Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Reading in the Rain - A Sampling from the Class of 2015

Last week it rained. Which was wonderful for two reasons: first, we needed rain. Second, the seniors  exchanged a soggy senior patio for the warmth of the library. A handful were gathered near the big red reading chairs. Here is a sampling of their reading choices: 

 L.B. class of 2015: Alana the First Adventure by Tamora Pierce. “I’m not reading this now, but if you ask me what book I’ve really enjoyed, it would be the first book in the Alanna series. Tamora Pierce is my favorite author of all time. At my old school, this book got passed from friend to friend, from grade to grade: it was read by lots of people. I’ve recommended it to two people at Prep already today. The main character, Alanna, is not a perfect human – but she still pushes herself to achieve her goal of becoming a knight. Her temper does not go magically away, but she learns to live with herself and her quirks breaking gender stereotypes along the way.”

R.D. class of 2015: Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole.  “I am totally captivated by Confederacy of Dunces. Some people really hate it though. Everyone has met someone like the main character, Ignatius J. Reilly. He is wholly unsatisfied and disgusted with contemporary society, yet he contributes nothing. I see a lot of myself in him. There is a piece of Ignatius in everyone.”

S.M. class of 2015: Deliverance by James Dickey. “The book is harrowing, more so than the movie because the drama is more drawn out. These are normal people in an extraordinary situation: the common man doing uncommon things. The last 100 pages are like pure adrenaline. And, it’s a story about a canoe ride.”


A.P. class of 2015: The Brothers Karamazov by Fodor Dostoyevsky. “I’m not even done with it, but I think you would like it. It is a well-told story and it has the answer to every question you could ever ask. It’s hard to read – but it feels good when you understand it. It envelopes you.”

With clear skies and temperatures near the 80s, it is hard to believe it rained last week - but near the foothills here, I saw the shimmer of new green sprouts on the hillside.  More rain would be nice. Hmmm. More seniors in the library again would be nice, too. 

Mrs. Eldridge

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Faces of Movember

Supporters of Movember in and around the Chandramohan Library at Prep:
Mo Bros hosting a Movember bake sale
Right outside the library's doors, bake sales are held (you can image how this could be good and bad at the same time). Today's sale featured delicious goodies - some hand made by members of the Men's Cross Country team at Prep. Besides the delicious assortment of baked goods, information was available explaining the Movember movement. Alumni James Woolley shared information and good cheer. Alex joined him at the table.

Scroll down. See more Mo Bros and Mo Sisters (surprise at the end):
Mo Bro in the downstairs library

Mo Bro in a study room
Mo Bros in the Conversation Nook
Mo Bros just outside the library
Librarian Mo Sisters
What! You are not surprised that we dressed the part?
 Today we put a different face on, mixing together community and activism in the library. 
-Mrs. Eldridge

Monday, November 3, 2014

It Wasn't all Unicorns and Rainbow Sparkles

Monterey morning

It wasn't all unicorns and rainbow sparkles at the Internet Librarian 2014 this year, but it was a solid look at where the profession is at the moment.

Aside from almost setting my room (and the Portola Hotel and Spa) on fire, it was a flawless trip.

Perfect weather, great sessions.

Nina Simon, from the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History, lit up the stage with her keynote: a story of change and opportunity. A story of risk-taking and creativity during challenging times. As Nina said, "a crisis is a terrible thing to waste." I am in complete agreement with Daniel Cornwall of Alaska, "best keynote I've ever been to" (Daniel's blog has other summaries of sessions from Internet Librarian, and they are good).

Nina's Ted Talk (and blog)

 Josh Hanagarne , the World's Strongest Librarian, reads 200-300 pages a day - and is able to extemporaneously illustrate an idea with the perfect quote from a relevant reading. Oh, what a talent that is. Josh's keynote, both vulnerable and intriguing, unpacked the rhetoric behind the question, "Is Technology Changing our Brains?"  Here are some links you might enjoy:
Josh's keynote from 2013

Tweets from the keynote

Reading list from keynote (partial)

There were more sessions, excellent also. And wonderful, insightful conversations, and kindnesses (thank you, Nancy). I'm grateful for the opportunity to attend, sad to see it end, hopeful for next year.

-Mrs. Eldridge

Thursday, October 30, 2014

David Mitchell Marathon

I have a question for you: what are you reading right now that you cannot put down? Or, what have you read recently that you could not put down? There is a reason I'm wondering: I've just finished a book marathon. It was good. It was delicious, but it's over.

