Archive | June, 2010

ALA 2010: Message to Schools: Act Now on Ebooks

30 Jun

By Kathy Ishizuka

The time is now to implement ebooks in school libraries. That’s according to Douglas Uhlmann, a librarian at the William Penn Charter School in Philadelphia, PA, who presented to a packed house in his June 26 session “Casting the Ebook Hook,” at the American Library Association conference in Washington, DC. 


The rise of etextbooks and the explosion of reader devices, not to mention the phenomenon that is the iPad, have created a unique convergence and libraries need to position themselves there. While the mere mention of the Cushing Academy drew groans at his presentation, Uhlmann says the controversial move by the school to ditch its entire print collection for digital has also helped bring us to the tipping point. “In terms of consumer awareness, the word is out there on ebooks,” he says. “We need our patrons to know that libraries are part of the ebooks picture.”

But it’s a little more complicated than simply exploiting the current consumer mania over ereaders. For when it comes to digital content, what is your average patron envisioning? “A Kindle or an iPad—not a database resource,” says Uhlmann, who serves students in grades 6-12 at William Penn, a private pre-K–12 school. Patrons may be thinking more about devices rather than content, so “we need to educate them about the many options that exist, particularly those that we are offering in our own library.”

Rethink your OPAC

One tip from Uhlmann: integrate free e-resources into your OPAC. In the presentation, he demonstrated how he incorporates a Google Book copy into the record for an existing holding in his library. By linking to Google Books, students can access additional resources and further their research. If something’s not available in free view, Uhlmann says he will buy a copy or borrow one, thereby leveraging Google Books for collection development and as a way to promote ILL services.

As for the digital offerings from traditional library vendors, Uhlmann himself plans to do more purchasing in the reference area. However, he would like to see metasearch capability across these products in ways that could integrate with other resources. Right now, he says, “[the research experience] is still very fragmented for our kids.”

The device landscape

Oh, those devices, and there are a lot of them out there, from the Kindle and iPad to some more obscure readers—the Nokia N900 or Aluratek Libre, anyone? While pilot reader programs are being launched in schools, Uhlmann says, in sum, that he “can’t push a device that’s not fully compatible with what we have [databases won’t work on the iPad],” and the Kindle’s proving too fragile for schools. Moreover, certain content, like large format material, including picture books, simply won’t function on some current devices. And then there’s the cost.

Still, educators—including several in the audience—are now implementing ereaders in their schools. “But Amazon wants nothing to do with libraries,” said one attendee, who tried unsuccessfully to negotiate getting multiple copies of a book on more than the allowed six Kindle devices. While Amazon and Sony are not at ALA, Barnes & Noble is, responded Uhlmann. “If they’re present, they may be open to negotiating friendlier licensing for library media centers, maybe quantity purchasing, and perhaps developing [a device] that’s more rugged.”  

Whatever you do with econtent, advises Uhlmann, promote it. Whether or not it’s the device he would stock in his library, he recently brought in an iPad to show his students. “It was like a magnet,” he says. “So show them what it can do.”


Photo of the Nook by AMagill

Visit ALA Annual Conference News for ongoing coverage of the conference by the editors of Library Journal and School Library Journal.



Author Jim Murphy Accepts Margaret Edwards Award at ALA 2010

27 Jun


Jim Murphy, an award-winning author of nonfiction books for teens, received the Margaret A. Edwards Award at a June 26 luncheon during the American Library Association’s annual conference in Washington, DC.

The annual Edwards Award for lifetime achievement is overseen by the Young Adult Library Services Association and sponsored by School Library Journal. In singling out Murphy’s “gripping nonfiction” and “significant and lasting contribution to writing for teens,” the award committee praised these five titles: An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793 (Clarion, 2003), Blizzard! The Storm That Changed America (Scholastic, 2000), A Young Patriot: The American Revolution as Experienced by One Boy (Clarion, 1996), The Great Fire (Scholastic, 1995), and The Long Road to Gettysburg (Clarion, 1992).

Anita Silvey spoke to Murphy about his early career in publishing and what he hopes to accomplish with his books.



