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National Music Week: 15 Museums for Music Lovers and Educators

May 7-14 2017 is National Music Week. Educators, if you’re already thinking about summer vacation, you may want to make time to visit one of these music-themed museums with loved ones soon. From country to blues to everything in between, there’s a museum for all types of music fans to enjoy. So, put down the textbooks and start planning your summer vacation with a music adventure!

  1. Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum

    Situated in the heart of Nashville, Tennessee, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum is filled with a rich history of the best artists in country music.

    Screenshot of Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum website

    Screenshot of Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum website

  2. Musical Instrument Museum

    Located in Phoenix, Arizona, this museum is home to 6,500 displayed instruments from 200 various countries and territories around the world. In the Experience Gallery, you are encouraged to play instruments and even though 6,500 instruments are on display at a time, the collection includes a total of 16,000 musical instruments and objects.

    Screenshot of the Musical Instrument Museum website

    Screenshot of the Musical Instrument Museum website

  3. Delta Blues Museum

    Founded in 1979, this museum has its home in Clarksdale, Mississippi, near the Delta region where “the blues began.” It is the state’s oldest music museum. This is a place where you can explore exhibits on musicians like Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker while also enjoying one of the many events or festivals hosted by the museum.

    Screenshot of the Delta Blues Museum website

    Screenshot of the Delta Blues Museum website

  4. Grammy Museum Mississippi

    Located in Cleveland, Mississippi, this museum offers interactive exhibits and experiences that bring the music achievements of Mississippians into the spotlight.

    Screenshot of Grammy Museum Mississippi website

    Screenshot of Grammy Museum Mississippi website

  5. National Music Museum

    You will find the National Music Museum in Vermillion, South Dakota, on the University of South Dakota campus. The music collection here is the most inclusive anywhere and boasts more than 15,000 instruments from all cultures and historical periods. With so much to see, a trip here can easily take an entire weekend.

    Screenshot of National Music Museum website

    Screenshot of National Music Museum website

  6. National Blues Museum

    Centered in Downtown St. Louis, Missouri, this museum celebrates the Blues and its role in shaping American history and culture. Understanding and appreciating the foundation Blues music has given so many other genres of music, this museum will engage and encourage visitors.

    Screenshot of the National Blues Museum website

    Screenshot of the National Blues Museum website

  7. Museum of Making Music

    Located in Carlsbad, California, the Museum of Making Music is dedicated to sharing the accomplishments of those who make, sell and use musical instruments and products. Unique exhibits, vibrant performances, and inspiring educational programs bring the history of this museum alive.

    Screenshot of Museum of Making Music website

    Screenshot of Museum of Making Music website

  8. Memphis Rock n Soul Museum

    Memphis, Tennessee, is where you will find this museum. Learn about the birth of rock and soul music as exhibits share how musical pioneers overcame socioeconomic and racial barriers to create music that has transcended generations.

    Screenshot of Memphis Rock n Soul Museum website

    Screenshot of Memphis Rock n Soul Museum website

  9. Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

    This iconic attraction and museum is located in Cleveland, Ohio. It brings the origin and story of rock and roll to life with hands-on activities, installations, and special exhibits.

    Screenshot of Rock & Roll Hall of Fame website

    Screenshot of Rock & Roll Hall of Fame website

  10. Motown Museum

    The flat where Berry Gordy and his family lived is now the Motown Museum. Located in Southeast Michigan, it has made its mission to “preserve, protect and present the Motown Story through authentic, inspirational and educational experiences” as stated on the Motown Museum website.

    Screenshot of the Motown Museum website

    Screenshot of the Motown Museum website

  11. International Bluegrass Music Museum

    Moving to Owensboro, Kentucky, three blocks west of its current location in Spring 2018, this museum exhibits decades of bluegrass music and the musicians who made it. The museum holds concert series to continue the legacy of bluegrass music and the Hall of Fame highlights pioneers of bluegrass.

    Screenshot of the International Bluegrass Music Museum website

    Screenshot of the International Bluegrass Music Museum website

  12. American Jazz Museum

    Planted in the jazz district of Kansas City, Missouri, this museum is a haven for those who love modern jazz. It’s an adventure for the senses as you explore exhibits, films, and events. May 26-28, 2017 is the KC Jazz & Heritage Festival.

    Screenshot of the American Jazz Museum website

    Screenshot of the American Jazz Museum website

  13. American Banjo Museum

    Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, is home to this museum. Dedicated to appreciation for the banjo, you can learn about the instrument’s impact on bluegrass, folk and world music while also viewing decorated banjos of the 1920s and 1930s. This museum contains the largest collection of banjos on public display in the world.

