How we can assist your classroom work at the LMC

              I don’t remember my high school librarian. I know there was one though, because I hung out in the library during lunch AND study, and I’m pretty certain that there was someone always telling me to quiet down. Sure, librarians are pretty easy to forget because they’re usually stoic and boring. No superhero, for example, has ever been a librarian. Clark Kent was a journalist, Bruce Wayne was a billionaire socialite, Bruce Banner and Richard Reed were scientists, Peter Parker was a student (for goodness sakes) and a photographer. Not a librarian in the bunch.

            It’s not surprising then, when people assume little to nothing about what it is you do. To most, the librarian is mainly a keeper of books; a person in charge of an inventory of material things, arranged on the shelves in a secret order known only to the librarian. In some ways, that’s true. No one knows what we have (and don’t have) on our shelves as deeply as we do. But we are also here to provide a variety of services to our students and faculty. In case you’re not sure (or have forgotten) about what services the LMC can provide, here’s a refresher list for you:

  • Computer time: There are many computer labs now throughout Haverhill High School and you can sign up for those labs via the new X2 schedule prepared by the wonderful Ms. Gauthier. To sign up for the LMC, you’ll have to come to the desk and ask for our calendar. Teachers can sign up for the computers around the pit (1) or the library lab (2). We ask that teachers test any websites they plan to use for class lessons on the actual library computers their students will be using to make sure there will be no unforeseen problems with filters, unloaded apps or other tech glitches that can ruin 40 minutes of learning.
  • Prepare a book cart for your class: Suppose you’ve planned a unit on Shakespeare or the Great Depression or the Salem Witch Trials or Famous Scientists, and you want books related to that topic. Maybe you want your class to select books for outside reading, but aren’t sure what titles are appropriate or even interesting. Give us at least a day’s notice and we can gather together those valuable print resources for your classes. Even if you don’t want us to pull all the books from the shelves, we can print you a list of all the titles that apply that we have in our collection, so that you will know ahead of time what kind of text resources are available to your students.
  • Help research and plan a lesson/ unit/ project: Print materials are of course, just one of the resources available to today’s teachers and students. The number and variety of available on-line “learning objects” staggers the mind when we consider how relatively new the internet still is. We can help you discover and integrate these educational resources into your curriculum. Whenever possible, we will work with teachers to gather and organize their materials for their lesson plans.
  • Media lab presentation: Teachers can schedule time in the library lab, where there is a video projector and six foot screen available for presentations. This is especially useful if you are trying to guide your students through a website activity, such as signing up for a account. (NOTE: Teachers please print out a class list of student log-in accounts from X2 prior to visiting the lab, as it will save you valuable class time). Remember that I am available to assist or lead presentations in the library lab.
  • Librarian presentation: I am available to lead presentations on a variety of topics and am willing to work with teachers to develop new lessons. Some of the lessons I have taught (using many titles) in the past are: Using Subscription Databases, Using the Internet as a Research Tool, Using the Internet as a Learning Tool, Introduction to Big Chalk’s E-Library, How to use Microsoft Powerpoint, How to use Microsoft Publisher/ Word, and more.
  • If you’re not sure about how to use or integrate technology in your classroom, stop by and talk with us to see if we can help. Of course, we do other things around here (like dusting, shelving, weeding, ordering, stacking, storing) helping however we can. So keep us in mind as a resource when you’re planning your school day.

Thank you for stopping by, hope you found something useful, and our extension is 1143, in case you need us.

 Copyright © henry toromoreno, 2011. All rights reserved.

September Quick Hits

             I hope that you are getting well adjusted to all the changes that have happened since last year. We’re still a little confused about what happens around 4th and 5th period, but otherwise, I think we’re doing well in the Library Media Center. We’ve been open for business for a couple of weeks now, and have even met all of Ms. DaSilva’s freshman English classes for their orientation. We look forward to seeing the rest of the freshman classes in the coming weeks.

               Before I go on, I must give a great big “thank you” to Ms. Gauthier and Bart for getting our computers connected and running. Thank you also to Ms. Cripps for timely delivery of the VHS student list and to Ms. Shaffer downtown who taught me how to extract information from X2 we needed to update our circulation database. It’s easy to forget how much harder our jobs can be without a little help from those around you.

               The rest of this post is just what the title suggests, an unrelated (but hopefully interesting) quick list of ideas for your pleasure: 

