By Amy Blaine
It’s back-to-school time for my own children—and for me, too. As an elementary school librarian, I’m always on the lookout for new gadgets and gizmos that will enhance student learning and are just plain fun.
So I did a little window-shopping online and picked a few practical—and not so practical—items to take me throughout my day.
Rise and shine. 5:30 a.m.
Need a little help getting out of bed in the morning? Make the transition back to school a little easier with the Tocky clock ($69). This adorable little guy (or is that gal?) literally rocks and rolls when the alarm sounds. As it bounces off your nightstand and rolls around your floor, it will play a pre-recorded voice message or MP3 of your choice.
Librarian on the go. 9:30 a.m.
Portable computer speakers
The morning rush begins, and very often I’m entering a classroom with my laptop, ready to plug into the classroom teacher’s interactive whiteboard. Problem is the on-board speakers; they’re often too puny for sound to carry to the back of the room. Not all teachers have auxiliary speakers, and while my Calfone monster is perfect for the library, it’s not so easy to transport between classes. A clip-on speaker like this Logitech model ($30) would eliminate both of these problems.
Capturing students at work. 11:00 a.m.
Is it cheating to recommend an entire website? Photojojo is an online purveyor of whimsical gadgets and more practical products, all photography related. For example, a fisheye lens for your iPhone ($25) will help you gain a new perspective on your library space (and will make it look roomier in the process!). I’d use it to create some awesome shots of my students at work or have them capture their favorite book in a bubble! And I know you need a camera lens protector shaped like a burrito: The Photorito ($20), constructed of Tyvek and neoprene, fits the bill.
Text me. 12:30 p.m.
Bookcases for your smartphone
If you have a few minutes to spare around lunchtime, you might check in on your smartphone. Remember when you’d tuck your favorite book inside your science textbook during class? Well here’s a fresh take on that trick. So many creative products in this vein, including this case (pictured) you may go (Pea)nuts over or this nod to a first-edition classic. ($35 each)
Power walk. 4:30 p.m.
Pivot Power power “strip”
Before I head for home, I need to make sure all my electronic gadgets are powered up, ready and waiting for me the next morning. With so many plugs, each with their own awkward sizing, a traditional power strip may not work. Enter the Pivot Power Flexible Power Strip that contorts and adjusts to accommodate all of your plug-in needs while providing surge protection to boot. This award-winning product looks to be well worth the $30 price tag.
Time for bed. 10:30 p.m.
Card catalog tee
Aw, the good old days, when part of the library experience involved flipping through the card catalog—and hoping that the drawer wouldn’t fall out onto the floor. As you’re setting out your clothes for the next day of work, consider this nod to the past. A wonderful t-shirt from Unshelved ($19.50), the design, called “Never Forget,” features a print of the aforementioned drawer.
Amy Blaine (@classicsixbooks) is beginning her fifth year as a K–5 librarian in Northern Virginia.