Andover is one of eight large boarding schools that have affiliated for purposes of collaboration. Two of the other members that are geographically closest to us are St. Paul’s and Exeter. Fortunately, I consider the library directors at those schools friends as well as colleagues, and it would be a treat to get together even if we didn’t “have” to. Today our meeting was held at the beautiful Ordstrom Library at SPS. I parked a long way from the library, having been conditioned that when you see a parking spot anywhere on campus, you take it. As it happened, the summer session had just ended, and the campus was practically empty.
Gail, Kevin, and I met in Kevin’s office, and considered a full agenda that ranged from assessment to weeding. But eventually, we needed to break for lunch. We went into Concord to Angelina’s, which is likely the best Italian restaurant outside of the North end for hundreds of miles.
Now we will all head off on vacation to enjoy the calm before the inevitable chaos of the opening of school, but I look forward to seeing my friends again in September.
There are actually many “best” parts of my job, but one of them is definitely meeting with colleagues to plan new courses. Today I spent time with my friend Allen Grimm, who teaches in the Theater Department and who is planning a new course on August Wilson that will carry both theater and English credit. Allen and i have been talking about this course since May, and I have been assembling materials for use in the creation of a dedicated OWHLGuide.
Our collection is surprisingly rich in resources that are aligned with the course themes. A simple search in our new Discovery system yielded 901,637 hits on the search term “August Wilson.” Of those, the source types break down as follows:
There are some quirks in this system. For instance, streaming videos, which appear in our “book” catalog, are classified by Discovery as “books.” Allen has given me his working syllabus. He’ll be adding more detail after a reconnaissance trip to Pittsburgh that he is making in August. Working with his syllabus, and the world of information resources, I now have the (really fun) task of selecting and assembling those resources in a way that will help Allen’s students engage in inquiry-powered learning. I love my job!
There are twelve very special students on campus during summer session. They study Geometry, English, and Art together, and participate in all of the summer session activities. But they are different from the rest of the summer session students in that they are all rising ninth graders who will matriculate at Andover next month. Having now been here for more than a month, they are clearly “bonded” as a group. They know their way around the campus, and have made friends that they may well keep for a lifetime.
They are important to the OWHL. In September, when everyone arrives, it is easy to become overwhelmed. We stopped offering “library orientation” several years ago because we realized that it was overkill. But we want to get to know the new students, and so we took advantage of this unique opportunity to meet with a group of kids before the chaos of the start of the year.
So we invited the ACE 9 group to a special “reception” in the OWHL. We offered treats and small gifts. All twelve arrived together, several minutes early.
Each librarian “adopted” two students, and committed to be their “concierge librarian” for the next four years. We first took our students on a private tour of the building, highlighting different study venues and talking about available resources. Then we all convened in the China Room, where we shared snacks and got to know them a little better.
Every one was brave enough to accept a cricket bar from Stephanie. We did not require that they be consumed on the spot, and several kids indicated that they planned to take them home as presents for a younger sibling.
The event was very successful, and will be repeated next year. (In my absence!)
Today was a really rainy day. The periodic thunderstorms that came throughout the day were short, intense, and very dramatic. There was even a tornado in Revere. It was a very good day to read, and our Children’s area was busy throughout the morning with young families enjoying the books, toys, and a respite from the weather.
The Freeman Room was transformed today into a stage for a puppet show. The show was the final event in the OWHL’s series of literary and associated activities for summer session. It was organized by our Children’s Librarian, Emily Goss, who brought a talented team of puppeteers from CactusHead Puppets.
The stage was an engineering marvel. Especially considering that it was transported in a regular car from the Berkshires to Andover.
The audience was rapt.
The story, adapted from a Puerto Rican folk talk, featured a hapless hero named Juan Bobo. “He always tries to do the right thing, but often makes mistakes. For Juan even the smallest task can lead to the silliest of results. But can Juan Bobo’s seemingly foolish actions end up saving the day?” An understanding mother, a grumpy neighbor, and a spritely pig named Puerco round out the case.
At the end of the show, the puppeteers spoke with the audience how puppets are made, and allowed them to come and explore the puppets for themselves.
Thanks to CatcusHead puppets! We look forward to hosting you again soon.
It was a beautiful day, and I decided to go for a bike ride, to Crane Beach. It is a beautiful ride, which passes through North Andover, Topsfield, and Ipswich on the way to the beach. There were lots of other cyclists on the road, riding a lot faster than I was. Partly because I like to look around, and partly because the ride, through rolling hills on back roads, was a physical stretch for me.
But the destination justified the effort.
Lots of other people agreed. The only down side to this beautiful day is that my “Fitbit” fails to recognize cycling as exercise. Thus, after a 53 mile bike ride, my daily score ended up qualifying as my “worst day” of the week.
We work hard to get kid’s attention. Many of our students, both summer session and “regular” come to campus having had all of their research needs met by Google. We know that we can improve their inquiry skills, and that it is essential to their academic future that those skills be improved.
But first we have to get their attention. All learning involves conversation. So we do a variety of simple things to engage our students. We put prompts up on a large whiteboard, and leave markers there of kids to use to use. This prompt was “My favorite NERD obsession is…”
It generated immediate and almost frenzied interest. So much so that we had to reverse the board and continue the conversation on the other side.
Another thing that we have tried this summer involves collecting information (through a very short survey) on students experiences with libraries, librarians, and library resources. To pique their interest and encourage them to sit down with us to complete the survey, we appealed to their pride. In fact, the “prize” for talking to us was an Exo cricket bar.
Turns out, they are pretty tasty.
In addition to the white board, we provide subject themed table displays to promote books and films. The current offering is about the brain–neuroscience, creativity, and a whole raft of other related topics. Decorating the display table are our mascot owl, Winky, and PA’s mascot, Gunga. Winky and Gunga have on fashionable brain hats. Additional hats are available, but so far, we haven’t had any takers.