Friday, February 14, 2020

Valentine's Day Science - STEAM Program

Valentine's Day Science, Valentine's Day STEM activities for kids, mini Cupid's bow, conversation heart chemistry, valentine building challenge

What is "Valentine's Day Science"? Well, it's what you put on the calendar when you still have no idea what you want to do for your February program by the deadline, and then you figure it out later! 😂 In this case, it was several activities that were tweaked to tie them in with Valentine's Day, but could easily be adapted to do anytime.

Ages: 5-10
Time: 1 hour
Number: 20 (I ended up with just 15)
Budget:  $40, but can be done for less 

  • 1 bag conversation heart candies
  • 20 bags "Ju-Ju" gummy heart candies (10 would have been enough)
  • cold water
  • hot water
  • vinegar
  • 2 2-L bottles of clear soda
  • 80 test tubes or 4-5 oz plastic Dixie cups or plastic shot glasses
  • 20 8 oz clear plastic cups
  • 10 boxes of flat toothpicks
  • 20 small craft sticks with notches cut at each end
  • 20 rubber bands
  • 40 cotton swabs
  • Something to use as a target 

Activity #1 - Mini Cupid's Bow & Arrows

Prep - I used a box cutter to very carefully cut notches at each end of the craft sticks in advance, and put them in hot water to soak an hour before the program to make them more flexible, them removed and quickly blotted dry before passing out.

1. I gave each participant a craft stick that had already been notched and soaked in hot water to soften, a rubber band, two cotton swabs, and a pair of scissors, then instructed them to make a single cut in the rubber band, and to cut or break off one end of each cotton swab.

2. Next, they were instructed to VERY carefully bend the craft stick slightly. They need to do this slowly and gently, and of course there were some who ignored that instruction and bent them too hard and broke them, so be sure to have extras on hand.

3. After that, they tied the rubber band onto one end of the craft stick, then pulled it tightly and tied to the other end and cut off the excess. Many had trouble tying it off at the second end and getting it tight enough. It needs to be really tight! Then rotate the knots around until the rubber band is at one side of the craft stick, rather than the middle.

4. Let dry.

mini bow and arrow, mini cupid's bow

5. Line your arrow up, pull the arrow back with the bowstring, and try to shoot it through the heart target! (This proved to be more challenging that the catapults we made back in the fall, but one boy did manage to get an arrow through the heart.)

Activity #2 - Conversation Heart Chemistry

1. Each participant was given a set of solutions in small cups: cold water, hot water, vinegar, and clear soda; plus a cup with 10-12 conversation hearts. They were instructed to add one heart to each cup to see which would dissolve the fastest.

conversation heart chemistry

2. As they were doing this, they were encouraged to make predictions, and explain why.

3. While we waited for the hearts to start dissolving, each child was given a larger cup of clear soda and told to add the remaining conversation hearts to it and watch them dance! We observed how they will first drop to the bottom, then float up to the top, then drop down again, and back up. I asked them to explain what they were observing, and most knew it had to do with the carbonation in the soda and the bubbles, but couldn't identify the gas in the bubbles as CO2 .

conversation heart chemistry

4. We made a final observation of our dissolution comparison, and all agreed that the hot water dissolved the most/fastest, then quickly cleaned up to allow plenty of room for our last activity.

Activity #3 - Building Challenge

1. Each participant was given 1 bag of Ju-Ju hearts and 1 box of flat toothpicks [I realized later that was way too many toothpicks, and more candy than most ended up using, so a lot was wasted. I would suggest 1 bag for every two kids, with a couple extra for those who need more, and 1 box of toothpicks for every 3-4 kids is more than enough.] 

These particular candies worked really well as they do not have sugar crystals on the surface to make a big mess and do not get sticky when handling like jelly hearts do. I like using the flat toothpicks because they tend to "grip" better and not allow as much movement as the round toothpicks, plus they are cheaper.

candy heart and toothpick building challenge, Valentine's Building challenge

2. They were shown a few pictures of examples, and reminded that they needed to be sure that they had a stable, strong base before they tried to build up, and encouraged to use their imaginations and build whatever they wanted, and they could work together if they chose.

