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Music at Your Library with Guest Blogger Rachel Nicholas

Music at Your Library with Guest Blogger Rachel Nicholas of West Florida Public Libraries

When my director asked me to start a dulcimer class at my library, I was incredulous to say the least as to whether it was a good idea. “Who cares about dulcimers?” I thought. “It’s a simple enough instrument, and it is not hard to learn. They’ve got to be passé by now.” Boy, was I wrong. After a fair bit of convincing on my director’s part and watching Robin Shader’s PLAN Quick Class: How to Start a Ukulele Program in your Library I set about starting a dulcimer program at my library.

The first thing I did was go to my local guitar store and see if they still carried any. They were actually in the process of downsizing. But they were able to tell me a little about what they watch out for with instruments and a couple brands they avoided as their workmanship was suspect. Armed with that information, I set off to the trusty internet. After a bit of looking and reading reviews, I found a company based in California who made dulcimers and sold them to schools and other places. I gave them a call, talked about what my goal was, and asked if their advertised price was one they would be willing to beat given I would need multiple. Thankfully, they were amenable to not only offering a price just a bit above cost, they were even willing to send a dulcimer over for me to inspect for quality — they were so sure of their product. So, sure enough their product met my expectations, and the library placed an order for some to be used in the program.

From there the library advertised the same way that it advertises everything: on the website, with a press release, flyers, and Facebook event.

After a few fits and starts, we have a steady, weekly, dulcimer class. Many students use our dulcimers, but a good few of the regulars have decided they wanted their own. Our routine seems to work pretty well at this point. Prior to class, I pick one song to work on with everyone based on their performance in weeks prior. I always have simpler songs on hand as well in case new people come in. Some patrons are so excited about the class they arrive early just to help set up and make sure the instruments are in tune.

When we start, the flow of the class is dictated by the attendees and their proficiencies. If it is mostly returning students I let them pick songs to warm up/review. I prefer encouraging us to play songs that we worked on in weeks prior so that some of the more modest players can see that they are indeed improving and making progress. After review, we move on to the new song for the evening. I may play the new song once so that everyone has an idea of what we are aiming for. If it is a very familiar song then I may skip the example part, and go straight to working through the song one measure at a time with everyone. If it is a small enough class, we will work on pieces together for the first half of the class in this fashion, while in the second half I’ll pull students aside and work with them individually so that they don’t get lost in the group.

This pattern seems to have served me well thus far. I’ve had patrons from elementary school on up in attendance, regulars are getting to the point where they help others in class and, without fail, new attendees always seem surprised by their progress by the end of the evening.

A few takeaways:

  • Do you remember the joke about the two men being chased by a bear where the punchline is one, “I don’t have to outrun the bear, just you?” You don’t have to be the best at anything to teach, you just have to stay ahead of the group. There are times when I stumble but patrons are there to have a good time, not question your proficiency.
  • Is there a: dulcimer, ukulele, underwater basket weaving group in your area? Check in with them before you get started! Groups are as varied as the people in them. Some groups are very set in their rhythm. They may not want to leave their cozy meeting space to be part of your program, but they sure have tips and input. I’ve yet to see a group that would put guarding their “territory” over spreading their passion.
  • Publicity: A local newspaper picked up that our library was giving lessons. After that article ran attendance skyrocketed. Is there a newspaper, blogger, media personality you know of?
  • This is one thing on the dulcimers I wish I had known before. I learned from Sarah Burris in the Northwest Regional Library system that cardboard dulcimers are a legitimate thing. Now these wouldn’t be ones that you’d send home with people but it is definitely a gateway or opportunity to test the waters.
  • Above all, have fun! Pick something you enjoy. If you enjoy x hobby, chances are you aren’t the only one.

[If you’re interested in more training on starting a music class at your library, come to the Library Essentials Conference: Community Engagement on April 12th where Sarah Burris from the Northwest Regional Library System will be providing a breakout session on “Music Classes at Your Library.”]

