Make Your Own Giant Coloring Posters – When you don’t have a poster printer

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If you’ve been in library land lately, you’ve probably seen all of the great collaborative activities that many libraries are offering. Whether it is a community coloring poster, stick together mosaic, or rubik’s cube challenge, these activities are great ways we can offer opportunities for community building, unplugged socialization, and de-stressing. I am a big fan of the giant community coloring posters. And, more importantly, so are my students! Unfortunately, we don’t have a poster printer.  And we don’t have room in the budget to keep buying them. I decided to challenge myself to come up with a way of creating these things, without a poster printer.

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So, without further ado, here is the explanation of how I create these giant coloring posters, for free.

But first, a gift for you! On my website you can download some of my Giant Coloring Poster Designs – Just click the link for End Cap Coloring Sheets.

  1. Figure out how big you want it to be.
    1. Make sure the size you pick fits on one of your tables!
  2. Create the design
    1. I do this on canva.com, but I’ve also done it in Microsoft Paint!
    2. Find adult coloring patterns online.
      1. I get them on google by filtering for “free to use, share, and modify.”
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    3. If you want to include wording, place a white shape over the design. Then you can add the words you want on the white part.
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  3. Tape your paper to the wall or projector screen.
    1. I use the back side (white side) of Art Paper rolls. You know, the stuff you use to cover bulletin boards? I like that because its on a roll, and you can make it as long as you need.
  4. Use your projector to project the image onto the paper.
    1. 017E61AB-7227-4AFD-B72F-5576728CC9A2
    2. F6FD820E-E580-475C-95A9-2B90AB639C2B
  5. Get your sharpies and start tracing!
    1. Pro Tip: Give the sharpies to students and let them get tracing!
    2. Pro Tip: Put something behind the paper if you use sharpies, or you’ll have black marks on the wall or screen. I maaaay have learned this lesson the hard way. (I now have a big piece of laminated art paper on my wall to protect it)
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  6. put the poster on a table for students with a bucket of markers
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  7. When finished, laminate and hang!
    1. Here are some pictures that show how I’ve used these posters to add color and customization to my h.s. library.

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Designing and creating the posters is definitely a time commitment, but as long as you have rolls of paper, and sharpies, it does not cost any money! I have my student assistants do the tracing and they get done pretty quickly! Last week I challenged one of them to design the next poster on canva herself, and she did a GREAT job. So its no longer really a time commitment for me at all. yay! Some other pros to creating these yourself include:

  1. You can customize them to say anything. Favorite quotes, school name, branding & logos, etc.
  2. You can make them any size you’d like.
  3. You can create many smaller ones and use use them as giveaways (either before, or after they’ve been colored in).
    1. For example, I use them in my PD sessions as gifts to raffle off to teachers who attend my PD sessions!
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Questions, concerns, comments? Connect with me on instagram @gvhslibrary or twitter @GVHS_LibraryMc or @kelseybogan.

Stretching Your School Library Budget

School Librarians wear many, many hats throughout the course of their day. When we go through our MSLIS programs and our trainings, we learn about some of those hats. Teacher, collaborator, administrator, tech support, crisis manager, collection developer, etc. We prepare for it. We train for it. We’re ready (ish :). In addition to all of that, we’re also purchasers, accountable for responsibly spending our library budgets. Whether our budget comes from the district itself, PTO groups, donations, fundraising, our own pockets, or some combination thereof, it can be very difficult to decide where to allocate our increasingly limited funds, while still providing excellent library services to our students.

Here are some of the things I do to try to stretch my budget. What kinds of budget saving hacks do you use?

Stretching the Budget:

