Monday, June 29, 2009

Lower Rio Grande Valley Collection- UTPA Library

At UTPA one of the special collections is the Lower Rio Grande Valley Collection. This collection is held on the first floor to the left of the circulation area. Materials included in the collection pertain to all areas from Laredo to Rio Grande City. The nothern most Mexican states of Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon, and Coahuila are also represented in the collection. There is a serials collection of newspapers and magazine produced in these regions. A complete listing of these serials is located online. Titles are available in both English and Spanish.

In addition there is a Chicano collection that focuses on the Chicano movement. Also there is a map collection of South Texas and Northern Mexico. One feature I find neat are the oral histories recorded by locals. What a neat way to preserve your heritage! Vertical reference files are available with local materials. Genealogy resources on local family history is present as well. The room is decorated with artifacts and artwork from this region.

I think this room would be very useful to an author writing a book about the area or a person with a special interest in the area's history. I think it is a very useful feature of the library.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone Audio

I feel like I might be the last librarian on the face of the planet who has not read a single Harry Potter book. I don't know what took me so long. I did try when it first came out, I swear I did. Maybe it wasn't the right point in my life to read it. It just didn't hold my attention back then. This time however, I really fell in love with the series.

I decided to listen to the audio for a few reasons. It came high recommended to me by Professor Nana (Dr. Lesesne.) And we all know she definitely knows what she's talking about when she says a book or audio is good. Some things I loved about this audio version was the many different voices the narrator uses for the different character. Even though he is a man it was very believable when he played female characters. I liked the faced pace feel of this book. However, I started out listening with my daughter who will be in third grade and it was too fast for her. Perhaps that is still okay, since this book is actually at a fifth grade reading level. I went right away on got book 2 on audio and and I will be sure to review it here as well.

I'm enjoying my summer. I love pleasure reading/ listening. I am also enjoying being crafty and a little traveling with my family. How are you spending your summer?

Friday, June 26, 2009

University of Texas Pan American- 6/24

I was able to visit UTPA (my alma mater) on Wednesday 6/24. Things sure have changed since I graduated in 2000! The library has since expanded quite a bit. I did not get a tour, instead I did my own research ahead of time and just wandered around taking it all in. According to their webpage, "the collection consists of more than 417,300 volumes, 21,500 government documents, 5,300 audiovisual materials, and 2,035 annual periodical title subscriptions."

The library lobby is very large and spacious. Students can walk through it without actually accessing the library. This makes it more convenient than walking around the library to reach your class. There are many snack items for sale in the lobby. Also there are many display cases with student work. Seating is staggered around the room.

The first floor has theft prevention devices that you walk through on the way in and out. There is a circulation desk for assistance. In addition, there are popular new books displayed here. Back behind the circulation area, there are library instructional classrooms. This is where librarians conduct classes on how to research, etc. Among other things, there is also a writing lab where students can seek assistance with research writing. Down the back hallway is an art gallery of student work and outside contributors.

The second floor consists of research materials including print journals, government documents, reference books, research and internet computers. The reference desk is located here as well as administration. Dispersed throughout are study carrels as well as small group study rooms. There are seventy five computers available for research located right beside the reference desk. Call numbers A-L are located in the stacks on this floor.

The third floor holds audio visual materials as well as reserve materials on hold for students in particular classes. Microform readers, microfiche are located on this floor as well as a help desk. The general fiction book collection is located here and classified according to LOC. There is a large lounge area on this floor. Call numbers M-Z are located in the stacks on this floor.

The fourth floor has a brand new media lab with state of the art technology. Bound periodicals are located here, as well as oversized items, and the juvenille collection. Group study rooms as well as individual study carrels are available on this floor.

Monday, June 22, 2009

George Bush Presidential Library 6/15/09

When I came to this library, I really didn't know what to think. I thought that a presidential library was just a library funded by a president. I figured it would have displays about the president...maybe a museum about him. But...I really believed that this library would have stacks of books for checkout or research....SHOCKER! It didn't have books for check out!

I had the pleasure of getting a "special" tour from Zachary Roberts, archives Technician at the George Bush Presidential Library. We went through a special entrance to view the research area. Mr. Roberts was very informative. In fact, it was a little hard for me to keep up with all the great information he was giving me. Once we arrived at the second floor, he showed me their "clean" research room. He said what this means is that no purses, backpacks, food or drinks allowed. One technician is always on staff to supervise. Patrons must make appointments and be escorted in. I asked Mr. Roberts how patrons go about finding the materials they need at the library and he broke down the steps for me:
1. Patron calls and requests materials to be gathered (usually this can be accomplished within 30min to 1 hour.)
2. Patron views the materials in the research room under the supervision of technicians.
3. There is a separate room for lunch, if a patron plans to be at the library for many hours.
4. No photos allowed.
5. Technicians ensure security of the documents.

