How to videos

How to log onto email using any browser:

How to access the library catalog and search our titles:

Apologies if you can’t view on your phone: they are both flash videos. If you know of a work around, please share.

Originally, this post was created sometime around 2009 (that’s a rough guesstimate), when I first discovered Jing for screencasting and wrote a little something to share.

Ah-ha! My research abilities show that sometime was actually closer around July 17, 2009 as the post I wrote can be viewed courtesy of the WayBack Machine. Want to read?

Thanks for archiving stuff!

Free Books

Back in March, I presented with two other bibliophiles and spoke to those in attendance about the ability to get FREE books on your selected electronic reading device.

If memory serves, there was a hand raised and a teacher librarian in the audience wanted some clarification: wait, there’s no cost involved in this?

None at all.

The service I was touting was NetGalley and for those that aren’t familiar with what NetGalley does, basically NetGalley offers books to the public before they are published in order to get feedback on the title or for readers to provide buzz on a book before it is released.

The list of FREE books offered from NetGalley is extensive.

The list of FREE books offered at NetGalley is extensive. From Art to Women’s Fiction and everything in between.

The list of devices that you can read on has steadily grown from your laptop and iPad to Kindles and Nooks and Android devices and Kobos. There’s likely an app or program you’ll need to download, and if you have any questions, you’ll want to read up on What devices can I read my NetGalley titles on? for more information.

I do have to point out, it takes a little playing around. Though I do NOT have a Kindle, I was able to download the free Kindle app, create an account and have titles sent to me via the Kindle app. The formatting on Kindle is not as easy to read, which is why I prefer the BlueFire Reader. But having two options for downloading a title does make a difference in being able to read it or not (even if one of the formats of the book is a little wonky).

The downside of NetGalley is that you have to put in a request to read a title. Once your request is approved, you’ll have to return to NetGalley to download it. In my experience the request usually takes a day or two, and you’ll get an email letting you know that you’ve been approved. It just takes a little more work to remember to head back to NetGalley to download the title you originally wanted to read.

To counter the need to wait, that there’s a way to get pre-approved for titles, especially from publishers that cater to a specific group. To do this, make sure you fill out your profile in detail, and if you’re a librarian or teacher, make it known somewhere on that page. Librarians that are members of the American Library Association have a space to include their member number (see below) and this will go far in getting you access to the books you want.

Make sure to complete your profile and insert your ALA Membership info to get a fast track for approval to books!

Make sure to complete your profile and insert your ALA Membership info to get a fast track for approval to books!

There were a few other resources I mentioned for access to free books, but by far NetGalley is my favorite. Especially now with summer around the corner, maybe I’ll get to reading those books from my pyramid of priorities.

Expect the Miraculous™

In getting ready to transition from Spring Break and head back to work, I did the usual and checked in on work email and work websites to find, surprisingly, a coworker had posted a lengthy review of how her kindergarten students had fared on their first ever research project.

Recently, the library subscribed to a database that’s meant for emergent readers. It’s from Capstone Press, a company that I’ve been enamored with since they first emerged and has been making strides to stand out in the media world. Their PebbleGo has been receiving nothing but high acclaims and while it doesn’t yet run on tablets without flash (something they’re working on, that’s how responsive they are), it does work on desktops and laptops.

What was interesting about reading my coworker’s post on the process of our youngest students engaged in research was that it just so happened to coincide with another article I read about one librarian’s work with students to help purchase books for their library. This librarian too, is a fan of Capstone and he has a student book budget group that does what librarians do in the realm of collection development:

It’s the day that all of their hard work and tough decisions pays off.  After surveying almost the entire school, setting goals, meeting with vendors, creating wish lists, cutting books from the lists to fit the budget, and placing the order, the students finally get to hold books in their hands.

Getting students involved and excited about the books that are a part of their library? Genius! Having them talk with others in the community to see what materials are wanted for the library and use math to figure if they can afford everything they want? That’s a sign of an awesome teacher librarian.

For some time now, I’ve been following school libraries with amazing programs. Those who are keen to details may have noticed I listed this post under the category of library crushes, but I’m always curious as to what other schools are doing in their libraries. So, for this Monday, a first posted library crush, a showcase of what one school library does in the hopes that our work in the profession will continue to evolve and flourish.

