Sunday, December 16, 2012

A Holiday Feeling.....

Felted Dragon by Nancy Bevins
What’s on your list to read during break?

As a prelude to watching the movie, you could read Life of Pi: a Novel.

Or, if you are/know/love an introvert – Quiet: a richly-textured discourse about the qualities and strengths of introverts.

If you’ve seen the movie Lincoln, you may want to drop by and browse our collection of books about this iconic statesman (we have more than 50 titles – a browser’s paradise!).

What are you hungry to read?
How to Cook Everything?
Or how about a little something to go with a Downton Abbey marathon? The Unoffical Downton Abbey Cookbook by alum Emily Ansara Baines is full of delicious ideas.

I’ve got my titles staked out, and I'm enjoying the anticipation … alarm-clock free mornings, jeans, good books and long walks.

Enjoy your break!

Mrs. Eldridge

p.s. Titles mentioned above are available in the Chandramohan Library. Please check on line to see if they are currently available (things tend to get checked out quickly around here).

Life of Pi: a Novel by Yann Martel (fiction section)
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World Thank Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain (155.232 CAI – currently downstairs on display)
The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook: from Lady Mary’s Crab Canapes to Mrs. Patmore’s Christmas Pudding, more than 150 recipes from Upstairs and Downstairs by Emily Ansara Baines (641.5 BAI – currently on display downstairs)
President Lincoln: some call numbers: 973.7, 973.702, 973.7092, 808.85[speeches], 817[humor], 303.342[persuasion], 973.714, fiction, too: search for “Lincoln fiction” (don’t miss the vampire hunter title….)
How to Cook Everything: 2,000 simple recipes for good food by Mark Bittman. (641.5 BIT – currently on display downstairs)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


JPD 2012

JPD, our Junior Parent Dinner, transforms our campus - and especially the library - into a magical place where parents are catered to by their children. It is a true evening to remember.
-Mrs. Ursettie

In the words of our students:

"Down the stretch, JPD becomes your life."  These were the first words that came out of Mrs. Ursettie's mouth at our kick-off meeting in spring.  Of course, some of us did not necessarily believe her to the fullest extent... until two weeks prior to the actual event.  JPD really did take over our lives. In short, it was an arduous journey.  And I wouldn't trade it for the world. JPD was a great way to just give back.  The table set-up on the day of JPD basically sums up the entire experience: waking up early, manual labor, inside jokes, and frustration with others' dearth of knowledge of silverware settings.  But in all seriousness, we had to learn to work together as a group, and we all understood why we were all there.  It has been an amazing ride, but all good things must come to an end.  I will never forget this group—they won't forget me because of all the e-mails I sent out— and I would do it again if I could.  Best of luck to the Class of 2015." E.F.

"JPD: a lot of hard work that paid off incredibly well at the end." K.C.

"Seeing all the technical stuff that goes into a show like JPD - there is more to the show than you see - lots of work gets done behind the scenes. It was really cool to be a part of that." N.R.

"The process of making JPD happen -watching everything come together and seeing what we accomplished made us proud of our class." J.S.

"I felt our class come together. It was worth all the blood sweat and tears." S.J.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Snipe Hunting. Really.

Photo by Alfred Yan
used with permission

A brief sound burst,
A flash of wings,
An arc of flight.
“Ruby Crowned Kinglet!” the voices sound in unison. My brain says, “bird.” We walk a few more steps…to the place where the elusive Wilson’s Snipe lingers. The Snipe, camouflaged and cautious, remains motionless until we are within arm’s distance, then it flushes and banks past us to another settling pond.

It took our guide two years to discover the habits and location of the Wilson’s Snipe in Hahamongna Park, but only twenty minutes to reveal this shy bird to us, so that we could experience its form, flight and habitat.

Monday was top-flight. Walking side-by-side with an experienced guide, I absorbed the ways of bird-watching:
            -Looking became conscious observation.
                        Skyward for Swifts in motion.
                        Left- to- right for movement in the leaves, and down for ground birds.
            -Hearing became focused sound analysis:
                        “Did you hear that sound?”
                        “You mean like someone running a butter knife over a saw blade?”
                        “Yup. That’s an Anna’s Hummingbird.”
            -Walking – the act of touching the ground – became a lesson in risk analysis:
                        How long can I watch the sky before path and feet are no longer in sync?

But, what really sticks with me is the notion that experts - through diligence and the practice of their craft – have worked out shortcuts for us:.
            -knowing where the Snipes hide
            -describing the precise features that differentiate 2 similar birds
            -using patterns of behavior to increase chances of spotting a particular bird.

