What does a HS librarian do?

          Everyone at my school received my e-mail in reaction to the summary from the Northeast Association of Schools and Colleges’ (NEASC) report of Haverhill High School. Granted, I haven’t seen the full report, and I really only looked at the part that addressed the library, so perhaps when all is said and written, my reaction will have been overstated. But I don’t think so and here’s why.

          I don’t think that my reviewers really understand what we do at the LMC and how we do it. (I am including Ms. Sicard, the other staff member, when I talk in the plural). Perhaps I shouldn’t blame NEASC. After all, they only spoke to me for thirty minutes, and they didn’t hang around to see what we do. Even students that I see every day and help with their Powerpoint presentations, algebra homework, college applications, formatting resumes, e-mail attachments, biology research and, of course, book selections are surprised when I tell them that you need a college degree to be a school librarian. I guess they just figure I know all this stuff because I read so much. My reviewers, however, obviously knew that I am a licensed teacher, and one was even a librarian from another school.

          That was why I was so disappointed to look under the commendations sections for School Resources for Learning, to discover that the best thing that they could say about the library and library services was to comment positively on, “The sizeable collection of print materials in the library“. That is a great review for a place that is seen as warehousing books, but not so much for a place that should be the hub of academic life at a modern high school.

          While many of the recommendations that NEASC makes regarding the library, focus mostly on issues of staffing such as, “Extend before and after school library hours“, “Ensure that staffing in the library is sufficient to deliver all the library services“, and “Expand the limited partnership between HHS and the public library“; others suggest that our staff, and particularly the library teacher (me), is not living up to their professional obligations as educators by failing to deliver the most basic of services. The two recommendations that I have in mind read as follows:

  • Ensure that the library teacher has the opportunity to be knowledgeable about the school’s curriculum
  • Develop a formal library orientation program to educate all students in library and information skills

          The first recommendation can be interpreted in two ways. If NEASC is suggesting that HHS needs to, “ensure that the library teacher … be knowledgeable about the school’s curriculum”, because right now the library teacher (me) is not familiar with the curriculum, then I feel you probably haven’t met the library teacher; and you definitely don’t regularly read this blog. (Bookmark it now for future reference).

          If we re-read that first recommendation and this time focus on the word “opportunity”, then we might understand it as just another suggestion to get more library staff, which we absolutely need. I suppose this would give the library teacher (me) more time to sit in on meetings. That is something I would NOT like, nor do I think it would make me any more familiar with the school’s curriculum than I already am.

          In our daily interactions with teachers (I am including Ms. Sicard again) we regularly get involved with helping to prepare resources for all kinds for projects from every subject matter offered. We not only prepare carts for research from teachers’ past lists, we also give feedback on recommended book titles, find articles in current periodicals, and suggest online resources for a wide range of classes. Not to mention the number of students that we work with individually every day. Just last week I estimated that, “we (Ms. Sicard and I) see between five and seven hundred students a day in the LMC”. We’re very familiar with the school’s curriculum.

          And then of course, there is this blog. Not everyone in my school reads this blog regularly, but enough of them do that I feel it has become another valuable tool in my role as a HS librarian. I began this blog on December 16, 2007 with the announcement that it was an, “experiment in online librarianship”. During the 2007-2008 school year I wrote 51 posts. This year, so far, I have written 40 times, including this post. This is not meant as a boast, but as evidence of my commitment to try to make this experiment work.

          More important than how many times I’ve written, is what I have written, and what I have written about. Before I became a librarian, I was a classroom teacher, and before that I was an adjunct writing instructor at several colleges, and before that I was a teaching assistant at the University of Massachusetts School of Education. It was there that I used to instruct aspiring teachers to always maintain an up-to-date portfolio of their work. This portfolio was to include a current resume, letters of recommendation, collections of syllabi and lesson plans, samples of student work, and any other sort of documentation that would verify their professional work as an educator.

