What are we reading? Staff recommended reads for April

Here’s what some of Milne’s Staff is reading!

Are you looking for a good book to read?  Hundreds of thousands of books are published each year, so how does one choose?  Milne Library staff  have selected a few choice ones to highlight for the month of April.

If you are a fan of more traditional fantasy fare, Reference & Instruction Librarian Sherry Rhodes recommends the The Abhorsen Trilogy by Garth Nix:

Last summer my teenaged daughter picked up a book called Sabriel from her favorite bookstore. I took a look at the back cover and found the description to be interesting, and decided to read it. I sure am glad I did!

I really enjoy fantasy, but it’s got to be well done. Too much of what is published as fantasy are ill-disguised reworkings of previously published books. Sabriel, and its two sequels, Lirael  and Abhorsen, are set in a completely unique world, with completely unique characters and plots.

sabrielSabriel is finishing school when her father, known as The Abhorsen and a gifted necromancer, goes missing. She journeys home, to the Old Kingdom, where magic is alive and well—and the dead are alive as well. With the help—and hindrance—of a cat who is not just a cat, and a long-imprisoned mage she rescues, Sabriel uses the skills her father has taught her to journey into Death to attempt to rescue him, and in the process battle the forces of evil necromancers determined to escape Death and return to the land of the living.

liraelLirael, on the other hand, has spent her entire life in the Old Kingdom. She is a daughter of the Clayr, women who have the ability to see the future. Fourteen when the book begins, Lirael is painfully aware that she is the only Clayr who has not received the Sight by her age. She also has no family, with the exception of the aunt who runs the Clayr settlement and who has little time for her. Feeling alienated from her surroundings, Lirael seeks isolation in the enormous library and is apprenticed as a Third Assistant Librarian. Over the months she works there, her curiosity enables her to learn how to battle hideous creatures lurking in the library’s depths, as well as how to construct a magical dog who becomes her loyal companion. Events reveal that Lirael’s destiny is not confined to the home of the Clayr, and actually is closely intertwined with the ruling family of the Old Kingdom. The end of the book leaves readers with few answers, setting up the plot for Abhorsen and the convergence of the main characters from the previous books and the resolution of the various plotlines.


I especially enjoyed the character development present in all three novels. Sabriel, Lirael, Sameth, and Nick are all believable teens, growing more mature and confident in themselves as the books progress and they age. The Disreputable Dog and Mogget the Cat exhibit typical characteristics of their respective species, but are far more than just a dog and a cat. Their often humorous and sometimes caustic interchanges reveal more about the Old Kingdom and Charter Magic—and conceal far more. Nick and the other ordinary humans live in a kingdom reminiscent of Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials Trilogy, flavored with a strong strain of Victorian/Edwardian steampunk. And Nix’s descriptions of the various levels of death, its denizens, and the dangers that are encountered there by the living are creepy and nerve-wracking.
If you’re looking for a really original fantasy series with appealing characters, Garth Nix’s The Abhorsen Trilogy is one to read.
Another favorite set of fantasy books is the comic fantasy series of  Thursday Next novels by Jasper Fforde, highly recommended by Electronic Resources & Digital Scholarship Joe Easterly:
fforde booksThe Thursday Next books by Jasper Fforde are wonderful British novels which blend comic fantasy, detective fiction and literary wit. Set in a parallel universe where classic literature is revered above all, and criminal masterminds steal manuscripts and murder literary characters, literary detective Thursday Next is part of a specialized police force charged with protecting Britain’s literary heritage. As this fast-paced, endlessly imaginative series progresses, Thursday moves from one unusual situation to the next, such as running anger management classes for the cast of Wuthering Heights, to standing trial (set in Kafka’s book, of course) for changing the ending of Jane Eyre, and encountering fan-fiction versions of herself and Harry Potter. Start reading the series with the first book — The Eyre Affair. However, the third (The Well of Lost Plots) and the fifth (First Among Sequels) books are particularly good as well.
How about contemporary fiction?  Librarian Kate Pitcher recommends the recent publication of the novel, The Dinner, by Dutch writer Herman Koch and translated into English by Sam Garrett:
The Dinner is a contemporary book, set in present-day Amsterdam, although a specific day and time is never mentioned in the course of the novel’s events. The setting is dinner at an upscale restaurant in the heart of urban Amsterdam. Dinner is also the framework of the novel; chapters are nestled within sections of the book indicating which course is being served (“Aperitif” being the first, followed by “Appetizer” and so on ).
kochOur main characters are two couples, brothers and their wives. Narrated  by one brother, Paul, the other brother is Serge Lohman, an up-and-coming Dutch politician. The reader soon learns of the presumable reason the couples are meeting for their dinner – a horrible crime committed by the two brothers’ children. At the same time, we figure out Paul is an unreliable narrator; as the story moves on, not only do we learn more details of the sons’ horrible crime, but also the reason why Paul has lost his job as a history teacher. The reader is also continually struck by Paul’s anger and bitterness towards his brother, his sister-in-law Babette and their adopted son. As the novel progresses, the dinner itself feels surreal, the couples dancing around the decisions that must be made about their children and the impact it will have, not only on Serge’s career, but on all their lives.
A bestseller in his native Netherlands, The Dinner is an uncomfortable and disturbing story of how far people are willing to go to protect their family. It has surprises, and although the children’s’ crime is unforgivably brutal, it isn’t their crime that is the most horrible, but rather their parents’ reaction and response to it which moves this novel in so tragic a direction.  As The New York Times stated in its book review, the author  “…[he] has created a clever, dark confection, like some elegant dessert fashioned out of entrails. “The Dinner,” absorbing and highly readable, proves in the end strangely shallow, and this may be the most unsettling thing about it..”
Recommended and hard to put down, so save the reading for a day when you have a few hours to absorb yourself completely.