How It Went
So, what do you do when you get sick and lose your voice on the day of a program? Besides panic? First you type up step-by-step instructions with pictures to pass out, and you gratefully accept when a coworker kindly offers to be your voice!

I'd had a cold that caused me to lose my voice and cough excessively at night so that I'd not had any sleep for several days, so doing this program proved to be quite a challenge, and I was so thankful my coworkers were quick to offer to arrange desk coverage so one of them could be my voice to give instructions. I could talk quietly one-on-one, but not to a whole crowd.

Overall, it went pretty well. The mini-bow and arrow proved to be more difficult for them, and much more challenging to hit a target than the mini catapults we made in November. I was a little disappointed that no one really tried to make a really large, tall structure with the building challenge, most were content to make one or more small structures, and one little boy did something I hadn't thought about, and made letters to spell out his name, which would be a great literacy activity to do.

Candy Heart & toothpick literacy activity, valentine's day literacy activity

Just as I did when we used candy pumpkins for our catapults, I instructed them not to eat any of the candy we were using in our activities, but told them I had candy set aside for eating that they could have at the end if it was okay with their grownup. 

What I Would Do Differently
The main thing I would do differently is buy less candy and toothpicks. Most of the kids only used about half of their candy hearts and a tiny fraction of the toothpicks. One half of a bag each would have been enough for almost everybody. 

And since the mini bow and arrow seemed too challenging and frustrating for many of them, I'd probably skip that, and spend more time on the building challenge, adding some directed building, like can you build a cube, can you build a pyramid, can you make a heart, can you make your name, then letting them free-build. I think I'm still trying to cram too much into each program, and I need to cut back a little and spend more time on each activity.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Youth Media Awards 2020

2020 Youth Media Awards, 2020 YMAs

Time for my annual reflection on the Youth Media Awards! Every year I am surprised by the winners, and find that no matter how much I try to read and pay attention to what people are talking about, I am unfamiliar with many of them. I tried to make predictions one year, but found it was an exercise in futility; it is just too subjective and the committees and I are rarely on the same wavelength. So I am happy if I have at least read some of the winners and honor books, or at least had them on my radar.

I really didn't expect to fare very well this time around, since I took two literature classes in 2019 and spent most of my time reading assigned books and had less time to read new books, but I was pleasantly surprised! I had already read New Kid by Jerry Craft, which won both the Newbery and the Coretta Scott King author awards. That's the second year in a row I had actually already read the Newbery winner. I had also read Morris Winner Field Guide to the North American Teenager by Ben Philippe, American Indian Youth Literature Award middle-grade winner Indian No More by Charlene Willing McManis, and Asian/Pacific American Award YA winner, They Called Us Enemy by George Takei, and remembered seeing several of the picture books that won honors: Fry Bread, Sulwe, My Papi Has a Motorcycle, Bilal Cooks Daal, The Book Hog, and When Aidan Became a Brother. Though I hadn't had a chance to read it yet, Jason Reynolds' Look Both Ways was on my mental "to-read" list.

I had a pretty good feeling that New Kid would would be somewhere in the mix, and I thought Indian No More would likely be honored by the American Indian Youth Literature award, but I was very pleasantly surprised when Field Guide to the North American Teenager was announced as a Morris finalist. I read it when we first got it at the library, and loved Norris' snark and sarcasm, and told my supervisor she had to read it, as she is fluent in sarcasm as well. I was certainly not surprised to see Jason Reynolds win more honors, but I was a bit surprised that out of all the middle-grade LGTBQ+ books I read, none were honored. I really thought Zenobia July might be one of the Stonewall honor books.

