Short Review: The Fault In Our Stars

22 Mar

The Fault in Our StarsThe Fault in Our Stars by John Green
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

John Green has done it again. He’s written a refreshingly honest and respectful book – not just about teens, but about young love, grief, family, friendship, dying, and the small moments in life that offer hope even in the darkest of times. This book is sweet, funny, heartbreaking, surprising and predictable – hmmm, which is a lot like being sixteen.

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Let’s crowdsource: Women’s History Month, ages 5-12

2 Mar
Whenever I talk about why I love librarians and why I’m so excited to be a librarian, I always gush about professional ethic of helping one another to help make the profession better and to better meet the needs of our communities.  It’s true!  I see little to no actual backstabbing and under-the-bus-throwing among my people.  I see so much helping, sharing, and supporting!  That’s my rainbows-and-lollipops library thought for today.

The idea:

That being said, I thought it would be fun to try some crowdsourcing here at Brooklyn Biblio.  Since my readership is still small, please help by passing this on through your own blogs and twitter accounts and Facebook and let’s see how many titles and great ideas we can gather here!  I will then compile the best ideas submitted along with anything I come across in my own research and follow up with a nicely organized, editorialized post that could be reposted and referred to in the future as a resource for school and public librarians going forward, with plenty of thanks and hat tips to individual contributors.

This is experimental, but if this works, maybe there can be monthly or quarterly crowdsourcing features here on Brooklyn Biblio!

Women at work on bomber, Douglas Aircraft Comp...

Women at work on bomber, Douglas Aircraft Company, Long Beach, Calif. (LOC) (Photo credit: The Library of Congress)

The ask:

March is Women’s History Month!  I’m working on putting together a K-5 book display and read-aloud for Women’s History Month at the school library where I’m currently a practicum student.  While I’m researching this, I’d love to know what some of your favorite children’s titles, discussion ideas, and online resources are to use with elementary and middle school students or to use in planning learning activities for students during Women’s History month!


I look forward to seeing all the ideas and suggestions from librarians all over the country (or the WORLD?) and I can’t wait to put it all together.  Thanks for reading and sharing!

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Short Review: Looking For Alaska

18 Feb

Looking For AlaskaLooking For Alaska by John Green

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Miles is fascinated by final words, especially those of Francois Rabelais, “I go to seek a Great Perhaps”. Unpopular, awkward and virtually friendless, Miles spends most of his free time at home reading or watching TV with his parents, and he doesn’t want to wait until he’s dead to find his Great Perhaps, so he convinces his parents to send him away to Culver Creek boarding school. Miles falls in with a daring group of friends – pranksters and rule-benders with good hearts, sharp minds, and fierce loyalty. Through these friendships in particular, Miles finds his Great Perhaps and wrestles with some of the essential questions we all struggle with, even after growing up – how to love, how to lose, how to grieve and how to recover – and speaks to the resiliency of youth that young people and adults alike would do well to remember.

Please be advised, this book contains strong language and sexual content.

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Let’s Catch Up! Teaching, learning, networking and advocacy

17 Feb

Hello! It has been a shamefully long time since my last post.  Brooklyn Biblio really got a shot of adrenaline from my classes last semester, which integrated Web 2.0 into the coursework.  Since the Fall semester ended, I have been busily wrapping up my MLIS and it is high time I let you all know what I’ve been up to.

Most significantly, I completed my first practicum at a high school in lower Manhattan.  The high school specializes in Science and Math, and the students are high performers from all around New York City.  Yesterday was my last day and I find myself already feeling quite nostalgic about it.  The thing about student teaching (or fieldwork assignments), is it seems that just as you are hitting your stride and getting to know the students, it is time to leave.  I suppose that is not altogether bad, because you are forced to leave your comfort zone before it gets too comfortable, and therefore to stretch your skills and challenge yourself in new environments.  My high school practicum included a lot of library managerial tasks, but I really focused a lot on getting hands-on teaching experience.  I’m so grateful for that and I think it has done a lot for my confidence as an instructor.