    Screenshot of the American Banjo Museum website

    Screenshot of the American Banjo Museum website

  14. Grammy Museum at L.A. Live

    Located in Los Angeles, California, The Grammy Museum celebrates the creative process behind making music and the history of the Grammy Awards. Includes more than two dozen exhibits spanning a diverse selection of music.

    Screenshot of the Grammy Museum at L.A. Live website

    Screenshot of the Grammy Museum at L.A. Live website

  15.  Stax Museum of American Soul Music

    In Memphis, Tennessee, at the original site of the Stax Records studio you will find the Stax Museum. This museum proudly states it’s the “world’s only museum dedicated to preserving and promoting the legacy of American soul music.”

Screenshot of the Stax Museum of American Soul Music website

Screenshot of the Stax Museum of American Soul Music website

 

What does National Music Week mean to you? Share your thoughts on Twitter with #ProQuest or leave us a comment below.

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National Library Week: 6 Mobile Libraries Bring Books to the World

Americans like me who grew up in the 60’s and 70’s (in other words–old!) are likely to fondly remember bookmobiles. In some small or rural communities, they were the only way to borrow books. Today, there are less than 1,000 bookmobiles in use in the U.S. That could be because more than 306 million people in the U.S. lived within a public library service area in 2014. And anyone with a computer or smartphone can get free access to e-books and audiobooks, as well as the printed versions, from their local library.

But in other parts of the world, it’s not so easy. In many countries, there are very few public libraries, and in some, even schools don’t have books or libraries. And with only 35 percent of the world’s population connected to the internet, there are vast numbers of people–especially children–who have no way to gain access to books. In honor of National Library Week, this post explores six visionary mobile libraries that go to great lengths to promote the love of reading and literacy throughout their little part of the globe.

Argentina: Arma de Instruccion Masiva

In Argentina, the artist Raul Lemesoff converted a green 1979 Ford Falcon purchased from the Argentine armed forces into a tank-like vehicle with enough shelf space for 900 books, offering everything from novels to poetry. Lemesoff was inspired to build his Arma de Instruccion Masiva (Weapon of Mass Instruction) as a way of counteracting fear with education. On World Book Day in March 2015, he drove around the urban centers and rural communities of Argentina, offering free books to people on the street, as long as they promised to read them.

Colombia: Biblioburro

In 1990, a primary school teacher in Colombia named Luis Soriano Bohorquez was inspired to save rural children in Colombia’s Magdalena province from illiteracy. Every Saturday at dawn, Luis sets out to 15 select villages with his two donkeys, Alfa and Beto (their names combined translate to “alphabet”). Luis rides Alfa up to four hours each way, with Beto following behind carrying a sitting blanket and more books. Children get homework help, learn to read or listen to stories and geography lessons that he prepares. Soriano started his library with just 70 books from his own collection. Thanks to donations, he now has some 4,800 books piled up in his little house in the small town of La Gloria. In 2011, PBS made a documentary film about his work, Biblioburro: The Donkey Library.

Biblioburro, Traveling Library in Colombia
By Acción Visual/Diana Arias [CC BY-SA 3.0] via Wikimedia Commons

Italy: Bibliomotocarro

In 2003, retired teacher Antonio La Cava realized that children in the local villages of the Basilicata region in southern Italy didn’t have easy access to books. He bought a used Piaggio Ape motorbike van and modified it, creating the Bibliomotocarro (the Library Motor Car). The small, bright blue vehicle resembles a tiny house–including a Spanish-tiled roof, a chimney, and large glass windows that display the over 1,200 books inside. There are also built-in speakers to play the organ music he uses to announce his arrival. Each month, he travels over 500 kilometers (about 300 miles) to eight different villages, where children gather in the squares to wait for him.

Mongolia: Children’s Mobile Library

Dashdondog Jamba is a children’s book writer and publisher and has translated more than fifty children’s books by foreign writers into Mongolian. His Children’s Mobile Library transports books to children in the remote regions of the Gobi desert, and throughout every province of Mongolia. Since the early 1990’s, he has faced the challenges of mountainous terrain and severe weather conditions to travel over 50,000 miles by camel, on horseback, on carts pulled by horses or oxen, and more recently, with a van. Assisted by his wife and son, they often remain in one place for several days to allow as many children as possible to read the books.

