Thursday, December 19, 2013

Every Voice Celebrated


Just got back from my Grandson’s “Non-Holiday” performance. I’m not kidding….the word holiday is not mentioned. What?

I feel so grateful to be here, a place that is happy and free to allow celebration for everyone, no matter what their beliefs. This season at Prep, we have three gift drives going on at the same time: under a Christmas tree is Holidays for Hillsides. Near the librarian’s desk is an overflowing box of toys for the Toys for Tots drive. In Mr. Baker’s room, the Latin Club is holding a toy drive for kids in need.
Yesterday, faculty and staff gathered with their kids to meet Santa in the Library. Later in the evening, our Winter Music Concert had something for everyone! Prep is a place of incredible tolerance . . . a place not afraid to celebrate “the holidays” and what it means to you.
 Happy Holidays
-Mrs. Ursettie

Monday, November 18, 2013

John Fitzgerald Kennedy, November 22, 1963

I will always remember where I was when I heard the news that President Kennedy had been shot.  I was at Robert A. Millikan Junior High in the San Fernando Valley, in Senior Girls’ Glee Club, when Mr. Burrill’s voice came over the speakers in our classrooms.  Miss Gray, our teacher, fainted.  We were all stunned.  The day was a blur of tears and worried students and teachers having conversations about what would happen to our country.  Would the Soviet Union take advantage of this opportunity to attack us?  (Remember, this was still during the Cold War.)  As this day approaches, it seems the perfect time to share sites that are commemorating this important date in our country’s history. 

The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum has posted JFK 50: Celebrate the past to awaken the future on their website.  There is a video introduction and links to downloads and resources to community photo galleries, links to digital archives, PBS & NPR programming, the National Civil Rights Museum, and much more!

iTunesU and University of Virginia’s Professor Larry Sabato have created a free online course “The Kennedy Half Century,” which is available through the iTunes U app or the iTunes Store.  Read the pdf here.
I hope that you'll consider watching a program on television/TED talks/YouTube, reading from the above websites, or listening to NPR or other special programs on this 50th anniversary. 

Mrs. Hodge


Thursday, October 31, 2013

What's wrong with this picture...beside the obvious?

If you guessed that Mrs. Eldridge is missing, you would be 100% correct!  Our Halloween costumes are for two, instead of three.  You can see by the cool posts that Mrs. Eldridge is blogging from Monterey at the Internet Librarian conference, while Mrs. Ursettie and I are holding down the fort here. 

Anyone who knows us knows that Halloween is a big deal in our library.  Here are a couple of reminders of Halloweens past:  Enjoy, and have a happy Halloween!

Mrs. Hodge

Biker Librarians, 2008


Diner waitresses/busboy, 2011

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


Happy Girl Kitchen's Cafe

Better looking than an Instagram photo, and way better than conference food, Happy Girl Kitchen delivered a sensual feast this afternoon. It was a combination of enjoyable factors: hip music, real food, and the warm welcome from Jordan* during our visit.

Preserving and serving food is the focus at Happy Girl Kitchen. The big, open kitchen gives depth to the space and the store is dotted with displays and information about preserving and enjoying food.

In an article in the local food magazine, Edible Monterey Bay, Jordan writes, “ Today’s world seems to be moving at a faster and faster pace. We are inundated with information and choice and bombarded with stimulation.” Exactly how I feel at the end of a superb but intellectually taxing conference.

the kitchen
Information overload sneaks up on you. One moment you’re at the top of your game, learning new techniques, trying on new ideas. The next moment it feels like the little nubs on the picture puzzle are missing  - and all the pieces are shifting and moving – and you struggle to hold it all together.

Soul-satisfying comfort is my antidote: a replenishing meal, a good read, or a quiet space in the library. We actively seek balance during times of overload. And although it never occurred to me until it was pointed out at this Internet Librarian conference: libraries offer opportunities for both overload and solace. Computers, Internet, photocopiers, and study rooms, but also quiet spaces- window seats, overstuffed chairs, views of trees and mountains. And while these opposites do not define a library, because a library is so much more, it speaks to the versatility of the institution and its responsiveness to the needs of its users.

