Librarian_spotlight

 

 

We’d like to welcome Alicia Vandenbroek as our featured librarian from Shackelford Library at Shackelford Junior High School. Alicia is a long-time NetGalley member, a tech-savvy librarian, an author, and reviewer who shares how she incorporates technology in her library, which upcoming titles she’s looking forward to, and tips for considering which books to read and review for your audience.  

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A nice place to start is with your librarian origin story – how did you become a junior high school librarian?

I’ve had a passion for books for as long as I can remember. Even at a young age, my mom always made sure I had access to books from the library. I found out in high school that being a writer might be harder than I thought, so I began to investigate jobs that would allow me to write and also explore other passions (like working with kids). I soon fell in love with teaching. After six years, I started to look for ways I could still teach, but reach a larger audience. The library was the perfect fit! It is an ideal place for collaboration, the geeky tech stuff I enjoy, books, and kids… lots of kids! Add a makerspace into the mix, and it is literally my dream job. Right now it is such a joy to see students experience things that they never thought possible and challenge themselves to do more.

As a self-proclaimed “tech nerd,” how is technology incorporated into your library, for your students but also for yourself and your staff? Do you have any goals for incorporating further technology into your library?

Yes, I’m a nerd. That used to bother me, but I embraced my inner geek a long time ago. I even rock a Haven and a Firefly shirt from time to time (only nerds will get that). What I love most about tech is that it isIMG_0009 continually evolving. Life is a journey and you can never be complacent. Technology forces us to keep growing and expanding. I started learning code last year. I stink, but I know enough Scratch to stay one step ahead of my makers and we learn together. In the library technology is a huge part of my makerspace and my lessons. Last year we got a grant for a 3D printer and 3D Doodler pens, so I’m very excited to incorporate those into curriculum this year. We’ve added some life skill tech in the form of sewing machines and a button maker too. The plan is to do some cool wearable art this year.  In lessons we use tech to enrich the curriculum through activities like online research, speedbooking, and student lead projects. I try to lead by example and then I also offer classes at both a local and regional level.

In addition to being a librarian, you also run a blog, Poetry of Words – can you describe the focus of your blog and the types of titles you review there? 

Initially, it was going to be a book blog only, but occasionally I also blog about some of the cool things happening at school like our STEAM festival. I mostly review YA books because that is largely what I read, but I review other books also like professional, nonfiction, and some christian fiction. The blog gives a summary of the book, what I thought of the book, and then some other tips like grade level, genre, etc. Continue reading “Librarian Spotlight – Alicia Vandenbroek”

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Librarian_spotlight

 

 

Welcome Mandy Peterson, Media Specialist at Schuyler Community Schools in Schuyler, Nebraska, as our guest. Mandy is a long-time NetGalley member, a plugged-in librarian and has been generous enough to answer our questions about the role of technology in her library. Keep reading to discover how Mandy became a librarian, what a 1:1 school is, and what she’s reading via NetGalley!

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A great place to start is your librarian origin story – how did you become a school librarian?

In my fifth year of teaching, I realized that the library was my favorite place to go. When my students were at lunch or in specials, I frequently could be found browsing or volunteering to reshelve books. During these visits, the librarian and I developed a nice comradery and I began bouncing ideas around for what grad program I should begin. Originally, I was thinking math or science. She suggested the library program at University of Nebraska at Omaha. The head of the Library program drove 2 hours to come visit me at my house. After that meeting with Dr. Rebecca Pasco, I was not only “sold”, but I was also confident that library was the right direction for me. I continued teaching while taking graduate courses to become a librarian. When the high school librarian in my district retired, I was fortunate enough to snag the position. We are currently taking the library from a traditional library to a 21st century library (as well as changing the role of librarian). I love working with the students, parents, teachers, staff, and community at Schuyler Community Schools!

How has having access to digital galleys impacted how you recommend titles for purchase but also to your students?

Through digital galleys, I know what’s coming up. As I read, I may not personally love the book but I can usually think of the student who will. So I talk to them, “Hey, I’m reading this book you might like. Here’s what it’s about…” Then I allow students to help me decide what to purchase. If they seem interested, I’m all over it. Digital galleys have also encouraged me to go outside of my personal preference zone. I am usually decidedly dystopian and sci fi young adult lit. Through NetGalley, I’ve discovered paranormal/horror, contemporary, and historical fiction that I really enjoyed. These purchases have been incredibly easy to make because I’ve seen the quality of the material. Purchasing on blind faith with tax payer money is rough. I am able to feel more secure when I’ve already previewed the material. I’ve actually recommended NetGalley books to family members, other library buddies, and community organizations. Since I also post my reviews to our blog, Twitter, Amazon, Facebook, and Goodreads, strangers are using my recommendations to decide what they should read – which is a very flattering notion!

Do you have a certain strategy for finding new titles, particularly on NetGalley?

I immediately head to Young Adult/Teen books. Not only is it what is mostly in the SCHS Library, but it is also what I enjoy reading personally. Don’t tell anyone but I am a bit of a total cover snob. The cover is what first attracts me. I am more apt to read the galley of an author I have never read before. Publisher summaries are a big deal. I find that a well-written summary can move a book from “meh, I’ll read it when I get time” to “I MUST READ THIS IMMEDIATELY!”.

What upcoming book on NetGalley are you the most excited about sharing with your students?

WOW! Rebel Queen by Michelle Moran hands down. I hadn’t read any of her books before and historical lit wasn’t really my interest. This book blew me away. I have my dystopian kids who are devouring the Shatter Me series (by Tahareh Mafi) and historical fiction fans reading The Walled City (by Ryan Graudin) – all are eagerly awaiting the release of Rebel Queen.

Click to view on NetGalley
Click to view on NetGalley

 

 

 

 

 

 

Continue reading “Librarian Spotlight”

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