Final project

Our team put together an Olympics-inspired, summer-long reading program. Please view the IGNITE-inspired video below to learn a little more about our program.

If you’d like to learn a little more about our project, the full report is linked here:


Thank you for your interest!


Final Visual Reflection

My visual reflection is in the form of a short presentation with a number of key “take-away” questions from this class. While these questions by no means touch on all of the topics we discussed in this class, they are among the first that came to mind when I thought about the subjects we covered this semester. I am sure many of them will inform my future work in libraries!

Visual reflection

Learning reflection two

FPL main stacks

Today I begin my final week as an MLIS student. I have been looking through old syllabi and other materials throughout this semester to reminisce a bit about the steps I’ve taken along the way and to reflect on the lessons I’ve learned, both in this class and in others. One theme that has become clear over the last two years has been the fact that the future of librarianship will be as much about managing change as about subject area knowledge or competency in certain skills. Nobody knows what the libraries of the future will look like or what formats will predominate. We will all need to adapt on the fly and to keep ourselves abreast of developments in our field whatever our feelings about those developments might be. At the same time we need to be sure that we continue to offer resources that appeal to all of our patrons and are mindful of creating collections that promote diversity and alternative points of view.

I doubt that the physical library with its physical collection will disappear. Just the same, it is clear that the library is we know it is in a period of change and librarians will need to embrace that evolution if our field is to remain relevant. For that reason I was encouraged by the opinions of the panel interviewed on the subject of e-books by Inouye (2016). Each of them directly or indirectly identified ways in which libraries and librarians can form a vital link in the chain between authors and readers however formats evolve from here. For instance, one panelist suggested that libraries might offer low-cost printing services for patrons who want e-books in a printed format or who are interested in an electronic title but don’t have an e-reader (Inouye, 2016). Another panelist noted the curatorial role librarians could play by identifying quality titles from among the low-cost or “alternatively published” titles now becoming available to readers.

Guernesy (TEDx Talks, 2014) picked up on similar themes in advocating for “media mentors.” Guernesy showed the ways in which young children need adults or other interpretive voices to help them make sense of the media they consume, whatever format that media happens to be. To me, librarians would be the perfect candidates to be “media mentors” or to help others develop the skills to be a “media mentor” for the young people in their lives. Librarians are trained to identify high-quality content and know which sources to look to for good information or well-crafted stories. We are also trained in aspects of instruction and in programming. All of these abilities would help us to promote “media mentorship” and strong literacy skills among children and young people.

Professor Moen and I had a brief discussion in our film group last Sunday about makerspaces and what role they will play in the libraries of the future. Makerspaces are obviously a topic of great interest in our profession. Just about every class I have taken in the MLIS program has had a unit on them and they featured prominently on our comprehensive exams. As Scott (2012) points out, makerspaces can be seen to align well with the public library’s mission. Makerspaces “facilitate the creation of knowledge that is an essential and fundamental part of the public library’s mission in society.” Put another way, “The makerspace is a natural extension of what we already do” (Scott, 2012).

I agree that makerspaces offer libraries an exciting opportunity to expand their patron base and can be seen as a modern twist on the library’s historic mission. However, I wonder whether the emphasis on the “gadgets” present in the makerspace (and in particularly 3D printers) will pull money away from other library services like the physical or virtual collection or the hiring of more library staff. I also wonder whether the emphasis on makerspaces will lead to a shift away from library offerings that serve older patrons. As Andersson noted in describing the construction of a makerspace at a Swedish library, “‘the genealogists will have to move over for the middleagers and the old story room is being remade into workshop with various tools and a laser cutter.’” (Andersson, 2014, p. 22). What Andersson doesn’t say is where the genealogists will go or whether the old story room is being replaced by a new story room. It’s easy to imagine old collections, resources or programmatic offerings being displaced to the detriment of patrons, some of them possibly older, who enjoy or rely upon those items.

9781582460840_xlg           I had a sense of the lack of diversity in children’s literature, but I had no idea how bad the problem was until our unit on the subject. The fact that fewer than three percent of children’s books are by or about Latinos even though almost one-quarter of schoolchildren are Latino (Blair, 2013) underscores how far we have to go. Sadly, I found a similar lack of diversity in the YA fiction collection I reviewed for my collection development project. If, as Adichie (2009) points out, we need to be sure that we are not telling a “single story,” we must make a particular effort to include titles in our collections that tell other stories so our young people have the means to develop an understanding of people unlike themselves. Our country is changing rapidly and libraries have an opportunity (and a responsibility) to be the drivers of tolerance and understanding.

