Welcome to Library Lions interviews. Raising a Roar for Libraries

Welcome to Library Lions interviews. Raising a Roar for Libraries

Thursday, May 2, 2013


Welcome to Library Lions interviews Raising a Roar for libraries and the outstanding librarians serving youth in schools and public libraries across the U.S. Please Roar today’s guest, the great guybrarian, Paul Warner!

My name is Paul Warner and I am the teacher-librarian for over 1,100 6th – 8th graders at Shahala Middle School in Vancouver, WA (right across the Columbia River from Portlandia!). The students call me JEDI WARNER the GUYBRARIAN because of my love of Star Wars and all things sci-fi fantasy. 

If you walk into our library you are likely to see books displayed with posters and life-size standees of sci-fi fantasy characters, kids learning with Mr. Warner using various film clips connected to sci-fi fantasy books, patrons listening to sci-fi fantasy instrumental music while they work and read, and you’re likely to be greeted by an enthusiastic Guybrarian dressed as a Jedi, a wizard, or some other fun sci-fi fantasy character.

The Skinny:  
What I love most about my work is connecting reading with fun activities. For example, every month we hi-light a different genre and promote books in that genre by making fun library videos for the whole school to see. We also make fun videos to promote new books available. Many students and staff love to be in these productions, and after the videos are shown those books start flying off the shelves! I have included Youtube links to a few of our videos below. 

Photo scene from school video
Youtube links:

To promote new books we received through purchases and donations, we made this video for the school: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9IX6I6KkJD0

To promote the genre of mystery/horror we made this funny video for the school: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HVW8ueEInLM
Video to promote our sci-fi family night & book fair event: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LaG-Ky96bCQ

Video after our sci-fi night to celebrate by showing everything we did: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rWYONaVNClw

We have the most fun of the year at our annual Sci-Fi Fantasy Family Night & Book Fair.

We do lots of activities like Lightsaber making

Costume contests

Trivia games, Origami Yoda, collectibles, projects connecting sci-fi and real science technology, and much more! 
This year Mr. Warner dressed as a Jedi Knight, Assistant Librarian Mrs. Royster became Princess Leia, and one of our teachers was Doctor Who! Plus we have special guests stop by from the 501st Legion, an international organization of costumed Star Wars characters that have a local chapter nearby. Last year they brought a clone trooper and Darth Vader, and this year they brought Imperial stormtroopers and a real, life-size, working R2D2 robot that interacted with library visitors!

Library Laughs:
We’ve had a couple of really funny days in the library this year. One was on “Talk Like A Pirate Day” when I became a pirate and any kids who entered the library and talked like a pirate to me while checking out a book got some candy (“pirate booty”).

Then later this year we collaborated with our amazing ASB program to have an all-school “Dress Like a Book Character” Day!

We gave prizes to kids who checked out any book featuring the character they were dressed up as.  All day long the library was filled with laughs and smiles as Katniss, Batman, Laura Ingalls, Chewbacca, Ponyboy, Hogwarts students, pointy-eared elves, manga characters, various Avengers, Percy and friends from Camp Half-Blood, and some very entertaining Spongebobs checked out books about themselves!

It was also really funny to see the looks on the kids’ faces when they saw the Guybrarian’s character: Darth Potter. 

I couldn’t decide if I wanted to be Vader or Harry, so I combined them in one costume, held up books about both characters, and greeted kids with a deep voice stating: “Luke…I am your new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher!”

A Lion’s Pride of Programs:  
I really want visitors to know more about all the on-line tech tools and assistance we provide for our students and staff.  For research work and non-fiction reading we can help kids learn how to use databases such as Worldbook and eLibrary instead of just randomly searching the web, and help link kids up to ebooks and to professional, trusted web sources on any topic they need.  For presentations, I offer help for kids and teachers to create podcasts about books or topics of study, digital video book trailers, and presentations on any topic with the use of web tools such as Prezi, Glogster, Picmonkey, Pixton, Storybird, Tagxedo, Animoto, and Educreations. 

We’ve also started creating QR Codes on books to take readers on-line to author sites, book trailers,quizzes, interviews, and more. We are also proud of our after school Eagle Book Club in the library,which focuses especially on sci-fi fantasy books.

In addition to reading and discussing books together, we also create technology projects connected to the books by using many of the tech tools listed above.

After reading Ender’s Game, The Eagle Book Club made this book trailer video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9w49-8-osTk

Readers Roar:
“Reading is awesome because it allows me to journey to Middle Earth, Camp Half-Blood, and other worlds, all without leaving my own land.” – Max (7th grade)

“I like reading because you never know what will happen to the characters next, and sci-fi fantasy has such intense paragraphs.”  - Ruth (6th grade)
“I love reading because it takes me to a place and time I can’t go in real life.” – Hibbah (8th grade)

“Reading helps me imagine things.” – Damian (6th grade)

“Reading is like a movie in my head.” – Caledonia (8th grade)

“I can’t remember the last time I went to a library book fair, but I got so excited to go to the Sci-Fi Night that Jedi Warner planned!  After that I started reading some sci-fi!” – (6th grade boy)

"I want to thank you for the Sci-Fi Family Night you hosted for the community.  I brought my son and we had a fantastic experience meeting some of his STAR WARS favorites. We loved visiting with other families, picking out books, and dressing up for the costume contest.  Even days later, my son is still talking about how wonderful the night was. You made his month!"   - Anna 