         For me, this blog has become a digital portfolio that serves to document my work as a HS librarian. It also happens to provide evidence against the second recommendation that we need to, “develop a formal library orientation program to educate all students in library and information skills”. Had the NEASC committee read this blog they would have found entries such as:

August 26th 2008: “Freshman English teachers can schedule for library orientation”

September 6th 2008: “All teachers should check the calendar kept at the circulation desk to book visits for freshman orientation, and/or to have classes select books or work on the computers. The dates fill up quickly, so earlier is better than later”. (Also gave thanks to Ms. Laws, Ms. Medvetz and Ms. Barberio’s classes who visited during the week)

September 12th 2008: “Ms. Hart’s and Mr. Coyne’s freshman English classes visited this week for their LMC orientations” and “I hope I was able to convince Ms. Quinney’s senior students that they need to appreciate the difference between the Deep Web and the surface web when it comes to academic research”.

          Had they visited this blog, they would have also seen what I was talking about when I explained to them that I regularly reference this site as a starting point for lessons about online research, reliable resources, accessing subscription databases and citing electronic sources. They would have seen that I have links to our Reading Lists and to the subscription sites available through the public library.

          More importantly, for me anyway, I was hoping that a visit to the site might have shown the NEASC reviewers evidence of my relentless curiosity and love of learning, and how seriously I take my job as a HS librarian and member of the Haverhill faculty. I get the feeling there were many of us at Haverhill High who felt short-changed or underestimated in the same way by the NEASC findings, and I am sorry for them, too.

          This all makes me think of three things.

          The first is a parable about five people who walk into a pitch black room where there is an elephant. Each one proceeds to grab a different part of the elephant, the trunk, an ear, a foot, the tail and the massive body in the middle. When they leave the room, they are asked to describe the elephant and each one proceeds, in turn, to describe something that is true in part, but does not give a picture of the whole. I feel like my job as a modern HS library teacher is the elephant in the room. (The same can probably be said of most dual title roles at HHS). 

          The second thing this makes me think of is a scene from Lorraine Hansberry’s play, “A Raisin in the Sun”.  A frustrated Walter Lee the Younger confronts the intellectual George Murchison and says to him, “Don’t you see no gleaming stars that you can’t reach out and grab? You happy? … You got it made? Bitter? Man, I’m a volcano. Bitter? Here I am a giant – surrounded by ants! Ants who can’t even understand what it is the giant is talking about.” Most of us can’t say that stuff out loud; but we carry little gems from a movie, a book, a song that help us get through the day.

          The last thing this makes me think of is that the library is a great place to store lots of books, and it’s a bonus when you have someone who knows how to use them.  (Self-commendation accepted).

Take care and have a wonderful Sunday. See you all tomorrow.

Copyright © henry toromoreno, 2009. All rights reserved.

Quick Hit: Events in the LMC

I spend so much time writing and thinking about the amazing electronic resources available to us as educators and students, that I often forget to tell the readers of this blog about the most important resources of all which, of course, are people. This past week in the LMC we hosted two special events, thanks to our wonderful educators at HHS, showcasing how local resources can be brought into the school. 

White Ribbon Campaign Mr. Polanco has worked for many years on various anti-violence campaigns.(WRC): For two days during the lunch periods this past week, the WRC held a forum hosted by Mr. Polanco, a violence prevention specialist, addressing various aspects of the dating violence issue. Recently, meetings held by the Violence Intervention and Prevention (V.I.P) program made the news locally and the interest in the topic called for more discussion. In light of the attention that the Rihanna and Chris Brown incident has generated, many schools have taken this opportunity to talk about the wide-spread acceptance of violence, especially among young people. Organized by Mr. Polanco and Ms. Ireland, these sessions  addressed the issue of dating violence, in general, and violence against women in particular.   Three current and former HHS students, who have worked with Ms. Ireland and Mr. Polanco through V.I.P., also spoke about their personal experiences with violence. The overall messages of the discussions were that violence was not acceptable, that abuse comes in many forms, and that we are all personally responsible for speaking out against such actions.