I found the linked Tedx Talk by Pam Sandlian Smith to be very powerful. Her story of the little homeless boy who used his local library to stage a puppet show as an escape from the other issues in his life reminded me that we as librarians have the opportunity to touch patrons’ lives in ways we can’t always understand. As she notes, libraries are now collaborative spaces for learning, exploration, collaboration and community building. While I don’t agree with all of the points that she makes, I think that she is right that our communities will respond to us in proportion to the ways that we engage with them. I look forward to seeing how libraries change and to hopefully being a part of that change in the coming years!

Works cited:

Adichie, Chiamando Negozi (2009). The Danger of a Single Story. TED Talk.

Andersson, H. (2014). Makerspace. Scandinavian Public Library Quarterly, 47(4), 20-22.

Blair, E. (2013). As demographic shift, kid’s books staystubbornly white. Code Switch. National Public Radio

Falmouth Public Library (2008e). Main Stacks.. Retrieved from:

Frame, J.A. (2003). Yesterday I had the blues. Berkeley, CA: Tricycle.

Inouye, A. S. (Jan 4, 2016). What’s in store for ebooks? American Libraries. American Library Association.

Scott, S.H. (Nov 11, 2012). Making the case for a public library makerspace. Public Libraries Online. Public Library Association. Retrieved from

TEDx Talks. (2013, December 16). Pam Sandlian Smith: What to expect from libraries in the 21st century [Video file]. Retrieved from:

TEDx Talks. (2014, April 27). Lisa Guernesy: How the iPad affects young children, and what we can do about it. [Video file]. Retrieved from:


Reflection: Group Film Discussion

I took two things away from yesterday’s film discussion: The wide range of interpretations that can be drawn from even simple films and the power of sound. Each of us reacted strongly to each film, but often in very different ways. Some of us connected to certain aspects of particular films, while others noticed key details that had escaped the group’s mention. I left the discussion thinking about the way that kids of different backgrounds and age groups might react to these films and the possibilities that might open up from a programmatic perspective.

I was also struck by the power of sound. Professor Moen mentioned the way that the creators of “Western Spaghetti” had used sound to juxtapose the action on the screen with the objects being “prepared” and the dramatic effect that might have on the audience. I had a similar reaction to the narration and soothing background music in “Just Breathe”. I could actually feel my body reacting to some of the statements made by the narrators just because I was able to connect with them on an emotional level. Clearly the soundscape a filmmaker creates can be as important as the cinematography, setting or plot and deserves to be evaluated in its own right when considering a work of film.

Collection Evaluation: Sandwich Public Library


I evaluated the Young Adult Fiction collection at the Sandwich Public Library, the library in the Cape Cod town where I moved a few months ago. This was the second time I did a collection evaluation exercise for a class in the MLIS program. Last fall I evaluated and weeded the health collection at the Falmouth Public Library for LSC 503. In both cases it was enjoyable to learn more about an area of the collection I don’t know much about and to think about how I might reshape it. I think it’s easy to take a library’s collection for granted and to not see it for the ever-evolving thing it is. The fact that the choice of format is an ever-evolving and ever-more-important aspect of collection development will be an interesting challenge for all of us over the coming years.

I won’t know how well these exercises prepared me for the weeding I will undoubtedly have to do at some point in my career until I get a job and am asked to weed a collection. Both times I’ve done one of these exercises I’ve felt that I was missing a piece of the puzzle that would have allowed me to be better informed. Obviously not having circulation data is a significant issue, but I also feel that coming in as an outsider prevents you from understanding the rationale of the librarians who built the collection you are weeding. Certainly in some cases the outsider’s perspective can be an asset, as it can allow you to see clearly an area where a collection is lacking.

At the same time, however, I think it is easy to come to an unfamiliar situation with preconceived notions about how a library’s collection “should” look without understanding why it looks that way. When I evaluated the Falmouth Public Library’s health collection I criticized the fact that the collection was housed on all levels of the stacks. I felt that books on low shelves and on high shelves were a problem for patrons with mobility issues or who were short. When I did my field placement at the Falmouth Public Library I learned that this arrangement was due to the size of the collection. I also learned through patron interviews that patrons really appreciated the breadth and depth of the library’s collection and wanted to see it expanded, not weeded. My criticisms probably had merit, but if the library had followed my suggestion it might have alienated certain patrons (or at least done them a disservice). I think striking a balance between these two aspects of collection development will be crucial to managing the collections I’m charged with effectively.

