Friday, September 30, 2016

Celebrate Your Right to Read

We are coming to the end of National Banned Books Week (Sept 25-Oct 1), in which citizens of the United States celebrate the fact that we live in a free and diverse country, where we have access to read what we like.

In celebration of the week, I was in the 8th and 10th grade classrooms sharing the history of the right to read and showcasing some of the books that have been challenged in libraries across the country. The students were interested to hear that the bible was one of the most challenged books last year! Others from the 2015 top ten list of most challenged books included: Looking for Alaska by John Green, I am Jazz by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, and Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan.

The big thing I stress during this lesson, and this week overall, is that it's okay that not everyone likes the same thing and that we feel that our children reading certain books is unacceptable. Everyone has their own set of values and morals; we each have an idea of what media our children should and shouldn't consume. That is our right as parents and teachers. However, when there are concerns about materials, especially in the library, it is important to have conversations with children about what those issues are and how your families personal values are shared or are different than the values and actions showcased in the book.

In the US we all have the right of access to varied and diverse reading material. We have the right to read what we want. If you feel your child is reading something that goes against your values, please discuss why you feel that way with them and create a teachable moment.

There is much more information about Banned Books Week on the American Library Association's website.

Dav Pilkey, author of Captain Underpants

Sherman Alexie, author of The Absolute, True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

John Green, author of Looking for Alaska

Monday, September 26, 2016

Books of the Week, Sept 26

Celebrate Banned Books Week with these often challenged books!

High School - Looking for Alaska by John Green
Sixteen-year-old Miles' first year at Culver Creek Preparatory School in Alabama includes good friends and great pranks, but is defined by the search for answers about life and death after a fatal car crash.
FIC GRE @ the Library.

Middle School - Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
The life of a ten-year-old boy in rural Virginia expands when he becomes friends with a newcomer who subsequently meets an untimely death trying to reach their hideaway, Terabithia, during a storm.
FIC PAT @ the school library.

Elementary - Captain Underpants and the Attack of the Talking Toilets by Dav Pilkey
While sitting in detention, George and Harold accidentally create an army of evil talking toilets, and Principal Krupp's alter ego,Captain Underpants, has to save the world from it.
FIC PIL @ the school library.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Library Space Overhaul

If you weren't aware, the high school building has been under major construction for several months. There are brand new rooms and remodeled areas in nearly every corner of the building. But I was feeling a little left out in the library. The obvious solution was to overhaul the library we already had to make it new and fresh and more relevant to what students need.

The library as it has been for 10+ years since the high school was built.
Books on the interior side. Standing shelves angled creating lots of dead space. Nonfiction is split between wall and standing shelves.
Tables and chairs in the middle, under the skylight.
Computers on the exterior side of the library, also creating dead space between them. (not shown, guidance info area next to computers taking up a good size corner)
So this is what I've lived with in the 10 years I've been at SCC. Now I've never really been crazy about the layout what with the nonfiction books split between two areas of shelving and the amount of dead space in the room. The renovations in the rest of building finally gave me the push to say "No more! We need a change!"

So that's what I did. For a week in August 2016 I was shifting every single book, every table and chair, and even the standing book cases. Man, was it a big job!

Step 1 - Move all the nonfiction off of the wall shelves onto the floor so the fiction books could go there instead.

Step 2 - This was done simultaneously with step 1. Move the fiction books off the standing shelves onto the wall shelves so the standing shelves will be empty and movable (OMG, they would have been way to heavy with books on them!)

Here are the nonfiction books from 000-919 (a few thousand books)! 
I put the fiction on the wall as the nonfiction was cleared out. It took me 2 days to get the nonfiction onto the floor and the fiction on the wall shelves.

Step 3 - Clear off the nonfiction books from the standing shelves on the floor so ALL the standing shelves would be empty.
Ran out of room under the skylight, so in front of the wall shelves it was.
Now all the free standing shelves are empty!!!

