Archive for April, 2009

School Library Media Specialists and Teachers- Can we really collaborate?


It’s a buzz word everywhere. You’ve seen it at ALA, AASL and every faculty in-service. If you’re like me, you’ve got it in your PIP (Personal Improvement Plan) and you start the year out with high hopes of all the amazing collaborative projects you’re going to do with the teachers in your building. Then, somewhere around October/November, you realize that your co-planning time is limited or non-existent and many of your teachers are so regimented with their schedules that they can’t see how these shared projects will actually help them in the planning, implementation, and assessment processes. We have a wide range of responsibilities and we deal with most of the people that work in our building in one way or another. Collaboration should be our middle name, right? You would think so. I’m here to point out one reason why it might not be working and to give you some hope for looking at collaboration in a new way.

Working with the “enemy”

One definition of the word is “To cooperate treasonably, as with an enemy occupation force in one’s country.” Sounds inappropriate for the school setting, right? I think it might be quite relevant. If we imagine the school building as a country, it’s easier to understand why teachers feel like their classroom is their ‘territory’. In my elementary school setting, the teachers are alone most of the day with their students. They bring and drop off their students to specials, such as gym, music, or media center and often feel as if another classroom is “enemy territory.” If you’re lucky enough to not be a prep coverage for that teacher, and they stay with their class, which I have for a few periods a week, the challenge becomes involving that teacher in the lesson in order to keep them from running off to make copies and phone calls, or my favorite, sitting and correcting papers. They don’t feel comfortable teaching or taking the lead in “your” classroom. We can change that.

Start small and socialize

Knowledge Quest, the AASL journal, features collaboration (“Social Scholarship”) this month. Barbara Schultz-Jones’ article, “Collaboration in the School Social Network” connects the popular subject of social networking to the school setting. Seeing the Media Specialist as a social network organizer will help to make connections between the ‘territories’ within the ‘country’ of the school. The teachers will feel more at ease when things are less structured and we start with small connections between our curriculum and theirs. For example, I recently showed a video on shapes to a 1st grade class and the students responded right away saying they had just learned about shapes and engaged their teacher from the back of the room to show off their knowledge.

Get involved- take the initiative

Collaboration, in all its facets, can be successful and seamless if we take the initiative to build relationships that break down the borders. Watching students make connections between subjects, or forget they’re learning as a result of a well-planned project makes it all worthwhile. Volunteering to work on curriculum development is a great way to harvest professional relationships with teachers and curriculum supervisors (who can be great supporters of your program).

Celebrate the small things and the success stories

Why not think more creatively about all the things we do each day that don’t traditionally count as collaboration and stop focusing on the “projects” that we aren’t able to do with colleagues. Media Specialist, Mary Alice Anderson, in her article for Multimedia Schools, “The Media Center: The Many Faces of Collaboration” suggests that we “celebrate the varied aspects of our multi-faceted roles” by including the support we give throughout the year to teachers, staff, as well as parents and the community. Do you organize the school’s book fair? How about author visits or other school-wide assemblies? Maybe you’re the “go-to” person for website help and technology issues. Our ability to help the entire school succeed is just as valid as a project we would specifically work on together. How about publicly acknowledging and praising those teachers that embrace collaboration? Students can describe how they felt learning and working that way and be your best publicity.

Anything is possible

We work hard to create an inviting atmosphere in the Media Center that feels like home to every person that enters, including students, parent volunteers, teachers, administrators and even our public librarians. We are responsible for supporting the school’s curriculum in many different ways, and with that, we have the power to break down barriers as we go along.

This year, I’m going to include some of the less traditional collaborative projects in my end-of-year meeting with my principal, and make sure to quantify how many people were willing to work collaboratively throughout the year. It’s time that we advocate for our program to all who “occupy” our building.

The White House Conference on School Libraries, in 2002, presented a session that is sure to inspire you to find a way to makeover your program to a dynamic, integrated media center, with you as the “information consultant” facilitating collaborative work throughout the year. The conference notes can be found at the Institution of Museum and Library Services site:

Keep your enemies close, but your fellow collaborators closer.


April 29, 2009 at 3:51 pm 4 comments

Preparing for the 2009 NJLA Conference

With spring time in the air, library professionals from the Garden State know that as the tulips and daffodils begin to grow, so does anticipation for the 2009 NJLA Conference (April 27th – April 29th).

If this is your first conference, you may be wondering how to prepare or what to expect. Perhaps an introduction to the conference may help put anxious minds to rest. For those of you that can navigate the Ocean Place Spa and Resort with your eyes closed, make sure to point out any survival tips I may have forgotten.

