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

 

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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.

 

Nominations:

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 ‚Äď 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).

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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

Really??

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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