Friday, January 27, 2012

Just for Kicks

Need a laugh? Awful Library Books is a site created by and for librarians who stumble across those books better left unshelved.

Each post contains pictures of terrible, awful, no good, very bad books (like this one) and provide an explanation for weeding them. This site is guaranteed to bring a smile to your face...and some pretty great rationale for weeding as well!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Sounds Good to Me

Okay, I'm sure this is old news to many of you, but I wanted to share one trick I've recently discovered...constantly streaming music in the library. I found an old stack of classical CD's and dusted off an old player, and the effect has been outstanding. Without saying a word, I have observed numerous classes coming in to use the lab just automatically settle down so they can hear the music. Pods of kids who would normally need some intense supervision to prevent all kinds of naughtiness are just completely laid back and on task.

Even the teachers are calmer...and that's saying something for late January of any school year! :)

 It's such a small thing but truly has made a pretty amazing difference in my library. Give it a go!

What tricks do YOU have to share?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Offline Circulation

One of the coolest features of Atriuum is that even in the rare event that the network goes down, we can continue to manage circulation by using the Offline Circulation tool. This is an incredible piece to our circulation system because it means we never have to go out of the business of putting reading material in the hands of students and teachers who need them RIGHT NOW (isn't it always RIGHT NOW?)! :)

In order to use this feature, you have to download the application. To do that...

1. Log in to Atriuum and go to Administration and then click the link for Library.

2. Click Downloads, and scroll to the bottom section titled Utilities.

3. Click Offline Circulation Setup (Mac or Windows, depending on your machine). This is an executable file (.exe), so you will want to click Run or Open (not Save). From this point forward, I'll be listing directions for Windows machines, since that is what most of us are using. If you're on a Mac, well...a)You're awesome, b)You're on your own, and c)You can probably handle that. :)

NOT that all my Windows peeps aren't equally as awesome, of course! 

So anyway, up will come this installation wizard. Click Next. 

4. Select your installation destination (just click Next). 

5. Select Start Menu Folder (just click Next). 

6. Select your target icons. (Just leave everything as defaulted and click Next). 

7. You are now ready to install. Click Install. 

8.  Click Finish. 

9. Okay, just one more step and you will be ready to roll. Now you must configure your server settings. To do this, click File and server settings.  

Everyone's server name is the same:
Your library name should be the extension you see in your Atriuum after (Ex: mine is, therefore my library name is norhes) If you need help with this, I would be happy to assist you. 
Your user name is what you use to log in to Atriuum. 
Your password is what you use to log in to Atriuum. 

And Ba-da-Boom. You're in business!!! 

Monday, January 23, 2012

BLS Spring Fling

Burrow Library Services is having their annual Spring Fling on April 23, 2012 at the Bessemer Civic Center. Included in the day's events will be a luncheon with author Mike Thaler (of the famous Black Lagoon series)!

Contact Burrow Library Services ASAP to reserve your spot. Space is limited! 

Friday, January 20, 2012

Citation Aggregators

I don't know how in the world I made it through undergrad without a citation generator. Plugging a source was easy enough (and my pre-librarian consciousness willed it), but figuring out all that punctuation was sort of a nightmare at times..especially when one professor wanted Turabian, the other wanted MLA, and a third wanted APA style.

These days, students are well versed in all the citation generators available. CitationMachine, BibMe, and EasyBib are just a few examples of free websites that, given the necessary information, computes a nice and tidy citation to be copied and pasted into their References slide or page.

The difference between a citation generator and a citation aggregator is that a generator does just pumps out a citation, given the proper information. An aggregator, on the other hand, is a collector. EasyBib is a great example of an aggregator because your students can create accounts and then save and organize their citations over time. That is immensely helpful to students collecting a variety of sources for assignments.
Zotero is another example. Many users enjoy Zotero because it has a plug-in you can install to your browser and it will automatically generate a citation (and save it) for whatever site you are reading/browsing/etc. Additionally, Zotero will input citations directly into your word processing software. Pretty nifty!