Here’s the actual evaluation. I hope you find it useful!

Weeding project-DAronson

Multi-media book trailer

The subject of my multi-media book trailer was The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant and with illustrations by Stephen Gammell.



A link to the trailer itself may be found here:

Story board:

I couldn’t get my scanner to connect tonight, but I’ll get my story board up in the morning!

Reflection and analysis:

This assignment posed a challenge on two levels: technological and creative. It also neatly book-ended my career in the MLIS program by giving me the opportunity to use PowToon, a program I used during my first semester in the program as part of my work for LSC 508.

Designing a book trailer was a bit like putting together an essay or presentation, only with a “third dimension” of performance. Like the outline of an essay, the storybooking helped to sketch out the ideas I presented and show their relationship to one another. Like putting together a presentation, composing the trailer forced me to translate my key points into a visual format. Unlike an outline or a presentation, building an effective trailer required paying attention to the whole work as a product that was both independent of and the sum of its parts. That involved thinking about ways to make that come together and struggling (at points) with the software to bring those ideas to life.

Using PowToon was both a reminder of where I began and a nice marker of how much I have learned over these last two years. Dr. Mandel directed us to use a broad range of online and other software tools, of which PowToon was one. I remember how overwhelming it felt both to understand the content of LSC 508, much of which was well outside of my background prior to the MLIS program and to find a way to synthesize it using these tools I was learning on the fly. I hope that my effort with this assignment was effective and reflected an understanding of the themes and learning objectives of both this course and the MLIS curriculum!

Of the two, the creative challenge was far more daunting. I have realized more and more that I am not a very creative person. I tend to focus on the technical aspects of the work we do in this program and the technical aspects of the works we evaluate. I also have trouble visualizing creative ways to express ideas. As a result, much of my work ends up being formulaic: I see what others have done, find small refinements I can make to their format and proceed on that basis.

I was a high school language teacher many years ago and in retrospect realize that I was no more creative then than I am now. However, creativity was less important (or so I thought) than delivering content. Our group book discussions have caused me to think about the way I might use these texts with their target audience. I am not sure how much of my previous experience would be relevant to that work or whether seeing texts in this new way might ignite a spark of creativity in me that I have yet to light in this program. I am sure a room full of bored faces would cause me to re-think my approach to a book or topic very quickly and might bring out some very innovative ideas!


Book discussion reflection two


Our group discussed El Deafo, a charming graphic novel by Cece Bell. The novel tracks the experience of a young girl with significant hearing loss who must use a phonic ear and other adaptive technologies to hear and communicate with her family and friends. It touches not only on the challenges Cece faces as a child with hearing loss, but also her search for acceptance and friendship in a class full of peers with “normal” hearing abilities.

I was impressed by a few of the techniques the author used to convey Cece’s hearing loss and the sense of confusion she feels when trying to understand her “hearing” family and peers. In particular, I thought the author’s use of gibberish to represent the trouble Cece has understanding spoken language and the author’s use of text size and color to show the volume of spoken words were very effective techniques. I also thought the author very effectively conveyed the troubled, sometimes painful dynamic of feeling like an outsider at your school.

I didn’t realize the novel is autobiographical until I read the blurb at the end. As I mentioned in our discussion, the realization that the novel is autobiographical greatly deepened my understanding of it. Before that, I couldn’t understand why the story appeared to be set in the mid-1980s and why it contained references to bands (Van Halen?!) and technologies (LP records) that its target audience might be unfamiliar with. I certainly developed a stronger feeling of empathy for Cece once I knew that her experience and the author’s were one and the same.

I would be interested to present El Deafo to a group of young people to see how they respond to it. I think young people today would better understand and appreciate the struggles of their disabled peers. I wonder whether they would link Cece’s challenges to events in their lives, or whether they’d see Cece as just another weird kid. I also wonder whether they would relate to the complicated dynamics of school-aged children as portrayed in the book. My three-year-old niece is a little young for El Deafo, but in a few years perhaps I’ll read it with her and see what she thinks!