(p.s. The first library crush was found when I spotted the Reading Road Trip video that had me both envious and feeling like a vicarious traveler). 

YALSA Preconference: a few spots left

Vegas is on my horizon, not once but twice this summer: one for the American Library Association’s annual conference, and the other for the JEA/NSPA Adviser’s Institute.

I received word this week that the Young Adult Library Services Association is holding a pre-conference as well, and their discussion will be geared towards literacy, the Common Core, the digital experience for teens and new methods of collaboration amongst other topics.

More information will be provided as the date nears, but a few more spots are available for interested participants.

If you need the skinny, here are the details:

YALSA Pre-Conference
21st Century Teens: Literacy in a Digital World
Friday, June 27th
8:00 am – 4:00 pm (lunch included!)
Flamingo Hotel

Drop me a note and I’d be happy to pass your information along.

#nhsjc 2014

I’ve been fortunate enough to be down in sunny San Diego for the past few days as part of the joint JEA/NSPA’s National High School Journalism convention.

Today, a firecracker of a speaker from SDSU elaborated on why journalism helps polish those diamonds in the rough and gives students the skills that not only make them marketable, but help them stand out in a crowd of graduates.

Nicole Vargas, inspiring a group of advisors during lunch, told the story of how students who have taken part in any form of journalism tend to be more digitally nimble, are able to ask for what they want without fear, and can come up with creative leads and stories on their own.

Her enthusiasm was infectious and I couldn’t help but think: THAT’s what I want for my students. Granted, they’re only in middle school (I work with 7th and 8th graders on yearbook), but what better time to give them a head start and make them more of a force to be reckoned with come high school?

Earlier on Thursday night, after Laura Casteñeda’s keynote address, a fellow middle school student from Animo Jefferson Charter Middle School took the microphone and asked the best question: how do you get people to take you seriously even though you’re young?

Casteñeda’s reply was to not give up, and as the middle school student stepped away to let the next student ask their question, a fellow student in the audience gave him a high five: journalism students get the reality of the importance of what they’re doing.

When I agreed a few years back to help out with the yearbook because, “yeah, I loved working on the yearbook in high school!” I’m not sure I knew the extent of how much journalism would matter to me. Yes, I wanted to move away from creating a posed picture book, yes I wanted to incorporate a little more writing (because, after all, we are students in school) and yes, the librarian/designer in me knew there was purpose in my teaching them basics of journalism and being literate in the types of media they created and consumed.

I didn’t realize it’d matter so much.

This afternoon, surrounded by hundreds of advisers and students passionate about their brand of media—be it newspaper, yearbook, broadcast and thank you to the one gentleman adviser who still teaches radio broadcast—there’s an awesome sense of why it matters.

As the distinguished Brenda Gorsuch said it best: we’re creating a story bigger than us. We are the storytellers.

Here are the scrawls in my notebook for the conference:

Are we getting better?
Do they want good journalism?
Fluff (caution!) > seek out good writing as examples
Publication name?
Independent study/lunch club > touch base with session speaker
JOY – Journalist of the Year > sort out membership information w/Outreach Academy
Process NOT the product

2015, we’re on. I’m putting a Yerd tab up top for you. 


6th Grade Religion & Discovery Education

It’s gearing up to that time of the year for research and projects, and following on the heels of the 5th grade booktalks (still haven’t decided if it should be book talk or booktalk) the 6th graders are hard at work on a research project for religion, to coincide expertly with their interpretation of the Stations of the Cross.

One of the resources we’ve subscribed to for some time is Discovery Education and a little known aspect of the program is that, in addition to hosting a plethora of images and videos that you can use and that coincides with your curriculum, you can also save out potential images and videos and mass share them with a class.

What’s more, students can take the images and import them into their application of choice…..and if they find a video they like, can EDIT or trim them via iMovie.

To demonstrate, here’s a look at a class (6A) that I signed up giving them their own usernames and passwords.