Kids today...sheesh! They have it made! :)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


For some of our students, learning to use technology tools even at a very early age, is second nature. By age two these kids ( mine being among them!) can use an iPhone or iPad better than most adults I know. For others, however, walking into the library or computer lab as a kindergartner is the first exposure they have to any sort of computer resource. Regardless of the skills they arrive with, it is our job to help all of them learn how to use technology resources.

Starting out right away with Chrome, Firefox, or Internet Explorer might be fine for some, but for other young ones a more basic browser may be necessary. KidZui can help with that! It is an internet browser created specifically for young children. It requires a quick, FREE, download to each machine, which is a bit of a hassle, but is time well spent.

Once downloaded, you teach students to look for the orange "K" on the desktop. When they open the browser, it completely takes over the machine. Students can watch videos, play games, use favorites buttons, and practice navigational techniques like back button, forward button, and scrolling. 

If you use a seating chart, you can even preconfigure the options so that the games are targeted to boys, girls, certain ages, etc. Most of the videos stream from YouTube, which of course will be blocked for us. The games and other interactive sites will work beautifully, though. They key to KidZui is that even though children are consuming the same type of media as the "Big Internet," only these resources have been hand selected by parents and teachers. 

My two and four year olds love KidZui. I highly recommend it to parents of young children, because one of the features is that it emails you a chart each week they use it detailing how much time they spent on each area of the browser. I like it because my kids are learning how to navigate the Internet, but because of how the program works they don't have free reign out on the world wide web. Boundaries are good for children! 

KidZui comes highly rated by CNET and several other major tech media outlets. Check it out for yourself! 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

iPad or iPhone setup

*This post was written by Jennifer Anders, the librarian at West Jefferson Elementary School.

As the Tech rep at my school, I am asked on a regular basis how to set up Jefcoed email on an iPad or an iPhone. Here is a quick setup guide you can use or forward to your teachers and coworkers. This is, however, unique to Jefcoed.

Step 1: Click your settings icon.

Step 2: Find the Mail, Contacts, Calendars Tab and select it

 Step 3: Select Add Account.

Step 4: Select Exchange.

Step 5: Enter your personal information.

Step 6: Enter Server name and next. 

Step 7: Wait for it to run setup, and you’re finished! If you get an error message, go back and check your information. If that doesn’t work, make sure you are using your most current jefcoed password.

And enjoy! 

Monday, January 16, 2012

What You Already Know About Displays

It never ceases to amaze me that whatever I put on a display gets checked out - immediately. To paraphrase the late Steve Jobs, they don't know they need it until you let them know they need it.

That's exactly what happened when one week before Martin Luther King Day (picture courtesy of National Geographic for Kids), I set up a display with MLK books - books on the Freedom Riders, various biographies of MLK, Civil Rights books, and books highlighting his speeches. You name it, I had it out there. And, as of today, all of the books are checked out. That is, except for one that said, "does not exist" when it was scanned. I'll deal with it later.

My question is why? Those books were always there on the shelves. I also have one poster of MLK in my library and a huge piece of artwork with 16 panels of MLK's visage, so it is not as if there are no reminders that this man plays the main role in the development of the New South (Huffington Post article referencing that on Friday the 13th). The students who checked them out just didn't realize they needed them until I put them out there within easy reach.

Never underestimate the power of displays.

Happy Birthday Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Friday, January 13, 2012


*Microsoft Clip Art Gallery

Weeding out books that no longer positively affect our collections is something that we librarians take very seriously. Especially in our current times of such economic stress, it seems that every book- even the most raggedy- are needed on our shelves.

This post on the YALSA blog (if you are middle school or high school, YALSA is the ALA division tailored specifically for your needs) presents some of the American Library Association's recommended guidelines for weeding.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Speak Their Language

*This post was written by Carla Leake Crews, a new librarian at Shades Valley/JCIB. Welcome, Carla!

Have you ever posted a sign with important information for students, only to have it go completely unnoticed by them? Get their attention by sending them a text! Well, a fake text, that is. 

At, you can create text messages for the information you want students to read. This free site doesn’t actually send a text message; it generates an iPhone-like image that you can then print and post in your library or embed on your website. 