While my companions' amiable chatter sounds to me like the barista’s call-outs for coffee orders, it really represents the distillation of hours of practice. Our guide shares willingly and generously – making sure that we all see the Snipe, and the Ruby Crowned Kinglet and 27 other different types of birds. Experts convey enthusiasm along with an obvious delight in the subject matter and delivery. That could be why they are revered: as their students, we are positively affected by their enthusiasm and passion. Whether we hope to become experts ourselves, or merely appreciate the skill, our interest level is increased. We also share genuine moments of happiness; the kind of elation that comes from the pure joy of discovery and the satisfaction of fitting new information into our own brain-grid.

There are lots of experts. Finding a local expert made me appreciate the knowledge base of our area, and the richness of our natural resources. Thank you, Darren, our expert guide. And, thank you Joe, for suggesting a brilliant way to spend the morning.

-Mrs. Eldridge

Monday, November 5, 2012

5 Quick Things

Last week I spent a glorious (and mind-stretching) four days in Monterey for Internet Librarian 2012.  The days were packed with new, thought-provoking and useful information.

Richard Le (from San Rafael Public Library and San Francisco Public Library) and Thomas Duffy, Jr. (from San Francisco Public Library) gave an engaging, fast-paced presentation: 50 Great Mobile Apps for Librarians. Here are just a few highlights:
1.      RedLaser (iOS, Android): scan a book barcode and find the book in a library or bookstore.
2.      Epicurious (iOS, Andoid, Nook Color, Windows Phone, Kindle Fire): enter your main ingredients and see the recipes that match. All recipes are rated with reviews.
3.      Congress (iOS, Android): Read the latest bills, hearings and floor activity. See how your elected representatives voted.
4.      CamScanner (iOS, Android, Kindle Fire): turn your phone into a document scanner and fax machine. (this is a surprisingly fast app. It digitizes the text within the image  - and creates a searchable PDF. You can upload the PDF to Google Docs or Dropbox. Amazing research potential)
5.       Evernote (iOS, Android): keep your notes organized, record audio, manage to-do lists. (Sarah Stewman, a fellow participant, emailed me the audio from one of our presentations, along with her notes – it was a fast and efficient way to share information, and the audio quality was excellent)
Thank you, Richard and Thomas, for the utility and grace of your presentation and for the succinct descriptions used here.
-Mrs. Eldridge

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Power of Words

From my Pinterest board

I collect quotations.  I have a big fat file of quotes here at Prep, two huge file folders at home, and a board on Pinterest, entitled "Inspiration--Words".  Some are adorning the walls in my home, complete with calligraphy & lovely artwork matted and framed.  I'm a huge fan of people who can turn a phrase, create a mood, and weave words into a beautiful tapestry.  Throw in some wisdom, and you've got the total package. 

In childhood, you may have read, “Promise me you'll always remember: You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”, a line from Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne.  Simple.  Optimistic.  What books spoke to you when you were young?  Do you still remember the lines by heart?  What words of wisdom will you read aloud to your children?

Mrs. Hodge


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Read a banned book lately?

Another Banned Books Week has come and gone (but the display lives on!)  The American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom creates a list of books that were formally challenged the previous year.   And each year, I feel my blood pressure rise as I look over the latest list of most banned books of the previous year.  Really?  Brave New World?  Still?  Or what about this one:

 My Mom's Having a Baby!: A Kid's Month-By-Month Guide to Pregnancy
My Mom's Having A Baby! A Kid's Month-by-Month Guide to Pregnancy, by Dori Hillestad Butler
Reasons for challenge: nudity; sex education; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group
Geez.  Imagine a book explaining pregnancy without pictures of the human body, sex education, or sexually explicit language.  If  parents want to wait to describe pregnancy and childbirth to their children, that is absolutely their prerogative; however, demanding that a library remove such a title doesn’t leave the parents who would like their children to read this book the opportunity to do so.  As I once told a mother who was upset about a young adult novel her 13-year-old daughter checked out of our public library, “If you are concerned about your daughter’s book selections, you may want to go to the library with her and speak with her about making appropriate choices.”

Ready for another one?

To Kill a Mockingbird
To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
Reasons: offensive language; racism
So let me get this straight.  An author trying to show an example of rampant racism is not permitted to illustrate this with the offensive language and racism that illustrates her point? 
Be sure to take a look at the books we have on display in the case on the library’s upstairs landing.  And, if you have the time and the inclination, please check out a banned book to read.
Mrs. Hodge

Friday, September 28, 2012

Makin' it.

