Metacognition matters.

This blog post supports my presentations at the Fourth Annual Reading Apprenticeship conference at Renton Technical College, March 9-10, 2018.

Reading Apprenticeship and the Research Paper Assignment – Slides

Reading for Success: How to Integrate RA Routines with Your College Success Course – Slides

Use the Research Reading Log to help students interact with articles and websites they intend to use to support their research papers. The log asks students to record identifying information about their source (perfect for creating a citation!) and keep a metacognitive log as they read. You are welcome to adapt and repurpose this log to suit your needs.

Research Reading Log 2018 [PDF]

Research Reading Log 2018 [docx]


Did you know the ACRL Oregon/Washington joint conference has been held annually since 1981? A little history lesson from University of Puget Sound Science Liaison Librarian Eli Gandour-Rood, ACRL Washington chapter President:

I am happy to share that some digging into our respective chapter archives revealed that the Oregon ACRL chapter, started in 1975, held its first two day conference at Menucha in 1980, followed by the first joint conference in 1981 with the newly-formed Washington chapter (founded in 1980). All records indicate that the two chapters have been holding joint conferences in alternating years ever since; the first meeting at Pack Forest appears to have occurred in 1983.

(Received via e-mail, 25 October 2017)

My favorites from this year’s 37th (!) #acrlpnw at Pack Forest in Eatonville, WA:

Favorite session: “Contemplative Pedagogy: An Ancient Solution to a Modern Problem” with Heather Newcomer (Olympic College) and Nicole Gustavsen (UW Bothell/Cascadia College). Heather and Nicole reminded me about the importance of breathing. Their session illustrated that a 1-minute breathing exercise at the beginning of an instruction session can help students feel centered and focused. I also loved learning about the Contemplative Practices Tree.

Close second: “Built to Last: Integrating OER into Your Library’s Framework” with Candice Watkins and Jennifer Snoek-Brown (Tacoma Community College). Candice and Jennifer highlighted how much labor goes into OER work, and how the Library can be a role model for other faculty on campus for integrating open practices (right down to adding open licenses to the work that librarians create).

Favorite poster: “Revealing and Concealing Information: Arising Tensions in Using Geoinformation Services for Academic Research” with Leah Airt (Seattle Pacific University). I am really excited about Leah’s research which looks at the practical and ethical implications of using Google Street View in lieu of direct observation in research, especially in the study of gentrification, disaster recovery, and urban planning.

Close second: Penelope Wood presented a poster about team-building across Library departments at UW Bothell/Cascadia College through sharing communal lunches. The unique feature of this program was that folks across departments prepared lunch for each other—rather than each person bringing their own brown bag lunch, one person made lunch for two other coworkers and brought enough to share. Feeding one another brought people closer!

Also really great: “Just in Time Assessment: Flexible peer observation during classroom instruction” by Laura Dimmit, Caitlan Maxwell, and Chelsea Nesvig (UW Bothell/Cascadia College).

Favorite mealtime conversation: Sitting across from Amy Hofer at dinner on Thursday night, I asked her how to respond to librarians whose only OER outreach is pushing resources from the Library’s collections. She shrugged. “It’s not OER,” she said. “But it’s still a good thing.”

Favorite format: The fail talks! These were quick, seven-minute lightning talks about failure. Topics included technological failure in information literacy instruction (made meta by slides not loading during the talk), assessment mishaps, student advisory groups disbanding, and the dangers of trying to get student feedback using rolling white boards.

Favorite panel that I moderated:Changing Tides: Exploring Current Trends in Information Literacy Programs” with Lizzie Brown (CWU Ellensberg), Ryan Randall (College of Western Idaho), Dani Rowland (UW Bothell/Cascadia College), and Megan Smithling (Cornish College of the Arts). These four folks graciously agreed to discuss the information literacy programs on their campuses, and their answers highlighted the varying approaches to integrating information literacy in different contexts.

You can find more information about the fabulous sessions at the ACRL WA & OR 2017 Joint Conference Program website.

Disclaimer: As of October 2017, I am the new ACRL Washington chapter Web Manager, replacing Nicholas Schiller. These views reflect my own personal opinions and are not intended to represent the ACRL Washington chapter Board in any capacity. I would also like to clarify that I was not involved in the selection of sessions or the planning of the 2017 conference.

What I want for my birthday.

I am 31 years old today, and here’s what I want for my birthday:

I want a frozen Negroni. Okay, maybe I want a couple of them. I want to drink them with my favorite librarians.