Meet the editors of SLJ – ALA 2010

25 Jun


Won’t you please stop by and say hello? Booth #2109 at the Washington Convention Center, June 25 – 28.

Friday  5:30 – 7:30 pm   Daryl Grabarek, Curriculum Connections, book review

Saturday  11 am – 12 pm  Rick Margolis, Executive Editor, News and features

Sunday   9 – 10:30 am  Phyllis Mandell, Multimedia review

Sunday  9 – 10:30am   Kathy Ishizuka, News and features, technology

Sunday 10 – 11:30 am  Daryl Grabarek, Curriculum Connections, book review

Sunday  2 – 4  pm  Henrietta Thornton-Verma, Series Made Simple, book review

Sunday  2 – 4  pm  Trev Jones, book review

Monday  9:30 – 11 am  Luann Toth, book review

Monday 10 – 11 am   Brian Kenney, Editor-in-chief


For complete coverage of the American Library Association annual conference, see the LJ/SLJ page for regular updates.


Photo by Cyklista Dalibor

ALA 2010: DC Restaurant Roundup

22 Jun

There’s more to ALA’s upcoming conference than meetings, meetings, meetings. Our feature “ALA 2010: Washington Ate Here,” serves up our picks for DC’s best eats. Here’s the piece, with links.

By Elise Ford


If you’re traveling to Washington, DC, for the American Library Association’s annual conference (June 24–29), don’t forget to pack your appetite. Did you happen to catch the recent 60 Minutes profile of super chef José Andrés (the Spanish dynamo behind Café Atlantico, Oyamel, Jaleo, Zaytinya, and minibar)? Or read about the city’s eateries in May’s Condé Nast Traveler or the latest issue of National Geographic Traveler? These days the capital’s dining scene is among the nation’s best.

No news to those of us who live here—or to you, if you’ve visited in the last five years or so. Washingtonians love to dine out, and have better and better reasons to do so—just ask the President and Michele Obama, whose frequent restaurant outings have included stops at Five Guys for burgers and Citronelle for French haute cuisine. We’re all happily jamming new bistros in the hip U Street Corridor and Penn Quarter neighborhoods and old reliables along the quaint streets of Dupont Circle and Capitol Hill. Like most of the city’s attractions, from museums to shops to live music venues, our restaurants reflect who we are.

An international bunch, to start. DC is home to nearly 200 foreign embassies and all those they employ, plus immigrants from around the globe, which explains the diversity of ethnic cuisine available, Indian and Ethiopian being among the best. Current obsessions with burger joints, cupcakes, frozen yogurt, organic salads to-go, and artisanal cocktails point to the overflow presence of university students and 20-something Hill staffers and interns. A preponderance of high-end dining rooms and headliner chefs prevail, thanks to the rapacious politicians, lawyers, lobbyists, and industry executives ready to do business over every meal.

So prepare yourself for some serious grazing. You’ve got a lot of restaurant choices but also a lot of competition for reservations—try to book your table(s) in advance. Here’s a range of categories to help satisfy a multitude of scenarios and your every gustatory yen.

Grounds for great coffee
Coffee fiends, smile. Starbucks alone has 100 locations here. But for local color and taste, try M. E. Swing Co. Nearly a century old and old-fashioned in feel (note the vintage coffeemaking paraphernalia), Swing’s enables the caffeine habits of White House and World Bank staffers and the downtown office crowd in general. Or head to the Penn Quarter’s sleek Chinatown Coffee Co., where baristas brew individual cups of java. You’re in the heart of hipsterville here: everyone’s wearing Urban Outfitter garb and clunky eyeglasses. For a steamy Parisian bistro scene, order a nutella-lined cup of espresso, crepes on the side, at Adams-Morgan’s Napoleon.

Dashing for lunch
Time for lunch, but it’s got to be quick? No worries: good eats are a brisk walk away. Make like Prez Obama and try a cheeseburger at the unfancy but cheery Five Guys Burgers and Fries, a local operation that’s grown into a national phenomenon. Gourmands should trot to upscale Proof, overlooking the American Art Museum. Available only in the bar/lounge is the weekday $12 “Lunch Crush,” which covers an entrée, say steak salad, and glass of wine, beer, soda, or iced tea. Is a 30-minute lunch realistic? Yes, says a manager, if you “don’t order the garlic chicken and do tell the bartender you’re short on time.”

