July 23, 2010

Recent Reads and Getting Official for the Library

The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett

I've seen the movie of course but never read the novel.  It was one of the few books that was unanimously enjoyed by every book club member.  No, Sam Spade doesn't look like Humphrey Bogart, but it's still impossible not to imagine his voice and those wonderful black and white images from the film.  It's not a long book, but it's interesting that he and Hammett never seem to be in a hurry.  Yet this never seems to flag the reader's interest.  No wonder it's a classic of the genre, endlessly tapped for inspiration.

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

An odd little book, but a winning one.  Having read plenty of science fiction, the time-travel elements were less than surprising to me.  It's good to know, though, that the kids reading this will grow up to enjoy the best episode of the original Star Trek, "City On the Edge of Forever."  You remember that one?  The one where Kirk has to let Joan Collins die to save the world?  It packs quite a wallop.  These same readers will also grow up to enjoy The Time Traveller's Wife too, I'm sure.  The message of our shared humanity and the importance of communication, being nice and just plain old watching out for each other was welcome without being overly didactic.

As for the library:

Now I feel official!  I went by the building yesterday and I have my own mailbox at my new school.  It was stuffed with Booklists and School Library Journals and all kinds of goodies.  Of course, it's all still in my predecessor's name but that's fine.  I also switched of the vendor accounts to my name so I can pretend to shop even though I have no budget as yet.  Looks like the focus will be on building up the Dewey 300s, 800s and Fiction while starting the weeding with the 500s, Reference and the Professional sections.

Monday through Wednesday I and eleven other new media specialists (that's what they call us here) went through New Media Specialist Training at the county office.  Calling it the county office doesn't do it justice.  It's a vast mothership with jillions of identical-looking corridors, a cafe, a bank and much more.  At one point they took us into this room that was set up like a high school classroom but this one was a techies dream.  Multiple interactive white boards of all sizes, projectors, and other doodads.  There was even a cube-like thing with a table top that looked like one of those tabletop Pacman games you and a friend could sit at back in the day but this was a four person interactive table put out by the SMART board folks.  It was fun but I couldn't see paying the six grand for it.  I'd rather have more media specialists and books.

It was kind of a mixed message because there were definite signs of cutbacks.  All the high schools used to have two full-time media specialists but a new initiative principals have more discretion with staffing and a growing number of them are cutting those second media people which it nuts when you consider the size of these schools.

It was a great training, though.  It's nice to know that there is this dedicated and thoughtful team ready to back you up on anything you might need.  I even have a guy coming out to my school next week to run me through my broadcast equipment one more time before school starts.

And speaking of school starting, it basically has!  I have the broadcast guy Monday, two days of leadership/curriculum meetings after that, then the new teacher day.  The week after that is pre-planning (with furlough days, of course) and then the first day of school is the 9th!  Yikes!

And somehow Scholastic decided my first Book Fair ever should start August 20th!  No pressure or anything!