Next we went to see the main stacks (also on the second floor.) As I walked in, I was shocked...the shelves were filled with boxes and boxes and books. Mr. Roberts informed me that this library has about 50 million pages of materials from George Bush's presidency. I noticed two types of boxes on the shelves. One was the traditional brown shipping box, labeled with marker. The other type of box was gray and looked kind of like magazine boxes with a typed up label of the contents. The brown boxes were unprocessed, while the gray boxes are processed. According to Mr. Roberts, only 15% of the collection is processed. Each processed box has a code. For example. FI= Finance and BB= Barbara Bush. Besides having a main identification code such as FI or BB, each box also has a unique identifier and then a code is attached to each document inside the box to facilitate location at a later time. Mr. Roberts' job duties are as follows- rotate on phone reference and work on classifying materials. In order to classify each document an archivist must sit and read each document and determine whether it meets all guidelines in order to be made public. If it is private/ personal or a national security risk then those items are sent to a clearing house to determine whether it can be made public or marked classified. Once a box of items is classified, it must be labeled and imputted into the database. Finally it is ready for research.

This library has approximately 35 staff members on duty each day, 12 of which are archival, 4 research technicians, and 4 AV/ Media personnel. Something I didn't realize is that this library was a federal library. Also records for a presidential library are not released until five years after the presidency has concluded.

I was not taken to the third floor however, Mr. Roberts told me about the collection there. This floor is dedicated to 3-D items the president may have received as gifts during his presidency. At the end of a president's term, he may choose to purchase the gifts given to him at market value or allow the library to store and display these items. The museum does their best to rotate these items into the museum collection.

Friday, June 19, 2009

George Bush Museum Tour 6/15/09

On Monday, June 15th my family and I went to the George Bush Library in College Station. First we went through the museum exhibits. The museum was much larger than I had anticipated. In fact, to be quite honest I really thought the museum would be small and most of the building I would be seeing would be a library. I truly learned a lot by visiting this establishment.

The museum was presented in chronological order. We picked up an audio wand to listen to information while walking through the museum. While this was useful, we found ourselves putting it aside and immersing ourselves at our own pace. The first display includes a presidential limousine and other symbols representing the presidency. Scrapbooks of the Bush Family were also displayed throughout the museum. There is a WWII section with a restored 1944 TBM Avenger. I thought it was neat to see a replica of Barbara's wedding gown and some quotes about George's love for her.

One standout in the museum is the 30 foot tall replica of the Capitol dome which features campaign advertisements and articles. Our family took a picture in a replica of the Oval Office. How neat is that?

The literacy lounge is a resting stop during the museum tour. It is a room filled with sunlight, comfy seating and plenty of children's books. On the TV screen, you can see George and Laura acting goofy. There is a child-size White House playhouse that the kids can play around in.

On the way out, visitors can get a "personalized" letter from the president. You type in your name and whether you want a letter from Barbara or George. Then you choose a question you would like answered.

Riverwalk Waterfall

Destination Relaxation- San Antonio Style 6/14/09

I have been reading Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. I really enjoyed the first section about eating and living it up in Italy. While in San Antonio we stayed at La Mansion Del Rio (Omni Hotel). It was such a nice luxurious hotel stay. One morning I was lucky enough to wake up before my family and I went out to the River Walk and enjoyed breakfast on my own. I walked from my hotel to Starbucks and ordered a tray of fruit and cheeses.

It was............PHENOMENAL. I sat by the water in the shade and ate brie and apples, cheddar and Asiago with crackers. Chai Tea Latte. YUM! It was so nice. I sat close enough to a man made waterfall to enjoy the peaceful sounds while I ate. I don't know if I would have thought about how nice a breakfast on my own could be if I hadn't been reading this book.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

San Antonio Central Library Mix Book 6/12/09

For the photo book below I used MixBook. It is a really easy webtool for creating virtual "coffee table" books (and you can choose to pay to have an actual book created of your images as well.)

Using Tabblo to Feature Your Pictures

Click on the image below to see full size. You can also click on each individual picture once you go to the Tabblo site. Tabblo is fun and easy to use with WYSIWYG technology (what you see is what you get.)