Step 4 - Time to move the free standing shelves! I decided to keep them on the same side of the library as to avoid blocking the natural light from the windows. But I wanted to reorientate them to create more usable space.
Starting in back corner, moved them to be perpendicular/parallel to the wall shelves instead of angled.
I left enough space between a few of the standing shelves for tables and chairs.
How did I move them you may ask? The large magic furniture sliders worked AMAZING!

Step 5 - Move all the nonfiction books off the floor and onto the free standing shelves.
I had to start with 999 and work backwards to 0 because that's how they were laying out on the floor.

Step 6 - This step was done through the entire process - weeding. Weeding a library collection is when you remove books because they are inaccurate (computer books for instance), they are not used any longer (like the plethora of ghost story books we no longer need), or they are not checked out (like some of the fiction books that have fallen out of popularity). These books are removed from the collection and then set out for students and staff to have for free.
As I weeded I put books on the top of book shelves and the carts that followed me around.

Step 7 - I (with help from the tech guys) moved the computers under the skylight and was able to put a few tables between. One of the best things about the high school library layout is the number of floor outlets. It's awesome to be able to have the option to move the computers and students now use the floor outlets a lot when they need to charge their Chromebook.
Moving the computers was super easy with the floor outlets and Chad (our IT guy) got me the one extra internet port I needed too!

Step 8 - And then the tables went by the windows so students could work with natural light and enjoy the greenery.
Our plants are a nice addition that make the library feel homey.

Step 9 to ???
- Some other things that happened in the overhaul:
  • The DVD collection was moved onto its own media unit so students are better able to find movies and documentaries that they may be interested. The audiobook collection also resides on the unit.
  • The graphic novels were spread out on three bookcases allowing for more growth in the collection.
  • The guidance information corner was all moved out into the newly renovated guidance area. This freed up some space for the ......
  • Green screen area. This was added to a corner of the library for students to use for academic and personal projects. We are utilizing an iPad for recording and then students are able to upload footage to their Google Drive for further editing on their Chromebook.
  • Lastly, we made new signage for all the sections of the library so students and staff can easily find resources and reading materials.
Blue signs = fiction. Green signs = nonfiction. There are also book displays, a supply cart, and tables tucked in the book area.
The computers aren't used a ton, but are useful for students to print from or look up a book on Destiny. 
The media shelving unit has been a big draw for students and staff.
Also the A-frame shelf is new and currently displays the books for Battle of the Books and the book for One School One Book.
The tables get a lot of use for classes in the library as well as virtual education students who are scheduled in the library.
The green screen area should be a really useful tool that students and staff wouldn't normally have access to.
The graphic novels area long the wall, and the small free standing shelf holds our story collection and the professional books we have.

So that has been our library overhaul. It cost me some time, about $800 for a couple new shelving/display units, $1200 for the green screen kit and iPad, and a lot of determination. Students and staff have made several comments about how much bigger the library feels and how they really appreciate the new look. I hope it continues to prove a good change as the year progresses.

Thank you to the community for all the support you've given in the past to SCC and will continue to give in the future. You have no idea what it means to have you entrust us with the education of your students.

Have a great day and DFTBA!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Flix with an I!

Flax - a plant cultivated in cooler climates for food and fiber
Flex - to bend a part of the body
Flox - a misspelling of Phlox, a character from Star Trek Enterprise
Flux - to melt or make fluid

Not with an A, E, O, or U. But FLIX with and I!

Flix - The root word of three different fantabulous databases available to SCCers. They include:
  1. BookFlix - The original Flix we know and love. Full of pairings of fiction and non-fiction texts for students to read, enjoy, and learn from.
  2. TrueFlix - Social studies and sciences books that have been expanded upon to include videos, activities, and project ideas.
  3. FreedomFlix - Explore the people, places, and events that shaped the world and the United States. Books include videos, discussion questions, and appropriate websites.
These three stupendous resources are available to staff and students using the links on the library page, and logins can be found on the login handout which you can stop by the library to pick up.