But there were still plenty of winners and honor books that I had not read or even heard of, so I was placing holds as fast as the awards were announced, and now my "to read" pile is huge! I've made a small dent in it, but have a ways to go. I try to read all the winners, and as many of the honor books as I can. To be honest, I don't put a lot of stock in the awards, but I know others do and many will appear on summer reading lists, so I want to be familiar with them. 

Personally, I think the awards are too subjective to be meaningful because lots of great books don't even get considered and committees often tend to choose books that adults think kids should read, rather than books that actually appeal to kids. I've seen many an award winner or honor book languish on the shelves, virtually untouched once all the teachers and librarians have finished looking at them following the awards. I care more about books that kids will want to read.

I have found that I generally like the Coretta Scott King, Pura Bel Pre, and Stonewall winners and honor books more than the Caldecott or Newbery. Also, I have found that winning multiple honors is more of a true indication that a book is one of the best books published that year, and those get my attention first. Then I look at the Caldecott winner and honor books, the Newbery winner, and the Printz winner. From there, I read as many of the other medal winners as I can, then go back and read the Newbery, Printz, CSK, and Morris honors, then as many of the remaining honor books as I can. It usually takes me about 3-6 months to get thru it all!  

So here are the ones that stand out because of winning multiple honors, and what I think of them:

The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander & Kadir Nelson

Caldecott medal winner
Coretta Scott King Illustrator medal winner
Newbery honor book

With such an amazingly talented creative team as this, how could this book not win multiple honors recognizing both the illustration and the written words? This is such a moving book, showing the triumphs, struggles, and achievements of African Americans throughout history with Kadir Nelson's amazing photo-realistic illustrations and Kwame Alexander's poetry. The blank page depicting those that did not survive is very impactful, and I love all the endnotes that identify the people depicted and tell a little more about the events surrounding them. I can definitely see why it was selected for all the honors it received without question.

New Kid by Jerry Craft

Newbery medal winner
Coretta Scott King Author medal winner

I read this book right after it came out and loved it! It's about an African-American boy trying to fit in at a new school full of mostly privileged kids, make friends, and dealing with racism and classism. A really good book, and significant because it is the first graphic novel to win the Newbery award, and one of few books by POC to win.

Genesis Begins Again by Alicia D. Williams

Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent medal winner
Newbery honor
Morris Debut YA Author honor

Very impressive honors for a debut author! This book was so good, but also so heartbreaking as we watch Genesis deal with having to move constantly, always on the verge of homelessness because of her father's alcoholism and gambling, plus her own self-loathing because of her dark skin and nappy hair (her words), which drives her to risk self-mutilation in her desperate attempts to lighten her skin and straighten her hair to look more like her mother, who has lighter skin and "good" hair so that her father and everyone else will think she's pretty. This is a book that should be discussed, to be sure young readers don't internalize Genesis' insecurities and self-hatred, but instead see the bigger lesson in embracing your own unique beauty as well as that of others.

Ordinary Hazards  by Nikki Grimes

Printz honor book
Sibert honor book

This memoir told in free verse is a fairly quick, but difficult read. Grimes reflects on her difficult childhood, as much of it as she can remember, growing up with a mother who was an alcoholic, schizophrenic, and emotionally distant. She describes being separated from her sister and living in foster care, suffering sexual abuse at the hands of her mother's second husband, and losing her beloved father. She explains how she has gaping holes in her memory, which is typical of those suffering trauma. This one is even more moving and heartbreaking than Genesis because it really happened.

Frankly in Love by David Yoon

Morris honor book
Asian/Pacific American honor book

Frank Li has a problem. His best friend is black, his girlfriend is white, and his Korean parents are racist, but don't think that they are. They have already disowned his older sister for marrying a black man, so what is Frank to do? Pretend to date the nice Korean girl his parents have picked out for him, who is also hiding her non-Korean boyfriend from her parents. This book was an enjoyable read, and delves into multiple levels of racism and classism. I did find it very predictable, but that didn't prevent me from enjoying the story.

