Making Lemonade

Buffy Hamilton recently emialed a bunch of us to ask if any of us

“… have been in a situation in which they had little or no funding and rather than feeling sorry for themselves and simply complaining about how unfair it all is, instead found ways to obtain funding and make lemonade out of a very sour situation.”

I thought you guys might be interested in my response to her for how I’m dealing with my own funding shortfalls. …

Unfortunately, I haven’t found funding, I just make do with what I have the same as everybody else.

Our district funds are about $10 per student; however, were were told we could only spend half of the funds before December.  We’ll find out (soon I hope) if we are allowed to spend the rest.  For me, that means only around $3000 for the year (we have just over 300 students this year) and all of my funds were spent with the magazine subscription renewals and buying ink for the printer & copier to last the year.  Thankfully, paper comes out of classroom supplies (and the art teacher donated 6 cases she found stashed in her closet from the previous art teacher’s hoarding) so I don’t have to worry about budgeting for paper.

I also charge fines and have about $500 in my local account.  This is my emergency fund and what I use to purchase a copy of each of the SC Young Adult Book Award Nominees in February.

Ways I have been coping (and I’m sure its nothing others aren’t also doing):

Reduce existing costs:

  • I didn’t renew a subscription database and cut “expensive” magazines (for example, cut People Magazine which was over $100 and got 6 other subscriptions instead for LESS than what People cost!)
  • I also do not purchase many non-fiction titles unless they are student requests or “hot” titles.
  • I hate to say it, but I no longer purchase solely from Follet or buy full price books.  I buy all of my titles from Books-a-Million’s bargain table.  Yes, it means my kids have to wait for new titles, but sorry, I don’t have the funds.  Will have to find alternatives since BAM hasn’t been putting new teen books out for a while now.  My only Follet order will be the SCYABA books.
  • I only replace toner cartridges for the library’s networked printer once a quarter.  If it runs out before then, tough.  Means students and teachers have to think about what they print. BTW, at least half of my 35 teachers have their computer’s networked to my printer and print out interims.  I should mention that we don’t charge for copies or printing as a previous principal did away with charging since we are a Title 1 school.  Only school related materials may be printed.
  • I only replace the library copier cartridge once a semester.  The copier policy is “only research materials may be copied.”

Find free alternatives:

  • Thankfully, our state has DISCUS ( that provides free research databases for SC residents.
  • The state also picked up the cost of SCOIS (our career/college database) for high schools.
  • Use online Web 2.0 tools where I can (and when they aren’t blocked!)  LOVE Google everything!
  • We’re using an Edublog account for a high school book club blog – and instead of buying class sets of books we have genre/theme meetings where students choose their own books from what we (or they) have available.
  • I volunteered for the SC Young Adult Book Award Committee and a perk is we get to keep some of the free titles used for review.
  • Tip: Register for Teen Read Week as soon as registration opens (early spring).  I’ve gotten a handful of free books this way!

Request donations/Begging:

  • I donate a LOT of titles to the library (a couple hundred or more a year).  Almost always they are the new YA books that the kids are vying for (as well as myself.)  Yes, expensive for me, but I write off on my (and my parents) taxes and it makes me feel good to be able to purchase the books the kids are begging me to get.
  • I ask teacher, students, and parents to donate books – especially new books (recent copyright dates).  I don’t get as many as I’d like, but I get a few.
  • I beg my principal to let me have first crack at any leftover technology or supply money at the end of the year.

Borrow from the public library and other schools:

  • The librarian at the public library has a student here and she volunteers for me once a week.  If they have a book a student wants, she’ll bring it in for them (if they have a library card) or to me and I’ll create a temporary record and check it out to the student.  Students return the book to me and she takes them back when she comes to me that week.  Our district doesn’t have a true ILL program so we make do with what we can.
  • I also ILL professional materials from the public library all the time.  No way can I afford the prices!
  • We borrow from other school libraries in the district.  Not as easy to do as books aren’t allowed to be transported via our district courier.  We have to make arrangements to get items from and back to schools.

Traditional  methods to raise funds don’t work here.  The only fundraisers that work are ones involving candy/food.  I want to try a book fundraiser from Book Warehouse, but am hesitant as we have so few students and even fewer parents/community members come to the school.  I’m willing to write grants and things like Donors Choice, but finding the time to do so in my already hectic schedule is tough.  Yes, an excuse I know!

Hope this helps.  By now you know I can’t be concise!  I tend to write/say too much.


