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.
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 is 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”