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Start thinking of how we might connect to each others and to our classroom teacher partners as librarians without borders!


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Mighty Little Librarian

Think before you post!

Last week in the library, we did an activity that fostered a lot of great discussion and serious thoughts about posting on social media. Students honestly don’t put much thought into the things they post — and it’s scary how quick … Continue reading

Battle of the Books

Today we hosted the first Battle of the Books at CMS! I’m beyond pleased with the way the event turned out and know this is going to become a favorite tradition at our school. I have to give a HUGE shout … Continue reading

The Digital Diva

SLJ News

The 2015 Irma Black Award & Cook Prize Winners Announced

New York's Bank Street Center for Children's Literature named Mac Barnett's Sam and Dave Dig a Hole the winner of its Irma Black Award and Jean Craighead George's Galápagos George the winner of its Cook Prize.

Survey Reveals Demographic of SLJ Reviewers

The vast majority of reviewers for School Library Journal (SLJ) are white (88.8 percent) and female (95 percent), according to a recent survey by the magazine.

Folding Your Own: A Minicomics Primer for Librarians

What are minicomics? "Good Comics 4 Kids" blogger Brigid Alverson sheds some light on the independently created format, shares tips on how librarians can acquire minicomics for the collection, and suggests ways they can encourage creativity in teens.

Famous Chef, Chickens with Superpowers, and Hurricane Katrina Lead the Pack at Random House Preview | 2015 Spring Preview

Bullying leads to an ecological disaster in Newbery winner Louis Sachar’s Fuzzy Mud, and world-famous chef Marcus Samuelsson shares a young adult version of his autobiography Make It Messy: My Perfectly Imperfect Life.

Diverse Voices: A Discussion on Crafting Fiction, Nonfiction, and Audiobooks that Reflect and Celebrate Diversity

Tuesday, May 12th, 2015, 3:00 PM - 4:00 PM ET / 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM PT
Join authors Sharon Draper, Jason Reynolds, Christy Hale, and Sandra Moore, along with librarian Thom Barthelmess, and SLJ editor Kiera Parrott for a conversation about diversity in kid and YA lit.
"">Register Now!

ALA TechSource

Now Open: Library Technology Reports and Smart Libraries Newsletter

Library Technology Reports and Smart Libraries Newsletter are on a new hosting platform, using Open Journal Systems. For a limited time, through June, both will be open access.

We’re hoping you will like what you see and get your library to subscribe.

This year brought a new cover design to our Library Technology Reports. Here's what's inside.

David Lee King, who has managed to keep a still up-to-date personal blog, wrote Managing Your Libraries Social Media Channels. Bohyun Kim wrote Understanding Gamification. She will also present a workshop on gamification Wednesday, May 6. If you’ve purchased it or are thinking about it, download her report. For our newest issue, Coding for Librarians, Andromeda Yelton surveyed colleagues to get ready-to-use-or-adapt snippets of code, as well as “deep dive” examples. She set up a companion website on Github. Even if you have the print issue in hand, you’ll want to download the PDF to link directly to the code samples on GitHub.

Marshall Breeding is libraryland’s authority on product development in the library automation industry. His Smart Libraries Newsletter presents news and analysis on both the business and technology side. Breeding recently published vendor responses to a survey on the privacy and security functions of major automation and discovery products. His goal was to increase awareness and start a conversation that might lead to needed improvements. How are your vendors protecting patron privacy? See Smart Libraries Newsletter, January 2015. A regular writer of Library Technology Reports, Breeding’s most recent issue is “Library Resource Discovery Products: Context, Library Perspectives, and Vendor Positions” and his “Library Services Platforms” is our forthcoming May/June 2015 issue.

We migrated the Library Technology Reports and Smart Libraries Newsletter archives from our previous platform. As report titles did not carry over, the archive list is by date of issue only, making findability a little challenging. The author index and search will help. To give you a taste of what's there, I'll point to a few “known-items,” hidden gems, especially for LIS students or anybody looking for background in a new area. Karen Coyle offers remarkably clear explanations of complex concepts, writing the back-to-back reports in 2010, Understanding the Semantic Web: Bibliographic Data and Metadata and RDA Vocabularies for a 21st Century Data Environment and then in 2012, Linked Data Tools: Connecting on the Web. In 2013, Mirela Roncevic wrote E-book Platforms for Libraries, surveying 51 vendors. Though product offerings have changed since, the report shows the breadth of the marketplace and various approaches to the business model.

