Monday, December 30, 2013

In American Libraries: Notice about my work at Bellview Elementary School

In an exciting and proud moment for this fledgling library professional, the January/February 2014 edition of American Libraries includes a notice about my employment at Bellview Elementary School.

In Currents, fourth column, page 66: “Cynthia Parkhill became educational assistant in the library media center at Bellview Elementary School in Ashland, Oregon.” View and download the complete issue at

World Book Night: Libraries play important role

Libraries play a special role in World Book Night on April 23, when 25,000 people will give out 20 copies of a book to complete strangers.

As explained by the American Libraries Association, between now and Jan. 5, libraries can apply to be a pick-up site for book givers in their area.

Participating libraries also agree to be advocates for World Book Night and literacy. And the ALA encourages library staffers to apply to be book givers themselves.

Monday, December 23, 2013

We Need Libraries: Cardholder photos wanted

Cynthia Parkhill holding library cards

For the We Need Libraries protest song video project, here’s a picture of me holding library cards from nearly every community where I have lived or worked.

The library systems represented include Lake County Library (an account first created through the Sonoma County Library), the George and Elsie Wood Public Library in Saint Helena, Calif., Napa County Library and Jackson County Library Services. I'm missing Marin County Free Library for a complete set.

Library lovers can submit photos to The deadline is Jan. 5, with the video scheduled for release on Feb. 8, 2014.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

School library: closed for winter break

Stack of books on the counter at Bellview Elementary School library: True Things (Adults Don't Want Kids to Know) by Jimmy Gownley, Magyk by Angie Sage, A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, Animorphs: Visser by K.A. Applegate, Animorphs: The Capture by K.A. Applegate and The Underneath by Kathi Appelt

The stack of books I checked out Friday has to last the two weeks I won’t have access to the Bellview Elementary School library. (Fortunately, I can still check out books through Jackson County Library Services.) I hope that everyone has a safe and joyous winter break.

Here’s what came home with me on Friday: True Things (Adults Don’t Want Kids to Know), a graphic novel in Jimmy Gownley’s Amelia Rules! series, Magyk, first book in the Septimus Heap series by Angie Sage, A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, Visser, a stand-alone novel in the Animorphs series by K.A. Applegate, Animorphs #6: The Capture by K.A. Applegate and The Underneath by Kathi Appelt.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Students, teacher discuss why reading ‘sucks’

For School Library Journal, fifth-grade teacher Pernille Ripp relates that as one of her first lessons of the year, she asks her students how they feel about reading.
“While many of them share wonderful things about why they love books—memories of parents reading to them or of sneaking in a favorite novel after the lights were turned off—there is also usually one student brave enough to admit that, for him or her, reading is just not their thing.”

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Swope argues: MOOCs can be free and profitable

For EdTech Magazine, John Swope argues that massive open online courses can be free and profitable at the same time.
“Critics argue that the meteoric rise of MOOCs will eventually collapse under the weight of a few key weaknesses — namely, high attrition rates and a lack of participation from underprivileged students. These criticisms, however, ignore the market forces that led to the rise of MOOCs in the first place and will continue to support the movement going forward.”

Discussion to address improved accessibility of online employment tools

Cynthia M. Parkhill's Bitstrips comic avatar extends her hand to shake hands with another person who is shown from the partial back view. Nearby, three other people are shown on either side of her, also from  a partial back view. While her expression is one of smiling, two cartoon liquid drops of sweat depict the cartoon avatar's nervousness. The caption, centered in quotation marks, reads, 'You are unsure of what to say when you meet someone.'
Cartoon image created with Bitstrips and added April 4, 2015
The U.S. Office of Disability Employment Policy is hosting an online dialogue about ways to make job-related technology more accessible to applicants with intellectual disabilities, cognitive issues, traumatic brain injuries or similar disabilities.

The discussion could not be more timely, given the increased prevalence of “social suitability” questions as part of the application process. In my opinion, any discussion of accessibility needs to include deliberate barriers imposed against job candidates.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

‘Hereville’ by Barry Deutsch

Book cover for Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword by Barry Deutsch. A young girl, holding a sword, balanced atop an enormous ball of yarn
Mirka’s stepmother Fruma insists that she learn to knit and continually challenges her to debates. All the while, Mirka dreams of killing dragons.

To do that she only needs a sword.

Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword (Amulet Books, 2010) by Barry Deutsch is a wonderfully original graphic novel. Its independent and likeable 11-year-old girl protagonist is a fine addition to the graphic novel format.

The story is set in a modern-day Orthodox Jewish community (the Hereville of the title). In it, readers are introduced to Mirka, her family, community and traditions.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Pew study shows ‘vast majority’ value libraries

The “vast majority,” 95 percent, of Americans age 16 and older, say that public libraries play an important role in their communities, according to findings released today by the Pew Research Center.

The findings indicate varying levels of support for different library services:

“Americans strongly value library services such as access to books and media; having a quiet, safe place to spend time, read, or study; and having librarians to help people find information. Other services, such as assistance finding and applying for jobs, are more important to particular groups, including those with lower levels of education or household income.”

Ashland School District closures: The ‘how’ and ‘why’

Mug shot: Jay W. Hummel, superintendent, Ashland School District
Jay W. Hummel
In keeping with my mandate as an information worker, to educate and inform, here’s a message from Ashland Public Schools superintendent Jay W. Hummel concerning the recent school closures and the deliberation that goes into canceling a school day.