The Beast Player by Nahoko Uehashi

Printz honor book
Batchelder honor book

I found this to be a fairly typical YA epic fantasy, with a human protagonist that bonds with a magical flying beast, caught amid political intrigue and threats of war. Though I didn't find the story to be particularly original or creative, it was a well-written and enjoyable story, and a thought-provoking commentary on man's relationship with animals and nature, and the consequences of interference.

One thing that really stood out to me was the diversity in this year's awards. Looking back over my list of books that won multiple honors, I realized they were all written and illustrated by authors of color writing their own voices, which I am so happy to see! 

So how did you fare this year? Had you read many of the books honored? Did any of your favorites win? What surprised or disappointed you the most?

Need more info about the YMA's? 

Well, I'd better get to work whittling down this to-read pile! I've got a long way to go...

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Kindness - Family Storytime

Kindness Storytime

I had a little trouble deciding on themes for this month. I've already done several versions of Valentine's Day, Love, and Hugs & Kisses themes in the past and didn't really want to do that again, especially since my storytimes this month fell at the very beginning and end of the month rather than close to Valentine's Day. I had several new themes partially planned, and was trying to decide which of them to use, when Todd Parr's latest book came in and inspired me to do a "Kindness" theme.

I started with a simple "Hello" song as I passed out programs and greeted people, and briefly went over storytime expectations; then we warmed up with "Hello, Everybody" for a little gentle movement. I introduced the topic of Kindness, which is a kind of an abstract idea, especially for young kids. I said it can sometimes be hard to explain what it is, but our first book would give us lots of examples of ways to show kindness. Then we settled down and led in with "If You're Ready For a Story".

Kindness Storytime
I love Todd Parr's books for young kids, with their bright, simple illustrations and straightforward presentations that always reflect kindness, tolerance and inclusiveness, so I was excited when we got his latest book, The Kindness Book. 

This book gives several examples of being kind to other people, the earth, and animals, and reminds kids they need to be kind to themselves, too (which came in handy later), and is illustrated in his signature style.

Then we sang a familiar song with some new verses I made up to go with the theme:

The More We Get Together

The more we get together, together, together;
The more we get together, the happier we'll be.
Because your friends are my friends, and my friends are your friends,
The more we get together, the happier we'll be.

The more we help each other, each other, each other;
The more we help each other, the happier we'll be.
Because helping is kindness, and kindness is helping,
The more we help each other, the happier we'll be.

The more we share together, together, together;
The more we share together, the happier we'll be.
Because sharing is caring, and caring is sharing;
The more we share together, the happier we'll be.

The more we show kindness, show kindness, show kindness;
The more we show kindness, the happier we'll be.
Because kindness is sharing, and helping, and caring;
The more we show kindness, the happier we'll be.

Kindness StorytimeFor our second book I chose one that actually has a story and illustrates acts of kindness without being too heavy-handed or even using the word "kindness", plus it fits the winter season. In The Most Perfect Snowman by Chris Britt we meet Drift, a snowman who is teased for not having all the accessories the others have and is lonely, and sad, until three children come by and generously give him a hat, mittens, a scarf, and best of all, a big carrot nose! Now he is perfect. But when he comes upon a cold, hungry bunny, he shows incredible kindness and compassion.

Since both books were a bit on the long side, I decided it was best not to read another, but to finish with an old traditional song before moving to the craft.


Skinnamarink a dinka dink
Skinnamarink a doo,
I love you!

Skinnamarink a dink a dink
Skinnamarink a doo,
I love you!

I love you in the morning,
And in the afternoon
I love you in the evening,
Underneath the moon…

Skinnamarink a dink a dink
Skinnamarink a doo,
I love you!


Kindness Storytime, Kindness Craft
While looking for other books to use, I came across the classic by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace, The Kindness Quilt. It was too long to actually read in storytime with the younger crowd we usually get, but I thought it would be a great inspiration for a piece of collaborative art.