  1. Use book tape instead of clear label protectors
    1. This year I’ve discovered the joy of using book tape, instead of clear label protectors. I like that you can buy the tape in a variety of widths, and that you can use one wide piece right down the spine to cover all the labels in one go.
    2. Extra tip for fans of using label protectors: Follett sends extra label protectors with your order, so if you purchase from titlewave, you usually end up with rolls of extra labels!
  2. Avoid paying for book processing
    1. I personally prefer to process books in-house, whenever possible. Our library assistant does most of it, but I also have student assistants who are capable of putting labels and book covers on. We save money by purchasing books as cheaply as possible on amazon and then processing ourselves.
    2. If processing/cataloging in-house isn’t an option, buy from vendors that don’t charge extra for book processing.
  3. Buy paperbacks of trending books
    1. When buying duplicates of currently trending books, I recommend purchasing the duplicates in paperback. Not all books need to be durable enough to last forever. If its trendy now, but isn’t likely to be popular enough to need multiple copies in a few years, I buy 1 or 2 in hardcover and the rest in paperback. For example, I knew that with the movie release, Crazy Rich Asians would be in demand this year, but probably won’t maintain this level of popularity. So I purchased several in paperback.
    2. I know a few years down the line I’ll need to weed no longer trending books out of the collection (I’m looking at you, 7 hardcover copies of Twilight), and it won’t be as painful, knowing I only paid the paperback price.
  4. Buy books gently used
    1. Ok this is something I just started this year, and I have NO regrets! I met with some vendors and put together lists of hardcover nonfiction books I wanted to add to the collection. The costs were SO expensive, with each nonfiction book costing about $40 (<200 pages). Even if I could spend $1000, it would only be about 25 books!
    2. I went on amazon and price checked some of the same titles. I realized I could find gently used copies for extremely lower costs. For example, one of the books that was $40 from the vendor, was available on a third party seller on amazon for under $10.
    3. I stuck to the “very good” or “like new” ratings, and chose copies from sellers with great reviews and ratings. I was able to get 100 books instead of just 25. And, as you can see in the picture below, they really do look just like new.
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  5. Work with a sales person instead of ordering online
    1. I purchased some furniture from Demco last year, and instead of just putting items in the shopping cart on the website, and ordering that way, I called demco and worked with a sales person. She ended up working with me to create a quote, and she included discounts and price drops that were not available on the website.
  6. Solicit donations
    1. Want to add games, puzzles, or cards? Send out requests for donations to teachers and the community. These kinds of things do not need to be brand new. Hand me downs are FINE! I’ve had so many puzzles donated that I doubt I’ll ever need to purchase one.
  7. Make your own giant coloring sheets
    1. Community coloring sheets are fantastic to have in your library. They can encourage mind-fullness, social collaboration, and more, among students. They encourage students to unplug from devices and work with each other on a common goal. But at about $15 per sheet, they can get costly. You can make them yourself, fairly easily. ESPECIALLY if you have student assistants or helpers you can put to work on them.
    2. They look like incredible, colorful, graffiti and they did not cost me anything but time. I’m posting a blog entry next week with full description of how I create my own giant coloring posters without a poster printer!
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  8. Print adult coloring sheets for free online
    1. Want to offer your students a coloring station? Don’t purchase them! Just search google for open source adult coloring sheets and print them for free at school. (Filter for Usage rights: Free to use, share, or modify)
  9. Don’t pay for poster printing
    1. Use rasterbator.net or another similar service (despite it’s ridiculous name, rasterbator is the best one I’ve yet found, in terms of quality end product) to blow images up – rather than paying for poster printing. Yes it is more work, but it looks great and is free! You just upload an image and the website blows the image up and spread it across multiple standard printer pages. It provides you with the blown up image in a printable pdf. You then have to tape the pages together, but once you do, you cannot tell they weren’t printed on a poster printer. The cool thing is you can set the exact size you want.
    2. Just be sure that the image you upload is as high resolution as possible, so the blown up image is clear and not pixelated.
    3. In the pictures below you can see how I used rasterbator.net to print my genre signs as 11inx23inch. You can’t even tell that the poster is stitched together from three separate pages. They just look like they were printed on a poster printer!
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  10. Design your own signage
    1. Signage is very costly, and often just not what you are looking for. Use free platforms like canva.com or postermywall.com to create your own custom signage.
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  11. Design your own bookmarks
    1. I find it very difficult to spend budget money on things like bookmarks. Last year I purchased two reams of card stock and started designing and printing my own.
    2. Good opportunity to include your branding or customized info!
    3. And they don’t have to take that long to make. Canvas.com has a bookmark template that has hundreds of free, ready made styles and layouts.
    4. Below are pictured some of the bookmarks I’ve made on canva.com.
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  12. Haggle with database providers
    1. Just because a vendor SAYS that a database costs “x” dollars does not mean it really costs that much. Make sure you are haggling with them on cost, because I’ve found that they generally DO have some ability to work with you on price.
  13. Work with consortiums and your IUs (intermediate units)
    1. Being part of a consortium, and working with your local IU, is a great way to get discounts and better pricing from vendors.
  14. Laminate art paper to create cheap “whiteboards.”
    1. When paper is laminated you can write and erase on it using dry erase markers. Voila cheap whiteboard-like material!
  15. Say yes to vendors who want to set up meetings…
    1. A lot of them will give you like 5 free books when they come for the visit. You’re under no obligation to order from the vendor just because you had a meeting and accepted complimentary books 🙂
  16. Save on genre stickers
    1. Buy colored circles or rectangles and cut them in half – makes the box of labels go twice as far.
    2. Also, save on series stickers by making them yourself. If you have sheets of spine labels, you can make a template in Word that will let you use those same labels to for self made series labels!
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  17. Ask other departments if they would split costs of things with you.
    1. Example, if your english dept. loves a database that you’re having trouble fitting in the budget, offer to split the cost with them. Part of making your budget stretch means being ruthless about asking for money from people. It can feel awkward the first couple of times but you’d be surprised at how often you can get people to contribute.
  18. Bonus Tip: Have a binder full of “wish list” items.
    1. You may not believe this, but it is not at all uncommon for librarians to come into unexpected money, sometimes very suddenly, and which often needs to be spent with very little notice. It is VERY helpful if you have a binder of wish list items ready, just in case! You never want to be unprepared if someone asks you what the library needs!
    2. Example: Last year I was told that the class of 2017 had over-fundraised and had funds they were looking to donate to the school. I was asked “does the library need anything?” “Absolutely!” I responded, while reaching behind my desk to grab my “just in case” binder, chock full of wish list items. Moral of the story? Our library was gifted with furniture to create a brand new lounge area, and I’ve since updated my wish list binder with the next bunch of dream items. You know, just in case! 🙂
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10 steps to genre-fy your library!

I just finished genre-fying our high school library! I know a lot of librarians struggle with the “should I or shouldn’t I?” conundrum when it comes to genre-fication. I thought I would document my journey here in case it helps anyone else with their decision and process!

Genre-fying (grouping fiction books according to similar genres/topics/themes like a bookstore usually does) is something that has been a big topic of conversation in library land over the last decade or so. There are many pros and cons batted around, and many other blogs and resources go into those so I’m not going to re-hash that here now. I’ll just say that, in the end, I got sick of watching students wander the fiction section looking ambivalent and eventually either leaving with no books, or just checking out the old favorites. It became clear to me, after two years at my library, that the old library setup was doing nothing to excite students about reading. Being faced with a collection of 5000 books in author A-Z order, spines out, was overwhelming, boring, and inefficient. So, I decided to genre-fy.

