Thursday, June 6, 2019

Idea Brain Dump

Of course it is the last day of school and my brain is overloaded with ideas! Ideas that might work.. ideas that might not.. but ones that if they are not written down will be forgotten!

This blog is solely being used as a purpose to house my thoughts of things I might want to do next year and the random Bitmojis are only to break up the text.

Look Books
I LOVE all the posters of the different awards I get, but real talk.. I don't really have the space for them.. and I forget to take some down.  So, I might have posters up for a couple of years.  This year I am going to try something different. I am going to cut apart the posters and create a "Look Book" of sorts with the different awards.  I think students might even pay more attention to that as well.

Parent Involvement
Coming from elementary I was used to seeing 1 to 5 parents in the library a day.  They would bring their younger kiddos and check out books for themselves and their home. Our district does and awesome job and lets parents check out 10 books at a time.  The librarian before me had a punch card system.  Every time they got a punch for bringing their books back.  After 5 punches they received a free book.  I also added in after those 5 punches a reusable library bag.  Middle school is different... middle schoolers don't really want to be seen with their parents.  We do have some parent volunteers, but I want to try to get them to come upstairs to the library.  This last year my goal this year was to have a 30% increase in parent/community circulation. I had a BIG FAT 0!! But, having SMART goals makes your rethink why you wrote it.. if it was appropriate.. and what you might do different.
I have ideas!
-During registration I am going to have sign up ready for parents to get their own card
-Have a display of all that the library has to offer (we have a whole parent section and a lending library type thing for adults!)
-Have ready made fliers or bookmarks that have important dates on it so they can mark their calendar (ie. Book Fair, Late Night in the Library)
One of my other SMART goals was to offer parent training.
Next year I would like to start a monthly story time for parents to bring their non school age kiddos to have a story time and mini lesson.  One of my SMART goals was to also have parent training.  I hope to do this as well.  I want to try to get those scheduled mostly at the very beginning of the year so parents can add it to their calendar.
Will these ideas work.. I have NO idea, but I do want to increase parent involvement and reading at home!

Book Clubs
I have a confession.. I am TERRIBLE at book clubs.  I am GREAT at programming (at least I feel that I excel in that) but Book Clubs are not my strong point.  I sat down with our Dean of Students and we talked about some ideas for next year.  We are applied to be a Project LIT School last year, and started reading one book. Let's just say it was a flop. This year though...
I have ideas!
-Yes, we are still going to do Project LIT- they have a whole middle grade selections this year! Middle schoolers (just like any reader) has super varied interests and reading interests.  So, we are going to host monthly meeting.  If you are part of the Project LIT club you just read one that is on the list that interests you.  When we come to a meeting you share what you read (maybe do a Flipgrid) converse with other students that are reading books in the Project LIT list and choose a new one if you would like.
-I am going to do this same thing with our Bluebonnet and Lonestar list.
I know that as an adult I sometimes don't want to read what everyone else is reading, but I want to talk about what I read.  It is about reading and conversing right?

Morning Activities
The library is open every morning (goal is 7:30am) reality is 7:45pm.  I went to this awesome session during TLA where they talked about different programming that they have.  Most of the times students come up and use the library to chat, read, work on homework and catch up on their latest Youtube channel.  I am still going to have this, but I hope to a couple of mornings a week have an idea in place.
-One librarian talked about TedTalk Tuesday where they showed TedTalks
-I am going to do a Wellness Wednesday where I work on mindfulness and other coping skills
-We are thinking about one of the book club days being offered in the morning and the afternoon.. but we need a name for it.

Not that I condone the throwing of the paper! But.. I just officially finished my FIRST year as a Middle School Librarian! Check my Instagram Feed for what my library looks like now.. because.. hopefully this summer I will have some furniture moved (but I will also be taking a #digitaldetox starting June 16th.. so I will be back the end of July!)

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Top 10 of 2018-2019

I can almost taste summer.. just 2 more days away.  Although I will turn off the library lights for the last time this year on Thursday.. I will officially start a much needed break on June 16th!
So, last year around this time.. I made a leap.  A leap that I was so nervous about.. but yet so excited as well! I had been an elementary special education teacher, then an elementary instructional technology specialist, and then an elementary librarian.  After 16 years in elementary.. I moved to Middle School.  Now guys, I didn't just move to any middle school, I moved to the BEST one! You can find about my changing perspectives here

Today I finished my Year End Review  (I used Piktochart to share my information)
At the beginning of each year, I create a list of SMART goals.  This helps me stay on track and think about why/how I am implementing items.
You can find all my SMART goals here


1. Being able to learn from the most AMAZING library clerk! Gomez taught me SO much about middle school, working with middle schoolers, and systems that help make the library run smoothly.