I printed out a bunch of squares that at least somewhat resembled quilt squares, most with a large open space in the middle. While I didn't read the book, I quickly went through what it was about, and showed how this class drew pictures of acts of kindness and put them together like a quilt on the bulletin board, and that this is what we were going to do.

I put out the squares and some crayons on tables, and told them if they wanted a copy of their art to take home, I would be happy to make a photocopy. After they were all done, I mounted them each on different colors of construction paper and then hung up together like a quilt.

Kindness Storytime, Kindness craft, kindness quilt

How It Went

I had a pretty good crowd for a weekend, and it went pretty well. Though they stayed engaged with the Todd Parr book, I think they enjoyed The Most Perfect Snowman the most because it had an actual story. They participated very well with the songs, but as always, I lost several when it came to the after storytime activity. 

On the weekends people always seem to be in a rush, and don't want a full storytime, and have little interest in any structured activities after. The kids also didn't really quite understand that they were supposed to draw something related to showing kindness, and I ended up with mostly random drawings and scribbles, but that's okay. I realized I had gotten carried away with the idea of doing collaborative art (I really do love the idea of collaborative pieces for public places) and this activity was really more suited for school age. It still made a nice piece to display, though, and a few of the kids were really proud about their art being part of it.

On little girl was a major perfectionist and started to get upset when she marked with a different color than she intended, saying she had "ruined it". As a perfectionist myself, I could see she was about to have a meltdown, and I stepped in and reminded her that she also needed to be kind to herself, and that actually helped! Her mother was able to talk her down from there. She was so cute, after she was finished and her mother helped her write her name on her picture, she wanted her baby sister's name on it, and my ("the librarian's") name on it as well.

Friday, January 24, 2020

The Truth About Library School, Part 3 - What Needs to Change

The Truth About Library School, How LIS Needs to Change, What's wrong with library school

In Part 1 of this series, I summarized my experience with library school and gave some things to consider when thinking about library school and selecting a program, and in Part 2 I gave some tips for surviving and getting the most out of library school. In this third and final installment I would like to talk about some of the things that I think need to change.

Some of these things may be specific to online programs or my program, or may apply to higher ed in general, but all are based on my experiences as an MLIS student and discussions with other students. As always, others may have different views based on their experiences.
  1. DISCUSSION POSTS - Please, can we just drop the charade that discussion posts in any way replace a live classroom discussion or enhance learning and get rid of them? Seriously! They are a complete waste of time and serve no purpose, as indicated by the number of memes floating around about them. And if programs are going to insist on having them, the instructors should at least take part in the discussion as well, and give interesting, controversial topics that will really invite discussion and differing opinions.

    1. FEEDBACK - If I am going to all the time and effort to do quality work on projects and papers, I would like at least a sentence or two of genuine feedback that shows the professor actually read it. I don't want someone to be nit-picky, but I also don't like feeling like I wasted my time trying to do high-quality work when it seems like the professor just gave everybody a 100 without even reading them (in one class, everyone got 100 on everything, even on some assignments they didn't do!). If you take off points, I want to know why, specifically.

    2. RESPONSIVENESS - Many instructors need to do a much better job of maintaining a presence in the class and responding to students' questions in a timely manner, especially as assignment deadlines approach. In most cases, I think it is reasonable to expect an answer within 24 hours, 48 at the most. Going a week or more without checking in and forcing students to turn in assignments without ever getting answers to questions is not acceptable. Grade assignments in a reasonable amount of time. Get the first assignment graded as soon as possible so students know your expectations. Getting grades back within a week is ideal, within two weeks is understandable, but beyond that is unacceptable.

    3. PROFESSIONALISM - Instructors and programs need to be held to a higher standard of pedagogical professionalism. Ghosting on classes, not responding to or giving snarky responses to students' questions, being extremely disorganized, inconsistent and contradictory instructions and due dates, making major changes in assignments after they've been given, not updating course content, taking weeks to grade assignments, and telling students they should be happy with whatever they get because they pay lower tuition than at other schools are all examples of unprofessional behavior I have experienced. Part of the argument for requiring an MLIS is to learn professionalism and ethics, so then shouldn't the faculty be modeling professionalism in everything they do? (This is not to imply all faculty are unprofessional by any means, but I had too many that were).

