Sunday, October 07, 2007

Blog Interaction with Alice Yucht - Mon. Oct. 8 to Wed. Oct. 10, 2007

We are privileged to have as our 'virtual guest': Alice Yucht - - a truly remarkable library professional with varied experiences, loads of expertise, and her truly, unique ways of expression. And while she no longer works as a full-time librarian, she continues to write, speak, teach, and contribute new ideas to the field.

Learn a little more about Alice at these websites:
Alice Yucht
Alice in InfoLand (blogsite)

I doubt if there is any concept directly related to libraries and school libraries that Alice could not respond to with solid, practical suggestions . . . but this is not a contest - - rather it's a rare opportunity to discuss real issues with an expert.


  1. Anonymous3:57 AM

    Hello Alice,

    Thank you for talking with us.

    Tomorrow we have an author visiting from the UK to our school here in Tokyo. His name is Michael Coleman ( This is my first experience of such an event and I am looking forward to it (especially as our principle is taking us all out to dinner at a French restaurant). I have only been in this job for just over one month. I work under a senior librarian.

    In preparation for the visit, we have given book talks to the 7 & 8 grades in Middle School. I spent last Friday making posters to advertise the visit. We bought many of his books and they are on display and for sale. Tomorrow, my job is to take the video and photos.

    However, I feel we could have done a lot more to make this event much better. Only a few students have checked out his books. I'm not sure if the English teachers are doing anything. As I am new, I'm not yet in a position to voice my thoughts.

    I'm interested to know what kind of things you have done in the past or would do to prepare for such an event.

    Thank you.


  2. Author visits require lots of advance/prep work to make them worthwhile for the *students.* For starters, you need to make sure that your classroom teachers are involved -- at least a full month before the actual visit -- by using and talking about the books in class, discussing appropriate questions to ask the author, etc. You also want to make sure that students and parents know that the books are/will be available for sale, and what (if any) autographing procedure will be used.
    Best prep: develop enough exploratory activities WITH the teachers so that the kids know enough about the books and author to create a buzz of anticipation.

  3. Author Visits Made Easy, by Toni Buzzeo -- great article at

  4. Anonymous11:25 AM


    In looking at your blog I see that you attended this year’s ALA conference. I was wondering what new knowledge you came away with.

    I am impressed by your many accomplishments. You seem to be very well-rounded and technologically savvy. How have you managed to stay abreast of it all? Everything has changed so much in the past 40 years and I have met several librarians who are befuddled by the Internet and would never consider blogging.

    Thanks for taking the time to chat with us.

    -Kimberly Thurston

  5. Alice,
    I have been studying Information Search and Use models as well as Information Inquiry models in Annette Lambs Information Inquiry class. Your model FLIP IT is one of the models that we have studied. I have to say that I love the simplicity of the model and the use of the acronym. This will make it easy for students to remember. I work in a building with several teachers who are stuck in their old ways of teaching research. Do you have any ideas on how to introduce them to the idea of using Information search models?


  6. Anonymous6:53 PM

    Hello Alice,

    Thank you for taking the time to "talk" with our class. Since someone else already brought up the subject of author visits, this seems like a good time to ask your opinion about them. At our school, budget seems to always be an issue. With that in mind, in your experience are author visits worth the expense? We had some early in my teaching career that didn't seem to raise much enthusiasm. Because of this, I've been reluctant to explore this idea much. However, I find the idea of having students meet a real author in person interesting. What are your thoughts?

    Mitch Lawson

  7. Keeping up with change:
    Kimberly, I believe that any librarian who is not willing to be a lifelong learner needs to find another occupation. We are information-guides, not book-vault guardians. Most of my tech skills are self-taught and/or learned through as many professional development workshops I could find and attend.
    At this point in my career it's hard to pinpoint what 'new knowledge' I get at a conference, since I tend to surf the presentations to see what the key issues are across the spectrum of the profession.

  8. Information Skills Models -- teach them to the kids, not the teachers! When a class comes into the library to 'do' research, I model the FLIP it framework as I'm teaching the various information skills and strategies students will need to use. Once they've seen that framework in action, kids will pick up on it.

  9. Mitch, when budgets are tight, I spend every penny on resources that can be used for as long as possible. If the PTA wants to sponsor an Author Visit AND I can ensure that every student will benefit from it, OK. But if it comes to a choice between a one-day event and a new set of encyclopedias... I'll take the encyclopedias.

  10. Anonymous5:50 AM


    I had wondered what new information (other than the latest technology) there might be for someone with your extensive experience. That’s why I asked about the ALA conference. I’m sure there is always something new though, and that networking would also be an important part of the conference.

    I agree with you, keeping up with technology, etc. is important. Still, I see some who are set in their ways, frightened of change, but unwilling to leave.

    So many have asked me, “why are you becoming a librarian, there’s no need anymore.” I see it as an exciting area with rapid technological change and myself as an “information-guide”, still, I’m hoping I have time to catch my breath in between innovations.

    As a new LMS (working a job-share with another LMS this year, my first position as an LMS) I am faced with the fact that administrators are incrementally cutting my staff. I work in a school with 3000+ students, 1 full-time LMS position, and what used to be two nearly full-time assistants (7 ½ hours each). A few years ago they cut the assistants’ time to 6 ½ hours per day. This year, they reworked one position as a share between the media center and ISS, we get our second assistant for only 3 hours per day.

    I would like to work with teachers, collaborate and co-teach but I’m finding it difficult to get out from under my duties in our busy media center. Do you think I will somehow find the time eventually, or am I right in thinking that I really need two full-time adult assistants to help in a school this size and allow me the freedom to work with teachers inside and outside of the media center?