The archives will remain open for Library Technology Reports one year after publication and for Smart Libraries Newsletter six months after publication.

We're joined on the platform by several other ALA publications. See the full list at

App Learning for Librarians

Nicole Hennig would love to see more librarians reviewing apps.

“Have you noticed how uniformed many of the app-store reviews are?” she asks readers of her recent Library Technology Report "Selecting and Evaluating the Best Mobile Apps for Library Services." Often people write a review without understanding what the app was meant to do. Or they dash off a technical support question. Librarianship has a long tradition of reviewing books. Now is the time to apply those well-honed skills to apps and help your community find what they need in a chaotic marketplace.


For a general guide to reviewing, Nicole recommends the the thorough Elements for Basic Reviews: A Guide for Writers and Readers of Reviews of Works in All Mediums and Genres,from the ALA/RUSA CODES Materials Reviewing Committee (2005).

She supplements that guide with her own checklist for reviewing mobile apps.

Nicole Hennig is busy writing and presenting on all things apps for librarians. She will be leading the ALA ecourse “Apps for Librarians: Empower Your Users with Mobile App Literacy” starting Monday, February 2 (also Groundhog day). In addition to selection and evaluation criteria, she covers a full range of library services, including accessibilty, content creation, and reference. For a taste of what’s covered, check out the recording of her November 2014 webinar. Visit Nicole’s web page for for additional information about the course, a self-study version, and her other offerings. 

CES 2015 Press Day

Jason Griffey reports on what he saw at CES press day-- a few 3D printers, including Ultimaker, a good library option; another small robot programmable in Google's Blockly, a visual programming editor; Samsung's SSD; and a drone. The soundtrack starts rough, but is much better after one minute.

Jason's coverage of CES is sponsored by Spingshare. Visit his blog Pattern Recognition for ongoing reports.

ICV Partners Acquires SirsiDynix

A new era in the corporate history of SirsiDynix, one of the corporate giants of the library technology industry, has begun. After more than eight years of ownership, Vista Equity Partners has sold SirsiDynix to ICV Partners, with Vista retaining and company executives acquiring minority stakes in the company. While it is too early to assess how new investment owners will shape the direction of the company going forward, it is clear that SirsiDynix remains a major force in the industry with a very large number of libraries relying on its success.  

SirsiDynix, along with other Ex Libris, Innovative Interfaces, and Follett Corporation, ranks as a giant in the industry, which also includes dozens, if not hundreds, of mid-sized and small companies. Each of these four companies has earnings in the range of $100 million and develops strategic technology products for libraries. However, they follow quite different business strategies and serve distinct profiles of customers according to type and geographic region. Globally diverse, SirsiDynix supports customers in more than 70 countries.  

The acquisition of SirsiDynix by ICV Partners brings to close a fairly dramatic chapter in the history of the library technology industry. In 2006, prior to being acquired by Vista Equity Partners, SirsiDynix was still working its way through its merger.  Both Dynix and Sirsi Corporation were large and complex companies with multiple products under their charge through their own development efforts and via previous acquisitions.  Any of a variety of courses of action seemed possible.

San Francisco-based Vista Equity Partners acquired SirsiDynix from Seaport Capital in January 2007 in a deal with an estimated value of around $260 million. Vista is generally known to follow a “playbook” that outlines an aggressive approach to business integration and operations, which centers on product consolidation and cost reduction. The acquisition of SirsiDynix was made on the premise that considerable savings could be achieved through focusing the efforts of the company on a single platform.

The initial aggressive business strategy executed by Vista Equity Partners proved not to be a great match for the library technology industry, or at least for this particular scenario. The abrupt change in product strategy led to decreased confidence in the company, not only for the Horizon product that was initially abandoned, but also for libraries using Symphony. The absence of a new-generation product in a time when libraries generally felt that their current products were not living up to expectations also proved problematic. In recent years, SirsiDynix has deviated from the more austere version of the Vista playbook, channeling more resources into product development, support, and marketing. These efforts have paid off in terms of increased customer satisfaction, retention, and stronger sales.

SirsiDynix has been able to forge a path forward by making adjustments to its initial product and business strategies. Reasserting its commitment to Horizon has slowed the pace of libraries moving to competing products. More importantly, the development of the BLUEcloud suite provides a path forward that leverages existing ILS implementations, avoids the need for short-term migration, and demonstrates the ability to deliver products based on current technology trends. Vista’s aggressive business integration has paid off in terms of building a more centralized company able to efficiently deliver support and develop new products. The more positive performance in the last few years is likely a factor in the Vista’s ability to sell this long-overdue investment.  

