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