*Jordan Champagne is co-owner and founder of Happy Girl Kitchen.

-Mrs. Eldridge

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


Historic Monterey

It was raining in yoga class this morning. Literally. Our instructor named the downpour, “the sacred fountain.” I like that: reclassifying a leaking, rain-soaked roof into a source of joy.

Later this morning, in “Research is Not a Straight Line: Effectively Teaching Search” we learned to reclassify our instructional disasters. When your keyword search turns up something unexpected during an instructional demonstration, cheerfully remark, “How fascinating!” This provides two opportunities: first, it buys you more time to think – how can I turn this disaster into a teachable moment? And second, when you do come up with an explanation of the results, it allows your audience to see that making mistakes is a valuable part of the process of researching. When we move away from framing our results as mistakes, we are catapulted into a discovery process that improves our search skills.  (Thank you to Tasha Bergson-Michelson for the “how fascinating!” strategy).

The first day of Internet Librarian 2013 is drawing to a close. My sessions were all engaging and worthy of further discussion. About nine hundred librarians are registered for the conference, representing 45 states and 6 countries, flooding Monterey with our presence. It’s nice to be here.

-Mrs. Eldridge

Wednesday, October 9, 2013


Newsstand billboard in Pasadena
Being in the classroom when students unleash a fury of curiosity is pretty awesome.
 Because curiosity fuels learning,
the questions drive the search for understanding.

Picture this: a group from the class of 2017 gather in the library’s computer classroom. They are tasked with evaluating research sources and learning a new software program.

What makes the experience rewarding is the students’ reaction to information: curiosity.
There was a lively debate about content and authenticity of websites. Comments I heard ran like this: “I’m not sure this site is good enough…..I notice that….” And “I see an ad on the website – that makes me wonder – how good is this site?”

The students challenged their sources; books, databases and websites – questioning their usefulness and authenticity. They were not simply consumers of information, but active participants in the process of evaluation.

With a minimum of instruction, they learned a new software program called Noodletools. But that’s not the remarkable part. What is remarkable is their drive to explore and understand how each part works together to support the whole program.

Two students – driven by their own curiosity and moving beyond the limited instruction- created online notecards with Noodletools. They distilled information from their sources on the notecards. Together, they figured out that the software can link a notecard to a bibliographic citation. After a moment or two of experimentation, they succeeded – and created the link. They explored the limits of the software through curiosity, figuring out that it would be logical for the software program to link bibliographic information to notecards, and then experimenting with the software until they discovered the linking mechanism. There was no instruction given on creating notecards and linking them….just the motivation of curiosity.

It was a remarkable three days. Mrs. Hodge and I always appreciate the opportunity to work with students. If we can share our passion for information and research and pass along strategies for research success, that’s pretty cool. But if the synergy between librarians and students creates a culture of curiosity, then – that’s just awesome.

-Mrs. Eldridge

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Who Knew?

Today started out just like every other ordinary day until I looked at my Prep email. What I call ordinary quickly changed. Our job as librarians can be extraordinary; we can be called friend.
Our very own alumni author and columnist, Emily Ansara Baines '03 (The Unofficial Hunger Games Cookbook, The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook) sent the following along this morning. With her permission, it is reposted here:
-Mrs. Ursettie

Libraries Are My Safe Place (Or, How I Learned to Wave My Freak Flag)

Libraries Are My Safe Place

Librarians were my first editors. Their constructive criticism always came with a healthy dose of encouragement. And, of course, we would recommend books to each other.

