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New Resources for Choosing What To Read Next!

New Resources for Choosing What To Read Next!

novplus200Just in time for summer, we’ve added two amazing resources for students and families searching for great reads. First, the new edition of our Recommended Pleasure Reading booklet is here! Just click on the Recommended Reading square to your right to view the booklet online.

Second, we’ve added an amazing new database to our collection of electronic resources: NoveList Plus. This fantastic tool is great for finding out more about books you’re interested in and for discovering new books based on what you love. You can find the link to NoveList Plus on the Databases page.

There are so many ways to use this database! You can search for particular titles the way you would search Amazon or GoodReads, but the results will include even more information, like professional book reviews, descriptions of the storytelling style, and “readalikes,” or similar books and authors. You’ll also be able to search for books that share an aspect of the book you already like, such as “intricately plotted” or “strong sense of place.” If you aren’t sure yet what you’d like to read, NoveList Plus can help you with that, too. If you click on Feature Articles, you can read guides to all sorts of genres, from romance to magical realism. And, of course, you can always do a keyword search for anything you’re interested in and then refine your results by audience, year of publication, theme, or genre. There is a lot to learn about and do in NoveList Plus. These video tutorials may help you, but you can also come into the library and ask us for help.

We hope you enjoy these new resources. Here’s to a summer full of books!

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My Favorite Things: The Pirate Tree

My Favorite Things: The Pirate Tree

ThePirateTree_banner1If you’re active in the ACE Center, a member of the diversity club, inspired by your Global Investigator trip, or you regularly join in on the fun with the We Won’t Stop Club, take that passion into your reading! The website The Pirate Tree is a great place to visit to learn all about books with social justice messages and diverse, important themes like economics, poverty, war, and immigration. Managed by a collective of children’s and young adult authors, these writers put their money where their mouths are and consider, analyze, and promote books that may otherwise not be very popular or visible in libraries or bookstores.

The posts run the gamut on both topic and age range. You’ll learn about everything from picturebooks through YA, making this website a great stop for Casti students and their families. Just a taste of some of the books they’ve written about that you can check out from our library:

The Pirate Tree invites guest writers to contribute, so if you’ve read a book that aligns with your interests, consider writing for the Pirate Tree – or for us! We love publishing your voices on the library website. Enjoy!

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My Favorite Things: The Amelia Bloomer Project

My Favorite Things: The Amelia Bloomer Project

HuntressYou may know that when the bicycle came to be popular, women’s clothing reformers advocated for the acceptability of trousers so that girls could enjoy riding without fear of getting their skirts tangled up. Thus “bloomers” came to be, and while she did not invent them herself, the reformer and feminist Amelia Bloomer became associated with the namesake fashion item, which replaced uncomfortable corsets and layer upon layer of skirt and slip with the loose-fitting pants and shorter skirts.

So now you might understand why this woman inspired an organization’s effort to identify and promote literature with a feminist message. The Amelia Bloomer Project honors multiple books each year that they think have a feminist message, and the best thing about it is that they define “feminism” broadly, incorporating many ideologies and perspectives. That means that whether you identify as a feminist or not, as a member of a girls’ school community, you may find these books thought-provoking. Here are some of the criteria they use to judge a book’s feminist content:

Feminist books show women overcoming the obstacles of intersecting forces of race, gender, and class, actively shaping their destinies. They break bonds forced by society as they defy stereotypical expectations and show resilience in the face of societal strictures. In addition, feminist books show women solving problems, gaining personal power, and empowering others. They celebrate girls and women as a vibrant, vital force in the world.

OCSSome of the books nominated by the Amelia Bloomer committee in the past are available in the library, like I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett, One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-García, The Bride’s Farewell by Meg Rosoff, Huntress by Malinda Lo, and Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith. The newest list is announced each January at the American Library Association’s Midwinter Meeting. They showcase their Top 10 in addition to all the nominated titles from the year.

If you are interested in finding books that star great women and girls, fictional and real, and show them for the multifaceted, interesting people that they are, you might want to look at the Amelia Bloomer List. The committees do a great job at choosing diverse titles from every genre, and each nominated title gets a post on their blog where you can learn more about the book. To top it off, the Amelia Bloomer List is something you can share with your whole family, because they highlight books “from birth to 18,” so there really is something for everyone.

So if you want to discover something new, consider the Amelia Bloomer List!