Step One:

Explore the city! I just so happen to live and work in the City of Long Branch, so consider this step done. Our city is one of the largest and most diverse cities on the Jersey Shore. With a Latino population of over 30% and a blossoming Brazilian population, you’ll find quite a selection of Mexican, Dominican and Brazilian specialty stores and restaurants down the main street of Broadway. In the late 1800’s, Long Branch was a popular and affluent summer destination with private beach clubs and casinos. Sometime after the 1920s, Long Branch witnessed a steady decline and inner city challenges began to emerge. Today, you will find a mix of cultures and economic backgrounds throughout the city. Long Branch is in the midst of an exciting rebirth with beautiful oceanfront developments, great lawns and parks, trendy shops, superb restaurants and a hip nightlife. Take time to walk down the boardwalk and visit Pier Village, just south of the Oceanplace Spa and Resort. Here, you’ll find over 30 restaurants and boutiques such as Carmella’s Café, Stuarts Root Beer Shop, McLoone’s Pier House, Sawa and more!

Step Two:

  • Start preparing! First check out the NJLA Conference Wiki – this may seem obvious but sometimes things get away from us and we forget the obvious. No matter how many times we’ve attended, something has probably changed. The website provides a wealth of information for both the exhibitors and the attendees, including a floor plan and an event grid (the grid identifies room numbers and clearly labels specific tracks you may want to follow according to your professional interest).

  • Create your agenda – it’s always a good idea to read the description of each workshop and note the guest speaker. Make sure to check the site once again, a few days before you leave, for any last minute changes. Try to establish a general itinerary for your day. I emphasize “general” because I think it’s best to get out of your comfort zone and experience new things. Besides, it’s likely you’ll meet up with a cordial and enthusiastic group of librarians that will suggest specific sessions or events. Be open to new ideas and allow for last minute changes. If you’re the spontaneous type and itineraries are not for you, at least think long and hard about the reasons you are attending the conference and decide upon one or two things that you really want to come away with.

  • Bring extra copies of your business cards (trust me, you will be asked for them), comfortable shoes, tote bags to carry all of those neat giveaways, and cough drops. After all, it is spring, and if you aren’t getting over a cold or suffering from allergies, chances are someone next to you is!
Step Three:

Make the most out of it! Once at the conference, there is no end to the amount of quality resources and information available but before you start checking off that agenda, make sure to stop at the NJLA table for your badge and any additional conference information. To ensure your time is well spent, here are a few suggestions on making the most of it.

  • If this is your first conference it’s okay to be nervous, but think of it as an adventure. This is a chance to leave your shy self at home and step out of your comfort zone. For an easy ice breaker, mention a few recent programs or services that your library had implemented. We absolutely THRIVE on sharing ideas! If you’re feeling especially nervous, arrange to attend with a co-worker or classmate.

  • Step away from the smart phone. I know, I know, I have an iPhone myself and share the need to stay connected to everyone, everywhere. But how can you focus on the presentation, if you’re also sending mixed drinks or Coach bags to your Facebook friends? Go easy on the microblogging too, unless of course, you’re actually presenting a workshop on it. After all, if you’re too busy letting others know about what’s going on in your world, you may just miss your own experience.

  • Take notes. Whether for a blog or future article, you’re going to need them. No doubt, you’ll be asked by a co-worker or supervisor how the conference went, who the presenter was and what sessions you attended. You may even be asked to write a report or train others on staff.

  • Have fun and socialize. This may be THE most important step and the one we most often forget. First off, as soon as you get to the conference, take it easy. According to Travel and Leisure Magazine, Long Branch ranks among the top 20 American beaches, so weather permitting, take a stroll down the boardwalk. Drop your shoulders every now and then, take a deep breathe and RELAX. Then make sure to have fun! Don’t pass up an invitation to go out as a group or meet new people because some of the best networking happens AFTER the presentation. If you haven’t been invited out for lunch or dinner, then join NJLA’s Lunch Buddies or Dine_Around groups. If you enjoy meeting new people, try volunteering at the conference. The NJLA website offers a list of available and rewarding volunteer opportunities. If you’re too late this year, there is always next time!

  • Remember the people you’ve met, by asking for their business card. It’s not only a tool to remember contact info but you can always jot down notes on the back. If you promise to follow up about something specific, note it on the back of the card so you don’t forget. Follow up is crucial!

  • After the conference, I suggest taking the next day off. I know this is next to impossible but at the very least, take it easy. By now, we may be running on empty. Try not to schedule appointments that day or attempt to reply to every email. Consider the day after the conference – part of the actual conference. Sort out what ideas are easy to implement and what ideas should sit in the “bright ideas” folder for a while. Distribute the information you’ve brought home to the appropriate staff (half will accept with a grimace or smile) and file the rest.

