Saturday, September 26, 2009

Audio Books: Cassettes, to CD's, to Playaways, to ???

So I'm faced with an outdated audio collection in my new elementary library. I know that audio books are important on so many different levels, such as building fluency, opening books on a higher reading level for struggling readers, and pure and simple enjoyment. Yet I'm faced with an unattractive and aging audio collection. Most of it is cassettes hung in tacky plastic folders behind the circulation desk.

I've kicked around the idea of circulating some old cassette players we've got in the AV room gathering dust. It's kinda funny, because I show a cassette to kids, and most of them don't know what it is or how to play it. But it's sad too, because so much of my collection is simply extinct. So, I could circulate a book, cassette player, and cassette bundle. But should I even be promoting that type of technology? Or should I take the attitude that at least it will get some use? And if the cassettes come back eaten up, then oh well? If the players get beaten up and broken, oh well? Honestly, half of them are probably already on their last leg anyway.

Or should I pay $2.50 each plus the cost of a CD, and have the district convert them to CDs? Then kids could check them out. But really do most of their parents have a CD player that they could use? The kids probably don't. There may be a CD player in their parents car. But is it convenient to use? Or, maybe parents have a CD player in the living room, but do the kids want to sit in the living room while the whole house listens to the book on "tape"? Somehow I don't see that happening much either. The kids may check out the CDs for the novelty of it, but I suspect most of them will be returned unopened.

Or, I could invest a lot of money in playaways, which are expensive. For $35-$60 each, they are essentially preloaded mp3 players with a book, or a few shorter books. But that is so expensive... At my last school, the kids raised $700 with a magazine fundraiser. Guess how many playaways I could purchase with that money? A whopping 15. Wow. Not a whole lot. Plus I've heard they break within a year. Oh, and did I mention batteries?

So what's a librarian to do? Audio content is in such a transition period right now, and technology is advancing at such a rapid pace. I hesitate to spend money on CD's. Cassettes are just laughable. Preloaded mp3 players are so expensive.

So then I kicked around another idea... How about buying some iPods, purchasing some audio books through iTunes, and then loading them up myself? Then the audio books would have an undeniable cool factor, they would be portable, and they would be convenient to use. The down sides? They would be expensive, time consuming to load new content, and what if they break or get lost? How many parents would be willing to pay to replace them? I am lucky and work in a school that could probably afford this type of program. I realize that for other librarians, this would not even be an option. Then I started re-thinking this solution. I'm not even sure that this would be legal, due to DRM issues. Yeah, so maybe I shouldn't open that can of worms.

For now, I'm researching, dreaming, and trying to think big for a good solution to this dilemma. Anyone else have any ideas? Feel free to comment below.

~The Square Librarian

Friday, September 11, 2009

Way to go, California! NOT

I was shocked to hear that one district in California closed all of its school libraries. I read about it in this article:

Rozzi says, "I just don’t get it, how do you have a school without a library?" My thoughts exactly! I just had a first year teacher come check out 50 books to build her classroom library until she can build her own. While the school library doesn't exist just to stock teacher libraries, I am so glad she had this opportunity to get books into her students hands.

We are supposed to be educating young Americans to be world leaders... how can this happen without books, literacy, and research resources?

~Square Librarian

Friday, July 31, 2009

Librarians Gone Wild

I love this recent article from the Austin American Statesman. It just goes to show that librarians aren't all what you would expect!

Now where can I get my hands on that calendar?

~ Square Librarian

Saturday, July 18, 2009

How many items do you have checked out?

My hubby forwarded me an interesting poll from

The people that typically read slashdot are very technologically oriented, and I wonder if that skews the results from the average population. However, I have to say I was a tad disappointed in the results of the poll. The comments at the end were illuminating.

Librarians, take note!

~The Square Librarian

p.s. I currently have two books checked out and just returned five.

Monday, July 6, 2009

I'm a weiner! I mean, a winner!

So I follow author Patti O'Shea on twitter (@patti_oshea). She's funny, I would recommend you follow her, too.

The other day she announced that she would be guest blogging on Crystal Jordan's blog, so I mosey-d over to check it out. Patti decided to give away an autographed copy of In the Midnight Hour to someone who left a comment. I read, I commented, and I WON!!!!

Now, you have to know how cool this is for me. I'm a librarian. Authors are the equivalent of rock stars in my world. Seriously!

I am so looking forward to reading this first book in Patti O'Shea's Light Warrior series. I'll let you know what I think of it. Edge of Dawn (book 3) just came out a few days ago, so I have some catching up to do!