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Your Wikipedia Questions Answered

Wikipedia. We consider it the source of all knowledge, teachers generally consider it to be an ‘unreliable source,’ and everyone acknowledges that it’s a great starting point for any research project. But how much do we really know about Wikipedia’s structure?

The Seventh Graders recently worked with the librarians and members of the seventh grade faculty during Flex Block to talk about Wikipedia, and at the end of the period they still had many unanswered questions.

Q: How was Wikipedia started? How does it make money?

A: Officially, Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger started Wikipedia on January 15, 2001.

The idea came up much earlier, however. Several people attempted to use the web to publish free encyclopedias, but the projects never really took off. Jimmy Wales and several collaborators had the idea that they could publish an online encyclopedia written by highly-qualified volunteers with a complex peer review process. It was called Nupedia. They hired a full-time editor-in-chief, Larry Sanger, to be in charge of the editing process. Unfortunately, the process was so slow that they only completed twelve articles in the first year. Then, they got the idea to use wiki technology to make it really fast and easy for anyone to edit.

Actually, Wikipedia is not a company. It is part of a nonprofit organization called the Wikimedia Foundation. The money to operate the Wikimedia Foundation comes from donations, especially from its users. In a fundraising statement that is showing up at the top of every Wikipedia page right now, they say their average donation is about $15. Wikimedia says that the money they raise goes to buy the technology they need to run the company, and to paying the 175 employees they now have on staff.

To learn more about the history of Wikipedia, check out the “History of Wikipedia” article:

Q: Wikipedia now has 175 full-time employees. What do they do? Are they employees of just Wikipedia or do they work for all the Wikimedia sites? Do they edit the articles? Do the employees get paid? Or are they just volunteers?

A: The Wikimedia Foundation’s employees and contractors work in 7 different departments: The Office of the Executive Director, Engineering and Product Development (subcategories include Platform, Features, Technical Operations, Mobile, Languages, Apps, User Experience, Editor Engagement, Product, and more), Grantmaking and Programs, Fundraising, Legal and Community Advocacy, Finance and Administration, and Human Resources. As full-time employees and contractors, they do get paid. They do not edit the articles. Most of them are employed in the Engineering and Product Design department, which generally ensures that the sites run smoothly.

(Learn more:

Wikipedia does have an actual office for its employees (see the contact information below).

The education needed to work at Wikipedia varies by the type of job, but there are some jobs that only look for a Bachelor’s degree (four years of college), while others might prefer a Ph.D. or law degree. Some jobs want degrees in computer science, but others may want linguistics or business degrees, while yet other positions are not looking for any particular background. In all cases, Wikipedia wants individuals with a lot of hands-on experience with similar work.

Q: Are Wikipedia editors ever paid?

A: No. Paid editing (writing or editing on Wikipedia in return for money) was proposed to Wikipedia, but ultimately failed, as it presented a moral issue in the form of “conflict of interest”– because paid editing includes inserting or deleting content to the advantage of the editor’s employer or client.

(Learn more:

Q: Why are so few women editing Wikipedia?

A: You might be interested to know that the Executive Director of the Wikimedia Foundation is, actually, a woman named Sue Gardner. On her blog, she posted a list of nine reasons why women don’t edit Wikipedia, in their own words.

Some main reasons cited are that the interface is not very user-friendly, that they are too busy, a lack of self-confidence, the feeling that the Wikipedia-verse is filled with conflict and sometimes is overtly misogynistic, and there’s also quite a bit of online sexual harrassment.

You can find the full article here: (

Q: What is Wikipedia doing to balance the gender imbalance of the editors?

A: Also from Sue Gardner’s blog– some main things Wikipedia is doing to actively encourage women to edit are: deliberately focusing recruiting efforts on women (and encouraging the current female editors to recruit other women), staging and supporting women-only activities, working to create and protect a female-friendly environment (that is, getting rid of some of the sexism that already surrounds Wikipedia), and emphasizing the social impact that editing Wikipedia can have.

Again, you can find the full article here: (

Q: How do wikipedia editors find topics that are not covered and ask for them to be put onto the site?

A: First: search for the topic and any related topics. If there’s absolutely nothing there, then you can create a new article. Note that only registered users (no anonymous editors) can create new articles.

Wikipedia advises against creating articles about yourself/your friends and family/ your teachers/ etc., “non-notable topics,” advertising, anything with an opinion, or any very short articles. (Wikipedia has a List of Bad Article Ideas.)