Our library used the site to create 8.5x11 signs for our computer area. We posted one that encourages students to ask for help when needed and another that addresses the cost of printing. Other ideas for library use include:
  •  posting OPAC search tips
  •  advertising a book fair
  • providing conversational-style book recommendations
 The fake texts we created include correct spelling and grammar, as I just couldn’t bring myself to “rit lyke thiz ok? LOL. L8r! J” for an academic setting. If you’re uber-hip, perhaps you might create something in a text language. Your students will love it! The site only generates about 12-14 short lines of text, so information has to be concise. Students could use this site to create poetry, have fun with vocabulary words, or have a "conversation" with their favorite literary character.

More ideas for educators can be found at Between polling a few students and watching others’ reactions, these posters appear to have passed the "cool" test. And, best of all, students actually take the time to read the information.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

First Friday Recap: Alabama Virtual Library

Last week I and several others from our district attended January First Friday session, sponsored by the State Department of Education. The presenter was Deloris Carlito, and her topic was the Alabama Virtual Library.

The AVL is a resource cherished by every one of us, and we have several blog posts written here about ways to maximize the databases in our schools. Though we may have extensive experience using this great storehouse of information, there is always room for us to grow and add to our knowledge about the various databases.

One of Mrs. Carlito's points of emphasis that resonated with me were the three cornerstones of the Alabama Virtual Library:

  • Equity
  • Economy
  • Excellence

There remains enormous variety in the social, economic, and ethnic diversity of our schools, both in the district and around the state. The AVL levels the playing field by providing 24 hour, free access to high quality information resources. It is obviously to our economic advantage to support use of the AVL, as we are not charged any fees as schools or individual users whatsoever to gain access. The resources included are top quality, highly recommended sources of information; over and again they prove their worth as solid, reliable, multifaceted sources to use with and recommend to our students and their families.

Suggestions she made for school librarians for promoting the AVL include:

  1. Set the AVL as your library/computer lab home page. 
  2. Create guides for teacher and student use.
  3. Provide teacher PD on the Alabama Virtual Library.
  4. Encourage teachers not to accept assignments unless the references list includes databases from the AVL. 

We must remember that we have to USE the AVL or we LOSE the AVL. Any opportunity we can take to thank our legislators for their continued support of the Alabama Virtual Library (or let our students share their thanks as well) will go a long way in securing this resource for our students.

Another point of interest Mrs. Carlito mentioned was the Helpdesk on the AVL site. If a user has any issues whatsoever accessing the resources or if a librarian needs training materials, use the Helpdesk to request materials (mouse pads, bookmarks, etc.) or assistance.

One of my most valued take-aways from this First Friday session was learning how to sort topic/keyword searches by Lexile level to ensure all students are reading the same topic on their individual grade level. For example, if you are working with a 5th grade class and they are researching American presidents, tailor each child's advanced search to their Lexile level, and boom! Everyone is reading material on their independent level yet also meeting their needs. Not too hard, not too easy, but "Juuust right!" (Elementary folks who do the Goldisocks lesson will totally get this.)

Okay, so maybe you're like me and have no frame of reference for Lexile levels. After all, many schools utilize the Renaissance Learning products to assess student's individual reading levels. Here is a link that can provide more information about Lexile levels and their grade level equivalent. It's not all inclusive, but it's a good start.

Who else attended the session? What were your take-aways from this presentation?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Living in a mobile world

Recently I read this piece about the sudden prevalence of mobile technology, and it certainly affirms changing aspects of my own learning community.

This is changing everything we know about how we work with students and their families!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Enduring Values

I met Doug Johnson in 2009, as the coordinator for the Alabama School Library Association's annual summer conference. Doug was our keynote speaker, and one of the most enjoyable, creative, and dynamic speakers we had ever heard. Doug is a very respected thinker in the school library world. He has his feet on the ground in the technology world, but nobody knows better than us how tightly technology and school librarianship go hand in hand.