I was a weird kid.
Granted, most of us after the age of 25 look back on our high school years and label ourselves “weird.” With vocalized self-reflection comes the mass realization that no one during those painful adolescent years considered themselves “normal.” Perhaps that’s why teens are so mean to one another—they’re all trying to fit in and hide their oddities. Only with age do we realize that all of us are freaks.
I waved my Freak Flag too proudly for an eighth-grader hoping to survive unscathed. Long black velvet skirts, hair shorter than a boys, dark eyeliner, large big-rimmed hats a la Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady — I wasn’t “goth,” but I definitely wasn’t like the rest of the girls shopping at Delia’s and Limited Too.
I also had a hard time making friends. My desperation for companionship permeated out of me like condensation on a coke can during a warm summer’s day. I was desperate for friendship. And that anxiety made me a far from attractive friend.
A specific example comes to mind. At lunch one day, I sat near – but not at – the “cool kids” table. Over peanut butter and jelly sandwiches they discussed the movie Titanic with a weightiness that even Roger and Ebert didn’t dare. It was no longer seventh grade — Titanic had stopped being cool. Leo was “out.” A film nerd along with a book nerd, I thought I might have an opinion worth hearing.
“I liked the editing,” I spoke up, frowning as my voice cracked. My cheeks burned with embarrassment—and also hope. Maybe they would listen. Maybe this was my way to prove I had opinions worth sharing.
The kids looked at me, then turned back to one another. They didn’t even bother to snicker. Instead, they continued their discussion as if I hadn’t spoken at all.
I turned to the library.
I was never very confident when it came to talking to my peers, but I loved talking to adults. With adults, there was less subterfuge: communication was less of a game where I didn’t know the rules. I said what I meant and they weren’t offended. We could have a conversation about a book without some other kid in my class falsely hearing I bad-talked her behind her back.
And so, that’s what I did. Every day during nutrition break and lunch I would visit school librarians Mrs. Hodge and Mrs. Ursettie. After they kindly reminded me I wasn’t allowed to bring Diet Coke into the library, we would discuss our weekends. I’d tell them my most private hopes and fears. Unlike my fellow students, they listened to my review of Titanic with nods of the head, adding their own opinions, and even recommended some books on filmmaking.
The librarians were my first editors. Their constructive criticism always came with a healthy dose of encouragement. And, of course, we would recommend books to each other. Other than Mrs. Leidenthal, whom I’ve written about before on Read It Forward, the librarians were my first real friends at Flintridge Prep. In a setting fraught with emotional peril, they made me feel safe.
Recently, I’ve been lucky enough to substitute teach at my old high school. This has given me a perspective on my educational experience that I don’t think I would have otherwise attained. Once viewing the school through the eyes of a student, I now look at it as a teacher.
While Flintridge Preparatory has changed a great deal since I last attended – including an impressive library renovation – what made that library great has remained: Mrs. Ursettie and Mrs. Hodge (a new employee, Mrs. Eldridge, is also fantastic and kind). If anything, the librarians are even more involved in the day-to-day activities of the school. Classes take place in the computer lab on the second floor of the library, and research projects require students to discuss different research methods with the librarians.
And, of course, there’s always the student or two who reminds me of myself at a young age. She (or he) comes in more than the other students. She doesn’t always want help with homework. Sometimes she just wants to talk. Sometimes she just wants company; or for someone older and possibly wiser to listen to and validate her opinions.
Going to the school library at Flintridge Prep is like going to therapy, but without the supposed stigma of being sent to the doctor’s office. At the library, students—readers and non-readers alike—can be heard.
[Photo Credit: 501Room /]
Do you love your local library? Tell us why in the comments!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Road Trip

Not a bad place to break down:
 a nursery in Somis, California
 and a sweet sunset..
I wasn't sure what to grab. Everything was moving out of phase, in a crazy syncopated rhythm, bouncing and hitching beyond control.
 I stole a glance at my husband. He looked serene. Perhaps even a hint of joy on his face.
“You don’t seem fazed by this,” I ventured.
“It was the book you gave me, From Peking to Paris….you know, about the car rally? It shifted my perspective. It’s all about the process - and the satisfaction of being on the road.”

60 miles later, the tow truck deposited us at home, along with our RV. Despite being jostled and delayed, the adventure of road travel was still upon us. Later, looking through our library’s collection for more books about road travel, I realized something about the lure of the road trip: it’s a modern day quest.Characters move through a variety of settings and discover things about themselves. Time changes: stretching a little to allow full absorption of the setting. Just when things are getting mellow, fate jumps in to twist the plot. Where you go and how you get there becomes less important than the essence of the road trip: enjoying the process.