    4. TENURE - The ONLY thing I learned in my nightmare of a cataloging class is why tenure should be abolished. The instructor was a total disaster, and was MIA for 80-90% of the course, forgetting to upload material for weeks, then dumping it all on us at once, when it was too late to be helpful for the assignments, not answering questions, taking weeks to grade things, sometimes not at all. According to students in a prior term, they ended up just giving everyone an A for the class because he never turned in final grades. And this behavior had gone on for years, but when students complained, the chair would just throw her hands up and said there was nothing she could do because he had tenure. Tenure protects the lazy, incompetent, and unprofessional.

    5. OVERSIGHT & ACCOUNTABILITY - There needs to be much more oversight and accountability for faculty, especially in online programs. The online environment seems to encourage complacency and downright unethical and unprofessional behavior in some instructors. Department heads and administrators need to pay more attention to what is going on, take student complaints and reviews seriously, and hold faculty accountable for their actions. Don't make excuses for them, don't imply students don't have the right to expect professional behavior because they pay lower tuition, don't just throw your hands up and say there's nothing you can do. There is always something you can do, even if it comes down to stepping in and taking over, or at least facilitating, the class yourself. Don't leave your students twisting in the wind once you've gotten their money.

    6. PRACTICAL ASSIGNMENTS - Please give assignments that help expand practical skills and knowledge that translate to real-life library work, not busywork. And in order to do that, the faculty needs to be in-touch with modern libraries of all types. If you are going to be teaching students that will be working in public libraries, then you need to have an understanding of what public librarianship is really like. Yes, teach theory as well, but practical assignments are much more engaging and useful in the long run.

    7. PRACTICAL EXPERIENCE - MLS programs need to include more opportunities for practical experiences and do more to facilitate those experiences, especially for those who will be working in public libraries. Research is great, and I admit I enjoyed my research methods class and project, but the reality is that the vast majority of public librarians, particularly children's librarians, do not have the time nor opportunity to do research, even if they would like to. Research methods is very important for academics, but public librarians would be much better served with doing a co-op or practicum. Not everyone already works in a library, and students need to gain practical experience to be competitive on the job market. It should not be possible for a new graduate to start a position as a new children's librarian without ever having any real experience with children, but it is. LIS relies much too heavily on the assumption they come into the field already having that experience, but that's not always true.

    8. PUBLIC LIBRARIANSHIP & YOUTH SERVICES - Faculty need to be more in touch with today's public libraries and do more to prepare future public librarians for the realities of serving the public, especially in youth services. Youth services classes need to be taught by someone with significant experience working in youth services in a public library setting, and they need to stay in touch with modern trends and give assignments that relate to the services and programs children's librarians will be expected to do.

      Reader's advisory is a big part of a children's librarian's job, so instead of making students write boring book summaries and reviews, the time would be better spent having them put together themed bibliographies on different topics, or targeted for specific audiences; give them RA scenarios to come up with book suggestions for. Forget the book trailers and fancy libguides; children's librarians don't have time for such things in real life, and patrons have little interest in them.

      Library programming is another huge part of a children's librarian's job, sometimes it is the whole job, and library programs are NOT like classroom lessons. Keep in touch with what the current trends are in library programs, have students observe and critique several different programs for different ages. There is a lot more than storytime going on in today's public library! The expectations for program design assignments need to be realistic, developmentally appropriate, and appropriate for a library setting. Don't tell students to plan an hour-long program for toddlers! Don't expect a program plan to be like a classroom lesson plan.

