A Winter Checkout Party

The last days before break at our upper school level are filled with deadlines and nervous energy. Along with this comes an uptick the most frustrating phrase I hear at least once a week: “High schoolers don’t have time to read”. We librarians know this is untrue and during finals it is especially important to remind students (and faculty) of the value of reading for pleasure.

With all of this in mind, I used the prospect of winter break as an impetus to remind folks to read. Inspired by Melissa Ahart’s summer checkout party, I threw a “Winter Break Checkout Party” during our flex and lunch periods. To advertise, I made an announcement at morning meeting earlier in the week and reminded students that a great way to get grown-ups to leave you alone during winter break is to have your face in a book. Then the morning of the party, I sent an email with event details and links to our ebook collections. I also used these moments as an opportunity to plug our Mock Printz collection. 

It took about half an hour to set up the room. I used spare book stands and stacked books to turn two tables of the library into a bookstore. I placed decorative masking tape directly on the tables to label the categories of books. In addition to our Mock Printz books, we chose to highlight essays, short stories, and “as seen on tv”; these being some of the most accessible and easy-to-sell books. Our library assistant Camilla set up a special checkout desk with string lights, bookmarks, and treats. The final touch was putting a “yule log”-type screensaver on our display tv. I chose “Winter at Hogwarts”.
Using our retail skills, Camilla and I walked around the room chatting up our students and recommending books. All in all, our circulation was significantly higher than most days of the year. We were thrilled with the connections we made with regular and new patrons of the library.
Special thanks to Camilla Yohn-Barr who contributed so much to the planning, set-up, implementation, and general awesomeness of this event.

Anna Murphy is Upper School Librarian at Berkeley Carroll; she is also HVLA treasurer. 

AASL 2019 Recap

This year’s American Association of School Libraries (AASL) Conference took place in Louisville, Kentucky, from Thursday, November 14th to Saturday, November 16th.

The AASL Conference began on Thursday morning, with an option to register for a two-hours pre-conference session.

The conference kicked up in earnest in the afternoon with the opening of the IdeaLab. The IdeaLab offered a place for librarians to walk around and hear quick presentations on what other librarians are doing in their own spaces. Some presentation topics included opening the library over the summer, research and inquiry units, digital literacy programs, and ways to integrate more technology into our work.

Soon after the IdeaLab closed, the conference officially kicked off with the opening general session! A joyful welcome included special shout-outs to state and regional library associations, who each took a turn (and a bow) on stage.

Ellen Oh, a YA author and co-founder of We Need Diverse Books, then addressed the crowd, sharing her message of how vital diversity is to our work as librarians largely through touching, personal stories of her own life and the lives of her three children.

The following two days were filled with meaningful concurrent sessions, often with so many enthusiastic attendees that you could regularly find participants sitting on the floor. All sessions were categorized according to AASL Shared Foundations: inquire, include, collaborate, curate, explore and engage.

As a first time attendee, I am grateful for such a space, where those of us who do this work can come together and share, be it our struggles or our triumphs, and find a community all our own. I look forward to more experiences to come.

Christine Nassar is a First Program Librarian at Dalton and one of HVLA’s vice-presidents.

Fall Meeting 2019 Recap: Small Press Preview

00100lPORTRAIT_00100_BURST20191107155216013_COVEROn November 7, HVLA members gathered for our Fall Meeting. Hosted by the librarians at Friends Seminary, the meeting showcased new and upcoming titles from small presses. Attendees had the chance to preview titles and talk with publishers, as well as catch up with colleagues from other schools before the Small Press Preview presentation. Everyone was able to take a book from one of the featured presses back to their libraries!

IMG_20191107_172432Huge thank you’s to our gracious hosts at Friends Seminary, as well as the publishers who came to share their titles with us:

Blue Dot Kids Press

Boyds Mills & Kane

Elsewhere Editions

Enchanted Lion Books

Greystone KidsIMG_20191107_162807

Flying Eye Books


Pow! Kids Books

Readers to Eaters

Workman Publishing 

If you weren’t able to make it to the meeting, or if you’d like another look at the titles presented, take a look at the HVLA Small Press Preview slides. Also, let’s keep the conversation on collection development resources going- don’t forget to add to the Collection Development Tools padlet!

My Personal Journey as a Baby Boomer Librarian Reading Comics in Ten or So Episodes

  1. I grew up reading comics, beginning with Brenda Starr and Dick Tracy, the detective with a two-way walkie talkie watch.  Didn’t that watch lead us to the smartwatch?


Blackthorne; web source: http://www.comics.org/details.lasso?id=234705

Photo Illustration, PLStamps/Alamy

  1. Graduating to the Peanuts comic strip, I loved it so much that I cut and pasted individual episodes to the inside of my closet door. What a pleasure it has been as a librarian to introduce these characters to elementary school students 50 years after the strips were written!


  1. Doonesbury was cool as I became an adult and learned that Uncle Duke was based on Hunter Thompson.



  1. Entering the workforce, I was more inclined to Cathy Guisewite’s comic named after herself, so relieved to see a woman-made comic.



  1. Lynda Barry was a revelation- so hectically brilliant!


  1. Persepolis, created by Marjane Satrapi, another woman graphic novelist, demonstrated how historical eras can be depicted in comics.patty8

  2. Not that Art Spiegelman had not led the way.  Having survived the 9/11 terrorist attacks downtown, reading his In the Shadow of No Towers was strangely comforting. 


  1. Fun Home has the depth and emotional charge of the most troubling family history.patty11

  1. When Roz Chast published Can We Talk About Something More Pleasant?, I shouted with joy while mourning the loss of her parents.  A lifelong reader of the New Yorker, I always went to the cartoons first.  My grandmother liked to decorate gift packages with New Yorker cartoons.patty12

  1. Raina Telgemeier: Need I say more?


One of the many challenges of school librarians is how to keep these beauties in stock.

As fewer English teachers and parents complain about their children reading graphic novels, as if they were not as good as a classic work of print literature, it is important to teach visual literacy in all of its forms.  We are barraged every day with images, and students need to know how to navigate them, how to deconstruct them, and how to enjoy the many excellent new graphic novels coming out, such as my favorite this year:

  1. New Kid


Jerry Craft makes the experience of being a student of color in a private school familiar and troubling and touching.

P. Aakre 4.18After retiring from full-time work at Brearley, Patty Aakre works in the lower school library at PS 89 and with the National Audubon Society’s For the Birds program, teaching lower school students about birds. She is currently the Recording Secretary for HVLA and a reviewer for SLJ. Other favorite graphic novels not mentioned include: Gene Yang’s American Born Chinese and Boxers and Saints, Shannon Hale’s Real Friends, and Emil Ferris’ My Favorite Thing Is Monsters.