Norway: Bokbaten Epos

In a coastal country that includes many islands and islets, with remote hamlets located along the fjords, the sea is often the easiest way to reach some communities. In 1959, a group of librarians in Hordaland pioneered the concept of a floating library. At first, a refurbished tobacco cutter was used, and it was an immediate success. In 1963, a larger 85-foot boat was specially built to serve as the seafaring mobile library. The new vessel also offers cultural programs such as films, plays, puppet shows and visits with authors. Bokbaten Epos (the Library Boat) carries about 6,000 books to the residents of 150 small communities in three counties along the West coast of Norway who don’t have their own libraries.

Bokbåten Epos

Bokbåten Epos by Andrva (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0] via Wikimedia Commons

Pakistan: Bright Star Mobile Library

When Saeed Malik returned to his home country of Pakistan in 2004 after working for the United Nations World Food Program for 35 years, he learned that most government and private elementary schools in the rural areas of the Islamabad Capital Territory did not have library services or books of their own. He founded the Bright Star Mobile Library in 2011 to introduce young Pakistanis to the world of reading and books. Four refurbished U.N. jeeps make weekly visits to about 20 elementary schools in the outskirts of the capital city, carrying over 1,000 books and serving nearly 6,000 young students.

 

Libraries Transform. Whether a library is on land, sea, or even donkey, those who bring books and resources to their local community are truly agents of transformation.

How are you celebrating National Library Week? Let us know in the comments below or Tweet us at #ProQuest.

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National Library Week: 4 Impressive World Records!

Libraries transform readers to writers. Libraries nurture curiosity. Libraries give everyone a chance. Getting a library card is like a rite of passage. Without libraries, we wouldn’t learn about the work of so many diverse authors. We wouldn’t be as informed. We wouldn’t get access to everything print and beyond that libraries have to offer.

April 9th-15th is National Library Week. This year’s theme is “Libraries Transform” and to celebrate, we’ve compiled 4 outstanding library, author, and book-related records that were set according to Guinness World Records.

 

JW Marriott Hotel Hong Kong by Wing1990hk CC-BY-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

JW Marriott Hotel Hong Kong by Wing1990hk CC-BY-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Highest Library from Ground Level

On November 7, 2003, the library located on the 60th floor of the JW Marriott Hotel in Shanghai, China took this title with a height of 757 feet 6 inches.

 

Kewanee Public Library by Kepper66 CC-BY-3.0 via<br /> Wikimedia Commons

Kewanee Public Library by Kepper66 CC-BY-3.0 via
Wikimedia Commons

World’s Largest Library Book Fine Paid

On April 19, 1955, Emily Canellos-Simms checked out the poetry book Days and Deeds from Kewanee Public Library in Illinois. Forty-seven years later, Emily found the book at her mother’s house and returned it to the library with a check for $345.14 in overdue fines.

James Patterson by Susan Solie-Patterson CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

James Patterson by Susan Solie-Patterson CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

First Author to Sell More Than 1 Million E-Books

On July 6, 2010, Hachette Book Group reported author James Patterson was the first author to have sold over 1 million e-books. He sold 1.14 million. Self-published author John Locke surpassed this record in June 2011, selling over 2 million e-books.

Comics artist Ken Bald at the 2013 Wizard World New York Experience Comic Con, at Pier 36 in Manhattan, June 29, 2013 CC-BY-3.0 © Luigi Novi/Wikimedia Commons

Comics artist Ken Bald at the 2013 Wizard World New York Experience Comic Con, at Pier 36 in Manhattan, June 29, 2013, CC-BY-3.0 © Luigi Novi/Wikimedia Commons

Oldest Artist to Illustrate a Comic Book Cover

At age 95, Ken Bald is the oldest artist to illustrate a comic book cover as verified on November 4, 2015. He illustrated Contest of Champions (2015) #2 (Bald Classic Variant). Ken is also the oldest comic book artist.

How are you celebrating National Library Week? Let us know in the comments below or Tweet us at #ProQuest.

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New Leading Issue: Job Automation

Job Automation Leading Issue via SIRS Issues Researcher

Job Automation Leading Issue via SIRS Issues Researcher

Debating Job Automation

What does the future of work look like? As technology increases, it has become evident that our world is changing. Robots are being used in place of workers in factories, service industries, the military, the medical field, and more. Is there a way for robots and humans to work alongside each other in harmony? The debate continues. Some say the automation of jobs will lead to the creation of better job opportunities. Others say automation is just the start of a worldwide unemployment crisis. Should the government provide a basic income if robots replace workers? These are just some of the pro/con viewpoints students can debate and analyze with SIRS Issues Researcher’s Leading Issues.