This post on his Blue Skunk Blog is a good one for us to keep in mind as we keep our feet to the ground working with children every day, but also striving for more in our profession. This post stirs reflection on your current practice as evenly as it is inspiring to achieve deeper and more lasting impact on our sweet babies.

Do school librarians have "enduring values?"

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Common Core Toolkit (Repost)

*Today's post is a repeat of the original shared by Meg Brooke, the school librarian at Shades Valley High School/JCIB. 

Testing usually makes me not look forward to going to work.  Those times of staring into space and thinking about all of the work that needs to be done is frustrating.  This testing week, however, is different.  I’m incarcerated in my office, unable to leave for 3 whole mornings while testing goes on in the library with other administrators and facilitators, allowing me to get uninterrupted work time!  Whoopie!  Life is good!

One thing I’ve done today is to catch up on some PD reading, and I’d love to share an interesting 1-page article from the November/December 2011 LMC written by Julie WalkerAASL’s executive director. It’s an article that can help us be leaders with our library programs as our schools implement standards.  Julie writes about the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, the P21, and how librarians can be leaders in this movement that is a requirement in the Race to the Top.  She explains that P21‘s CCSS (Common Core State Standards) leadership has created a downloadable toolkit to help guide educators through P21.   AASL has gone even farther by offering a “crosswalk” as well as a lesson plan database so that school librarians can become leaders in implementing these Common Core State Standards.  Using these tools from AASL can enable us to demonstrate how our particular school’s library program can be a method in accomplishing the implementation of these standards.

To see, download, and print the tools from the article, click on the following links:

AASL Crosswalk

AASL Lesson Plan Database
This database was an awesome resource!  Lessons with titles like Creating 21st Century Superheroes; It’s Debatable; and Rock Star Road Trip will definitely create interest in our libraries while implementing the Common Core and AASL standards for the 21st century learner.  I’d love for us to create some kind of similar database where we could share lesson plans, multimedia presentations, etc. with each other.  We have some great thinkers/doers/presenters in our group, and we could bank on others’ talents tweaking them to meet our particular needs instead of reinventing the wheel!

Walker, Julie. "Introducing the P21 Common Core Toolkit." LMC. 30.3 (2011): 21. Print.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Kindergarten

*Today's post was written by Jennifer Anders, the school librarian at West Jefferson Elementary. 

I can’t think of a more rewarding job than being the School Librarian. I get as excited as the students when I turn them on to new information or share a really great book with them. I love helping them create digital products and write reports for their classes. I can even enjoy doing a good puppet show every once in a while or even a little Reader’s Theatre. I have taught many students how to look up a book using the OPAC or even simply how to use a computer mouse. I can even drive classes to the public library to get library cards or to a local play. I am not faint hearted. Except when it comes to Kindergarten.

Nothing scares me more than a class of five year olds that can’t tie their shoes, walk in a line or raise their hand to ask a question. I am terrified of looking deep into their mouths to examine the latest loose or missing tooth. I’m afraid they won’t get Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus and will laugh in all the wrong places. I am petrified when one wants to go to the bathroom and then they all need to go. Needless to say, they haven’t always gotten my best teaching.

However, the neatest thing happened the last week before the break. We have been studying Jan Brett, and I read them the Gingerbread Baby. I found this incredibly cool site,, where the kids could create their own gingerbread houses. So I decided to let everyone take turns adding parts to it using the interactive whiteboard. I just knew there would be arguing, pushing and complaining because they had to take turns, or some kind of free for all with the kids that had to wait. I just have to say, I completely underestimated these little guys. They were completely engrossed in the project and attentive to one another. 

Now, I wonder what we can do next? 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Happy New Year!

Welcome back, friends! I hope you have had a terrific winter break and are feeling rested and ready for round two of this school year.

I wanted to share once again that if you are interested in sharing an idea, website, teaching tool, instructional strategy, organizational technique, or professional research on LibraryVision, please feel free to email it to me (a Google doc, Word doc, or plain old email all work great). Fret not over a word limit, but if you need some guidance I am noticing that most of our posts average around 200 words. Images are always nice for our more visual learners, if you have them.

This blog is a social learning network, so the more contributors we have, the more meaningful it will be for all.