Category Archives: Library Resources

Computer Camp Wrap Up

What a week for Build Your Own Computer Camp! We learned that working with computers can be challenging, but that the maneuvers we can make with our own machines can be utterly rewarding, as well. Our campers had such an array of experience with programming and computing, and by the end of the week, we all advanced our understanding and abilities.

Here’s a quick rundown of what we accomplished during BYOC.

Monday: Assembling the Pi-Top & Introduction to the Using the Terminal

Tuesday: Modding Minecraft with Python & Rigging LEDs & Buttons to the Raspberry Pi

Wednesday: Snapping Photos & Videos with the PiCamera

Thursday: Individualized Projects for Scratch, Python, & Sonic Pi

Friday: Can You Hack It? Experimenting with Accessories for the Raspberry Pi

The most exciting day was Friday, when each camper chose from an array of Raspberry Pi accessories rated at three levels of difficulty. I was impressed that each camper was able to attach, program, and run at least one accessory on Friday.

On Friday, we also showcased an array of resources we could use to continue our learning of Python and Raspberry Pi. Below you’ll find a list resources we recommend as next steps.

Screenshot 2016-08-17 11.11.40

A screenshot of the Resources page at

*The Raspberry Pi Foundation is the nonprofit organization that sells the Raspberry Pi, using the proceeds to further teaching and learning of computer science in the UK and throughout the world. Their website features a variety of tutorials and projects young learners can undertake with the Pi. We used parts of their tutorials on the PiCamera and Physical Computing during the camp. Some campers even rigged up a Parent Detector!


*Adventures in Raspbery Pi, by Carrie Anne Philbin. Each camp participant received the companion kit to Philbin’s book, and we completed one full adventure and parts of several others during the course. One camper also made serious headway into the final adventure, the creation of a Raspberry Pi Jukebox. Since campers already have the supplies necessary to complete each of these adventures, and since the book itself is so user-friendly, it’s one that I would highly recommend.


*Python for Kids, by Jason R. Briggs. For further learning in Python, this text is great for a variety of ages, and we’ve even found it perfect for adult learning, as well.


*Adventures in Minecraft, by David Whale. Many of our campers loved tinkering around with MineCraft and code. Whale’s new book on programming for Minecraft is a great resource. Pimoroni also sells a kit that supplies all the parts needed to complete these adventures, although our campers already have many of the parts necessary for the book’s projects, and several of the projects need no parts at all.


*MagPi Magazine is the official publication of the Raspberry Pi Foundation, and each month’s issues provides project examples and tutorials for Rasberry Pi users of all levels. MagPi also produces MagPi Essentials, which are short chapterbooks focused on particular Raspberry Pi features, such as Code Music with Sonic Pi or Learn to Code with Scratch. Their website also features a variety of tutorials.

*PythonRoom, CodeAcademy, and Treehouse are all great digital resources for learning to program in Python and other language. Our preferred resource is Treehouse, although PythonRoom and CodeAcademy are free, and they are even more supportive for younger learners.

Any questions about Raspberry Pi, Build Your Own Computer Camp, or resources to extend your learning in Computer Science? Drop the library team a line and we will be more than happy to support where we can.


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The 2016 Summer Reading Challenge

Dear Families,
Summer provides such wonderful moments for discovery. With extra time off or just a few more hours of daylight in our evenings, most of us use the summer months to discover new hobbies, travel to new places, and dive into stacks and stacks of books.
Let’s make this a summer for discovering books. One of our favorite moments in the reading process is the hunt: searching for new titles and asking family and friends for their recommendations. This leads to surprises and great conversations. This quest to find books is an invaluable part of the reading process, a part that we help cultivate each week in our Lower School library sessions.
For the past several years, the Library Team has issued annual summer reading recommendations. These lists provide several great options, and our recommendations from 2014 and 2015 are still available for your enjoyment. The New York Public Library and the Association for Library Service to Children provide a wonderful selection of suggestions, as well.
In lieu of our usual recommendations, we are issuing a call to action: discover new, enchanting and surprising titles that we might not otherwise encounter within our normal range of reading interests. Below, you will find a list of ‘reading challenges’ that are shaped to help you and your child find new titles.

2016 Summer Reading Challenge

Any student starting the fall with a list of eight different titles that cover the eight summer reading challenges will be invited to a special Summer Reading Reception during the first full week of school.
We’ll sip lemonade. We’ll dive into the library’s famous homemade cookies. We’ll share our lists, recounting our favorite discoveries. And we’ll also offer first access to the hundreds of new titles that we’ll add to our collection over the summer.