Our new Job Automation Leading Issue highlights the key points surrounding the automation of work and the industries impacted, offers pro/con arguments, a timeline of events, critical thinking questions, helpful websites, and editorially-selected articles and media to kick-start students’ research.

Credit: White House Press Release [Public Domain]

Credit: White House Press Release [Public Domain]

Resources in our Job Automation Leading Issue include:

  • Humans vs. Robots: This National Public Radio podcast explores how humans and robots will coexist in the future.

Want to know more about Leading Issues? Contact us for complete access to SIRS Issues Researcher today!

Is your classroom studying the future of automation? Let us know in the comments below or Tweet us at #ProQuest.

Confused About Copyright? 4 Tips for Teachers

Photo credit: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/65802285@N06/6983297769/">DavidWees</a> via <a href="http://foter.com/">Foter.com</a> / <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">CC BY</a>

Photo credit: DavidWees via Foter.com / CC BY

These days there’s a lot of images floating around the internet. Sometimes it’s hard to tell when something is in the public domain (free to use), has a Creative Commons license (can be used with certain limitations), is for commercial use (for-profit use), or is copyrighted without permission to reuse.

Knowing the basics of copyright can help you choose images appropriately and even craft lessons centered around the key points of copyright and its uses. To help you stay within the lines, we’ve put together some tips and tools for finding content that works for you.

Tip #1: Ask yourself where the image came from.

Sites like Photopin and Flickr are good places to start. Here you can filter images by commercial/non-commercial use, check to see what type of Creative Commons licenses are being used and search a wide variety of images that can be used to illustrate lessons.

Sometimes, you will find that what you’re searching for can be found in the public domain. Wikimedia Commons and Pixabay are two places you will be able to search images in the public domain.

Tip #2: Look for signs of copyrighted work before using.

  1. Does the image have a watermark/byline?
  2. Does the image have a copyright symbol?
  3. Is the image from a reputable news source?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, chances are this is an image that is not available for reuse. Usually, copyrighted works require permission from the agency/photographer. Often times this means there will be a fee accompanying permission.

Tip #3: Question the image use.

If you are staying within the educational/teaching realm, you may be able to benefit from “fair use.” This is a copyright law that enables copyrighted works to be used without permission if its use is deemed “fair.” Teaching, commenting on, criticizing or parodying copyrighted works are all deemed protected within “fair use.”

Tip #4: Know these helpful terms.

Here are some helpful definitions when figuring out if your content is safe to use.

Commercial Use: used in conjunction with profit. This applies to any business use and any purpose that intends to promote a brand/business. Use in a company blog would be commercial.

Fair Use: copyrighted works may be used without permission if its use is deemed “fair.” An example would be commenting, criticizing, parodying, or teaching a copyrighted work.

Non-Commercial Use: for use that doesn’t intend to make a profit. An example of this would be for use in an educational lesson that is without monetary gain.

Public Domain: works in the public domain are available to the public as a whole. An example would be a work with a copyright that has expired.

Creative Commons (CC): a license that enables free distribution of copyrighted works. Authors who enable CC licenses want to give people the ability to share, use and build upon their original works–with restrictions. The Creative Commons search engine is a good place to visit.

Want more? The U.S. Copyright Office is another helpful resource.

Are you creating a lesson centered around copyright use? We want to know about it. Tweet us at #ProQuest or comment below!

Our 10 Favorite Education Blogs

It’s a new year and with that comes new goals. Maybe you want to incorporate technology into your classroom this year. Or create a makerspace. Maybe you’re interested in professional development. Whatever your 2017 goals are, having a collection of helpful education blogs to turn to is important. As ProQuest editors, we look to education blogs to gain insight on the issues near and dear to your hearts and ours so we want to share our top ten favorite education blogs so you can focus on what matters to you.

#10 — Worlds of Learning

Screenshot of Worlds of Learning

The tile format of this blog works well in showcasing everything from makerspaces to writing to libraries to coding and more. Everything is neatly organized by categories and this is the place to visit if you’re wondering about ways Disney World can impact the future of learning.

#9 — Edudemic

Screenshot of Edudemic

This is an education and technology blog. This blog is incredibly useful with articles covering topics such as social media and 1-to-1 computing while also addressing topics of student mental health. It breaks everything up into sections for students, teachers and teacher guides.

#8 — The EdTech Roundup

Screenshot of The EdTEch Roundup

This is another edtech blog. What makes this blog work well is its inclusion of lesson plans, suggested education apps, professional development ideas and ed tool reviews aside from its edtech blog posts. A bonus feature is an archive of its weekly edtech podcast from 2013 to 2014.