      And finally, remember that children's librarians have to be prepared to work with children and are expected to have knowledge of child development and be able to apply it to designing and delivering library programs and services (ALSC, 2015). However, LIS programs often don't do enough to support this competency. A course in child development should be allowed to count as an elective towards an LIS degree for those in who have never had one, and practical experience should be integrated into the youth services curriculum.

    9. STOP FLOODING THE MARKET - There needs to be fewer programs, and they need to stop being so greedy and accepting so many students. Online MLS programs have proliferated since ALA's big push for the "professionalization" of the field, and are churning out way more degreed librarians that the job market can support. The idea of an upcoming "librarian shortage" is a myth that has been tossed around for at least 20 years. People are having to wait longer to retire, and when they do, their positions are often eliminated or replaced with a part-time paraprofessional.

    10. DROP THE MLS REQUIREMENT - An expensive graduate degree should not be required for an entry level position in a low-paying field. Yes, academic librarians may need it, managers and department heads maybe, directors definitely, but for an entry level children's librarian in a public library making $35,000? I would like to see an alternate path to librarianship for public libraries, particularly youth services, perhaps modeled after the teaching field. Some kind of additional coursework, perhaps a 5th year program, that would be at the undergraduate tuition rate and be more practical and job-oriented, and include practical experience. Teachers can get a full-time job with benefits with a bachelor's degree, so that they have a steady income, health insurance, and are putting into retirement first. Then they can work on getting a master's degree. I think this would be a better avenue for public librarianship that would reduce the amount of student loan debt and increase diversity in the field, which is desperately needed. Recognize those performing librarian duties as librarians with appropriate pay, then give a pay bump if they get an MLS, and require the MLS for advancement.
    Well, this last installment was largely cathartic for me, but I hope it is at least somewhat interesting to others, and I'd love to hear your thoughts!

    And in case you missed either of the first two articles in this series:

    Wednesday, January 22, 2020

    The Truth About Library School, Part 2: Survival

    How to Survive Library School, Tips for library school, hack library school

    In Part 1 of this series I described my library school experience and gave some tips about things to do and consider when thinking about going to library school and selecting a program. If you've decided to take the plunge, here are some tips for surviving and getting the most out of the library school experience. Standard disclaimer: this is based on my experience and perspectives; your mileage may vary.
    1. DON'T go into debt for library school. I said it before, but it's worth repeating.

    2. DO manage your expectations, especially if you've always enjoyed and thrived in academic environments and especially if you'll be in an online learning environment for the first time; library school is just different. It is better to be pleasantly surprised than disappointed.

    3. DO take it easy in the beginning. If it's been a while since you've been in school and/or your first time with an online program it can be a big adjustment, so you may just want to take one class the first semester. Also you won't be out as much money if you decide library school isn't for you after all, as several in my admission class did.

    4. DON'T overload yourself. Library school is a distance race, not a sprint; it's all about endurance. Be realistic about yourself and your energy level, ability to handle stress and multiple spinning plates, family obligations, etc. Everyone is different. I only took one class most semesters, and though I managed the two semesters that I took two classes, I couldn't do it every term. Many people took two classes each semester, and I knew of some that took three and did fine. But there were also others who took on too much, burned out, and had to take a semester or two off.

    5. DO get to know other students and build not only a support group, but a network of professional contacts. Yes, that is a challenge in an online environment, but it's possible, and necessary. After suffering in isolation for the first two semesters, I started occasionally messaging a few of people I had done group projects with, then found out about a support group some of the students had formed on Facebook, and it made a world of difference! Being able to discuss different classes, instructors, and assignments was incredibly helpful, and having a safe place to vent with people who understood was such a relief. I don't know if I would have made it without this wonderful group, and many people formed long-standing friendships as a result of the group.

    6. DO be vigilant about organization and time-management. Be sure to read the requirements of upcoming assignments well in advance so you can plan your time, anticipate obstacles, and ask questions in time to get answers. Work ahead when possible. Put all the deadlines on your calendar, whether it's a physical paper planner, wall calendar, online, or in your phone. Whatever works for you. Just don't get behind. Start working from the first week of class! The first half of the semester tends to be slow, so take advantage and work ahead so that you don't find yourself in such a time crunch at the end.