A Pathway of LED lanterns

Describing and analyzing our surroundings and psyches, the magazine collection in the Chandramohan Library is a great resource. It covers a range of topics and interests.

Some of the well-loved titles like Sports Illustrated and People are more likely to be found left on a table than on the magazine rack. Some titles, however, languish ….undiscovered. Make, for example, is a small-format magazine with neither the brand recognition of Vogue, nor the flash of Spin. Yet, if content and ingenuity are measures of success - Make has it made.

Make has a generous portion of hands-on DIY projects (like the photo of LED lanterns in the picture above), as well as a section of mid-level skills projects (want to make a battery that runs on the bacteria in mud?). It also sprinkles its pages with “wow” projects – way beyond DIY- that reinforce the “can they really do that?” response. My favorite “wow” project is the active building skins – exterior coverings that react to temperature and light. Thickening when temperatures climb, or shifting panels to allow more light to enter the interior of the building when cloud cover is present.

But back to the LED project. Imagine a group of lanterns frozen into light cubes keeping things cool under (but not in) the Halloween punch bowl. Or, illuminating the pool. Plus, they can float at different levels (fishing line and weights), flicker, or sport festive colored filters. Could you ask for more? Even though I quake at the thought of projects with the word capacitor or microcontroller in the supplies list, Make has detailed instructions, and links for more help. And once I create a batch of lanterns, I might even tackle something more complex. And, that’s the true test of a magazine designed to boost your interest and proficiency level. Does it inspire you to move forward? To think in a new way? To discover?

The next time you find yourself browsing the library’s magazine collection, I hope you will explore a new title, or just revel in the variety and richness of our collection.

Mrs. Eldridge

Friday, September 7, 2012


Yesterday, the latest issue of Prep Talk and the 2012 Commencement Supplement appeared in my mailbox. Oh, the class of 2012 - they gave their smiles, performances and insights generously. Eli Weinstein (2012) penned the following eloquent and relevant piece for the blog. Thank you, Eli.

June, 2012.
There’s definitely a difference between libraries that are really, really big and libraries that are small. If you’re a librarian in a really big library (or a really big bookstore), you just buy every book you see and let your collection grow. And your job mainly comes down to organization: keeping track of where all the books are, making sure they’re in good shape, knowing your Dewey Decimal System really well, etc. But librarians who run small libraries have an extra problem. They have to make decisions: of all the books in the world, which ones do they order? Which ones do they display?
            If you think about it, this is actually a very sophisticated challenge. A librarian rarely knows in advance exactly what each book they buy will be used for. Instead, they have to decide what could be useful – what’s interesting, what’s thought provoking, what’s engaging. A good librarian at a small library is like an expert wine taster, or a skilled museum curator. They have to have taste. And they have to have taste not simply in books or in writing, but in information.
            If you think this is trivial, let me assure you – it’s not. There are a lot of second rate libraries and bookstores out there. You walk into them and you find yourself getting bored far too easily, you start browsing more quickly, taking books out and then immediately putting them back. I’ve spent far more quality time in Prep library aisles than in aisles ten times as long in other libraries, and it’s not simply that each of the books individually is unusually interesting – it’s that the collection fosters connections. It lets you see, physically, relevant information across disciplines. It’s a truly interdisciplinary location.
            There’s one really big trap, though, that libraries and bookstores often fall into. It has to do with book displays. The standard book display is all devoted to new books, to recent arrivals, to the latest releases. It’s devoted to staying on top of the trends, like a Twitter newsfeed. In contrast, the truly great book displays, like ours at Prep, provide a mix of old and new. The reason this is so profound is that it creates connections. It shows continuity in intellectual history, it shows where the new books come from, and then suggests to you – you the thinker, you the actor in the modern world – where things might be going.
            Pasadena’s Vroman’s Bookstore has stayed in business for 118 years, and the reason is not simply because it’s got a great atmosphere, or a cafĂ©, or stationary. Remember, Border’s had all those things but went bankrupt. It’s that it knows how to pick books. It doesn’t just auto-order from the major publishers; instead, it finds things that are interesting, and puts Herodotus next to Jared Diamond, or the Human Rights Watch Annual Report next to a business best-seller. It lets its staff review and suggest books, and ends up with a supremely engaging collection, not unlike Prep’s own.
            But why is all of this so important? Aren’t libraries and bookstores becoming anachronistic? Won’t the inevitable march of information technology push them to the side?
            Frankly, it might happen. Libraries, sadly, might become out of date. But librarians, I think never will. In fact, they will become more and more important, precisely because of their talents as information connoisseurs. In the modern age’s blizzard of information, we need people to act as guides, to help sort the relevant from the inane, the interesting from the boring, the profound from the shallow. And good librarians have that skill in spades.
            One thing to keep in mind though is that librarians are far more sophisticated thinkers than the news aggregation sites the modern web is filled with. The critical difference is that librarians think with more dimensionality. A site like the Huffington Post is driven by headlines: it has short articles and they’re all dealing with the present. Librarians, by contrast, have to think with enormous depth. The stock of their trade is not flat articles, a few pages long at most, but rather books: deep, three dimensional objects, which provide a range of information not only among them but within them. Furthermore, librarians, unlike news sites, must be aware not only of the present but of the past, and even of the future. They have to think infinitely harder. They are literary geniuses to the Huffington Post’s trashy paperback writers.
            So, as you face the complex and dizzying future, keep in mind that you are not without help. Find yourself some good libraries, some good bookstores, some good librarians; they’ll lead you through the storm. And best of all, you can start with Prep’s very own – they just so happen to be the best in the business.

