield, it was a few blocks; in Boston, it is a mile walking or a quick bus ride). 

School libraries can also do programming similar to public libraries, if the school day allows for it. I ran yearbook this year during lunch, and that became a gathering time for some seniors. I plan to run a book club next year, hopefully bring back a monthly poetry slam, and maybe get an author to come and talk to students. Programming like this helps the space become less of an extension of the classroom and more of a community space.

I’m thinking a lot about this, since my school is talking to an architectural firm to plan a redesign. The library will be completely re-done in about four years. I need to think about what I want it to become. Do I want an academic space, a space reminiscent of a public library, or something completely different? I know I want some better soundproofing! As much as I love my talented students, many of them have operatic voices that do not have a quiet level.

Ideally, I’d have a space for everything. I’d love to be able to have more than one class in the library during class time, non-carpeted floors so food might be more allowable during lunchtime, space for students to collaborate (maybe soundproof glass study rooms), and comfortable seating for students to sit and read.



Want to read more about Library as Third Space?:


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Purple walls make everything prettier

The building my school is in has been through many incarnations. It started as a wool factory. It’s been three or four different schools; in fact, three at one time for a year. Apparently, back in the mid-90s when my school was temporarily placed here (“temporarily”), the library walls were painted white.

I call them “cream” now to make myself feel better about this weird color.

Last week, we were lucky enough to get volunteers from Serve with Liberty to come in, donate their time, and paint one wall and two tables (wall is purple, tables are whiteboard paint).


It looks SO MUCH BETTER. Every time I see it, I smile.

I have ideas for new signage now too, maybe pretty block letters with fabric. We’ll see how creative I get.


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Summer in the City

It’s only March and I’m already thinking about summer. I think that’s because the weather has been so nice for the past week. 60 degrees in March is so strange. It makes me worried about the heat this summer. However, I have three or four ideas for this summer that involve research, books, and generally being indoors, so that’s pretty nice, assuming I get accepted to any of them! I’ll have weekends for beaches and other summer things. I can’t wait to see what the North Shore looks like in the summer.

I’ve been keeping crazy busy. Part of that is my commute. I have about 1.5 hours door to door now. It isn’t bad, but it also isn’t the 5 minutes I used to have! I’ve been getting a lot of reading done and I started listening to audiobooks too, just to switch it up a little. If I read, I can listen to music; if I listen to an audiobook, I can do the crossword in the Metro.

Easter is coming up, and I’m looking forward to helping the Easter Bunny hide eggs for my little cousins. We had a lot of fun last year, and I think it will be fun again this year.


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The Problems with Dewey

I’d known that the Dewey system was biased. Mr. Dewey was American, white, male, Christian, born in NY, and educated at Amherst College in MA.

As an example, this is a brief rundown of the 200s section, Religion:

200 Religion
210 Philosophy & theory (216, which is no longer used, was “Evil”)
220 The Bible
230 Christianity
240 Christian practice & observance
250 Christian orders & local church
260 Social & ecclesiastical theology
270 History of Christianity
280 Christian denomination
290 Other religions

Did you see that? 290 is “Other religions.” In a brief division of a religion section, you find:

292 Classical religion (Greek & Roman)
293 Germanic religion
294 Religions of Indian origin (Dharmic faiths)
295 Zoroastrianism
296 Judaism
297 Islam, Babism & Baha’i
298 is no longer used, but was Mormonism
299 Religions not provided for elsewhere


Never mind that there used to be a call number specifically for “mental derangements” (130), “education of women” (376), “outcast studies” (397, which I’m sure was great next to folklore in 398).

I think my point is that the Dewey system is flawed.

Furthermore, a Dewey number can be very simple (i.e. 500 COHEN is my call number for The Best of the Best American Scientific Writing) or can be very long (i.e., 331.892829225209712743090511 which belongs to a subject called “Buhler Versatile Inc. Strike, Winnipeg, Man., 2000-2001” according to The Dewey Blog). I don’t even have a spine label big enough for that.





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Star Wars!

I saw Star Wars. I will not post spoilers (other than the above GIF, which isn’t really a spoiler). I will just say that I loved the movie and it was very pretty. I’m sad that the EU has been regaled to “Legacy”/what-if, but I also understand the reasoning. The EU had a lot of story and conflicting plots, so Disney has streamlined it. However, I will always love Karen Traviss’ novels and they are still true canon in my mind.

It is winter break and I’ve once again caught a cold. I know it is the result of lots of contact with people (students, teachers, commuters…) and my system finally going “ok, we don’t have to do anything, we can take a break now.” This results in lots of tea, a couple days in pjs, and catching up on my reading. If I wasn’t coughing, it would be nicer.

I have a Funds4Books fundrasier up! Please spread the word. 


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Things I Learned During My First Semester of Teaching Undergraduates

Love it, and it applies to high school students too!


Despite having spent a lot of time in classrooms (a heck of a lot of time in classrooms), the fall semester of 2015 may well have been the semester in which I learned the most while sitting in a classroom. Incidentally, it was also the first semester in which I found myself sitting at the front of the classroom facing the inquisitive eyes (and blank stares) of undergraduates.