Road Trip themed book titles
(available in the Chandramohan Library):

Travels with Charley: In Search of America
"...a one-man, one-dog account of the expedition in which he recaptures his familiarity with America. He set out with some misgiving, not sure his health would stand up to the 10,000-mile journey he envisioned; as he traveled, the years sloughed off him, and the eager, sensuous pages in which he writes about what he found and whom he encountered frame a picture of our human nature in the twentieth century which will not soon be surpassed."*
            Steinbeck, John
Call #: 917.9
Rules of the Road
[A trip to save a shoe store helps Jenna Find her fit.]
            Bauer, Joan.
An Abundance of Katherines
[what’s the formula for not getting dumped?]
Green, John
On the Road
[Sal and Dean’s classic road trip across America]
            Kerouac, Jack
13 Little Blue Envelopes
[Ginny’s Aunt sends her on a scavenger hunt across Europe.]
Johnson, Maureen.

Excellent article on how 3 road trips transformed American culture: the Highwaymen-a group of artists who took their art on the road and circumvented the racially exclusionary nature of the gallery world; the story of Alice Huyler Ramsey who took a drive across the country in 1909, contrary to the popular belief that women shouldn’t drive; and John Muir’s 1,000 mile trek and communion with nature. Available in the library [“How the Road Trip Shaped America.” Mental Floss: July/August 2013].

Other titles not in the Prep library:
Peking to Paris: Life and Love on a Short Drive Around Half the World.
            Bennett, Dina.
I See by My Outfit:Cross-country by Scooter, An Adventure.
            Beagle, Peter.

*from a 1962 review in The Atlantic.

Mrs. Eldridge

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Life-changing list

This is a follow-up to my last post about what I was reading over the summer.  I read some wonderful books!  Not all of them were on my original list; my book group added a couple titles I wouldn’t normally think of reading, and I found one or two on my stack at home and another on my Kindle that I picked up.  *Best Read of the Summer*, The Book Thief, which is on my top-ten-of-all-time list. 
Amazon image
The writing is exquisite, the characters are unforgettable, and the concept of having Death as the narrator is genius.  If you’ve not read this book, do yourself a favor and come check it out (or check it out at your local library.)  I was late getting on board with this title, and now I’m anxious to pick up I Am the Messenger, which I have heard from students, is also a great read.

As summer came to an end, my September issue of Real Simple magazine came in the mail.  The article that most intrigued me was called “The Life-Changing List.”  Authors from various disciplines and genres were asked which book was the one “that moved them most.” 
The 50 titles range from Alice in Wonderland to The Education of the Gardener to Without Feathers by Woody Allen.  It piqued my interest to see this mix of titles, some recommended by authors I know and love.  Now, I plan to add two more titles to my list of books to read during the year:  Dandelion Wine and The Benchley Roundup.  I really enjoyed Fahrenheit 451 in high school, and I actually met Ray Bradbury at a production of the play at the Fremont Centre Theatre in South Pasadena.  It never occurred to me that I might enjoy Dandelion Wine and no one had ever suggested I read it.  Author Susan Wiggs says about it, “The whole world is in this novel: fear and acceptance, joy and sorrow, the circle of life and the passing of the seasons, and the magic of everyday things.”  I picked up our library copy and determined it has seen better days.  A new copy has been ordered and I plan to be first at Prep to check it out!  Humorist Robert Benchley wrote one of my favorite quotes: “It took fifteen years for me to discover I had no talent for writing, but I couldn’t give it up because by then I was too famous.”  His essays were published in many publications, including The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, and Life, and he inspired many writers and comedians.  I enjoy reading humorous observations about life and the human condition.  We have two Robert Benchley titles in our collection, and I plan to start with one of those

What books have moved you?  We'd love to hear from you, either in the comments section, below, or in person.  If you're too shy, you can write us a note or send an email.  We are always open to suggestions from students, parents, teachers and alumni of great books we should add to our Prep library!