Here is the scoop:
 In style, prose and structure, CloudAtlas is profound; asking life’s most essential questions without smothering the stories. A Prep student and I are debating whether this is our best-book-of-all-time selection.

The high point of the marathon was, The Reason I Jump; The Inner Voice of a 13 Year Old Boy with Autism.  Mitchell co-translated The Reason I Jump and wrote a compelling introduction that sets the stage for Naoki Higashida to tell his story. Emotional and exceptionally truthful, Naoki’s message is straightforward, “don’t give up on us. Please keep battling alongside us.”

Higashida explains, “From your point of view, the world of autism must look like a deeply mysterious place.” The Reason I Jump uprooted my previous model of life on the autistic spectrum.  The essence of Higashida’s world - accepting the mantle of otherness, and revealing its emotional highs and lows- hit a reset button for me. I don’t know what the result will be, but this book not only made me think deeply, but differently. Higashida said, “once you know the other person’s inner self, both of you can be that much closer.”

The Bone Clocks is Mitchell’s newest novel. The plot winds around and through the life the main character, Holly Sykes. The supporting characters are flawed; self-absorbed, snarky, down-on-their-luck, or drowning in grief, yet they are revealed so fully that I adjusted my initial resistance and enjoyed their stories. There is an other-world plot to the story, but I won’t spoil it for you.
It was a marathon of excellent writing, fresh and unpredictable – completely enjoyable. And now, a quest for the next book(s). Any suggestions?
-Mrs. Eldridge

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Spies Like Us.

For 3 days last summer, tech training camp was where the action was: a fusion of technology and teaching. Along with a group of future teachers, I entered an alternate universe. 

The cover: Spies. Complete with official-looking badges and awesome passports.

The mission: to infiltrate the educational system and explore the connection between technology and the learning process.

Super-Special Agents briefed us – introducing tech tools -guiding our efforts.  As teams, practiced our nascent skills and shared discoveries with each other.
Along the way, I recognized the significance of the training camp –as a model of a

-         creative
  -          engaging
        -          collaborative
         and technically enhanced learning community.

Learning from the team was highly valuable – both in acquiring tech skills and in the exchange of ideas about how to use our new skills. 
The spy format kept us engaged and amused – it provided a creative platform for conversation and interaction: a way for the team to laugh and learn together.

At the end of our mission, it was clear that technology can enhance – and yet not overstep – the teacher/student learning experience.
The tech camp, Preparing Tomorrow’s Teachers Today Through Technology, was the result of a grant written to the U.S. Department of Education. Here is a link to some of the areas explored:

 Special thanks to Mala Arthur. I loved camp!!
-Mrs. Eldridge



Wednesday, September 3, 2014


Grady Willard and Bryce Lew
 in the Chandramohan Library
Grady Willard is our guest blogger today and it is with great delight that we share his post with you....

The school year has started. Whether you are new to Flintridge Prep or are returning after a long summer, you are undoubtedly going to be working hard to get back into that usual school routine, make new friends, hang out with old ones, and get to know your teachers and their classes.

But there is one thing that everybody should do, whether you are a Middle Schooler, a rising sophomore, or a senior.

Go talk to the Prep librarians.

More so than any other teachers at Prep, the librarians have the ability to see the big picture in each of our lives. The library sits at the center of Prep’s campus. Walk in and you will undoubtedly get a taste of student life: Student Community Action Council (SCAC) meetings, calculus tutoring, essays and theses in progress and bulletin announcements on upcoming student events. From the windows, you can see the daily grind of sports practices, with swimmers gliding across the pool and the football being tossed between two teammates.

The librarians see everything that happens on the campus. Their relationship with the student body is not just confined to administrative offices or classrooms. They fill in the gaps - those restless free periods, cold and sleepy early mornings, and bright and energetic afternoons - with guidance and friendship. You can walk up to their desk at any time and start talking classes, athletics, student government, community service or anything of the sort that interests you. 

You might be surprised about the stories each of them can tell. Mrs. Ursettie can discuss politics and philanthropy. Mrs. Eldridge can help you formulate theses and help with online technology and Mrs. Hodge can find a book on nearly any research paper topic (and without any trouble!).

 Use their vast knowledge to your benefit when you write a paper for Mr. Perlman’s Honors European History Class on Renaissance art or when you are researching water chemistry for Ms. Clark’s 11th Grade Science Class. All three librarians know the style of writing that Prep teachers are looking for and asking for edits can often help your grade. But the librarians are also eager to hear what you are writing about, give feedback on various arguments you are developing, and point out various ways to approach a topic. Here are just two examples that come to mind: A few months ago, Mrs. Eldridge helped me fine tune a point I wanted to make about the paradox of wanting both lower energy costs and a free and open market (the two cannot exist together!). She also helped another senior link the power of winning in a basketball game to brain psychology. The librarians want to learn, and they want to learn with you and from you. 

