Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Technology Skills

Here's an interesting article from The 20 Technology Skills Every Educator Should Have.  A great list for teachers and librarians. I'm good with most of these, but there are a few I need to spend some time on.  Great food for thought.

Monday, July 29, 2013

What is a MOOC and Why Should We Care?

A MOOC is a Massive Open Online Course. The first MOOCs were generally science and technology courses offered for free, with no college credit, taught by expert in the field. As the courses catch on more and more topics are being offered for study and for-profit organizations are trying to get into the game. Some colleges are now charging for access to MOOCs with prices varying depending on whether the student wants CEUs or college credit for the course.

Students taking a MOOC are on their own, even more so than a regular online class.  As such, the drop out rate is high.  But those who complete their course gain skills and  knowledge that can help them get a better job and improve their lives.

As public librarians, it is worth our time to learn a little about MOOCs, because sooner or later someone is going to ask.  Students can enroll in a MOOC without being affiliated with a particular college or university and may need the library for computer access, written materials, or other assistance.

The major MOOC providers are:
Also, some colleges offer their own MOOCs

Student is a site that "offers free access to trusted educational conversations, college reviews, college comparison and match tools, planning guides, a social network of verified advisors and more."  They also have an entire MOOC Advisor site devoted to all things MOOC including student reviews of courses.

For an in depth article about MOOCs check out Massive Open Opportunity by Meredith Schwartz in the May 15, 2013 Library Journal. 

For the sake of full disclosure, I am taking a MOOC through Syracuse University's School of Information Science on Professor David Lankes's book The Atlas of New Librarianship.  It is rigorous, informative, and fun.  I will definitely enroll in another MOOC.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Book Review Friday: Mr. Churchill's Secretary


Susan Elia MacNeal's book, Mr. Churchill's Secretary is an Historical mystery about a British subject, raised in the US, but living in London at the start of WWII.  College educated and over-qualified, Maggie Hope gets a job working as a typist at No.10 Downing Street and soon becomes involved in an investigation that ultimately leads to an assassination plot against the Prime Minister, himself.  A good solid mystery adventure with twists and turns, plenty of intrigue, lots of  intriguing characters, and some British history tossed in for good measure.

First in a series, the others are
Princess Elizabeth's Spy
His Majesty's Hope

 If you like Historical mystery series like this, you may like

The Bess Crawford series by Charles Todd, book one: A Duty to the Dead
The Billy Boyle series by James R. Benn, book one: Billy Boyle: A World War II Mystery
The Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear, book one: Maisie Dobbs

For a stand alone mystery set during WWII and featuring Winston Churchill try:

The Unlikely Spy by Daniel Silva

Thursday, July 25, 2013

More reasons to visit the library

Really the same great reasons, but we can't say it often enough.  The library offers a great value to it's community.  This article from Money Talk News offers "7 Reasons to Revisit the Library."  Everything from books to music, free wi-fi, free classes, and socializing.  Come to the library.  There's something for everyone.

Monday, July 22, 2013

23 reasons why ...

Here's a link to a great little article from the Public Libraries Online blog, "23 Reasons Why Your Library is the Most Important Place in Town."  I especially like "libraries are places where people come to know themselves and their communities."

Friday, July 19, 2013

Book Review Friday: A Drowned Maiden's Hair


 In 1909, an 11-year-old orphan named Maud is adopted by the three elderly Hawthorne sisters from the Barbary Asylum for Female Orphans.  The Hawthornes tell Maud she will be their secret child, their angel child.  And though she is dressed in fine clothes and finally has enough food to eat, Maud is kept hidden in the house and sees no one except the Hawthornes and their deaf maid, Muffet.   At first, Maud is thrilled with this new arrangement, but something isn't quite right and the more Maud learns about her new family, the more troubled she becomes. The three old ladies are mediums and they put Maud to work in their seances as they attempt to fleece the gullible hoping for contact with the spirit world. The story is spooky and charming with an over-the-top ending.   A Drowned Maiden's Hair: A Melodrama was author Laura Amy Schlitz's first novel, published in 2006.