We hope these challenges bring you a summer’s worth of reading interests and surprises. Below, you’ll find a list of local libraries that offer such great reading resources.

Tacoma Public Library

Pierce County Public Library

Kitsap Regional Library

Timberland Regional Library

While we are closed for regular library service over the next two months, do let us know if there is any other support we might offer you and your family. We wish you the best adventures from now until August, and we’re excited to see how your child takes on the 2016 Summer Reading Challenge.

All the best,

Joe Romano

Library Media Specialist




The Book Fair Returns!

Students, Parents, Teachers!

During the week of April 11 through April 15, we invite you to the Library & Learning Commons for our Annual Book Fair. The Book Fair will open on the afternoon of April 11, and we will run from 7:30 to 8:00am each morning thereafter and from 3:00 to 4:30 on each afternoon of that week. We will also extend the book fair hours to 5:30pm on Wednesday, April 15 in celebration of Annie Writer’s Tea.

This year’s Book Fair also coincides with a visit from New York Times best-selling author Stuart Gibbs, who will speak to our 4th and 5th graders about the adventurous and imaginative life of a writer. 4th and 5th graders will have the opportunity to have their copies of Stuart’s books signed by the author himself. Click here to learn more about this opportunity.

As in years past, we are excited that Seattle-based independent bookstore Secret Garden Books will be organizing our book fair. They’ll stock the fair with classic, eclectic and contemporary selections for any reading level and interest in our community. We particularly appreciate Secret Garden’s commitment to high quality books that resist commercial messaging.

Students are welcome to shop during their morning recess with a teacher’s permission or before and after school with a supervising adult. You can pay for your purchases with cash, a credit card, or a check payable to ‘Secret Garden Bookshop.’ Unfortunately, we cannot charge purchases to your Annie Wright Schools bookstore account at this time.

Our book fair provides a wonderful opportunity to excite readers young and old with wonderful selections, and proceeds of the fair contribute to maintaining our library’s expansive collection. If you have any questions, please contact Joe Romano or Carla Clark regarding the book fair.

And! Our book fair runs the smoothest with the generous help of volunteers. If you are interested in volunteering for our book fair for an afternoon (or for the week!), do let us know, and we’d be happy to have your help hawking books.

Happy Reading. And we’ll see you at the fair!

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Mongolia, Wolves, and Reading & Running the World: (or, The Week in Library: 3!)

When I’m not in the library, I’m often on the run, enjoying the trails and roads of Point Defiance or exploring new hills in downtown. And when I’m on the run, I’m plugged into an audiobook. So strange, I think, to have my ventures narrated by The Devil in the White City, Americanah, or The Wind-Up Bird ChroniclePerhaps a good zombie thriller would help add some strength to my gait.

Since June, my run read of choice has been Wolf Totem, a 26 hour audio epic. While it took me 4 hours to truly adjust to a style which enrolls characters to serve as satellites for ideology (as many works of political literature do), I’m utterly enamored by the work, which was initially recommended to me by one of our Chinese international students last year. This 2004 publication by Jiang Rong is the second best selling book in all of Chinese history, with Mao’s Little Red Book the only other work to supersede it in sales.

With three hours left in my listening, I’m continually enchanted, gutted, and elated in this realistic account of the Chinese push to develop inner Mongolia during the Cultural Revolution, an act that severely set back the sustainable, spiritual, and ecology-minded existence of the nomadic peoples of that region.

Truly, this is a book that’s made me add miles to my daily outings on foot, and it’s raised my consciousness over cultural conflict and the rapid implementation of technology to habituate humans in environments that we had been so ecologically mindful of for thousands of years.

So, that’s my fiction recommendation for the week. Our collection features two editions of Wolf Totem: the original Chinese version and its English translation.

Here are a few recommendations from our collection that I hope will constellate around this choice!


What the World Eats, by Faith D’Aluisio, Peter Menzel


I Rode a Horse of Milk and White Jade,         by Diane Lee Wilson


Mongolian Folktales, by Hilary Roe Metternich


Suho’s White Horse: A Mongolian Legend, Retold by Yuzo Otsuka


My excitement over such readings trumped a chronicle of this week in library, although don’t fret: we’re dishing books, raising levels of information literacy, and providing inspirational and aspirational learning spaces for all the learners in AWS. My favorite moment of the week is when our Kindergarteners approached me with drawings and photographs of where they’ll keep our library books safe when they bring them home.