Prep’s librarians are in a unique position in that they just do not see the development of us as students, over one year. They see it for six years. And we can go back and back to them on any assignment until we graduate. 

But their work extends beyond the classroom. Mrs. Eldridge works with the Library Advisory Council to bring more technology to the library. Mrs. Hodge is the librarian who signs off on many student activity forms and will give you the confidence to do your best as you lead the Student Senate into organizing the Blood Drive or the Club Rush and Community Impact Fair. All of the time and dedication that these three put into student life shows just how committed Prep’s librarians are to our well-being and to their desire to see us succeed. Prep’s librarians see us at all hours of the day and want us to have fun too. They understand the enormous pressure we are under to make friends, get good grades, and get into college. That is why Mrs. Ursettie leads two big events on campus that are dedicating to showing off student talent, the Junior Parent Dinner and the always hysterical Mr. Flintridge Prep.

As Mrs. Ursettie once told me, the three Prep librarians have a sort of “inalienable
magic” when they are together. They can shift seamlessly from the fun hat to the working hat to the academic hat, always helping to inspire and advocate for the students body. Each librarian can do anything, at any time. 

So I hope that in the first week or two of school, you will go up to one of the librarians. Or maybe even all three. Introduce yourself with a couple of weird facts. 

It just might be one of the most important things you do at Flintridge Prep. And it will almost certainly land you three great friends not just for the duration of your Prep experience, but for life. 
Grady Willard is a member of the Flintridge Preparatory Class of 2014 and is beginning his freshman year at Georgetown University. One of the high points of each day of his senior year was walking into the library to share his latest thoughts about classes, student government and life with Mrs. Hodge, Mrs. Eldridge, and Mrs. Ursettie. He could not possibly think of a senior year without the kind, humble, and hardworking librarians. His only regret was that he did not get to know the librarians earlier in his Prep experience.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Browsing by the numbers

Are you a browser? Drawn to enticing covers with great titles?

Can’t resist browsing through a book that grabs your attention?                  

I invite you to wander the stacks in the Chandramohan Library.

Because this year, there is something new and wonderful in the margins of the shelves: a collection of books placed and curated by Mrs. Hodge.  The titles span a wide range of topics and are intriguing and thought provoking. They are featured at the ends of the shelves, existing near their Dewey number, but pulled out for you to browse.

Today, I found myself deeply lost in the book, The Animal Dialogues, a

collection of short vignettes about the intersection of the human and animal experience. It was about eye level, with a soulful photo of a snow-dusted mountain lion on the cover. Easy to pick up, hard to put down.

The display books are scattered throughout the collection. I found myself drawn to reach for more than one.

A sampling of the titles…..

-Mrs. Eldridge

Monday, May 12, 2014


Sunshine, music and food.

 So far, so good.
I’ve never been to a book launch before, and I’m not sure what to expect. Then, Catherine starts to talk. Soon, it is clear that the people gathered here are her friends, and that feels good. Together, we celebrate her success.

Catherine talks about writing; the process, the stages and the sacrifices. While she speaks, the word fearless comes to mind. Fearless appears both in the title of Catherine’s book (A Girl Called Fearless) and also in the connection between her desire to write and the journey of authorship. I’m understanding a nuanced meaning of the word as Catherine and her husband talk about that journey.

Next, Catherine reads from her book. As a group, we are transfixed. When I read the book, my inner voice was the narrator. With Catherine reading, I am released from the role of narrator and become listener. The words are the same, but somehow, the emphasis and even the characters are different. Catherine’s voicing of Avie, the main character, is more vulnerable and softer. This changes how I think about the story as well as Avie’s motivations: I understand both on a little deeper level.

Here is a short video of Catherine, talking about her awesome marketing idea and her book.

Enjoy! (copies of A Girl Called Fearless are now available at the Chandramohan Library)
-Mrs. Eldridge

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Before the Chandramohan Library... is what the Jorgensen Library looked like--a single story and a bit smaller than the downstairs is now.  Just before the beginning of demolition, Mr. Bachmann wistfully looked over the magazine section.  The old library was the space where, as an English teacher, he directed a production of "Guys and Dolls!" 