Read & Ride: Pedaling toward a Lifelong Love of Reading with Guest Blogger Sara Ratliff

By Guest Blogger Sara Ratliff, Innovation Specialist at Warrington Middle School (Escambia County)

Photo of a student reading and riding a stationery bikeEvery school year, I think about new ways to ignite a spark in dormant readers and re-energize the passion in active readers. My focus this year has been improving my students’ access to books, and one way I have done that is through a Read & Ride program in the library. By providing an area where my middle schoolers can read while they cycle on stationary exercise bikes, students have improved their focus, attention, and mood as they read.

I purchased two FitDesks and updated my audiobook collection with current titles. I chose FitDesks for several reasons: they are economical ($250 plus an inexpensive extended warranty); they make almost no noise; they are lightweight and can be easily relocated; and they can be adjusted for students who are under five feet tall. FitDesks also have workspaces so that students can read books or listen to audiobooks. The workspace also easily accommodates a tablet or laptop for ebook access.

Kids typically lead very physical lives, but as the academic workload intensifies in middle school, too much of students’ academic lives become sedentary. By combining exercise with reading, my students experience several health benefits. A reading workout on the FitDesk affects the brain by increasing serotonin, dopamine, and noradrenaline levels. The rush of neurotransmitters help students focus their attention and improve their reaction times. Students will return to class with more than just a library book; they will return with a more focused and attentive brain.  

Photo of a student reading and riding a stationery bikeThe FitDesks are equipped with performance meters so that students can track their time, speed, distance, and calories burned. A read & ride session typically lasts fifteen minutes, and the meters can be reset for each ride, except for the total mileage on the bike. Students can adjust the tension on the bike if they want an easy or difficult ride, but my students are instructed not to exceed 20 mph. Students are not limited to what they read or how they read it, but a very high speed makes it difficult to focus on the reading material. The performance meters make Read & Ride challenges possible. I held a Read & Ride competition for both students and teachers to win book fair gift certificates. The top three students and teachers from each grade with the most mileage won. Students are always eager to share their mileage with me after they get off the bikes, and I track the results in a spreadsheet. For the safety of the students, it’s best to inspect the nuts, screws, and knobs on the bikes on a weekly basis.

Stationary bikes are an easy way to implement fine forgiveness. My students are allowed to check out books even if they owe lost/damaged book fines, but I wanted to promote a fun way for them to take ownership of their education. Students can read & ride away lost/damaged book fines at the rate of $1.00 per mile. There are no reading logs that I have to keep track of, and I do not have to worry about whether students actually do the reading because they are reading in front of me. An amnesty program like this means that I do have to replace a lot of the same books every year. Providing my students with consistent access to quality books is worth the cost. If you are looking for a way to get students’ hearts pumping for literacy, invest in a Read & Ride program!

Wakulla County Public Library – Library of Things with Guest Blogger Robyn Drummond

By Robyn Drummond, Wakulla County Public Library

Photo of library of thingsI am so proud to say that the Wakulla County Public Library is not just books. Our library strives to provide services and programs that offer help, learning, and entertainment. Now the Library can help in a bold new way.

Enter the Library of Things. Need to trim a tree limb? Come check out a pole saw. Have family visiting with a small child? Come check out our portable toddler bed, our play pen, or our booster seat for your dining room table. Having a party? We have a pre-loaded karaoke machine and yard games like horseshoes, bean bag toss, and ladder toss. Want to try out camping but not sure that you are quite ready to commit? Check out our four-person tent and camping lanterns. Other items include yard tools, a pressure washer, a ukulele, badminton, stud finder, laser level, caulking gun, extension pole for painting, adult and child life vests, telescoping extension ladder (it will fit in the trunk of your car!), tools for digitizing VHS and cassette tapes, and so much more.

This exciting collection was purchased by funds through a Panhandle Library Access Network Innovation Project, and some items have even been donated by patrons. We hope to continue to add useful items to the collection as more funds become available.

