My Site Has Moved

5 12 2015

My website moved

Please join me on my new website:

Pam Harland Learning Commons Librarian

Why a Library is the Right Place for a Makerspace

26 04 2015

The library is the place where people and ideas come together. It’s also traditionally the place where people turn data into original content through reading, writing, analysis, and experimentation. A makerspace is a lot like the library. People turn raw materials into original creations through collaboration, innovation, and experimentation.

I’ve been slowly adding to our makerspace in my high school library. We have a Makerbot 3D Printer, a Makey-Makey, a Raspberry Pi, an old robotics kit, legos, and spare computer parts. Last week I added a Little Bits kit and students love it. I like to see students trying new things, solving problems, and essentially driving an idea from conception to execution. I watched a student say he wanted to create a strobe light with the Little Bits kit. He hooked everything thing up and said “what is going on? it didn’t work!” I did not advise, I simply observed while he unplugged and changed the order of the bits and realized his mistake. He shouted “It worked!” and we saw his face light up with the flashing strobe light.

Makerspaces belong in our libraries because they drive a way of thinking. They help students learn autonomous problem solving, inquisitive processing, and other real world skills they will be called upon to use when they move on from school. Giving students a place to exercise deductive reasoning and build confidence through practice is part of the value that a good library provides.


Top 5 Things I Saw at #ALAMW15

9 02 2015

ALA Midwinter 2015 Share-Outalamw15 banner

Top 5 Things I Saw at #ALAMW15

5. Watching hundreds of librarians freaking out over book awards: What a sight to be seen! If you get the chance, go to the ALA Youth Media Awards.


4. Chicago is fun: amazing architecture, friendly people, and beautiful art.


3. But when it snows… it snows!! We had over a foot of cold blowing snow!


2. Meeting up with librarians from all over the country is one of the best parts of ALA! Sabrina Carnesi, Pam Renfrow, Marlene Woo-Lun, Dorcas Hand, Hilda Weisburg, and so many others!

The librarians from Region 1 are smart, funny, and filled with great ideas! It was great to spend time with Susan Ballard, Jessica Gilcreast, Amy Short, Kathy Lowe, Judi Paradis, and Anita Cellucci.

1. School Librarians Transform Learning! At the AASL Affiliates Assembly planning session, we were given buttons that said “Ask Me How School Librarians Transform Learning” and business cards with several elevator speech ideas. We will be handing out copies of the business cards at the NHSLMA Conference in May!


Click to access AASL_Infographic_FINAL.pdf

Just-in-Time Research Skills

25 11 2014
collaborationI find the best method for teaching research skills to students is via collaboration with your faculty.
I believe students learn best when given “just-in-time” research skills instruction, not “just-in-case” instruction.
For instance:
  • Teach them to use your health database when they come in for health research.
  • Teach them to evaluate websites as a formative assignment with your World Cultures teachers.
  • Show them how to cite as they write as soon as they begin collecting resources by showing them how to use the EasyBib add-on in Google Docs.
I use a short “Content Area Research Rubric” that I share with my content area faculty (not the English teachers, but everyone else uses it). I also have a Research LibGuide set up that everyone uses: (my rubrics are there, too.) I try to make sure that all parts of the research process are covered by a variety of classes and that students hear a consistent message coming from across the disciplines.collaboration
I occasionally remind all of our faculty (through staff meeting presentations, PLC collaboration, or one-on-one discussions) about the Common Core Anchor Standards that address Research literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects:
Research to Build and Present Knowledge:
Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question) or solve a problem; narrow or broaden the inquiry when appropriate; synthesize multiple sources on the subject, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.
Gather relevant information from multiple authoritative print and digital sources, using advanced searches effectively; assess the usefulness of each source in answering the research question; integrate information into the text selectively to maintain the flow of ideas, avoiding plagiarism and following a standard format for citation.
Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

MassCUE: Library Space Revival

23 10 2014



  • LibGuides:
  • 123D Design:
  • Explain Everything:
  • Online Newsstand:
  • Library Reports:
  • Putting Dewey on a Diet:


MassCUE: Are Your Students Research Ready?

21 10 2014


masscueWednesday October 22, 2014 11:30am – 12:25pm

Gillette Stadium Red Level 10 East Side

Research Ready links:

Google Scholar Links:


LibGuide with more Information, documents, and templates

Analyzing Evidence:


Are Your Students Research Ready?

8 09 2014

Our students need to be ready to find, evaluate, manage, and use information in a whole new way. The avalanche of information and misinformation in a simple Google search on any given topic is overwhelming to all researchers. According to SINTEF, 90% of the world’s data (good or bad) has been generated in the last two years and this mind-blowing growth shows no sign of slowing.

research studentsWhether your students are preparing for college, a career in a skilled trade field, or to advance into middle school or high school, it is imperative that they learn the critical thinking skills embedded in independent research. We call today’s students digital natives – indicating that they have grown up surrounded by connected devices and never known the world without the boundless resources available on the Internet. However, these digital natives are not necessarily self-assured and capable researchers. They often make unreliable assumptions about sources, rarely go beyond the first page of Google results, and tend to develop their own inexact self-taught methods for evaluating websites (Project Information Literacy). It is our job to teach accurate methods for research and to help them understand these skills are transferable across curricula and into their real lives outside of school.

