Friday, July 10, 2015

ALA Part 3 - AASL Sessions, Storify Summary, & More

This is Part 3 of my ALA Conference reflections. See Part 1 and Part 2.

Besides the YALSA-sponsored young adult author sessions I attended at the American Library Association Conference in San Francisco in June, many of my activities centered around AASL (American Association of School Librarians) events. Here are some of the highlights:

I just completed my second year as a member of the AASL Best Websites for Teaching and Learning Committee, and I participated on the panel session in which we announced and described our 25 site selections for 2015. Here's our slideshow:
And, you can see descriptions of each of the sites here.

I also attended AASL's Best Apps presentation and learned about some great apps I want to experiment with and share with colleagues and students. Here's the link to their presentation and a link to the list and descriptions.

If you have websites or apps you want to recommend for the 2016 list, be sure to submit them on the AASL website. You can submit a website recommendation here and an app recommendation here.

Another session I particularly enjoyed was Nancy Jo Lambert (one of my Twitter PLN buddies) and Stacy Cameron's "Resource Re-Defined: Libraries as Learning Spaces." Both of them are from Frisco USD in Texas. The session gave me a lot of ideas and food for thought on modifications I can make in my library to better attract and serve my students. Both Nancy Jo and Stacy stressed that it's best to start small; even small changes, such as  rearranging furniture and getting a few maker space supplies, can make a difference. Nancy Jo has set up maker spaces in two different elementary school libraries and shared a lot of ideas of what - both tech and non-tech - can be included. She is moving to a brand new high school in the fall, and we got to learn about the design of that state-of-the art facility and how she is planning to run it. I'm looking forward to hearing about her new adventures. Here are is a link to their slides. I so want the Kwikboot charging stations displayed on Slide 14!

While I love attending sessions and make a habit of sharing my observations on Twitter as I do, I could have gone away from the conference happy with just the networking. I met new people, some brand new, some I already know via social media; I renewed old friendships; and I exchanged ideas. I especially enjoyed getting to meet some of the folks who enrolled in the one-month online "Learn to Tweet" class I taught as an offering for AASL leadership the month before the conference. While I missed getting photos of many more people than I took, you can see in my Twitter stream that I enjoyed mingling with lots of old and new friends!

I am embedding myTwitter story of the conference captured through Storify below.

As I went through this Storify, I realized that I didn't mention some key highlights in this and my two earlier blog postings about the conference. So, here are a few more:

One was getting to hear Googler Dan Russell share his vision for the future of libraries, and advice on how we can better serve our students and patrons educating them in being more savvy searchers. As he mentioned, the "the best internet connection is a librarian. We need to be the teachers." He also reminded us that "research skills is not something you learn once and then know forever - keep up!" I couldn't agree more. I have actually hear him speak several times and participated in Google's online searching and power searching classes. I want to take the power searching class again next time it is offered since there is always more to learn, and lots to remember, process, and refresh! Here are the slides from his session.

I was also grateful to get to attend the wonderful breakfast hosted by Alexander Street Press featuring Cynthia Sandburg, an attorney turned biodynamic farmer, sharing the benefits of biodynamics.

And, finally, while I tend to live in a YA world in terms of most of my reading, I was delighted to attend 3M's event at the Terra Gallery where we heard two best selling authors of adult books, Paula McLain and Vanessa Diffenbaugh, share their stories. McLain is the author of The Paris Wife and Diffenbaugh's first book is The Language of Flowers. We were treated to ARCs of their upcoming books. McLain's is Circling the Sun, set in 1920's British Kenya, and based on the life of Beryl Markham. Diffenbaugh's is We Never Asked for Wings, about a struggling mother trying to keep her family together. I can't wait to read them and I am so appreciative of 3M for hosting the event and including me.