The left side shows the group study space where the downstairs reading room is now.  The photo in the center shows Mr. Bachmann taking a last lap around the library just prior to dismantling and demolition.  The photo on the right shows the area where our 12 desktop computers lived, along with part of the reference collection. 
The class of 2007 wouldn't be able to use the Senior Patio (which you can see on the upper right, through the open door) or the Senior Lawn the following year because of the construction going on.  Although they were given Jorgensen Patio and the lawn across from it, it wasn't the same as the special place they'd looked forward to using for years.  AND, they would graduate before the opening of the new library!  As a consolation prize, we let the class of 2007 write messages all over the walls of the old library.  They ranged from "Thou shalt not write on walls--every mother to every child," to "Looking out this window, I see the patio that will never be ours.  Viva la revolucion!"  And we tried to get every student from the class of '07 to sign the "'07 Pillar".  Graffiti ranged from the humorous, to the absurd (like the entire song, "Dixie" written around the entire space), to the touching.  


Neither our current students, nor many of our teachers, knew the former library, with all of its quirks and craziness.  Just imagine the downstairs library, about 2/3 its current size, with over 100 students inside on a rainy day!  But we remember it fondly and offer a look at the pictures I took in those last days.  If you'd like to see more, please stop by and ask to see them!  We'd love to share them, as well as some great stories with you!
Mrs. Hodge


Friday, March 21, 2014

Here's looking at you.....


It’s been a busy week: class elections, seniors choosing topics for their American Identity papers, students preparing for tests and presentations, the happy excitement surrounding Mr. Flintridge Prep, an art show, a flash-mob of dancers (the prelude to “will you go to Prom with me?”). All this, and more.

When the activities at Prep reach a frenzied level, there is a solution: a few moments of deeply satisfying fish staring. Let your mind wander as you enter a salty underwater world. Watch the coral open and close their tiny circlet of tentacles. Observe the patterns of the darting fish. Discover the newest hiding place of the striped shrimp. Feel the relaxation….

A hearty and heart-felt thank you to the Marine Life club for bringing the idea to life. We appreciate the beauty of the tank as well as the excellent care it is receiving. What a nice addition to the ambiance in our lovely Chandramohan Library.


-Mrs. Eldridge

Monday, March 10, 2014

Thanks for asking!

Students may not concur, but one of my favorite times of year is the “Second Semester Research Paper Season.” 

All of our 9th-graders are studying some aspect of pre-1500 world history, and I am personally enjoying every minute of it!  
Sideways view of 9th grade history
book cart and its contents
One of the best things about being a librarian is the fact that I learn something new every day.  What have I learned from our 9th grade students?  Mateo has taught me that Pythagoras discovered the diatonic scale, and that he was killed because of his fear of beans.  You read that correctly.  Read about Pythagoras and his ‘interesting’ views about living beings and rules of life, in general, and you’ll discover a man who isn’t simply known for his theorem.  To quote Bad Religion, “Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction.”  Ari’s question about Vladimir I led me to read about the man who once was a pagan with seven wives, until he converted to Christianity and founded the Russian state.  Aubrey’s topic was Scipio Africanus, about whom I knew absolutely nothing.  Why is it that I know about Hannibal, but not Scipio Africanus, who defeated Hannibal and never lost a single battle as a commander of Roman forces?  Maybe Hannibal is remembered because of the elephants…?

Our AP Art History class is working on their research of a non-Western work of art.  It’s a challenging assignment, using peer-reviewed, scholarly sources, critical analysis, and going far beyond a Wikipedia-type paper.  Thank you to Marina and Christine, who have selected works by Ando Hiroshige, whose woodblock landscape prints are absolutely magnificent!  
Hiroshige woodcut
Kate’s selection of the Taj Mahal led me to read about Indian architecture and the beautiful mix of styles incorporated into this wonder of the world.  Steven checked out a book about wabi-sabi, not for his paper, but to read for pleasure. 

Our students will often apologize for ‘bothering’ us with questions.  Please, don’t apologize--we love your questions!  They lead us to learn more about you and what you’re learning.  In turn, we are enriched by learning right along with you.  Please keep those questions coming!


Mrs. Hodge

Friday, February 28, 2014

A Look at Librarians

An amazing and soulful photographer, Kyle Cassidy, composed a photographic essay about librarians. His work is featured in a Slate article, "This is What a Librarian Looks Like."

Here is Kyle's favorite composition (it was not chosen for the Slate article).

Erin Berman, San Jose Public Library: Libraries are centers for knowledge
that everyone in our society can access. They provide a place for
discovery, creation and innovation. Libraries are our future
without them our democracy is lost.