A leisurely meal with the gang
Lead your favorite colleagues to Brasserie Beck for Belgian food and bon vivant atmosphere. It’s open straight through from lunchtime ’til midnight, so you can start early and stay late. In a dining room designed to resemble a train station, seating options include a long mahogany bar, a communal table, and a lovely outdoor terrace. You’re here for the steamed mussels, beef carbonade, and Belgian brews. (FYI: Beck’s is also good for a quick lunch near the convention center.) Another fine choice is Acadiana, whose up-tempo ambience, Big Easy Sazeracs (a cocktail that’s older than the Civil War), and authentic New Orleans cuisine, rémoulades to étouffé, encourage you to stay awhile. Everything’s big here: the dining room, the bar, the portions, and the personalities.

Romantic interludes
Escape to the Jefferson Hotel’s Plume Restaurant for a sumptuous dinner à la française: foie gras, côte de boeuf, and fine wine from a 1,000-label inventory. The newly renovated Jefferson is DC’s poshest hotel and Plume its most elegant restaurant, with muralled walls and 17 tables, including one that’s sure to speak to librarians: a semicircular booth, with faux book-lined wall (tiles painted to resemble books), and curtained for privacy. Cozy and informal is Cashion’s Eat Place, a neighborhood hangout in Adams-Morgan, where black-and-white family photos line the curving walls and couples canoodle over plates of seasonal American dishes. The sexy bar’s late-night menu makes Cashion’s perfect for an after-midnight rendezvous.

The big splurge
Citronelle gets my vote. If chef Michel Richard is in the display kitchen, you’re in for a treat, for his ebullience fills the dining room. But delight is always in the air, as international business folks and politicos dig into Richard’s inventive takes on tuna napoleon niçoise and fried chicken nuggets (really!). J&G Steakhouse, in the W Washington Hotel, is Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s DC baby. VIPs visiting the neighboring White House by day are often seen dining here at night. The gorgeous dining room’s expansive windows overlook Pennsylvania Avenue and the Washington Monument (ask for tables 42 or 43 for prime views). Order steak, the corn ravioli, the crab cake. (FYI: DC steakhouses often prepare excellent crab cakes.)

Top chefs
Awards rain down on José Andrés, who, in addition to appearing on 60 Minutes in May, was named GQ Magazine’s 2009 Chef of the Year. Cookbooks, a PBS cooking show, and television appearances are mere backdrop to his stable of lively, wonderful Penn Quarter restaurants: Jaleo (Spanish tapas), Oyamel (authentic Mexican), Café Atlantico (Latin), minibar (miniature courses of gastronomic invention), and Zaytinya (Turkish/Greek/Lebanese; pictured).


A different sort altogether is Johnny Monis, whose Komi restaurant continues to top Washingtonian magazine’s list of best restaurants. The limelight-avoiding, 30-year-old Monis prepares Mediterranean, and particularly Greek-influenced, seasonal cuisine. Foodies know to call one month ahead to score a table in Monis’s comfortably spare, softly lit, Dupont Circle dining room.

Good food on a budget
This one’s tricky… but not impossible. In Georgetown, make yourselves at home at Tackle Box, where $13 buys you a “Maine meal,” which includes wood-grilled fresh fish and two sides, maybe corn on the cob or asparagus. The setting’s rustic seating is at picnic tables, and there’s no liquor license, but it’s cheap and delicious. Another option? Go the tapas route at newcomer sensation Masa 14 in the U Street Corridor. The place is big and boisterous, filled with urbanistas swilling margaritas and devouring small plates ($6–$14 each) of Latin-Asian fusion fare, like pork belly carnitas and Serrano ham and goat cheese flatbread. Select carefully, drink minimally, and you might escape with your wallet fairly intact.