UPDATE:  Since sending this to her, I received approval to spend $1200 more of my district funds (YAY!) and we were told that the the courier would now accept our library books so we can now ILL between schools!  However, on the sad side, once again Arts funding (ie: ETV, StreamlineSC, OnePlaceSC) and DISCUS are up on the chopping block by our legislature.  Sigh.  When will they understand how vital these services are for public education?

Flickrcc: “Lemon on Grass” by Cillian Storm

Looking Ahead (my new year’s resolutions!)

Well it is a new year and like everyone else I am taking stock of the year gone by and looking ahead to what I’d like to accomplish in the new one ahead.

Long Range Goals for 2010-11

Long Range Goals & Objectives for 2010-11

Work Goals

The chart indicates the goals & objectives I set in my Long Range Plans for 2010-11.  Some are completed, some are in progress, and sadly, some have not been initiated as yet.  With these goals in mind, I am recommitting to seeing that these goals are initiated or completed this school year.

Increase Advocacy & Collaboration Efforts

I have updated my “Welcome Back” brochure that I usually give teachers in August, but I didn’t this year.  I have tailored it toward our new teachers (20% of our faculty are new this year) in an attempt to increase collaboration with this group.

I have also updated the LMC Teacher Guidelines and will place a copy in every teacher’s mailbox for them to add to their Teacher Handbook.

Instructional Technology

We received an iPod Grant just before the school year began.  Unfortunately, we still don’t have all of the bugs worked out (including no campus wide wifi); however, just before winter break our two carts were ready for us to begin using them in classrooms.  I am looking forward to assisting teachers with the implementation and use of the iPods in the classroom.


I’m sure it is no surprise to learn that I’m an organizational “freak,” – especially since most librarians tend to be!  However, while I can usually find anything I’m looking for without too much time and effort, I have trouble putting together reports.  Mostly because I find it BORING and tedious.  I resolve to do better!

Personal Goals

Get healthy

Some of you know that I was diagnosed as a diabetic back in October.  I’ve been doing good about cutting out sugar and modifying my diet, but not so good at giving up the carbs.  (Bread, pasta, and cheese are my biggest weaknesses!) So my number one goal for the new year is to eat healthier and exercise more.


– at least ONE YA book per month and write a review for the 2 Read or Not 2 Read blog.

– at least ONE book per month just for me!  Reading for my own personal enjoyment has been something that has been superseded by reading professional publications and online reading.  One of the things I’ve lamented over since becoming a librarian is that I no longer have time to read just for me and reading isn’t always “fun” anymore.

– the professional review magazines the library subscribes to every month.  Kind of a “duh” goal, but since the library has no money to buy books I haven’t been reading the review magazines lately.  That has to change.  Yes, I can’t buy books, but I still need to keep abreast of whats coming out, trends, and to keep a list for the “just in case I get funding” possibility.


– my reading for the year using the My Bookshelf app for my iPhone.  I don’t know if it is because I read so many of the same type of books or if I’m just loosing my memory, but I can’t remember what books I’ve read.  I originally purchased this app to catalog my home library, but found I liked BooksApp better as I can use the iPhone camera to scan in the ISBN barcode instead of having to manually type/search for the books.  However, since I have My Bookshelf also, I might as well put it to use by documenting my 2011 reading!

– my YA reading using the LibraryThing account and by reviewing the books on the 2 Read or Not 2 Read blog.

– my day by jotting at least a sentence or two on the Momento diary app on my iPhone.  I have to say I like how I can set up the app to capture my online contributions (blog, flickr, twitter, etc.) as well as diary entries to record my “life.”

Re-commit to

– my blog by writing at lease one blog post a week.  I’ve fallen off the PLN wagon by not participating lately.  I still read my RSS Reader, but I haven’t been contributing.  I need to do better.

–  to Twitter.  I’ve never been a big “tweeter,” but I was pretty good at reading the tweets of those I follow.  However, ever since school started back I haven’t been keeping up with Twitter.  I probably will never be a big contributor to Twitter, but I did find it useful and informative so I need to get back in the habit of at least checking Twitter periodically throughout the day.

Conferences/Workshops (partial list!)

– SCASL Webinars.  As the Chair of SCASL’s IT Committee, on agenda item I am determined to see completed is a series of webinars to our members.  They are going to begin this month and hopefully have at least one a month.  Stay tuned for more details.

– present at the ETV Workshops in March (hopefully!) I submitted two workshop sessions and am waiting to hear if they were accepted.

– c0-presenting at the SCASL Annual Conference in March (hopefully!)  Haven’t heard conclusively, but I agreed to be on a panel session, as well as co-present a session to introduce SCASL’s new (forthcoming) web site.

– present at our district’s TechFest in March.  Applications to present haven’t gone out yet, but I agreed to submit one when they go out.

