Monday, March 21, 2011

Lets Get Jiggy With It.

Need some new websites to create music with? I have a few to show you. First lets look at UJam; it is a cloud-based platform that empowers everybody to easily create new music. It is easy to sign-up for and has a video tutorial. Next, look at Audacity; it is free, open source software for recording and editing sounds that is similar to UJam. Maybe you are not the creative type, but just need some music for your presentation? Then look at Jamendo, 298,576 tracks of all genres, stream and download for free and legal sharing. Lots of music to choice from, music published under creative commons licenses; unfortunately, you will have never heard of any of the artists. Now if you or your students are true musicians, take a look at MuseScore. This is a site with free music composition and notation software. I hope the above sites help your students make their presentations a little better.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Celebrating Mardi Gras Indians

This Black History Month we focused on the Mardi Gras Indians. After hearing a program on NPR, on how the Mardi Gras Indians were trying to copyright their costumes, I decided to celebrate them for Black History Month. I used a Tag Galaxy to show pictures of the Mardi Gras Indian's costumes. If you have not used a Tag Galaxy, it is a pretty cool way to show pictures. We combined this with a no overdue book reward. Lucy and I cooked up some Pain Perdu (lost bread) or New Orleans French Toast. The music is lively, the pictures are colorful, what's not to like about Mardi Gras.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

NCTIES Conference-Bringing them in Nook, Line, and Sinker: Using Nooks in the School Library

We just presented at the NCTIES tech conference in Raleigh. If you attended our session, and would like to see the Wiki we made for it, just click here. We enjoyed everyone's questions! If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us:

Mary Simmons
Beth O'Briant

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

It's a Kiwi Craze

We are trying to offer healthier choices in our new library cafĂ© so we asked for kiwi. We were told “kids won’t buy kiwi”, but we talked them into letting us try with a few kiwi.

Well the students at CCHS have gone crazy over the kiwi. We sold 60 the first week and ran out twice that week. We are pushing the healthier snacks like kiwi and plums over pop tarts. Wondering how you eat a Kiwi at school? Well, cut it in half and use a plastic spoon to scoop the kiwi out of it's own natural bowl.

Monday, February 7, 2011

You Light Up My Life

For Christmas, Fred gave me a LightWedge, and I love it for reading in bed. That got me thinking about books lights. I wondered if our students would use them if we had them available to check out. So I picked up three different styles that clip onto books and processed them for check-outs. (I did not get a LightWedge, due to the cost and the plexiglass scratches too easily.) We have let teachers and coaches know we have them. We think this will be great for homework on athletic buses. It's kind of an experiment. If the students check them out we will purchase more.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

"You can't be In COMPETITION with the Cafeteria" .

Lucy and Ethel hear it a lot. I was sitting in a session at NCSLAMA this year, listing to a speaker tell us how her library cafe was shut down. And then it hit me, "Why do we have to be in competition with the Cafeteria, why not partners?" We came home and had a meeting with the head of Child Nutrition, and he loved the idea. He is buying us furniture, a hot water dispenser and other things. We will start by having "The Knight's Cafe" open from 7:30 through 1st bell each morning. We will sell hot chocolate, juice, fruit and muffins. All money goes back to the cafeteria :( , but we feel that it will generate more traffic into the Library and have that Barnes and Noble feel. They get the money, but we get free furniture, rugs and he said he might buy us the 2 treadmills we want. Treadmills, that's another blog, I'm just full of ideas.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Lucy presents Weeding and Sowing the Garden of Your Library -Saturday

This Saturday I will be presenting at the best one-day conference I have ever attended. It will be the first time I have presented here--and the pressure is on, as the ECU Joyner Library sponsored Librarian-to-Librarian Networking Summit is extraordinary! This one day conference not only has informative sessions, but the attendees are treated like royalty for the day!

Here is the link to the Netvibes page I set up with information for those who attend my session.

And my Powerpoint:

Monday, January 17, 2011

Be Our Valentine

We are going to host a small Valentine Event in the Library this year. We are keeping it simple. We will post signs around the school saying “Be our VALENTINE, bring your lunch to the Library to eat on Feb. 14th”. I have repainted some wooden hearts we already had, black and white. I will use these hearts as my table displays, with some books that the student book club has picked out as good Valentines Books. I will have cards by the display saying “It’s not just BLACK and WHITE, it’s read all over”. I will then have the student’s name that picks the book for the display. “Recommended by Susie Que”. Then I have a little surprise planned. The surprise will not be advertised on our signs or in the announcements, but for those that come to eat their lunch in the Library, we will be giving them a small valentine, a warm cupcake. Lucy will be making them in her, Babycakes, cupcake maker. We will have several frostings available and they can choose and frost their cupcake for dessert.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Booky Nooks, part II.

We are loving our Nooks! My video is a little dated, but I thought it would be helpful for some of you. To read about Kathy Parker's experience with Kindles, go here . At Buffy Hamilton's site (see earlier post), I found Buffy Hamilton's persmission slip that she had credited to Kathy. I asked Kathy for permission to base mine on hers. So far, the Nooks are loaded with these books:
The Scorch Trials
Gone (Grant)
Clockwork Angel
Little Women
The Count of Monte Cristo
The Maze Runner
Torment (Kate)
Queen of the Mountain
Kidnapped (Stevenson)
The Fiddler's Gun
The Good Thief
Girl, Stolen
A Christmas Carol
All We Know of Heaven
The Morgue and Me
Pride and Predjudice
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle
Rules of Attraction

I am adding more titles soon!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Lucy and Ethel are back, and they have Booky Nooks!

We are finally back to posting, after a particularly rough start to our year (we have two words to describe that--Graduation Project). Now that we are back being to our usual creative library selves, we would like to share our adventures as we add Nooks to our book collection!