I want to not have to worry about your healthcare, or mine, or the idea that the only people who will survive are the people who can afford to get sick.

I want a flat of chocolate Costco muffins, and I want to eat them by myself.

I want you to read my essay at The Rumpus, but I also want you to listen to Fobazi Ettarh’s keynote about vocational awe. For my birthday, I want a future with fewer white librarians.

I want abortion funding.

I want the Pacific Ocean and I want it to love me back.

I want Ted Berrigan to read his sonnets to me.

I want what I’ve already got–friends and family who adore me exactly as I am, feminine marvelous and tough, wild and loud, breathless and exuberant, freckled and fierce.

If I could ask you for one thing for my birthday, it’s this.

Stop repeating the mantra that defeats you. Stop telling yourself the lie that holds you back. Even if just for one minute today, tell yourself that you are enough, you have enough, and you do enough.

For my birthday, I want you to wear that sleeveless shirt, the one that you’ve been afraid to wear because you’re embarrassed of how your arms look. I want you to sing even if your voice warbles. Write that thing that scares you. Kiss that girl even if you know she can’t love you back. See what it feels like to forgive the person who hurt you. I want you to do whatever you need to do to feel completely free, even if it’s only for a moment.

You don’t need to get me anything else. I would trade a mountain of shiny, wrapped packages to share that feeling of being free. Free of guilt, free of shame, free of the Not-Enoughs. And that’s what I want for you.

Happy birthday to me.

Featured image by Annie Spratt

Tell me it’s more than a t-shirt.

On Friday, January 20th, I was on my way to Atlanta for the American Library Association Midwinter meeting, and I was looking forward to two things: staying with my friend Jessica and filling my suitcase with free books.

Things I was not looking forward to included: crowds, long lines for the bathroom, awkward exhibit hall interactions where vendors try to force stuff into my hands, and dragging aforementioned free books across the convention center.

I did not anticipate that the highlight of ALA Midwinter would be Carla Hayden touching my arm.

I also did not anticipate that I would completely lose all respect for Neil Patrick Harris before leaving Atlanta.


Let’s back up a second.

There’s a reason they call ALA Midwinter a “meeting” instead of a conference. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the deep inner workings of librarianship in America today, the Midwinter meeting is when the professional association for librarians conducts its organizational business. This means that librarians meet with their colleagues from around the country and give updates or make decisions about their agendas for the year. There are a lot of sub-groups within ALA, including Divisions (like the Association of College and Research Libraries), Round Tables (like the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table), and Offices (the Office for Intellectual Freedom is probably the most well-known since it promotes the Banned Books Week observed by libraries around the country every year). This doesn’t include all of the committees and task forces within these groups.  Approximately 5,000 librarians attended Midwinter this year, and most of those folks were there to fulfill their service commitments to the organization.

For me, the most important meeting at Midwinter was the CHOICE Editorial Board meeting. I’ve been a member of the CHOICE Magazine Editorial Board since 2014, but I hadn’t met most of the other Board members in person. We had a great conversation about CHOICE’s initiatives with Open Educational Resources (OER), their successful webinar series, the new ACRL-Choice app, and other exciting developments for 2017.

Before I explain why I won’t be watching “A Series of Unfortunate Events” any time soon, let me mention a few other Midwinter highlights:

Proof of our #critlib meat feast.

So what did Neil Patrick Harris do?

Harris was our closing session speaker at Midwinter. He was there to promote his new book, The Magic Misfits, which should have been a simple task, but he managed to simultaneously disrespect Muslims, the deaf, and trans people all in one joke. Bravo, sir.

Harris’s session was interpreted by two ASL interpreters: a person in a hijab and another person in a suit jacket. Harris decided that it would be funny to flirt with, joke, and harass the interpreters rather than let them focus on their work. For example, he mentioned that Lemony Snicket didn’t like his new book, so he wouldn’t be asking him for a pull quote.

“Wait a second,” Harris said. “Let me see how you sign ‘pull quote’.” He paused and turned to the interpreter in the hijab.

The interpreter repeated the gesture, hooking her fingers and pulling them toward her chest.

“Oh, that’s right,” he said salaciously. I barfed a little in my mouth. Somehow, it got worse.

A few moments later, while Harris was distracted by a question from the audience, the interpreters switched places with one another. The interpreter in the suit jacket was busy signing when Harris noticed the switch and made the joke,

“That’s what was under there? Wow.”