Have you read any good books lately? Are you willing to share a review? Let us know – submit your review to Kate Pitcher at [email protected] for a future post.

Ruby Workshop: Your Right as a User and Creator of Digital Content

Can you be sued for using an image you found online? Is writing fan fiction legal? When you get inspired by something you read online and create something new from it, do you own it? After discussing scenarios, attendees will appreciate the fine line between fair use and copyright infringement, and will recognize the difference between student and professional behavior.

Wednesday, April 3, 2:30 – 3:30 pm | Milne 121

*Required Ruby Workshop

Milne Library Partners with SUNY Geneseo’s L.I.V.E.S. Program

Ellen and Melissa 1 sized for blog
Milne’s L.I.V.E.S. interns, Ellen and Melissa

Perhaps you’ve noticed some regular faces here in Milne Library? We’re talking about  our interns, Ellen and Melissa!

The Fall 2012 semester was the second opportunity for Milne Library to welcome Interns from SUNY Geneseo’s L.I.V.E.S. Program.  The L.I.V.E.S. ProgramSM (Learning Independence, Vocational and Educational Skills) Mission Statement:

To provide an opportunity for students with intellectual and/or other developmental disabilities to learn independence, vocational skills, and functional educational (academic) skills within an inclusive educational community supported by university students, educators, administrators, and community leaders.

Ellen and Melissa are working with Service Desk Students and Staff and the Staff reports they have enjoyed the experience tremendously.  Ellen has been partnering with Coleen Hopkins scanning, organizing and re-shelving while Melissa has been under the direction of Mary Fran Tiede at the Service Desk.  Melissa does check-in/check-out, retrieving Reserve and IDS materials, etc.  Patty Hoffman has also been instrumental in working with both students.  Normally the L.I.V.E.S. Interns spend one semester in a position but we are pleased to have both students return for the Spring 2013 Semester. 

Ellen and Melissa have each written an article in The LIVES Program News and Updates newsletter about their internships at Milne Library.  Take a look at the Fall 2012 issue on the L.I.V.E.S. webpage.


~ written by Colleen Hopkins

Navigating the Common Core

comcoreDoes hearing the phrase “common core” make you want to scream and run away! Does it make you scratch your head in confusion?

If these two simple words conjure up feelings of anxiety, mistrust or bewilderment, rest assured that there are resources available to help you navigate the path to understanding and implementing the Common Core State Standards.

 What are the Common Core Standards?

The Common Core State Standards Initiative is a state-led effort coordinated by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). According to the CCSSO, the purpose of the standards is to “provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them” (2012).

Forty-five states have adopted the new standards (including New York State) in hopes that students in every state will be held to the same level of expectations and that students will be college/career ready at commencement.


One of the many challenges or concerns about the common core is that it focuses on the knowledge and skills students should learn (the whys and whats) but not on the how to teach these skills. Instead of seeing it a challenge though, having the autonomy to teach in a creative and innovative manner can make owning the how a benefit.  There is help for teachers (and future teachers) in creating lessons that support the Common Core and on how to deliver those lessons.

Resources available to help in teaching the Common Core

In response to concerns over the Common Core, a plethora of resources have been created to help ease the transition, including; websites, books, articles, tutorials, & workshops (to name a few). Listed below are just a sampling of what is available.