Any adult (user agreement required) with a library card clear of overdue items and fines can check out items from the Library of Things. We ask that they only check out one item at a time, but we will consider multiple checkouts on a case-by-case basis. Checkout is for one week with no renewals. Wakulla County Public Library and the Library of Things: Why buy when you can borrow?

The Library of Things was so easy to start using our PLAN Innovation Project funding. We were only awarded about half of what we requested, but in a way, I am glad that is all we received. If we had been granted the full amount, we would have been overwhelmed.

Starting a Library of Things is simply as easy as polling your patrons to see what they need/want, purchasing the items, cataloging them, and putting them out for circulation. The challenges are finding somewhere to store them and figuring out the best way to tag them as library property in a tasteful way. We were able to premiere the Library of Things during our annual Take Your Child to the Library Day on Saturday, February 2nd. Things started checking out the very next week, and the people borrowing them expressed a great amount of gratitude about us being able to make these items available for them to use. We are always excited to be able to provide more services for our patrons, but this project has already been so very rewarding.

Our full list of currently available items includes

  • A Horseshoe Set
  • Karaoke Machine
  • Giant Connect Four
  • A Film and Slide Scanner
  • An LED Work Light
  • Child and Adult Life Vests
  • A Ukulele
  • A portable Badminton Set
  • VHS to DVD converter and VCR
  • Ladder Toss Game
  • A portable Playpen
  • Record Player
  • AM/FM Radio
  • Stud Finder
  • Laser Level
  • Extendable Paint Roller Handle
  • Shovel
  • Garden Hoe
  • Garden Rake
  • Post Hole Diggers
  • Four person Camping Tent
  • Vacuum Food Sealer
  • Bean Bas Toss games for adults and children
  • Booster Seat for dining table
  • Tile Cutter, Hedge Trimmers
  • Portable Toddler Bed
  • Pressure Cooker/Canner
  • Jumbo Checkers
  • Pole Saw
  • Metal Detector
  • Pressure Washer
  • Telescoping 12.5 foot Extension Ladder (that will fit in the trunk of a car!)
  • Giant Uno
  • Cassette to MP3 Converter
  • Caulking Gun
  • LED Camping Lanterns
  • A Portable Document and Image Scanner
  • Wrench Set
  • Dremel Engraver
  • A set of Two-Way Radios

We also have one really cool story about the Library of Things already. The first family that checked out the Metal Detector did so to find a time capsule that their son, who is about to graduate from high school, buried in their yard upon starting Kindergarten. They buried a metal bat over the top of it, but have no clue where they buried it. Library of Things to the rescue!

Team Library:  Library Staff CAN Proactively Influence Commuter Student Retention with Guest Blogger Maria Goodspeed

By Guest Blogger Maria Goodspeed, Pensacola State College

Enrollment for commuter colleges will continue to trend upward for the next several years. Encouraging news is that among these enrollees will be first generation and minority students, but quite disappointingly, a large percentage of commuter students will leave college before they complete their degree requirements. This statistic compels library staff to examine the role we collectively play in helping the cause of retaining these capable students, and it IS a cause. As the hub of many campuses, the library is where all students potentially intersect with faculty, with staff and, perhaps most essentially, with each other. The library is where students may make a connection that inspires them to stay the course. We should not underestimate the power of the influence a library can have on students, for the library is a community within itself.

It is a community where the environment and the effort of staff can make a difference in the outcome for all students. Investing in our students is investing in our community at large, and we must not only comprehend the gravity of our role, but we must also act.  While all library staff believes in the importance of our mission in helping all students excel, it is what we put into practice that can truly affect the results. We must ask ourselves, what are some practical ways in which we can help our students succeed?

First, we can actively work to combat costs for students. Cost is one of the leading factors in losing students, but libraries can aid in mitigating this problem in numerous ways. Enlisting faculty to have books on reserve will allow students to have free access to required materials. Actively communicating with departments in a liaison capacity will also result in obtaining relevant academic materials in the library. Traditional collection development techniques and collaboration with individual faculty members to ensure materials in circulation line up with course assignments is also beneficial.