    -Kimberly Thurston

  11. Anonymous6:06 PM


    Your resume is amazing! I would love to be able to boast so many different titles when it is time for me to retire!

    I was wondering if you could help me with a problem I am finding at my school. I am an elementary teacher in a corporation with two elementary schools, a middle school, and a high school. To cut finances, we have only one school media specialist for the whole corporation, with paraprofessionals in each building full time.

    The problem I have is with the use of the students' library time. Every week, when they are scheduled for library, they go into the library and are read to for 45 minutes, or they watch a video. Only about once a month do they have library education games and activities with the media specialist.

    My question to you is, is there anything that I can encourage our school media specialist to try to liven up our students' library time? I know that whatever it is would have to be doable in the time frame of the day, as the paraprofesssional would most likely not want to put in the extra time outside of school. I just feel that there is something different that could be done with our students during this time, and I want to help find that. Any suggestions you have would be greatly appreciated!

    Thank you!

    Jill Schriner

  12. Hi Alice,

    When I read your bio, I was delighted to see that you are known for your humor. I’m currently interning at a local high school’s media center and it can be quite a stressful environment. There have been many occasions when all of us were desperate for a good laugh. Can you share some examples when humor helped alleviate a problem? Thanks for taking the time to ‘meet’ with us!

    Mandy Kudmani

  13. Anonymous1:52 AM

    Hello Alice & Mitch,

    The author left today after two days of presentations (3 per day) to RP students through to 6 & 7 grades. They really enjoyed his talks and became very interested in his books.

    Overall, the event was worth doing and I hope we do many more.

    As Alice wrote, if your budget is tight, then it is better to spend money on resources. As we had to pay for flights from the UK for him and his wife, plus hotel and other expenses, we join up with other international schools and share the cost. If there are other schools in your area, maybe you could arrange to do this.

    It's also better for the author to do several schools rather than make a long trip just to do one school.

    I will make a short movie of the event and upload it when finished so you can see the enthusiasm of the students.



    PS for teen reading week, the theme is LOL. Alice, any ideas, please?

  14. While at the AASL conference, I plan to attend sessions on:
    -- the new Info Lit Standards for the 21st century Learner
    -- Facilities design for the 21st century
    -- Web 2.0 tools in the library
    -- Designing Online Learning
    -- What's new in Fantasy and Sci-Fi
    -- Evidence-based Practice
    -- Advocacy Strategies
    -- School Librarian as Change Agent
    -- Teaching with Digital Primary Sources
    I will be facilitating the book discussion of Dan Pink's *A Whole New Mind*, and doing a presentation for ABC-CLIO on their new Historical Inquiry framework.
    I also plan to roam the exhibit floor looking at new reference materials (print and digital) and furniture, because I'm helping a local school design their new library.

    BTW: even if you're not attending the conference, you can access many of the presenters' handouts at
    Although handouts are rarely an adequate substitute for actually hearing the speaker, they can still provide you with LOTS of useful info.

    And hopefully we'll have lots of on-site reporting of events on the AASL blog:

  15. Unreasonable expectations of the library program:
    It sounds to me as though some of your administrators are using the library as a 'holding place' for students rather than as a learning lab.
    Kimberly: In a HS with 3000+ students, there is no way that ONE librarian can possibly do all the professional work necessary without adequate support staff. However, telling TPTB that *you* need help sounds self-serving. OTOH, if you can get the teachers to point out to their department chairs that you aren't available to work with them for the *students' benefit,* then it's an advocacy-based need.
    Jill: it sounds like the library paraprofessionals (and the library) are being used primarily to cover teachers' prep periods. If there's only one librarian for the whole corporation, there is no way she has the time/energy to provide a quality library program for each school, and the parapros are not being paid enough (or have the teaching credentials) to start developing lesson plans. Yes, something different could be done with the students during their library time, but it will have to come from the classroom teachers, not the parapros.

  16. Humor on the job:
    One of my basic precepts has always been that the library has to be a positive place: no whining or moaning allowed. I often posted school-relevant cartoons on the circ desk or library door, and even sent a "weekly grin" email to the faculty email list. Kids quickly learned that I was always up for any (clean) new jokes, no matter how corny. After a while it just became a given: do not bring any attitude into Mrs. Y's space. And students liked that idea of the library being a happy sanctuary, and worked to maintain that atmosphere.

  17. Anonymous6:52 PM

    Dear Alice and Karl,

    I just wanted to thank you both your your thoughts on author visits. I do live in a rural area, but there are five different school districts in our county alone, so the idea of sharing expenses is a distinct possibility. We also have a very active PTO, so asking them for support is a great idea as well. Thank you both for your help. Karl, I'm glad your visit went so well. I am looking forward to seeing the video.

    Thanks again!


  18. Anonymous7:29 PM


    Thank you for the great advice. It is sad that some schools do not know the importance of media specialists. I know times are tight with budgets, but the results I thing would far surpass the costs.

    I am going to take your advice and try to implement some media center activities as a teacher.

    Thanks again,

    Jill Schriner

  19. Anonymous5:08 AM


    Thanks! That is a great approach. I will speak with my job-share partner and see if we can work together to promote the advocacy-based approach.

    Thanks for your insights.


  20. Thank you all for your interesting questions! I hope I've been able to give you some ideas to chew on as you explore my chosen profession.


  21. Anonymous6:53 PM

    Hi Alice! Thank you for your time with us! Last week our class had an intense discussion about materials appropriate for middle school students. How do you handle this in your middle school library? Do you include books on homosexuality for instance? Do you feel this process has become easier with experience through developing a solid procedure for dealing with complaints from parents? Thanks again for taking time to talk with us!
    Jill Robinette