ICV Partners was founded in 1998 under the name Inner City Ventures as a minority-owned private investment company. The company continues to operate as a certified Minority Business Enterprise. ICV Partners manages a pool of assets totaling $440 million, considerably less than the $14 billion currently managed by Vista Equity Partners.  

No information has been released regarding the value of the transaction. As with other acquisitions of this type, it is likely that it includes both direct investments by ICV Partners as well as bank loans, usually structured as senior debt and secured by the assets of the company. Executives in the company have also contributed to the equity of the transaction, which ensures continuity in the management of the company and indicates that the new owners are not likely to replace the incumbent management team.

It is interesting to consider the sale of SirsiDynix by Vista to ICV Partners in the context of other possibilities could have happened but didn’t. This transaction did not result in additional consolidation, but was a simple transfer of ownership. Had SirsiDynix been acquired by one of its competitors, there would have been another potentially painful round of product consolidations in an arena where the available options have become uncomfortably narrow. The company also was not acquired by an entity in an adjacent industry, such as the acquisition of Geac by Infor or Talis by Capita, both companies with broader interest in business solutions for the public sector. OCLC has been on a streak of acquiring ILS companies, though none approaching the size of SirsiDynix. These theoretical possibilities may not have been practical options given that further industry consolidation may cross the lines of what might pass regulatory approval or push what libraries might tolerate in terms of narrowness of technology choices. Relative to possible outcomes, the sale of SirsiDynix to ICV Partners does not seem to bode toward disruption in the industry.  

While ICV Partners remains an unknown quantity in the library technology industry, it opens new opportunities for SirsiDynix to pursue strategies that may go outside the repertoire of its previous owners. Any new investor enters the industry with the benefit of observing the strategies that have previously proven successful in the industry and those that haven’t. It will be interesting to observe how SirsiDynix navigates its course under its new ownership.  

Note: This blog post includes excerpts from the February 2015 issue of Smart Libraries Newsletter, which presents a longer and more detailed account of the acquisition of SirsiDynix by ICV Partners, along with additional background and perspective.  



Reports from CES 2015

Jason Griffey is attending CES 2015. We'll be sharing a few of his videos as he looks at upcoming consumer electronics with an eye to library service. In the first day's press event, among the technology he saw was the Ozobot, a small robot that is programmable using Google's blockly programming editor.

Visit Jason's blog Pattern Recognition for ongoing reports.

Share your cutting edge practice!

OITP, LITA seek nominations for cutting-edge technology practices

Washington, D.C. – The American Library Association (ALA) Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP) and the Library & Information Technology Association (LITA) are soliciting nominations for best library practices using cutting-edge technology.

“Cutting edge” refers to tested and successful implementations of technological advancements used in services such as:

  • Improvements in traditional services and processes by inventing/re-inventing/twisting technology
  • Introduction of new, innovative services that are flexible and responsive to community needs
  • Methods for connecting libraries to their communities
  • Funding initiatives or organizational models that ensure library information technology will remain current
Nominations may be may for work in any of the following sample areas:
  • Application development (apps)
  • Architecture and design
  • Circulation (sorting, remote distribution, materials handling, delivery mechanisms)
  • Collections
  • Community services (to include equity, outreach, programming and assessment of services)
  • Curation
  • E-resources management services
  • Instruction/information literacy
  • Knowledge creation
  • Open source
  • Pathfinders
  • Patron services (to include self-services and privacy protection)
  • Participatory services (e.g., student-created content, community polling, wikis)
  • Professional development
  • Readers’ advisory
  • Reference services
  • Staff management (use of self-scheduling, recruitment and evaluation)
  • Unique missions
  • User interface
  • Web services
  • Other

Nominations should include the following:

  • A description of the project/service
  • An explanation of how the service/procedure is cutting-edge
  • Information about the evolution of the project (identification of need, why it is novel, funding sources/options, challenges, how success was measured, and recommendations)

Applicants may also submit supporting materials in a variety of media, such as Flickr, YouTube, video, audio, blogs, etc.).


