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:

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

Book Fairs 2022: Nightingale + McNally Jackson

Hello, HVLA world! Megan Westman (she/her) here, HVLA Secretary and Lower School Librarian & Equity Coordinator at the Nightingale-Bamford School. I’m happy to share reflections from our May 2022 Book Fair – the first our community has held in person since May 2019. 

The Nightingale Book Fair is a collaboration between our Parents Association and Library department, led by our Upper School Librarian and department head Elizabeth Fernandez. Parents provided invaluable support for Fair set up, maintenance, check out, and take down. We were lucky to be flush with volunteers at all times over the three days of Fair prep and activities: set up + preview night and two full days of shopping. 

We’ve worked with McNally Jackson Books as our vendor since the 2018-2019 school year and have been really happy with their partnership while navigating all of the transitions of the last few years. We were proud to be McNally Jackson’s first virtual fair during the pandemic! Emily Woods, our McNally Jackson rep, is knowledgeable, communicative, and very open to feedback. Emily also helped us find two amazing authors – E.L. Shen of The Comeback and Wendy Xu of Tidesong – to speak at our Authors Night. Authors Night provided a chance for students to hear from these amazing authors, get their books signed, and shop the fair ahead of the official opening the next day.

Our first in-person Fair since 2019 brought with it so many incredibly joyful moments: our Middle School emcees at Authors Night gushing about the presenters, our Class I Mock Caldecott winner – Mel Fell – selling out within hours, the awed looks on our Kindergarteners’ faces as they made their way into the transformed auditorium, and the many moments of connection with parents who we haven’t seen in the building in years – just to name a few! There was a lot to love in the room that helped to balance the stress of the weeks leading up to the Fair and the exhaustion of two days of hand-selling books

A big part of this year’s Fair for our community was getting comfortable with a selection that wasn’t directly tied to our Summer Reading lists. Prior to the pandemic, families could show up with a printed list and largely shop the selection based on that list alone. This year’s inventory was curated by McNally Jackson, so it was less aligned with our lists. Families were able to get on board pretty quickly when we reassured them that the librarians trust McNally Jackson and considered anything from the Fair to be great summer reading! Moving away from being so list-aligned also made space for students to really shop for what excited them, rather than feeling beholden to a list from their teachers. I’m really excited about this change and what it means for independent summer reading going forward. 

Below you’ll find a handful of thoughts about what went well and what could be better as we look to the future. 

Successes of this year’s Nightingale + McNally Jackson Book Fair:

  • This year’s Fair was held over two days instead of one, as we’d done in the past. The extra breathing room between groups visiting the fair throughout the school day was so, so helpful. 
  • McNally Jackson ran a virtual fair during the Book Fair & for two weeks after. This gave families the flexibility to shop on their own time and buy any books that were out of stock during their time to visit the Fair.
  • McNally Jackson delivered about half of the stock in boxes and half on pre-organized carts by audience and genre. The rolling carts made moving stock much easier and provided great, engaging displays! Because I’m particular about organization and access (as so many of us in this profession are), we ended up swapping things around on the carts and creating our own system for what would be displayed there, but they were still incredibly helpful nonetheless. And a breeze to pack up for pick up; we simply loaded extra stock onto the carts to be rolled away!
  • One of the re-organized carts became a “Nightingale Reads!” cart (pictured below), which we filled with picture books that were read in the Lower School this year at assemblies, during author visits, and in the Class I Mock Caldecott. Many of these books (including all of the picture books from our most recent visiting author – Katie Yamasaki) sold out! Students were excited to see these books featured and the cart gave parents a window into Lower School reading life.

Things to consider to improve the Book Fair in the future: 

  • May is SO busy for librarians. We are all up to our necks in research projects and it was incredibly hard to step away from classes & co-teaching research for several days for the Fair. We’re considering moving our Fair earlier in the year to create more balance for the Library department.
  • We had a few notes on the inventory McNally Jackson sent us. The first was that we’d like popular series stock to focus on the first + last in a series. We didn’t have large numbers of any first-in-series books, which became a problem pretty quickly. Students were disappointed to see that we only had #3 in the Aru Shah series or #2 of Ryan Hart, and we missed out on some great book matches because of lack of availability. 
  • The other big note re: stock is painful to say as a Lower School librarian… We needed fewer picture books! Because we don’t have a Pre-K program at Nightingale, we probably could have had 50-75% of the number of picture books and been totally fine. They take up so much space at the fair, so the number really matters. That said – the books selected were WONDERFUL.

Overall, the Nightingale librarians love working with McNally Jackson and highly recommend partnering with them for Book Fairs, both virtual and in person! Our community was delighted to gather for an in person celebration of books and reading. We made lots of lovely connections with parents and caregivers and brought a lot of joy to our readers, from the Kindergarteners to our adult community. 

Special thanks to our whole wonderful librarian team: Elizabeth Fernandez (Upper School Librarian), Tina Chesterman (Middle School Librarian), and Phyllis Heitjan (Library Associate). Feel free to be in touch if you have any questions about working with McNally Jackson. I’m happy to sing their praises.

Megan Westman

Lower School Librarian & Equity Coordinator

The Nightingale-Bamford School