-Eli Weinstein, Class of 2012

Friday, August 24, 2012

Olympic Reflections

My husband and I concluded our bi-annual tradition of losing sleep for the two weeks of Olympic coverage that lasts until midnight.  The sporting events have been remarkable.  Stories about Oscar Pistorius, Gabby Douglas, Kirani James, and countless other athletes touched our hearts.  It's been a wonderful experience, full of inspiring stories of dedication and sacrifice by athletes and their families.  For us, the back stories and kind gestures are maybe the biggest reason we watch the Olympics.

One of the stories that captivated us was the story of gymnast Olga Korbut, who didn't simply win gold medals (though she won four of them), she changed the face of women's gymnastics as well as the perception of Soviet athletes.  In the 1972 games in Munich, this 17-year-old joyfully charmed the audience with her talent.  This YouTube video shows her floor exercise.
After the games, the Soviet team was invited to meet with President Richard Nixon at the White
House.  It was said by some that this meeting helped prompt President Nixon to reach out to the USSR
and begin diplomatic relations.  The Olympics serves not simply as an athletic contest, but as a vehicle to know people from other countries, other cultures, other ethnicities.  Maybe it's the euphoria from the we-are-the-world closing ceremonies talking, but I can't help but think that it is from understanding one another in a neutral venue such as the Olympics, that is the key to the possibility of peace in the world.  My 1960s idealism is rekindled; no doubt about it.

In our library, we have the opportunity to connect with other cultures through our collection, whether in book or electronic format.  One of my favorite general titles is How to Be a Perfect Stranger, a book that lets the reader know what to expect when attending a religious service or celebration of various faiths.  Whether you're interest in world religions, cultural or food traditions, or want to explore the various ethnic and cultural areas of Los Angeles, we have a wealth of material to help you do just that.

Happy exploring!

Mrs. Hodge

Monday, August 13, 2012

Teaching tools.

Syncro Gears (thank you, Steve) and rough files

Rough files:
forgotten in a box; 
evicted from the toolbox because they didn’t seem useful. 
Saved by a thoughtful friend, who knew someday I would let the tools teach me. Thank you, Jan, for saving the files and for returning them just in time. You knew there would be a teachable moment in my future.

Sometimes, our tools teach us. These rough files taught me about the precision and beauty of brass: its machine-ability and tenacity.  What it takes to move it, and refine it. As hard-working tools, they made easy work of shaping and refining brass syncro gears. No amount of work with finer files could have shaped the metal. Yet I had earlier discarded the rough files, not realizing their potential, not investigating their strength.

This week, a favorite research tool also came into a renewed status. Although I hadn't discarded it, I had neglected it, but discovered a wonderful surprise of added value.

The research tool is WorldCat, and the new status is the added value in the Advanced Search. To set the stage: The default screen for WorldCat - "Regular" WorldCat- allows you to search for books if you know the exact title or exact author.  You can search "regular" WorldCat and find out what libraries near you have a copy of your desired title (which is really useful if you see an interesting title in an article or bibliography, or hear a cool book mentioned on NPR). 

"Regular" WorldCat requires exactness: knowing the exact title (with all of the words in the correct order). What if you know some of the words? Or part of the author’s name? Or maybe just a subject area and a keyword or two? That's when the added value kicks in. Using WorldCat’s Advanced Search removes the necessity to be exact. Now, rather than exactness, the search boxes allow you to browse, wander and discover. You could find books with Ancient Rome in the title, and food in the keyword section. Or type in the keywords "quantum physics" and limit the audience to juvenile. Would you believe there are ten results?