In addition, increasing more modern efforts to acquire Ebooks will allow students to access material remotely and remove obstacles that transportation issues may cause commuter students. Influencing adoption of Open Educational Resources (OERs) and using programs such as LibGuides and Curriculum Builder would allow faculty to build their classes within a learning management system entirely utilizing free library resources. These are all viable and implementable solutions to help lessen costs for at risk students.

The need for excellence in our libraries can influence and drive the need for excellence in our students. Other ways we can work toward student success is to use best practices for research instruction, continually revising classes to maintain relevancy (fake news vs. academically sound resources) and working with colleagues to have a uniform presentation of material. Focusing on students’ needs with individualized help from reference desk, be it technical or research oriented can be a factor in helping students achieve in classes, one assignment at a time.

Yes, working to build liaison relationships with faculty, creating Research guides/LibGuides and pointedly ordering materials to support the curriculum takes a collective enthusiasm and effort amongst library staff to make it happen, but where student retention and success is our end game, when the effort is made, everybody wins.

Share Your Passion

Library staff members often wear many hats, especially in smaller libraries. But there is usually that one activity (i.e., youth services, genealogy, maker spaces) that sparks their creativity and passion. It’s what they most enjoy doing. It’s the topic that their conversations revolve around when they speak with colleagues at meetings or conferences. At a small library, there may be no one with whom they can brainstorm ideas. They may not be able to attend conferences to get new ideas. Perhaps they continue to do things the way they have always done them because they are not sure an idea will work.

PLAN Interest Groups offer library staff the opportunity to share ideas, ask questions, and learn about new resources. These groups also provide input to PLAN staff on training and projects. Online meetings allow staff to connect with others without leaving their library. Face-to-face meetings at PLAN conferences provide an opportunity to build relationships with staff from other libraries.

Participants in the Interest Groups also share information on PLAN’s Community Forums. Visit the Forums to view resources provided in the Interest Groups and discussions of other topics.

There are currently three PLAN Interest Groups: Marketing & Promotion, STEM, and Youth Services. Check the PLAN website for the next scheduled meeting. We would like to sponsor additional groups. If you would like to assist with an existing group or start a new group, please contact me. It’s not difficult, when people are passionate about what they do. For more information about PLAN Interest Groups, please visit our website.

NASA@ My Library, Part 2

Oreo cookies showing lunar phasesThis year’s Collaborative Summer Library Program theme is “A Universe of Stories.” To help libraries prepare, the Florida Division of Library and Information Services collaborated with NASA@ My Library and the STAR Net Libraries to provide a hands-on workshop in Tallahassee.

Last week’s blog post covered the STAR Net Libraries website, which has a plethora of resources available for upcoming summer reading programs as well as resources for general STEM programming. This week, I’m going to provide information on some of the activities we did at the workshop.

The slide presentation for the workshop can be accessed at https://goo.gl/PyrHQ8.

The Red Mars Game that we played at the beginning of the workshop was a great ice-breaker. Presenter Christine Shupla had us all get up in one big circle. Then she started throwing imaginary planets to us. “Mars is small, so don’t lose it,” and then she’d call out someone’s name to catch Mars. That person would then “catch” the planet, call out another person’s name, and throw the planet to them. And so on. She also introduced Saturn by spinning her finger around in the air (“rings”), and Jupiter as a huuuuge planet, so she held her arms out wide. And Pluto is tiny, so we had to be extra careful with it. It may sound corny, but it was actually a lot of fun!

The next activity was sorting space objects (planets, constellations, galaxies) by either how far they are from us or how big they are. Christine provided pictures of the objects on paper, and each group tried to put them in order. It made for some lively discussion in our group: “Hubble only takes photos of far-away objects; it is actually located in Earth’s orbit.” J You can duplicate this activity by going to http://clearinghouse.starnetlibraries.org/astronomy-and-space/77-how-big-how-far-how-hot-how-old.html and downloading the PDF with the pictures. And the correct answers!