#7 — Common Sense Education

Screenshot of Common Sense Education blog

Common Sense Education is just that. The site brings reviews, teaching strategies, and digital literacy all together while its blog provides answers to navigating the best ed tools and how to decode teens’ digital lingo. A ‘Browse by Category’ feature helps organize all of the content.

#6 — Mind/Shift

Screenshot of Mind/Shift

Mind/Shift is a blog that goes outside the box. It approaches topics like being a more confident teacher and what makes the imagination so complex with expert commentary and media to back it up. It’s a great place to visit if you’re looking to be inspired or want a deeper look at an issue. The Mind/Shift tagline is ‘How we will learn” and this blog indeed focuses on the “how” of learning.

#5 — The Jose Vilson

Screenshot of The Jose Vilson blog

Jose Vilson’s blog addresses current events in the scheme of education and what role they play in shaping our students and classrooms. Jose is a teacher, author, speaker and activist, and his blog posts will stir healthy debates. One post titled, “Politics Are Always At Play In Our Classrooms” fiercely addresses how politics affects students.

#4 — Catlin Tucker

Screenshot of Catlin Tucker’s blog

Catlin Tucker’s blog focuses on blended learning and technology in the classroom. She includes her favorite web tools, interviews and a section on keynote presentations, training and coaching. She offers plenty of useful posts like MyShakespeare and Trading in Traditional Notebooks for Multimedia Blogs.

#3 — Edutopia

Screenshot of Edutopia

From Battling Fake News in the Classroom to 4 Proven Strategies for Teaching Empathy, Edutopia covers a wide range of topics for K12 educators. Edutopia combines research with experience to bring best practices to the forefront and showcase what works and what doesn’t in education. Each post is written with these points in mind.

#2 — Free Technology for Teachers

Screenshot of Free Technology for Teachers

Richard Byrne’s blog “Free Technology for Teachers” highlights useful digital tools, websites, and apps for educators. What’s great about his blog is that each post explains how to use those resources and incorporate them into the classroom. One such example is his post Storyboard That Offers Lesson Plans for Every Month where he alerts readers to Storyboard That’s free lesson plans.

#1 — The Daring Librarian

Screenshot of The Daring Librarian

The Daring Librarian is a wonderful collection of digital tool tips, personal anecdotes and photos from The Daring Librarian herself, Gwyneth A. Jones. Her posts are both informative and fun. Take her post Pokemon Go QR Code Library Scavenger Hunt where she explains how she created a QR code scavenger hunt inspired by the PokemonGo game.

 

What are your favorite education blogs? Let us know in the comments below or Tweet us at #ProQuest!

4 Unique Libraries in Chilly Places!

It’s winter, though here in Florida it still feels like summer. For a lot of us, winter means snow, ice and bundling up. To get into the winter spirit, let’s take a look at some unique libraries in chilly places. These libraries are pretty “cool” to say the least.

Wyoming: Albany County’s Seed Library

Often when we think of gardening and the weather needed to grow a decent crop, warmer climates “sprout” in our minds. In a state like Wyoming where the climate can be dry and cold during the winter, creating a seed library seems improbable. But alas, Albany County Library was up to the challenge. The idea is that patrons can check out a packet of heirloom seeds, plant them, then once the plants develop more seeds, the seeds can be saved and returned to the library to later be replanted and so forth. The hope is that after five generations pass, people will have plants that are adapted to the colder Wyoming climate.

France & Italy: Library of Ice

Scientists observe climate change in their day-to-day research and projects, so it’s understandable that they would want to preserve as much data as they can from the ice around the world which is dwindling. Each ice sample is different and vital to uncovering details about our planet. The “Protecting Ice Memory” project, which started in August 2016, is a way for researchers to create an ice archive so to speak. Blocks of ice must be extracted then transported to an underground ice bunker in Antarctica. There, scientists can study the samples and gain valuable information relevant to climate change. While the project started in Italy, participants conducting the archiving effort include French institutions.  European countries, as well as Brazil, China, Nepal, and Canada have also shown support.

“Iceberg on frozen sea at sunrise” Photo credit: Foter.com / CC0

Washington: Gear Lending Library

Whether for snowy weather, rainy days or a camping trip, Washington’s Gear Lending Library has it covered. Jackets, rain pants, layers, boots, and outdoor packs can be borrowed. Offered through the Washington Trails Association with the help of donations, the Gear Lending Library is for adults age 18 and up who participate in the Outdoor Leadership Training program which is designed to get more young people outside and aware of how the outdoors can benefit them.