Discovering the Advanced Search for WorldCat opened a whole new spectrum of searching: browsing. I had been a zealous advocate of its usefulness, but using only "regular" searching had limited the usefulness of the tool. A thorough exploration of its interface revealed the coveted Advanced Search feature and more. Searching through the website was like rediscovering a treasure; it heightened my understanding of the potential of the tool and gave me a new appreciation of its application. Tools help us make sense of our world and give us a sense of power; through the acquisition of new skills and information. 

Monday, July 30, 2012

New Community Resource

The Newest Public Library
Not far from Prep, a new library has opened. Its sparkling freshness surprises you. Playfully, it re-defines the idea of library, and brings the scale to a new and delightful level.

Nestled in a mountain community northeast of Prep, this small-scale lending library creates an opportunity for socializing and sharing of resources.

Everything about the design invites the reader into the space
- your eye is drawn to the contents, visible through the door,
- your hand reaches for the latch, anticipating the softness of the covers as you draw your finger down the spines browsing the titles.
- your lips form a smile as you notice the star just below the peak of the roof.

Don't you wish you had one in your neighborhood?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Sage Hill's Library
Deep in Orange County, tucked against the foothills near Crystal Cove State Park, is the Sage Hill School.

Remarkably, our drive to this spectacular school was traffic-free and we arrived early enough to collect some moments of Zen at Roger’s Gardens, an oasis of botanical artistry. Relaxing into a Zen state was a good thing, because the complexity of information we received at the ISLE spring meeting lit up the overload warning sign in my brain.

We were treated to a dozen 3 minute vendor presentations on eBooks and databases, and then set free to network, clarify, and mingle with the eContent vendors.

What was the big deal?
Instantaneous delivery: Access to electronic versions of fiction, reference, and non-fiction works. Available 24/7. One user or many. Across multiple platforms (Kindle, iPhone, etc.), on your server or their cloud.

 As a consumer, a library could buy a license, pay an annual usage fee, or purchase the electronic file. A library could use the services of a vendor to purchase a block of eContent or customize their own collection. Access to eContent could be through the library’s own online catalog, or through a link to the vendor’s slick, high-appeal website. A couple of vendors offered aggregating services: where the library’s resources (print, database and eContent) are collected and searched simultaneously.

botanical artistry at Roger's Gardens

But, how to choose? Or, should we choose? Who will be left standing from this starting line-up of vendors in 5 years?

The meeting brought a tighter focus to some of the eContent issues our profession is discussing, and also a sense of wonder…how is this going to play out? What will become the industry standard, the best practice? For the present, we are planning to ask our Prep community what their eContent needs and desires are.

I’m thankful to be a part of a vocal and pro-active group like ISLE, because I know the discussions about eContent will continue to evolve in a thoughtful way, with an eye to the future and to our respective communities.

-Mrs. Eldridge

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Day 3

More talent: from Colorado Academy
 Seeing the student art at Alexander Dawson School created a powerful hunger for more art. So, instead of lunch today, I headed for the art district on Santa Fe. Not surprisingly, I got on the bus headed the wrong way. A kindly soul inquired, "how long are you staying in Denver?" And the words of the well-traveled came back to me: don't read your map in public. "Was it the map that gave me away?" I ventured. We talked for a while, and I learned that there is an amazing synergy happening in Denver: a networking haven for entrepreneurs. My public transportation companion, who is studying entrepreneurship, is interning at the networking haven (Battery 621) and invited me for a tour.

Battery 621 is both pure genius and absolute simplicity: a place to share ideas and resources. There are glassed-in conference rooms for sit-down meetings and tall round tables for gathering and brainstorming.There is a full kitchen for planned or impromptu eating experiences- because food brings people and ideas together.

The space is open and expansive, populated by energetic folks involved in producing products and services that support the outdoor experience in Colorado. But that's not all: the space can transform. Merchandise displays are housed on large scale moving walls that can showcase the season's latest snowboarding attire -and a moment later become an neutral facade.

Entrepreneurs can rent space at Battery 621, joining clothing and equipment manufacturers, graphic designers, artists, marketing and advertising specialists. Or, you can rent a work-space by the hour. The concept has the support of the mayor and the governor and has received awards and positive press.