  • Must involve the use of technology
  • Must be a novel idea or implementation of a service
  • Must be able to be documented for replication
  • Must be for a library that has been involved in the development of the service or product (can’t just buy something off the shelf) or has enhanced the product for added value

A joint committee of members from the Subcommittee on America’s Libraries for the 21st Century and LITA will review all nominations and may conduct selected interviews or site visits to identify those libraries that are truly offering a best practice or most innovative service.  Libraries or library service areas will be publicized via the OITP and LITA websites, as well as highlighted through ALA publications and programs at the ALA Annual Conference in 2012. 

The nomination form (.docx) is available online and may be emailed or faxed to Larra Clark at or fax 202-628-8419.

Learn more about the program and past winners on the OITP website.


ISTE Conference! Join us in Philadelphia

Connected Learning. Connected World.

Check out ISTE at a glance 


Kindles in the library

Started by Pat Rideout Apr 2.

Brain Hive?

Started by Kelly A. Clark Mar 16.

Rationale for Library Redesign 3 Replies

Started by Elizabeth Ullrich. Last reply by EJ Mar 16.

I'm not a teacher....

Started by EJ Mar 6.

Primary librarian - library program/curriculum from scratch 1 Reply

Started by EJ. Last reply by Christina Jan 29.

How quiet is your library? 2 Replies

Started by EJ. Last reply by Alice Sajdera Jan 29.

Fines in Secondary 7 Replies

Started by Suzanna L. Panter. Last reply by EJ Jan 8.


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Don't miss the new wiki Elementary Library Routines. Share your best ideas and learn from others in your tribe!

Blog Posts

When I Was the Greatest by Jason Reynolds

When I Was the Greatest When I Was the Greatest by Jason Reynolds

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Jason Reynolds has written a diverse book all teens will want… Continue

Posted by BJ Neary on April 22, 2015 at 3:56pm

And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard

And We Stay And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Emily Beam is a confused girl who has lost her boyfriend (killed himself in the school library),… Continue

Posted by BJ Neary on April 18, 2015 at 3:01pm

Noggin by Jon Corey Whaley

Noggin Noggin by John Corey Whaley

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved JCW's first book, Where Things Come Back and Noggin is just as awesome! Even though the premise is… Continue

Posted by BJ Neary on April 13, 2015 at 8:25pm

I Was Here by Gayle Forman

I Was Here I Was Here by Gayle Forman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow, what a gripping read but yet another winner from Gayle Forman!!! Cody was a character perplexed and… Continue

Posted by BJ Neary on April 10, 2015 at 5:15pm

I Was Here by Gale Forman

I Was Here I Was Here by Gayle Forman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow, what a gripping read but yet another winner from Gayle Forman!!! Cody was a character perplexed and… Continue

Posted by BJ Neary on April 10, 2015 at 5:15pm

I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

I'll Give You the Sun I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I listened to this audiobook as part of an April book discussion…


Posted by BJ Neary on April 5, 2015 at 7:47pm


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Traci McKeon posted a discussion

Reading Incentive Programs Survey - respondants needs ASAP

I am a newly hired librarian for next school year and currently in my final class to receive my Library Endorsement.  As part of my library practicum class I am conducting an Action Research Survey about the effectiveness of Reading Incentive Programs.I need professionals such as you to weigh in about your thoughts and attitudes toward these programs.Please follow the link below to a Survey Monkey and take my brief (10 question) survey. …See More
BJ Neary posted a blog post

When I Was the Greatest by Jason Reynolds

When I Was the Greatest by Jason ReynoldsMy rating: 5 of 5 starsJason Reynolds has written a diverse book all teens will want to read. I found this title on #weneeddiversebooks. This book is…See More
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A group for Middle School Librarians - Teachers.
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BJ Neary posted a blog post

And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard

And We Stay by Jenny HubbardMy rating: 4 of 5 starsEmily Beam is a confused girl who has lost her boyfriend (killed himself in the school library), was sent to a boarding school, and must now try to figure out her own…See More
Apr 18
BJ Neary posted a blog post

Noggin by Jon Corey Whaley

Noggin by John Corey WhaleyMy rating: 5 of 5 starsI loved JCW's first book, Where Things Come Back and Noggin is just as awesome! Even though the premise is as Whaley says, "ridiculous" his writing, his characters, and his…See More
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BJ Neary posted a blog post

I Was Here by Gayle Forman

I Was Here by Gayle FormanMy rating: 5 of 5 starsWow, what a gripping read but yet another winner from Gayle Forman!!! Cody was a character perplexed and suffering so much guilt about the death of her best friend (soul mate)…See More
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