At Sanborn Regional High School in Kingston NH, we have created a school-wide research rubric that we use in all content areas for a variety of research. We consistently use the same criteria for explaining and scoring research skills from lab researchlibguidereports to literary criticism. As the librarian at the high school, I work with all of the faculty on integrating research skills into courses. I created two research guides for our students to use: Research @ Sanborn ( for all students to use and Research Made Easy ( specifically for Special Education students. Each guide is filled with videos, templates, links, and instructions to simplify the research process for our students.

I believe through repetition, consistency, and practice our students will become more familiar with high level research skills that they can use beyond our classrooms and throughout their lives.

Works Cited

“Project Information Literacy.” : A Large-Scale Study About Early Adults and Their Research Habits. University of Washington, 1 Apr 2011. Web. 07 Sept. 2014. <;.

SINTEF. “Big Data, for Better or Worse: 90% of World’s Data Generated Over Last Two Years.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 May 2013. Web. 07 Sept. 2014. <>.

I will be speaking at MassCUE on October 22 and 23, 2014 about integrating research across the curriculum.

Yikes! I’m running for AASL District 1 Director

31 08 2014

I am running for AASL District 1 Director and we were asked to write a Statement of Professional Concerns. It was a nice practice in slowing down and thinking about my real goals as a librarian, educator, and member of this professional community. This is what I came up with:

One of my real goals is to help school librarians flourish and become essential contributors to our education system. Librarians have an unprecedented opportunity to be leaders through curation of resources, collaboration with teachers and administrators, and integration of research skills across the curriculum.
It is obvious that the needs of our student populations have changed over the last decade. I believe it is vital that we empower today’s librarians to have the tools, resources, and most importantly, the MINDSET to effectively serve our student and faculty stakeholders.
If elected, I will work hard to ensure that we are all equipped to contribute effectively to the needs of our users even as those needs change.

Let me know what you think and if you have ideas that you would like to share with our professional librarian community.

Killer Library Reports

8 07 2014

Nobody wants to read boring statistics about your library at the end of the year. Find a way to show your stakeholders what you’ve really accomplished with a colorful, data-driven library report.

I’ve recently changed my library report to an infographic. I think it’s important to use graphics, color, and even pictures of happy students using your library space and resources. I try to do reports monthly, but they usually come out quarterly.



I asked several colleagues to share their reports with me.

Jessica Gilcreast shares her beautiful Infographic-style library report here:

Rachel Hopkins uses LibGuides to make her report creative and easy to browse:

The brilliant Sue Kowalski (@spkowalski) also used LibGuides for her Library Report. I especially like the headings for each section like: “Culture of Thinking and Learning” and “Enjoyment and Engagement.” I’m definitely going to take some of those headings and incorporate them into my future reports.


I got a tweet this week from Mary Morgan Ryan (@mmorganryan). She made her library report using a tool called smore. Check out her beautiful report:

How do you share statistics and information about your library with your stakeholders?

Reflections on Library Service

17 03 2014

Being kicked out of the library was not my first time being treated poorly by someone from my local public library. Over the past week many people have shared their stories from the same library.

This is a pretty ordinary list for a non-customer service oriented library:

look it up

  • Circulation desk clerks exhaling with annoyance over overdue books and requests for assistance
  • Asked “did you look it up?” by staff members when requesting assistance while looking for a book
  • Not allowing people to check out books on the shelving cart
  • Parents asked to bring their children to the Children’s Room when they simply need to grab a book from the adult shelves for their own reading
  • Foster parents unable to secure cards for their Foster children
  • Teachers from the public schools are not allowed to get library cards because they might try to “check out all of the books”
  • Requested materials not purchased because the library staff thought nobody else would be interested in “insert interesting topic here”
  • Endless stories of shushing & hushing.

Libraries that conduct business this way are the reason all libraries are fighting for relevance.

Because this happened to me I’m picking on Exeter Public Library, but this is happening all over the country in public libraries, school libraries, and academic libraries. I’m tired of non-librarian people saying to me “I can’t believe YOU’RE a librarian,” “why do you call yourself a LIBRARIAN? you should tell people you are a media specialist/tech integrator/teacher,” and people introducing me as “well, she’s MORE than a librarian.” I’m not more than a librarian, you just have low expectations for what a librarian is. I do believe it’s libraries like EPL that set the bar for my profession and I’m not happy about it.

I sincerely hope that EPL reaches out to the community (not only to their current library users) and forms a library advisory board. I also hope they send the staff to some positive customer service training. Even though they deleted comments on their facebook page with links to this blog and to the NYT article about services changing at the Boston Public Library I have noticed an increase in their online presence. Posts about book clubs, knitting groups, and even a reminder of their free wi-fi have gone up this week. It’s nice to see an attempt to reach out in more positive ways.