Presenter Andy Shaner next discussed the scale of our solar system. He introduced an activity called “Jump to Jupiter” and a group of attendees demonstrated how far apart the planets are. He said to really show the scale of the solar system, you would need three football fields to go from the sun to Pluto. Wow! Slide #17 shows how many “jumps” between objects. You can duplicate this activity by going to http://clearinghouse.starnetlibraries.org/astronomy-and-space/65-jump-to-jupiter.html. The activity can be scaled down, of course. Some participants plan to use a community walking path to demonstrate the scale, similar to StoryWalks. You can also visit http://www.exploratorium.edu/ronh/solar_system/ to learn how to build a scale model of the solar system.

Then we assembled the moon’s phases with Oreos. Mmmmm…. You can duplicate this tasty activity by going to http://clearinghouse.starnetlibraries.org/astronomy-and-space/83-loony-lunar-phases.html.

Other activities included creating craters (http://clearinghouse.starnetlibraries.org/astronomy-and-space/89-crater-creations.html), teen moon ooze (http://clearinghouse.starnetlibraries.org/activities/81-teen-moon-moon-ooze.html), creating a UV tester (http://clearinghouse.starnetlibraries.org/earth-science/93-uv-kid.html), making a supernova (http://clearinghouse.starnetlibraries.org/astronomy-and-space/214-let-s-make-a-supernova.html), creating space-landing gear that will protect your astronauts (http://clearinghouse.starnetlibraries.org/engineering/235-touchdown.html) [full disclosure – our group struggled with this; we had astronauts flying out all over the place!], and a trip to Mars (http://clearinghouse.starnetlibraries.org/astronomy-and-space/67-trip-to-mars.html).

Another cool resource that you can download to your computer for free or on your mobile device for a small fee is Stellarium (https://stellarium.org/). Stellarium is a free open source planetarium for your computer. It shows a realistic sky in 3D, just like what you see with the naked eye, binoculars, or a telescope.

And if you’ve ever wished you could show lunar and meteorite samples, you can borrow some from NASA (https://ares.jsc.nasa.gov/interaction/lmdp/). However, you do have to attend a training session first, and those are normally held in Houston.

You can also request that STAR Net send you pop-up traveling exhibits at https://www.lpi.usra.edu/exploration/education/exhibits. Designed for libraries, these banners use colorful images and text to share current lunar and asteroid science and exploration stories. The displays can be used to excite and engage patrons in further exploration through library resources and programs.

This was a really fun workshop and provided great activities for your summer reading program and any other STEM programming you do!

Fellow attendees, if I missed anything (and I’m sure I did), please share in the Comments section.

NASA@ My Library, Part 1

Logo of A Universe of StoriesThis year’s Collaborative Summer Library Program theme is “A Universe of Stories.” To help libraries prepare, the Florida Division of Library and Information Services collaborated with NASA@ My Library and the STAR Net Libraries to provide a hands-on workshop in Tallahassee.

The STAR Net Libraries website has a plethora of resources available for upcoming summer reading programs as well as resources for general STEM programming:

  • Upcoming Webinars
    • Planning a Night Sky Viewing at Your Library, February 20th at 1 p.m. CT (12 noon ET)
    • Solar System Scale Activities for “A Universe of Stories,” March 7th at 1 p.m. CT (12 noon ET)
  • Archived Webinars
    • Craft, Engineer, and Make & Take Activities for “A Universe of Stories”
    • Resource Overview for “A Universe of Stories”
    • Bringing “A Universe of Stories” to Your Library
    • Out-of-this-World Engineering
    • A Universe of NASA Resources
    • Libraries Helping Girls STEAM Ahead with NASA
    • And more!
  • STEM Activity Clearinghouse
    • Earth
    • Playful Building
    • Healthy Living
    • Space Science
    • STAR_Net Hands-on Activities
    • Activities for Pre-K
    • Activities for Tweens
    • Computational Thinking
    • And more!
  • Printable Posters
    • Earth Science
      • Our Changing Earth
      • Polar Power
      • Animals Adapt
      • And more!
    • Space Science
      • A Cosmic Journey
      • Our Place in Space
      • Our Solar System
      • And more!
    • Technology
      • Engineers Make a World of Difference
      • Grand Challenges
      • Robots!
      • And more
    • Health Science
      • Discover Health
      • Faces of Healthcare
      • Exercise Your Brain
      • And more!
    • Guides, Facts, and Tips
      • Space Science Programming – Teachers’ Guide
      • Let’s Move – The Facts
      • Eat Healthy – Move More
      • And more!