Our wonderful health/wellness teachers, Ms. LaBelle and Ms. Matthews both alerted me to Oprah’s television specials which aired on consecutive Thursdays (3/5 and 3/12) focusing on the Rihanna/ Brown case. (I’m still really, really sorry I forgot to tape the second episode L ). Ms. LaBelle also brought to my attention a People Magazine article aimed at teenagers dealing with dating violence. Thank you both for passing along these useful resources for all students and teachers.

ryuohGuest Speaker Series: Mr. Levine’s sophomore Classical Academy Research Seminar classes have been treated to guest speakers over the past two weeks. This past Friday, the Reverend Ryuoh Faulconer, of the Nichiren Buddhist Sangha of Greater New England, came to speak to the students about many aspects of Buddhism, as students had been studying Eastern religions’ histories. He told the students the story of Siddhartha Gautama, who became the Buddha. Rev. Faulconer went on to explain the basic tenets of Buddhism, differences among Buddhist branches, and a brief history of Buddhism’s rise in America. The reverend also shared his personal story and explained what brought him to his conversion. Rev. Faulconer answered students’ questions and thanked his courteous audience for their attention and curiosity. 

The week before, the speaker was Judge Newman, from the Lawrence Juvenile Court. Students were studying a unit on issues of national security after 9/11. The judge came to discuss concepts like due process,  habeas corpus, and other issues of personal privacy and constitutional rights. Judge Newman also discussed the Patriot Act’s provisions, details of a Supreme Court case involving a Guatanamo Bay detainee and the impact of crime on the local level. He answered students questions and thanked his attentive audience for their feedback.

Besides these two special events, we were also busy with visiting classes all week long. I was bothered as usual by how often I have to remind students to put away phones and unplug earbuds, which they mostly do very respectfully in the LMC. I was also struck, however, by how many of the students in the LMC were working hard, reading, studying, trying to get ahead.

On a typical day, the LMC may have anywhere from 7 to 12 classes visiting – we do have 50 computers now with our expanded media lab. There are seven classrooms located in the LMC which meet five times a day. Since we also sign up over one hundred kids a day for study hall in the LMC, I figure that we (Ms. Sicard and I) see between five and seven hundred students a day in the LMC. (And she wonders why she gets grouchy?) Most of these people, obviously, simply flow past us each day. But many (many, many) interact with us every day, and although I haven’t got the math to prove it, I would have to say that more than most of those interactions are great and positive. Students and teachers who view the LMC as a place to get work done or to catch up on reading are our greatest resource because they help to create the academic atmosphere that we truly value. The LMC is at its best when everyone, students and teachers, are there to use the resources for education and to promote the mission of Haverhill High School, which is “to produce self-directed learners who read, write, and speak effectively in Standard English and who apply analytical and technological skills to interpret information and problem solve.”

So, thank you to all the students who signed up for library study and used their time productively and didn’t have to be reminded to put away their phones, ipods, food, drinks, etc. Thank you to Mr. Mitton, who found and passed along a great math site that lets users play with different polygons to discover what makes them special. Thank you to all the students in our visiting classes (Ms. Baker, Ms. Greer, Ms. Ireland, Mr. Lavieri, Mr. Levine, Ms. Malbon, Ms. Mansour, Ms. Medvetz, Mr. Polanco, Mr. Silva, Ms. Sullivan, the Success Academy and anyone else I may have forgotten) for making the LMC the academic heart of HHS.

Thank you for stopping by and I hope you have a great Sunday. See you all tomorrow.

Copyright © henry toromoreno, 2009. All rights reserved.

In praise of science and mathematics:

a meditation on the dangers of magical thinking in a complicated world.

We live surrounded by what seem like magical items. We carry in our pockets palm-sized devices that can store and play thousands of hours of music. Our cell phones can capture and play video and sound and then connect us to an electronic ghost world where we can store and share those moments of our lives with virtually anyone anywhere in the world. We walk around in our waterproof cloaks and our shirts made of fibers which draw perspiration away from our skin, never thinking for a moment of the incredible wealth of knowledge that science has produced. Like magic, science seems to hide its secrets from most of its audience, performing its sleight of hand behind a curtain, revealing only the amazing feat in the center ring with a bright flash and a puff of smoke.

But science is not for the few, or at least it should not be. Science and scientific thinking are available to everyone who cares enough to learn the language of mathematics and apply the principles of reason and logic. Unlike the wisdom of religious or spiritual revelation which is open only to the few who hold the divine connection (or can correctly read the holy books), the insights and truths of science belong to the universe, as they are spilled out before us all; quantifiable, measurable, detectable in our mathematical equations even before our instruments can sometimes verify their existence.