2. The #Skurtcrew- It is important to find people that you can trust and work with. These ladies are AMAZING! They were always there for me, answered all my questions.. and were just an amazing support and wonderful friends!
3. Learning that there is a ghost in my library! You could always tell when Fred was around.  He would push books off the shelves.  These books would usually flip once, always land face up.. and also land about 2 feet away from the shelf (I have a whole Ghost Instagram Highlight at Beeinthebookends)
4. Working with some amazing librarians! Ones that are ready to collaborate.. ready to learn.. ready to try new things.. and ready to listen.  I am lucky that I have librarians all over that continually support me!


5. Going to games and seeing the kids outside of school! I didn't go to as many games as I wanted to, but I LOVED cheering on the Lamar Lions! I can't wait until next year to go to even more games!

6.  Destination ImagiNation in Middle School! I have done DI forever (and I LOVE it) but I sure did enjoy working with these middle schoolers! I also got to work with the Nerdy Birdys (which I have been doing since they were in 3rd and 4th grade!) Also.. I was smart enough to burn my chin with a hot glue gun!

7. Attending the North Texas Teen Book Festival with a bus full of kids (and some amazing adults!)

8. Being able to volunteer and work with some of the most amazing people. Words can not even begin to express how thankful I am that I had the help that I did this year.  Not only that, but I am so thankful for an admin that let this elementary school librarian come in.. and do some crazy things! I am also super thankful for the BEST STAFF ever to always try new things!

9. Library LINKS.  These 8th graders were what kept me going.  Did I cry a little when they walked out the door for the last time.. of course I did (I mean.... after my 5th period girls left, I couldn't hold it in anymore.. and then to read what they wrote in my yearbook?)

10.  My Ugly Sweater that I created- I became the real elf on the shelf.

There are SO many things that happened in the library this year.  I really focused on helping staff and students know that they library is a place where everyone can belong.  I had big shoes to fill, but I have enjoyed creating my own space.  My circulation numbers were not where I wanted them, I didn't get all of the things done that I had in my smart goals.. but I feel as I made a difference.  I know where I want to go next year.. I have ideas... and I look forward to continue to grow!
Other highlights
-started a K-Pop Club
-all 5 Destination ImagiNation teams placed at Regionals
-continued the ukulele club
-had 2 late night in the library that had over 100 participants each time
-hosted 2 bookfairs
-weeded over 120 boxes of books
-added over 700 books to the library
-attended some amazing conferences (TLA and North Texas Library Expo)
-I also took the best school picture I have ever had, but then again at the beginning of the year I was told I looked like Spiderman?

-being named Employee of the Month for September

-publishing an article over Bitmojis for the ATPE magazine

I know that I wasn't able to include all the things that made this year amazing.. please know that if we ever crossed paths, I appreciate you!!

What a great year of new perspectives, but this next year I my word is priority! I am starting off this summer with some #digitaldetox. So, catch you guys on the flipside! I will be back at the end of July!

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Top 5 of #TXLA19

The Texas Library Association Conference ended on Thursday, and I am still processing all of the amazing things I learned. The conference was Monday-Thursday, and I used ALL of my time learning, connecting and taking it all in.  You can check out all my sketchnotes from the various sessions at my Beeinthebookends Instagram. I learned more than 5 things while at the conference, but these were by far the things that stood out to me.

Top 5 of  #TXLA19
1- Mindfulness 101 with James Butler and Rachelle Finck out of all the sessions I went to, this was the one that I needed the most.  Living with someone that has mental health issues, I understand the importance of needing to teach children (and adults) mindfulness.  Working in a middle school I have also seen first hand how students need help in learning different coping skills to help them through life and middle school (middle school is hard!)  I was so excited to be one of the first people in line to purchase James new book Mindful Classrooms as I plan to incorporate some of these ideas in the library next year.