These last several days have been quite difficult for all involved. I am sorry for the obvious inconvenience our school closures have caused for you. Providing safe and quality educational services to our community is my top priority, and I take this responsibility very seriously. So, the loss of learning time for our children, even a small amount, is a concern. When we do decide to cancel a school day, our supervisors have carefully assessed the safety and readiness of critical services for all students:

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Unwind dystology by Neal Shusterman

Book cover: Unsouled, book 3 in the Unwind dystology by Neal Shusterman
Neal Shusterman’s Unwind dystology (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers) is creepy science fiction that takes its inspiration from real-life social issues including abortion and organ donor shortages.

The story begins with Unwind (2007) and continues with UnWholly (2012) and UnSouled (2013). UnDivided, the fourth book in the series, is expected in 2014.

A “compromise” between pro-life and pro-choice forces — sides in a second U.S. civil war — created a process called “unwinding.” From ages 13 to 17, a child can be “unwound” by his or her parents or guardian. Unwound children supposedly continue to exist in a “divided state” with every part of their bodies harvested.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Rogue Valley Transit: Snow affects Routes 10 and 60

Map showing temporary change to Rogue Valley Transit's Route 10 outbound from Medford toward Ashland, Oregon
Image credit: Rogue Valley Transportation District
Rogue Valley Transportation District (RVTD) was not in service on Saturday because of inclement weather and dangerous conditions related to Friday’s snow. On Monday, RVTD made temporary changes to Route 10 between Medford and Ashland.

Ashland School District: Schools remain closed

Schools in the Ashland School District will be closed Tuesday, Dec. 10. In a post on Facebook, Ashland Public Schools stated that Friday’s snow storm was the largest to hit the Rogue Valley floor since 1980.

For the Medford Mail Tribune, Ryan Pfeil and Sam Wheeler related that 6 inches of snow was reported in Ashland, Medford and Grants Pass as of 7 p.m. Friday.

Autism Speaks: Self-advocates, allies urge boycott

Organizations representing autistic and disability communities — including the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network and Autism Women’s Network — are asking corporate sponsors to end support for Autism Speaks.

In a joint letter, they charge that Autism Speaks excludes adults on the autism spectrum from positions of leadership, has a history of supporting “dangerous fringe movements” that threaten people’s lives and safety and, through fundraising efforts, takes money away from needed services in local communities. Finally, through its advertising, it presents autistic people as burdens and their lives as “little more than tragedies.”

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Ashland schools to be closed on Monday

All schools in the Ashland School District will be closed on Monday because of hazardous road conditions. The Emergency Information page on the district website was updated at 4:53 p.m. today.

Warnings were also distributed via the School Reach alert system.

To learn about closures or delayed starts, the school district recommends watching its website, listening to the radio or listening to television stations KDRV Newswatch 12, KOBI–TV 5 or KTVL News 10.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Study encourages second look at ‘unconventional’ job candidates

A study by Johns Hopkins University and Cornell University researchers indicates that social rejection can inspire imaginative thinking in people who already feel separate from the crowd.

(Arguing at that most people don’t actually like creativity despite their insistence otherwise, writer Jessica Olien highlights study findings as a “glimmer of hope in all of this rejection.”)

Friday, December 6, 2013

Snow closures today, snowman crafting tomorrow

Two snowmen made out of athletic socks and decorated with fabric scarves and buttons
Image credit: Ashland Teen Library Fans on Facebook
Teen Crafternoon on Saturday with the Ashland library teen program is all the more thematically appropriate with snow closures declared today for Ashland public schools. From noon to 2:30 p.m. Saturday, participants will make snowmen in the teen department at the Ashland Public Library, 410 Siskiyou Blvd. in Ashland, Oregon. For information, call 541-774-6994.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Arm knitting: Library crafting idea for teens

For the Wall Street Journal, Rachel Dodes reports that “Millennial Craft-Makers Embrace Arm Knitting,” an activity that makes use of the crafter’s forearms instead of knitting needles.
“The resulting scarves and blankets feature rows of loops that are 2.5 [inches] to 4 [inches] wide, depending on the diameter of a given knitter’s arm. Owing to the large, holey rows, an entire project can be completed in less than 30 minutes—a fraction of the time needed to whip up a scarf using knitting needles.”

Monday, December 2, 2013

‘Crunch’ by Leslie Connor

In Crunch by Leslie Connor (Katherine Tegan Books, 2010) a family’s bicycle repair business is the only thing keeping people on the road when gas supplies dry up.

A long-distance truck driver and his wife are stranded several hundred miles from home when gasoline supplies abruptly disappear. Fourteen-year-old Dewey and his siblings must manage the “Marriss Bike Barn” while meeting family responsibilities.

With no cars on the highway, cyclists take to the lanes. Suddenly, everyone is turning to the Marrisses for much-needed bicycle repairs.

UU World articles accessible as MP3 files

Don Hymel creates MP3 files of UU World articles for readers with print disabilities
Don Hymel
Readers with print disabilities can access UU World articles, recorded as MP3 files. Files are available for the current issue (as of this viewing, Winter 2013) through Fall 2012. Don Hymel, a Unitarian Universalist from San Antonia, Texas, reads and creates each MP3 file.

Author’s Note: The librarian may leave the library, but the library doesn’t leave the librarian — especially given my interest in promoting accessible collections and services. My first real “library job” was volunteer administrator for the UUCLC Lending Library in Lake County, Calif., and I couldn’t resist passing this along.