Monday, October 20, 2008

NHS Education Fund Makes Dreams Come True

From inside or out, our library courtyard is truly a beautiful site! Thanks to funding from the New Hope-Solebury Education Fund, our first phase of beautifying the library courtyard has been completed. Lance Landscaping did a superb job of arranging lovely plants and regrading and seeding the area. Next, they will be refurbishing our patio.

It won't be long that students will be enjoying their time out there - reading, studying and appreciating the serene environment. Thank you to NHS Education Fund president, Bill Scandone, for making it happen!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Breakfast with Books a Success!

Our Breakfast with Books openhouse was a huge success! The library was brimming with students before school who enjoyed a light breakfast as they browsed our new books. And the best news is ... 94 books were checked-out within 1/2 hour!

This was also the first day of our school-wide Inpendent Reading period which was also a great success. Our principal reports that "you could have heard a pin drop"!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Breakfast with Books!

Breakfast with Books Open House - On Sept. 17th, come join us before school in the library for a light breakfast and a display of new book arrivals! Just in time to kick-off our first Independent Reading session!

Monday, September 1, 2008

"I can hear the insects buzz..."

walk across the courtyard, towards the library.
i can hear the insects buzz and the leaves 'neath my feet...

ramble up the stairwell, into the hall of books...
since we got the interweb these hardly get used.

I heard the new song, Librarian, by My Morning Jacket this weekend on the WXPN. The above opening lyrics seem so appropriate as we continue to make plans for our new courtyard. The top soil has been delivered and seed will go down soon. Vic Lance took me around Feeney's Nursery on Friday and showed me various plants which we can consider throughout the area. Soon we will draw up the plans for the first landscape installment.
If all goes as planned, we will have plants in bloom outside our library by this coming Spring as well as patio seating.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

New for 2008-2009 - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more

As hard as it is to say good-bye to summer, many great things are lined-up for our 2008-2009 school year. I just posted a list of events and and new items on my library wiki. Of the many things to look forward to, one of the events I'm most looking forward to is a lunch-time book club, giving students and staff an opportunity to share what we're reading. Have you done much reading this summer? Hope you all managed to read some good books in addition to your required reading.
Here are the books I enjoyed this summer:
  • Before I Die by Jenny Dowham: a real tear-jerker, but none-the-less entertaining (it's one of this year's Reading Olympics books)
  • In the Time of Butterflies by Julia Alvarez: Wow - what a powerful book! My first Julia Alvarez book and definitely not my last! (also a Reading Olympics book)
  • The Lost Painting by Jonathan Harr - a true story about the missing Caravaggio painting, The Taking of Christ; quite interesting stuff
  • The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein - another tear-jerker, but a book with a message of the self-fulfilling prophecy: life is what you make of it!
  • Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer - An apocalyptic book which will get you thinking about how fragile our little plant really is (also a Reading Olympics book)
  • American Born Chinese by Gene Yang - a graphic novel which looks at Asian cultures as well as the desire to fit in (yet another Reading Olympics book!)
  • Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum - a heart-wrenching, mesmerizing novel about a young German woman during World War II. We've read much about the awful, unimaginable suffering of Jews. What were German citizens thinking and doing while these innocent people were being tortured and murdered? This book is not for the soft-hearted! It's a difficult, painful read, but beautifully told.
  • And Then You Die by Iris Johansen - because every summer deserves one light book which requires little from your mind. :-)
Enjoy the last weeks! See you in September!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Countdown to Twilight

I'm looking forward to picking up the fourth and final novel in Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series, Breaking Dawn. Anyone out there who went to the midnight release Friday?

Something else to look forward to is our school book discussions which lead up to the release of the movie, Twilight on December 12. We will be having after school book discussions on 10/28, 11/18, and 12/9.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

I recently came across Sunday's New York Times article, Literacy Debate: Online, R U Really Reading? Actually, it is the beginning of a series of articles on the " Internet and other technological and social forces are changing the way people read". This first article discusses the differences between reading a book and reading online. Of course, each has its merits and downfalls. Reading a book, to me, feels much like visiting a friend for a few days - I get the opportunity to really get to know them, learn from them, and am often sorry to say goodbye. Whereas when I read online, I feel like I'm in a room full of people with all different interests and viewpoints. I find myself drawn into one interesting conversation, but then am distracted by something else being discussed that also piques my interest. So, although I am offered a plethora of information and ideas, mingling through all this information takes patience and time...and it takes much effort to stay focused!