The following information is my very detailed walkthrough of how I approached the process. I’ll include the mistakes I made as well as the triumphs!


Should I, or Shouldn’t I?

  • How do you know if you should genre-fy? 
    • Talk to your students, talk to your staff, talk to your admin! Get feedback, test the waters. Visit genre-fied libraries if you can, to see how it is working for them. You are the librarian for your school, so you are really the best person to decide if genre-fication makes sense for your school. But you don’t exist in a vacuum! Always bounce the idea off as many stakeholders as possible.
  • How did I decide?
    • After observing students struggling to enjoy browsing the library and frequently walking away without a book, I started thinking about genre-fying. Then, last year I started a Roaming Library program, where I would bring baskets of books on a cart to the english classrooms for 10 minute browse and checkout sessions.
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    • I always genre-fied the baskets around main themes or topics (like horror, adventure, overcoming obstacles, if you like 13 reasons why, etc etc). I saw so much more engagement in the students than I ever saw in the library. I quickly realized that by giving students a smaller, more focused selection of books to look through, they were finding things that interested them more often. They were not getting overwhelmed by the rows and rows of alphabetized books. They were not getting frustrated at not knowing where to start. This year, after I did the first round of Roaming Library, I just instantly knew that I had to genre-fy the library.
    • I figured, bookstores must be doing it for a reason! I also figured that, grocery stores do it it. I mean, just imagine if grocery stores had items in order by brand name instead grouped by like items. Imagine if you wanted chips, but Lays chips were in one place, and Herrs chips in a completely other place. It wouldn’t make any sense! How frustrating would it be to grocery shop for the items you need to cook just one meal. Now imagine you are someone who doesn’t even like cooking! Imagine how much more frustrating and disheartening grocery shopping would be for you then. This is how I imagine the standard library setup is to students, let alone to students who do not like to read. No wonder my students are so rarely browsing and checking out at my library. It is simply not a pleasurable activity. This is why genre-fication made sense to me.
    • I also polled the students and they overwhelming said “YES!!” to genre-fying. I spoke with english teachers and they were intrigued. A little less certain than students, but optimistically intrigued.  I checked in with my principal and he said “You’re the expert and it’s your classroom to manage as you see fit.” So I began the genre-fication process!

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First step: Weeding/Getting to know your collection

Genre-fying is not a quick or simple process. The first step is to get to know your collection really, really well. Know your student’s reading habits and preferences. Know your teacher’s teaching styles and annual assignments. I started my genre-fying process two years ago, really, when I started a big weed in Fiction. I had just started at the high school, and I found that weeding was a great way to get to know the collection, because you’re touching each book, examining it, learning about it’s publication date and popularity. I think this is the first step to genre-fication. If you don’t know your collection or your student’s needs, it will make things much harder. Trust me on this, because as you will see below, I made mistakes that I later had to correct, after I knew my students needs better.

Second step: Deciding on your Genres

Once you’ve weeded down and/or familiarized yourself w. the collection, it is time to decide on the genres you’ll use. It is a good idea to talk to people again about this. There are MANY options and the genres that work best for one school may be very different than the ones that will work best for your school.

I initially chose based on what seemed best to me. Later I had to re-do it and then I based it on students requests, language students use when asking for books, what I was seeing get checked out the most, and the English assignments. For instance we often have reading assignments that ask students to read books with themes of identity, culture, or adversity. This fact informed my choice to have genres that served that need. I knew I didn’t want a ton of genres, just for simplicity’s sake, so the ones I created were pretty broad at first.

  • My initial genres (I had to change them later, see below) were:
    • Fantasy
    • Sci-Fi
    • Classics & Literary
    • Horror/Mystery/Suspense
    • Historical Fiction
    • Realistic Fiction

Third step: Deciding on your labeling & Cataloging plan

Next you need to decide on how you will handle labeling and cataloging. There are many options here and you will need to decide what works best for you.

  • Some common Cataloging Options:
    • Change call # prefix (ex: F MYS to signal Mystery genre)
    • Add copy category to indicate genre
    • Add sublocation to indicate genre
  • Some common Labeling Options:
    • Colored labels on spine
    • colored transparent spine label covers
    • new spine labels that include genre name
    • genre graphic stickers (usually purchased from demco or similar)
    • handmade labels/stickers (some people design their own custom)

For cataloging, I decided I would add a copy category and sublocation to each book, to indicate the genre. I did not want to go the call # prefix route (just personal preference, there is nothing at all wrong with that method! Many librarians use the prefix method!). Partially it was because I did not want to print and replace all of the spine labels, and partly it was because I just don’t think my students would understand it when looking in the catalog.  Adding the copy category and sublocation would work best for me because the category will let me run reports according to genre, and the sublocation is easily viewed when searching Destiny catalog.