For this fall semester I had the privilege of working as a Teaching Assistant (TA) for an introductory course on media studies – and in this position one of my responsibilities was teaching two recitation/discussion sections. At the outset let me state emphatically that I found it to be a highly interesting and  rewarding experience and that I think I made a pretty good TA (the students refrained from pelting me with chalk and tried to be subtle about using Facebook in…

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Five Things Library School Should Teach, But Doesn’t

With a new title and new school, I’ve also inherited interns. These are three Simmons GSLIS students, as I was just a few years ago when Debbie took me under her wing. Two are School Library Teacher Program students like I was, and one is dual-degree MS/MFA with a focus on youth services. In my month+ of being at BAA with these interns, I’ve remembered and realized some things that I did not know when I was in GSLIS that I’ve learned in two+ years beyond Simmons:


How to cover books:

This seems like something simple. I’ll admit, I learned this skill back in high school when I worked as a student in my high school library. Back then, learned how to cover both paperback books and hardcover books. Covering paperback books is a pain I never want to inflict on anyone. Paperback book covers are basically clear, sticky plastic that you have to cut and place gently onto books and then quickly, but sure-handedly, apply to the entire cover: front, spine, and back. You then need to trim it just enough and cut the corners so you can fold over the excess and secure it onto the inside of the front and back covers. Then you have to push out the bubbles; because you’re going to get bubbles. It is not easy.

Hardcover book covers are a little easier. They are pieces of clear plastic connected to a paper backing, usually along one edge. You trim them to fit your dust-jacket, fold them in the appropriate places, and tape them to the book jacket. You then put this covered book jacket back onto the book and secure it.

Honestly, if you really suck at putting on covers, most book companies will cover books for you, for a price. And you still have to cover any books you get that are donations. Learn to do it!

Protective book cover (from 

Processing books in general should be a class, but covering books is a special problem that is never mentioned.

How to refill a stamp pad:

Refilling stamp pads is a crucial skill. We buy stamps with the library name, or due date stamps, and the self-inking type is really the best. No separate stamp pads to keep track of. However, ink will eventually run out and you need to be able to refill the pads. Firstly, you have to learn how to take out the stamp pad. Every self-inking stamp is different, but usually, there is some way to “lock” the stamp in place so you can slide out the ink pad. Don’t forget to buy refill ink! Be careful, don’t rush, and don’t put too much ink on the ink pad. You will never refill it without getting some ink on you, but if you are careful, it will only get on your fingers and not everywhere else too.

ExcelMark self-inking replacement instructions

How to budget (if you have one):

Budgets are funny things. In schools, you’re probably lucky if you have one. If you do have one, it is highly recommended that you spend it fairly quickly. Budgets may, depending on the district, disappear by March, when everyone else needs funding for something that they didn’t plan for. Plan for what you need, spend your budget, and then ask for more. Also, always have a wish list of books/supplies/etc. You never know when you’ll be told “You have 2 hours to spend $1,000 or else it is gone.”

I highly recommend book subscription services, like Junior Library Guild. You don’t get to pick what books you get, but you do get to pick the genre. For example, JLG has multiple YA levels and genres, like “Fantasy High,” “History High,” etc., and many of the books they select go on to win awards. I like them, especially for fiction picks.

Basic Cataloging Etiquette:

MARC records are a language of their own.  I can glean information from it and I understand that I shouldn’t ever edit it because I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m not a cataloger. I love when books have the Dewey number with the bibliographic information.

Some systems are lax on their records, some are strict. Get a feeling for your system/district and pay attention to what the catalog people tell you. If you are the only librarian at your school, then learn what district protocols are for records. If you ever have to create bibliographic records, and not just adding copies to a record, import the Z-source with the most information and make sure that the ISBN, publisher name, and publishing date are all the same.

If there is someone in charge of bibliographic recordsnever make them mad. If you do not have the power to create records, the person who does create them deserves your respect, or at least your thanks.

Beyond Basic Technology Skills:

Everything is tech-based now. I was super lucky and took two online classes at Simmons with the epic Linda Braun. She’s a past president of YALSA, writer for School Library Journal, tech savvy, and a fantastic person to get into a Twitter argument with about if the phrase “Search our Shelves” is outdated in a virtual learning commons world. I loved her classes, hated getting stumped with CSS, and think everyone should have to take as aggressive of a class as she taught, even though I know I complained about the classes at the time and nearly didn’t take her summer advanced class because she’s intense.

I know I love technology. I’d rather play around with new software and try to break it before asking for help. Being in library science, you don’t need to be a wiz at all tech. I don’t always stay up to date on social media stuff. I like Facebook and Tumblr, even though “kids these days” are saying that Facebook isn’t cool (well, it isn’t. Not when their parents and teachers are on it). But, it is very important to realize that being a librarian means you have to be competent with some basic tech: Google Drive; Microsoft Office (Word, Outlook, and Excel, at least); whatever cataloging software you inherit; and some form of social media so you can at least try to make connections.

If you really suck at technology, make friends with the tech department at the school or branch you wind up at. They can help! Don’t be afraid to ask for help, even from patrons and/or students.

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