Sunday, December 8, 2013

Football 101

My house is always filled with the sounds of football on the weekend, and I have to admit I don't understand the excitement that accompanies the sport. If I am in the same room, my husband finds it necessary to give me the play by play. Of course, al I hear is "blah, blah, blah." I did not grow up in a house where football was always on, so maybe that taints my opinion of the sport. Ultimately, however, I think it really boils down to the fact that I don't understand it.

As a librarian, one of my favorite things was library programming. Planning special programs was a great way to get to know students and provide outlets for them to learn about topics of interest. Football 101 might be a great way to help someone like me better understand this sport. This could easily be targeted at girls or open to all students. Snacks could have a football theme. The goal of this programming would be for these students to gain an understanding of the game. Obviously, you probably don't want to provide the instruction if you are not knowledgeable on the sport. Instead invite local coaches and players from local colleges or if you are a middle school, invite those from the high school. 

Be sure to share your fiction and nonfiction titles that address football. Also, consider having a viewing party in the library one weekend or even for the Super Bowl. It could even be a family event. 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Reinventing Space

There are lots of reasons why school libraries need to be reinvented. These range from staying relevant in a 1:1 environment to just remaining relevant in general. You would think that we would not have to talk about changing our space to meet the needs of our users. Ultimately that should just be the nature of the beast, but it is always easy to get complacent or bogged down with the idea there just isn't money. But we have to step around these roadblocks and reinvent space that is instructional and engaging.

While there are a lot of advantages to a 1:1 environment, I have to admit the media center often suffers. Most of the schools I visit with 1:1 programs have media centers that are simply unused. Teachers tend to think that the media center means access and when the access is in the hand of every child, access to the media center is no longer needed. What is a media coordinator to do in this situation? At this point, I believe it is to take a closer look at what the physical space of a media center can have to offer. The first of these in my mind is collaborative space. This is definitely limited in the classroom, so how can you create spaces where students can collaborate. Consider seating and computer display options when creating new collaborative space. Use large screen monitors that students can connect their devices to so that they can all work on a project.  Don't be afraid to be creative with the space. I don't consider myself to be a creative person, so I have to really stop and think about how to make things like this happen. If you know you lack that creative gene, ask someone else for help. A different perspective is always beneficial.

Want it to be a space for students? Then ask them what they want. Have them complete a survey. Better yet have a contest to have students provide ideas for library design. Better set some parameters though because their ideas probably have no limits. While that's not a bad thing, you probably want realistic ideas that you can pull from.

There's no doubt we live in a data driven society. Data can sometimes be intimidating but consider making a committee to look at data. Use that data to determine space. Could you use that data to develop makerspaces in your media center?

Enka High School encourages students to "Make Something."

Funding, of course, can be an issue, but give yourself permission to dream big. You can always scale back as you are planning a reinvention of your space. Start small, show how those changes are impacting students, then ask for more money. Consider applying for grants, keep an eye out for contests, put together a wish list and share with stakeholders. You never know unless you ask, but you need to be prepared to market yourself as well. If stakeholders don't see the value, they are not inclined to invest. Sometimes librarians find it hard to toot their own horn, but keep in mind you are doing it for your students.

Be sure to share your library redesign efforts. We all grow from the creative ideas of others.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Author Anxiety

Are you thinking about having an author visit your school? Not sure where to start? I am going to share some of my experiences, so that you can move away from having anxiety to excitement about planning your first author visit.

Several years ago I knew I wanted to plan an author visit, but I just did not know where to start. For some reason I was telling my brother about this, and what transpired still amazes me today. He told me that his boss' wife, Frances, did author visits. Now, it is important to note that my brother had mentioned that his boss' wife wrote children's book on previous occasions. Of course, he made no distinction between children's books and books for middle schoolers and young adults. Knowing that the last name of his boss was Dowell, I was finally able to put two and two together after this conversation. Yep, that's right my brother worked for the husband of Frances O'Roark Dowell! Can you imagine my excitement?

Having this contact took quite a bit of stress out of figuring out where to start in this process. After this, I began making author visits an annual event. 