For labels I decided to do a simple colored sticker on the spine, right above the spine label. I chose this because I like the simplicity and visual punch it gives. I feel it is easy, cheap, and quick to label them. Its very easy to cover or replace the sticker if I need to change the book’s genre for any reason. It is very easy to quickly scan the shelves and see that a book is shelved in the wrong section. So I designated a color for each of my genres and ordered 3/4inch circle labels from Demco. We cut the circles in half and sit them above the spine label like a little hat. I cut them because it makes the box go twice as far for the money, and I think it looks sharp, visually! For books that have additional genres or big topics (like romance or novels in verse) I can easily add a second colored sticker below the spine label, like a sub genre. (In the pic below you can see my labels. The number written on the label indicates the school year it was added to the collection. so 17 means it was added in 2017-2018 school year. This helps students find new books, and makes it easy for me to find them and avoid them when weeding!)

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Fourth step: Start labeling each book

This is the part a lot of librarians dread because you need to decide which genre each book belongs in. I know a lot of people struggle with this because most books cross genres. I think you just need to not overthink it. For Most books, it will be very obvious which genre they belong in. You just decide where your kids would most expect it. This is why it is important to know your students reading habits when genre-fying. If you use Follett Destiny you can call Follett and ask for a “genre assist” report. They send you a spreadsheet that helps you decide for each book which genre it is. I also used goodreads.com a lot for extra help because goodreads users tag books, often by genre. You can see which genre it gets tagged in most. When in doubt, I deferred to the goodreads genre with the most tags or my personal opinion 🙂

Spreadsheet looks like this:

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Fifth step: Re-Assess

This is a good point to stop and reassess your process. Ask yourself questions to determine if you are on the right track or if you need to make changes. Do you have enough of each genre? Too many or too few of certain genres?

If a genre is too big: You may want to consider weeding this genre down or splitting it. For instance, I initially thought I’d just have a genre for “realistic” but it was WAAAY too big. So I re-thought it and ended up getting rid of “realistic” and having three other genres instead. I also decided at this point that I did not like the idea of a “classics” section. I realized it was unlikely that students would ever set foot in that section unless they had to for an assignment. Since the point of genre-fying is to encourage browsing, this seemed anathema to me. So I had to go back through and find all the “classics” labeled books, and I relabeled them to other genres. Most ended up in Historical Fiction, but many made it into horror (dracula, frankenstein), and adventure (huckleberry finn, treasure island) and so on.

These are the notes I made when deciding on my final genres. I also used the library instagram to get feedback from students on genres they wanted.

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Unfortunately this step can require a lot of back tracking and re-doing work, but for me it was necessary because at this point I realized i was on the wrong track to serve my students. The large realistic section was not going to be helpful, so I had to re-do it. The same with the original “Classics” genre. And I’m glad I did, because with the way things are now, all of my genres are very similar in size, which seems like a good thing to me. I did have to go through my collection again and re-label a ton of the books at this point, since I had changed genres, but it was worth it.  I did my initial genre choosing during my first year at the school and I did not know the students or the teachers well enough. Two years later I know them a lot better, and felt that some of the genre choices I had made two years ago were not good choices.

Sixth step: Plan the footprint

Maybe not everyone is as particular about details as I am. But just in case you are, I’ll share this step. There was no way I was comfortable just “winging it” and moving books without knowing exactly how many shelves I would need for each section. So I thoroughly planned out the footprint of the books before I did anything else.

So I went through each bookcase (our fiction has 40ish bookcases with 6 shelves each) and lumped the books from that bookcase into genre groups on each shelf. We had 6 shelves and 7 genres so that worked well. Then I went through, with a measuring tape, and measured how many linear inches of each genre I had. Then i decided how many inches I would want per shelf (our shelves are 34 inches wide so I decided that each shelf would start with 23 inches of books, leaving enough room to grow into it and to have outward facing books on each shelf.)  I did the math, and was able to figure out how many shelves I would need for each genre. I was then able to configure it so that there would be an empty bookcase in between the genres, so there is plenty of room to grow. In the meantime, I’m going to use those cases to do spotlight displays of nonfiction books that would pair well with the genres!

I also knew I wanted to do something to really make the fiction section pop and stand out after it is genre-fied, so I decided to decorate the backs of the bookcases in the color of the genre on that case. I went on amazon and had a blast hunting down art paper and wrapping paper that I could use for this purpose. Luckily I had held back some of my supplies budget and was able to get approval to purchase some of these papers. Then I created a layout and started playing with how I could configure the shelves, how many shelves could be left open for outward facing books, etc. This is what I came up with.

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7th step: Create the signage

Next I went ahead and created my signage and posters with postermywall.com. This was fun! I knew I wanted the signs to be larger then standard paper. So I set custom dimensions in postermywall.com for 11inches high x 24ish inches wide. Designed my posters. Then I put the document through rasterbator.net to blow it up to the large size I wanted.

Here are the genre signs I created. You’ll see signs for “Quick Picks” and “Love & Romance.” They are not actual genres but they will be some of the rotating displays I’ll have up on the empty bookcases I allotted for.

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8th step: Move the books

Now that I knew for certain how everything would layout and the maximum configuration, it was time to do the actual moving. I did this during our two days of parent conferences this week. Two full days with no students, and parents don’t generally conference with me so I had plenty of time. Luckily my administration approved my assistant to come in on those days as well, so we were able to really tackle the process. My assistant started scanning the books into resource lists so we could then use the resource lists to make the cataloging changes (detailed below). Meanwhile, I started moving books and hanging the colored paper on the back of the bookcases. It was absolutely backbreaking work. BUT it looks sooooooo nice. Finally, we put up the beautiful signs!

 

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9th step: Re-catalog the books

Finally we finished off re-cataloging the books so the catalog would show their genres and locations. I did this in a multi-step way.

First – I created a separate resource list for each genre in Destiny. Then my assistant scanned each book into the appropriate resource list.