So check out STAR_Net Libraries – there is a ton of resources available for STEM programming!

Next week, I’ll cover some of the activities we did at the workshop.

Library Marketing and Communications Conference with Guest Blogger Kellie Sparks

By Kellie Sparks, University of West Florida

Photo of the St. Louis Arch
Gateway Arch in St. Louis

I have to pinch myself sometimes when I think about my library position. As the social media coordinator for the University of West Florida libraries, I love that the lines of work and play are often completely blurred. My work day consists of finding the right visuals and crafting the right words to demonstrate our value to the rest of the university. So, when I saw that PLAN was offering a scholarship to attend a professional development conference designed for library marketers, I jumped at the chance. It seemed like the perfect place to learn even more about how as a librarian, I could become a better communicator and gather fresh ideas on how to market UWF libraries more effectively.

As it turns out, the Library Marketing and Communications Conference was my dream conference! Set in snowy St. Louis, Missouri, the conference was bursting with librarians and marketing professionals who gathered to discuss, analyze, and master the art of marketing libraries. The multiple conference tracks presented a variety of options: Communications/PR, Graphic Design/Technology, Social Media, Marketing Strategies & Tools, Partnerships/Advocacy, Engagement, Internal Marketing, and Promoting Library Programs & Services. These unique tracks included sessions that were spread over the course of two days and each session typically allowed for active discussion and engagement among conference goers. A library “swag swap” accompanied these sessions with a wide variety of items from libraries across the country. Each brightly colored brochure and bookmark provided instant inspiration for future marketing endeavors and a great opportunity to see how other librarian marketers approached their print and digital outreach initiatives.

While I found the sessions informative, the conversations between peers stood out as my favorite part of the conference. Meeting library creatives who shared and understood the thrill of finding the perfect image, the time and dedication it takes to create and edit a social media video, and the rush of waking up in the middle of the night with a flash of creative inspiration, was a unique comfort we felt as a collective. The conversations continued with numerous opportunities for dine-arounds and fun activities to meet up with new and old friends.  It was great to see and hear the stories of both library marketing successes and failures. It was definitely the first conference I had ever been to where I felt like every session was a must-see. Hope to see you at the next LMCC conference!

The LIS College Report Card with Guest Blogger Melissa Davis

By Melissa Davis, Pensacola State College

Photo of Carla Hayden and Melissa Davis
Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden and Melissa Davis at ALA

This summer I attended the ALA conference in New Orleans with several of my Pensacola State College librarian colleagues. The conference was fabulous, and I loved being at a national conference again.

One of the workshops I attended was Building Inclusion: How Can Information Literary Instruction at Two-Year Colleges Help Students Successfully Transition to the University? (https://guides.ucf.edu/ld.php?content_id=42770059) presented by Peggy L. Nuhn and Rachel Mulvihill at the University of Central Florida and Karen F. Kauffmann and Morgan Tracy at Seminole State College. To be honest, this workshop wasn’t what I expected it to be (practical tips to get students excited about research), but it turned out to be the most thought-provoking session I attended.

I have taught LIS 2005, Internet Research, a three-credit class for two years. It has been a required course for the Physical Therapy Assistants program and probably has been seen as an easy A class for non PTA students (I think they are disappointed when they realize there is actual work required). While I always knew there was room for improvement, initially, I was surprised to hear that the universities thought we at the state colleges weren’t adequately preparing students for university research.