Tabblo: IMAS 6/9/09

We arrived at the museum on 6/9/09 at about 10am. My daughter Haille (8), was excited to spend some alone time with me.
... See my Tabblo>

Pedro Meyer, Photographer

My favorite part of the museum was the collection of photographs by Pedro Meyer entitled Heresies. This was the only portion of the museum I was not allowed to take pictures of. I looked online at Meyer's website for some background on him. Meyer's artwork is known for pushing the limits between reality and fiction. As I observed his photographs, I noticed some added element that did not belong in each. It made looking at the photographs very interesting for me. I made it a sort of game to determine what was out of place and why the artist chose to add that element. The collection was titled Heresies for exactly this reason- each image is both true and untrue. After researching him on his website, I was led to ZoneZero, a collection of his artwork online (along with other artists). I especially liked his Self-Portraits collection that is on the Zone Zero website. It has background music and a little background information. I liked the way his shadow is used as his self portrait in one section of the collection. He shoots pictures of his shadow at different angles, different lighting, different locations. It was really quite splendid. I wanted to include a picture of him or his work here, but I didn't have any copyright free photos of him to use.

IMAS Exhibits

Besides Grossology, there were some other interesting exhibits on display at the International Museum of Arts and Sciences in McAllen. Paul Valdez's Fragments (left) was a neat collage of signage from both Mexico and the United States. Valdez is an instructor at the University of Texas Pan American. According to his statement, he wanted to "capture the feel of the border." It took him three years to paint the images in this display of 450 pieces.

Another exhibit was Ancient Egypt: The Quest for Eternal Life from the private collection of Giovanni Amin. On display were replications of relief panels (right), sarcophagus, and death mask. The sarcophagus (below) was very large (full size I believe.) It was really neat to see these items closeup.

In addition, there was ICONS Stained Glass Windows which originated from St. Paul's Church in Albany, New York dating back to 1914. The room where these windows are on display has been recreated to look like a chapel. The room is dimmed and each window is illunimated from behind. In the center is a bench that resembles a church pew. The room is calm and relaxing. We spent a while here admiring the details in each stained glass window.

Uploading Videos

When I started the post about IMAS I thought, well it should be easy to upload a video with my Flipcam...and it was...Sort Of. In total, I wanted to make a video of all the clips from Grossology which came out to about 8 1/2 minutes. I created the video but it ended up being more than 300mb. This was too big to upload on Blogger. So I thought well let me try OneTrueMedia... I've used it before and been pleased with the final product. Unfortunately, it kept giving me an error message for the file upload. SO then I thought, well TeacherTube would is certainly educational. However, it too has a file size limit of 100MB. So I ended up having to re-do the video into three short clips of under 100MB. Maybe there is a way to compress the full length video, but I was not sure how to do that. Since the focus was on the exhibit and not how to compress a video I decided to just go ahead and post here as three clips. They can be viewed in any order.

McAllen International Museum 6/9/09

On Tuesday, my daughter Haille and I visited the McAllen International Museum of Arts and Sciences (IMAS). We had a great time spending the morning together at the museum. We started out by exploring their special exhibit called Grossology (or the science of the body.) I had been here once before on a field trip, but I didn't get a chance to fully enjoy the exhibits since I was so busy keeping an eye on the students and taking pictures for the website. I had the chance to take some footage using my FlipCam at the museum. Since all the features of the exhibit were interactive the FlipCam really captured the exhibit better than merely taking pictures. (Although I did do both.)

Preparing for my trip to San Antonio

Last week on Monday, I called Central Library in Downtown San Antonio to schedule a tour. The person I spoke to was very helpful and scheduled me for 3pm on Friday, June 12th. I searched the web for some background information about this San Antonio library. On their homepage, I noticed the interesting architecture and bright colors. According to their site, the design and colors of the library have "changed the face of downtown." It was designed by Ricardo Legorreta an architect from Mexico. He is well known for bright colors and geometric shapes. This library was built through the funding of a bond issue in with construction beginning in 1993. The doors opened to the public in 1995.

The library has a few special features including the Blue Room created by Stephen Antonakos. This room marks the entrance to the library was designed to have a calming effect on patrons as they enter the library. Another feature is a mural created by Jesse Trevino. The 36 foot long mural he created for the library is a collage of images from San Antonio during World War II.

Interesting points to note- this library is more than twice the size of the former main library. It has six floors above ground on one floor below ground. Its seating capacity is 1,300.

