Storytelling Workshop (Summer, 2001)
I had learn how to get over my self-consciousness before I could learn how to learn stories and share them with audiences. I'm so glad I did! Mary Frasier, our instructor, gave us invaluable help with breathing and relaxation techniques and voice support. I love how Mary uses her voice and her musicality in her telling. Her technical skills (and sense of fun) were big gifts to us as students.
These three exercises helped us to analyze stories and think about potential audiences.
- Reading Aloud Annotations
Analyses of three story books, highlighting strategies for reading aloud.
- Story Annotation 1: "Raven Steals the Light"
I was very embarrassed when I discovered I had gotten the instructions muddled, and gone about the assignment completely backwards. We were supposed to start from our textbooks' lists of recommended tales for beginning tellers, choose a story, and then look up variants on that tale and perform our analysis to assist in learning the story, including suggestions for how to use it in programs. We were not supposed to just pick stories we had loved as a child (for instance)--which is what I did! Ooooops. Regardless: here you will find what I learned from studying "Raven Steals the Light".
- Story Annotation 2: "Talk"
This time I did it right. This story is still in my repertoire, yet as a more experienced teller I would never have chosen it for a beginner: it has too many details which must be repeated correctly in sequence, with "lines" for different characters that need to be kept straight--plus an ending that has to be "landed" just right. Perhaps ignorance was my blessing: I didn't know how afraid I should have been of the story, and it went over very well at our class recital! At the time I was still getting terrible stage fright, and I found that it helped me that I was required to scream in terror ("Wah!" cry several characters, as they are startled by the voices of supposedly inanimate objects). Ever since then, though--now that I know better--I tend to fumble the tricky closing. C'est l'histoire?
|Return to top
User Needs and Behavior in Theory and Practice (Summer, 2001)
I was Brer Rabbit in the briar patch with this intensive course focused on academic research and theory regarding how people go about finding what they need.
- Observation and Analysis of an Information Seeking Experience
- User Group Profile Proposal
For this assignment we were to design a hypothetical user group study, and write a proposal for the project that included a profile of the group. I used my part-time job that summer as a library assistant for the Walden University distance learning program's on-campus experience as fuel for the assignment (what was I thinking? working full-time and part-time, and taking a readings-heavy course??).
- Usability Report: www.startrek.com
Three class-mates and I had great fun analyzing the official Star Trek web site. If you are familiar with the complex field of digital librarianship, you may recognize the name of one of my team-mates: Jenn Riley. She is magnificent.
|Return to top
Collections Development and Management (Fall, 2001)
We did a lot of reading and small exercises for this course. The professor, Dr. Thomas Nisonger, should be everybody's favorite uncle, always ready with a "classic" joke.
- Selection Project: Collecting Materials on Pacific Northwest Native Culture for a Public Library in the Puget Sound Area of Western Washington
With a total budget of $800.00, our mission for this term paper was to develop a hypothetical collections project, describing the library and its patrons as well as the intended collection.
|Return to top
Organization and Representation of Knowledge and Information (Spring, 2002)
As you might imagine, this is a dreaded course for most students in the School of Library and Information Science. It is primarily about theory, at its most abstract, as it applies both to understanding what information is, and how it can be comprehended and codified for storage and retrieval. It is also about some of the more technical underpinnings of indexing and classification. Many of my classmates, for whom this was a first graduate degree, found the academic literature that we studied both hideous and mystifying. There was much resentment. Thanks to my time in Folklore I was more comfortable with the density of the readings, but that didn't necessarily make my performance any sharper than anyone else's! The workload was heavy, including a detailed journal of readings, commentaries on class time and topics, and a series of complex assignments. I'll spare you most of it.
- Course Journal, Part II: Assignments
Come with me, won't you, as I recall just how difficult it is to write a proper abstract (I don't think I ever quite got the hang of it), and as I revel in the opportunity to write philosophical essays about the nature of knowledge and how we know it (I really did enjoy that part).
- Final Exam
More abstracts and essays, and a rather clumsy attempt to create a faceted classification system.
|Return to top
Child Development (Summer, 2002)
This six-week summer course in the School of Education did not count toward my MLS, but I consider it invaluable. Many of my classmates were classroom teachers, some of them with many years of experience, who were taking the course for their own professional development; hearing their stories about life on the front lines was eye-opening.
- Group Project Report: Strengthening Families: Issues, Practice, and Recommendations
As a member of a five-person team, I helped develop this report about programs designed to build the physical, emotional and social well-being of families. Our research for this project helped shape my own passion for family literacy programs.