“Ice gear” Photo credit: simonov via Foter.com / CC BY-SA

Alaska: ARLIS at the University of Alaska Anchorage Campus

Ever see polar bear fur or a stuffed puffin in person? Well at the Alaska Resources Library and Information Services (ARLIS) at the University of Alaska you can. All you need to borrow these exotic and interesting items is a library card. Here you can find everything from furs to animal specimens to skulls and so much more. Research is brought to life with the help of these interesting items. Harry Potter fans, there’s even something for you. Yes…a snowy owl.

Photo credit: Wonderlane via Foter.com / CC BY

Where is your favorite library? Let us know in the comments below or Tweet us at #ProQuest

We Are ProQuest: Jean Ward

Dexter the Very Good Goat, Jean M. Malone, Jean Ward, Children's Picture Books

Photo with permission to use from Jean Ward

We Are ProQuest: ProQuest is only as successful as its staff. The ProQuest difference is people behind-the-scenes using their skills to create products and features to provide the optimal research experience from kindergarten to post-graduate to life-long learner. We Are ProQuest features profiles of some of our talented team members. Today let’s meet Senior Product Manager, Books for the OASIS/CIS products, Jean Ward.

Jean Ward has made a name for herself as Jean M. Malone writing children’s books and has a novel in the works. Her children’s picture book, “DEXTER the very good goat” was mentioned in a ProQuest newsletter when Jean was praised for her work. While Jean has recently changed roles to become Senior Product Manager, Books for the OASIS/CIS products she also balances that job with her writing career. Jean shared with me her journey, challenges and what she dreams to accomplish in the future.

How did you come to work at ProQuest?

I came to ProQuest through the Coutts acquisition from Ingram in 2015, and it has been a very positive experience.

What is your educational/professional background?

I double majored in English (Creative Writing concentration) and Motion Pictures (Screenwriting concentration) at the University of Miami, and then after graduating I started working in a bookstore. It was a small, family run shop where half the charm was the serendipitous discovery, but the lack of Dewey Decimals or a catalog actually drove me nuts. From there I went to work in my local public library for a few years, and then I joined Ingram as an assistant cataloger, which was the perfect outlet for my organization-starved self.

While working at Ingram I went back to school to earn a Master’s of Library and Information Science at the University of Alabama, and eventually transitioned from cataloging to a collection development position within Coutts, first as a title selector and then as the department manager. Recently I left that department to become the Senior Product Manager for the OASIS product at ProQuest.

I understand you’re a writer. When did you start writing?

Gosh, I’ve been writing for about as long as I can remember. I guess I’m not embarrassed to admit that I started out as I think probably many writers do, writing fan fiction when I was a teenager (Star Trek). Then I did a heck of a lot of writing in college, and after college, I wrote my first novel, which will never see the light of day.

What do you enjoy best about writing?

That’s a really hard question! I think what I love, even though I also hate it, is the revision process, and once I learned to embrace that, it really freed me because it allowed me to write truly terrible drafts so that I could just get things out on paper and see how they worked, and then go back to them. I think the most beautiful thing about writing is how it’s like a painting, and this is what I realized a few years ago when I finally learned how to revise. It made me think of The Girl With A Pearl Earring movie, where you actually see the way Vermeer would have painted: first there is a shape. Just a shape. And then you come back and you add more textures and more colors and the shape turns into a blob. And then you come back and add another layer–and after several layers, you have this beautiful amazing piece of art. But it didn’t start out as a beautiful, rich, textured work–it started out as shapes and blobs. And I think writing is exactly the same.

How do you balance work and writing?

When you find out, you tell me. It’s basically having two jobs, right? There have been long periods of time where I really burned the candle at both ends, but I have not been very good at this lately, and by lately I really mean for about the last two years. As I have taken on greater levels of responsibility at work, I have less and less energy to devote to writing, and I go through long dry periods where I just don’t write at all. Or it comes in fits and starts which are too sporadic to be useful.

But what I have found is that the best way to write is to have a routine. If I can manage to get myself into a routine for awhile where I sit down and write for an hour or two every day, then I find it much easier to stay in that routine. But life happens, it gets in the way. We moved this year, I have a longer commute, my husband’s schedule changed, my work schedule changed–so I have not been in a routine for awhile. I’m working on getting back into one right now. I’m not really like some writers. I don’t write to stay sane like my sister does. I actually watch TV to stay sane. I write because when I don’t write, I feel very disappointed in myself.