Follow some of the commentary about the essay here. And here.
Kyle's photographic work served as our inspiration during a blogging workshop I attended in Tucson, Arizona in 2011. His ability to infuse photographs with a thoughtful, narrative quality continues to inspire me.

-Mrs. Eldridge

Monday, February 10, 2014

What's so great about reading?

One of my favorite books is called To Dance with the White Dog, by Terry Kay, which was made into a Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation.
Our Association of Independent School Librarians (AISL) was fortunate enough to have Mr. Kay as our keynote speaker at our 2006 conference in Atlanta.  We all loved this particular part of his presentation & I wrote to him, asking for permission to print it in our blog.  He said he would be delighted to have us use his copyrighted speech, and sent an updated copy.  Hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Mrs. Hodge

  While Reading

        -- A cowboy (and an Indian) with Zane Grey and Louis L'Amour

        -- A Confederate soldier with Joseph Pennell and Philip Lee Williams

        -- A pirate with Robert Louis Stevenson

        -- An orphan with Charles Dickens

        -- A dust-bowl traveler with John Steinbeck


While reading, I have been –

        -- A whaler with Herman Melville

        -- A gold-dreamer with Erskine Caldwell

        -- A small-town barber with Wendell Berry

        -- A runaway with Mark Twain

        -- An old-time gospel god with James Weldon Johnson


While reading, I have been –

       -- A b-flat coronet player with William Price Fox

 -- A battler of windmills with Miguel de Cervantes

 -- An attendant in the House of Gentle Men with Kathy Hepinstall

 -- A basketball player with Pat Conroy, a fire-fighter with Larry Brown, a defense attorney with John Grisham.


While reading,

          -- I have touched the ocean's darkest depths and walked on planets in solar systems       beyond our seeing.

          --I have climbed mountains lost in clouds, and walked the different road with Robert Frost and gazed at the little cat feet of fog with Carl Sandburg and danced to the language-music of Byron Herbert Reece and Sidney Lanier and Emily Dickinson.


I have flown with Lindbergh and John Glenn, stood at Gettysburg with Lincoln and in Montgomery with Martin Luther King, Jr.


While reading, I was at Dachau on the Day of Liberation and at Hiroshima on the Day of Death.

While reading, I have sat at the feet of Abraham and Moses and Jesus and Muhammad and Buddha, and all the other men of God, and also those who would kill God -- the insane, the madmen, the bigoted, the fanatics.


While reading, I have been boy and man, girl and woman. I have been young and old. I have died and have been re-born.


While reading, I have become people I cannot be, doing things I cannot do. And I do not know of another experience that could have given me such a life. 


                                                            Terry Kay

To Dance with the White Dog

The Book of Marie

                                                            Copyright, 2006

                                                (Revised: 9-10-12)


Monday, January 27, 2014

Library as Sanctuary

"A library is a good place to go when you feel unhappy, for there, in a book, you may find encouragement and comfort.  A library is a good place to go when you feel bewildered or undecided, for there, in a book, you may have your questions answered." 
                                                     --E.B. White (author of Charlotte's Web and Stuart Little)
North Hollywood Library

Children's Reading Room
My first memory of a library was in the children's room of the North Hollywood Library (now called the Amelia Earhart Library) in North Hollywood Park.  It looked a lot like it does today, but the high ceiling & upper windows letting in lots of light weren't part of the room.  The dark bookshelves were there and they were stocked with all the books I loved.  Mrs. Gould, the children's librarian was there, too.  It was cozy, welcoming, and my weekly visits were wonderful.  I decided early on that a would be a librarian.

George Peabody Library, Baltimore, MD

All Souls College, Oxford, UK

Here are a few photos of libraries I have visited, along with lovely library quotes, courtesy of Daniel Dalton of Buzzfeed.  Please share some of your favorite libraries in the comment section.  I'd love to add them to my list of places to go and things to see! 

Long Room at Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland
New York Public Library
Mrs. Hodge

Stuttgart City Library, Stuttgart, Germany
I've never been here, but I'd love to see it!  I'd also like to know how they keep everything so clean!


Friday, January 17, 2014

Recharge in the Library

Recharge in the library

Need a charge? Head to the Chandramohan Library where you will find 2 charging stations with chargers for most every kind of phone or tablet.

This brilliant solution originated in the Library Advisory Council’s meetings last spring and the response has been great! Students appreciate a place to recharge knowing that soon their phones and tablets will be fully charged.

-Mrs. Eldridge