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Entries Tagged as Where in the World of Library is Carl?

ALA 2013 Reflections

July 09, 2013 · 16 Comments

I’ve been home for about 3 days now….just enough time to get the laundry done and put away, check in on those cute nieces and nephews, and begin to think about what I need to pack for Ireland/Scotland.  But, before I get too far down that road, I need to take a little time to reflect on ALA.

It was a great conference!  Why?

Well, first and foremost I got to connect with my friends.  Over the 10+ years that I’ve been going to ALA and ALA Midwinter, I’ve made some amazing friends and the opportunity to see and talk with them in person is just invaluable.  I’ve said it countless times, but I love networking at a conference.  These are the folks I have come to rely on, and once again they didn’t let me down. 

As has become a habit lately, I didn’t get to very many sessions.  My commitments to AASL and other committees pretty much took up my entire time.  There were lots I wanted to go to, and especially would have loved to see the Best Apps for Teaching and Learning inaugural list and the Best Websites for Teaching and Learning presenting their 5th annual list.  Luckily all of those resources are online for me to access once I get a little down time.  I also heard that Susan Ballard’s AASL Presidential program with Mark Edwards, Supt. of Mooresville (NC) Graded School District was amazing.  It is always great to see a school leader speaking up for school libraries. 

Why did I miss so many sessions?  Well, I was wrapping up my term as Immediate Past-President of AASL.  So as of the end of the conference, I am now officially off the AASL Board.  Susan Ballard is now the Immediate Past-President and Gail Dickinson is the AASL President.  I leave the organization in very capable hands. I’ve had an amazing opportunity as AASL President to learn and grow over the last 3 years that I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.  It will be something I will always treasure. 

I made it into the exhibit hall a little bit to see some of the latest and greatest and check in with some vendor friends. I also attend the AASL Awards luncheon to recognize some of the best and brightest projects and programs in the country.  Congratulations to all the winners. 
One of them could be you next year?  Think about it! 

I also got to the closing session with Octavia Spencer where ALA President Barbara Stripling did an amazing job interview.  Finally we celebrated the retirement of Julie Walker as AASL Executive Director.   After 16 years, she is retiring and moving on to new adventures, so this conference was a lot about thanking her for the great work she has done for AASL.

For me this time around, the biggest thing I got out of the conference was a little rejuvenation. I’m excited to start back to school (which will be all too soon here) and see what the possibilities will be with my students and staff.  I needed the buzz of conferences, I think, to help get me going, but all the talking and sharing about school libraries was wonderfully exciting. 

Finally I ended the conference at the inaugural brunch where ALA President Barbara Stripling officially began her year.  I know amazing things will be happening this year with her at the helm of ALA.  It was a great celebration to end a great conference!

Carl is the librarian at North Elementary School in Noblesville, Indiana.  He can be reached at or @caharvey2 on Twitter.  He is a Past-President of AASL, and an author of professional books for school librarians.  He blogs at Library Ties.

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See You At ALA 2013

June 28, 2013 · 20 Comments

It’s the end of June and for me that means two annual events – my birthday and ALA.  They often overlap, as they do this year, so I’ll be celebrating both in Chicago this year.  I’ve been a regular ALA (and Midwinter) attendee for about the last 10 years now.  I’d been a few times prior to that, but it had never really clicked for me.  But 10 years ago I was elected President-Elect of our state organization, so I needed to attend to be a part of the AASL Affiliate Assembly.  And as they say, the rest is history. 

So, why do I head to ALA?

Involvement:  From that first Affiliate Assembly meeting I was drawn into the work of AASL.  For many years, part of being involved on committees meant attending conferences to meet with your group.  Being a Board member and officer has continued that need to be at conferences and I’ve immensely enjoyed the experience of being so involved in AASL and then beginning to branch out into some other divisions and ALA next.

(Please note:  Now you can work virtually for almost all of AASL committees, so that requirement that you have to be at a conference is gone.  Yeah!  Have you thought about volunteering?  Check out the AASL website!)

Programs:  Annual is where there is programming galore on all sorts of topics.  Lately my schedule has been hard to get to the programs and meetings, but I’m sure there will be time to sneak in a good session or two. 