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Second – I created the copy categories, one for each genre. I titled them exactly the same way I titled the resource list for each genre.

Third – I created a sublocation for each genre. Again, I titled them exactly the same way I titled the resource lists and copy categories. Keeping the names consistent is good for consistency.

Fourth – I added the copy category to the books. In destiny I went to Catalog – Update copies – batch update. Selected “add category” from dropdown. Selected “update all copies in – list.” Rinse and repeat for all genres.

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Fifth I added sublocation to the books. In Destiny went to Catalog- Update copies – Global Update. Select with: category and make: sublocation. Rinse and repeat for each genre.

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10th step: Advertise Advertise Advertise & Enjoy the results!

And voila! Genre-fication is completed! Now It’s time to advertise to staff and students. I shared my story on the library instagram and twitter with students and staff. I also mention it to literally every single person who talks to me throughout the school day. I told english teachers and invited them to bring classes down to see the new setup. It was fun watching students browse it today! Today we had 33 books checked out. That’s a lot for our library! The same day last year……. we had 1 book checked out 🙂

If you have any other questions about how this process worked for me, please feel free to reach out on twitter @gvhslibrary or @kelseybogan or on Instagram @gvhslibrary!

Happy Reading!

A Whole New Blog – In Which I Re-invent Myself

Hello World (Again)

This is my letter of intent. Today is the day that I gleefully wipe the dust off of this old book blog, and reinvent it! I began this blog in 2014 as a class assignment in my Young Adult Literature class. I was attending Drexel to earn my Masters in Science in Library & Information Science Degree. In 2015 I earned my degree and started working as a school librarian………… Fast forward 3 years and its now 2018! I have been a school librarian for 3 years and now (finally!) feel I have my feet under me enough to attempt to keep up with a blog. Yay!  But I’m going to reinvent it from a book blog over to a Librarian Blog.

So, going forward this blog will hopefully be full of reflections on my adventures as a High School Librarian. I hope these reflections and ruminations will be helpful to other librarians, educators, information professionals, library students, etc. But if not, it will certainly be helpful to me as I’d like to be able to look back in future and actually remember some of the outrageous fun I’m having as a librarian. So here we go!

The posts to come after this should be more interesting and include pictures and actual lesson plans, programming plans, etc. This is just a statement of intent. I’ve opened the can of worms officially now 🙂

****Posts after this one on my home screen are leftovers from the olden days when it was a book blog. I didn’t see any reason to delete the old posts so I’m leaving them. ****

Here’s some pictures of what my library looked like the day I started. Wait until you see all the changes I’ve made since then on a limited budget….. woooo it has been a fun 3 years!

And heres a list of some of the projects I’ve tackled in the last two years at my HS Library:

Year One:

  • Collection Dev: Added LGBTQIA+ collection
  • Collection Dev: Added Graphic Novel collection
  • Collection Dev: Added Books in Spanish collection
  • Physical Space & Rules: Moving from “silent library” to “learning commons” format (i.e. not a quiet library)
  • Collection Dev: Started Weeding Fiction (gentle, timid to start)
  • Collection Dev: Started Genre-fying (research & genre selection)
  • Instructional Goals: Trying to get teachers to collaborate (first year is tough!)

Year Two

  • Community Building – Social Media accounts – Instagram & Twitter
  • Community Building – Games & Cards
  • Community Building – Community Coloring sheets
  • Community Building – Community Puzzle
  • Collection Dev: Partially Genre-fied (stickered each book but kept in dewey layout for now)
  • Collection Dev: Added series labels to all fiction books (SOOO helpful!)
  • Collection Dev: Added ebooks collection
  • Collection Dev: Researching potential databases to add or change for next year
  • Physical Space – Massive shifting of every book in the library to conserve and restructure floor space availability
  • Physical Space – Big push for adding color and decorations to our previously stark library.
  • Instructional: Saw a serious increase in collaborative opportunities, especially with social studies and english.
  • Instruction/Collaboration/Reading: Started the Roaming Library  program where each month I bring a cart of books to the classrooms for on the spot check out.

Year Three (That’s this year)

  • Instruction/Leadership: Offering PD sessions at in-services (Fake News/News Literacy Focus)
  • Instruction: # of collaboration requests has skyrocketed already this year (and its only october!) YAY! More requests from Science dept. than previous years, several social studies and english have asked for Fake News collaborations.
  • Community Building – Still big focus on Instagram & Twitter
  • Leadership: Several staff members asking me for advice on running a school social media account.
  • Leadership: Cross-school collaborations – worked with middle school librarian to bring News Literacy lessons to her 7th grade social studies classes.
  • Leadership/Prof Development: Accepted by AASL to run a webinar on Fake News in 2 weeks!
  • Collection Dev: Finished Ruthless Weed of Fiction (yay!)
  • Collection Dev: Began Ruthless Weed of Nonfiction
  • Collection Dev: Began researching new physical nonfiction books to add as collection is weeded down.
  • Collection Dev: New Databases added (Gale), old ones removed
  • Community Building – Added more games & collaborative activities thanks to a grant
  • Community Building – Added a Daily Riddle & Trivia boards
  • Physical Space – New lounge furniture added (thanks to monetary donation)
  • Physical Space – Restructuring of space, many large stacks were moved allowing us to have a second lounge area = multi-spaces now! More usable space!
  • Collection/Physical Space: We are gearing up to do the full on genre-fication next week! Books will be moved into their genre groups!
  • Leadership/Instruction: Several teachers requesting I collaborate with them on their SLOs and Growth plans.