So don't have Flox flex or flux his flax, just check out a FLIX and learn something new!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Books of the week, Sept 19

Fantasy is the theme this week!

Elementary - New Kid at School (Dragon Slayers' Academy #1) by Kate McMullan
When a traveling minstrel foretells that he is to become a hero, Wiglaf sets out to fulfill his destiny: he signs up at the Dragon Slayers' Academy. But how can he ever hope to be a dragon slayer when he can't even stand the sight of blood?
FIC MCM @ the school library.

Middle School - Geek by E. Archer
Ralph is spending the summer with his relatives in England to help them set up a Wi-Fi network and finds himself fighting off killer rabbits, demons, and evil aunts.
FIC ARC @ the school library.

High School - The Eternity Cure by Julie Kagawa
Elevated to Queen of the Underworld after attaining immortality, Kate Winters resolves to win the love of Henry despite his increasing secretiveness, a situation that escalates when Henry is abducted by the King of the Titans, triggering a dangerous war and a pact with Henry's first wife, Persephone.
FIC KAG @ the Library.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Read and Win!

For the second year SCC will be using the program One School One Book to promote reading in among our students and staff. This year grades 5-12 have the option of participating each quarter and having their name put in a prize drawing.

Middle School
Students that read the selected book and write a review of the book in Destiny will be entered in a prize drawing. All books are available as an ebook through Destiny. We also have a limited number of paper copies in the library.

1st Quarter -- The Silver Child by Cliff McNish
Summary - Six children are drawn to Coldharbour, a wasteland of garbage dumps and gangs on the edge of civilization, for reasons they can't comprehend. Each child undergoes a strange transformation and discovers a special gift. They must learn to use their skills quickly--they soon realize they've been brought together to face a common, fast-approaching enemy set on the destruction of the world.
Audio Excerpt 

High School
Students that read the selected book and also write a review of the book in Destiny will be entered in a prize drawing. All books are available as an ebook through Destiny.

1st Quarter -- The Story of Owen: Dragon Slayer of Trondheim by E.K. Johnston
Summary: In an alternate world where industrialization has caused many species of carbon-eating dragons to thrive, Owen, a slayer being trained by his famous father and aunt, and Siobahn, his bard, face a dragon infestation near their small town in Canada.
Book Trailer

What do I do after I read the book?
Students in grades 5-12 who read the selected book and write a review in Destiny before the end of the quarter (Nov 4) will get their name in a prize drawing. First quarter's prize will be $50 Visa gift cards.

If you have any questions about the program or the books, please let me know!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Book of the Week - Sept 12

Find them all at your school library!

Elementary - Zin! Zin! Zin! : A Violin by by Lloyd Moss ; illustrated by Marjorie Priceman
Ten instruments take their parts one by one in a musical performance.
E FIC MOS @ the school library.

Middle School - Shakespeare Makes the Playoffs by Ron Koertge
Fourteen-year-old Kevin Boland, poet and first baseman, is torn between his cute girlfriend--Mira--and Amy, who is funny, plays Chopin on the piano, and is also a poet.
FIC KOE @ the school library.

High School - The Lucy Variations by Sara Zarr
Sixteen-year-old San Franciscan Lucy Beck-Moreau once had a promising future as a concert pianist. Her chance at a career has passed, and she decides to help her ten-year-old piano prodigy brother, Gus, map out his own future, even as she explores why she enjoyed piano in the first place.
FIC ZAR @ the Library.

Monday, September 5, 2016

The Epic Tale of Destiny

Once upon a time, the SCC library housed a magical piece of furniture called a “card catalog”. Filled with hundreds and hundreds of index size cards, anyone could open a drawer, peak inside, and be lead to an epic adventure, a heartfelt story, the Mongols, and the president of the United States among many other things. These cards were connections to every book the library owned.

As time passed, this “card catalog” underwent a metamorphosis, losing its paper version and converting itself into a digital “OPAC” system. No one knew what “OPAC” stood for though many tried to determine its origin. “OPAC” allowed library citizens to find the books using a new-fangled invention called a computer. Sadly this could only be done in the confines of the library.

