Tag Archives: Literacy

Vagabond Librarians Day 5: Who IS The Boss?

Jenny Barrows here to bring you the latest edition of the Moldy, ahem, Vagabond Library.

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As you can see, the view from “my desk” is rather unusual for Heath Commons. Currently, Librarian Gette is co-teaching with Teacher Ford over the din of students congregating, pianos playing (by aforementioned students), and maintenance preparing for a speaker tonight. How is this possible, you may ask? Well, it is possible because we embrace the advice of Tony Danza. Yes, the Tony Danza

Last week, I saw Tony Danza speak in a Madison, CT middle school auditorium. FYI, Tony Danza is not the washed up type (nor will he ever be the washed up type) who can only speak in middle school auditoriums. He was brought to Madison by the very awesome RJ Julia Independent Booksellers. Rather than holding the event at RJ Julia, Tony D spoke in the auditorium so more people could attend. And by the way, it was a packed house.

Also, if you don’t know who Tony Danza is. Click the above link or view the photo below.

photo credit: émiliep via photopin cc

But I digress.

After being fired from his last “big shot celebrity job”, Danza decided to fulfill a long-abandoned dream and become a teacher. He taught for a year at  Northeast High – Philadelphia’s largest high school with 3,600 students. Not entirely ready to shed the habits of stardom, he wrote a book about the experience: I’d Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had. Despite being a former prize fighter and big shot celebrity, Danza got knocked down in a few rounds of teacher v. students (and Danza v. other teachers). Despite the roller coaster, Danza’s mantra remained: make the best of a bad situation.

The Calarco Library is not in a bad situation (read about some libraries that are), more of a “less than ideal” situation. Are we crying about it? Please. It takes far more to break the Vagabond Librarians (and no we did not choke up when we took our last look at the books for 2 entire weeks…that never happened). In the spirit of Tony Danza, we are making the best of our situation. Librarian Gette is fantastically conveying the secret intricacies of research, while Teacher Ford and the AC1 students enthusiastically adapt to the less-than-perfect classroom environment.

How has Hopkins made the most of a situation? Lets review.

  • Student patience regarding printing has at least doubled, if not tripled.
  • Teachers host the Vagabond librarians in classrooms for research lessons, and even bake us snacks! (The last part is not true, but maybe words written will become true?)
  • Students come to the Vagabond Library with incredibly original jokes such as, “Oh man, look at all the books!” And while we guffaw initially, we trump expectations and students end up leaving with one of our fabulous Kindles hugged close to their chests (or shoved into a backpack. We’re realists.).

Tony Danza is a wise man, and his advice should be cherished. I mean c’mon, he is the boss.

Signing off, Jenny Barrows (the biggest Tony Danza fan girl ever)

How to Pick a Good Book…

…or at least how to do more than close your eyes and select at random.

So many books, so little time!

photo credit: Stuck in Customs via photopin cc

What makes a book a good book? Of course, the entire process of making that decision is inherently subjective. Let’s present a hypothetical: you (the reader) are a fan of the comprehensive genre “horror”. Some of your favorite movies are Dawn of the DeadThe Shining and The Omen. You not only watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but you read the Buffy comic books written and published by Joss Whedon. You have also read many of the classic “horror” books—DraculaFrankensteinInterview with the VampireThe Shining (again), The Tell-Tale HeartThe Haunting of Hill House—your list is diverse and substantial. But now you want to read something new, whether there is an upcoming vacation or all of your college applications have been submitted, you have decided that you deserve a good book.

Will you like Twilight?

Is this for you?

photo credit: hollowcrown_ via photopin cc

The answers are wide-ranging and inexact, and the logic behind the answer could be debated, but that is not the point. The purpose of this exercise is to demonstrate how even a well-read individual with a predisposition to a particular genre could be misguided in a reading choice.

photo credit: lyk3_0n3_tym3 via photopin cc

We are not all so lucky to be biased towards any particular genre, and many of us muddle even deeper through the Land of Lost Readers. This is a general roadmap, not an exact GPS-generated directional route that can help you choose a good book. Hold fast to this guide during your initial ventures, or even more conveniently, download the WordPress app to your iPhone for easy access to the information presented below.

Tip #1: The Calarco Library LibGuides

Our reading-based LibGuides are a good place to get started. Check out the What’s New in the Library guide for the list of all fiction and non-fiction books that are new to the library. The Kindle LibGuide includes a list of titles loaded on our Kindles along with links to a motley collection of book awards lists. This latter point leads to Tip #2…

Tip #2: Book Award Lists

Each award has its own parameters and stipulations, but most “major” awards serve as reliable starting points. Here are the links to some of the most popular awards:

Tip #3: Blogs

Blogs are becoming regular pit stops for readers seeking book selection advice, and it goes without saying that we think you should use this one as a resource. Although the quantity of reader advisory blogs may initially seem overwhelming, you can develop your personal list of “go to” blogs by exploring several and visiting them regularly. Here are a few to get you started:

Tip #4: Review Sources

There are almost as many book review sources as there are blogs about books. Rather than list dozens of premier book review sources, I am only going to mention two: Kirkus Review and The New York Times, bedrocks in the intimidating world of formal book reviews.

Tip #5GoodReads.com 

Social networking for books—who wouldn’t want to explore this resource? When you sign up with GoodReads, you choose if you want to link your GoodReads profile to Facebook and Twitter. Linking can help find more friends on GoodReads, but it is not necessary. The avenues to finding a good book are varied—add friends to see their latest reads, rate books in order to get recommendations (must rate a minimum of 20), and find books to add to your shelves. The default bookshelves are Read, Currently Reading, and To Read. You can also add more shelves that are organized to fit your particular needs. Is there an app? Of course, but only for iPhones.

Calmly pick a book amidst the whirlwind of choices

photo credit: Casey David via photopin cc

Tip #6: Yourself

This tip should be obvious, but it is oftentimes elusive. Trust your instincts—sometimes a book grabbed at random off of a library or bookstore shelf (whether physically or on a tablet device) proves an excellent read. Pay attention to your “inner reader,” and listen to the people whose reading opinions you value. Sometimes the best resources for opinions are not found in critical reviews or auto-generated book recommendations, but amongst those whom you see everyday.

Walk through the fog with a friend, and you will find your way

 photo credit: Casey David via photopin cc