– take another photography class in March.  Yep, March is going to be a jam packed month.   I really want to learn all the ins and outs of my camera and taking better photographs.

– attend ISTE 2011 in Philadelphia this June!  This will be my first time attending ISTE and I am so excited (and a little terrified at how expensive this trip will be!)  So, along with this goal is one to begin budgeting to put money aside for ISTE!

So this is a start on my plans for the next few months!  Wish me luck.

SC Association of School Librarians 2010 Conference

Screen shot 2010-03-28 at 3.28.10 PM This past week I attended the SC Association of School Librarians 2010 Annual Conference where I had a BLAST!

Wednesday, March 24th

From Information Literacy to Information Leadership and “RSS: Connecting Ideas and Knowledge” presented by Will Richardson:

I have to say these sessions were AWESOME!  My only wish is that my district administrators and tech folks had attended these sessions.  Here are a few of the things I wrote down:

  • it’s about teaching students to be participants with the information – to become experts in the process and not necessarily the tool
  • while “digital natives” know how to WORK the technology, they need to be taught how to use the tools ethically and efficiently
  • teachers first need to learn how to use the tools themselves – for their own personal needs before they begin to implement them in their classrooms
  • the tool isn’t the change, the change is connecting to other teachers/students around the world
  • we have to ask ourselves how do we get our students to synthesize and manage to go deeper into the information and not take it on face value
  • we need to teach students the ability to read in hypertext
  • we need to teach reading as collaborative – ex: using Diigo to add a note/comment where others can respond – start a conversation.
  • elementary schools need to prepare students in the ability to read not just an understanding of the words, but the method (hypertext)
  • Can we (our teachers) meet The NCTE Definition of 21st Century Literacies?  How can we teach these to our kids if we can’t do them ourselves?  Can we: “Build relationships with others to pose and solve problems collaboratively and cross-culturally? Design and share information for global communities to meet a variety of purposes? Manage, analyze and synthesize multiple streams of simultaneous information? Create, critique, analyze, and evaluate multi-media texts? Attend to the ethical responsibilities required by these complex environments?”
  • we need to be helping our students build their own personalized learning environments
  • we need to shift to a model of connected teaching – global collaboration
  • Our school/district need to shift professional development to how to apply tools to curriculum and not how to use a tool – teachers should be made to learn how to USE (create an account, maneuver the tool, etc.) on their own.
  • Google Reader (or any RSS aggregater) is an example of ways to “manage, analyze and synthesize multiple streams of simultaneous information”

After a full day of pre-conference events, we were just too tired to go to the first concurrent session.  We chose, instead to sit down and make our dinner plans.  The highlight of the day was sharing dinner with Will Richardson, Cathy Nelson, Chris Craft, Fran Bullington, and Nic Finelli.

Thursday, March 25th

“Moore” on Primary Sources presented by Frank and Cathy Moore

This session provided information about teaching with primary sources using the Library of Congress.  I came away with LOTS of ideas on how to share these resources with my teachers, such as: resources for speeches, photos, book backdrops, lesson plans, online professional development, and much more.  However, I think I had more fun watching the two presenters interact with each other – you can tell they are a married couple!

Keynote: Web of Connections: Why the Read/Write Web Changes Everything presented by Will Richardson

Again, AWESOME!  Shhh, don’t tell, but I did get some of this as audio on my iPhone.  It’s so much more beneficial for me to record the session so I can just listen and observe, then go back and make notes.  I haven’t had an opportunity to go back and listen just yet.  I’m kicking myself that I didn’t record the pre-conference sessions.

10 Tools to a More 2.0 Library presented by Cathy Nelson

As always, informative and entertaining to listen to Cathy.  Her enthusiasm is contagious and she makes using these tools seem as easy as they are to learn/operate.

After Cathy’s session we all headed over to lunch at Five Guys Burger and Fries with Cathy Nelson, Fran Bullington, Chris Craft, Steve Reed, and Sally Hursey.  As always, these are the best times for me – talking with my peers about anything and everything.

ABC-Clio Luncheon

I went to learn about their history databases and Library Media Connection publications.  Yes, we’d already had lunch, but they were giving away $50 discount to any of their products!  I’m really hoping to get our Social Studies department to purchase one or more of their databases (I’m thinking the AP teacher could REALLY use the US History database/resources.)  Learned that the staff section has resources correlated to SC standards.  Research List feature allows teachers to create bibliographies/pathfinders for their classes/students.


