Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Do you have a cell phone? Who doesn't? My gradparents are in their eighties and they have one (though it's rarely, if ever, turned on). We've all heard of biological warfare in which superbugs are developed to be released on a particular target, wiping out a large portion of a population. We worry about some countries who might be developing these weapons to use against the United States. But what would happen if a weapon was developed that could be disseminated through cell phones? Perhaps a pulse could be developed that, when transmitted through a cell phone, would reprogram the brain, much like a computer virus plays havoc with a hard drive. This is the premise of Stephen King's book Cell, which I read recently on the recommendation of a student. The book opens with a typical day in downtown Boston but soon the events are anything but typical as people begin to spontaneously and violently attack total strangers and drive vehicles into buildings. Clay Riddell, in Boston on business, manages to stay out of harm's way and quickly deduces that cell phones are causing the people to go crazy. Clay hooks up with a small group of others who managed to avoid the pulse and together they try to survive, figure out what is happening, and travel north in search of Clay's son. I don't read a lot of Stephen King but I did enjoy this, though it has its flaws. It has a very deliberate Night of the Living Dead feel to it and if it were made into a movie I don't think I'd care to see it. The premise is certainly terrifying in light of the prevalence of cell phones in our lives, but King leaves too many questions unanswered. On the plus side, the reader is hooked within the first few pages as the action starts quickly and abruptly. I'm not a big fan of horror but in this case, as with many of Stephen King's books, there is just enough plausibility to make the reader wonder...what if?

Friday, November 09, 2007

Library Field Trip

During Tuesday's professional day I had the opportunity to take a field trip to North Attleborough High School's library media center. I have lots of wonderful colleagues in Norton, but as the only media specialist (or library personnel of any kind) in the district, I have no one in my "department" with whom I can share ideas. So it was a real treat to get out of the building to talk to and share ideas with other media specialists. I won't bore you too much with library shop talk but I would like to share some of the similarities and differences between North Attleborough's media center and Norton's media center.

The most glaring difference is certainly the level of staffing. North Attleborough has two full time certified library media specialists and one full time paraprofession. Norton, as previously mentioned, has just me. Yes, the student population is larger (around 1200 for them and around 700 for us) but they didn't seem to see any more students than I do daily and far fewer than I saw in previous years when we still had studies. One of the nice things about having a larger staff is that there is less waiting for help. There are times when I have several students asking for help, someone else wanting to check out a book, a teacher asking for a video, a jammed copy machine and the phone ringing all at once. An extra person or two would certainly help in a situation like that. They also have a few more computers than our library (NA 15 Norton 12) but ours are newer and, believe it or not, faster. Their collection is larger, but again, they do have more students.

The size of the facilities are similar, though the layout is a little different. Norton's library is much more open with more tables for group work while North Attleborough has tables on one side and individual study carrels on the side. About six years ago the Norton High School library got a face lift. New carpeting and tile replaced the worn and stained avocado carpeting and new paint and furniture completed the look. North Attleborough is still waiting for its turn. Like our library in the not so distant past, damaged carpeting is mended with silver duct tape. One thing they do have that we will never have, however, is natural light. Their media center has windows! What a treat!

Overall, it was a great experience and I wish I could do it more often. It's important to stay in touch with colleagues and share best practices. We talked about student projects, print and electronic resources, schedules, and teaching. You can't help but learn something new when you get out of your own environment and experience something new. I'd like to thank the media center staff at North Attleborough High for taking the time to share their program with me.