  • Hispanic Heritage “Month”: September 15th through October 15th. Thank you to Ms. Esparza for reminding me of Hispanic Heritage Month which kicks off in in the middle of September. Why, you may ask? According to Wikipedia, “September 15 was chosen as the starting point for the celebration because it is the anniversary of independence of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. They all declared independence in 1821. In addition, Mexico, Chile and Belize celebrate their independence days on September 16, September 18, and September 21, respectively.” (Don’t worry, I checked their source … they lifted that quote from If you’re not sure what to do to commemorate this event, you can get some ideas and resources at:
  • Scholastic
  • Biography Channel  
  • Smithsonian Institute
  • Banned Books Week: I was reminded by a new English teacher that the last week of this month celebrates “Banned Books”; from September 24th until October 1st. Hard to believe that anyone would try to keep books out of kids’ hands, but there is actually a long and colorful history around “dangerous” books. JD Salinger, Mark Twain, Joseph Heller, even JK Rowling (Harry Potter) and Stefanie Meyers (Twilight) have faced the wrath of parents and communities afraid that what’s on the printed page could be more offensive than censorship. Find more information about this at the American Library Assocation site. They also have a great list of Frequently Challenged Books, along with a brief description on why the book was banned.   
  • A while back I found what I thought was this fascinating little video online called the Story of Stuff. I liked it because its simple line drawing animation made the complicated topic more manageable. Granted, there is what some would consider a left wing political lean to the videos, but there is much else to be considered. Media literacy is today just as important as print literacy, and even if you don’t agree with everything the producers of these videos from Allegheny College have to say, they do a good job of using video & animation to explain difficult ideas
  • I have this fascination with time and I love playing with calculators that tell me how much time has passed since or how long it will be until. I was wondering just how many days I’d actually been alive, so I found a fun little calculator on line to help me do the math. I was reminded that I was born on a Monday, and that at 5:30 on Friday, September 16, 2011 I was 534 months old or 2,325 weeks old or 16,279 days old or 390,713 hours old or 23,442,809 minutes old or 1,406,568,592 seconds old. P.S. My next birthday celebration happens in less than 156 days 6 hrs 30 mins 9 secs.

That’s all for now. Thank you for stopping by and I hope you have a great Sunday.

Copyright © henry toromoreno, 2011. All rights reserved.

September 11th : Ten Years After

“It is not what happens to people that is significant, but what they think happens to them.” … Anthony Powell

               Obviously, I wish that I had the perfect thing to say about “911”. Something moving and deep, poetic and beautiful. I wish I had the skills to convey the ways that what happened on that crystal blue skied morning transformed me. All I can say is that there are moments in your life that you carry forever, like a coin in your pocket that you never get to see. You can feel its shape, the edges, the etched faces, the cold substance that its made of; but it disappears in your hand whenever you try to pull it out to view it completely.

               Ten years after the terrible events of that day, I feel like a mourner at a well attended wake, where everyone refuses to be the first to leave. I’m not trying to be callous or mean spirited or dismissive of the abysmal sadness and loss of September 11th. Especially on the tenth year since the attacks, I recognize our need as a people, to draw strength from national events, and to use this occasion as a way to recall the sacrifices made by so many Americans.

               Personally, however, this will be the last year that I spend my day reliving Sept. 11th by viewing the countless specials on television. I know the facts by now:

  • 8:46 a.m., Flight 11, North Tower.
  • 9:03 a.m., Flight 175, South Tower.
  • 9:37 a.m., Flight 77, the Pentagon.
  • 9:59 a.m., the South Tower collapses.
  • 10:03 a.m., Flight 93, Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
  • 10:28 a.m., the North Tower collapses.
  • 2,749 dead in my hometown of New York City.
  • 184 dead in my nation’s capital at the Pentagon.
  • 40 dead in my heartland in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvannia. 

               Suddenly my vocabulary included words and phrases like Islamism, terrorism, jihad, Al Quaeda, Taliban, profiling, ionizing radiation, homeland department, national security, threat level, backscatter x-ray, waterboarding, rendition, military tribunals. It was enough to paint a very dark picture for a very long time, and now it is over for me.

               It’s not that I want to forget what happened, it’s because I can’t forget that I must move on.

               As a librarian, I will always have to help others get information about that awful day, but I also know that with each new class that enters our school, September 11th becomes more and more a history lesson and less a vivid memory they can’t quite wrap their heads around.

               Fortunately, many writers have discussed September 11th in their work to give us different perspectives on that day. Do a quick search at the Barnes & Noble website under 911 and you’ll discover almost 1300 titles. I haven’t read all of my recommendations, so the descriptions are lifted from the B&

  • 102 Minutes, by Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn: In 2004, NY Times reporters Dwyer (a Pulitzer Prize winner) and Flynn (the paper’s police bureau chief at the time of the World Trade Center attacks) released an account of the attacks told from the inside, drawing on radio transcripts, phone messages, emails, and interviews with survivors and rescue workers to communicate what being at ground zero was really like.
  • Falling Man, by Don DeLillo: Brave and brilliant, Falling Man traces the way the events of September 11 have reconfigured our emotional landscape, our memory and our perception of the world. It is cathartic, beautiful, heartbreaking.
  • Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, by Jonathan Safran Foer: Nine-year-old Oskar Schell has embarked on an urgent, secret mission that will take him through the five boroughs of New York. His goal is to find the lock that matches a mysterious key that belonged to his father, who died in the World Trade Center on the morning of September 11. This seemingly impossible task will bring Oskar into contact with survivors of all sorts on an exhilarating, affecting, often hilarious, and ultimately healing journey.
  • Netherland, by Joseph O’Neill: In a New York City made phantasmagorical by the events of 9/11, Hans, a banker originally from the Netherlands, finds himself marooned among the strange occupants of the Chelsea Hotel after his English wife and son return to London. Alone and untethered, feeling lost in the country he had come to regard as home, Hans stumbles upon the vibrant New York subculture of cricket, where he revisits his lost childhood and, thanks to a friendship with a charismatic and charming Trinidadian named Chuck Ramkissoon, begins to reconnect with his life and his adopted country.
  • 9-11, Artists Respond, Vol. 1: Cartoonists Tony Millionaire, Sam Henderson, Mike Diana, Scott Morse, Mark Crilley, Roger Langridge, Chris Eliopoulos, and Mark Martin are among those offering differing takes on a range of subjects spanning from terrorism and heroism to survival and the challenges of parenting. Other stories include an illustrated essay by Dean Motter; a Walt Whitman-penned meditation on death illustrated by Quique Alcatena; Darko Macan’s “An Expert Opinion” on breaking the cycle of violence; and “T.V. Exec Visits Ground Zero” by TV Funhouse creator Robert Smigel and his Ex-Presidents collaborator, artist Michael Kupperman

