Going for a Retro Flashback – just for fun!

Retro Library Posters (1960’s)



Why Support Your Local Library?

Support Your Local Library

Check out StateStats.org and see how much you can learn for FREE!

Did I mention it’s free?

A Student of Online Success

Wondering what it takes to succeed in an online class environment? Here are some tips from my own experience and from others who have participated in online classes and lived to tell about it:

USE A CALENDAR – Seems obvious, right? Well it turns out that there are still a lot of people out there who do not use a calendar regularly to keep track of deadlines, class schedules, personal commitments, and professional obligations. Time management is a key component to success in most aspects of life, but it is absolutely critical when you are participating in an online class. While some people may use a calendar for some personal items, they often do not keep it up to date and forgot to include school deadlines and appointments. If you use a simple online calendar such as Google Calendar, check it every day and keep it current, you will find that deadlines and class assignments, as well as personal items will not be overlooked and you will feel a much stronger sense of control.

CHECK YOUR CLASS WEBSITE REGULARLY – managing yourself is almost as important as managing your time. It is very important to maintain your own “business hours” when you are taking an online course and even more critical when taking multiple classes. Schedule regular times to check in with each course site and decide what your goal is for that time: checking discussion threads, reviewing content and assignments, studying lectures or presentations, e-mails, or other types of course work. By affording a realistic amount of time and a regular schedule, you can plan ahead and set yourself up for success. Keeping yourself engaged in your course work is essential for success in any online class and you will come away from the experience with a much more complete understanding of the material if you invest quality time in it.

USE DESKTOP AND BROWSER FOLDERS – designate folders on your desktop and in your browser for files and downloads associated with your online course(s) and keep them up to date and easily accessible. It is very important to keep the contents current and refer to these files often. It is very important to keep items you are using regularly within view. “Out of sight, out of mind” is not the way to succeed in an online environment.

ASSESS YOUR ONLINE COMMUNICATION SKILLS – recognize your own strengths and weaknesses when it comes to communication skills in the virtual world. E-mails and instant messages can sometimes come out sounding different than intended – often for the worse. Be sure you can see what you mean and not just hear it in your own head. Consider how well you know the person or group you are communicating with and try to keep your words and your intended meaning as closely tied together as possible. Say what you mean, keep it simple and remember that much of our personal communication skills involve important elements that have nothing to do with word choice. Sarcasm and witty humor often do not translate well and emoticons are not a great choice for expression in an online college environment. Keep this in mind when sending AND receiving! Before jumping to conclusions or becoming emotional about a communication received from or directed to you in a discussion thread by a classmate or an instructor, consider the possibility that you may be reading more into it than is intended. Clarify and ask for clarification.

ALONE IN A GROUP – Collaboration in the Virtual Classroom

Most of us have worked on a committee or in a group to complete projects for work, school and in our communities. We have all experienced the anxiety that comes from knowing there will be people in a group who do more than their share, less than their share, or prevent others from doing any share at all. If you have ever been part a group either by choice or appointment, you know it is often the group that is the real challenge – the assignment to be completed may be simple in comparison. Now throw in the complications of limited communication and accessibility. What do you do to overcome all of these obstacles?

According to Dr. Haycock presentation, some of the necessary ingredients are in the dynamics of the group itself. Whether you are part of a committee, club, class group, team or partnered randomly makes a huge difference when it comes to the functions (or dysfunctions) ahead. Haycock focused his PowerPoint on TEAMS and in my experience this is the best possible sort of group a person can participate in. As Haycock and Irwin point out, a team is a group of individuals with some independence and authority to complete a task or reach a certain goal. There is usually a commitment and a common approach. Teams normally don’t carry the same personality struggles and lack of motivation sometimes found in groups with a leader or supervisor in the mix. A team will often act like water – it finds its own level. Mutual accountability and clear goals and responsibilities contribute to a balance in teams that often leads to great collaboration and results everyone involved can be enthusiastic about.

Digital Literacy? Try Wordle!

How do you explain what digital literacy is or what it means to use visual text? Well, I spent a large part of my Friday attending and presenting at a workshop for a literacy organization here in Ventura County (of which I am a member). Visual text is something I find fascinating and because of the rapid-fire development of so many technologies that relay on visual cues and displayed information, recognizing and discerning that visual information is a key component of the skills students need to succeed in and out of school.

Wordle is hard to describe, but lets just say it is sort of like taking information available in a traditional format (text) and putting it in a technology sauce pan and reducing it down to a concentrated demi-glace. The product is a visual representation of what you started with but the essence is displayed in a way that lets you savor the information in a whole new way. Bon appetit! wordle.net

VCRA Information if you are curious:  The VCRA (Ventura County Reading Association) is a subsidiary of the California Reading Association. This group works hard to provide educational opportunities for teachers in the county to expand literacy and encourage thinking “outside the book.” vcrareading.org is the website if you would like to learn more.


The Kite That Bridged Two Nations  This picture book for older readers that takes place in Niagara Falls in 1848 will be published by Calkins Creek in 2013.Alexis O’Neill


Where do you go to find a REAL book review?

Horn Book? Kirkus Review? Book List? Amazon? Barnes & Noble? Google?

UPDATED May 14, 2013

Try these links for book review information:







http://www.welcomingschools.org/pages/bibliographies-books-to-engage-students  LGBT bibliographies





Hello world!

The Online Education Database (oedb.org) folks put together a list of their 25 favorite libraries using Pinterest. And 4 of them are in California:

 #4: Fullerton Public Library

#9: Oakland Public Library’s TeenZone

#13: San Francisco Public Library

#16: California State Library


Way to go, California folks!

lauren hohls photography

lauren hohls photography

BayNet -San Francisco Bay Area Library & Information Network

San Francisco Bay Area Library & Information Network

ResearchBuzz: Firehose

Everything I post on RB and a bit more, in tagged individual posts.

San Jose Mini Maker Faire

Make • Create • Craft • Build • Play

Create, Collaborate, Innovate

Collaborating and Making in the Library Learning Commons

Expect the Miraculous

Barrow Media Center

Books in Bloom

Mackin's best books for teachers and librarians

Little eLit

Young Children, New Media & Libraries

Geo Librarian

What's in YOUR library?