Venn Librarian

Reflections about the intersection of schools, libraries and technology.

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Archive for September, 2006

What me, read?

Posted by lpearle on 27 September 2006

In the recent Cites and Insights, Walter Crawford writes about Old Media/New Media (specifically, The State of The Book).

The “Reading at Risk” report comes in for some criticism – as well it should. Look, I read a lot. Does what I read continually qualify as “reading” by the report’s standards? No. [insert your own ‘tree falling in a forest’ metaphor here] By their standards, the students at MPOW are also “not reading” when they borrow the manga, science fiction and series books that they seem to enjoy.

Part of me wonders what it is that I’m doing when my eyes are running over print/text, with a book-like object in my hands, with my fingers turning what appear to be pages. I know it’s not literature, but so what? It’s reading. And sometimes it is “literature”. I repeat, So. What? Isn’t it more important that we read anything? What’s so special about “literature” that we need to bemoan it’s lack of prominence and bewail society’s apparent inability to enjoy it? We should be applauding people reading what they like, what they enjoy.

Reading mysteries “develops a capacity for focused attention and imaginative growth that enriches both private and public life” every bit as much as reading Faulkner or Atwood. You can trust me on this: I’m a librarian and a reader. Except by the NEA’s standards.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to climb down off my soapbox and re-curl up with The Blood Confession. Maybe I’ll read something later.


Posted in Books, Life Related | 2 Comments »

Wrong Wrong Wrong Wrong Wrong

Posted by lpearle on 12 September 2006

It just works my last nerve when I read things like this. Mrs. OPL has said what I’d say, only more eloquantly (of course).

Couple that with these comments, and you can see why I’m shaking my head. Why do people equate educational innovation with destruction of libraries? I don’t get it. One message on an e-list (received today) read “I am looking to start a list of ‘must haves’ to go to a bookless-magazineless Instructional Media Center rather than a traditional library.”

We’ve left the Dark Ages of chained books and scriptorums… we scrapped our card catalogs ages ago (didn’t anyone read Nicholson Baker?)… we provide resources and outreach on a continual basis. I know no librarians that adhere to the old stereotype (although I do have a libraian named Marion on my staff).

It’s easy to make us the object of scorn, to cut our budgets and to ignore the value of print (aka “old fashioned”) resources.

What do we have to do to change this?

Posted in School Libraries | Leave a Comment »

Students, Listen Up

Posted by lpearle on 10 September 2006

Top Ten No Sympathy Lines (รพ: Lifehacker)

Good enough for life, too:

I Don’t Have Time For All This

Life is about choices. We all have more to do than we can do completely, and we have to set priorities. So we may have to accept tradeoffs…

The one option that is never on the table in life is to choose a course of action and choose the consequences. If you select a course of action, you also select the consequences. If you want to avoid or achieve a certain set of consequences, you select your course of action accordingly.

Posted in Student stuff | 1 Comment »

Why is paperless "better"?

Posted by lpearle on 1 September 2006

In all my meetings this week, there has been much discussion about MPOW‘s new on-line presence. This will be a – mostly – password protected environment that allows for posting of assignments, news, etc.. The library section will be very UNprotected, because we want to share what we’re doing with everyone, not just the Favored Few. But that’s not the focus of this post.

Some of the teachers have asked about syllabi/assignment sheets: do they need to post on-line AND have paper copies available? One teacher asked about what the printing looked like, “because I like paper.” The Director of Technology basically shot back, “We’ll change that.”

So here’s my question: why? What makes an electronic environment so much better than a paper environment?

First of all, electronic technology can (and often does) fail. There are any number of times during the day when my wireless connection reads “unable to provide link”. Just a couple of summers ago, the East Coast had a massive blackout. This summer, there were blackouts near where I live and in NYC due to tornadoes and storms, not to mention overloading the system. There’s absolutely no guarantee that this can be avoided – that the power supply will always be there.

Second, if what we’re trying to teach students is organization and responsibility, how is providing them with the ability to make endless copies/printings of something helping? In all the years I’ve been hearing the phrase “paperless office”, I’ve seen just the reverse happen. More paper is used, as people make countless printouts of things. Why? Because we can. Because we know that this is not the only copy “out there”, that we can always print out a new one so why take care of the one we have in our hands/on our desk already? I know that I become more careless, rather than more careful, when I know I have easy access to a new copy. This generates more paper, rather than less. And isn’t it easier to print or copy things and have them in multiple files, rather than being more organized and having everything in one place?

Perhaps the so-called “new race” of screenagers will truly have a paperless environment. Perhaps they will embrace reading/storing everything on-line and never print things out even once, much less multiple times. Somehow, I doubt it. I suspect that 20, 30, 40 years from now, the goal of a paperless work and school environment will still elude us.

Posted in Techno Geekiness, Work Stuff | Leave a Comment »