Review – Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

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Nevernight (Book 1 in Nevernight Chronicle)
Jay Kristoff
Publish date: August 9th


Synopsis

The first in a new fantasy series from the New York Times bestselling author.

In a land where three suns almost never set, a fledgling killer joins a school of assassins, seeking vengeance against the powers who destroyed her family.

Daughter of an executed traitor, Mia Corvere is barely able to escape her father’s failed rebellion with her life. Alone and friendless, she hides in a city built from the bones of a dead god, hunted by the Senate and her father’s former comrades. But her gift for speaking with the shadows leads her to the door of a retired killer, and a future she never imagined.

Now, Mia is apprenticed to the deadliest flock of assassins in the entire Republic—the Red Church. If she bests her fellow students in contests of steel, poison and the subtle arts, she’ll be inducted among the Blades of the Lady of Blessed Murder, and one step closer to the vengeance she desires. But a killer is loose within the Church’s halls, the bloody secrets of Mia’s past return to haunt her, and a plot to bring down the entire congregation is unfolding in the shadows she so loves.

Will she even survive to initiation, let alone have her revenge?


My Review

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Goodness, where to even begin with this book? I guess I’ll start by saying…

WOW!

Wow, this book was amazing. Really, really amazing. As a fan of Kristoff’s other work, Illuminae, I was fairly sure I’d like Nevernight. But since Illuminae was co-authored with a female author (Amie Kaufman), and since I rarely read books written by men (other than Jim Butcher), I did still have my doubts. But Jay Kristoff has once again proven himself to be a master at storytelling and world building. He is undoubtedly a fantasy and sci-fi powerhouse, and this rising author is one to keep our eyes on. On an unrelated note, he’s also quite pretty, so that isn’t exactly a burden, now is it?

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Now, this book is marketed as “young adult,” but other than the fact that many characters are young adults, I truly did not get much of a “young adult” feel from this story. It is dark. Seriously, seriously dark.  I’m talking, brutal, violent, and very explicit language and sexual content. Very, very explicit. And I finished this book in one sitting because it.was.amazing!

The first couple chapters are strange, so it takes a couple minutes to get into the story. The introduction is really cool though, I don’t know how to explain it, but its really cool. This is definitely not a light and easy read. The story telling is very complex, with multiple flashbacks (which are not labeled, so you have to stay on your feet to keep track of when in the story you are). It all connects to creating this really rich, really well developed and complex world and plot. I do have to say that it took a bit for me to get hooked, because the world is so complicated and detailed, but once I did, I could not put it down. The main character is determined to become an assassin so as to reap revenge on those who wronged her and her family, but first she has to find the den of the Assassins. And that is a challenge in and of itself. Once she finds it, she starts training. At that point its sort of like Hogwarts or Dauntless, except way more brutal and violent. Throw in friends, enemies, frenemies, mysterious instructors, dangerous challenges, and 30 people fighting for just 4 coveted “assassin spots,” and you are in for a wild, dark, and dangerous ride.

Fans of Sarah J. Maas’ Throne of Glass, Veronica Roth’s Divergent, and Tamora Pierce’s work are going to go crazy for this new series by Jay Kristoff. Anyone who has enjoyed Kristoff’s other works are sure to love this as well. And fans of dark fantasy with incredibly vivid world building will snap this right up. Plus, its about a kick-butt female assassin in training. So who isn’t going to like it?

Run, don’t walk, to pick up your copy of Nevernight on August 9th. You seriously have got to read this book.

Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen

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Release date: 2012
Author: A.C. Gaughen
Genre: YA Historical Fiction
Themes: Action & Adventure, Re-tellings, Robin Hood, Friendship, Mystery
Rating: 4 stars
Why did I read it?: Recommended to me

Gaughen, A.C. Scarlet. Bloomsbury USA Children’s, 2012. Print.  Digital.
Formats available: Digital, Hardcover, Paperback (amazon.com) **Currently only $2.40 on Amazon Digital**


Synopsis (from amazon.com)

Posing as one of Robin Hood’s thieves to avoid the evil Lord Gisbourne, Scarlet has kept her identity secret from all of Nottinghamshire. Only Big John and Robin Hood know the truth-that the agile thief posing as a whip of a boy is actually a fearless young woman with a secret past. It’s getting harder to hide as Gisbourne’s camp seeks to find Scarlet and drive Robin Hood out of Nottinghamshire.

 

But Scarlet’s instinct for self-preservation is at war with a strong sense of responsibility to the people who took her in when she was on the run, and she finds it’s not so easy to turn her back on her band and townspeople. As Gisbourne draws closer to Scarlet and puts innocent lives at risk, she must decide how much the people of Nottinghamshire mean to her, especially John Little, a flirtatious fellow outlaw, and Robin, whose quick smiles and temper have the rare power to unsettle Scarlet. Full of exciting action, secrets, and romance, this imaginative retelling of the classic tale will have readers following every move of Robin Hood and band of thieves


My Thoughts:
Re-tellings are very big right now. We are seeing a lot of fairy tale retellings in the YA sector recently, and it is a trend that I personally enjoy. I love when an author takes a story you already know, and turns it on its head. You go into it knowing that there will be major twists, but you don’t get to know what they will be. Scarlet is a re-telling of the Robin Hood legend, where Robin’s pal Will Scarlet is a girl named Scarlet, who disguises herself as a boy. One of the things I enjoyed is that is steers clear of some of the typical tropes used in the “girl disguised as a boy” storyline, which kept the plot fresh. For instance, while the average villager thinks she is a boy, her two love interests know she is a girl the whole time. So we avoid the overplayed “oh my gosh, you’re a girl!” aspect from the love interests.