The first consideration has to be funding. I am not going to sugarcoat it, author visits are costly. You have to remember that if they are visiting your school, they can't be writing. Time is money for authors. There are lots other of things that must be considered: travel, speaker fee, food, lodging, books, etc. I often used money earned from book fairs to pay for author visits. Writing grants might be another option for you as well. Keep in mind that the bigger the name, the bigger the cost. Also consider checking with other schools in your district. They might also want to invite the author to their schools. This way you can share some of the expenses related to travel, lodging, and food. One year we were even able to get the hotel room donated for our author. One of the librarians in the district had a connection with the establishment, and they provided the room free of charge. Another cost saving strategy is to find authors that are in close proximity to your location. All the authors that visited my school were North Carolina authors, so that really helped with travel expenses. 

Typically, I planned author visits for April of each year. As soon as the author visit was over, I began thinking about the following year. It may seem early to begin planning almost a year in advance, but author schedules tend to fill up quickly. Be sure to check your calendar for spring break before booking and get the go ahead from your administrator.

In my experience, author visits are much more successful when the students have read a book by the author. It makes the connection to the author more real for students and keeps them more engaged. To make this happen, I bought a class set of books. With a student body of 700-800 it is difficult to make one class set of books work, but cost can be prohibitive. I would schedule the books for a two week rotation with each interested language arts teacher. The teacher could choose the best way to teach the book. Some had students read the entire book, others used excerpts. It is important to get the books in the hands of teachers as soon as possible in the school year to allow enough time for everyone to finish the book.

For most author visits, I requested four sessions, a lunch with students, and a book signing. Some authors will only do two sessions which means that you have to have the session in a gym or auditorium. I think students are more engaged if you can fit them into your library. I was very fortunate that my furniture was mobile and stackable, so we were able to do four different sessions in the library. Another great treat is a lunch for students with the author. I would buy pizza and invite about 25 students to have lunch with the author. There are a variety of ways you could select these 25 students. Choose something that works best for your school environment.

Book signing is something you might not think about when planning a school event, but there are some students that are professional author stalkers in the making incredibly excited about this opportunity to meet an author up close and personal. I have found that it is best to approach a local book store about purchasing books (possibly at a discount). Explain that you have an author visit and that you would like to pre-order some books for students (make sure the author does not plan to bring some to sell - this is rare). Create an order form with the books and their prices, and be sure to check with the book store to determine how long it will take the books to arrive (some stores will pre-order them and just have the extras available that day or they will get the copies autographed for their own shelves). I put sticky notes on the books for students to pick up the books during the signing. This way the owner of the book is identified and the author can use this to see the child's name. Don't forget to buy extra books by the author for your library. Don't buy too many of the one read in classes, but be sure to purchase multiple copies of other books. These will be in high demand immediately after an author visit.

Author Stalking at NCSLMA13. Alex Flinn (left) author of Cloaked, Beastly, and Bewitching.

Here are some other things to consider during an author visit. Be sure to provide water and a few snacks for the author. If your library is surrounded by other classrooms, warn them that the noise might be a little loud on this day. For authors spending the night, check to see if he/she has dinner plans. If not, ask to take him/her to a nice local restaurant. Ask some of your librarian pals from other schools to tag along. Also, consider offering to provide transportation from the hotel to the school and back.

Hope this helps you with your author anxiety. Take the plunge and ask an author to come visit your school. After you have done it once, it gets a lot easier. Plus, it will be something that you want to repeat year after year.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Making Connections

Wow! Summer is over and it is back to school for all my library friends. To be honest, I really miss the excitement that accompanies the start of the school year. This is the first time in a really long time that I haven't prepared for back to school. I miss that energy and excitement that accompanies the start of the school year.

As your school year begins, remember that this is the best time you have to build relationships with the teachers in your school. Here are just a few tips that might help.

  • Provide goody bags in teacher mailboxes. Fill them with goodies like candy, Sharpies, fun post-its, and any other small items that they might be able to use. In addition to the fun stuff, include reminders about valuable resources. Make flyers for online databases to serve as a reminder. Put in training schedules for any professional development you might have planned in the future. 
  • Set-up fun displays that are eye-catching. I have to admit I was terrible at this. First, I hate clutter. Second, I am really not that creative. Wish I had gotten into Pinterest while I was still in the library! There are so many great ideas for displays. Having trouble coming up with display ideas? Check out this Pinterest board just for those of you who struggle with those design elements in your library. 
  • Schedule mini-workshops for teachers. Let's be honest the beginning of the year is just plain busy, and there are a lot of things to accomplish. Offer 30-45 min training sessions for teachers. Topics can be on webpage development, how to use the laminator, or an exploration of resources. Also, don't feel like you have to lead the training. Just offer work sessions. Set up a time for teachers to work on webpages or to learn a Web 2.0 tool. The goal of these work sessions is not for you to teach them but for you to be a support. Teachers are often more willing to explore or work on something if they know someone is close by to answer their questions. 
  • Give away prizes. Maybe you can talk your principal into purchasing a few gift cards. If your teachers have iPads, give away iTunes gift cards. These could be done in a drawing format, but there are alternatives as well. Use trivia to give away these prizes. Before QR codes became commonplace, I offered a prize to the teacher who could tell me what it was and what it meant. So not only did they have to tell me it was a QR code, they had to decode it as well.
Wishing you the best year yet!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Fix-It Fine Line