Which is why it sometimes seems like magic to the uninitiated. But you don’t need to understand how radio waves work and you don’t even have to believe that radio waves exist in order to use your cell phone, GPS or a microwave oven. Invisible to our senses and undetected by the hordes of humanity that came before James Clerk Maxwell, radio waves became a useful part of reality for the rest of us thanks to the work not of spiritualists reading tea leaves or tarot cards. The revelation for how to best use this powerful instrument of the natural world did not come from the head of any religious institution or the mind of any medium such as Edgar Caycee or Sylvia Browne.

When it came to ideas for how to construct a tool for harnessing and using these waves, it was up to mathematicians and scientists like Tesla and Marconi; crunching numbers on pages, testing and retesting their ideas and assumptions about the invisible forces of the world. Once their work was done, it was not a matter of opinion or belief as to whether or not what they said was true, was true.

For millennia before Louis Pasteur, the sick and the vulnerable were at the mercy of misinformation which had been passed down for generations. Disease had been with humanity from the very beginning, lurking in the shadows of our ignorance and taking hold of our collective imaginations. In this misinformed world, epileptic seizures were thought to be demonic possessions and the medicinal affects of complex chemicals found in the natural world were attributed to mysterious, magical, mystical sources. Mixed in among the world’s elixirs there were concoctions which had accidentally gotten at some cures; but it was not until we understood germs and the true nature of disease that we were able to drag that monster out into the light and begin to really fight back.

In the last one hundred plus years science and the scientific method has nearly doubled the human life expectancy. As billions around the world spend hours in prayer for help against the microbial menaces that killed a quarter of Europe in the fourteenth century, scientists work to eradicate cholera, polio, chickenpox, tuberculosis and smallpox from much of the industrial world. While religious institutions and organizations contribute amazing charitable work, it is the products of science that are combating AIDS and HIV in Africa, repairing cleft palates around the world and delivering the knowledge and tools for survival. Unlike shamans, faith-healers and snake oil salesmen who rely on people’s blind faith and ignorance, science produces results that can be tested and confirmed (or rejected) in the real world.

Science produces tangible, useful insights into the true nature of the world so that we can collectively and continuously improve the standard of living by smiting the pestilence and scourges that sent our ancestors, dying, to their knees. Unlike prophetic revelations, which always come during moments of isolation so that verification and duplication of the event are impossible, the truths revealed by science live with us, within us and are magnified immensely by our technologies and lifestyle. Thus, while the angels may only speak to prophets to verify their existence and whisper god’s instructions, radio waves, antibiotics and numerous other scientific breakthroughs perform their wondrous magic for anyone.

Yet still, magical thinking and faith continue to lead so many away from the truth and wonders of science, the language of mathematics and the liberating power of logic and reason. Magical thinking is everywhere around us and in the post industrial world we live in, it can have the most disastrous, deleterious effects. Already we have squandered countless generations and irretrievable hours building mounds and temples to sun gods, sacrificing prize animals and even humans to appease volcanoes or flooding rivers, burning witches and heretics who denied or spoke out against the accepted views of the established dominant religion. While religion and magical thinking have been in retreat in many ways since the scientific revolution, their roots are deep and their psychological stranglehold is merciless.

Just as in the past, myths provided answers to questions that ancient people could not comprehend, modern religions have staked their final residence within the ever decreasing boundaries of what science openly admits it cannot yet understand. Magical thinking found a home in our psyche long ago and has, ironically, reinforced its place within us because of the human mind’s capacity for and love of, patterns and meaning.

But the religious and faithful do not confine themselves to these small, shadowy areas of scientific uncertainty or the spiritual dominion. Tragically, in places like Kansas there is still public debate as to the scientific merit of Darwin’s theory of evolution. And if anyone should think that this kind of confrontation between science and belief is merely an anomaly, consider that in the Spring of 2007 the “Creation Museum” opened in Cincinnati with displays that feature, “children playing with dinosaurs in the Garden of Eden”. Not only do such displays violate commonly accepted scientific facts, they also go against Judeo-Christian liturgy. Since Adam and Eve were presumably banished from the Garden prior to having Cain and Abel, children in Eden are as improbable as dinosaurs in Eden, which in turn, is as improbable as Eden itself.