2-Listening to Sylvia Acevedo keynote the first general session.  I have talked about her before as she is the CEO of Girl Scouts.  She shares such a powerful story of her own journey of being very poor to being a rocket scientist.

3-The general session with Scott Pelley.  I could have listened to him speak all day! His book Truth Worth Telling will be coming out in May. TXLA19 was his first book event, and what a masterful story teller he is.  Before he shared some of the stories that have changed his life, he mentioned that so often we are trying to find the meaning of life.  We are asking the wrong question.  We should not be asking the meaning of life, but what is the meaning of you.  In my bag.. I had packed everything I needed but Kleenexes!

4- Connecting with librarians!  Being a librarian is one of the best but also hardest job that I have ever had.  I work on a great campus, but I am still the only librarian on the campus.. so sometimes it gets a little lonely.  During the conference I was able to connect with not only Irving librarians, but also librarians from across the state that are doing some amazing things.  In having conversations, it also helped me realize that I am doing pretty cool things too.

5- The authors and illustrators. I know that these authors and illustrators realize that they are going to be bombarded by crazy librarians wanting autographs, pictures, and conversations. But that just makes them even more awesome for being so patient and listening.
Dawn and I went to watch the bats and ran into AMAZING Illustrator Chris Hsu.  He is the illustrator for The Boo Boos that Changed the World

When I found out that there was going to be a Comic book day on Wednesday, I was super excited to become Vera from Be Prepared. Even better, the author Vera Brosgol was going to be signing books!

I have now had a chance to see this guy twice! Sean Easley is the author of the Hotel Between Series
 6- My bonus takeaway! I feel as if I do social media pretty well, but I really enjoyed going to Steven Vrooman over social media.  I look forward to telling my library story even better next year!

I am sure that you have noticed by now, one of my favorite things to do is take selfies! I LOVED that TXLA captured this one of me taking a selfie of the Comic Day Group.

On our way out of town, we also stopped at the new Austin Public Library Central Location. All I can say.. is wow!! There were so many more selfies, so many more people, and so much more learning that happened. I can't WAIT to go back and rethink some of things that I am doing, tweak other things, and evaluate those programs that I am doing.

Did you attend #TXLA19? What were your favorite sessions?

Saturday, April 13, 2019

What's In My Bag

The Texas Librarian Association Conference (#TLA19 or #TXLA19) is coming up this next week! I am SO excited about learning and connecting with so many different people.  The Girl Scout in me is always prepared too! I have had the opportunity to attend various conferences over the past 10 years and I have gotten a little smarter each time about what I included in my bag.  Am I going to forget something.. of course? Am I still going to pack too much.. you better believe it!

I started carrying a backpack a few years ago and I love my Ogio (which I also had my logo stitched into it... Horizon Imprinting always does such an AMAZING job)

I usually do take my laptop with me, but end up leaving it in the hotel.  I do this so I can possibly blog or look at various websites on a bigger screen rather than just my phone or iPad.  I remember when I used to go to conference I would take every possible device with me and my bag was SO heavy.. and I would only end up using one device.

Here is what I carry with me in my bag (I am including links when I can.. no I am not getting paid for anything, just what I enjoy using)
-When traveling to conferences, I ALWAYS pack my own snacks.  I usually have a granola bar and some sort of salty snack on me.  I also always pack a few water bottles and diet sodas to keep at the hotel. This way I don't always have to spend the extra money.
-I also always carry my own reusable cup.  I fill this up in the hotel in the morning and then often times will ask the restaurant I might be eating at to top it off. I am a HUGE water drinker, and I love that this keeps my water super cold. I have the Wal-Mart brand and of course have my logo on it.
-There never seems to be enough outlets so I have this Surge protector on hand. I can use it in the hotel room, or I can drop it in my bag during the day.
-I always have a portable charger on me.  I tend to use my phone the most during conferences, and this has been a life saver.  The one I use also has 3 USB hubs.  I make friends with everyone! I charge it in the evenings and then it is ready to go during the day.
-I use my phone for social media, but I have really enjoyed taking my own type of sketchnotes. I LOVE the Sharpie Pens.  These are great because they don't tend to bleed. I have tried the flair pens.. and I love that people use them, they just weren't for me.
-For my scetchnoting I use Canson Mix Media XL from Michaels
-I have one pouch for all my Sharpie Pens, but I also have another pouch full of sticky notes, scissors (you would be surprised how often people ask for these) glue stick, and other assorted pens.
-I take my own coffee coozie (I love a conversation starter and I love when I can promote my super talented friends)
-Business cards (going to these conferences, I also know a ton of people that print off already ready stickers with their information on it for various door prizes)
-Cable and bricks for charging devices
-Medicine! I have my RX migraine medicine, but I also always have ibuprofen, migraine meds, and benedryl on hand (and fingernail clippers) I also carry a couple of oils with me. I have found that when I go to conferences my brain gets super overloaded.. and I get overwhelmed which can lead to my migraines.. so I always have my Tranquil roll-on 
-I also have an umbrella and a sweater (love that my friend Laura made me a specific one for librarians! She also did the logo for my cup.. you can find her at Preserve the Moments)
-Of course I also have Max! Max was given to me by my husband.. and he goes EVERYwhere with me!