Yesterday I wrote a blog post about bad apples. After reading a comment from Mark Samberg, I felt it was important to address the idea of being the fix-it person. Mark points out, "There's definitely a balancing act here," and I agree.

Yes, a media coordinator should help facilitate instruction and sometimes that moves the media coordinator into the role of technician. We want to be helpful and provide teachers with the best possible service so they can provide quality instruction. The issues come when you find that you act as a technician 25, 50, 75 percent of the time. I ended up letting those tech issues take over, and to be honest, I ended up submitting work orders to our tech department for a large majority of those (and I am fairly competent at troubleshooting).

There were two incidents that really let me know I had to find the balance. The first was so astonishing to me that I thought if I ignored it, it would go away. I was in the midst of teaching a class, and I don't mean in a circulating, helping students way. I mean in front of the class providing instruction. As this was happening, I could see in my peripheral vision a teacher standing off to the side. I kept teaching, and as I did so I could see her getting more antsy by the minute. Finally, I asked what she needed. She had a computer issue and wanted me to fix it right that minute. Ummm, not going to happen. I was teaching a class. There were so many many different ways she could have handled this: tell my assistant, send an email, leave me a note, etc. Instead, she wanted me right that minute while I was with students. Talk about not valuing me as an instructional leader.

Another defining moment was at the end of the school year. I was in the middle of some overwhelming task when a teacher sent a student to get me to help with a VCR. I relayed that I just could not make it right that minute. Once I made it there, what I expected to find was a VCR that was not connected properly. What I found was a VCR that had the eject button pried off and a videotape stuck in it. Long story short, I could not fix it and asked the teacher to borrow a VCR from a neighbor. She really wasn't happy with this and multiple students later told me that she told that class that she always did her job and it would be nice if I did mine. First, I did not learn VCR repair in graduate school, and if you can find that as part of my professional standards, please show it to me.

These were two defining moments that changed my approach to tech repairs. I knew something had to change. Basically, I streamlined the process. First, I stopped taking requests for tech repairs verbally, on a post-it, in the parking lot, or outside the bathroom. This was just not effective and if I forgot, people just got mad. With the help of the district tech department, I created an email stationary already addressed to me requesting specific information: Date of request, Room #, and a SPECIFIC description of the problem. These messages came to my inbox in a different color. As soon as they were dealt with I would move them to another folder. This allowed me to keep track of issues I had handled. It definitely made me more effective and efficient. The hardest part was getting everyone to use the new system. If someone mentioned an issue to me in passing, I made sure to tell them to submit a tech repair, otherwise I would forget. Ultimately, if the did not submit this tech repair, I did not touch it. That is a hard line to hold, but it is so worth it in the end. I no longer had to put my hands on every machine. The blue screen of death was an automatic work order for the district tech department. Sometimes I could send them directions on how to fix the problem or tell them to see someone on their hall who could help them. I began to see patterns which allowed me to create tutorials (how to change your printer). Also, if I could not get to their room due to my teaching demands, I submitted a district level work order right off the bat. I knew my response time would be delayed and very likely one of our technicians could get to it sooner than I could .

All of this allowed me to recognize their issues, help when I could, and most importantly, allowed me to focus on collaboration and instruction. Once you work out the kinks, you find that everyone benefits. By changing my approach I was able to help teachers, but it went beyond making sure their equipment was functioning. If teachers really want a technician, districts should hire someone actually trained to perform those jobs. I was trained to be a collaborator, a teacher, an instructional leader, but no one ever showed me how to change laminating film or how to take apart VCRs to extract videotapes.