Me with Alane Ferguson

Because we went to the the ABC-Clio luncheon, we missed the Meet the Author session featuring Alane Ferguson.  However, we did make it to her author signing (in fact, I was second in line!)  The lady in front wanted her picture taken with Alane, so a new acquaintance, Judy Mamroth, took their photo.  When asked if I wanted my picture taken, too, I said an emphatic no – that I don’t do photos.  Alane then says she’ll show me the trick to taking photos.  Those who were there know the story and lets just say I’m surprised you can’t see me blushing in the photo as we definitely got up close and personal!  I have a feeling that Alane has never met a stranger!

South Carolina and Thinkfinity: A SDE Partnership presented by Catherine Giddens

LOTS of resources for teacher of all grades and subjects and aligned to SC standards. Was MarcoPolo.  Has interactive activities great for SMARTboards.  Will definitely have to do some more exploration.  I also signed up for more information about becoming a trainer.  However, the real benefit for me at this session was meeting Joe Woodbury whose is going to hopefully help me find ways to get wikis and blogs available for students through SC Department of Ed and the TeacherVillage.

That evening, Cathy, Fran, and I, along with Allison Roberts (an LMS from TN) went to see Alice in Wonderland at the IMAX 3D theater just up the road.  This was the first IMAX movie I had ever seen and only the second 3D movie I’d been to see.  The movie was good, but seeing the others in those bulky 3D goggles was funnier!  Movie rating 4 out of 5 stars – weird, but good.

Friday, March 26th

Meet the Author: Alane Ferguson

Author of the Forensic Files Mysteries: The Christopher Killer, The Angel of Death, The Circle of Blood, and The Dying Breath.  I’ve been to a few author sessions before, but none has ever been as entertaining and informative as this one.  Alane Ferguson has an enthusiasm and charisma that keeps you glued to the seat in anticipation to hear what she’ll say next.  If you ever have the opportunity to see/hear her in person, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND that you go.  I was really excited to hear about her latest project, Dragonfly Eyes, set in Charleston, SC – can’t wait for it to come out, but it is still in the writing/development stage.  She also said there are two more Forensic Files mysteries being planned!

Introducing the 2010-2011 SC Young Adult Book Award Nominees

I look forward to this booktalking session each year.  I realize it takes a lot of guts to get up in front of our peers and speak, and that I was guilty of this when I served on the committee, but I would like to see the committee members actually present a booktalk and not READ their booktalks to us – especially if you’re going to read it so fast that I can barely understand what you are saying.  Also, on the podcasts this was a problem, too, that you could tell they were being read and read too quickly for me to catch what was being said.  [They played the podcast MP3 for those who couldn’t attend conference and actually present their booktalks.]  I gain the most excitement when you can tell the person talking is excited.  That doesn’t come across when they READ their booktalks to us.  I can read just as well as they can, so just talk to me about the book!  I am looking forward to listening to all of the podcasts when they are eventually posted.

Authors’ Celebration Luncheon featuring Cynthia Kadohata, Suzanne Williams and Alane Ferguson.

Cynthia Kadohata received the 2009 SC Junior Book Award for her novel Cracker!: The Best Dog in Vietnam.  She told us the story of going to the pound and choosing her own dog, as well as her experiences interviewing Vietnam vets who were dog handlers.  Brought tears to my eyes.  Suzanne Williams shared anecdotal examples of sharing her books with students. Alane Ferguson shared much of what she did in her session as well as read a bit from her next project, a short story beginnings of Dragonfly Eyes which will be in a Stephen King anthology called Fear coming out later this year and she says that all of the proceeds will go to Reading is Fundamental.

Screen shot 2010-03-28 at 5.17.09 PMWhile all of these speeches were wonderful, everyone was really waiting to find out which books won this year’s SC Book Awards.  So here goes:

Picture Book Award:  Wolf’s Coming by Joe Kulka
Children’s Book Award:  Swindle by Gordon Korman
Junior Book Award:  Schooled by Gordon Korman
Young Adult Book Award: Thirteen Reasons Why:  A Novel by Jay Asher

Look, Gordon Korman will receive TWO awards.  Do you think it will be possible to get him to conference next year???  I sure hope so.  I loved his Son of the Mob books.  And, of course, I hope they can persuade Jay Asher to attend as well.

So ends another enjoyable conference.  However, I do have one HUGE request to the SCASL Conference Committee for future conferences. NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, EVER book another convention center that doesn’t have Wifi.  That on top of Embassy Suites, the conference center hotel, not having free wifi was RIDICULOUS.  I mean, come on!  If McDonalds can offer free wifi, why can’t the conference center?????  Unless this situation changes, I hope we NEVER go back to North Charleston for our SCASL conference.  Sorry, Charleston, I love your city, but be reasonable.  No free wifi??? Again, RIDICULOUS!