- Group Project Report, Strenghtening Families: Outline
The short form of the above, showing who did what as we made our presentation to the class. We each presented the section we wrote.
- Presentation Handout: Online Resources for Strengthening Families
|Return to top
Advanced Storytelling Workshop (Fall, 2002)
Mary Frasier taught this one as well, using Doug Lipman's Improving Your Storytelling as the primary text. Lipman's approach is extremely effective, emphasizing following your individual strengths and how your mind works as you pursue imagery, structure, timeline, etc., in the development of a tale. His big strategy is to find a "Most Important Thing" (MIT) about each story as you learn and tell it, which I found was a very big help. For this advanced workshop, we focused on using music, movement, and audience participation; flannel-board and puppet/prop stories; tandem telling; and authored tales (i.e., recreating a published work, which usually means doing it verbatim out of respect for the author). We worked up two stories to perform for class; for each one we had to find and outline nine others that we didn't choose to perform--an obvious way to build repertoire quickly! I told Shel Silverstein's "The Bagpipe Who Didn't Say No" and Arnold Lobel's "The Ostrich in Love" at our class recital.
- Story Selection #1
From these ten stories I chose "Baby Rattlesnake" for the one I would perform, and it has become something of a signature tale for me. I based my version on Margaret Read MacDonald's notes for her version. MacDonald cited Frances Densmore (early ethnomusicologist) as a source, and when I looked up Densmore that in at least one version the original tale had been sung throughout with a repeated tune! I took that tune and set English words to it to make my version. I have discovered that people seem to like to hear me sing when I tell stories!
- Story Selection #2
The Silverstein/Lobel duo was my final choice (and still a favorite pairing), but one of the "not chosen" tales, "The Woodcutter of Gura" (from Eritrea) is now another of my "signature" tales.
|Return to top
Library Materials for Children and Young Adults (Fall, 2002)
The bread and butter of youth services: knowing the literature, and knowing how to use it. Our biggest project for the semester was to keep a Readings Log as we explored across genres and age-groups; I developed a MS Access database, which I still use to reference what I've read and what I thought about it. I won't include the database here.
- Book Review: Looking for Red, by Angela Johnson
The assignment was to emulate a brief School Library Journal review. This began my love affair with Johnson's poetic writing, where emotional resonance matches vivid and often touching characterizations. Her many honors are well-deserved.
- Mock Caldecott: Jumanji
Mock Caldecotts are a staple in many school classrooms, letting the kids vote on their favorite books. For this in-class presentation we were each assigned a Caldecott medalist. Our mission: to present the case for awarding the medal, as if we were members of the Caldecott Committee. It was not difficult to work up enthusiasm for Van Allsburg's detailed and witty illustrations, which are all the more impressive for conveying so much warmth with "just" the grays and blacks of pencil-work (and with subtlety so very far removed from the film adaptation). I think that David Wiesner's whimsical Tuesday may have to be one of my favorite Caldecott-winners ever, however.
- Book Talk: The Books of Dick King-Smith
I had a blast reading Dick King-Smith's books. Of course I knew the film version of "Babe" (based on his book Babe: The Gallant Pig), but I was not familiar with the variety of his work prior to this assignment. I also prepared this bookmark of King-Smith's books to hand out when I gave my book talk in class.
- Readers Advisory Brochure: "If You Like Buffy: The Vampire Slayer..."
Anyone who knows me will be able to guess how much fun I had putting this together! The show was still on the air in the Fall of 2002 (sigh).
- Collection Development Philosophy
For this assignment, I proposed that collections management should be governed by three interdependent principles: intelligence, balance, and service. Still a pretty sound trio, if you ask me.
- Censorship Debate: Team Project
Ah, how we all hate team assignments--especially when the assignment is to take a somewhat outdated list of frequently-challenged books, and debate your assigned position either for or against keeping them in the library. We had four teams: for and against in challenges at both public and school libraries. My team was on the "challenge" side of the public library debate. The books we had to argue against included Lord of the Flies, Of Mice and Men, Go Ask Alice, Maya Angelou's I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, and Roald Dahl's The Witches (read the book--it's wicked good Dahlsian fun). We had a hard time mustering enthusiasm or sincerity for the assignment, so the exercise was not as effective as it might have been as a means of training ourselves to face actual challenges to library holdings. O frabjous day!
Censorship Debate: Position Statement
Censorship Debate: Reference list --these are the notes I prepared on research supporting our side of the debate.