"Sci-Fi Family Night was a huge opportunity for students to see the two way connection between science and science fiction. That event, our library, and Mr. Warner have inspired students to read more and connected the science department to the library in new ways."  -  Mr. C. (8th grade science teacher & parent)

“It was quite remarkable to see so many people at the Sci-Fi event that were energized about science fiction and reading! Great to see such a diversity of community members there with a wide range of interests participating in a common event around a shared love of science fiction books, movies, and games!  -  Mr. P. (8th grade math teacher & parent)
Note to LL readers. Excuse the white background above. It's some kind of befuddling glitch! Thanks
“I have never before seen kids so excited about coming back to a school's library for an evening event, but they talked about the Sci-Fi Night and Book Fair as it approached and they were still talking days after it." -    Mrs. E. (8th Grade Language Arts & Social Studies teacher)

Book Brag: Currently, our most popular books are by Suzanne Collins, Rick Riordan, Veronica Roth, and James Dashner.  Collins’ Hunger Games series continues to be checked out by kids who saw the film but haven’t yet read the book, or students who want to read the sequels before the next films are released.  Riordan’s Percy Jackson series, Kane Chronicles, and Heroes of Olympus series are continuously checked out from our library.  Dashner’s Maze Runner series has become very popular and hard to keep on the shelf, and Roth’s Divergent and Insurgent are constantly requested.  I believe all these books are hugely popular because sci-fi fantasy stories of adventure or dystopian struggles have such great appeal to this age group, especially if the stories include a hero’s journey coming-of-age tale and the age of the characters in the books is close to the reader’s age too.

Author! Author!
This is only my third year in the library so I haven’t had very many author visits yet, but I really want to because during my 16 years as a language arts and social studies teacher I attended some great author visits and saw the positive affect they have on the kids.  I think the perfect visit involves the author reading some from her work, sharing about her own life, using a visual presentation, teaching about the craft of writing, and having a Q & A session about her books and reading & writing in general.  If time allows, I think it is great to have the kids actually do a little writing of their own while with the author.  I saw a writer do this once with a class of kids by getting them to brainstorm ideas to get down on paper and encouraging them to start keeping journals of ideas that could later develop into writing pieces; it was very inspiring to the kids and adults in the room who did actually start keeping writing journals after that visit. 

For me personally, my 3 favorite author visits have been:  (1) When Holocaust survivor Alter Weiner, author of the book From A Name to a Number, came to my library with stories and visuals to teach the students about the Holocaust;

(2) When Frank McCourt, author of Angela’s Ashes and Teacher Man, came to the high school where I taught and shared with the students about the importance of always asking questions in reading and in life;

and (3) When Henry Winkler, author of the Hank Zipser series (and Fonzie from Happy Days of course), came to a local bookstore and spent a few minutes 1-on-1 with my son to give him inspirational advice on how to be a writer (had a very positive influence on my son).

Photo Meeting Henry Winkler2

Library Lion’s Last Roar:
I want to roar loudly for all those school librarians & guybrarians out there who take the time to work with and teach lessons to the students.  Every week I am teaching whole classes and 1-to-1 with students about reading skills, research skills, writing skills, technology skills, presentation skills, and the important critical thinking skills needed so much in the information overload world we live in today.  Too often I run across folks who think all a school librarian does is sit at a front counter and check out books all day; therefore, they incorrectly and unfortunately view such a position as unimportant and expendable.  So I also want to roar for the Library Lions website and all the authors, teachers, principals, and students out there trying to spread the word in this country that our librarians are not expendable and are so much more than just book-checker-outers, but are actually professionally trained educators collaborating with classroom teachers and working with students on so many crucial skills today, in addition to the important job of helping them find books to read. 

Also, let’s roar for all the librarian hard work and passion that goes into reading promotions and community building and outreach, plus all the behind-the-scenes work of obtaining the right resources and reading materials for multiple subject areas and grades to help diverse young people with a wide variety of reading levels, interests, and needs.  I have always believed that librarians must have the magical powers of The Force in order to accomplish all that they do, but since joining their distinguished ranks I have begun to realize that librarians actually ARE The Force that keeps libraries working for kids.

Let’s Link:
Blog:  I would like people to know about my blog for sharing and learning about how today’s technology tools can be used in education.  It’s a Google blog called Educational Tech in the 21st Century.  I would LOVE for people to go there and join up with my blog so we can share tech tools and ideas!  Here is the URL: http://21stcenturylearnerandteacher.blogspot.com/

Library Website: Our Shahala Middle School library website, with many tool and links, is part of the Schoolwires system right now at the following URL: http://schools.evergreenps.org/domain/1871 However, by this July our district is leaving Schoolwires so our library website will be changing to a Google website sometime during the Summer.  I will have the new link for it sent to Library Lions as soon as it is available.
Twitter: I have also started using Twitter to connect with educators, authors, and librarians and would love to connect with more folks!  On Twitter I am:  @jediguybrarian

                                    ~            ~          ~

 Thank you, Paul, for your terrific interview! May the force be with you!

Love Libraries? Give a Roar in “Comments” below.

Note to Librarians: If you’re a Youth Librarian working in a school or public library we’d love to hear about you and your library. Contact Janet at jlcarey@hotmail.com for an interview slot. 



  1. GREAT photos! you guys look like you're having so much fun.

    That's what Trivia Games are all about

    1. I agree. What a lively, interactive library! It was a fun post to Roar for.

  2. Hear, hear for my fellow colleague! Great blog post. Paul is a lot of fun to work with.