Finally, work on getting your co-workers, director and board members to approve the many ideas you’ve brought back with you. By the time you’re finished, it will be spring again…Happy Conferencing!

I’m sure many of you have wonderful tips for planning and attending the conference. Suggestions anyone?

April 22, 2009 at 7:01 pm

Nancy Promotes Public Libraries

This was just forwarded to me by Leslie Burger, the director at MPOW and a past-president of ALA, with a comment that really says it all: “Check it out – great advertising for libraries”

April 21, 2009 at 9:55 am 3 comments

ID Theft Seminars: Panel Experts Engage and Educate our Community

Following up on last spring’s well-attended seminar, Rider University’s Center for Business Forensics this time hosted two free interactive presentations this month focusing on the major issues surrounding identity theft. The two offerings, one for the general public and one specifically for the law enforcement community, provided insight into the widespread, varying, and serious nature of identity theft. Dr. Drew Procaccino, a professor of computer information systems at Rider, organized and led the panel of experts from law enforcement, banking, legal, library, IT, and health care organizations who participated earlier this month and/or in this morning’s seminar. I was happy to help provide materials, participate as a panelist, and blog about these seminars again.

According to Terri Cullen, author of The Wall Street Journal Complete Identity Theft Guidebook: How to Protect Yourself from the Most Pervasive Crime in America, “…Identity theft covers several different specific crimes, and collectively,…is one of the easiest crimes to commit, one of the hardest to prosecute, and one that is drawing increasing attention from the media.” Last year, we determined from the Q&A sessions that there was a lot of misinformation out there on the different types of identity theft, the scope of people who commit this type of theft, the trends, and what we can do to better detect and prevent this theft. Ten frequently repeated “best practices” from the experts for detection and protection were given:

  1. Shred with a crosscut shredder pieces of mail that contain any personal information before throwing them in the trash at home or at work.
  2. Place outgoing mail and retrieve incoming mail via a locking mailbox or official Postal Service box.
  3. Use a virtual credit card number (available through most banks) for online purchases, rather than your “real” credit card—connected to your card, the virtual number can be set up to only be used once, for that one online purchase (or for longer, but only if you wish).
  4. Keep an eye on your physical card when you are paying for something—don’t allow it to disappear out of your sight (skimming of your credit card number could occur).
  5. Inventory/photocopy what is in your wallet/purse and place that photocopy (back and front of cards) in a locked cabinet—if your wallet/purse is stolen, you have all the info.
  6. Never respond to an unsolicited email from your bank, medical organization, etc., and don’t unsubscribe—don’t even click on the link, just delete it.
  7. Cover the keypad from prying eyes/cameras with one hand while entering your PIN at an ATM.
  8. Review your credit reports (you can get a free one each year from each of the three credit reporting agencies, and if you stagger requests, you can get one every four months).
  9. Clear private data from your browser (i.e., Firefox, IE, or Safari)–delete temporary files, browsing history, cookies, cache, saved form information, and saved passwords, especially when using a public computer or kiosk, and then close your browser.
  10. Use different passwords for different sites—and make your passwords passphrases.

Below, I have listed and described my four favorite ID theft protection and privacy information assistance sites found in Cullen’s book and on other expert sites. I mentioned these at the seminars, and I regularly use and direct people to them—they are excellent, not only for preventive measures, but also for the detailed steps to take if you find that you are a victim:

  1. Consumers Union: Nonprofit Publisher of Consumer Reports – “Consumers Union (CU) is an expert, independent, nonprofit organization, whose mission is to work for a fair, just, and safe marketplace for all consumers. CU publishes Consumer Reports and in addition to two newsletters, Consumer Reports on Health and Consumer Reports Money Adviser.” For those concerned about ID theft, see their project, which strives to inform us all about personal financial information use and tips for regaining control over our sensitive financial information.
  2. Fighting Back Against Identity Theft – This Federal Trade Commission website is a “one-stop national resource to learn about the crime of identity theft. It provides detailed information to help you deter, detect, and defend against identity theft.” Sections for consumers, businesses, law enforcement personnel, and members of the media are provided, as are state and national data reports. Website info is also available in Spanish.
  3. Privacy Rights Clearinghouse: Nonprofit, Consumer Information and Advocacy Organization – Among its goals are to “raise consumers’ awareness of how technology affects personal privacy, empower consumers to take action to control their own personal information by providing practical tips on privacy protection, and respond to specific privacy-related complaints from consumers, intercede on their behalf, and, when appropriate, refer them to the proper organizations for further assistance.” I found their Identity Theft, Financial Privacy, and Internet Privacy links, fact sheets, and stories to be very valuable.
  4. Identity Theft Resource Center: Working to Resolve Identity Theft – “Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) is a nonprofit, nationally respected organization dedicated exclusively to the understanding and prevention of identity theft. The ITRC provides victim and consumer support as well as public education. The ITRC also advises governmental agencies, legislators, law enforcement, and businesses about the evolving and growing problem of identity theft.” This site provides info on data breaches, victim & consumer resources, scam alerts, and more–it even provides pages in Spanish and Chinese. I still introduce people to ITRC’s ID theft test and PC info safety quiz to possibly help get people ‘in the mood’ to begin protecting themselves and their family from this threat.