Such pseudo-science wastes our valuable time and resources (the museum cost $25 million to erect) and serve to entrench terribly incorrect, scientifically inaccurate views of the true nature of the world by taking advantage of people’s faith and their propensity for magical thinking. Worse still is that criticizing such obviously religiously motivated conceptions of the world such as creation science, intelligent design and the displays at the creation museum lead to accusations of Christianity bashing and of trampling on people’s freedom of religion.

In fact, it is religious lobbyists and activists who bring this “confrontation” to the public arena in cases such as Edwards v. Aguillard (1987) and the Kansas Evolution hearings (2005). Organizations such as the Institute for Creation Research, the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture, and the Biologic Institute have worked effortlessly to maintain the false dichotomy that places religion and science as co-equal branches of human inquiry and comparable contributors to the overall well-being of humanity. In doing so, many of these think tanks have hijacked scientific language to disguise their religious ideas and motivations, “discovering” such things as “irreducible complexity” and “specified complexity” to buttress their dogmatic, illogical, circular thinking.

The proponents of this kind of misinformation also co-opt the technology that science has created, and use the free time and good health that science has granted them, to spread their mental virus; which is exactly what magical thinking is. Magical thinking does not isolate itself to only the spiritual, religious aspects of our thoughts, but instead creeps out into every kind of mental activity. A quick scan of late night infomercials produces evidence of how magical thinking continues to take advantage of loopholes in our freedoms to sell useless products to people who misunderstand basic principles of science. For sale on this overnight market are footpads that drain out the toxins from your body as you sleep, colon cleansers that remove what your colon couldn’t, magnetic jewelry that relieves arthritis pain. One male enhancement pill even touts, “No gimmicks … just real science”.

What bothers me most is not that these products are available, but that they disguise themselves with a veneer of science and perpetuate myths that deteriorate our collective understanding by bolstering a distrust in real science, mathematics and the scientific method. The idea that everyone has a right to their own opinion is good and well, but there is also an external reality that exists, and it has been the human mind’s ability to penetrate the fantastical and false explanations, the incorrect opinions of the past, that have lighted the way for a standard of living that exceeds everything recorded in human history.

Given enough breathing space, magical thinking manifests itself in a stellar gallery of fabulous disguises. Because it asks that you not question incongruities, that you accept any evidence on face value rather than looking deeper and with a critical, skeptical mind. And it is this elevating of faith above facts that is a most serious and dangerous proposition in our times. The real trouble, as I see it, with magical thinking is that it leads to faulty reasoning and mental laziness in other areas that have nothing to do with the spiritual/ religious life. Magical thinking says that it is okay to look away from the evidence and just believe.

Magical thinking is what permitted, for example, serial liar and master thief Bernard Madoff to run his scam for so long. Instead of checking the numbers behind his claims about his hedge funds, investors were reassured by others, who also had not done any of the math and dared not question what seemed like magic. Madoff used his reputation, his connections and his position of power to swindle people out of their money by essentially creating an economic cult. Like all cults, this one was built around a false idea; that Bernard Madoff could turn the profits that he claimed.

When his ruse was finally discovered just last year, it was revealed that a Boston analyst had been blowing the whistle since 1999, that what Madoff was claiming was impossible. Instead of relying on anecdotal evidence, fraudulent documents and the belief in Madoff, one person from a distance, using only mathematics and logic was able to uncover a fraud that had entrapped hundreds, cost billions of dollars and had hidden in the long shadow cast by faith and magical thinking.

If Bernie Madoff was the high guru of the magical thinking movement on Wall Street, then on Main Street, the rest of us were the willing flock. Armed with our relatively weak math grades, we were lured into opening more credit cards than we ever needed with promises of 0% interest for three months. We were given “no-doc”, “ARM” and “subprime” mortgages with a few years of low payments and promises of a “balloon” at the end, never quite connecting that all these nice words disguised mathematical realities which were leading us to economic ruin, both personally and as a nation. Magical thinking leads too many of us to believe that we can manage money without having or even understanding a budget.