Screen shot 2014-04-11 at 6.15.07 PM

Next, I created a folder of goodies that coincided with the topic they’d be researching, namely Jeruslaem:

Screen shot 2014-04-11 at 6.15.34 PM

Sharing the folder with the class(es) was as simple as designating a date range and then selecting one or more classes:

Screen shot 2014-04-11 at 6.15.57 PM

Discovery is a little strange…you can’t select multiple classes as yet, but once you select one class, you have the option of assigning the selected folder of resources to either individual students or to all students at once.

What I haven’t been able to figure out is how to save time. For instance, if I’ve taken liberty to sign up all 6th grade classes with usernames and passwords, how can I let a teacher know so they DO NOT have to a different batch of information? My thoughts are that the answers may be found under School Content or District Content, but for the meantime, it’d be good to see if students are actually using the resource….or doing the usual and going to google or sadly even wikipedia.

The end project is a presentation on the different religious areas within Jerusalem, so stay tuned to showcase pieces on which the students are hard at work. Suffice it to say, the collaborative effort between KH and the library has been so positive, it’s been a pleasure and in spite of the crazy schedule, I look forward to more joint efforts.



5th grade book talk

The 5th graders are always a surprising bunch. During book talks today (is it booktalks or book talks?) they offered reads from fantasy to science fiction to historical fiction. Needless to say, we’ve a diverse bunch of readers, but when a student brought up Erin Hunter’s Warriors series, it made me think back on the type of reader I was at their age.

I was a book-mobile-making fiend.

Back in the day, my favorite book related project involved a hanger, string, and some index cards. I made an endless assortment of hanging mobiles that, in retrospect, may or may not have stunned my teacher: James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH. Added to that was that my sister and I (I’m a twin) both reveled in making these mobiles AND had the same teacher…

I’m pretty sure traditional book reports were put back in play the following year.

Yet the variety of stories that students have at their disposal today is astonishing. Hunger Games, Divergent, The Giver. Had I been a student with the release of dystopian books, I have to wonder: would I be capable of a) understanding the material and b) enjoying it? What’s more, when broaching book talks with students who are predisposed to liking books that are popular on the big screen and with topics that toe the line of young adult material, I’m torn between giving them what they want and playing it safe.

And so, I research middle grade appropriate dystopian stories: Margaret Peterson Haddix’s Among the Hidden series, the ever controversial The Giver by Lois Lowry, Kate Messner’s excellent recommendation of Crunch by Leslie Connor (about a family that sells bikes in the midst of an oil shortage).

And in between, a few possible titles to appeal to the interests of students at school:

Doll Bones by Holly Black

Holly Black’s creepy Doll Bones

Holly Black’s creepy Doll Bones, about 3 children on that edge of childhood and adulthood, who still play with toys, including Queen, a doll containing the bones of a young girl Eleanor who wants to be properly buried back home.

Avi’s supernatural The Seer of Shadows, which pits rationality against the magical, and touches on the historical field (a surprise for me) of spirit photography.

Seer of Shadows by Avi

Avi’s supernatural Seer of Shadows

And Tone Almhjell’s Narnia like Twistrose Key, in which a gal, observing that her house is unusual (frost never melts outside in the flower beds, clocks are always slow within the house), finds a key that opens a door in the cellar into the world of Sylver where beloved pets that have passed on are live and well…facing trolls who threaten the peace in their world.

Twistrose Key by Tone Almhjell

Narinia-like Tone Almhjell’s Twistrose Key

In efforts to try to bring our circulation system a little closer to the 21st century, I’ve made pins on pinterest and hope to include them on the main search screen in Alexandria. If you’re so inclined to find a book in a particular genre (fantasy, mystery, adventure, realistic fiction, fairy tales, sports, historical fiction) look me up, or follow my boards via cathylinmjs.

In the way of all things, there’s always so much to talk about (Jordon Sonnenblick’s touching Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie which I likened to Wonder in terms of feel good endings) and never enough time to just sit down and read.

Drop me a line, let’s talk books.



Welcome Back!


It’s take a while but LiteracyLibrarian is back up and running ! The reason? April is double and triple booked with classes coming in for research and there’s lots of new information to share with students and teachers alike.

Now that we’re back, let’s get started and populate the page with some content. Please stand by as I try to organize.