You’ve been published. How did you get published?

Every single path is different, right? I had a screenwriting classmate in college who got a job at Penguin, and she put out a call when she became an editor–send me writing samples if you ever think you might like to write for Penguin. So I did, and one day she called me and said all her writers were busy and she needed a book about flamingos on a short deadline–I think she needed the first draft in about 10 days, could I do it? And I said “Of COURSE I can do it!” and promptly went to the library to learn everything I could about flamingos. I ended up doing 2 more books for Penguin, and what I learned is that you always say yes when presented with an opportunity, even if it’s a little bit scary.

What has been your proudest moment?

I think my proudest moment on this journey has been to do with my latest book. It is a picture book, and the text actually began as my writing sample for that Penguin editor. I loved it so much that I asked my dear friend JJ, who is an amazing young artist, to illustrate it for me, and she breathed life into it in a way that I hadn’t even imagined. Since this book wasn’t an assignment or publisher request, but was all of our own making, it has been incredibly exciting. My proudest moment was finding out how much my–let’s see–she would be something like my cousin-in-law once removed? Anyway, she is the most adorable little girl, and she is Dexter’s biggest fan. Hearing about how much she loves Dexter, how she keeps her book in a special spot in her play kitchen and how she knows all the words by heart–that is definitely my proudest moment so far. Knowing that something about the book struck a chord with her and makes her so happy.

What is a dream you have in life?

I want to continue to write picture books because they are so much fun, but my dream is to be a novelist published by a mainstream publisher. I’m currently revising my third novel, and have been for an embarrassing number of years now. I dream big–I want to touch people’s lives–especially young people–through my writing. I want to win the Printz. And then I also have this nerdy obsession with Hallmark Christmas movies, and I have several Christmas novels that I want to write–and then write the screenplay adaptations for them as Hallmark movies of my own.

Services for the Homeless at Libraries

Atrium, San Francisco Public Library

Atrium in the San Francisco Public Library [Photo courtesy of Katherine Jardine, Public Relations Officer, San Francisco Public Library]

One of the SIRS Issues Researcher Leading Issues my colleague Amy and I work on at ProQuest is Homelessness. Learning about the different challenges the homeless face on a daily basis, we wanted to know more about what is being done to help them. After some initial research, we came across the San Francisco Public Library and Leah Esguerra who was hired there as the nation’s first library social worker helping homeless patrons. Here’s what we learned from our conversation with Leah Esguerra and an infographic highlighting the different services offered for homeless patrons at some libraries.

Typical Work Day

Leah Esguerra has been a social worker at San Francisco Public Library for almost eight years (she contracts out from the San Francisco Homeless Outreach Team) and described to us how her work has evolved and changed over time. Today, she has a team of eight people, 7 are outreach workers known as Health and Safety Associates (HASAs). The HASAs are employees who have dealt with homelessness at some point in their lives. The goal is for the HASAs to link homeless patrons with outreach and resources they can use on their own. She supervises the outreach workers, who work in four shifts.

They have a visible place in the library, known as The Spot where patrons can check in and up with the HASAs. In addition to working with the outreach workers, Esguerra does walkthroughs and acts as a consultant for staff in dealing with situations that arise with patrons. She answers questions about social services, behavioral issues, and mental health. Some days, she sees as many as 15-30 people.

The library also works to establish community partnerships with Veteran’s Affairs, Lava Mae  (a service providing mobile showers for the homeless) and others.

The Role of Health and Safety Associates (HASAs)

The HASAs do outreach in the bathrooms to find people who are inappropriately using the bathrooms (for example, sleeping in the stalls or bathing) and use their own experience as formerly homeless to help and to tell them about places they can go to for help. The HASAs provide inspiration and patrons are drawn to them because of relatable experiences.

Some of the original HASAs have moved on, continuing to grow in their line of work. One is in civil service and another is now a senior case manager.

Biggest Challenges

Challenges include the housing crisis in the Bay area. Esguerra’s original position 8 years ago was tied to finding housing. She would link homeless patrons with single room occupancies. Now, finding housing is a tougher issue. Finding housing is possible, but it often takes more than a year. They went from 400 to 30+ available rooms. She also said she has little access to these rooms and the rooms are not solely for library use. Another challenge presented itself with displacement among the elderly.

Rewards of the Job

People will come back to Esguerra after many years and thank her for her help. They tell her they are working and still have a house or that she’s helped them deal with mental health issues. She gets calls during the holidays from people she’s helped as well.