One of my favorite writers, Arthur C. Clarke, once postulated that any significantly advanced technology would seem like magic to a less sophisticated people. Sometimes I feel like so many aspects of our post industrial world (communications, economics, government, energy, agriculture, ecology) involve such complex processes and ideas that it’s hard to know what’s real and what’s worth knowing and understanding. It’s easy to understand why so many of us turn to some form of magical thinking at one time on another. It is reassuring to feel that some higher power is on our side, protecting us. 

We live surrounded by what seem like magical items. We carry in our pockets cards that record our every transactions on magnetic strips. Our cars carry silent alarms that can help the police find you anytime they want. We log in at home and connect to an electronic ghost world where thousands of hours of sound and video are stored for a digital eternity. We walk around in our cities being recorded and monitored, never thinking for a moment of the incredible power that science grants to those who would care to be in control. Like magic, the powerful hide their secrets from most of the audience, performing their sleight of hand behind a curtain, revealing only the amazing feat in the center ring with a bright flash and a puff of smoke.

It is up to each of us to use science and math to help reveal the face of Oz.

Thank you for stopping by, and if you made it this far (wow).

Copyright © henry toromoreno, 2009. All rights reserved.

PS … I must give thanks and apologies to Richard Dawkins, Carl Sagan, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, Bertrand Russell, Phillips Stevens, the Amazing Randi, Michael Shermer, and a host of other writers and scientists who have spoken out in defense of science and reason and from whom all of my arguments stem.

Thinking about water

          Forgive me if this post rambles a bit as I try to connect all of these stories, anecdotes and observations together. The one thing that they all have in common is that they deal with water. Before you bail on me (excuse the pun), give me a chance to explain.

          Today’s sunshine has begun melting away much of the snow that is still piled high in my neck of the woods and the water run-off is flowing out back into the protected wetlands that border my property. That’s all good and beautiful, but it reminded me that I did nothing this winter to collect any of the wonderful precipitation that fell around me. Unlike nearly one quarter of the world which does not have clean, potable water, I have the good fortune of living in a country where water is daily taken for granted. (So perhaps water collection was unnecessary in my case, but that’s not the point).

world-water-logo          We expect clean water when we turn on our faucets and even use clean, drinkable water to flush our toilets. We forget that it was not too long ago that indoor plumbing was not so common as it is today (Yes, there really was a Thomas Crapper involved), and that adequate sanitation is still lacking in many places. We also tend to forget that there are still ways to help the cause of giving more people access to clean, drinkable water.

          But what bothers me more is our overall relationship with clean water. Today, we are still buying more bottled water than ever, despite having been told by various reliable sources that it’s not better for us, that it’s overpriced, and that it is not good for the environment. Meanwhile, around the world there are wars being waged for access to clean water, there are gigantic swaths of oceans known as dead zones, and the fishing traditions of many communities are being lost forever as edible fish stocks that lasted for centuries have disappeared. I find it troubling that we could take such a vital resource for granted and that we are unwilling to examine our relationship with this central living force because we are so comfortable or complacent.

          The ancients understood well the power of the sun, and in virtually suryaevery mythology the sun is the central god or the representative of the central god force. Water or the water god, however, is also usually high in the pantheon, though there is sometimes a dark side associated with this force or deity. The fact that the ancient civilizations of Egypt, Mesopotamia, India and Mesoamerica were all born and raised around rivers and waterways illustrates our deep, long standing connection with water.

          But unlike the sun, whose celestial residence and distance, places it far from our immediate grasp, water lives here on earth, and we can harness it in ways that make it tangible and, perhaps, allow us to take it for granted. But that would be a huge mistake going forward. While no one will argue (yet, anyway) that nothing replaces the sun as the number one ingredient for life, water seems like the indisputable necessary second ingredient. Even on our own planet, we have discovered biological systems that harness their energy not from through photosynthesis, but through chemosynthesis, and they exist in our waters.

          The old cliché that, “we know more about the surface of the moon than we do about our own ocean floors”, is actually not too far from the truth. Our space probes have mapped the moon and Mars better than any real survey of the oceans depths, and it seems like every time I read another exotic fish story or an article about what we’re still discovering about our own oceans, I am simply blown away. Even as we plunge deeper and chart more of this vast resource, we are also reminded of our negative impact on the world’s water. Just a few years ago, for example, we may have forever lost the last of the Chinese river dolphins. Now the rise of jellyfish is another harbinger of bad news when it comes to our relationship with water.