In just a few painful words, Harris managed to:

  • Insult the person dressed in a hijab, stoking Islamophobic fears that there’s something “hidden” under their clothing.
  • Insult both of the interpreters’ gender presentations. Hyuk, hyuk, men don’t look like women, hyuk.
  • Distract the interpreters, yet again, from their important work of serving the people in the audience who needed them to interpret.


The worst part was the laughter.

Everyone laughed.

A room full of librarians thought this joke was funny. My stomach sank. I was disgusted.

It was hard to watch as librarians hustled out of the theater, his die-hard fans in a hurry to get in line for him.

Seeing folks pour to the exits before he was finished, Harris joked, “Why’s everyone leaving?”

“Because you made fun of the interpreters!” I yelled, loud enough for all to hear. Harris  paused. Then he let out a half-chuckle, trying to feign disbelief, and said, “What? No way! I wasn’t making fun of them.” He jerked his thumb toward the interpreter in the suit jacket. “He’s cute!”

Whatever and ever, dude. I walked out. And whatever and ever to all the librarians who laughed at his joke, waited in line, and fawned over him.


Later, at the airport, I overhead a woman in a “Library Folks in Solidarity with…” t-shirt bragging about getting her tote bag signed by Harris, and the moment burned itself into my brain. What is solidarity to you, I wondered? Just a goddamn t-shirt?






Today is my day to remind the world why I am here.

Last Saturday, I mailed 75 holiday cards to destinations ranging from Sheffield, England and Killin, Scotland, to more domestic addresses like Denver, Portland, Seattle, Los Angeles, and New York. For the past three years, I’ve included a photocopied, handwritten “Best of” list with my cards. It’s an assortment of favorite books, music, memories, things I’ve eaten, or places I’ve traveled over the past year. This is what my list looked like this year.


I had some really big milestones in 2016. I achieved the rank of Associate Professor at Pierce College, then I accepted a new position at the University of Colorado Denver, got married, and moved over 1,000 miles (the last three events took place within 30 days). I read some great books, but not as many as I wanted to. I turned 30. I traveled, wrote cards and letters, watched sunrises and sunsets, and took many walks with my dog, Charlie, who has taught me the invaluable lesson that there is something exciting about every single day, even when the days involve seeing the same scenery and eating the same food. He is a living lesson in gratitude.


I know that this time of year is tough; it’s dark, cold, and there are unpleasant reminders everywhere that may make you feel like you’re not happy enough, not cheerful enough, or not grateful enough. This year seems to lack light in a way that is particularly hard to endure. People are exhausted, anxious, and afraid, and rightfully so. I am not here to sugarcoat anything. I will just say, with certainty, that you are loved. You are someone’s light. I know this.

This might also be the time of year when you find yourself tempted to make grand, sweeping resolutions for the New You of 2017, where you make an impossible list of radical changes that will yield an idealized version of yourself, this person who has more money, is more patient, kind, and generous, who weighs less, who eats better, who reads more books, who finishes projects ahead of deadlines, who has glowing skin, who drinks 64 ounces of water every day, who flosses, or whatever.

Just stop it.

I support goals. Boy, do I. I taught goal-setting in College Success for years. What I don’t support—and never will—is the idea that you are not enough. As my friend Jen Pastiloff likes to remind us, you are enough. I will add: You have enough. You do enough.

If you start from that place, if you really allow yourself to believe that you are enough, that you have enough, that you do enough, you will like your goals so much more. And you will be so much happier in working toward those goals. I promise.

A few other tips if you’re setting goals for the New Year…

Don’t set a weight loss goal. Don’t attach your self-worth to a number on a scale.

Do set goals that encourage joyous movement and release from stress. Dance, do yoga, hike, run marathons. If you lose weight and you’re happy about it, that’s great. If you don’t lose weight, that’s okay, too. You are still a worthy person and you deserve happiness and love. (I have to remind myself of this a lot.)

Attach your goals to your values.

What’s important to you? Your career, your family, your hobbies? Probably all of the above. Pick a few areas in your life that you want to focus on this year, create meaningful goals around those areas, and you’ll be more likely to stick to what you want to achieve. Unfortunately, you cannot do ALL the things so you have to pick and choose. Sorry.

Set the bar low.