When you think about it, Web 2.0 tools are also kind of like being in that room of people: there are so many worthwhile, valuable ideas out there, but keeping your undivided attention on one for any length of time isn't easy. As our students are offered more and more online learning opportunities, they are placed in the same scenario. Does that mean that we keep closing the door to that room so that our students stay focused on just books and classroom learning? Of course not. Actually, our jobs as librarians have taken a very important shift: it's vital that we guide our students through all this information and show them how to get the most value from it all.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Y.A. is Definitely O.K.!

It was interesting to read Margo Rabb's article in yesterday's New York Times Book Review, I'm Y.A., and I'm O.K. She describes the disappointment that many writers experience when their novel, intended for an adult audience, is marketed towards the young adult audience. So I say, what is so bad about that? Mind you, this is a reaction of a high school librarian who enjoys so many young adult novels - often more so than some of the "adult" titles. As Rabb contends, the crossover from YA to Adult can be fairly transparent and perhaps the answer is to ease-up on categorizing them as such.
Life as We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer, Before I Die by Jenny Dowham and Tamar by Mal Peet are just a few of the recent " YA" titles which I've read, and which I would certainly recommend to adult friends. Likewise, just take a glance at this year's Alex Awards and you will find a wonderful selection of "adult" books which are very appropriate reads for high school students.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Courtyard Update

So...last week I met with local landscaper, Vic Lance and our Operations Director, Dave Hansel. A plan is in progress! Vic will begin to clean out the area of over growth and pruning the two existing trees. Top soil will be brought in and seeding will be done in late summer. Vic will also take care of resurfacing and staining the patio once a shade has been selected. Of course, I have all the fun jobs such as choosing the patio stain and selecting patio and garden seating. Luckily, I'll be getting some great assistance from project mentor, Rosanne Hansel of the Education Fund Committee.
As far as plants and flowers - why not ask the community to donate plants from their own gardens? What a great way to involve the New Hope community and make them a part of our little garden haven.

I was very surprised to stumble across a WikiREADia article on How to Create a Reading Garden-an initiative from the 2008 National Year of Reading. Should be a very helpful resource for us!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Good things to Come!

A picture of our courtyard as it looks now.

Students will soon have a relaxing, quiet place to read, reflect and gather together in the high school library courtyard! Thanks to the NHS Education Fund, a proposal has been accepted to have this area majorly spruced-up. Renovations will include patio restorations, flowers, plants and shrubs, garden d├ęcor, and comfortable patio seating. Student artwork will adorn the park-like setting in the form of wall murals, mosaics and sculptures. The new courtyard will provide a perfect setting for getting lost in a good book, creating “en plein air” art or hosting small class discussions.

But that's not all! The Education Fund has also accepted a proposal for hosting diverse, inspiring speakers to our school next year. We are so, so fortunate to have this committee of community members working to improve and enhance our students' education!

Friday, May 23, 2008

At the Movies: Marley & More

Big excitement in the nearby city of West Chester, PA where they are filming the movie, Marley & Me. The movie, based on the book by John Grogan, stars Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston. Maybe it's just me, but I just can't picture them playing the parts of John Grogan and his wife. Perhaps I'll be pleasantly surprised when it is released at the end of the year.

Of course, that's not the only "movie-based-on-book" we have to look forward to: Twilight (based on the ever-so-popular book by Stephenie Meyer) is also set to come-out at the end of the year. Based on the trailer which was recently released, it looks like it's going to be great. Perhaps it will be worth another school-trip to see the release, as we did for The Kite Runner!

King Dork, based on the book by Frank Portman and starring Will Ferrell, is set to be released
sometime this year (exact date to be determined). And we have quite a wait for the release of The Lovely Bones (based on Alice Sebold's novel). That movie, starring Atonement's Amanda Michalka, as well as Mark Wahlberg, Rachel Weisz and Susan Sarandon, is not due to be released until October of 2009! Of course, that also has local ties as much of it was filmed in Hatboro.

