Venn Librarian

Reflections about the intersection of schools, libraries and technology.

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Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

The end is nigh…

Posted by lpearle on 17 May 2014

Every so often I think, “you are seriously neglecting your blog!” and immediately feel guilty – all those posts I meant to do that simply don’t get posted because “they” haven’t perfected thought-to-text blogging yet.  I do have an excuse, an oldie but goodie: I’ve been incredibly busy.

Working in a boarding school brings about a special time commitment.  There are the obvious ones, like long open hours (8-5:30 M-F) and sit-down dinners.  Add in weekend duty, evening study hall supervision, plus required attendance at various events… Some weeks, it’s a 7-day workweek with days that stretch from 8am to 9:30pm.  So you can see where “busy” comes from.  Lucky for me, I don’t coach a sport! Towards the end of the year there are even more traditions taking place (all schools have them, to one degree or another), all leading to the passing of the school’s leadership to another group of students, ensuring continuity of programs and activities and Tradition and school ethos.   This is my fourth school, so I’m used to much of this, but each school requires a certain learning curve.

My goal for this first year was to take things somewhat easily, starting to create an embedded program and assessing the collection.  Well…. that didn’t exactly happen.  In addition to that, and creating opportunities for students to use the library that aren’t study related or class related, we embarked on a very ambitious project: changing from Dewey to Library of Congress.  The reality is that as a college-preparatory school, we needed to do this.  It’s also given us the opportunity to weed nearly 8,000 volumes already, with more to follow next year.

Graduation is in three weeks (well, a little less than that) and between now and then we have to finish the changeover and find the missing items (“missing” meaning “we printed a new spine label but the book’s not on the shelf… yet”), prepare the suggested summer reading Resource Guide, prepare summer book and supply orders, attend the final Convocation, year-end performances and Traditions, tidy the workroom and get things ready for the summer break.  Oh, and did I mention that the library is now handling the online book ordering site for textbooks?

I’d blog more, but I have three classes worth of bibliographies to assess and an ereader textbook to create for an English teacher.  Before Monday.

The end is truly nigh… and getting nigher.

Posted in Books, Life Related, Student stuff, Work Stuff | Leave a Comment »

Minor Musings

Posted by lpearle on 27 January 2014

Books, Reading, Etc.

School Stuff

  • We did a Before I Die wall in October… what about using Padlet all year long for similar things?
  • I’ve always been a huge fan of Cornell notes (even before I knew what they were) and now there’s Classmint for digital versions.  A “must play with” for me!

Etc.

More data links (via) – to compliment the Data Driven post

Posted in Books, Links, Techno Geekiness | Leave a Comment »

My year in reading

Posted by lpearle on 2 January 2014

This year saw some major changes in my life (new job, new town/state, new house) take away from my time reading, so rather than a book a day, it was a book every 1.12 days (325 completed).  In 2012 I spent a lot of time reading YA Nonfiction for YALSA, while in 2013 I started with three months of First Novel reading while I worked with the Center for Fiction (which sponsors the Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize);  several reviews have appeared on the Adult Books 4 Teens blog, and I’ve got three books to review for them on my nightstand. My GoodReads followers list keeps growing, which is very flattering! It’s been great being in a school with excited readers, and my “Books So New They Haven’t Even Been Published” rack is very popular.

While I’m looking forward to several upcoming books, I’m looking back fondly on the following (note: no book read for the F-D prize appears here; those books remain unrated):

Here’s to a book-filled 2014!

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Minor Musings

Posted by lpearle on 18 December 2013

For those about to go on Break, some things to explore and/or ponder.

Books, Reading, Etc..

School Life

Tech Stuff

  • FlipGrid looks like an amazing tool for both reader-to-reader advisory and in class collaboration for online learning.  (via)
  • Are you Sleepless in Cyberspace?  Maybe this vacation is a good time to try to rethink things.

Etcetera…

  • Doug ponders Age, Energy, Privacy and Morals – I’m a little more concerned about privacy (perhaps because of my age) than he is… it’s interesting to note that many of my students don’t think about it, but when you start talking about the lack they get very concerned.
  • For those of my friends traveling, some tips on how to get through the airport fast.  Bon voyage!

Posted in Books, Collection Development, Ethics, Links, Pedagogy, Privacy, School Libraries, Student stuff, Techno Geekiness, Work Stuff | Leave a Comment »

So what do I know?

Posted by lpearle on 16 December 2013

Nothing, apparently.

A couple of weeks ago I gave The Infinite Moment of Us a three-star review, in part because “The starts and stops of the relationship felt real, and Myracle has a real ear for the language real teens use.”

Then one of my hard-core readers borrowed it and completely disagreed: she felt (strongly) that the language was not authentic, that the teens didn’t resemble anyone she (or her friends) knew.  Wren seemed one-dimensional, and the relationship just didn’t work for her.

I’ve often wondered about the difference between my reading a book as an adult, with an ever-growing distance between me and my teen self, and an actual teen’s experience of that book.  Several books that have seen much critical love – being added to the curriculum or as all-school reads – from adults but from the intended audience’s point-of-view they’re complete flops with characters they don’t relate to and a message they feel stifled by.  These are readers who know that books like Gossip Girl or those by Sarah Dessen aren’t real or meant to be “good” books but they’re enjoyable reads anyway.  And they don’t expect those characters to be real, or relatable in the same way that the characters in this book are supposed to be.