Back in June, I only really heard what the presenters thought we weren’t doing well enough. Now six months later, after thought, reflection, and revisiting the PowerPoint, I realize that the presenters also said what we were doing right and that their findings, positive and negative, had merit. Here are the things they found that the state colleges were teaching well:

  1. How to use general databases
  2. How to use subject specific databases
  3. How to contact a librarian for help
  4. Creating a search strategy
  5. Navigating a library homepage

These skills are huge! Creating a search strategy, for example, includes narrowing a topic, understanding and selecting keywords, faceted analysis, and, hopefully, some simple Boolean logic–all great research skills!

The concepts the researchers thought we weren’t getting across well, however, were these:

  1. Citations! (caution when using database-generated citations, identifying parts of a citation, and MLA /APA in general, I would say)
  2. Recognizing a research study (as opposed to a popular article that might mention a research study)
  3. Avoiding plagiarism
  4. Understanding the information cycle (the reason not everything can be researched on an academic level immediately)
  5. Literature review
Photo of Tracy K. Smith and Melissa Davis
Poet Laureate of the United States Tracy K. Smith and Melissa Davis at ALA

When I really started to think about what my students were having the most problems with, I would have to agree with the findings. The biggest thing my students have problems with is citations, even after instruction and in-class and out-of-class practice. Many of my students don’t seem to understand the difference between an article title and a journal title. They don’t know what those numbers are (volume and issue numbers). They insist on including helpful abbreviations for the volume and page numbers they do include. They don’t want to use a citation generator or get help from the writing lab or from me. I don’t have an instant solution to the citations problem. I’m still trying to figure out how to give citations more time and/or a more practical approach. I have started to be more mindful about the other topics on the need-more-work list as well.

Still, I have to think that the students attending basic LIS classes are more prepared to go to a university than those who don’t, and perhaps other professors (and high school teachers) requiring excellence with citations will help students master this skill. That students are aware of the power of databases and how to use them and that they can navigate a library somewhat successfully is a win in my book.

Getting Real with Augmented Reality with Guest Blogger Becky Nation

By Becky Nation, Avalon Middle School in Santa Rosa County

Through the generous funding of PLAN, I was offered the incredible opportunity to travel to Denver, Colorado for ALA Midwinter 2018. The opportunity to collaborate with other like-minded professionals, participate in sessions introducing new ideas and technologies, and experience the announcing of award-winning authors and books was exhilarating. I came home with so many ideas swirling through my mind competing for attention, but the concept of virtual and augmented realities kept pushing itself back to the forefront.

I attended several sessions discussing augmented, virtual, and mixed reality, and although I had heard of these prior to attending the conference, I was incredibly intimidated by these concepts. Big libraries with large budgets presented their mobile virtual reality labs that cost more than I could ever afford. The thought of the financial and technological aspects of taking on such a project crippled me for months. After researching and mulling over options, I finally decided the only way to find out how these technologies work was to use them. Augmented reality would be the jumping off point in my library.

Thinking that I needed to be comfortable with the lesson since the technology aspect would be new for me, I sought a project I currently use that I could enhance to include AR. My students write book reviews each year and deliver them orally. This existing project seemed to readily lend itself to a technology enhancement. I downloaded the free HP Reveal app and watched the tutorial that opened as soon as I downloaded. It guided me through the setup of my first aura. I used my iPad to video my students delivering their book reviews. Then I took a picture of the book cover to use as the trigger that would cue up the video. The HP Reveal app was then used to link the cover trigger to the student’s video. When students download the app and follow my channel, they scan the book and have other students’ book reviews superimpose themselves on the cover of the book where I placed it in the app. Yes, it’s just that easy!

Now that I have figured out how this works, I’m sad I waited so long to interact with this technology. My next steps include a grant proposal asking for tablets to use for recording and linking the books inside HP Reveal. This would allow me to pair students who would video and link their own book reviews for whole classes.