Here's my Storify Twitter account of the conference week:

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

ALA Conference Part 2 - YALSA Author Events

Each year, the American Library Association announces the Youth Media Awards during its Midwinter conference in late January. I have never been able to attend this event live, although I do watch the live stream if I can. As a high school librarian, I am always especially keen to learn the awards presented by YALSA, the Young Adult Library Services Association ALA Division, including the Alex, Edwards, Morris, Nonfiction, Odyssey, and Printz Awards. As I am hearing the winners announced, I always wish I could be there to enjoy the group anticipation and excitement as the announcements are made. Really, though, I consider myself very fortunate that I have been able to attend ALA's Annual conference in June, since that's actually when many of the award-winning authors attend, receive their awards, and share about their books. At this year's conference, I had the delightful experience of attending the awards sessions for the Alex, Odyssey, and Printz Awards, as well as a YA Author Coffee Klatch, all sponsored by YALSA. (The Odyssey Awards are also jointly sponsored by ALSC, the ALA's children's library division,)

Printz Awards

The Printz Awards Ceremony and Reception took place on Friday night, the first evening of the conference. This is the second year that program included a panel discussion with the winner and the three honor book winners: Jandy Nelson, winner for I'll Give You the Sun, and honor book authors Jenny Hubbard, Andrew Smith, and the Mariko Tamaki/Jillian Tamaki author/illustrator team. I love that format, since we got to hear from all the authors. I had read all the books, so was excited to hear all of them. One of the interesting topics was how they work and revise. Jandy Nelson shared that it took her two and a half years to write her book, and tons of revisions. She also mentioned that she kept the documents with the two different character's story lines completely separate while she was writing and only merged them at the end. Most of the other authors also talked about a long revision and rewriting process. In contract, Andrew Smith says he writes only one draft! I'm always fascinated to hear about such different techniques.

If you haven't read all of these books yet, put them on your list! Here's a Thinglink image I created for my school with links to book trailers, audio clips, and author commentary I could find:

After the formal part of the session, we got to mingle at a reception for the authors. I was lucky to get to meet three of them. I am always amazed how friendly and open these rock stars are!

The Alex Awards

The Alex Awards recognize 10 adult books with particular cross-over appeal for young adults. Here's a Thinglink image of the 10 that I prepared for my school:

Five of the authors - Anthony Doerr, Kate Racculia, John Scalzi, Zak Ebrahim, and Michael Kortya - were able to attend and speak at the event. I have been working my way through reading these books and was very excited that Doerr, Racculia, and Ebrahim, whose books I loved, were speaking. And, after hearing Scalzi and Kortya, I couldn't wait to read their books also, and made them my first reads after the conference. Each of the books is incredibly different, from Doerr's moving historical fiction based during World War II, Racculia's mystery / ghost story, Scalzi's futuristic science fiction murder mystery, Ebrahim's memoir of living with a terrorist father, to Koryta's contemporary murder mystery set in the Montana mountains. Several of the speeches moved both the authors and their audience to tears, as do the authors' books. These are all also not-to-be missed titles! The last three of the ten are on my "next reads" list.

Odyssey Awards
My third awards event was the Odyssey Awards for the best audiobooks of the year. At this session, the narrators of the winning audiobook and the honor audiobooks speak and read a passage from their books. I had only read one of them, The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place by Julie Berry, narrated by Jayne Entwistle. It is such an amazing experience seeing and hearing someone in person who I had previously known only as a narrator on a recording. Entwistle was captivating both in her recording and in person, and she warmed us all sharing her personal love of books.

Cassandra Morris, narrator of A Snicker of Magic couldn't be there, but we were treated to both the authors and narrator for Five, Six, Seven, Nate!, since Tim Federle served as narrator for his own book. I loved hearing him share how he learned to turn weaknesses, into a strength, even narrating his book despite growing up with a lisp.  Last, we heard from the author of the winning book, H.O.R.S.E. A Game of Basketball and Imagination, Christopher Myers, who also narrated  along with Dion Graham. They brought the event to a wonderful conclusion, sharing their belief in the important skill of listening, and that bringing the narrators to a live event also enriches the experience with conversation.