One of the things I loved about this story is that we get to see medieval England through the eyes of a young woman who is living as a young man. We get to take part as she ruminates about the different avenues in life that are available to her as a “boy,” which would not be available to her as a girl. So the story includes a gentle discussion of gender roles during this historical period. Plus we get to see a pretty believable, and yet still kick-butt heroine who saves people while running from her dark and mysterious past.

An overall enjoyable read that had me reaching for the sequel in this completed trilogy.


Liked it? Loved it? Gotta have more of it?
The next book in the series is called Lady Thief.

In the meantime you might like to try:


About the Author:
Visit A.C. Gaughen’s author website to learn more about her.

Partials by Dan Wells

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Partials
Release date: 2012
Author: Dan Wells
Genre: YA Speculative Fiction (Sci-fi)
Themes: Futuristic, Apocalyptic, Prejudice, Artificial Intelligence, Dystopian
Rating: 5 stars
Why did I read it?: Recommended to me

Wells, Dan. Partials. Belzer + Bray, 2012. Print.  
Formats available: Digital, Hardcover, Paperback (amazon.com)


Synopsis (from amazon.com)

For fans of The Hunger GamesBattlestar Galactica, and Blade Runner comes the first book in the Partials Sequence, a fast-paced, action-packed, and riveting sci-fi teen series, by acclaimed author Dan Wells.

Humanity is all but extinguished after a war with Partials—engineered organic beings identical to humans—has decimated the population. Reduced to only tens of thousands by a weaponized virus to which only a fraction of humanity is immune, the survivors in North America have huddled together on Long Island. But sixteen-year-old Kira is determined to find a solution. As she tries desperately to save what is left of her race, she discovers that that the survival of both humans and Partials rests in her attempts to answer questions about the war’s origin that she never knew to ask.

Playing on our curiosity of and fascination with the complete collapse of civilization, Partials is, at its heart, a story of survival, one that explores the individual narratives and complex relationships of those left behind, both humans and Partials alike—and of the way in which the concept of what is right and wrong in this world is greatly dependent on one’s own point of view.

Supports the Common Core State Standards


My Thoughts:
It seems almost every YA sci-fi book is heralded as being for “fans of The Hunger Games,” which makes many of us, rightly, suspicious. After all, The Hunger Games was a surprisingly fantastic addition to the YA Dystopian genre. So, when Partials was recommended to me via Goodreads.com, I was naturally suspicious. However, after I watched the book trailer (see below), I knew I had to read this book. Go ahead and watch the trailer right now.

Ok, are you back? Do you see what I mean? It has a GREAT hook.

And I’m happy to say the book delivered on its promise. This is the first book in the trilogy (all three are out now) and it grabbed me right away. It has everything I like: mystery, high-stakes, scientific experiments, and end-of-the-world consequences. Also, there is a pervasive undercurrent of morality, bias, racism, and a questioning of what it means to be “human.” This is a fantastic read for sci-fi junkies, fans of apocalypse stories, and those who like to read about how mankind’s obsession with technology might effect us in the future. It you enjoy Artificial Intelligence and robots who take on a life of their own, this might also catch your fancy. Plenty of excitement, mystery, tension, and enough “will they, won’t they” romance to please most readers.

Personal note: I loved this one, its a great story that also gives you some wonderful discussion and thinking topics of human nature.

 


Liked it? Loved it? Gotta have more of it?
The next book in the series is called Fragments by Dan Wells.

In the meantime you might like to try:


Extras:

  • Partials book trailer

About the Author:
Dan Wells writes in a variety of genres, from dark humor to science fiction to supernatural thriller. Learn more on his website.

(ARC Review) Starflight by Melissa Landers

Screen Shot 2015-10-06 at 8.01.13 PMStarflight
Release date: Feb. 2, 2016
Author: Melissa Landers
Genre: YA Speculative Fiction (Sci-fi)
Themes: Space-travel, trust, forgiveness, love, friendship
Rating: 4 stars
Why did I read it?: I read the author’s Alienated series and loved it, so I requested this ARC.

Landers, Melissa. Starflight. Disney-Hyperion, 2016. Print. ISBN-13: 978-1484723241.
Formats available: hardcover. Paperback $13.49 (amazon.com)


Synopsis (from amazon.com)

Solara Brooks needs a fresh start, someplace where nobody cares about the engine grease beneath her fingernails or the felony tattoos across her knuckles. The outer realm may be lawless, but
it’s not like the law has ever been on her side.
Still, off-world travel doesn’t come cheap; Solara is left with no choice but to indenture herself in exchange for passage to the outer realm. She just wishes it could have been to anyone besides Doran Spaulding, the rich, pretty-boy quarterback who made her life miserable in school.
The tables suddenly turn when Doran is framed for conspiracy on Earth, and Solara cons him into playing the role of her servant on board the Banshee, a ship manned by an eccentric crew with their own secrets. Given the price on both Doran and Solara’s heads, it may just be the safest place in the universe.
It’s been a long time since Solara has believed in anyone, and Doran is the last person she expected to trust. But when the Banshee’s dangerous enemies catch up with them, Solara and Doran must come together to protect the ship that has become their home-and the eccentric crew that feels like family.