Other books by Laura Amy Schlitz:

The Bearskinner: A Tale of the Brothers Grimm
Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village
The Night Fairy
Splendors and Glooms

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

What Librarians Make ... a Difference

Someone just shared this on one of the LinkedIn groups I belong to.  This School Library Journal Blog post is a couple of years old, but as timely and relevant as the day it was written.  And tho' written by a school librarian and school libraries it is just as relevant to public libraries and the librarians who work there.
The post "What Librarians Make : A Response to Dr. Bernstein and an Homage to Taylor Mali" was written by librarian Joyce Valenza in November 2010.  It seems that Dr. Bernstein, Superintendent of schools in Valley Stream, NY, had written an opinion piece in Newsday calling for Governor Cuomo to ease the burden on school districts by getting rid of those antiquated rules about mandatory librarians and library collections at the high school level.  The truly frightening thing to me is that  this man manages to be a school superintendent while being completely ignorant about such an important aspect of the education process, but that is neither here nor there.  Ms. Valenza's response to Dr. Bernstein was excellent and well worth your time.
Because the bottom line is that what librarians make is A DIFFERENCE.  We make a difference in the lives of our patrons.  We connect people with information ... correct information ... the answers they really need.  We connect job seekers with free computer access, resume writing books and classes, job fairs, and skill building classes, online sources, and (yes) books.  We connect children with literacy skills and a love of reading that will enhance their ability to learn.  We connect the community with programs and outreach services.  We connect readers of all ages with books that educate, entertain, challenge, touch, and help them.  We build bridges across the digital divide providing access to resources  that not everyone can afford on their own.
It is mind-boggling to me that we are still having this argument.  That there are authors, publishers, and education professionals who think that librarians are a relic from the past is sad.  It's sad for them, sad for us as librarians, and sad for the community.  Libraries provide a valuable service to their communities and the most valuable resource they provide is LIBRARIANS.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Helping the Mentally Ill Patron

Found this on LinkedIn this afternoon.  Mental Health First-Aid an excellent article by Kelly Bennett at the blog Library Lost & Found.  Kelly offers some sound advice on how we can better empathize with and serve our patrons who may be suffering from mental illness.  This is something we all have to deal with in a public library setting.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Book Review Friday: The Cow in the Parking Lot


     It was the title that caught my eye.  The Cow in the Parking Lot: A Zen Approach to Overcoming Anger, who could resist a title like that?
     Leonard Scheff was a trial lawyer who used anger in the courtroom on a regular basis.  Until he found a better way.  He attended some Buddhist retreats and learned to control his anger and found that it made him a happier person and even a more effective trial lawyer.  Co-written by Susan Edmiston, this book is Scheff's simple, effective take on using the principles of mindfulness to stop getting angry and start learning to deal with angry people.  A great little book full of helpful insights.  Funny, approachable, and easy to read. 

Want to read more? Try:

10 Mindful Minutes by Goldie Hawn 

Anger: The Seven Deadly Sins by Robert A. F. Thurman

Anger: Wisdom for Cooling the Flames by Thich Nhat Hanh

Fully Present: The Science, Art, and Practice of Mindfulness by Susan L. Smalley

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Do Surveys Matter?

Here's a great article from Illinois Libraries Matter discussing the need for surveys at the library.  How can we possibly know what our patrons know about their library or want from their library if we don't ask them? 
But how do we get them to fill out and return a survey form?

Monday, July 8, 2013

14 Google Tools You Didn't Know Existed

One of the many reasons I want to go to an ALA conference someday.  Check out this link to a mashable slideshow of 14 Google Tools You Didn't Know Existed.  Librarians know the coolest stuff ... and they share!!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Book Review Friday: Revolutionary Summer

Revolutionary Summer: The Birth of American Independence is the latest historical offering by Pulitzer Prize winning author Joseph J. Ellis and he does not disappoint.
Ellis begins his narrative with the words,  " If you will grant a somewhat expansive definition of summer, then the summer of 1776 was the crescendo moment in American history."  Then in a concise narrative of 175 or so pages, he describes the five pivotal months from May to October of 1776 that changed the course of British and American history so completely.  From the drafting of the Declaration of Independence to the Battle for Brooklyn Heights the choices and actions of the key revolutionary players on both sides of the Atlantic set the stage for all that followed. 
The audio edition narrated by Stefan Rudnicki is outstanding.  His voice is compelling and he handles the material expertly.  On a personal note, between Ellis's prose and Rudnicki's delivery,  I found the audio too compelling for safety during my commute to and from work.  I became so engrossed I was a danger to myself and other motorists, so I opted to finish the book the old fashioned way.

More books by Joseph J. Ellis

First Family: Abigail and John Adams
American Creation: Triumphs and Tragedies at the Founding of the Republic
His Excellency: George Washington
Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation
American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson
Passionate Age: The Character and Legacy of John Adams
After the Revolution: Profiles of Early American Culture
School for Soldiers: West Point and the Profession of Arms (with Robert Moore)
The New England Mind in Translation

Want to read more about the American Revolution?

1776 by David McCullough
 The American Revolution: A History by Gordon S. Wood
The Birth of the Republic: 1763-1789 by Edmund S. Morgan
and many more ...