Censorship Debate: Evaluation --here's what I really thought of this assignment and our work doing it. Yes, this is what I turned in!
|Return to top
Library Services for Children and Young Adults (Spring, 2003)
The peanut butter and jelly of youth services: feeding you, and making it yummy. I loved this class.
- Decade Report: 1930's
Our first assignment was a historical study. We were each assigned decade, and made an oral presentation on library youth services in those years. I had a great deal of fun exploring the 1930's, and learned more than I can say from the brave and creative librarians who kept the fire burning in those difficult days.
1930's: Oral Report Outline
1930's: Oral Report Bibliography
- Observations of "live" programs
Observations: Preschool --I visited a "Lap Babies" program, and a "Tuesday Tale" story time, both at Monroe County Public Library.
Observations: Children --I observed the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day celebration, and then at the Lunar New Year party, both at Monroe County Public Library.
Observations: Young Adults --I attended a Teen Council meeting at Monroe County Public Library; I also planned to shadow a Library Exploration tour event at MCPL, but when the event was cancelled the teen librarian (Dana Burton, mentor and friend) and her intern sat down with me and told me about how the programs normally go instead.
- A Philosophy of Library Service for Children and Young Adults
The assignment was restricted to 450 words or less (always a challenge for me!). This was a personal mission statement.
- Program 1: Preschool
We had to design two youth programs, including a budget of both time and money as well as a profile of the intended audience's developmental needs and aptitudes. We were also to perform at least one of our programs in the real world (I managed to do both!). For my preschool program I created a story time about snakes as part of a hypothetical outreach program from the library to local daycare centers, and gave the program at the Campus View Child Care Center (where one of my classmates worked).
Program Plan: Preschool Storytime --My title: "Wiggle, Shake, Snakes!"
Preschool Storytime Flyer --This is the flyer I designed for the hypothetical outreach program.
- Program 2: Young Adults
I owe a debt of thanks to my friend Amy, who asked me to assist with a teen poetry workshop at Melton Public Library (which led to my internship there a year later).
Program Plan: Teen Poetry Workshop
Poetry Quotes --We cut these quotes apart and put them in a hat for the participants to draw out and read. A few of our favorites we put up on the white board. My personal favorite is the last one, from Emily Dickinson: "If I feel physically as if the top of my head is taken off, that is poetry."
Teen Poetry Resources --I created this handout to give the participants for further exploration of poetry by other teens, and pursuing their own writing.
"Ghosts Grace", by Paul Fleischman --This haunting (forgive the pun) choral poem for four voices was a little hard to follow in performance from the book, so I put the text into an Excel spreadsheet and color-coded the voices.
- Real World Program Evaluations
My own evaluations of how the programs went in the real world.
|Return to top
Libraries and Literacy (Summer, 2003)
Dr. Verna Pungitore taught this 1.5-credit, intensive seminar. We had three 6-hour days in class together, and five weeks later we were to turn in the course project: a complete program for an adult or family literacy program in a public library. Dr. Pungitore was probably expecting librarians to enroll in the course for professional development, but instead she got mostly first-year students who had never composed a budget before, much less prepared an ambitious program plan. I wasn't a first-year student, but since I followed this course with Dr. Pungitore's "Libraries as Cultural Institutions" course during the same summer session, I ended up requesting an Incomplete in order to complete the project. I'm glad I did, even though I didn't return to it until almost the entire year allowed for the Incomplete had passed. I did some serious research into literacy needs and existing services in the area I chose for my hypothetical family literacy program (Kitsap County in western Washington). I was a little awe-struck when, after I finally turned in the completed project, Dr. Pungitore told me it was some of the finest student work she had ever seen.
- A Personal Literacy Statement
Dr. Pungitore asked me to turn in this informal essay to make up for missing part of the first class session due to a conflict in my work schedule.
- Families And Reading (FAR) Program Plan
This is the work I finally completed in the summer of 2004 (with the benefit of a grantwriting course in the interim). I placed my fictional program in Kitsap County, imagining myself as a new youth services librarian there. I worked hard to make this program practicable--something that could really be done without overburdening staff or resources among any of the partners. The idea was to take advantage of a push from Head Start to develop family literacy programs, and a push from the Motheread/Fatheread family literacy program to partner with Head Start programs, to draw the strengths of the library into efforts at encouraging not just literacy skills but love of reading and learning in both parents and children. The aim of family literacy programs is to break the intergenerational cycle of low literacy, illiteracy, and poverty by bringing adults and children together to bond over children's literature; most programs also provide formal literacy training and parenting classes, and include discussion of values and family issues in their approach to the books. See my Issues in Public Librarianship course for an introduction and analysis of the role of libraries in family literacy programs.