          So, it all means what? Of course, I am reminded to be thankful for clean water. I am also led to believe that if we continue to pollute our waters or dramatically alter the water cycle, that it will mean bad news for humans, but that it will provide something else room to flourish. Lastly, it also means that water makes me think about a lot of things that don’t really seem to be connected at first, but can at least be explored on the internet; and that sometimes, that’s what posts on this blog are like.

Thank you for stopping by and I hope you had a wonderful weekend.

Copyright © henry toromoreno, 2009. All rights reserved.

New to our shelves

Everyone is feeling the pinch in their wallets nowadays, and the HHS LMC is not immune to these financial difficulties. Though the current budget freeze means that we will not be able to purchase more titles for our collection, it does not mean that we will not continue to add resources to our shelves. As always, we are the fortunate benefactors of many people’s generosity. Of course, our good friends at the Haverhill Public Library always contribute many books after their sales, but another source of donations that I often forget to mention is our faculty and staff. Because they are too numerous to mention individually, I would like to send out a collective, “THANK YOU” to everyone who has ever donated any book, cd or dvd to our collection. Below is a just a brief list of some of the titles I found interesting (while cataloging them), along with links to the Barnes and Nobles pages about them:


  • Joe Gould’s Secret by Joseph Mitchell (1999)
  • House of Leaves  by Mark Z. Danielewski (2000)
  • A Place Called School: Prospects for the Future by John I. Goodlad (2004)
  • Jarhead : A Marine’s Chronicle of the Gulf War and Other Battles by Anthony Swofford (2005)
  • Twilight  by Stephenie Meyes (2005)
  • Bob Miller’s SAT Math for the Clueless  by Bob Miller (2005)
  • Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife: Counterinsurgency Lessons from Malaya and Vietnam  by John A. Nagl and Peter J. Schoomaker (2005)
  • Conduct Unbecoming: Gays and Lesbians in the U.S. Military  by Randy Shilts (2005)
  • Grayson by Lynn Cox (2006)
  • Prayers for the Assassin by Robert Ferrigno (2006)

    Hope you find something to take home for the weekend. See you all tomorrow, and thank you for stopping by.

    Copyright © henry toromoreno, 2009. All rights reserved.

    March Announcements

    Sorry I didn’t post anything again for two weeks. Like many of you, I am still trying to catch up to everything that accumulates over the course of every school year. Here we are in February (oops, it’s March now!). Time online seems to flies by, while the real world demands so much attention and drags along mightily. Still, I do have many things to share and as a way to catch up, I’d like to use the trusted bullet list:

    • The LMC will be closed much of next week for MCAS re-testing. Please check with us after lunch every day to see if the testing is complete.
    • The HHS student literary magazine thinker is now available for the low price of $1. We only printed a few dozen copies, so if you would like one, please stop by the library. The work in the print edition is a great example of the wonderful talent at Haverhill HS and can be viewed online at our thinkerlitmag blog.
    • A big thank you to Ms. Medvetz’s classes for great visits to the library. I hope that my presentation on searching for literary criticism convinced you to turn to the HPL databases for the best resources. Also remember that Google Scholar might have the complete text of your 19th or early 20th century novel.
    • Thank you to Ms. Malbon for recommending Wordle, a site that creates “word clouds”. It was fun for more than a few too many minutes, as I played with it to figure out what the site was doing with my words. I found shorter entries, with a common theme or idea had more interesting results. Go see for yourself.
    • One of my favorite pastimes (when the web was still young) was finding live web cams streaming videos of places I wish I could visit. Fortunately, some of these webcams still exist and they are to be found in some pretty interesting places. One site that I found with a cool collection is EarthCams. Just thought I’d pass that along, now that another storm is heading our way, and some of us wish we could be somewhere else.

    Thank you for stopping by, and I’ll see you all tomorrow. Or Tuesday, maybe.

    Copyright © henry toromoreno, 2009. All rights reserved.