Take a critical look at how you handle equipment/technical repairs. How can you make the process work for your school in a way that allows you to grow your media program into something that helps students learn and achieve?

Monday, July 15, 2013

Bad Apples in Library Land

I have been mulling over this post for awhile now but have hesitated to write it, because I fear it will end up being a rant. That being said, if you are a teacher librarian that can't handle the truth, you might want to stop reading.

Over the last couple of years I have become fond of comparing professionals to rotting fruit. For instance, when you look at teachers, one rotten apple doesn't reflect badly on the whole bunch. This is simply because there are enough of them to outweigh the bad. Whereas, one bad or negative media coordinator in the bunch reflects badly on the whole group. Our numbers in the barrel are far less, and we want to be careful about the message we send.

This whole concept is why all media coordinators need to take a stand. I am not saying we need to attack those that are not building those quality media programs. I have seen that tactic out in the Twitterverse/blogosphere, and it just isn't pretty. In fact, it is a major turn off for me. I know that many media coordinators fear this bad rap that arises from the rotten apple, but I don't think that is the approach that will garner true media coordinators the respect they deserve.

So how do we move a profession forward that is misunderstood and in many cases misrepresented? I don't know that I have all the answers, but I certainly think what we are doing is not working. While at a conference this week I overheard a conversation that indicated that media centers might not be needed anymore. Really? My thought there is that they just have not been in the right media center. How do we educate those people who don't have a true understanding of the role of a school library media coordinator?

First, I think we have to move our focus to students. It's hard to focus on instruction when those teachers are beating down your door wanting you to fix their LCD projector, computer, etc, etc. When I was in the media center it was hard to tell teachers that I just could not fix their "x, y or z" or tape their National Board videos. To be honest, I tried to fix all of those things, and I was not happy. I felt like I was not really accomplishing anything of value. Then, I had the epiphany that moved me away from that role. I was there for students. Yes, I want to help teachers, but what was my true priority? That's not to say that librarians won't help with those things, but they should not take up the bulk of their day. Make it known that you are a part of the instructional process. I don't care how you do it, but for the sake of our profession you need to be an instructional leader and role model.

Our school buildings are not the only places where we need to be showing our instructional prowess. It is with other librarians. A few Negative Nancys have the ability to sour a whole group. Should this be the case? Absolutely not! District PLCs should be about building up the profession not tearing it down. Often those bad apples are our most vocal, so how do we shut them up and help them move forward at the same time? Often their complaints focus on the fact that administrators don't understand what they do, blah, blah, blah. It's always about blaming someone else. We don't need to commiserate with them. Instead we need to ask them how they plan to change this perception. Yes, it would be nice if upper level leadership understood our jobs, but we have to give them a reason to want to.

Maybe I have posed more questions than I have answered, but I am tired of a profession that I love so dearly being left out to rot. Take a stand, find your voice and be heard!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Lovin' Copyright

Copyright is one of those things we as educators wish that we could forget. Unfortunately, teaching students about copyright is critical, but more importantly we need to be good models. After leading some professional development on the topic of copyright and plagiarism today, I was inspired to put some of my ideas, along with the ideas of a few others, on "paper." This may seem odd, but to be honest I like talking about copyright. While I am sure that I have not always been the best steward of following copyright, I have always tried to educate and improve my own practice.

Today's session on copyright was brief but based on the reviews just enough to whet the appetites of teachers without being overwhelming. And at this time of year, that is critical. The pre-readings below were used in a workshop that was created by some others that I work with, and I definitely wanted to include them in this workshop as they were very thought provoking. Be sure to check out the articles:

The first article really inspired my approach to today's workshop. As teachers, many of us have used those threats about copyright. Is this really a successful method? I don't think so, primarily because we only seem to make this an issue in regards to research papers. How many times have media coordinators witnessed teachers who assigned projects like slide shows or movies that did not require citations? Come research paper time there is a definite shift in attitude. No wonder students don't have a true understanding on the value of citing sources. What about teacher presentations? Those usually lack citations as well. The concerns of the teachers I worked with today varied. Some were unaware that they needed to cite Google Images (of course this also required the explanation that those images are not actually owned by Google) and others were concerned by the thought of having to cite all their resources. Some felt that this just prohibited them from doing their jobs and many more such concerns. Now, imagine how students feel....