Mrs. Hodge

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Summer Reading: A Love Story

Summer vacation is nearly upon us, which means several key things to me: 
1. I will usually sleep in, maybe even past 8 a.m.
2. I will get to spend more quality time with my children and grandchildren.
3. I’ll play more tennis and do more ‘round-the-Rose Bowl walking with Mrs. Ursettie, and
4. I will have the opportunity to catch up on my long-neglected reading list!  

So, the first three are self-explanatory.  “But,” you may be asking yourself, “I wonder what Mrs. Hodge has on her reading list?”  Well, wonder no more…I will be happy to share a sampling of the titles I hope to read over the summer!

·    The Book Thief by Markus Zusak—I can’t believe I haven’t read this yet!  Everyone who has read it tells me it’s phenomenal, and how can one not read a book whose narrator is Death?
·    The Jesuit Guide to (almost) Everything—Pope Francis is a Jesuit & I loved James Martin’s book My Life with the Saints, so I’m looking forward to this one.  His writing is informative, but full of humor and decidedly not dull and dry.
·    Tender at the Bone: Growing up at Table by Ruth Reichl—The famed food critic describes her relationship with food, beginning with living with a mother who would literally put whatever was in the refrigerator all together and serve it, even if that food was “past its prime.”  I heard her on an old NPR program, discussing her family and how she learned to cook in self-defense.  Hilarious.  Also, Cat S., a lovely senior, told me how much she loved this book and I trust her judgment.
·    The Dressmaker by Kate Alcott—This is my book group’s selection for June, I’ll be reading it soon.  This is historical fiction, a story of a young woman who has survived the sinking of the Titanic.  This isn’t something I’d usually pick up, but I know I need to broaden my horizons.  I may just enjoy it!
·    Of Human Bondage by Somerset Maugham—The Moon and Sixpence, also by Maugham, is one of my favorite all-time books.  Anjali B., a wonderful Prep grad also loved it, and she asked if I had read Of Human Bondage, which she also enjoyed.  I hadn’t, so it’s on my list.

This is only a partial list…meanwhile, here are some books I’d like to suggest for our faithful blog-readers (without annotation, since you can easily click on the links to Amazon or look on for that information!):

Wishing you a great summer, full of good times, good friends, and good reading,

Mrs. Hodge

Friday, May 10, 2013

A Purpose-Driven Library

Peabody Library, Baltimore

Have you seen this library? It is unforgettable – multi-storied stacks and a skylight that spans the entire roof, sending down a shimmer of sunlight. For about an hour, it was ours. Expertly guided through its incredible holdings and history, we soaked up the ambiance and information.
Illuminated Liturgical Song book
This rare liturgical book of songs was created in the 1400s, explained Paul Espinosa, our guide and curator of the Peabody Library. It was the work of several monks who lined, inked notes and illuminated letters. Paul handled the pages of this book as if touching a 15th century artifact was something he did every day – in other words – quite naturally and without gloves.
When someone asked about touching the vellum pages with bare hands, Paul told us that our fingers are exquisitely sensitive; they apply just enough of the right kind of energy to carefully turn pages. Gloved hands, he reports, are much less sensitive and despite the best intentions, can rip or tear pages. Research has shown that clean, bare hands are the best archival tools.

At this point in our tour, there was a murmuring in our group,
“Sing it, Tinsley….”
“Do you want me to sing it?”
“Yes, yes!”
And then it began: a Song of Benediction -filling the space, lifting the notes off the 15th century pages and into the present-surrounding us with emotional resonance. I don’t think anyone drew a breath until Tinsley sang the final “aleluia." *

The Peabody Library makes an excellent justification for libraries, yet none of their collection circulates. Somehow, our Chandramohan Library with its circulating collection, clarifies the justification for a library; the community is at the center of its purpose.

-Mrs. Eldridge
* Thank you, Tinsley, that was a peak experience.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Saving for the Future

the archivist's tools
If you are lucky enough to have saved a bit of the very essence of your community’s history – then your next task will be daunting: preserving it.

Restoration project
Not to mention organizing it so it can be found again. The Maryland Archives is a treasury of artifacts - from flags and swords from the Civil War to marriage records and maps.