I hope you find something on the list that informs and inspires you. Thank you for stopping by and I wish you a great week.

Copyright © henry toromoreno, 2011. All rights reserved.

Welcome back, 2011-2012

               It’s been so long since my last post (it would have been four months tomorrow), that I almost abandoned this pet project I began back on a cold day in December 2007. I return, reluctantly, unsure that I can write a weekly post, but determined that what I am trying to do here (share resources, communicate with an audience, integrate technology into my work) is important not just to me, but to the students, teachers and school I serve.

               So, a belated welcome back for the 2011-2012 school year! As always, we at the HHS LMC are here to try to make your days as teachers, administrators and students better and more rewarding. Here’s my usual list of reminders:

Important library dates

  • 9/06, Tues: Teachers can begin scheduling class visits to check out books
  • 9/06, Tues: English teachers can bring down classes to pick up portfolios
  • 9/07, Wed: Freshman English teachers can begin scheduling for library orientation
  • 9/12, Mon: Study students can sign up for library study

For AV and media concerns, call (xt. 1143) if you need,

  • a bulb for your overhead projector
  • help connecting your tv, vcr or dvd player
  • a dvd player, vcr, cassette player, CD player, or radio
  • video projectors, I can’t promise to get you one right away

Review of basic library rules

  • Students may sign up for the library (if they have a scheduled study), only before the first bell of the school day or after the last bell of the day.
  • Students may not get a pass from their study or directed study teachers to the library. Subject teachers may send students with a pass (up to 3) to complete class work or take a test. (Please call to advise us if you are sending students out of a class)
  • Hats, hoods, cell phones, are not allowed. And every other rule in the student handbook also especially applies in the library.
  • The library is a large common space, available and welcoming to all who wish to convene (after making arrangements or getting a pass), thus anyone who disrupts or interferes with the WORK being done, will be asked to leave – and may be banned for some time, depending on the wishes of the Oracle.
  • Remember to leave the library the way you found it. If you moved a chair, put it back. If your students moved chairs, have your students put them back. Better still … don’t move the chairs.
  • Food and drink are not allowed in the library. Food includes anything you put in your mouth that you intend to swallow or chew on. Drink includes water. I can’t make this any clearer.
  • Students are to remain seated until the bell rings to mark the end of each class period. This is doubly true for the dismissal bell at 2:05. Visiting teachers are asked to please keep their students seated.

               We are here to help anyone and everyone who asks for help, especially when they ask with a smile. We love our LMC and believe that we can provide the best quality education for anyone who really aspires to learn, but WE NEED YOUR HELP. The library is not a holding pen, a hangout, an extension of any connected classrooms or anything else. It is the central temple of information and a repository of learning. Let’s WORK, to keep it that way.

               Before I go, I feel obliged to share an (almost) handful of new finds for the few readers who have read this all before, but still made it this far (and will hopefully return again):

  • American Culture according to Every Sometimes it’s hard to see yourself as others see you. This is not just true of individuals but of whole groups, even nations. How would you describe “America” or “Americans”. How many of us are there, where do we live, what do we do? 
  • How Algorithms Shape our World: We don’t have enough videos about how mathematics play a real role in our lives. We also don’t have enough talks that make math as fascinating as Kevin Slavin discussion. Some of it sounds like science fiction, such as The Flash Crash of 2:45 or the idea of companies buying buildings only to house servers? According to Slavin, it seems like we’re living in a world controlled more and more by algorithms. 
  • Cooking for Engineers: I love cooking, but I hate reading recipes. I know enough about the basics to get by on many dishes and sometimes what I really need is some simple guidance. At this site, a picture really is worth a thousand words as a recipe is explained with clear photos of the ingredients, cooking methods and final product. 
  • How Language Transformed Humanity: An interesting talk about the power of language and a theory from the presenter about how language led to “cumulative cultural adaptation” which ultimately led to …. us. According to speaker, Mark Pagel, because of our need to communicate, and the new tools we are using to communicate, perhaps we’ll all be speaking just one language eventually.

I think that’s it for now. Thank you for stopping by and I’ll see you all tomorrow.

Copyright © henry toromoreno, 2011. All rights reserved.