When I visited, the place was humming with activity. Kelly Mossoni, the networker/manager/organizer of Battery 621 and representative for Spyder gear speculated with me about the nature of collaboration. It just helps to talk things out, we agreed. This very morning we were talking about nurturing ideas in our morning break-out session. Brenda, an awesome librarian who was in our group, commented that she sometimes just needs to talk an idea through, and that having a good listener is essential.Then it hit me- the reason Battery 621 had my head spinning-: it mirrors the process of our AISL conference: talking, ideas, collaborating and networking. The value of birthing, nurturing and implementing ideas. What we generate through collaboration and cooperation can be spectacular. Finding that out was worth getting lost.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Day 2

student work from Alexander Dawson School, Boudler
Gobsmacked. Just a jaw-dropping amazing day. From our speaker and schools, to the "Frock-Out" event; Denver has exceeded my expectations....again. Check out the work from students at the Alexander Dawson School in Boulder.

 We returned late from the "Frock Out" event, which is an annual fundraiser for a culturally enriching series of activities for adults, hosted by the Denver Public Library. It was the place to be and to be seen.
From the content of our sessions today, to the schools (and their creative talents), to our AISL group, today has filled our senses.
Isn't this amazing?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Day 1

LoDo, Denver

Wheeeee! Rode the B-cycle to the hotel this morning, crisp (39° F) air filling my lungs, the streets still quiet.  The sweet bed-n-breakfast where I am staying is in the “LoDo” neighborhood. The Victorian style homes are being painted, prepped and pampered. Sidewalks are slabs of textured red rock, rolling out down the street. As I zoomed (an exaggeration, no doubt) toward the hotel, the early shift of Yoga devotees poured out of the studio, lilting toward their cars and bicycles. At the hotel, click! I returned the B-cycle to a rack and boarded the bus with 120 other librarians. Then the real work began. We traveled to Graland Country Day School for breakfast and an author visit.

We wrote an entirely silly sentence as an exercise. Our first speaker, Ingrid Law, is an author and Newbery Award winner. She encouraged us to put the editor away and write with abandon, to embrace metaphor and the power of the story.  She showed us the way words “move;” the roll of the sounds, the structure of the letters. Words that move are fun. They help create pictures and emotions.  Sometimes, there just isn’t the right word. That’s when making up words is essential. Ingrid shared her favorite made up words with us. Here’s one: jim-jammed – when you are really nervous about something.

In our digital storytelling workshop, I wrote a digital composition, collecting pictures, audio and narration. It is easy to see how a digital composition could be effective for personal stories, poetry interpretation, framing historical events, and promoting library services.

After a powerwalk to lunch, we heard a lecture on plagiarism called, “No More Cat and Mouse.” Before I tell you more about this one, I need to relive the lecture through my notes.  There was abundant information, theory and practical application. 

The best thing about today was the intangibles. Watching the elementary school students flee the classroom to recess, then return, filled with anticipation for their next lesson. 

A wide-eyed Denver cat greeted me when I returned this evening, hinting at a shared chicken dinner. It has been a full first day. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Visions of Denver

Denver's B-Cycles: Borrow one here; leave it over there.

The librarians set a course for Denver in a week. Won't you come along - virtually? It's going to be a meet-up of librarians from all over the United States and Canada. From Hawaii to New Hampshire; Toronto to Coconut Grove. Our common denominator: we are private school librarians, working with young people; making information and resources available to our school communities.

Our personal passions: as varied, wonderful and unique as we are. One of our group raises guide dogs, another is a rancher. Lots of us love to travel: to see things through a different lens, to deeply experience the moment we are in.

Each year we visit a different area. Last year, we descended on San Francisco, the year before - Nashville, and before that - Las Vegas. Part of the joy of the conference is seeing different areas of Canada and the United States; soaking up the geography, history and culture of the region. We enjoy seeing how the schools are regionally different, but essentially the same in their mission: ensuring access to information and resources and creating a supportive, warm environment for the students and school community.

Stayed tuned for more entries of the Rocky Mountain travel blogs...