Block-by-block map with layers

This block-by-block map of Baltimore has layers of information – literally. A new scrap of paper was pasted over the building’s location on the map each time a business entity changed. The archivist uncovered the sequential history of the district (each scrap was carefully unglued) and, in the process; the cultural and economic story of the neighborhood came to life. Although the map was created by an insurance adjusting agency, today it lends voice to a story of neighborhood change, where the business climate changed from pickle factory, lumber yard and bath house to theater district.

Triangular Civl War Banner

The Maryland Archives left me in a state of awe, both for the institution’s awareness of the big picture (a clear vision of what defines historical significance) and the attention to detail that restoration and preservation merits.
Marriage records
-Mrs. Eldridge

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Beautiful Baltimore

Mt. Vernon in bloom

Once a year, we change lenses and view the world from a different perspective. This year, Baltimore showed us grace, beauty and charm. From wide-open pastoral settings freckled with flowering cherry trees to inspiring workshops, we experienced Baltimore on a seriously deep level.

Our librarian conference brought over 100 school librarians together for three days of networking, school touring and information sessions.

 Besides the camaraderie and learning, what sticks with me about Baltimore is the sense of place. Sky-piercing church spires, neighborhood entrepreneurs and row houses nestled in the same block: places and spaces with stories to tell.

United Methodist Church, Mt. Vernon

At the lovely B&B where I stayed, none of the doors closed without a nudge, a jiggle or a fiddle to coax them into place. “Hey, this place was built ten years before the first shots of the Civil War,” my host explains, “things have settled a bit since then, and well, we just make allowances for that,” he adds. I loved staying close enough to walk to Red Emma’s bookstore and to a windfall of great eateries. After each day of touring Baltimore, my gracious hosts would ask excitedly what I’d seen – and then add a great story about Baltimore’s history to the day’s take of delights.

Next…..museums and archives.

Day trip to Annapolis

-Mrs. Eldridge

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Read anything Pinteresting lately?

I’m extremely selective when it comes to social media.  It really has to be worth checking daily to enhance the quality of my life, or I'm not interested.  I tried, then dropped Twitter.  I figured if Tina Fey's tweets weren't that interesting, whose would be?  I’m technically a member of LinkedIn, but I never, never use it.  Frankly, I’m not sure why I would ever use it.  I keep in touch with fellow independent school librarians through our handy-dandy listserv through email—the old fashioned way. 
Facebook has been a wonderful link to my kids and grandkids, as well as old friends, and graduates of Prep.  My favorite addition to my tiny arsenal of social media sites has been *Pinterest.* Our family has used it to create a group board for the purpose of planning my daughter’s wedding, I follow boards of Prep graduates, family members, and interesting strangers. I’ve saved books to read, places to go, recipes to try, organizational ideas, cool crafts, helpful handy household hints, and librarian stuff.  Yes, I have a board called “Librarian Stuff.”  It’s a technical term. 

And, along with some of my colleagues from around the country, I contribute to a group board called “Interesting things librarians do in their libraries.”  This is instant networking I can wholeheartedly support!  Above is a fine example of a Banned Books Week display that I’d love to try…

And here is another banned books idea that would be fun…

Who wouldn’t want to have Jon Stewart explain the importance of books? 

Yes, this is librarian geekdom at its very finest!  I guess this is a commercial for Pinterest.  It's great for people who are visual, who are tired of maintaining paper files of good ideas, who want to go to a single place where they can save great stuff to do, to remember, to see, to hear, to read, to eat, to wear, to try.  Check it out to see what Pinterest can do for you!

Mrs. Hodge

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Book spine poetry

April is National Poetry Month, which I’m sure you have all highlighted on your calendars.  To commemorate these 30 days of all manner of verse, we have a display in the upstairs glass case, with lovely poems created with titles from book spines.  We are inviting students to create their own poems to add to our display.  If you think poetry isn’t your thing, consider reading a children’s book, Love that Dog, by Sharon Creech, which will also be in the case; it could change your mind about poetry forevermore. 