Vendors:  This is a great chance to interact with vendors and see what is new and great coming down the road.     

Networking:  But  truly, the reason I love going to ALA the most is the networking.  I have made some amazing friends over the years at ALA and AASL. The conferences are great times to catch-up by sharing the successes and failures from the year.  The conversations bring a wealth of ideas and thoughts to try.  Sure, we keep in touch via a variety of technology tools, but there is nothing better than catching up with a friend face to face.

Fun:  There are lots of opportunities for fun at conferences, too.  Plenty of receptions and special events where you can have a lot of fun.

Travel: While Chicago is not a new city for me, I love traveling and visiting places.  Prior to my involvement in ALA and AASL, I didn’t travel very often, but now I love going and exploring when there is time.  

So for all these reasons (and probably a few more that have escaped me this evening), I am starting to think about what all I need to pack and getting ready for a great 6 or 7 days in the Windy City for ALA Annual 2013.  It will be a great way to celebrate the end of June as always!

Carl is the librarian at North Elementary School in Noblesville, Indiana.  He can be reached at or @caharvey2 on Twitter.  He is a Past-President of AASL, and an author of professional books for school librarians.  He blogs at Library Ties.

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Our EDU Breakfast Club

May 23, 2013 · 11 Comments

Every other Friday during the school year since August 2002, I get up and head to breakfast at a local restaurant.

I started going to breakfast because I was asked.  There was a group of teachers from my building (and a few retired teachers) that met every other week for breakfast just to chat before school started.  It was one of the best decisions I made to attend.  I learned so much about the history and culture of the school.  Not only was I getting the current realities, but I also got historical context, stories, and the background on why my school is the way it is.

The lessons I’ve learned over the last 11 years have been invaluable because I have built relationships with the teachers.  It was my foot in the door.  It had nothing to do with libraries.  It had everything to do with learning about the people I was working with. 

Going to breakfast wasn’t the only way that I started to know the staff I was now working with, but it certainly was a successful method.  Other avenues included playing cards on Saturday nights, or meeting up for a beverage after school on Fridays.  All of these opportunities to build friendships and trust were opportunities to open the door to collaboration.

When I started going to breakfast back in 2002, the group was made up of teachers, most of who were still working, and a few former/retired teachers from school.  As the years have gone by, more of the teachers I knew have moved to the former/retired teacher side.  Unfortunately, we’ve had to say a final goodbye to a few of our friends when they passed away.  But, every August we’d start our breakfast meetings back up again and continue our conversations.

This year will be a little different.  The last of the group (besides me) is retiring.  When we start back in August, I’ll be the only one in the group still employed.  I have no doubt we’ll continue to have breakfast, as these are my friends.  But, it also a sign that we’ve started to see a turnover with our staff. 

Now we have added a lot of new folks in recent years.  So goes the process of building connections to those teachers.  As I think about plans for next year, one thing I need to do is continue to work on building more relationships with teachers. So one of my “to do” items is to ponder ways to do that.

Do you have any ideas on how to build relationships with teachers? Please share them in the comments below.

Carl is the librarian at North Elementary School in Noblesville, Indiana.  He can be reached at or @caharvey2 on Twitter.  He is a Past-President of AASL, and an author of professional books for school librarians.  He blogs at Library Ties.

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Is Anyone Available to Help in Our School Library?

April 24, 2013 · 18 Comments

One of my least favorite jobs every year is trying to set up a volunteer schedule.  I'm luckily in that I do have some support staff who help with processing materials, checking in materials, and all the other clerical stuff that has to happen.  My teachers are also great about helping with checking out materials.  We have our Destiny Library Automation System setup so the kids can do self-checkout and it makes the process run pretty smoothly.

Our library has a very liberal check out policy.  We allow students to checkout as many items as they can be responsible for.  We encourage kids that if they want to check out more than five items they should have a good reason.  As a result, most of our kids take five items.  5 items x 530 kids = a whole lot of books coming and going every week.

The one thing that I can never seem to find enough help with is - SHELVING!

