I’m pondering a much larger post on the whole Cult of 2.0, but for the moment I’m involved with creating a Big Book Order.
MPOW has two libraries: this is new as of this year, and prior to September, we had one K-12 library. When the fire happened, all the K-4 collection was actually stored in the 5-12 space, because the K-4 building wasn’t completed. So the entire K-12 collection was lost. One of the things I immediately did was contact our book jobber and ask them to help create an Opening Day Collection for the 5-12 library (our LS Librarian would handle the K-4 books).
Another book jobber, wanting our business, also gave us Opening Day Collection lists. And here’s my problem: it’s overly reliant on series books. Not series like Nancy Drew or Fruits Basket, but series from a few non-fiction publishers, like Greenhaven and Rosen and Chelsea House. Now, I like much of their work but… an entire library where 80% of the books are from just a few publishers? I’m not sure that’s what’s best for the school – any school.
For one thing, we want a diverse collection, representing many views. Much as I might not want to have both, Michael Moore and Ann Coulter have a place on our shelves, as do books both for and against abortion, creationism, etc.. My role isn’t to argue one side or the other, but to present many sides and teach the students how to make up their minds about an issue. Many of these series books don’t do that (there are a few, like the Opposing Viewpoints and Issues & Controversies books). We also want books that challenge our students to think, and many of these series are pretty bland in tone (not to mention short: several have an average page count of under 100 pages/book).
It’s at times like this I’m mindful of the things I read in The Language Police. Bland and non-threatening doesn’t work in a school library, nor does unbalanced bias.