I also introduced the group to Creative Commons. Throughout the day I only had two teachers who were familiar with Creative Commons. To give a brief overview of this approach to copyright I shared the video Wanna Work Together? So teachers could explore Creative Commons more at their leisure, I also provided a link to Steven Anderson's All About Creative Commons and Copyright LiveBinder. At this point, teachers were encouraged to license their own works and use those resources provided by Creative Commons. I also encouraged teachers to teach students to license their own work. After talking to my husband about my day, I decided that maybe lessons on copyright shouldn't start with that research paper. We need to approach it positively as suggested in the reading. The first lesson on copyright should take the original work of the student and walk them through the licensing process using Creative Commons. After that, students are more likely to understand why it is important to give credit where credit is due. Have a serious conversation about how it would make them feel if someone tried to take credit for their work. If you have your own personal story about someone stealing your work (which I do), share it. Students begin to understand the value of copyright more when they realize it can impact them and people they know. 

We also spent some time discussing citations. I don't know how the teachers in this school teach research, but I wanted to emphasize in this day and age, we don't have to teach students to write out citations. There are citation makers that take the guess work out of that process for students. Energy is better spent elsewhere. One of my favorite apps is the EasyBib app. It makes it so easy to just scan the ISBN and get the citation that can then be emailed to you. One of my former students liked the app so much that she went home and scanned books for fun (realize results may vary). 

Recently, my colleague, Jennifer LaGarde, shared this great video about the Google Research feature. Can I just say WOW!

I don't know that I would teach students to write their research papers from Google Docs in this way. However, I do think I would teach students to take notes using this feature. No matter how many times you tell students to record the citation information before taking notes, most don't do it. This just makes things frustrating for everyone. By using the Google Research tool, you can eliminate this problem.

Who knew I could write this much about copyright? I am not an expert, but I do feel passionately about this topic. I do believe that we need to empower students to understand copyright, and we need to be models of what we expect. If we don't take it seriously, how can we expect students to do so?

Friday, March 22, 2013

Creative Use for File Folders

This is a cross-posting from my Striving for Creativity blog where I post various creative projects, however I feel it has some uses in a school library as well (more on that later).

So, I go in phases with using Pinterest. Currently, I am in a Pinterest phase, and I am quite inspired to create. It all started when I finally found some fabric to make a valance for my office window. Let me be clear, I will not be making this valance. I am leaving that up to my mom, because I have no skills with a sewing machine. Regardless, it has inspired me to get back to sprucing up the office (a space I share with the cat).

This space is quite small, leaving little room for places to store stuff. I have found myself piling things up on my desk, because there is not space left to store folders. Finding this idea on Pinterest helped solve all my problems.

I created these hanging file folders for use in my office.

I followed directions 1 and 3 from the link provided above. After that point, I used a few modifications. First, I took paper and covered the original folder. Being unable to find folders in the colors I wanted, I just created my own. I did not glue my folders together. I just used the grommets to secure the folders together. I placed a grommet through the folders I was joining together and a grommet in the ribbon I was using. I then laced a different ribbon through all the grommets to allow the folders to hang. 

I purchased the ribbon first, so it is really too dark for the paper that I chose. If I could go back, I would probably buy a lighter color ribbon or use a darker brown for the tops of the folders. I am trying to come up with a way to bring that darker brown into it with a little more significance to tie it all together. not sure where that will lead. 

Other than that, I love this method for opening up storage for important papers! As a school librarian, I had a very small media center with very little wall space to share resources with students. This would have been a great, attractive way to make that happen. Many locally owned scrapbook stores carry scrapbook paper that is printed with school mascots, names, etc. You could easily make a school themed file folder hanger to disseminate information to students (student assistant applications, monthly programming calendars, and much more).

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Peanut Butter Jelly Time

During my time as a language arts teacher, I hated to teach research. I felt like I was always trying to teach all the skills at the same time, and my students just were not connecting with the process. If I had known then how valuable a school library media coordinator could have been to this process, I might have been more effective. After becoming a media coordinator and adopting the Big 6 school-wide, I loved teaching research. It simplified the process for the students and myself.

The seventh grade really embraced the use of the Big 6, and we made sure to provide them with an overview  of the process at the beginning of the year. The lesson we used with this was based on a presentation I had done for Teaching Fellows with another teacher at my school. 

This lesson followed the steps of the Big 6 and revolved around the creation of a peanut butter sandwich. Students worked in groups of four to complete the process. 

