One great activity that has been occurring at the Mira Costa Library has been the growth and development of TLC: The Library Club, now in its second year. Last school year when we established the club, it was primarily a group to support library programs, and the club met every other week. I very much appreciated the help the students offered with our D.J. MacHale author visit, with library displays, contests, PR, and more. They also conducted a very successful book drive and sent the collected books to a shelter. This Fall, the students took the initiative to expand our club by meeting weekly and incorporating more discussions of books in addition to supporting the library.
Then, in October, we had the opportunity to expand our club beyond our school when I responded to a generous open invitation from Joyce Valenza, Teacher Librarian at Springfield Township High School in Pennsylvania, to join several school library clubs in a virtual book club discussion of Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games. Despite some technical difficulties with my computer and the challenges of time differences, our club members were able to join the group for approximately a half hour of a lively discussion of this engaging book. And, they are looking forward to “Round 2,” when we have revisit Hunger Games after the movie comes out in March.
On December 1, we had our second virtual book discussion about Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause. Two of the other schools – Springfield Township HS in Pennsylvania, led by Teacher Librarian Joyce Valenza, and Van Meter in Iowa, led by Shannon Miller – were able to attend this session, and one student who was ill even Skyped in from home. The students enjoyed a very lively debate about the different characters and clearly had very divergent views about how sympathetic they were. I was so impressed by their insightful comments and their ability to disagree with each other while always remaining polite and considerate.
We are now reading Brian Selznick’s The Invention of Hugo Cabret and plan to compare it to the new Hugo film in January.
To bring the groups together, we have been experimenting with different platforms, including Google + Hangouts and Skype. These are some of the tools that we teacher librarians have been using for webinars, virtual conferences, and professional organization meetings. Communicating across the miles in this way has also offered our students an opportunity to practice virtual meeting skills they are sure to be using in many other contexts.
I know that I have been enjoying the opportunity to communicate across the miles – and connect and plan with talented Teacher Librarians Joyce Valenza, Shannon Miller, Michelle Luhtala, Colette Cassinelli, and Amy Lott – at least as much as our students.