My continually updated website, Personal Profiles and Other Publicly Available Information: An Internet Hotlist on Detecting and Protecting Your Digital Footprint, contains the above sites, as well as notable personal information search engines (which I demonstrated at the seminar), along with other related information for teachers, librarians, and teens/tweens.

As a librarian and professor, I feel compelled to share this type of information with my patrons and students, especially since I personally have been a victim of ID theft—it can be a very emotional, time-consuming, and financially-unrewarding process to clear up.

Prevent it from ever happening to you, and help others do the same, please.

-Robert Lackie

Technorati Tags: identity theft

April 16, 2009 at 11:11 am

Pres4Lib2009: Registration now Open!

Looking to hone your presentation skills, become a better speaker, or develop your training/presenting toolkit? If so, you will not want to miss the inaugural Pres4Lib Camp on June 12, 2009 in Princeton, NJ. The camp, hosted by the bloggers of Library Garden and friends, is being sponsored by SJRLC, CJRLC and the Princeton Public Library. The camp is open to anyone who works in libraries or with libraries and librarians.

Pres4Lib2009 is a presentation camp and will be conducted as an unconference. This will be a great opportunity for presenters and trainers (and those interested in presenting and training) in the library community to network and share their tips, technologies, best practices, and experiences.Highlights of the day will include two rounds of lightning talks, three breakout sessions, and a chance to witness Battle Decks in action.

A Pres4Lib2009 wiki ( ) has been established to answer questions about the camp, allow for collaboration and suggestions prior to the day and to record the happenings on the actual day.

Registration is limited and the cost is free, except for a nominal $25 charge to cover the cost of food (breakfast, lunch and snacks). The day will culminate with an optional dinner outing to The Triumph Brewing Company, a local favorite in Princeton.

Don’t delay and register today at
… and remember, you heard it here first at the Library Garden!

April 9, 2009 at 12:10 pm 2 comments

Virtual Reference Bibliography Website – Now Live

I write today from Harrisburg, PA, site of the REFolution Conference: Reference Service in a Constantly Changing World sponsored by Lyrasis (formed by the recent merger of PALINET/SOLINET). I just love the name and spirit of this conference, and was honored to deliver the keynote speech on the future of reference this afternoon to an audience of about 200 reference enthusiasts.

I am delighted to announce (as a Library Garden scoop, I might add) that a team of faculty and students at Rutgers have just launched the long awaited, highly anticipated Virtual Reference Bibliography designed to be used by librarians, students, scholars, and others who are interested in publications dealing with all aspects of virtual reference.

Hosted by Rutgers University’s SCILS, this site is a continuation of the digital reference services bibliography maintained from 2000 to 2004 by Bernie Sloan. It now contains 700+ entries from Bernie’s original bibliography, plus 200+ new items published from 2004 to the present. The redesigned site and new search interface was created by Ben Bakelaar of Rutgers as part of a final project for Information Design class, taught by Jacek Gwizdka, Ph.D.

I’d like to thank Ben, Jacek, and Bernie for their creative input and design expertise. I would also like to thank SCILS alums Andrea Simzak and Gillian Newton, and current student Jeff Teichmann for their competent and enthusiastic assistance in hours of verification and data input. I am also indebted to Andy Mudrak, IT Systems Administrator and Assistant Dean Jon Oliver for technical support.

This resource is designed to be an ongoing work in progress. We welcome your input to keep it current and accurate. Please leave a comment at the VR Bibliography website if you want to add a citation, to correct a mistake, or wish to make a suggestion.

Do take a look and let us know how you like it!

April 6, 2009 at 4:22 pm 1 comment

14 Words on a Slide

Originally uploaded by Peter Bromberg


In response to presentation at Computers in Libraries where a NEW RULE was handed down from on high: “NO MORE THAN 10 WORDS ON A SLIDE”

Um. No.

Orig photo from:

April 1, 2009 at 2:25 pm 4 comments

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