Step One: Task Definition - For this step, we discussed that sometimes the task was defined by the teacher and sometimes students were able to develop this themselves. The task for students was to design a peanut butter sandwich (teacher defined).

Step Two: Information Seeking Strategies - At this point, we have a discussion about where students would normally get the information they need to complete the task. This includes looking up recipes on how to make a peanut butter sandwich and where to purchase materials. 

Step Three: Location and Access - Unfortunately, students cannot utilize their typical sources for making a sandwich (their kitchens, the grocery store), so at this point I pull my food cart out of storage. Here I have an abundance of materials to complete the task. This includes peanut butter (really sun butter due to possible allergies), chocolate chips, marshmallow creme, jelly, honey, cookie cutters (for presentation purposes), and much more. Students have to purchase these materials, so we have trivia time. Trivia questions are based on scenarios where the answers are similar to Big 6 steps (I wish I could have found the questions I used, but unfortunately, I was unable to locate them). For every correct answer (and some questions have multiple answers) groups are rewarded with vouchers.

Step Four: Information Seeking Strategies - Students gather their materials in preparation for Step Five. All items have a cost except for the peanut butter and bread.

Step Five: Synthesis - I usually introduce Steps 4 and 5 together. This is done so that students can make a plan for their sandwich prior to gathering their materials. This helps illustrate the point that the steps do not necessarily need to be completed in order. After the design, they go back to Step 4 and gather their materials. Then they go back to Step 5 to complete their creation.

Step Six: Evaluation - Students share their peanut butter sandwiches at this point. We talk about the design and whether they fulfilled the task. Some groups do not use the peanut butter on their sandwiches. For these groups, I focus on asking questions that help them see they did not complete the task as indicated as they were to make a peanut butter sandwich. This opens the door to a discussion about revisiting the earlier steps to ensure that you are on the right track. 

This has been one of my favorite lessons over time. When students go on to 8th grade and begin working on research, I often refer back to this activity to help refresh their memories. 

If you are not using a research model, I strongly encourage you to do so. It will better prepare students for completing research, and provide you with an avenue to help classroom teachers see how you can better help them navigate an often intimidating process. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

On The Outside Looking In

Last week I had the opportunity to visit my former media center, and I so loved the changes that have taken place. As I looked around, it was impossible not to say to myself, "Why didn't I think of that?" Certainly, we have all had that experience. We have worked to build a library program, but there is always room for improvement. We have our strengths, and we have our weaknesses. Sometimes it is difficult to admit to those weaknesses when we have invested our heart and soul, but we need to do so in order for our libraries to grow.

I am lucky that the new school library media coordinator at my former school is not only a respected colleague but a friend as well. After seeing her awhile back she sent me a great text to let me know that my leaving was not a divorce just that I traveled a lot. Wish I had kept that text to get the exact wording, but I had not thought to share that conversation and the one that ensued when it was initially written. After sifting through some older emails, I was able to find the email I sent her in response (a text did not give me enough characters). Here is what I had to say:

"Thank you for understanding my attachment to my former home. I look back on my baby, and value all the growth she has undergone in the last few years. However, I know she has lots of room to grow. She is an ever-changing organism. An organism that has caused me pain and suffering, but one that has brought me lots of joy over the years as well. She sometimes has unwelcome intruders, but just remember to stand strong in the face of adversity. You will be glad you did in the long run, but welcome those that will help make her stronger. I am trying to relinquish my attachment, and that is made easier because of you. It is no longer my library. It is yours to feed and nurture. You bring so many talents and strengths that she needs. Areas that I have sorely neglected. While I will be back to visit her, know that is not because I am checking on you. It is simply because I want to watch her grow past her infancy. I know that you are the perfect person to do this. I may have known before you even knew you wanted her.

I love you for respecting my attachment, and as you saw yesterday, I still get choked up when I talk about you taking over. That is not because I am sad that I am gone, but it is because I am so grateful to you."

It is important for us to take a closer look at our practices and day-to-day operations. Sometimes it is difficult due to the attachment we have. For some, it is hard to take criticism. I share this with you, because I want you take a second, third and fourth look at your media centers. What's missing? What can you do differently? Approach it like an outsider. You might be surprised at what you will find. If you are really brave, swap libraries with a trusted colleague for a day or two. Imagine the possibility of growth for you and your library.

**This post is dedicated to Natalie. A friend, a colleague, and most importantly a gardener for the library soul.