Fortunately change was coming. Just six short years ago, “OPAC” once again went through a transformation into its current iteration – Destiny.

Destiny allows all library citizens to access library materials, both physical and those that live in the digital world, from any internet connected device. This is an epic and mighty tool to spread knowledge and learning throughout our land.

But even now, Destiny grows and changes. As of the telling of this story there are four variations of Destiny. All variations allow citizens to search all library resources, though each has its own unique flavor in how it accomplishes such a task.
  • Destiny – The regular library search that our library leader, Ms. Olson, most often uses and expounds the virtues of.
  • Destiny Quest – The fancier version of Destiny which many students embrace due to its social media features. Friending those in your class seems to be an especially popular past time.
  • Destiny Discover – This is the newest variant, though truly it is merely an expansion and rebranding of the FollettShelf we knew in the past. Many of our digital resources such as ebooks and digital audiobooks can be accessed here. Though all resources can be searched for if required.
  • Destiny Discover – You may think it daft to repeat this, but in reality this is a wholly separate entity. The app used on handheld internet devices (such as your phones and tablets) is now Destiny Discover instead of the oddly named BryteWave K-12. Surely this is a positive change and will lead to many more citizens utilizing it.

Thus our tale comes to an end, at least for now. We leave library land to the citizens of SCC as they use all the variations of Destiny to access thousands upon thousands of wonderful stories and a plethora of knowledge to lead them through life.

If you seek further assistance in accessing the magical Destiny, please stop by the library or contact our library leader, Ms. Olson at her digital address aolson[at]

We wish you a good day and remind you to DFTBA.

Friday, September 2, 2016

10 Things You Can Find at the School Library

Here are some of the things that the libraries at St Croix Central have to offer.

  1. Paper Books - The combined collections between the three buildings tops 25,000 physical books. That's approximately 16 books per student.
  2. Ebooks - We also have a growing ebook collection available for students. Currently the elementary has 798, the middle school has 859, and the high school has 770. As we grow our 1:1 program this will increase to meet demand.
  3. Audiobooks - Not everyone likes to or has the time to read paper or ebooks, so audiobooks are an amazing alternative. SCC offers two types of audiobooks to students. For students in grades 5-12 we offer playaways, individual MP3 players loaded with a book, and currently have over 200. For all students we also offer digital audiobooks accessible via the same website that houses our ebooks. Similar to Audible, these can be listened to on any internet connected device through the website or app. We own 460 digital audiobooks.
  4. The Flix Databases - We offer three of the Flix databases from Scholastic: BookFlix, FreedomFlix, and TrueFlix. These offer students the ability to read and learn about a variety of topics.
  5. CultureGrams - If you've ever wondered how the rest of the world lives (especially Canada) this is the database for you.
  6. PebbleGo - Aimed at grades K-3, this database offers facts about people, animals, science, and social studies topics and includes text, video, sound, and even games.
  7. TumbleBooks - Another great website for elementary students to read and listen to books online.
  8. Magazines & Newspapers - Online news is good, but sometimes there's nothing like reading a great article in a magazine or seeing the pictures of school events in the newspaper.
  9. Videos - Supporting the teachers and students is our mission, and sometimes that involves buying educational videos and documentaries. We also have DVDs of books that have made into movies so students can compare and contrast which is better.
  10. Staff - One of the biggest resources we have are the staff that run the libraries. These wonderful individuals have amazing talents and knowledge that make everything else we offer better. I'm the library media specialist for the district, but couldn't run the libraries without the help of these amazing paraprofessionals: Connie Mueller (elementary), Jane Kerber (middle school), and Amy Hueg (high school). Thank you to them for doing everything you do for our staff and students!
These are just ten of the things we offer, but there are many more. If you have questions about any of them feel free to stop by the library or send an email to me at aolson[at]

Have a wonderful day and DFTBA!