Mrs. Eldridge

Monday, April 2, 2012


On my To-Read shelf

The Never-ending Book Quiz caught my eye first.  I’m one of those people who gravitates toward quizzes, with topics as varied as “How Healthy are You?,” “Name all the State Capitals in 5 Minutes,” “Find your Decorating Style by Answering These 20 Questions,” “Fill in the Elements on the Periodic Table,” and pretty much anything you’d find on Jeopardy.  Librarians are, by nature, curious.  While we can’t know everything, we’re armed with mad skills, enabling us to find nearly anything.  As you might imagine, as a librarian, I felt quite smug about taking the Neverending Book Quiz.  After taking it numerous times (because it’s never-ending), I’ve been properly put in my place, with only an 18-correct-answer winning streak.  There are dozens of book quizzes on Goodreads, but this one’s my favorite.
One of my favorite titles

Goodreads is a great website, like Facebook with a literary bent, great for keeping track of books you’ve read and books you’d like to read, seeing what your friends are reading and recommending, finding book trivia or quotations, information about authors, and taking or creating book quizzes.  Unlike some so-called reviewers on Amazon, who might simply write that their book arrived late (1-star) or have a gripe against an author (e.g. a liberal reader writing about a conservative author, even though they’ve never read the book), Goodreads reviews are usually bona fide reviews—what the reader liked/didn’t like about the writing, the plot, the format, etc.  Some reviews can still be snarky (I’m a real fan of this review of The Elegance of the Hedgehog), but even this review, like most on this site, is on-point and can be helpful if you’re on the fence about whether to read a particular book. 

Are you a reader?  A quizmaster?  Both?  Join your soulmates at Goodreads!

Mrs. Hodge

Thursday, March 15, 2012


"Lazy Girl Shawl"

Knitting. It's doing something to my brain. Affecting how I think and even dream. Could it be the mathematical nature of the craft? Or the patterns and colors?
Whatever is happening, it is powerful, in a good way. Dreams have turned to technicolor-wonder productions, and I'm counting everything.... Maybe it's the synergy between the left and right hands, working together to coax the yarn into a new loop.

Sometimes, an undoing of the loops happens, which is called tinking, or to tink (which is clever because tink is knit spelled backwards). When the tinking becomes ridiculous, I whine, check the pattern, count stitches and attack with renewed conviction. And tink again.

A kind-hearted friend listened to my story of tinking woe. She suggested that I hold my finger on the wrapped stitches (some stitches don't get "looped" they simply wrap themselves around the knitting needle and ride along). It worked. The tinking stopped. Everyone was getting looped, and those that weren't, were riding along. My kind-hearted friend was confident in her diagnosis and gentle with her prescription for a solution. It was a textbook teachable moment. The right questions were asked, she figured out what I didn't know and offered a strategy for understanding the problem.

It was interesting, in a clinical sense, to be on the don't-know-what-I-don't-know side of learning. It was also frustrating. There are a couple of lessons about learning, frustration, not knowing and teachable moments that I can pull from my current knitting experiences. Applying them with an overlay of gentle, kind-hearted confidence is what I hope to do as the student's spring research papers reach their conclusions.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


When in Old Town, I might try 21 Choices.  At The Counter, I can choose the Asian Veggie burger in a bowl, or go crazy choosing amongst the amazing gastronomic delights in the toppings, sauces, meats, and buns.  Ordering takes time.  Heck, it took me over 5 years, building my ideal car online (make, model, color, interior, options, mileage, frequency of repair records via Consumer Reports), to finally purchase my sweet little Acura RSX. 

 In our library, we have 15,000+ choices...books on a myriad of topics, novels dystopian, tragic, hilarious, poignant, romantic, and thought-provoking.  My literary tastes are varied:  I'm currently reading a book about Aboriginal art,  Of Human Bondage, and a Kindle copy of a book about organizing.  Sometimes, the choices are too numerous to settle on a single choice.  However, one title intrigued me when I read the review, and I knew that I had to read it the moment we received it from our book company. I wasn't disappointed!  Here's a book trailer for Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

The cover alone is a draw...a vintage photo of a sullen little girl, levitating a few inches off the ground.  Readers of dystopian fiction, such as The Hunger Games trilogy, The Giver, and fantasy, such as A Wrinkle in Time (remember that from your childhood?) should enjoy this quirky book about an orphanage with strange children with even stranger  powers.  My first reaction was that it would make a fantastic film; well, guess what?  Tim Burton already grabbed the movie rights and got Jane Goldman to write the screenplay.  Burton has that creative mix of genius and eccentricity to do this book justice. 

So, we have 15,000 choices.  You haven't checked out a book this year???   I guarantee we have something you'll love!

Mrs. Hodge

Monday, January 30, 2012

Stalking Saturn

Saturn's Majesty, in the Infrared

Saturn and those fabulous rings. Rings that make a scientific and aesthetic statement. Rings that capture our imagination and challenge our notion of what is possible. Remember making the model of our Solar System in elementary school? Did you agonize over what to use for Saturn’s rings? Fuzzy pipe cleaners? A slice of Styrofoam? (a definite carving disaster) Should there be glitter?