Safe Places for BooksSo lovely, this utter excitement over selecting books and hauling them home. With such research into proper book care, our Kindergarteners have unlocked this next ability in their library lives.

Besides that, we’ve been rolling with a few great read alouds and some energetic activities (‘let’s pretend we’re books, and let’s organize ourselves!’).

With our first full week, the library’s on the move!


*Scribd is another great resource for ebooks and audiobooks available on subscription basis. I also scour local libraries (and our own collection at AWS–the username and password are exactly the same: your ID number).

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The Summer in Library

With August upon us, the Library & Learning Commons is preparing for another great year for the Annie Wright community. Throughout the summer, we have been continuing to evolve our space to best suit our patrons and the role our space plays within school life.

For all the library fans out there, here are few updates regarding the projects we’re rushing to complete for the start of the year.

Named for Albert Sutton, who was the architect of the Annie Wright Seminary and whose son John Sutton was the architect for the Library

Named for Albert Sutton, who was the architect of the Annie Wright Seminary and whose son John Sutton was the architect for the Library

The Sutton Room

As a space for both our library archives and community connections, the Sutton Room already holds the most historic books in our school collection. As we have transitioned this space into an archival center, we have decided to integrate our Reference collection into the main library, and we have been re-cataloging, re-labeling, and moving these items throughout the summer months. This should create enough shelf space to hold one or two of our historic periodicals. We hold over 100 years of National Geographic and many decades of Life Magazine elsewhere in the building.

Additionally, we will complete our installation of the teleconference equipment that helps make the Sutton Room a center for community engagement. Last year alone, we connected with alumni, task force members, and other schools on 15 occasions, and we hope to demonstrate how we might open school walls from this space in our learning commons.


This summer, our 3D printer has been bustling with letters that we’ll use for signage throughout the library space. As a library that teaches information literacy, we really struggle with nailing down wayfinding philosophy: how easy should we make book finding experience for students? Ultimately, we have decided to take a few steps to label sections, and we think the 3D printed letters will look rather spiffy on the library walls.

The Sound-Sensitive Bulletin Board!

Ok! That video above may not look as awesome as it will in a few weeks, but it’s shaping up to be pretty cool. Over the last few months, the Library Team have been teaching ourselves Arduino (click here for a quick introduction). When our bulletin board is up and running, we’ll have a sign that spells “READ” outside our library doors. If the hallway is relatively quiet for 3 seconds, the ‘R’ will light up. 3 more seconds? The ‘E.’ 3 more the ‘A,’ and 3 more the ‘D.’ If any noise occurs during that sequence, the sign will go dark and start counting again!

We aren’t necessarily fans of quiet libraries, but we thought this would be a cool way to showcase what one can do with a little coding, electrical engineering, and creativity.

And more! 

Besides those items, we’ve spent the summer developing curricula, planning acquisitions, sifting through archives, and making plans for minor Maker activities throughout the year. This school year’s going to be something else, and we’re excited to see the halls filled with learners so soon!

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Announcing: OverDrive Digital Lending Services

Click here to get started by downloading the the OverDrive Media Console

We here in the Library & Learning Commons are thrilled to announce our new partnership with OverDrive, the leading ebook and audiobook lending service for libraries. While we maintain (and defend!) our love for reading works in print, we also hope our library will become ubiquitous: students, parents, faculty and staff should be able access our collection whenever they’d like and wherever they are.

If you’re interested in browsing our digital collection, you can click here to search our offerings. Your username and your password are the same: your student or employee ID number. Parents: please click here to e-mail the library team if you’d like access to the collection, as well, and we’ll set you up with an account straightaway.

Over the next few months, we will continue to grow our collection, but here are some highlights. Click the images for direct access to these titles.

Wonder, by R.J. Palacio.

Brown Girl Dreaming, by Jacqueline Woodson.

Flora & Ulyssess, by Kate DiCamillo

If you’re new to borrowing ebooks and audiobooks through OverDrive, you’re always more than welcome to stop by the library, and we’ll walk you through the steps. In the coming weeks, we’ll also post several short tutorials on this site to help you access and download titles on your e-readers and mobile devices.