The entire process is explained here:

Q: How is Wikipedia making itself a more reliable source? Does Wikipedia check the edits that we make (for accuracy and appropriateness)? How does something get fixed if a user contributes something inaccurate or irrelevant? Do other users fix it? Is it not fixed at all?

A: Wikipedia places a ton of trust in its editing community, as it doesn’t require a name, login, or even an email address to edit. Surprisingly, as it turns out, we as a community have earned their trust pretty well. According to a study done by MIT, “We’ve examined many pages on Wikipedia that treat controversial topics, and have discovered that most have, in fact, been vandalized at some point in their history. But we’ve also found that vandalism is usually repaired extremely quickly—so quickly that most users will never see its effects…” That is to say, yes, there are some editors wreaking havoc on Wiki pages, but they are overwhelmed by others who correct their damage almost immediately.

(Learn more:

Q: How does Wikipedia deal with disagreements among editors?

A: Disagreement among contributors can take several forms, including:

  • People may have different ideas about a topic. When different theories are well-documented and widely accepted, an article often refers to them all. Editors can find factual ways to introduce conflicting ideas. For example, scientists have a dispute over whether octopuses can learn new skills by observing others. Currently, the article explains that the “idea [that octopuses learn by observing] is disputed by some.” (Read more:
  • Each article has a Talk page associated with it. On that page, editors discuss questions and controversies. Editors are encouraged to work out their conflicts on the Talk page, but anyone can click on the Talk link at the top of an article and see what discussions are taking place.If an editor undoes another editor’s work on the same page three times within 24 hours, that editor will be blocked from writing on Wikipedia. This is to keep people from switching information repeatedly to reflect their own point-of-view.
  • If a highly controversial page is being edited constantly, going back and forth among two or more points-of-view, top editors may “lock” the page–meaning most people will be unable to edit it. If you are interested, you can look at Wikipedia’s list of most frequently edited pages:

Q: How can I learn more about editing Wikipedia?

A: Wikipedia offers a lot of training in how to edit. As the organization works to create high quality information, administrators create more and more guidelines and policies to keep the process working well. If you want to learn more about editing Wikipedia (Simple or “regular”), you can start on the main Help:Editing page.

Q: Where are Wikipedia’s headquarters located?

A: The Wikimedia Foundation is located in San Francisco. They welcome letters, emails, and faxes, and you can find contact information here: http:/

Q: What country has the most Wikipedia editors?

Most editors (20%) live in the US, followed by Germany (12%) and Russia (7%).

Researched and Written by Libby B. (’14) with some updates by Ms. Bergson-Michelson.

Posted in Did You Know?, Student Work, Technology0 Comments

Your Favorite Authors: Now Available in Short Form

Your Favorite Authors: Now Available in Short Form


Can’t get enough Libba Bray, John Green, Neil Gaiman, or other hot authors? Don’t confine your browsing to the fiction stacks! Have you noticed our short stack near the center of the library? All those books, with call numbers starting with SC, are collections of short stories, many of which your favorite writers have contributed to.

short fiction stacks

Here are some highlights you’ll want to take a closer look at:

afterAfter: 19 Stories of Apocalypse and Dystopia edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling

  • The title really says it all, doesn’t it? Among the 19 authors in this collection are Beth Revis (Across the Universe series), Gregory Maguire (Wicked), Jane Yolen (The Devil’s Arithmetic, various fairy tale retellings), and Cecil Castelucci (The Plain Janes).



amiblueAm I Blue? Coming Out from the Silence edited by Marion Dane Bauer

  • This anthology might focus on coming out stories, but the characters are still fully realized teens with more to offer beyond being comfortable with your sexuality. Some of the most recognizable authors in this collection are Jacqueline Woodson (Beneath a Meth Moon), Nancy Garden (Annie On My Mind), Bruce Coville (Juliet Dove, Queen of Love), and Francesca Lia Block (Weetzie Bat).


howbeautifulHow Beautiful the Ordinary edited by Michael Cart

  • These stories are about identity – establishing it, questioning it, coming to terms with it. Lovers of the realistic fiction of John Green will go for this one. Contributors include Julie Anne Peters (Luna), David Levithan (Every Day), and Margo Lanagan (Tender Morsels).



outsiderulesOutside Rules edited by Claire Robson

  • Feel like an outsider? Are you a bit alternative? Hipster? Too cool for school? These stories explore what just that. It would be great for fans of books like The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Starring Sandra Cisneros (The House on Mango Street), Wally Lamb (She’s Come Undone), and twelve more writers.



