Small Press Preview & Fall Meeting 2022

On Thursday, November 10th, HVLA librarians gathered for our fall meeting and Small Press Publisher Preview at the Nightingale-Bamford School – our first in-person, indoors gathering in nearly two years! Librarians enjoyed refreshments, mingling, book displays, and a warm welcome from HVLA President Christine Nassar before hearing from an exciting roster of small press publishers about new and soon-to-be-published titles.

Librarians heard from representatives from the following small presses:

  • Astra Books for Young Readers
  • Elsewhere Editions
  • Enchanted Lion Books
  • Greystone Kids & JY Press
  • Lee & Low
  • Little Bee Books
  • Nobrow Press
  • Pow Kids
  • Tapioca Stories

The evening closed with raffling off the many books generously donated by the small presses and, as a result, many happy school librarians with new titles to add to their collections.

Many thanks to all of our visiting publishers, the Nightingale-Bamford School librarians and facilities team, and Angela Perna (HVLA VP) for coordinating to host a wonderful in-person gathering. Please find helpful links to resources below!

Introducing the 2022-2023 HVLA Board!

As we embark on another year of programming for our Hudson Valley Library Association community, we’re here to reintroduce ourselves as your Board of Directors. We can’t wait to get to know you at our soon-to-be-announced fall meeting. Learn a little about us now and stay tuned for more information soon!

Christine Nassar, President

Christine Nassar is a librarian at The Dalton School, working with grades K-3. She obtained her Master’s of Information from Rutgers University, with a concentration in Library and Information Sciences, and a specialization in School Media. She is a lover of graphic novels and picture books. Some of Christine’s favorites are Journey by Aaron Becker, Stuck by Oliver Jeffers, and Cardboard Kingdom by Chad Sell. Christine speaks English, French, Arabic, and some rather rusty Italian, which she is always happy to practice.

Angela Perna, Co-Vice President

Angela Perna is a K-8 librarian at St. Hilda’s & St. Hugh’s. Born in Montréal, Québec, she attended McGill University where she obtained her MSLIS.  Angela worked at NYPL for three years as a YA librarian and, at various junctures, in specialized libraries including medical, art and research.  She finally found her professional niche as a school librarian, now celebrating her twentieth year. A picture book aficionado, she enjoys discussing the role illustrations play in telling a story, reflecting her love of art and undergraduate background in art history.  She lives in The Bronx with her husband and, hopefully one day, a yellow Lab to be named after one of her many favorite literary characters.

Sarah Kresberg, Co-Vice President

Sarah Kresberg is the Upper Division Librarian and Director of the Library Tech Commons at The Allen-Stevenson School. A native of the UK, she was a third grade teacher in London and, after moving to the U.S., a fourth grade teacher in Vermont. It was in Vermont that she first encountered a school library in an elementary school and grew hugely envious of the librarian. Sarah completed her MSLIS at Kent State University and moved to NYC after seeing an advertisement for the job at Allen-Stevenson in the NY Times. Sarah can often be found walking or running along the waterfront near her apartment in Long Island City, which she shares with her husband, her fluffy cat Lola, and, during college vacations, her children. In her free time she tries new recipes, studies Korean and watches quite a few K-dramas.

Elaine Levia, Secretary

Elaine Levia is a High School Librarian and House Advisor at The Dalton School. A native Californian, Elaine majored in Feminist Studies at UC Santa Cruz and completed her MSLIS at UCLA. While interning at the Windward School, she became enamored with ~*the teens*~ in all their joyful, determined glory and decided to pursue a career in progressive education. Out of the stacks and classroom, Elaine enjoys biking, baking, Pilates, and keeps up a sporadic writing practice. She’s getting into hiking and backpacking, and will most likely take a memoir, chapbook, and novel out with her wherever she ventures.