- FAR Program Brochure
I adapted this brochure from one I created for a "100 Books Before Kindergarten" program during my internship at Melton Public Library in the Spring of 2004, drawing on the Public Library Association's "Every Child Ready to Read" early literacy program materials.
|Return to top
Libraries as Cultural Institutions (Summer, 2003)
I came to this course from the anthropological understanding of "culture", meaning shared sets of understandings about the world, human society, and how to do things in both. The class turned out to focus on the perhaps more common understanding of "culture" as referring to the formal arts and humanities (sometimes with a bias toward prestigious EuroAmerican genres that you might need an education to appreciate). Class-time for this course was unfortunately waylaid by unfocused political discussion (along the lines of, "aren't current policies asinine?"), which Dr. Pungitore did little to redirect. As per the literacy course, most of the students were new to librarianship, making the classroom tangents even less productive. While I shared most of the political sentiments being expressed, it was extremely frustrating for class time to be swallowed in a vortex of repetitive, self-congratulatory politicizing--especially when the subject matter at hand was so compelling. The assignments were well designed, however, and I was grateful for the opportunity to explore these issues.
- Assignment 1: What Is Culture?
This paper inventories definitions of the word "culture", from general dictionaries, encylopedias, and specialized sources.
- Assignment 2: Libraries as Cultural Centers for Their Communities
An historical survey shaped by readings for the course, culminating in a brief analysis of the "what they want" vs. "what is good for them" pendulum points in American public librarianship.
- Assignment 3: Libraries, Culture, and Gender
Another historical survey based on readings in the professional literature--this time centering around librarians' longstanding fears that the profession is marginalized because it is perceived as feminine (the dreaded spinster librarian stereotype)--and what, if anything, we should do about it.
|Return to top
Grant Methods for Librarians and Educators (Fall, 2003)
This course was administered entirely online, which had its pluses (doing the work on your own time) and minuses (doing the work on your own time, with the pesky wrinkle of remembering assignment deadlines when you have too many additional commitments). I had just started my job as Curator of Education at the Mathers Museum of World Cultures in April, so I developed a field trip program as my class project.
- Online Activity 1
For this assignment (submitted as a forum post, hence the informality), we were to 1) select an institution, and describe it in one sentence; 2) come up with three needs that institution could address with grant-supported projects; and 3) for each need, outline who will benefit, how you can document the need itself, and what would best address that need. One of the needs I list here, the Mathers' "What Is Culture?" exhibit, did indeed get met by a major federal grant from the Institute for Museum and Library Services, which the staff wrote together that Fall and which was awarded in 2004.
- Online Activity 2
Once you identify a need and a good approach for meeting it, the next step is finding the resources to make it happen, which includes money. This assignment locates three potential funders for the proposed project. The trick is to identify funders who like to support the kind of thing you want to do, and then to be know details like the sizes of their awards, how many awards they've given lately, what they require in return over the course of the grant period, etc.
- Online Activity 3
This one we could submit as a document, rather than as a forum post. Having given each other feedback on our ideas and refined our ideas, the next step was to compose a Needs Statement, complete with goals and objectives (building evaluation into the plan), evidence supporting the need, and a timeline for the project. By this time I was developing a comprehensive field trip program, including a transportation fund to help eliminate financial obstacles to field trips.
- Elements of a Grant Proposal
The grantwriting process can be nerve-wracking. I was very happy when my instructor praised my proposal, and encouraged me to pursue it in the real world. I began an attempt with the Community Foundation, but my museum Director asked me to drop it when the Foundation required extensive financial information that it would be difficult for our Business Manager to extract from the University. Absorbed by other duties, I have not yet pursued other means of developing, at the very least, a field trip transportation fund.
Fact Sheets --profiles of the organization to be funded, and of the proposed program.
Cover Sheet and Form Proposal --the entire proposal, including itemized budget. It would have been more accurate to calculate a percentage of my time, rather than including my entire salary as part of the museum's costs for the program.
Narrative Proposal --Different funding agencies prefer different avenues of approach. In some cases an introductory letter like this is required either as an intitial query, or as the application itself.
|Return to top
Internship: Melton Public Library (Spring, 2004)
|Return to top