But while the model was interesting, Saturn and a host of other planets and stars are up there in the sky, visible and accessible. Ever had a wonder-moment of stargazing – when someone points out Polaris, the Big Dipper, and if you’re lucky, Saturn? Except 5 minutes later, the sky returns to dots. Just dots. Nothing looks like a dipper. But everything looks like a dot.

That is my dilemma: a deep interest in astronomy, yet a lack of navigational skills. The stories about the stars and planets, however, kept my interest alive. The mythic Olympian crowd and their in-fighting, the all-knowing Zodiac (“You’re especially intuitive today… and feeling very optimistic”) and the brilliant, awe-inspiring scientific discoveries.  I’ve existed on their stories alone until very recently.

This is what happened:
One evening last week, I saw a group of our neighbors gathered on the street: necks craned, phones pointed at the sky. Ambling aimlessly (zombie-like would be accurate, but I’ll refrain from using the z-word because I like my neighbors).  Turns out, far from being undead, they were using an app that brings information about the celestial bodies to you: interpreting the heavens, literally from where you stand. Want to see Saturn? Jupiter? The trajectory of the Sun and where it will set? (Think of the photo opportunities here…knowing exactly where the sunset will be. No more last-minute dashes around trees or rocks to capture the perfect sunset). The immediacy of information is incredible and powerful.

So I joined my neighbors in the street, tracking Saturn, the moon, and finding Polaris. I don’t know why it is so wonderful knowing which celestial body is which. It just is. To be able, at last, to smile up into the night sky and say good evening to Saturn: it’s wonderful. To stalk Saturn across the heavens: exhilarating. Now the stories and the physical nature of the cosmos can coexist in my reality.

That’s the beauty of learning something new. Everything else adjusts to let the new knowledge in, and once the dust settles, you find your brain ticking just a little bit faster- checking for parallels, bridges to new ideas, inconsistencies and applications.

(a few titles  -available at the Chandramohan Library- to whet your appetite for celestial information:

How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming. –Mike Brown (call number: 523.492 BRO).
Powers of Ten: About the Relative Size of Things in the Universe. –Philip Morrison and Phylis Morrison, and  the Office of Charles and Ray Eames. (call number: 523.1 MOR).
Galileo’s Daughter: A Historical Memoir of Science, Faith and Love. –Dava Dobel. (call number: 520.92 SOB).
A Walk Through the Heavens: A Guide to Stars and Constellations and Their Legends. – Milton D. Heifetz and Wil Tirion (call number: 523.8 HEI).
Moonscapes: A Celebration of Lunar Astronomy, Magic, Legend and Lore. –Rosemary Ellen Guiley. (call number: 523.3 GUI).
Origins: Fourteen Billion Years of Cosmic Evolution. –Neil deGrasse Tyson and Donald Goldsmith (call number: 523.1 TYS).)

-Mrs. Eldridge

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

What We Make and Who We Are

Taylor Mali is a contemporary poet I’ve only recently discovered.  I received a link from a librarian colleague that impressed me so much, I feel compelled to share it with you…

Yes, this poem is about teachers, but I’d like to take a little leap into the topic of *What Librarians Make*.  Our careers are on the line in many school districts across the country.  Some administrators call the position of librarian antiquated.  One independent school in Massachusetts took the radical step of ridding the library of all its print books, purchased more computers and Kindles, and added a coffee machine to their former library.  Said the headmaster, “When I look at books, I see an outdated technology, like scrolls before books.” (Boston Globe, “Welcome to the Library. Say Goodbye to the Books” by David Abel.  4Sep, 2009.) What???  Have we not kept thousands of beautifully illuminated scrolls and manuscripts in our libraries and institutions of higher learning, despite the advent of the printed book?  Not all books in or out of print are available in electronic format.  Not all Google sites are created equal. 

So, back to my original thought…What Librarians Make…we make books, periodicals, scholarly journals, vetted websites, media, and databases available for our library users.  We slog through  less-than-accurate web sources to supply the very best information for students and teachers.  We help students find strategies to develop research skills, how to evaluate websites, how to cite sources, and, of course, how to find great books to read.  There’s more, but I won’t belabor the point. 

The bottom line?  The old model of the librarian and library are long gone, but they’ve morphed into something pretty darned exciting.  The incorporation of databases, eBooks, rss feeds, blogs, wikis, QR codes, and a wide variety of media haven’t replaced the books and periodicals we already have.  Technology works alongside print material and traditional media.  It can enhance the information and literature we find in print and often makes it readily available to many users at once.  I can’t think of a better career.

Mrs. Hodge