Ethnic flavors
Among DC’s many excellent ethnic eateries, critics routinely celebrate Etete for Ethiopian fare and the Bombay Club for Indian food. Located in the U Street Corridor, Etete’s welcoming atmosphere and cheap but excellent versions of spicy beef-filled pastries (“sambusas”) and creamy lentil stew draw diners all day, but especially late at night, when night owls alight here. The 22-year-old Bombay Club, near the White House, has long been a favorite of administration staff (no matter who’s in office) and journalists, who plop on the creamy leather chairs and striped banquettes, primed for a time-out and some TLC: solicitous service and dynamite dishes like Malabari shrimp and the delicately crunchy arugula-spinach “chaat.”

Take it away
If you’re in the vicinity of the Penn Quarter, here’s what you do: fast foot it to the Cowgirl Creamery for a baguette and a hunk of savory camembert or the signature Mt. Tam, or maybe a freshly made sandwich of prosciutto and goat cheese and a bottled root beer; or walk to Teaism, where you can carry out the entire menu, ginger scones to teriyaki salmon and rice; then make your way to the Smithsonian American Art Museum/National Portrait Gallery and nestle in among the locals to sit on the marble steps and watch the Washington world go by as you enjoy your delicious picnic. (Teaism also has locations at Dupont Circle and at Lafayette Square.)

Neighborhood gems
Just off Pennsylvania Avenue, on Capitol Hill, is charming little Montmartre, which draws Congressional members and residents from nearby townhouses. Dine on duck leg confit, sip a glass of merlot, finish with plum tart, and then stroll the historic streets back toward the Capitol. Get a taste of the jumping U Street Corridor neighborhood as well as Belgian and Southern cuisine at Marvin, where a lively, multicultural, all-ages crowd chatters noisily over plates of mussels, burgers, and fried chicken. On a pretty Dupont Circle side street sits the Tabard Inn Restaurant, inside the Tabard Inn Hotel. Locals wander in for nightcaps in the paneled lounge and for breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner—whenever they can snag a table in the homey restaurant, beloved for its delicious comfort food.

Georgetown chic
Nothing beats Georgetown for chicness, but you’ve got to know where to find it. The Four Seasons Hotel, situated at the mouth of Georgetown is chicly sophisticated, as is its restaurant, Bourbon Steak, known for lobster pot pie and Kobe steak on the menu and glitterati at the tables. At the other end of M Street, hidden down a passageway, lies preciously chic Leopold’s Kafe, which serves Austrian pastries, tea sandwiches, and wiener schnitzel in a wide-windowed, pop-art setting of white walls, with patches of color in the furnishings. I’ve seen all types at Leopold’s: college students, Euro hipsters, socialites, U.S. Senators, everyone chill.

Just for dessert
Chocoholics, get yourselves to the Penn Quarter’s “chocolate lounge and boutique,” CoCo. Sala, where you can drink chocolate-infused cocktails, like the cocojito, and inhale assorted chocolatey desserts, chocolate mousse and soufflé among them. The place drips sensuality, from the sexily attired waiters to the curtained-off seating areas, so consider CoCo. Sala for romance, too. G-rated desserts (G for glorious and guaranteed to please a general audience) are available in the form of Georgetown Cupcake’s prized confections (pictured). I can personally vouch for more versions than I should admit to: carrot cake and vanilla birthday, to name just two. Buy a bunch to share with your friends and fellow conference-goers.


Above photo: President Obama orders lunch at Five Guys in Washington, D.C. during an unannounced lunch outing May 29, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Reading game resource

20 Jun

A resource worth investigating. The “top” reading and word games for students K-6th grade.


The #ALA10 coverage begins

19 Jun

“ALA 2010: Pre-registration Solid for Conference; No Need for Second Furlough.”

Norman Oder’s story posted today at Library Journal.

SLJ reviews the Epson BrightLink interactive projector

19 Jun

Every once in a while an innovation comes along that seems so naturally inevitable in retrospect that I smack myself on the forehead and exclaim: why didn’t I think of that!…”

In our June issue, Jeff Hastings takes the Epson Brightlink 450Wi for a test drive.