Monday, January 30, 2012

Just for Fun

I have 115 blogs in my RSS feed. (I try very hard to keep the count under 125.) It is filled with blogs from the smartest and most generous colleagues in the world, and it informs my practice each day. It isn't all work, though! There are a couple I love just because they are fun, and because they make my brain fire off different neurons.

Librarian Wardrobe - Not always buns and sensible shoes, librarians at various types of libraries have different styles (and dress codes).

I love this site because every day I get to "meet" funky librarians from all over the country. They are breaking the librarian stereotypes not only in the cutting edge work they do, but also in their sassy, funky sartorial choices. They are inspirational, and I have "upped" my wardrobe game because of this site. (Unfortunately, I am keeping my clogs. The disco era was a lot of fun, but I danced my feet off and ruined them for heels.)

The Library as Incubator Project - Highlights ways libraries and artists can work together.

Every post shows amazing collaboration between all sorts of artists and their libraries. I am always pushed to consider new ways to reach out to groups, clubs and departments for ways to share the learning commons and infuse it with creativity and continue to build our community.

My Daguerreotype Boyfriend - Where early photography meets extreme hotness.
This blog is fun because occassionally they get look-alikes. Take a look at Jake Gyllenhaall past and present! Also a great blog for primary source inspiration.

South Pole Librarian - A year at the bottom of the world.
How cool is this? I mean, seriously?

@shelserkin - This is a webstagram feed from a photographer living in New York. I like this because every day I get a couple of funky, hipster images from an amazing city. The use of hash tags is always interesting, too.  I don't have to read or tag, I just skim over them and enjoy the view.

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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Art Among the Stacks

Back in September, 2008, when I moved to my current job at the high school level, I was doing a lot of reading about library programs. Then the November issue of School library Journal arrived, and I read David Loertscher's Flip This Library: School Libraries Need a Revolution. That was it, we were making the transition to a learning commons. We haven't looked back.

Loertscher's article mentioned an aspect of the learning commons that resonated deeply with me; that  it should reflect our school population and culture.  

"Finally, the library will become the hub of teaching and learning—a place that everyone owns and contributes to—one giant conversation that’s both a social and a learning network."

I wanted our students to see reflections of themselves in the space. With repeated invitations to the various departments, we began to receive and display student work. It has grown into regular, rotating  installations of all sorts.

We have had books of Latin translations, created by students with meticulous attention to detail and craft, on display for other students to handle and read. Displays of 3D art from our digital art class, and hand crafted instruments from a class studying the physics of sound and music. We have hosted live performances of our Jazz Band and a poetry flash mob. We also host the weekly meetings of the Taiko Japanese Drum Club. They are even louder than the Jazz Band!

New art is going in right now, and it refreshes the energy of the space after the whirl and exhaustion of mid-terms.

•    We just installed a gift of four student-made, manga style panels from our sister school in Japan.
•    One of our  students is working on a mural promoting a new program in school.
•    We just cleared an art installation of structures created with natural objects, and will soon be receiving another student exhibit of ceramics.
•    We have some items from the Urban Art Club that seem to have become permanent, but they sometimes surprise us with new pieces.

We branched out this year and actually hosted the full staging of the theater department production of "The Lion in Winter." Students moved the book stacks and they built a full stage with heavy duty scenery, hung lights and and ran sound. Students spent weeks painting our windows to look like an ancient stone castle. It was fantastic! The best part was the ownership they felt for the space. They made it their own. We got to meet and interact with many of the theater crowd we wouldn't ordinarily see on a day-to-day basis. We won't do a full-scale production like that again, because it was pretty disruptive. A huge amount of fun, though.

Our criteria in accepting art and performances is that the works must be created within the program of the school, meaning art courses, theater courses and school clubs. Murals need to be cleared with the Principal first, and have a sponsoring teacher who provides oversight.

Our administration is very, very supportive of student art being on display. In fact, school committee meets in our space and they have been known to comment on the changing student art during their televised meetings. We are lucky enough to be getting a new building, and the new learning commons is being designed with display space for student art in mind.

Students we had never seen before have come to help a friend with a mural, or to check out a new display. And guess what? They keep coming back. Treating our space as a community gallery was one of the best decisions we ever made.