The Road to Finding Helpers to Shelve Books

Shelving books-no one likes it. Goodness knows I hate to shelve books.  Philosophically I decided a long time ago that I should spend my time focused on working with teachers and kids.  If the books pile up, then they pile up.  Now every once in a blue moon (I say maybe once a decade) we get so far behind that I'll sneak in on a weekend to shelve books.  This is a rare, rare occasion. 

I've probably shared this story before, but my mom was not surprised that I became a librarian because as a young child I used to pull off all the books I could reach on the bookshelf.  She said I was never very good at putting them back.  If you ask my assistant, I haven't gotten any better at that.  :)  Mostly it is a perception thing.  I don't want an administrator to see me focused on that.  I know the shelving of books has to be done, but there has to be other ways to get it done.  

I've had a few friends that have had wonderful success with Jr. Librarian clubs where the kids help us shelve the books.  We've tried it a couple of times and both experiments have failed miserably.  I can't figure out the exact reason why this has failed.  Is it the schedule, the other activity choices available to kids, or just a lack of interest?  Whatever the case, I am always envious of those programs.  They just don’t seem to work for us.

Calling Parent Volunteers

So, every year begins the hunt for parent volunteers.  We always make a plea to parents on back to school night for help.  We are always hoping we can rope in a few Kindergarten moms and if we’re lucky maybe we can keep them until 5th grade!! We really welcome anyone else who would like to spend some quality time helping us put back the books.   We send home flyers with the newsletter with our call for help.  This is moderately successful.  We start out the school year strong with volunteers and as the year goes along, they start to drop off as life gets busy.  We certainly understand, so if we end the year with one or two dedicated folks, we are thrilled!

Teachers to the Rescue

This year, we went searching for volunteers in the same manner as always, but I had an "aha" moment.  I've always tried to get retired teachers into the library to help with the book fair.  They love to come in and see some of their former students, have lunch in the teacher’s lounge, and catch-up with their friends.  But, this year it dawned on me we could utilize them even more.

Last year we had a few teachers retire that just weren't sure about the whole retired thing, so I said if they wanted to come in they could volunteer in the library.  Guess what?  They took me up on it.  We now have three former teachers who come in each week -- pretty consistently.  It has saved us since our usual parent volunteers didn’t work often this year. 

But, shelving isn't for everyone, so when our annual inventory looked like it wasn't going to get done, we brought in the retired teachers to also do the scanning for us.  It is taking a while, but they just come and go as their schedule allows and slowly but surely we're getting the library inventoried. 

I don't know if these retired teacher volunteers is something that will last forever, but sure has been a windfall this year.  Hopefully we can keep twisting their arms to keep coming back until the next round of teachers retires!

It Is a Long and Winding Road

We're thinking more and more in terms of specific projects, too.  We have one Mom that loves to cover books, so when a big order of donations got processed we call her and she's been coming in a few days each week to begin to knock out these books.  The targeted calls for help seem to be much more successful then when we try to get someone to come in every week or every couple of weeks. 

What strategies or tips do you have for recruiting volunteers or getting the books back on the shelves?

Carl is the librarian at North Elementary School in Noblesville, Indiana.  He can be reached at or @caharvey2 on Twitter.  He is a Past-President of AASL, and an author of professional books for school librarians.  He blogs at Library Ties.

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March 29, 2013 · 5 Comments

Recently I was driving home from Illinois after the funeral of my Aunt Patsy.  Patsy was my Grandmother’s sister.  She was 90 years old and had lived a long and full life.  We had only visited with her a few weeks prior to her passing, but you could tell she was ready for that final journey.  Of course, that never makes it easy to say goodbye. 

As I assume happens at most funerals, our family spent much of the time reminiscing and sharing stories and memories. 

Starting somewhere in my childhood (I can’t remember when), I would go and spend a week in Olney each summer with Patsy and Leo (her husband).  It was kind of a summer tradition.  I remember getting lost one Sunday at their church and asking everyone I could find if they had seen my Aunt Patsy.  While it wasn’t a big church, no one had heard of Patsy.  Finally I said something about her husband Leo.  Everyone knew him. I learned that they didn’t recognize Patsy because she went by her first name of Mary.