My commute to that part of the city afforded me an easy opportunity to finally go see the Battery City Park branch of NYPL.   Continue reading

Short Review: Choosing Web 2.0 Tools for Learning and Teaching…

12 Dec

Choosing Web 2.0 Tools for Learning and Teaching in a Digital WorldChoosing Web 2.0 Tools for Learning and Teaching in a Digital World by Pam Berger

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book is a great starting point if you want to integrate Web 2.0 tools in classroom or library instruction but aren’t sure where to begin. The book does a good job of overviewing some of the best of current web 2.0 tools, but remember that new tools are being created and existing tools are evolving at a rapid rate. I am interested to see if new editions of this book may come about to address this. In the meantime, this book gives teaching ideas and will walk you step by step through how to create an environment that encourages technological exploration and learning.

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FLT: LearningExpress Library

10 Dec

Learning Center Menu (click to enlarge)

FLT=Favorite Library Thing

I have the idea that “FLT” could become another recurring feature here at Brooklyn Biblio – a chance for me to highlight my personal favorite ways to utilize library resources.  Share some of your FLTs in the comments – and maybe it can become a future Brooklyn Biblio post!

The inaugural FLT will be about the LearningExpress Library.  I accessed the LearningExpress Library online through a database search at  However, the LearningExpress Library is not proprietary to NYPL as far as I can tell.  I did not need to enter my NYPL membership credentials, but I instead needed to create a username and password.

As you can see, the LearningExpress Library contains a variety of learning centers for varied levels and areas of education.  I found the LearningExpress Library as I was searching for resources to help me prepare for my upcoming New York State Teacher Certification Examinations (NYSTCE).  I purchased a Kaplan NYSTCE book and downloaded free study guides from the NYSTCE website, but I decided to register for a computerized test, and I wanted to have the experience of a computerized practice test.  Well, the “Teaching” section of the  “Jobs and Careers” learning center on LearningExpress Library has one I could take for free.  The free practice test also breaks down your score into the 5 focus areas of the exam and provides detailed explanations for each area after you score yourself.

Browsing through the other learning centers on LearningExpress Library, I see this as a great tool for school, university and public librarians to share with library users as well.

As you can see from the screenshot below, the LearningExpress Library offers test prep guides and practice tests for a number of vocational qualifiers, and includes Teaching Certification exam prep for various states and certification levels, including the PRAXIS, TExES, and even Homeschooling.

What are some of the best free test prep materials you have found on the web or at your local library?

Teaching Learning Center Menu (click to enlarge)

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Librarian As Leader

9 Dec
TL09 View of School Libraries

Image by Carol VanHook via Flickr

Here it is, December 9th, and my last day of the Fall 2011 semester. Unreal! It is apropos then, that our last discussion for my Information Technology in Educational Organizations class is on the topic of leadership, as if our professor is sending us off into the future but reminding us that we’re not always going to be library students. We are soon-to-be librarians, and that job description (officially and often, unofficially) extends way beyond the physical act of running the library. We are being cultivated as a crop of new community leaders – whether that community be a neighborhood, a government organization, a school or a company.

One important aspect of leadership is demonstrating value. Not just the value of you, as a member of a staff or faculty, or even just of your library as a space. (Though that is part of it.) We’re going to need to demonstrate the value of our library program to the community and possibly sometimes the value of libraries in the world. Sheesh! No pressure.

Here is a :30 Animoto promo as an example of the types of ideas school librarians need to reinforce in the educator/ administrator and student communities they serve.  The statements here are true, but a bit vague.  I hope this serves as a starting point for people to give them ideas of more detailed advocacy outreach they can do:

Other than video production, there is some every day work we can do to gather evidence to back up our assertions on the value of libraries/ librarians/ programs.  Sometimes you may want to gather specific research or test results to show improvement on a specific challenge your community is having, but these measurements are good to have all of the time, as a way of comparing one semester or year over past years to show long-term accomplishments: Continue reading