Gwen Kaplan, Membership & Financial Coordinator

Gwen Kaplan is a Lower Division Librarian at the Horace Mann School. As an undergrad at the University of Pennsylvania, she was interested in so many different topics that she realized the library was the place to be! Since completing her MSLIS and School Library Certification at Drexel University, she has served as a librarian at Abington Friends School and Saint David’s School. She loves it when children ask “why?” and she is usually reading at least a couple of nonfiction books and mystery novels. A graduate school repeat offender, she is currently indulging her curiosity by working on a M.A. in American History, which means she has deep empathy for every student up against a deadline. In between parenting, teaching, and studying, she uses a time turner to make opportunities for quilting and baking.

Megan Westman, Communications Coordinator

Megan Westman (she/her) is the Lower School Librarian and Lower School Equity Coordinator at the Nightingale-Bamford School. She holds an MSLIS from Pratt Institute’s School of Information and has a background in storytelling via BAs in Musical Theatre and History from the American University. As a librarian and human being, Megan is passionate about antibias & antiracist education, sustainability, community building, and everyone reading whatever they want to read. When she’s not at school, Megan can be found baking, writing, playing the ukulele, and tending to her many houseplants. She lives in Brooklyn with a grumpy senior chihuahua named Beignet.

Welcome to the 2022-2023 School Year!

And just like that, we’re back! Inspired by my third grader students, who are currently writing “hopes and dreams” poems, I’d like to share my hopes and dreams for HVLA this year.

I hope for a great year of reconnection,
Of being together, to celebrate and to learn.

I dream of reviving clubs that have lost touch–
the HVLA book club, field trips and craft nights, our retiree and solo librarian groups.

I hope for more valuable time together,
With a return to in-person meetings, both professionally and socially.

I dream of an organization that is by its members, for its members;
Not a dream, but a reality.

I hope we can move forward,
To evaluate what serves us, and what we’d like to leave behind.

I dream of all this and more in the wonderful year to come.

In the spirit of these hopes, look out for the HVLA membership survey towards the end of September, once we have (hopefully) settled back into our school routines. We’d love to hear how best to serve you.

If you have not renewed your membership yet, you can do so here.

Let’s have a great year together.

Christine Nassar
HVLA President

Farewell 2021-22 School Year

At our meeting at the Polonsky exhibit this spring, someone shared a sentiment so succinct, yet that at times can feel so cuttingly accurate: “no one understands what we do.” While this resonates with me deeply, it gives me yet another reason to be grateful for this community we have all built: we understand what we do. We have each other to learn from and lean on.

I am so filled with gratitude to have such a wonderful group who understands so profoundly what we all do and why we matter. I am humbled by this community of incredible educators, who fight for their students and for access for all, for freedom of speech, whether or not we agree with what is said. There is and will always be work to be done, but I look forward to doing it all together.

As the 2021-22 school year comes to a close, I cannot help but reflect not just on this year, but the arc of these past few school years. As we all grew tired of phrases like “social distance,” “abundance of caution” and the dreaded “remote learning,” much had to be put on hold. While the shape of our days might have returned to normal, in many ways we are still living out the consequences of this challenging time.

I look forward to reconnecting more next year, bringing back more time for those quality interactions that we have most lacked with those who understand what we do best.

I wish everyone a summer full of well deserved rest. Take a deep breath, and know that in the fall, we will be together again.

Christine Nassar
HVLA President

Book Fair 2022: Reading Colors Your World at St. Hilda’s and St. Hugh’s

If you asked me, some twenty Book Fairs ago, what I thought the purpose of a Book Fair was, I would have told you that it was a way to raise funds for the school and get some more books into the hands of students.  Over the two decades of organizing these Fairs, my early career preconceptions have been thoroughly turned on their heads.  Few are the occasions that elevate a school librarian to the status of ‘rock star’, but at St. Hilda’s & St. Hugh’s, this highly anticipated event has become a highlight of the school year.  This year’s Book Fair, which was a return to our traditional in-person event, was typical of the Fairs that have preceded it.  And over the years I have learned to take advantage of this momentum to make the Book Fair into a celebration of reading.  Here is what I learned:

1. Book Fairs are ways for children to come together and share their joy of reading. In September, without fail, one question I am asked by many students is, “When’s the Book Fair?” Some other snippets overheard over the years include, “I can’t wait for the Book Fair,” “the Book Fair is my favorite,” and perhaps reflecting some pandemic rebound, was, “This is the best day of my life!”