What is a must have in your bag? Are you attending TLA? I would LOVE to meet you in person! I will be posting throughout the conference on Twitter and Instagram

Saturday, March 23, 2019


I have been home for about 3 hours, and my brain has been reeling from attending the North Texas Teen Book Festival (#NTTBF) This was my third one to attend, but my first to take a group of students.
I attended the first one with my friend McKennan.  She had asked if I wanted to go to a book festival that was down the street, so I said sure.. thinking it would only be a couple of hours. We ended up staying the whole day and getting books signed. Before #NTTBF15 I had already been talking to some of my librarian friends about becoming a librarian, but it was just talk and in the back of my mind.  During the session It's The End of the World as We Know It, I was so inspired by several of the authors, but especially Alex London. They talked about how powerful it is to share your work no matter if it is good or bad. That it is important to be rejected, because that it only makes you better.  As I sat there.. I realized how I want to give even more students the opportunities to listen to authors that are writing for them. You can find my blog about #NTTBF15 here.

I volunteered at #NTTBF last year not knowing that my path would soon change and I would get that chance to take students.  I got a late start preparing due to Destination ImagiNation.  But before spring break started.. I had the bus ordered, a list of students.. shirts ordered and was ready!

I met my students at Lamar (many had attended before with the previous amazing librarian!) this morning at 7:45am and we were on our way by 8:15am. We missed the wristbands that were given out (things to rethink about next year) To attend some of the sessions and specific authors, wristbands are required.  Did I mention the whole festival is FREE? It takes a ton of man power from the amazing people that organize it to the 100s of volunteers to make sure it runs smoothly.

Although there were so many panels I wanted to see, I did a TON of picture taking. I had the chance to provide pictures to the Visit Irving Texas Instagram feed. I enjoyed people watching as I saw so many excited readers meeting the authors of the characters and stories they had fallen in love with.

She drug me to the first one and I am so glad that she did!
Had to stop Alex London again and tell him thanks for inspiring me to become a librarian.

I finally got to meet Hope in person! She is doing AMAZING things.. and she used to be the librarian in the Lamar Library!

These ladies were the awesome chaperones with me!

Horizon Imprinting always does a great job for me. Our students looked fabulous (and were easier to spot!)
I did attend one session called Adventure Awaits. The panel was Holly Golberg Sloan, Daniel Older, Lisa McMann, Yoon Ha Lee, Sean Easley, and Soman Chainani. I think my favorite part is where they shared "Easter Eggs" that you might find in their books.  I enjoyed hearing how one of the characters from Sean Easley's book was from a kiddo that he knows that uses a wheelchair.  As librarians we are always looking for windows and mirrors to share, and I can't wait to share that one. I also loved what Holly Sloan said about her character Willow Chance.  Such a deep meaning for a name, and I hope that I am both will and chance for all the things I have done and who I am.

My Top 3 of #NTTB19
1. Having conversations with various students about what books they were reading, why they were in love with the characters and realizing I need to read SO much more!
2. Playing photographer! I know I just had my phone on my camera, but I loved nabbing all the different pictures (and I sort of loved getting some sneaky shots of some amazing authors!)
Signing for Tomi Adeyemi 

Signing lines for Raina Telgemeier and Angie Thomas
3. Taking a group of kids! Oh my goodness, I know it was only 23 students.. but I LOVED that I got to share NTTBF with them.

I can't wait until next year! Did you go to NTTBF? What was your favorite part?