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Salesian Library Takes Flight on Twitter


Twitter (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Christmas break is great for so many reasons, one of which is breathing room. During the first few months of each school year, it is easy to get overwhelmed with day-to-day tasks, forcing more ambitious or experimental endeavors to get filed away. Twitter is such an endeavor for me, at least for me in connection with the Salesian High School Library.

I’ve been a personal user of Twitter for years, singing its praises to any and all educators who would listen. My Twitter PLN (Personal Learning Network) has been invaluable to me, fully picking up where my graduate schooling left off, and challenging my views of journalism in the process. That being said, I have yet to utilize Twitter in a way that speaks specifically to the Salesian community; that ends now. From this point forward, I will be using the hashtag #SHSLIB to organize tweets I believe to be beneficial to one or more groups of stakeholders in the Salesian High School community. If you fall into one of those groups (parents, students, faculty, alumni, prospectives), I hope you’ll tune in from time to time and lend your voice. It is, after all, called social media for a reason.

Happy Learning!

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Banned Books Week at Salesian

Even though Banned Books Week is technically over, I’m going to write about it anyways. Being a solo librarian, I’m often running a little behind, but that doesn’t mean things have to be altogether forgotten. For instance, this year I wasn’t able to get my Banned Books Week display up until Tuesday (3 days into the celebration). As a result, I’m just going to keep on celebrating until I’m ready to change the display.
Banned Books Display
Last year, I simply put up Banned Books signs along with a few relevant titles. This year, I went a little more gung-ho. As you can see, all of the books are completely wrapped in orange paper to cover their titles, and they are displayed behind caution tape. Each book also has a note attached to it containing the reason for the book being banned. The louder display, coupled with PA announcements and signs posted in the hallways, has really upped the level of curiosity from the students. A few faculty members have even stopped me to guess certain titles.

In addition to the display, the students have been encouraged to guess the titles of each book. For each book they are able to guess, their names are entered into a drawing for an Amazon Gift Card. Rather than simply telling me their guess, the students have to send me an email with a link to an article that serves as their proof connecting the title to the reason for the book being banned. Though I’m more than pleased with the interest this display has garnered, I’ve been bombarded with emails and will definitely create a Google Form or other such method of entry for future contests. I’d also like to motivate them through something other than monetary means.  I learn something new every time, and as long as things keep improving year over year and the students are engaged, I’m a happy camper.

Students Eyeing Banned Books
Whether or not your celebration of Banned Books Week continues on, I hope the freedom to read whatever you please is not lost on you. Happy reading everybody!

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Salesian High School Library Catalog

I’m very excited to announce that the Salesian High School Library Catalog is now available 24/7 through the Web and the iOS and Android App Stores. Search Salesian’s books and online resources in whatever way works for you. The tutorial below will walk you through the Destiny Quest app, which is my favorite way to navigate the library’s great resources. While the primary audience for the tutorial is Salesian faculty members, anyone is welcome to peruse the collection as a guest. Students, when asked for a username and password, use the same information that gets you into the school computers or onto the school network via your iPads.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask them in the comments or send an email to library@salesian.com.

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Tech Tip of the Week #2: Library Extension

For the first installment of Tech Tip of the Week, I mentioned Learnist, a great site for finding and creating curated collections. This time around, I’d like to feature Library Extension, a very useful tool for those that make use of the Chrome browser. As a general rule, I try to avoid promoting things that are limited to one browser or platform, but Library Extension is pretty neat. Also, I’m a huge Chrome fan. If you value speed, efficiency and extensibility, then I highly suggest you give Chrome a shot. In the end, whatever works for you is the browser to go with.

But I digress. My reason for liking Library Extension stems from 2 passions of mine – I love shopping for books on Amazon, and I love borrowing books from the library. So what if I could do my book browsing on Amazon and then easily find out that the book I want is available at my public library. Enter Library Extension. Library ExtensionJust today I was looking at my Amazon wishlist dedicated to materials for Salesian, and thanks to Library Extension I was shown the image at right prompting me to request the book through the Oakland Public Library system. Clicking on the little plus sign will show you exactly which branch currently has the title in its possession. Of course, you may easily discover that a book you’re looking at on Amazon is unavailable at your public library. Library ExtensionWhen that is the case, you’ll see the image shown at left. It would probably help if I told you why I keep referring to the Oakland Public Library. When you first install the extension, you can tell it whatever library system you would like it to search as you peruse Amazon.