    7. DON'T bother trying to read all of the assigned and supplemental reading. It takes too much time, the articles are often dated and not really that helpful, and it just isn't a good investment of your time. DO learn to skim quickly and pull out a quote or two to cite in the stupid discussion posts, and only read the articles that are really worthwhile or interesting to you.

    8. DO try to get high grades in the beginning of the semester, so you can afford to relax at the end. Often I found I needed as little as 50-60% on the final assignment to get an "A" in the class. And though I still tried to do quality work, it took the pressure off and I didn't have to obsess about every little detail or instruction I wasn't sure I understood correctly. And guess what; I always got A's on them anyway. While there are some exceptions, in general I have found that instructors grade harder at the beginning, but easier over the course of the semester as they get more loaded down and have less time.

    9. DON'T waste money buying new copies of all the textbooks. Few people find them useful or worth keeping around after the class ends. Rent them or buy used whenever possible. Also, don't buy the APA manual or other writing guides unless you later find you really need them. The APA style website & blog and the Purdue OWL site are more useful and faster than using the print manual (the OWL site is good for other styles as well). I've never once opened the other writing handbook I was told to purchase. It's also not a bad idea to verify the textbooks and edition with the instructor before buying; my entire admission class got burned by being told to buy the wrong book for the Foundations class. We were not amused.

    10. DO use your assignments to add to your knowledge and skills, and to network with other librarians and libraries. If you find you struggle with reader's advisory in a certain area, then use an assignment to put together a themed bibliography. If you've never worked with a certain age group, use a programming assignment to plan a program for that age. If you have to interview a librarian, it might be easy and convenient to interview someone you work with, but you'll be better off if you interview someone from a different library, especially in another system. That way you not only make new contacts that may come in handy when job-hunting, you'll get a different perspective. If you anticipate an opening may be coming up in a nearby library, use that library for your community/library analysis or strategic plan assignment, and you'll be better prepared for an eventual interview. Write papers on topics that interest you, and that you can use in an interview. Sometimes you may be in a time crunch and have to do what's convenient and easiest, but when you can, push yourself to go outside your library and comfort zone.

    11. DO get practical experience. As I said in Part 1, it helps to actually be working in a library before you commit to library school, and it makes some of the assignments easier. But it is also very difficult to be competitive on the job market if you just have a degree, but no practical experience. Get a job, volunteer, get an internship, do a semester working in a library for credit (sometimes called a practicum, fieldwork, co-op, or internship). Even if you already work in a library, I would highly recommend getting some practical experience in a different library, preferable doing something different than your regular job. Not only does this broaden your knowledge and skills, it also exposes you to different management styles, philosophies, and types of libraries. And again, it helps you make those valuable contacts. I was not able to do this for various reasons, and it's one thing I really regret. It would've been FAR more useful that the boring, waste of time public libraries class I took.

    12. DON'T feel like you have to lock yourself into a specific track. Take what interests you, fits in with your career goals, and complements the knowledge and skills you already have. For example, though I know I want to be a children's librarian, I did not follow the youth services track exactly because I felt one of the required classes would not be very useful to me, and since most librarians need to wear many hats, I wanted to be a little more well-rounded. So while I took mostly youth services related courses, I also took an adult services course, which I found to be a great complement to the youth services programming class.

    13. DO cut yourself some slack. Sometimes you have to take the easiest path to getting the assignment done, or put forth the minimal effort that will still get an A or B. And sometimes you may have to be happy with a B. Again, it's about endurance and just making it through to get the degree and expanding your skill set and knowledge. I've been told time and time again, nobody cares what grades you got in library school, just that you have the piece of paper. 
    If you have more tips for prospective MLS students, add them in the comments!

    Up next in my third and final article in this series, "The Truth About Library School, Part 3: What Needs to Change".