The Annie Wright Schools Library & Learning Commons

Libraries are changing! Without a doubt, you have heard  how libraries are rapidly morphing in this day and age. You may have questioned our need for libraries with our increasing access to digital texts. You may have heard of the bookless library in San Antonio or the Research Commons at the University of Washington.

But the hoopla in and around the 21st Century Library is largely forgetful of the library’s long tradition. Libraries have always maintained public resources that their communities have given greatest value. For some communities, freely accessible physical books are of greatest value to the community. Some communities need audio and visual materials. There are communities that want access to the world wide web. Other communities would like their libraries to be sanctuary spaces for the reader or writer. Still others are want a vibrant, noisy community space. No matter the amount of 3D printers, CNC Routers, baristas, tutors, ebooks, audiobooks, physical books (this list could go on!), librarians strive to infuse their libraries with the resources they feel the community values enough to invest in and share.

Our Library & Learning Commons at Annie Wright Schools wants all of this (and more) for our students, teachers, and community members. As a teaching library, our primary role is to help patrons understand what libraries can be and how to use their offerings. At some point or another, our students will leave the world of the classroom, but their ability to access the learning space that is library will always be there. If libraries host 3D printers, our AWS library should host one, as well. If libraries host meeting spaces, our library will, as well.

CampfirePictured above you’ll see “Campfire,” a gathering point in our library affectionately named for the fireplace video we sometimes have running on an LCD screen in the area. Yes, we house our Adult Nonfiction section in the area, and we can line the shelves with whiteboards depending on the nature of the session. But this is just one of many new areas in our library that pushes the space beyond that of a storage area and into a reflection of the shared resources our community values most.

In the coming weeks and months, we’ll feature other evolutions to our library and its services in this webspace. We’ll capture the many activities we host and facilitate in the room. But for now, we would like to thank the donors, volunteers, and colleagues who engaged in our efforts to improve our library, not because “libraries are changing” but because we believe in what our libraries have provided for us: common access to space, media, and, most importantly, opportunities to learn.

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Announcing: The Annual Book Fair!

Teachers, Parents, Students!

During the week of April 14 through April 18, we invite you to the Library Learning Commons for our Annual Book Fair. The book fair begins on Monday afternoon and runs from 7:30 to 8:00am each morning thereafter and from 3:00 to 4:30 on each afternoon of that week. We will also extend the book fair hours to 5:30pm on Wednesday, April 16 in celebration of Annie Writer’s Tea.

This year, we are excited to welcome back Seattle-based independent bookstore Secret Garden Books. They’ll stock the book fair with classic, eclectic and contemporary selections for any reading level and interest in our community. We particularly appreciate Secret Garden’s commitment to books that resist media tie-ins and commercial messages.

Students are welcome to shop during their morning recess with a teacher’s permission or before and after school with a supervising adult. You can pay for your purchases with cash, a credit card, or a check payable to Secret Garden Bookshop. Unfortunately, we cannot charge purchases to your Annie Wright Schools bookstore account at this time.

Our Secret Garden book fair provides a wonderful opportunity to excite readers young and old with wonderful selections. If you have any questions, feel free to contact Joe Romano or Carla Clark regarding the book fair.

Happy Reading. And we’ll see you at the fair!

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New Books on Pinterest!

Lately, we’ve been experimenting with a few ways to share our library collections with the wider community. While we often display our new additions, seasonal reads, and super classics, we don’t offer as many opportunities to view our new additions throughout our digital space, the library’s second home.

Enter Pinterest.

Given the school’s new internal website (it’s fantastic: if you haven’t seen a demo, be sure to check it out!), we can embed outside web applications for our internal audience to use. So, the library’s increased its activities on Pinterest by we have added our new books to the site. If you click on any title, you’ll be transported to the book’s home on GoodReads, where you’ll find a brief description of the book along with reader reviews.

Below, you’ll see every book we’ve received from the start of January.

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Waldo’s Usual Haunts

Where is that Waldo? Let’s use big data to track that guy down.


Martin Hanford’s Where’s Waldo is the book that’s been checked out the most since we digitized our catalog in 1981. Where’s Waldo posters adorn the space between our youth and adult libraries, and we often find both kids and adults huddled next to the wall searching for that red-capped man, the wizard, and the scroll.

Given its popularity, check out this recent Slate Magazine exclusive report on how best to predict Waldo’s location using mathematical mastery.

For a quick preview on how you might employ this technique, check out the image below.


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