My Thoughts:
**I received this book as a free egalley from netgalley.com in return for an honest review**

The author describes this book as a “romantic Firefly, or Guardians of the Galaxy” and I think thats a fair statement. Starflight is a fun and fast YA romp through space. Written from the dual perspectives of the male and female main characters, we see these two people who grew up in vastly different social strata (and who butted heads throughout high school) forced together on a perilous race across galaxies. Both are hiding secrets from the other, and neither trusts each other, and yet Doran and Solara will find they need to rely on each other to overcome enemies new and old. Together they find that sometimes you put your trust in the wrong people, and sometimes you are forced to rely on those you don’t trust at all.

I enjoyed this book, though I never really connected to Solara as a character. I felt that Doran was a more strongly developed and fully realized character than Solara, and just didn’t feel the author put an equal amount of time in developing Solara as she did Doran. I actually found myself connecting with his feelings, fears, and character arc more than Solara’s, which I found unusual ini a YA book as usually the female character tends to be the more fully developed of the two. The world building was pretty good, we’re given just enough understanding of how this world (or worlds, really) work that I’m intrigued to learn more about it in the following books (this is the first book in a planned series). There are several other characters introduced which were interesting and fun, though very under-developed thus far. But I believe that is intentional, as the following books feature those people as main characters, I believe, therefore it seems we are not meant to “get to know them” too much in this book.

The pacing is pretty good, a tad bit jumpy here and there, and several of the plot devices felt a bit “expected,” but there are a couple of twists in there to keep it from being stale, and overall I found this to be a satisfying space-travel story. I will absolutely pick up the sequel to see what happens next, whenever it should be released!


Liked it? Loved it? Gotta have more of it?
There is a planned sequel to Starflight, but no title or release date has been provided yet!

In the meantime you might like to try:


Extras:

  • Melissa Lander’s Starflight series website
  • This book is still months away from being released so I’m hoping more extras will be coming soon!

About the Author:
Melissa Landers is a YA author who often writes fun and fast-paced alien or space-travel romances.

Find her online:

Waiting on Wednesday – 1/6 – The Crown’s Game

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Waiting on Wednesday is brought to us by Breaking the Spine.

Its a weekly meme where we can share the upcoming releases we are so excited about!


 

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The Crown’s Game
by: Evelyn Skye
Release date: May 17, 2016

Vika Andreyeva can summon the snow and turn ash into gold. Nikolai Karimov can see through walls and conjure bridges out of thin air. They are enchanters—the only two in Russia—and with the Ottoman Empire and the Kazakhs threatening, the Tsar needs a powerful enchanter by his side.

And so he initiates the Crown’s Game, an ancient duel of magical skill—the greatest test an enchanter will ever know. The victor becomes the Imperial Enchanter and the Tsar’s most respected adviser. The defeated is sentenced to death.

Raised on tiny Ovchinin Island her whole life, Vika is eager for the chance to show off her talent in the grand capital of Saint Petersburg. But can she kill another enchanter—even when his magic calls to her like nothing else ever has?

For Nikolai, an orphan, the Crown’s Game is the chance of a lifetime. But his deadly opponent is a force to be reckoned with—beautiful, whip smart, imaginative—and he can’t stop thinking about her.

And when Pasha, Nikolai’s best friend and heir to the throne, also starts to fall for the mysterious enchantress, Nikolai must defeat the girl they both love . . . or be killed himself.

As long-buried secrets emerge, threatening the future of the empire, it becomes dangerously clear . . . the Crown’s Game is not one to lose.


Why am I waiting on it?

Um…did you read that synopsis? It sounds like a mix of hunger games, throne of glass, and a bunch of other books I love. As long as its story is original (and not actually a compilation of these other popular books) I foresee this being an excellent fantasy book! I’m hopeful the story will be as good as its synopsis makes it sound (or better!), and cannot wait to give it a try.

Waiting on Wednesday 12/16 – The Shadow Queen

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Waiting on Wednesday is brought to us by Breaking the Spine.

Its a weekly meme where we can share the upcoming releases we are so excited about!


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The Shadow Queen
by: C.J. Redwine
Release date: Feb 23, 2016

Lorelai Diederich, crown princess and fugitive at large, has one mission: kill the wicked queen who took both the Ravenspire throne and the life of her father. To do that, Lorelai needs to use the one weapon she and Queen Irina have in common—magic. She’ll have to be stronger, faster, and more powerful than Irina, the most dangerous sorceress Ravenspire has ever seen.

In the neighboring kingdom of Eldr, when Prince Kol’s father and older brother are killed by an invading army of magic-wielding ogres, the second-born prince is suddenly given the responsibility of saving his kingdom. To do that, Kol needs magic—and the only way to get it is to make a deal with the queen of Ravenspire, promise to become her personal huntsman…and bring her Lorelai’s heart.

But Lorelai is nothing like Kol expected—beautiful, fierce, and unstoppable—and despite dark magic, Lorelai is drawn in by the passionate and troubled king. Fighting to stay one step ahead of the dragon huntsman—who she likes far more than she should—Lorelai does everything in her power to ruin the wicked queen. But Irina isn’t going down without a fight, and her final move may cost the princess the one thing she still has left to lose.


Why am I waiting on it?

Basically…the cover! Oh, and the title. And its a fairy-tale retelling (which   I love). So really the better question would be, why wouldn’t I be waiting on this book!?! The title grabbed me and the cover drew me right in. I think this books sounds like it could be excellent! I cannot wait until February to give it a try 🙂