And, last but not least, The Dangerous Book for Boys hits not just the screen, but the tube very soon. Written by British authors, Conn and Hal Iggulden, the television show will air in England but may have a spin-off in America. It appears that both in the show and the movie, some of the British past times may be "Americanized" to make the viewing more appealing to the US population.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Summer Reading Book Fair

Good news for our students! You will be able to browse and select books for your required English reading on May 28th, 29th and 30th. All books will be on display in the library and order forms will be available for you to purchase the books at a 20% discount from Borders Bookstores.
Wondering what the books consist of? Stay tuned! The lists are being fine-tuned by the English teachers and will be posted in just a day or so.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Stamp of Approval

From Bucks County Courier Times, 5/12/08

How proud James Michener would be to know that he is today honored with his own postage stamp. The Pulitzer prize author from Doylestown was an avid stamp collector.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

For Walter Dean Myers Fans

Many of our students just can't get enough of Walter Dean Myers. They'll be very pleased to learn that not one - but two - new Myers books have just been released.
As is the setting for many Myers books, Harlem is the location of the high school where Drew Lawson is a basketball player in the novel, Game. As he aspires for college and a future with basketball, Drew must deal with his anger over the arrival of two, new white players on his team.
And for you lovers of Fallen Angel, look forward to reading Sunrise over Fallujah - a sequel in a way. A Private Perry once again narrates Sunrise, but this time the war is Iraq and the private is Robin Perry - the nephew of Fallen Angel's Private Richie Perry.
For a full review, see today's NYT's Sunday Book Reviews.

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Saturday, May 10, 2008

Twitter Your Library

Sarah Houghton-Jan (aka-The LibrarianInBlack) recently did a webcast for OPAL, Online Marketing for Libraries. You can find the archived presentation through OPAL's archive site.  She has tons of great tips on getting your library -and your library website- publicized and seen.  One of the things she mentions is iLibrarian's Guide to Twitter for Librarians.  Lots of great tips on how Twitter can be used to get information out to your students and to the community. Included is David Lee King's 10 Ways to use Twitter.  So many useful ideas!
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Thursday, May 8, 2008

The World is Awesome

I recently saw this video at a Discovery Educator's workshop.  It's worth sharing.

Embedded Video

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Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The Host hits Bookstores

As of yesterday, Stephenie Meyer's new book, The Host, is available at bookstores. Although this is not the sequel to her Twilight series, I'm sure it will be equally popular with young adults. The plot is intriguing - an alien species invades the human population by inhabiting their bodies. For one girl, Melanie, this causes some major problems when her particular inhabitant starts falling for Melanie's boyfriend. A love triangle - but with two bodies!

Borders Media website offers an interview with Stephenie Meyer. She talks about this new book, her sequel to Twilight, Breaking Dawn, and the Twilight movie being released in December.

Monday, May 5, 2008


In yesterday's Washington Post (4/4), Monica Hess questions our use of online information in her article Truth: Can You Handle It? Better Yet: Do You Know It When You See It? She discusses the increased popularity of Wikipedia and, as Steve Colbert describes it,"wikiality: a reality where, if enough people agree with a notion, it must be true."
Thankfully, as Hesse points out, librarians are leading the charge to show the importance of thorough research and the notion that information is good - but knowledge is better.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Reading Olympics Books on Shelfari

I decided to enter the 2009 Reading Olympics books on Shelfari. This way, my students can see the book jackets and get a glimpse of what each book is about.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Flock - My New Best Friend

Oh, the things you can do with the web browser, Flock.  What a great way to organize and keep track of all your social networking tools.  In fact, right now I'm testing out its blog editor with this very post.  Love It!
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The PSLA Top 40 Crew

Originally uploaded by joycevalenza
Another great year with the Top Forty librarians! So much fun "Dancing with the Stars"!
See you all next year!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

2009 Reading Olympics List

JUST RELEASED! The 2009 Reading Olympics list! There are many great new titles, including A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah.

Thanks for doing a great job, Selection Commitee!


Monday, April 21, 2008

Cast Your Vote

You have until May 3rd to cast your vote for the best Operation Safe Surf Video on the Attorney General's website. These six video's were created by high school students from Pennsylvania.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Mrs. Dickerson's Voice Thread Book Talk

Here is the link to the books I covered in my book talk. You will hear a small excerpt from the text and well as a brief description of the book. Please choose two books that you find interesting and comment using your own voice thread. Comments should include what make this book interesting to you, as well as if you will read it.