Books (those owned by Milne Library include a call number)

  • Understanding Common Core State Standards by John Kendall (ISBN-13: 978-1416613312).
  • Pathways to the common core: Accelerating achievement by Lucy Calkins, Mary Ehrenworth, & Christopher Lehman – LB3060.83 .C36 2012
  • The core six: Essential strategies for achieving excellence with the common core by Harvey F. Silver, R. Thomas Dewing, & Matthew J. Perini – LB3060.83 .S576 2012
  • Common core mathematics in a PLC at work. Grades K-2 by Matthew R. Larson – QA13 .C5656 2012
  • Building number sense through the common core by Bradley S. Witzel, Paul J. Riccomini, & Marla L. Herlong – QA141 .W58 2013
  • Close reading of informational texts: Assessment-Driven instruction in grades 3-8 – Electronic resource
  • Common Core curriculum maps in English Language Arts, grades K-5 – curr CC 372.6 C657 2012
  • Common Core Curriculum Maps in English Language Arts: Grades 6-8 – Electronic resource
  • Supporting students in a time of core standards : English Language Arts, grades 9-12 by Sarah Brown Wessling, with Danielle Lillge, & Crystal VanKooten -LB1631 .W358 2011


  • EngageNY.org – Common Core-aligned educational resources, instructional content, performance tasks, and assessment guidelines and materials developed by NYSED.
  • NYSED.gov – New York State P-12 Common Core Learning Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy and Core Curriculum.
  • commoncore.org – The Common Core Curriculum Mapping Project provides educators with high-quality, low-cost curriculum tools based on the Common Core State Standards for ELA.
  • NYSED.gov – Common Core Learning Standards for Mathematics and Core Curriculum.
  •  NCTM.org – Core Math Tools is a suite of interactive software tools and are appropriate for use with any HS mathematics curriculum and compatible with the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics.
  • School Library Journal – Common Core blog, chock-full of wonderful articles and resources to help in lesson planning.



  • Teaching Channel – Contains videos on implementing the Common Core.
  • EngageNY – Common Core Video Series.
  • The Hunt Institute – a series of video vignettes that explain the Standards in far greater depth.
  • NYSED.gov – bringing the Common Core to Life videos.


April 10, 2013, 2:30pm-4:00pm, Newton 209
Why School Librarians can be a teachers best ally: Common Core support from the library (Jim Belair, Kathleen Jaccarino, Ann Fox & Howard Enis)

In this panel presentation school librarians will share their knowledge about the Common Core and the resources and collaboration services they can provide to help teachers understand and implement the standards. Librarians will be represented from an elementary school, middle school, high school and BOCES.  For more information about how School Librarians can help educators with the Common Core Standards, take a look at this article.

To register for the presentation click here.

For questions or concerns about any of these resources, please contact Michelle Costello ([email protected])

CCSSO & NGA Center. (2012). Mission Statement. Retreived from http://www.corestandards.org/

Take a cruise with International Children’s Literature and help celebrate International Children’s Book Day!

Didn’t get a chance to get away this year for Spring Break? It’s not too late to explore a few new destinations!!

ICBDEmbark on a Global Book Cruise and visit exciting international destinations through picture books. Passengers on the cruise will enjoy read-alouds, crafts, games and snacks inspired by outstanding international children’s books.

Hosted by School of Education graduate students, this event is geared towards children in grades K – 2; though it is open to faculty, students and community members of any age.

Inspiration for this event came from The International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) International Children’s Book Day (April 2nd).

The program will take place on Monday, April 1, 2013 from 5:30 – 7:00 PM in Milne Library’s Teacher Education Resource Center (Lower Level).

For more information please email Michelle CostelloCheryl Kreutter or Maria Perpetua Liwanag.



Ruby Workshop: Critical Inquiry in Research

Photo Credit: Flickr User C_Knaus
Photo Credit: Flickr User C_Knaus

Great leaders gather information and critically analyze the facts before making good decisions. Attendees at this workshop will discover helpful tips and strategies that are used in any kind of database to help improve their searches, save time and determine the best quality resources for their research.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013
3:00 – 4:00 pm | Milne 121

*Required Ruby Workshop

Ruby Workshop: Creating e-Portfolios for the Job Market

eportfolioslidergoldAn e-portfolio is a means of showcasing your accomplishments in digital format. It demonstrates your skills and competencies and is a reflection of who you are. Come and learn how to create your own free e-portfolio and add various forms of digital content, such as documents, videos, presentations and photos.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013
2:30 – 3:30 pm | Milne 104

*Required Ruby Workshop