Esguerra said the HASAs are seen a safety net too. Staff will first call the HASAs if homeless patrons are causing a disturbance instead of calling security.

Best Practices for Homeless Outreach Programs

It is essential for libraries to have social services and/or social workers. Libraries without the means available to hire a social worker can partner with universities or create other partnerships with community organizations. Social service programs in libraries are great for both staff and patrons. Esguerra told us how the homeless have said the library is their sanctuary. She and her team at the library consider themselves ambassadors. They make the homeless feel included in the community. Having HASAs work at the library brings a different face of homelessness to the staff. The HASAs work very hard and are really good at what they do. They humanize the homeless and raise the level of compassion and understanding.

“Libraries are the community living room.” — Leah Esguerra

Esguerra says other libraries who are interested in starting a social services program should definitely give it a try. She said there are many ways to accomplish it.

Today, the movement is international. The San Francisco Public Library has inspired libraries and institutions elsewhere around the world – including Korea, Japan, and Australia – to implement their own social service programs.

Libraries and Homelessness [Infographic]

President Obama: Moving Forward and Leaving a Legacy

Photo via pixabay [CC0 Public Domain]

Photo via pixabay [CC0 Public Domain]

President Obama’s Legacy

Every president leaves behind a legacy and becomes part of the classroom history lessons and discussions for future generations.

In 2008, Barack Obama was elected as the President of the United States. He arrived during a time of anger and brewing uncertainty in the U.S. His campaign slogans ranged from Hope and Yes We Can! in 2008 to Forward in 2012. Did his accomplishments live up to his campaign promises? Only time will tell how historians will view the Obama presidency and whether he indeed brought hope and a positive impact on the country he served.

In the meantime, students can study the impact of the Obama administration by evaluating his impact in key areas: the economy, health care, environment, culture, and education.

The Economy

When Barack Obama was elected in 2008, he entered a country in the midst of a global financial crisis that lasted from 2007-2009 with lingering after-effects. Jobs were lost and big banks were in trouble. Some economists argued the financial crisis was the worst one since the 1930s Great Depression. Under President Obama, “15 million private sector jobs” were added as of August 2016 according to the U.S. Department of Labor. This period of job growth, a total of 77 months thus far, is a record for the United States. Legislation has also been put into place that helps the middle class and low-income families while stimulating financial growth.

 

Health Care

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was enacted by President Obama on March 23, 2010. While it has received much criticism, there have been some clear benefits to this statute. The Affordable Care Act prevents health insurers from denying or charging more for coverage based on a pre-existing condition. Pre-existing conditions could be diabetes, cancer or a range of others. Read more about pre-existing conditions under the Affordable Care Act here. Also, this law has made it possible for many more people to get health insurance. Only non-citizens and people who are incarcerated can be denied health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. Some critics have argued against President Obama’s Affordable Care Act due to its high premiums and tax penalties.

Environment and Culture

An area of differentiation in President Obama’s second presidential term compared with his first has been his tireless use of the Antiquities Act of 1906. President Obama has repeatedly used the Antiquities Act to preserve ecological areas and protect cultural as well as historical sites. You can read more about these accomplishments here in a 2015 Washington Post article.

“Obama has established or expanded 19 national monuments for a total of more than 260 million acres of public lands and waters, more than any previous president.” — Juliet Eilperin, Washington Post

Also, President Obama has emphasized the importance of acknowledging and addressing climate change. His Action Plan for protecting the planet offers insight into the effects extreme weather is having on the world. His plan also targets ways to limit carbon pollution, which is vital to the planet’s future.

Education

A major misconception about the widely discussed education initiative known as the Common Core State Standards is that it was led by the Obama administration, but this is not so. While Obama supports this initiative it was actually led by U.S. states, many of which opted to adopt these standards on their own. More about the Common Core State Standards can be read here. Some of President Obama’s education initiatives have been:

  1. Race to the Top: Encouraging states to spur education reform so that teachers and students can succeed.
  2. Reforming No Child Left Behind: Intended to close the achievement gap and bring education standards up-to-date.
  3. Redesign Initiative: An initiative designed to improve high schools and incorporate college-level coursework as well as career-related experiences/competencies into daily education.
  4. Funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act: Providing states and school districts with emergency funding needed to keep more teachers in the classroom.
  5. ConnectED Initiative: This initiative aims to bring the best technology and training to students and classrooms.

What is the Obama legacy? 

Your students can research and gather the evidence themselves. Point them to SIRS Knowledge Source for a wealth of information on the past eight years of the Obama administration.