Watch for the annual Poetry Slam, held in the lower library reading room, for another chance to share a favorite poem, or two.  Consider carrying a copy of a poem on April 18th, which is “Poem in your Pocket Day.”  Surprise your friends during lunch, as you regale them with verse, be it humorous, dramatic, intense, or romantic.  For you prom-goers, never underestimate the power of a poem recited during the evening.  You can make your evening even more magical!

Mrs. Hodge

Monday, April 1, 2013

5 Things You Can Get at a Library - besides books, magazines and the Internet.....

(spoiler alert: some librarians travel to other libraries - to compare, to "borrow" ideas, become inspired, and revel in library-ness. While this may seem alarmingly nerdy, I can assure you- it's fun.)

If I could, I'd visit every library in the world. Until then, the Internet makes for fine virtual traveling. Here's a sampling of things you can get from libraries other than books, magazines and access to Internet:
Monty, the circulating stress-reliever. Photo used with permission.

1. Dog. Got stress? Check out Monty, the antidote for stress at the Lillian Goldman Yale Law Library. Last week, Monty visited with students, braving cold, wet weather and rolling on the library rug.*

2. Seeds. Spring is here. At Basalt library in Colorado spring planning begins at the library. Not only with gardening books, but with seeds. The library is checking out seed packets selected especially for the area and hopes that library patrons will "return" the seeds after growing and harvesting the "borrowed" seeds from their gardens this year.

3. Office space. Need temporary space to work? Network? Meet? Urban Office in Finland has space for you. You can book a meeting room and even presentation equipment. In 2010, the Helsinki Public Library opened Urban Space and has added two additional spaces for community members to use.

4. Involved. Become an information producer. "Library You" at Escondido Public Library helps patrons showcase their talents. The series of "how to ......." videos are fun and informative.

5.Gems. Beyond the walls of the library are gems: rare and exotic books that exist in faraway locations. The service, Extramural Interlibrary Loans can bring them to you. Recently the book, Two letters of Dom Alvaro de Noronha from Hormuz: Turkish activities along the coast of Arabia, 1550-1552 was loaned to a patron doing research for a doctoral thesis. Steven Kilgore, the librarian in charge of the service, queries: "Isn’t it interesting how a title of one book can inspire you to probe outside the walls of your known universe into the past and ask questions...?"

The folks who work at libraries are innovative. They listen for ideas and look for opportunities to involve their community with the library. They are good listeners. Anything you'd like to say?

Mrs. Eldridge

*I found out about Monty's latest activities by chatting with Sarah, a librarian at Lilian Goldman Yale Law Library, last week. Check out the floating chat icon on the link to the library, it's cool.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Kumbaya Moments: the melding of dance, reading, and more

Here we are in the downstairs reading room and it’s just another day at the library:  students studying together, browsing the bookshelves for some pleasure reading, looking at the 7th grade genealogy museum projects displayed throughout the space, and yes, an upside-down dancer, casually reading a book.   Our dance department’s teacher Molly Mattei, describes their project:  This past week the dance department (grades 8-11) worked on a photo shoot influenced by "Dancers Among Us", a project by Jordan Matter exploring dance in normal, everyday situations. The students came up with some very creative and inspired ideas... In addition to celebrating dance, the photos also showcase our school's beautiful campus."                                                                  

Stretching on the library staircase

Recent & future library events/displays include lunchtime meetings to discuss the new structuring of community service clubs, tutoring in the study rooms, receptions for admitted students for the 2013-14 school year, faculty meetings, Bites of L.A. & Programming Club meetings, Flintridge Press publishing, opportunities to be a Mr. Flintridge Prep escort, & sign-ups for running for class officers.  That isn’t everything, but frankly, I’d rather not have a longer run-on sentence. 