2. Book Fairs fosters independent thinking and decision making. As humans, we crave autonomy and independence and this is no less true with children. I think part of the appeal of participating in the Book Fair is that children can exercise their self-reliance by selecting their books and being in charge of purchasing them. One week prior to the Book Fair, my lessons will include teaching the youngest children to locate the price of a book, encouraging my third and fourth graders to practice mental math when determining the total cost of their purchase, learning to stay within your budget, and financial etiquette (i.e.: the concept that it’s not polite to talk about how much money you are bringing to the Book Fair). All basic stepping stones to introducing students to the idea of being responsible consumers.  

3. Librarians are the experts and we know our student’s reading preferences.  This means circulating throughout the Fair and making tailored recommendations. At St. Hilda’s, we intentionally schedule our Book Fair the week before Memorial Day, and promote it as an opportunity for students to buy books for their summer reading.  Our summer reading lists are distributed two weeks prior, so students have a chance to peruse books they might want to read. I quickly learned the reality that as much as I try to encourage the vendor to coordinate their inventory with my summer reading lists, inevitably, certain titles won’t be available. Students are reminded that the Book Fair does have an online presence, which is available to them until the end of the week.

4. It’s important to partner with a vendor that works for your planning situation. Over the years, I’ve collaborated with BookSmart, Allbook Fairs, Signature Fairs, and Scholastic. There have been benefits and disadvantages to each.  For the past several years, Scholastic has been our retailer. One considerable drawback is Scholastic only provides titles belonging to their publishing house. This year’s very modest selection was particularly evident as pandemic shipping delays and indirect consequences of book banning affected the titles made available to us. However, if your staff of Book Fair volunteers is on the smaller side, then Scholastic remains a viable consideration as the set up and post event packing can be done in approximately two hours, leaving the remainder of the time to prep your Fair for the celebration you intend it to be (see point number six). All good work requires revision, and next year I hope to collaborate with Book Culture, Morningside Heights’ local independent bookstore.

5. Librarians are the promoters of Book Fairs. I use our school’s main public forum, the Gordon Chapel, to announce the coming of the Book Fair.  I discuss the significance of the Book Fair by presenting a short talk to the student body on various book-related topics. This has included the history of Book Fairs, famous first lines of books, and my personal journey from reluctant reader to librarian. I’ve also spotlighted some of the various themes I’ve used over the years to generate excitement.

6. Celebratory decorations set a festive tone. Though it can be a cliché, themes can be useful. Enchanted Forest of Stories, Reading Is So Delicious, and Splash into Reading have been some of my best-loved over the years. This year’s theme, Reading Colors Your World was borrowed from iRead’s 2021 Reading Program.  This seemed to me an appropriate motif for our return to an in-person Book Fair, as we could all use a little color in our lives after two challenging years. Drew Daywalt’s, The Day the Crayons Quit, Hervé Tullet’s, Press Here, and YuYi Morales’, The Dreamers were the inspiration for our Book Fair decor and the art for our summer reading lists.  All visuals were purchased last year via iRead’s website.

7. Finally, you can’t go wrong with a raffle. I set up an estimation station, where children can guess the correct number of objects in a jar.  Keeping with the theme of the Book Fair, this year it was crayons. The prize is a $25 gift certificate to be used at the following year’s Fair.  

Book Fairs are a lot of work. There are a seemingly endless number of details to attend to, and the event itself is a two day marathon I often call the Olympics of Readers Advisory. Every year, however, the smiling faces of my students leading up to, during, and even a week after the Fair make it all worthwhile. Many thanks to my amazing colleague Lilian Kysar, Library Assistant, who deserves much of the credit for all that goes into making a successful Book Fair.

Angela Perna


St. Hilda’s & St. Hugh’s

C.V. Starr Library