How many others have had similar experiences? Or have recognized themselves in a character, only to realize that the author is closer to them in age than to the proposed age group – and that what they’re responding to is from a teen perspective some decades old?  It’s making me question many of my recent reads, and whether I am, in fact, buying the right books for this library.

Posted in Books, Collection Development, School Libraries, Student stuff | Leave a Comment »

Minor Musings

Posted by lpearle on 31 October 2013

Sorry I missed September – here’s two month’s worth!

Books, Reading, Etc..

School Life

  • A recent project about the Republican Party’s ideas about debt and fiscal planning led me to give my “sometimes, it’s ok to use biased information” speech.  This time I also added “but if you use social media, you’re going to need to verify what you’re reading”.  Of course, as always, Joyce puts it far better than I.  And HT @lbraun2000 for 10 Ways Students Can Use Twitter for Research.
  • One goal for the year is getting colleagues (some, not all) to see us as “embedded” in their courses, and much of the work will be done on-line.  This article about feedback will help me  work with both students and faculty.  We also need to work on improving the library experience for them.
  • Don’t you love the video tours here?  Think we need to try doing some for my library!

Tech Stuff

  • As I begin to play with my iPad and watch students intently focused on their iPhones, I’ve begun deleting that which is not used.  Cleaning the crap makes it just more usable – and I’m not alone in this thinking.  (I’m also working on learning to type – thx Doug for these tips!).  That won’t stop me from seeing which of these apps I should recommend to everyone!
  • Research season is fast approaching, which makes this the perfect time to revisit what Archipelago said about her Adventures with E-books. Even better (from my viewpoint) is the opportunity to test-drive some of this with students and talk to vendors at AASL and ALA Midwinter.
  • The Atlantic gives advice about the iPhone signature far too many people haven’t yet changed.  Go now and be creative.
  • Usually it’s my librarians who give away the good Google search tips.  This time, it’s Wise Bread (so maybe now more people will get the hint[s]).
  • Badging is becoming a big thing these days, and I’m inspired by Laura’s blog to consider ways we can integrate badging and library skills.

Etcetera…

I bookmarked this a while ago, and having just finished meeting several parents during Families Weekend, it’s worth remembering that not everyone is, or thinks like, a librarian.

Posted in Books, Collection Development, Pedagogy, School Libraries, Techno Geekiness, Work Stuff | Leave a Comment »

What’s on the shelves?

Posted by lpearle on 13 August 2013

Last week I dove into doing inventory – in many ways, my least favorite library activity (my aching back and shoulders! my dusty hands!) , but also in many ways my favorite library activity as it’s a great opportunity to look at the shelves and see where there are gaps, problems, areas that could be moved, etc..

As always, learning a new collection means taking a step back from what you knew about your old collection: comparisons only work if you’re comparing discrete sections, not overall.  So when I see few books on [topic] on the shelves, and fondly remember all the work done to bring the old collection’s books on that topic to a great level, I can’t assume it’s because the new collection is lacking, it may be the curriculum is that different and many books on [topic] aren’t needed.  And the reverse also applies.  Meeting with the different departments and learning from them what they need from the library, and what their ideal collection would be (given unlimited funds and shelf space) is going to be a critical component of my next few months.

Of course, DDC doesn’t help.  I saw books on AIDS in three places: 362.1, 614.5 and 616.9.  Books on Tennessee Williams are in 809, 812, 813 and 818.  If my goal is to make it easier for students to find books, that’s not helping!

In the fiction section, obviously, comparisons can be made.  It’s always interesting to scan the shelves to see what’s popular, what’s gathering dust and what’s unique to that library.  It’s also always interesting to see what’s appropriate in one school may not be appropriate in another.  A few years ago I spoke with a school that did not want books like Junie B. Jones on the shelves because it promoted disobedience to adults.  At another, even though the English department requested Sandman, the decision was that graphic novels weren’t “literary enough” (despite Persepolis and Maus being used in the curriculum).  One well-meaning teen organized a large donation to school libraries, but didn’t know enough to weed Fear of Flying from the ages 10-18 boxes, which made me wonder how many younger librarians would know about that book!  What I have noticed, in working with the various schools, is that few of the librarians actually read YA books.  One librarian I worked with castigated me for not reading “serious” books (I do, but I also read genre fiction, non-fiction, YA fiction, and ABC books – it’s really helpful when you’re doing reader’s advisory!).

If there’s a series “missing”, does it mean that students didn’t respond and it’s been weeded, or that no one thought to buy the books to begin with?  If there’s a lot of a specific type of book, is that because it’s a beloved author/genre, or due to a donation from a departing student/faculty member?  Again, working with the students will help me better fill in the gaps and create a really great pleasure reading collection.

More to follow…

Posted in Books, Collection Development, School Libraries, Student stuff | Leave a Comment »

Minor Musings

Posted by lpearle on 29 July 2013

Books, Reading, Etc.