~Square Librarian

Of course, I am compelled to cite my sources, so if you want to have a link to Crystal Jordan's blog, you can find it here:

Patti O'Shea's website is:

If you don't know what Twitter is, wonder no longer. Click here, I won't tell anyone you didn't know.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Who thought this was a good idea?

Really, could we do any more to make the library feel like an unwecoming place to be?


Saturday, May 30, 2009

Holy iPhone, Batman!

Okay, so if you know me at all, you know that I have major technolust for the iPhone. I am charmed by the idea of a device that you can use as a phone, MP3 player, gps, computer, etc., all in one sleek cool package. The only thing missing in my opinion, is the ability to take high quality digital video. This too, in time, I'm sure. The only reason why I don't have one is because I cannot justify spending $1200 a year. :(

But, Wait!

If you are a teacher and you have an iPhone, you MUST visit It is a site started by Andrew Morris, an educator in the Round Rock Independent School District in Texas. He has compiled a bunch of really handy tips and app reviews that help make your job as a teacher easier. He organizes his site into three categories: Classroom Management, Instructional Tools, and the new category of Multimedia.

As a side note, I bemoaned the cost of the iPhone in an email with Mr. Morris. He was very well informed about the industry and told me about the new Verizon version of the iPhone. And any other librarians in the district may have a unique appreciation for his views on calculators, as well. *wink*

Thanks, Mr. Morris, for sharing your practical and fun tips in a well-organized format!

~The Square Librarian

Saturday, May 9, 2009

On Being a School Librarian...

After going to classes and reading aloud until 12:45 in celebration of Read-In, I set up for the Spring bookfair. Then I had this nice treat to look forward to... I heart my job, it's something new every day.

Did I mention that my dog is going crazy over the chirping? I think I am too. Wheee!


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A round of applause, please...

I turned in my library books on time! For the first time in, well, probably ever, I actually turned in my library books the day they were due. I generally consider all my late library book fines as a donation to the library and more often than not end up owing about $5 each time I go. :)

Still a bargain, in my book!

~ The Square (and late) Librarian

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Ode to Flip

and how I love thee...

I recently purchased a flip video camera for my school library and I LOVE it. I use it every day. We have a daily student led broadcast and I have learned how to create videos to imbed in the PowerPoint slides. Each day we have a BrainQuest Question of the Day segment and I record the student winner (random drawing for winner) recording the next day's question. I have also used the flip to video changes in the library. Recently our IT department changed some links and so users had to learn a new way to access the catalog. Easy peasy. I recorded myself accessing the catalog step by step for the flip camera and everyone got a mini library lesson that morning. When I did some rearranging, I toured the library so everyone would be familiar with the changes. When I got some new audio books I videoed them and they were all off the shelf the same day. As a means of communication with the whole school, it's been fabulous.

In fact, I love my flip video camera so much that I bought one for me to use at home. I got the HD for home use, which is better for me. I can't tell you how lovely it is for this slightly absentminded librarian to be able to flip open the USB plug on the camera and plug it straight into the computer. No digging for cords!!! Freedom!

Here's me and my new toy!

~Square Librarian

Monday, April 13, 2009

Pizza Joy

So is it silly that I still get a kick out of ordering pizza online? I know it's not exactly a new technology... but it's so cool.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Tiny town, advanced library

I was playing with Flickr and found the group, Library Signage (link to the right). I noticed a lot of signs from Lester Public Library, a small town library in Wisconsin.

This small town library is doing a lot right, including Wii events for teens and adults, email book clubs (!), and a community story telling time where participants of all ages can come talk about a pre-determined topic like first jobs or Momma's kitchen. They have a MySpace site, Flickr site for the library, and *gasp* they actually let patrons use flash drives in their computers.

Kudos to the library director and staff at Lester Public Library. Looks like you are doing a lot right!

Check it out for yourself at

~The Square Librarian

Square Librarian Reports for Duty

So I'm enjoying my morning coffee this fine Saturday morning, looking out the window at my own green paradise. Dontcha just love trees?
I created this blog to report my random musings on all things book related- especially libraries and current trends. I am doing this to further my own professional development, but want to remain authentic as well. So it will be a blend of personal/professional stuff. Kinda like me- imagine that!
I've lately discovered Michael Stephens, a professor who gave several interesting talks at the annual Texas Library Association conference in Houston. He's my new muse... very cutting edge and relevant info available on his blog, which is at if you are curious at all.

The Square Librarian

"I have measured out my life with coffee spoons." ~ T.S. Elliot