I (Lucy) have batted around the idea of having Nooks or Kindles added to our library collection in order to renew interest in reading, and to expose our students to new technology that delivers print formats. In other words, I wanted to make reading exciting again. I have a Nook, and Ethel has a Kindle. They are very cool--we both enjoy our e-Readers, and I thought the students would too. I started my adventure by using Google to find out if others had blazed this path--and of course, they had! Many thanks go to Buffy Hamilton, who started this adventure long before me when she purchased Kindles for her library, and Jennifer LaGarde, who has purchased Nooks for hers. Here are links to their invaluable sites.

The Adventures of Library Girl

The Unquiet Librarian

Further Links I read:

Texas State Library Post on Buffy Hamilton

Edukindle Ning (this link is the post on Kindles vs. Nooks)

My first task was to find funding. Luckily, my budget, which came to me in early November, had increased from last year. I decided to make two big purchases with it, and just pray other supply money comes our way. I purchased a new scanner for our circulation desk (the other gave us over 15 years of service, but is tired and sketchy), and I purchased 6 Nooks and their cheapest cases from Barnes and Noble. I also purchased from eBay the protective cases and the overlay film for the screens. I used funds designated for books to get my first check for e-Books (more on this later as it deserves its own post).

Why Nooks? After reading the posts of Library Girl and the Unquiet Librarian, then talking to my local Barnes and Noble rep, I went with Nooks because I can have lessons and support from my local store (by local, I mean it is 45 minutes from our school). While they did not offer to come to our school and do the setup, I do like that the rep will help me in-store. I also already had a Barnes and Noble institutional account, so purchasing the Nooks was easy. I like that I can share one book with six Nooks by setting up an Barnes and Noble account with an email for every six Nooks. I like that I already have a Nook, and know how to use it. I also like that I just went to the store, and badda-bing, I had six Nooks in my hand (I did call ahead a day and reserve them).

I had my TA video my first observations about our process. More in the next post.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Just Desserts

At the semester break, Lucy and I agreed that we had become quite the witches over the computers. Being in charge of 2 labs and 3 mobile labs was definitely taking the fun out of Lucy and Ethel. (By the way, just what does a teenager do with the little round DELL icon buttons? I would love to know.) Our students tend to take things off our computers, like buttons, stickers, and the plastic fronts, yes the plastic fronts. So we did a little brainstorming and came up with this idea. Lucy typed up the general rules for using the computers and slipped them into sheet protectors and placed them around the labs. The 1st time a class came to the Lab; we would go in and talk about the contest that the class could win. Basically, follow the rules while you’re using the computers and your class will go into a drawing for a “Dessert Party”. In May I will randomly draw from the classes that followed the rules and we will make a wonderful dessert for that class. The more times your class comes to the lab and behaves, the greater your class’s chance to win. OK, this is working, but not really the way we had planned. This motivated some students but by far not all, and it takes the whole class to make it in the drawing. Who it has motivated is the teachers, they want this party bad. You should see them running around pushing chairs in and picking up paper, checking the computers behind the students. It’s wonderful. Our custodian has commented that the Library is a lot cleaner. So I guess Lucy and Ethel’s aphorism for this blog entry is "The ends justify the means".

Monday, March 29, 2010

Lucy is Cooking Again!

As anyone who has followed this blog knows, Ethel and I know the way to a teenagers' heart is food! We cook a lot in the library, and always tie it to education--I mean, how can food NOT be educational! I thought I would share my most recent cooking exploits, so you can adapt this book-themed unit to your situation. I have a 45 minute flex bell (I have 15 seniors assigned to me, and my assistant Ethel, runs crazy open library), so I had to come up with ways to entertain, educate, and delight them each day. We have a reading day, a study day (I use the word study loosely), and so I try to teach them a little something on the other days--life skills! They wanted to know how to cook cheap, easy food at college, so I have started a weekly cooking lesson, that they will soon take ownership of--they each will bring a recipe and food to share each Friday! I only cook enough for each to have a taste--that way, I do not compete with the cafeteria. Our flex is also after lunch, and as I said, there is much education involved. And the super cool thing is that because Ethel is operating open library, the walk-in kids drift in and just watch what I am doing! That lets them see the librarian in a whole new educational and fun role.

My book tie-ins are Michael Pollan's, Food Rules and Alicia Silverstone's The Kind Diet. I also showed my students two videos that I streamed from the Internet: Jamie Oliver's talk on The Ted at and Jamie Oliver's first episode of Food Revolution at I also read them sections of Food Rules. For one cooking class I brought in my electric frying pan, hooked it up on the floor of the library, and stir-fried bok choy. I had purchased bags of already cooked brown Minute Rice which I cooked in the microwave in the back of the library for only 90 seconds! For the Bok Choy stir fry, I just put a bit of salt and olive oil in the pan, threw in the washed and chopped bok choy, and added soy sauce, ginger, and garlic. Then I added chicken broth that had a little corn starch mixed in. Served over rice! Half of my class had never had bok choy, and everyone tried it! It was great.

The next cooking class I taught them to make a quick pasta--in the electric skillet. I pre-cooked the pasta in the skillet before they arrived (bow-ties), threw some edamame in with it for the last five minutes, and had it drained and ready. I then put olive oil, a big chopped elephant garlic, salt, pepper, and sauteed it all for a bit. Then I threw in the drained pasta and edamame, and one cup of reserved cooking water, and added parmesan cheese. They loved it--cheap, simple, and healthy. They also really were engaged in the two videos. I am hoping it helps them focus on healthy eating, saving money on food, and provides them with some life long skills--and all from their library!