School Life

Tech Stuff

Posted in Books, Collection Development, Links, Privacy, School Libraries, Student stuff, Techno Geekiness, Work Stuff | Leave a Comment »

Summertime, and the reading is easy

Posted by lpearle on 23 July 2013

What is it that makes us call certain books “summer reads” (or “beach reads”)?  Is it that they’re books that we can get lost in? or books that we don’t mind falling asleep or being interrupted while reading?  Or perhaps it’s a lighter subject matter?  Why don’t we have “winter reads”?

Anyway, over the past few weeks several former students (one graduated in ’98, another in ’11) have asked for summer reading recommendations.  I suggested Fifth BusinessMr. Penumbra’s 24-hour BookstoreEspedair Street….   Wicked Lovely… and And On the Eighth Day.  Quite a range, isn’t it?  The trick is to match the book to the reader, right?  Those books so match their readers and I’ve heard a few comments back, mostly of the “loving this!” variety.  It’s not just students, either: my mother, my aunt, friends and friends-on-behalf-of-their-children have asked for recommendations.  I’m not assuming that they don’t have access to great librarians who can do Reader’s Advisory – this is more about our connection and them knowing that I know them.

SK

Awww.

One of the problems I have with required summer reading is that often it’s not personalized.  It’s “improving” or something similar – the idea that people should read for the fun of reading, to keep in the habit of just engaging with text of some sort (could be a graphic novel!) is for some reason not what schools want.  Let’s be honest, once you’re out of an academic environment, close reading the way English departments want is not something you do.  And seriously, who does close reading of a murder mystery?    I know some people who always do close reading, who analyze the text the way a surgeon analyzes an MRI prior to cutting the patient.  But the rest of us?  So why not promote personalized reading that the reader enjoys – fiction, non-fiction, graphic novel, whatever – and have them really relax?

Posted in Books, Student stuff | Leave a Comment »

Teens and eBooks – a #YALSA / #ALA2013 discussion

Posted by lpearle on 3 July 2013

pace Freud, what do teens want?

That’s the question that the roundtable I attended considered – and the overall sense was that, as with men vis-a-vis women, we just don’t know what teens want when it comes to e-books/e-readers.  We do have a few ideas, however:

  • it’s population specific – don’t trust national polls, as trends change from town to town and school to school.
  • platform agnosticity is especially important if you’re considering a BYOD program.
  • teens use reference ebooks far more than fiction ebooks - there’s no real evidence that they are using ereaders or apps to read for pleasure.
  • one huge problem: adults borrowing YA ebooks wrecks havoc with stats – we know the book is popular, but don’t know who’s reading it
  • don’t make the book native to the device (avoids age issues, platform issues, etc.)

The process needs to be seemless, even two clicks can be one click too many.  Why can’t whatever system (Follett Shelf, Overdrive,  B&T’s Access 360, etc.) be as easy to use as iTunes?

Teens also don’t understand – or care – about publisher problems.  They want their book NOW and don’t want to hear that this publisher isn’t providing an e-version (or a library e-version).  Holds? They don’t want no stinkin’ holds – it’s an e-version, right?  How can there be a limit to how many are using/reading it at one time?

As an adult, I understand that: earlier this year I had the pleasure of discovering Cara Black’s mysteries thanks to a publisher-provided ARC on Edelweiss.  I had a trip coming up and wanted to read another on my Kindle – only the immediate previous book was available in e-version.  Two of twelve volumes available?  Disappointing!

Of course, it’s not just about publisher problems, it’s about knowing what to buy.  Reading blogs, getting recommendations from friends and family are the usual ways students find out about their next read.  Why not create genre consultants?  As your teens what you should be purchasing (keeping budget and age constraints in mind).  Put them in charge of a part of the budget (e.g., give the fantasy consultant $150 to “buy” books with) – not only do you get great support from the consultant, word-of-mouth will tell others how responsive you are and how wonderful the collection is.  Our new mantra needs to be Patron Driven Acquisition.

What about foreign languages?  Creating a collection of ebooks in French, Spanish, Chinese, etc. can be a good resource for ESL readers and those studying the language.

Current wisdom is that the OPAC is dead – no one uses it.  So how do we promote our collections, e- and print?

  • create displays of Fiction/Nonfiction books that relate to popular movies, tv series
  • use Pinterest
  • promote via GoodReads/LibraryThing/Shelfari (students love the social aspect – just be careful to separate your reading from the library’s collection)
  • Subtext can be a great book group tool, in addition to being used by teachers for curricular-related reading.  Of course, you need to be aware of what books are available in the app and it is only available for Apple products (seriously – why aren’t these people providing multi-platform tools?!)

Courtney Lewis has been doing action research on her students and reading – there’s an article in the fall YALS on her previous study, and she’s re-doing it this year (four years is a lifetime in a school, and several in tech land).  Despite what we “know” about teens not reading, her data shows different.  We need to promote that – it may not be reading canon literature, but it is reading!  She’ll share her new data via GoogleDoc – just ask her!

 

Posted in Books, Collection Development, Conferences, Techno Geekiness | Leave a Comment »

 
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