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

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Poetry. Love it? Hate it?

"Some part of me was parched for poetry. Yet when they forced me to drink lots of it, I had no thirst."
-Robert MacNeil in Wordstruck.

This quote leapt off the pages of MacNeil's book and sent me backwards through time..... 

 learning poetry analysis with a fifth grade sour-lemon face. Yet, appreciating poetry has its rewards, as I discovered and with the arrival of our first issue of Poetry, I was swept away.......

From "Ode to the Belt Sander and this Cocobolo Sapwood." by Matthew Neinow.

"The belt kicks on with a whir
 and the whir licks the end grain of the offcut
 with a hint of hesitation.
A small wind of ochre dust . . . "

(There is more, of course, on page 432) 

Poetry like this engages the senses, kicking up memories and engulfing us in another reality. Neinow's poem tells a whole story in just seventeen lines, and its completeness is satisfying. Yet not all poetry presents such completeness. Some poems require you to fill in the gaps, infer the meaning, extrapolate an ending. Kind of like using Google translate, you can get the gist of the translation and create meaning even if some of the parts don't exactly line up.

Poetry magazine is now part of our magazine collection, and is currently living with the book review and literary magazines. I appreciate the selection of poetry, but also the commentary section, which is crisp and stimulating.

By the way, the Chandramohan Library has a lovely poetry collection; written in many voices and perspectives, styles and time periods. The secret codes to poetry are 811, 808, and also 821 (there's even more secret codes than these). Your friendly librarians would be delighted to give you a whirlwind tour and then leave you to your own discoveries. 

-Mrs. Eldridge