YA Author Coffee Klatch

One other YALSA Author event I attended for the first time was the YA Author Coffee Klatch. At this event, we all sat at round tables, and, every five minutes a new author came to visit the table and tell us about his/her book. Our table got Jandy Nelson as our first guest! I already knew about I'll Give You the Sun, of course, but it was such fun seeing her again. I also got a second chance to hear Printz Honor book This One Summer author and illustrator Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki and to hear about their new books. And, all the other authors' books were new to me. We had visits from:

  • Nova Ren Suma, author of The Walls Around Us, the story about a girls' detention center
  • Allan Stratton, author of The Dogs, an intriguing psychological thriller
  • Bill Konigsberg, author of A Porcupine of Truth about two teens on an epic road of discovery
  • Rae Carson, author of Walk on Earth a Stranger set in the Gold Rush era with a fantasy twist
  • Jack Gantos, author of The Trouble in Me, an autobiographical account of some incidents in his troubled teen years
  • Martha Burkenbrough, author of The Game of Love and Death, a fantasy and historical fiction set in 1937 Seattle
  • Ginny Rorby, author of Hurt Go Happy & forthcoming How to Speak Dolphin, both exploring issues of teens with disabilities. 
So many wonderful new options to read and share with my students! Here's my take home piles of all the books to add to my library collection and ARCs (advanced reader copies) to share with students and teachers:

You can tell how I'll be spending a lot of my summer vacation ....

Many thanks to YALSA and all the wonderful authors and publishers for these great opportunities to learn more about books and authors that will enrich my library and reach my students.

For more about my ALA Conference experience, see my last posting, "The ALA Conference: A Perfect Time and Location." I'll also be writing one more posting focusing on the AASL events I attended.

Monday, July 6, 2015

The ALA Conference - a Perfect Time & Location

I'm back from a short vacation trip after the American Library Association Conference and starting to process my takeaways. ALA couldn't have picked a better location, time, and opening keynoter for its 2015 Annual Conference.

The location ... San Francisco is one of the most beautiful and forward-thinking cities in the world. I never get tired of opportunities to visit and enjoy its unique Victorian architecture straddling its hills; striking views of the bay, ocean, and bridges; and lively atmosphere and people-watching. As I tweeted Friday morning during a visit to the Ferry Building before heading over to the conference:

Doesn't get prettier than this!! San Francisco for

The time ... The timing for the conference was perfect. Friday morning, June 26, the Supreme Court announced its ruling on Obergefell v. Hodges, making same-sex marriage legal in every state of the United States. It seemed that all of San Francisco was abuzz with excitement about this landmark decision.

The keynoter ... Then that afternoon, the ALA conference opened with keynote speaker Roberta A. Kaplan, the attorney who argued before the Supreme Court in 2013 on behalf of the previous landmark case for gay rights which struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

Getting to hear Kaplan's personal story and her perspective on how positive legal changes can and do come about and the progress that has been made in protecting gay rights was inspiring and especially moving on such an historic day. It's so easy to get discouraged about all the inequities, injustices, and prejudices our nation can't seem to address or eliminate. Kaplan reminded us that positive change can happen, both in our legal system and peoples' attitudes. Here was one of my tweets during the session:

Heartening 2 hear Roberta Kaplan share her experiences, peoples' ability 2 grow, change, today's decision

The time, the location ... And, two days later on Sunday, San Francisco's annual Gay Pride Parade passed just blocks away from the Moscone Center, giving conference goers an easy opportunity to view the parade and witness the amazing positive energy of the crowd. Everyone was in a great mood; everyone was courteous. Although my view of the parade itself was poor, being about four rows back from the curb, so my photos were also poor, the experience was no less exciting.

Here were my tweets from the parade:
Hanging out with my librarian friends watching the gay pride parade

(That's me with Rosemarie Bernier and Marcy Drexler, both teacher librarians from Los Angeles USD.)

I'll be working on more posts with other personal highlights of the conference, but I wanted to start off with this short one sharing why being at this conference in this time and place felt so special. As I posted on Twitter Saturday morning:

Couldn't have had better day yesterday than being in SF, at #alaac15, learning Supreme Court decision, hearing @kaplanrobbie, #Printz awards
I was also super jazzed to have Roberta Kaplan favorite and retweet this!

Thanks to the American Library Association and all its leadership and conference planners, San Francisco, Roberta Kaplan, and the Supreme Court for making this a very special time for me!