Each summer would be an interesting adventure with Patsy and Leo. You never knew what projects would be on their agenda for while I was there, but it was just a fun week each summer.   I continued visiting them until right around high school-- I think-- and summers just got too busy.

As Patsy aged and eventually moved to a nursing care facility, we continued to make trips to see her.  As she told me the last time we visited, “She’d be mad if we didn’t come and see her!”  Trust me…she would have been mad, too, if that had happened.  Recently, on my drive home I thought about these memories and many more from my visits to Olney over the years, and it made me smile.

So, as I began to think about writing this blog post, it made me wonder.

What kind of memories are we creating in our school libraries? 

I had a principal once who reminded us often that students would never come back to visit us and talk about a worksheet they did. It would be the experiences that they’ll remember. 

What experiences are we creating in our school libraries?

A few experiences I hope my students remember include:

  • It is our library…not my library.   I want them to remember it was a place they enjoyed coming to use and hopefully transfer that feeling to other libraries over the years to come.
  • We always are evolving and changing.   I want them to see us constantly growing and adapting. 
  • The specials events that we plan in our library.  We have author visits and guest speakers.  We bring these folks in to our library to help bring learning alive.  I hope they always remember the experience.
  • The school library was an important part of their education.  I want students (especially those that will become teachers and administrators) to remember this and  I hope these memories guide them as they are working with school libraries and librarians in the future.
  • We worked on projects together in the library.  I always tell students we are helping to set-up a process for them to work with information for their entire lives.

What kind of memories do you hope your students will have after being in your library? 

Carl is the librarian at North Elementary School in Noblesville, Indiana.  He can be reached at or @caharvey2 on Twitter.  He is a Past-President of AASL, and an author of professional books for school librarians.  He blogs at Library Ties.


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February 27, 2013 · 8 Comments

Last week I was emailing back and forth with a colleague from another state.  We were commenting about our current “to do” lists.  Like everyone we had the list related to our day jobs, but then we seem to get involved in lots of other things outside our day job.  I can’t speak for my friend, but I know I have a little issue with the word “no”.  I don’t use it often enough sometimes, but I think that is because most of the “to do” items that come my way I see as opportunities.

Opportunities to learn new things
Sometimes you need a little push to explore a new topic.  Sometimes a project can provide that little rationale you needed to move forward. 

Opportunities to connect and work with new people
I’ve been a librarian for almost 15 years now (my where has the time gone!).  I have a list of amazing colleagues that I’ve had a chance to work and interact with.  Each of them has helped shape me into the professional I am today.  I’m certain I will continue to evolve and grow and I know that people I meet in these opportunities will help shape that evolution.

Opportunities to share and give back to the profession
Part of being in a profession is that it can’t be all about taking, but also giving back.  Whether that is sharing with a blog post, writing an article for a journal, or just sharing a conversation with a colleague.

Opportunities to force me out of my comfort zone
The first committee I ever got talked into chairing I only accepted because they promised me I wouldn’t have to speak in front of people.  They neglected to mention I had to emcee our annual children’s book award event!  Aggh!!  But, thank goodness they did.  I’ve had a lot of practice with that one since then, but each new opportunity has forced me to try new thing.  I didn’t always like them, but it has made me a better librarian and a better person.

Opportunities to open the door to other opportunities
Each thing I ever agreed to do has always opened the door to something else that was even more amazing.

Opportunities could show up in your job, in your professional life outside of work, or at home with family or hobbies.  As I am getting older, I’m getting wiser (ok at least trying to get wiser) at picking and choosing the opportunities I accept.  And, I still get in deadline jams at home and at school, but doesn’t keep me from looking at each opportunity that comes my way!  You never know what excitement will be coming your way! 

What opportunities will you say yes to this year? Please let me know by sharing with me in the comments below.


Carl is the librarian at North Elementary School in Noblesville, Indiana.  He can be reached at or @caharvey2 on Twitter.  He is a Past-President of AASL, and an author of professional books for school librarians.  He blogs at Library Ties.


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