If nothing else, the big take away here should be the importance of a public library card. Without that, none of this is possible. If you feel like the public library has nothing to offer you, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I’d love the opportunity to try to convince you of the many benefits, all available to you for a small fee in the form of tax dollars.

If you have a tech tip that you’d love to share, please drop it in the comments. Otherwise, don’t hesitate to contact me with any technology questions you may have.

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Tech Tip of the Week #1: Learnist and College Preparedness

I don’t know about you, but I’m always searching for ways to make the time I spend online more efficient. Oftentimes, that means finding a website, application, journalist, etc, that is able to curate and synthesize things that previously required me to scour the web. My latest and greatest find on the path towards efficiency is a site called Learnist. In a nutshell, Learnist allows you to cobble different parts of the web together into nice little collections. For the growing number of people familiar with Pinterest, Learnist will look pretty familiar, minus its darker color scheme. If you’re interested in creating your own Learnist collections, visit the site, sign up for an account and start grabbing things from around the web using the handy Learnist bookmark. Otherwise, dive into one or more of the categories that suit your interests and see what others have put together. If you don’t see a category that appeals to you, perform a search for whatever it is that’s currently tickling your curiosity bone.

I bring up Learnist not only because it’s awesome, but because the great folks at Edudemic just rounded up 10 Learnist boards for getting ready for college. There’s always another round of SAT and ACT tests right around the corner, and who can forget the growing cost of sending a son or daughter to college. If college preparedness is a concern of yours, check out the Edudemic recommendations and enjoy the many wonders that Learnist has to offer in the process.

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Banned Books Week – Part Two

Earlier in the week, I pointed out a few ways in which the Salesian library is participating in Banned Books Week. On this, the final official day of Banned Books Week, I wanted to point you to a few great resources marking the occasion. The first resource is a video put together by Cal State Poly. One of the school’s library employees walked around campus asking students for their reactions on having read banned books. Check it out:

Next up is a series of author reactions to their books being banned, courtesy of Flavorwire. The following comes from J.K. Rowling following an accusation that Harry Potter  promotes satanism:

“A very famous writer once said, ‘A book is like a mirror. If a fool looks in, you can’t expect a genius to look out.’ People tend to find in books what they want to find. And I think my books are very moral. I know they have absolutely nothing to do with what this lady is writing about, so I’m afraid I can’t give her much help there.”

Follow the link above or visit Flavorwire to read the rest from the likes of Mark Twain and Philip Pullman.

Google Books has put together a page pointing out books that have been challenged this year and in the past. All of the books are linked so you can easily sample or even purchase them, if you so choose. For any Android users out there, Google Books offers a nice alternative to Amazon’s Kindle app and the other assorted eReader applications available in the Google Play store.

Bill Moyers, a famous journalist and commentator, always seems to have something profound to say. As an honorary cochair of Banned Books Week, he put together the following video essay:

This next video comes from the parent organization behind Banned Books Week and features prominent contemporary authors speaking out against censorship:

Since you might not enjoy watching endless videos on this topic, I’ll point out one more and be done with it. For something different, this last video features an alternative take on flash mobs, courtesy of Lafayette College:



Magnetic Poetry – Episode 01

The school year began with several new additions in the Salesian library. One of those additions was magnetic poetry. Magnetic poetry allows students to be creative, to have their creativity displayed for others, and to play an active role in cultivating the library as a space. For starters, I introduced the original magnetic poetry kit, as well as the Shakespeare edition. When introduced, the two sets remained separate, but they have predictably been combined to form a nice hybrid of modern and Elizabethan English. The first few days of this experiment involved the regular removal of words as it became obvious some students couldn’t control their inclination towards perversion. Regardless, some real gems were created, and this is only the first batch. As time goes on, I’d like to add additional words, either by purchasing another set or by devising a way to have students create their own custom magnetic tiles. For now, I hope you enjoy these student creations as much as I have.

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Have you ever dabbled with magnetic poetry? If so, please share a favorite or two in the comments. Even if magnetic poetry isn’t your thing, share a favorite poem or quote in the comments. Stay tuned for the next episode of magnetic poetry.