Mrs. Hodge

Monday, February 25, 2013

Fun with LibGuides: what you may be missing in the wide, wide world of reading! (With apologies to Sheldon Cooper and his "Fun with Flags" webcast)

Study like a scholar, scholar

So here’s the thing…we’ve had our LibGuides now for about a year and a half, and I’d be willing to bet that, unless you’ve had a teacher who required you to use one, you’ve never seen them.  That would be a darned shame, to tell you the truth.  The guides are one-stop-shops for research assignments, both specific and general.  We have one which is a go-to for all things research—links to all the databases and where to sign in to get the database usernames and passwords, citation help, access to the library catalog, website evaluation, keyword selection, and even a YouTube video on how to paraphrase to avoid plagiarism!   For your amusement, we’ve included a YouTube parody of the Old Spice ad.

John Green, author
But wait!  There’s more!  If you’d like some helpful handy hints about great books you could be reading, check out (please note the libraryesque phrase!) our guide called, “Books!  Wonderful books!.”  We had our Teen Advisory Board members (10th-12th grade students) suggest titles they’d recommend to their friends, including a group of not-necessarily-literary-gems that instantly draw you in, entitled “Guilty Pleasures.”  Did we stop there?  We did not.  We included blogs of some of the most popular authors, as well as YouTube videos from Laurie Halse Anderson (Speak), Kathryn Stockett (The Help), and John Green (The Fault in our Stars and more).  AND, as if that weren't enough, we have lists of recent award-winning titles that you may want to read.

You there you have it, a post about LibGuides, with links to two of them, along with the New Spice YouTube video.  May they bring you great joy in the days and weeks to come. 

Mrs. Hodge

Monday, February 11, 2013


Amnesty Coffeehouse: the evolution of a club and cultural event
The librarians are often involved in school activities beyond the library walls.  Here's an example of a cause near and dear to my heart:

It was the year 2000 and I was approached by two sophomore boys, asking if I would be the advisor for an Amnesty club.  These were committed young men looking to make a difference in the world and, moved by their passion and vision for what the club could accomplish, I signed on.  Petitions were signed, articles from domestic and foreign publications read at meetings, workshops, and bake sales helped raise money & awareness.  One highlight was a speaker from East Timor, along with a representative from the East Timor Action Network.  East Timor, after being under Indonesian domination, was seeking to become an independent country, and we had donated funds to ETAN to support their cause.  We invited students and teachers to the talk during lunch.  Over 140 people packed into the Miller Theatre and we had to turn people away, as our speaker talked about being assaulted and beaten by soldiers and her country beaten down by years of genocide and intimidation.  It was silent in the crowded room and students and teachers alike were stunned about a part of the world few knew existed.  How exciting that, several months after our program, East Timor became an independent nation! 

This spawned the Amnesty members’ desire to do more and we searched for other worthy causes and led to an 8-year relationship with the Nazoo Anna School for Afghan refugee girls in Peshawar, Pakistan.  Club members corresponded via fax with students (in English!) and our coffeehouse events, beginning in 2001, allowed us to send $2,000+ per year to provide
Huber-Mullins jam
 supplies and help pay teachers’ salaries at the school.  We had a group of Amnesty members who were talented craftspeople, so we sold handmade jewelry, knitwear, candles, t-shirts, etc. at our coffeehouses.  Parents attending coffeehouse made generous donations to support Nazoo Anna, a group assisting people affected by the Bhopal chemical accident in India, and another group fighting FGM (female genital mutilation).  Their generosity over the years has been remarkable.

Magician Rmax at the Magic Castle
often performed at Coffeehouse!
Coffeehouse began as a shout-out to the 1950s and ‘60s poets and folksingers, and we thought it would be an all-acoustic event.  Over the years, it morphed into its own entity.   There are still occasional poets and folksingers, some reading or singing their original work.  There have been violinists, magicians, comedians, and not-so-acoustic bands.  It’s all been wonderful—good work for good causes.  This year’s coffeehouse supports KIVA, an organization lending money to people in poverty-stricken areas of the world, so that they can start businesses of their own.  They repay the loans (individuals may donate as little as $25 at their website), so that others may start businesses and support their families.  Ms. McConnell is Amnesty’s advisor now and it is my hope that she has many satisfying years working with students who care about people and causes all over the world. 

Postscript:  Friday’s Amnesty Coffeehouse was a great success!  Congratulations to the Amnesty members and thanks to the talented participants for a fantastic evening!

Mrs. Hodge