I look forward to arriving at the library on Friday.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

6/3/09 Liberty Middle School Library

On 6/3/09 I met with Mrs. Dee Lopez, librarian at Liberty Middle School in Pharr, TX. This school was a huge change from Ramirez Elementary. Liberty has only been open about seven years. It is state of the art in many ways. It services 1,502 students and has 16,221 books and 1,000AV items. As I walked into the library, I immediately noticed the theft prevention devices at the door. I think this is essential for a secondary library. The circulation desk greets you next. I really like that it is spacious enough to accommodate three people but not so big that it takes up too much room. It has a drop box right as you enter.

Right in front of the circulation desk there is a computer station with 16 student computers for reference and testing and in separate kiosks there are two computers dedicated for OPAC usage.

There are also two leisure areas on either side of the computer area with couches. In the far corners of the library there are quiet areas for independent study. I really like the shelving in the library. Sections of shelving fan out around the library to feature particular areas/ genres. On top of the shelves, there are neat displays of books by series or topic. In the center of the library there are two separate class areas. Each section has eight tables with four chairs each.

This library has two librarians and one aide. This type of seating allows the library accommodate two classes at a time if desired. Each librarian has a private office. In addition, there is a large AV room, where VHS, DVD, Audiobooks and checkout equipment are stored. There is also a workroom, with a copier, tables, refrigerator, and restroom.

It was interesting for me to see the difference between elementary and secondary libraries. I really like the layout and features of this library. My only concern is I don't see much that looks "geared for teenagers." Since the goal should be to get teens to love coming to the library, it should have some finishing touches such as posters, art, decoration, student work, that teens would enjoy.

6/1/09 Ramirez Elementary

On June 1st, I was able to meet with Lizet Valenciana, librarian at Ramirez Elementary in Pharr. Ramirez Elementary is an older campus (at least 15 years old.) The library is located in a separate building apart from the classrooms. As I walked into the library I immediately noticed it was quite small. The circulation desk was rather large, it took up about 1/4 of the room. The second thing I noticed was that there were not very many books on the shelves. I knew that this school was a recipent of a grant to purchase additional books for the 2008-2009 school year. In total, they received approximately $30,000 which was spent on books, computers, staffing, etc. I did not realize how little books their campus must have had before the grant. The librarian informed me that the goal of the grant was to raise the average age of the collection. Previously it had been in the 1970's. This year she weeded over 700 books from the collection in an effort to make it more current.

During my interview of Mrs. Valenciana, I found out that her school enrollment in 720 students. She has 36 classes which meet on a fixed schedule. She is in rotation with PE and Music for grades 3-5. She says she does not like this schedule and she is asking her principal to take her off of rotation. In total she has 8,149 books in her collection and 519 AV items. The library has very limited seating. Six small tables are arranged in the center of the library with four chairs each for a total of 24 seats. Towards the back of the library is a computer station with ten computers (some of which were purchased with the grant.) I had to take into consideration that this was during inventory time, so there were not many displays or decorations in the library.

I was curious about how books were shelved and labeled in the library. Mrs. Valenciana stated that all books have a yellow label with a number on it. This number signifies the grade level. The only problem, she says, is that some of these labels are hand written. She is working to replace all handwritten labels with typed professional labels. Mrs. Valenciana mentioned that she had literacy nights once per week during which the library was open until 5pm. She said that sometimes these events did not draw a very large crowd.

I think it is important to visit other libraries within my district to inspire me to try new ideas in my own library. It is also a good way to network with other librarians.

Online Scrapbooking with Smilebox

This summer I am taking a travel class, during which I will be traveling around the state of Texas visiting libraries and reflecting on the experience. I am trying out this new tool called Smilebox as a means of sharing my experiences. Please let me know what you think. The version below is the free one, so there are ads. You can also pay per scrapbook or pay a monthly fee for ads free scrapbooking.

Click to play this Smilebox scrapbook: PSJA Libraries
Create your own scrapbook - Powered by Smilebox
Make a Smilebox scrapbook

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Luck of the Loch Ness Monster

One of my goals this summer (besides spring cleaning, visiting libraries across the state of Texas and crocheting a baby blanket for a dear friend) is to read all the books on the Texas Bluebonnet Award list for the coming school year.

This is the funny of tale of a small worm who grew to be the Loch Ness monster. It all started when Katerina-Elizabeth is sailing aboard a ship and cannot stand the oatmeal she is given. So what else could she do, but throw it over board? It turned out that a tiny worm found the oatmeal she tossed over the side of the ship and gobbled it all up. It was so yummy to the worm that it started to following the ship throughout its journey. All the while the tiny worm grew and grew and GREW. What happens when Katerina's ship docks? Will the worm be all alone? Be sure to read The Luck of the Loch Ness Monster to find out.