No, really. Most people make goals that are too ambitious and end up frustrated and disappointed. Set mini-goals. As this article suggests, the key is to take small habits and turn them into the building blocks for your bigger goals. In the article, it mentions that B.J. Fogg does two push-ups every time he goes to the bathroom. That sounds kinda gross to me, but I do like the other suggestions (“Make one choice and then stop choosing!”).

Make your environment conducive to the behavior you want to create.

It sounds really obvious, but it’s true. Your environment dictates your behavior almost more than anything else. If you want to write every day, maybe you should carry your notebook and pen (or laptop, or whatever) with you. If you want to read 50 books, well, you should probably have lots of books around, and maybe a To-Read list. If you want to go to the gym, keep gym clothes in your car. You want to stop eating take out for lunch, pack a lunch the night before. And so on.

I’m still working on my goals for 2017, but I know that I want to read (more books than I did this year), travel (yes, to Scotland, to see my mum-in-law, sister- and brother-in-law, and our niece and nephew), write (a lot!), and do yoga (mmm, hot yoga).

When I was in Ojai in September for a writing and yoga retreat, Jen asked us to write our own personal prayer. A meditation you can use every morning, in that minute before you open your phone, or pick up your baby, or turn on the coffee pot. One prayer for one moment. I’ve been thinking about that, about a prayer for 2017, and it feels so big that it’s almost impossible. This is the best I’ve come up with:

Today is my day to remind the world why I am here: to love, to teach, to fight, to be fierce and gentle and kind. I vow to listen, to use my voice, and to serve others. And so it is.

Maybe you don’t need resolutions for next year, and maybe you don’t make goals. That’s okay. (You are enough.) But I think we could all use a moment, a breath, a pause. So what’s your prayer for 2017?




But I know that there will be libraries.

Dear librarians,

I love you. I wanted you to know that right away because today is a day when people should be reminded that they are loved. You are loved. I’ve sent a dozen texts this morning to friends and family that just say, “I love you.” But you, librarians, you–I love you for a lot of reasons.

I’ve loved librarians for a long time. I love you like Matilda loves Mrs. Phelps. When young Matilda wanted to read long, complicated novels, Mrs. Phelps said, “And don’t worry about the bits you can’t understand. Sit back and allow the words to wash around you, like music.” I’ve loved you since I took home a Babysitters Club paperback from my local library when I was nine years old, just before we moved to California, and the book moved with me, and then we moved back to Portland, and I still had the book, and I was nearly in tears of thinking how awful my library fines would be, and you said, “It’s a bring-em-back-paperback. No fines!” I was so relieved. I’ve loved you since I was an awkward queer teenage witch, checking out stacks of books by Starhawk and Scott Cunningham and collections of gay erotica–and you let me have it all, never judging, never questioning. I’ve loved you since I was a volunteer at my local public library, since I was an assistant in my college’s library, and I loved when I was in grad school, working full-time in HR while earning my MLS, and I love you now.

We have the most incredible job in the world, but you already knew that. We are helpers. We help people make sense of the world, especially during confusing times. And no matter what has happened, through the long, wild history of the world, we have endured. There have always been libraries, even when wars have toppled our buildings or fascists have burned our books. We remain. We rebuild the buildings, we put back the books, and we fight for tomorrow.

For a long time, librarians stored and organized information, and people came to us to access it. This is still true in many ways, but people now have more access to information than ever before without us, and we have to help them sift, dig, sort, evaluate, and question it. We have to help them read. We have to help them think. These skills matter. Our work matters.

All across America today, librarians got up and went to work. Right now, librarians are helping students write research papers. They are helping unemployed people write resumes. They’re teaching someone who used to be incarcerated how to use a computer, and they’re leading story times full of songs and books for young children.

Librarians, I love you because of what we believe in. We believe in freedom of information, we value democracy, and we know that this country is a special place to be a librarian. We fight censorship and we protect our patrons’ right to privacy, even when doing so is unpopular. We are fiercely loyal to the people we serve, and we keep our doors open when the world seems to be ending around us.

Today, many people feel like the world has ended. The world they thought they knew has faded away, and a new world is here. People are afraid of what tomorrow, next year, the next four years will bring. They may lose their jobs, their healthcare, their right to marry the person they love. We don’t know. But I know that there will be libraries. There will be librarians to help people make sense of senseless things. And when I think of that, I am less afraid.

Yours always,



Featured image is a bookplate from Zaluski Library, which was burned down in World War II during the destruction of Warsaw.