the-curiosities-maggie-stiefvater-tessa-gratton-brenna-yovanoffThe Curiosities by Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton, and Brenna Yovanoff

  • Three authors take on 30 stories in this paranormal collection, featuring vampires, trolls, soulmates, and more.




facerelationsFace Relations edited by Marilyn Singer

  • 11 YA and middle grade authors explore what it means to be in the minority. Where do you belong? Whom do you sit with in the cafeteria? Whom should you fall in love with? Rita Williams-Garcia (One Crazy Summer), Joseph Bruchac (Code Talker), and Naomi Shihab Nye (Habibi) contribute to this anthology.



upallnightUp All Night edited by Peter Abrahams

  • This book collects six stories that start at sunset and go on all night long. You know you’re in for a ride when you’re reading something from Libba Bray (Beauty Queens), Patricia McCormick (Sold), or Gene Luen Yang (American Born Chinese).



zombiesZombies vs. Unicorns edited by Holly Black (Black Cat) and Justine Larbalestier (Liar)

  • Aren’t you all ready to choose a side and pick up this book? This book is packed with bestselling and award winning authors. 12 stories attempt to sway you to one side or another, straight from Meg Cabot (The Princess Diaries), Scott Westerfeld (Uglies), Maureen Johnson (The Name of the Star), Alaya Dawn Johnson (The Summer Prince), and more.



The Year We Missed My Birthday edited by Lois Metzger and Norma Fox Mazer

  • Angst and humor abound in this book, featuring contributions from Lois Lowry (The Giver) and Lisa Yee (Millicent Min, Girl Genius).




whodoneitWho Done It? An Investigation of Murder Most Foul edited by Jon Scieszka

    • 80 authors of books for children and young adults step up to defend their innocence in this romp. Each one has only a few pages to declare that they did not murder cantankerous editor Herman Mildew. Decide for yourself if John Green (The Fault in Our Stars), Lemony Snicket (A Series of Unfortunate Events), Dave Eggers (Zeitoun), or Gayle Forman (Just One Day) are guilty or innocent.



That’s just the tip of the iceberg. The short fiction section of the library also houses collections of stories all by one writer, and they’re just as good as these! Look for standout authors like Sherman Alexie, Roald Dahl, Junot Díaz, Barbara Kingsolver, and Ursula K. Le Guin. And remember, you can always come up to the desk and ask one of your librarians for personalized recommendations!

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Banned Books Week 2013


The American Library Association’s Banned Books Week, September 22-28, is a week that celebrates our freedom to read by focusing attention on efforts to “remove or restrict access to books.”

First held in 1982 as a response to a large increase in the numbers of challenged and banned books, Banned Books Week has been raising awareness about censorship for thirty-one years. Since it first began, there have been over 11,300 books that were challenged or banned.

A recent example of restricting access to books was when the Chicago Public Schools attempted to place a ban on teaching the graphic novel Persepolis. They enentually relented after a public outcry, and only removed the book from the 7th grade curriculum.

This hits home for me because when I was in 7th grade we studied Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi’s memoir of her childhood growing in Iran during the Islamic revolution. This graphic novel gave our class unique opportunities for discussion and opened our eyes to a part of history we had never heard about. Yes, there were some scary parts, but it wasn’t written to scare or disturb us. It was a powerful book, but fit in with the coming-of-age topics we explored that year. We learned from it, about a young woman trying to come to terms with changing values in a changed world. We didn’t read it looking for images of people getting tortured or shot.

But Persepolis is just one instance. Beloved by Toni Morrison, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee have all been banned at one point or another. While these books may bring up off-putting themes, or words, none were written just to scare, or offend, or be immoral. They were written to make the reader think, to question their beliefs, to ask, “Why am I offended by that? What does it say about the society I live in? What was the cultural context that made that acceptable, was it just as immoral then?”

Banned Books Week is a chance to celebrate all the literature that has been banned, and to embrace new ideas and experiences. It is a chance to read books like Persepolis, which in seventh grade made me question the roles of religion and government in society, or any other book that has been banned. Revel in the knowledge you can access, and enjoy the books that make you think.

Come to the library all this week, and any week after, for a taste of banned books!

–Clare T ’15

Posted in Did You Know?, Events & Celebrations0 Comments

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