Venn Librarian

Reflections about the intersection of schools, libraries and technology.

  • Tag This!

  • March 2020
    S M T W T F S
  • Prior Posts

  • Copyright

Archive for March, 2020

Current mood

Posted by lpearle on 27 March 2020

Anyone else feeling this way?

Usually at this point in Spring Break, I’m starting to feel as though it might be time to go back to work.  I miss my colleagues and students, and wonderful as my cats are they simply do not care that I’ve just read a great book (nor do they want to read it).  I’ll check my email… maybe do some desultory work on a project or two… and then worry that I haven’t finished my Spring Break To Be Done list and rush to finish that.  Then, the night before classes start, I’ll toss and turn because school.*

This year is different, though.  We had a “COVID-19” day for the last day before Break, which meant that seven scheduled classes did not begin to explore their research topics.  The pandemic means that no one will be returning to campus until early May (maybe), so there will be 350 students doing their research online only – and those students will be spread out around the world.  We’ve created a digital portal for the library and are holding “office hours” from 5:30am-9:00pm ET (don’t worry, we’ll take turns).

So far, so doable.

Between now and Monday, we need to finish a generic Resource Guide that will walk students through online research and prepare to customize it based on the class or course group need.  We need to create discipline specific resource folders in our LMS so that teachers will have “one stop shopping” for access to what we can do to help.  Preparing for students to “return” on Wednesday entails ramping up our marketing content, making sure they know what online resources we can provide as well as promoting books and ways to take a mental break during this difficult time.

How close will we get to finishing the now seemingly endless list of things that need to be done before then?  We’ll see.  I’m so grateful for my AISL and ISS colleagues, all struggling with the same questions and problems and all sharing resources and ideas via Zoom and other platforms.

Stay tuned.








* despite not currently being a student, I still get that sleepless night just before school restarts after a break – many teachers, including my father and a recently retired colleague, also have had that feeling 40 years into their careers.  Must be a school thing.

Posted in Musings, Pedagogy, School Libraries, Student stuff, Work Stuff | Leave a Comment »

Maybe it’s just me

Posted by lpearle on 19 March 2020

I tend to find words and grammar interesting.  It might be because my uncle was a sociolinguist, it might just be because I’m an odd duck.  But the following amused me and I hope it amuses you, too:

(thanks to my sixth grade teacher, this actually makes sense)

Of course, that led to


And then there was this:

For more grammar fun:

followed closely by


(yes, I’m against the long book subtitle trend)

Posted in Life Related | Leave a Comment »

What really matters when reading

Posted by lpearle on 16 March 2020

I’ve written before about why there’s a problem with reading levels and lexiles.  We all know, sadly, that they’re still a thing, despite authors and librarians pleas:

I’ve read so many books that are published with a recommended age, or grade, and I know that those are more a marketing thing from publishers and essentially meaningless.  Some 12-year-olds are ready for much higher material and some 14-year-olds aren’t, but the publisher needs to recommend some general age so that bookstores and AR quizzes and librarians know how to deal with each book.

Many years ago I helped create some curriculum units and one of the requirements was the the readings be at (or above) certain Lexile levels.  There are websites you can use to tell you which level a book is, but as we all know, sometimes simple books contain very deep thoughts.  In one case, the group needing these units asked for us to change readings because they were too simple (yet the “appropriate” age group would not necessarily understand the context or content) and in another, they wanted to change a reading because the students wouldn’t understand the context (yet that reading appeared in 7 of 12 previous year’s state tests in another subject on a different topic).

My point is, I get the marketing aspect.  I understand parents wanting guidance.  I don’t understand why the level or grade or age is taken as having the weight that we might give to Holy Writ.

Posted in Books, Musings, Rants | Leave a Comment »

Minor Musings

Posted by lpearle on 13 March 2020

It’s been well over a year since my last one of these. Let’s see what I’ve found since then.  For many schools in the Northeast, there’s the approaching Spring Break in which to explore.  And yes, there’s more to follow.

Books, Reading, etc.

Library Links

Tech Stuff

Student Centered

  • My seniors are learning where they’re going to be next year, and Stephen Bell has a list of the things they’ll need from their next librarians.  How can we help them bridge that gap?
  • Along with that, we need to remember that school libraries are continuing to evolve.
  • For far too many students, studying history is just another box to tick for graduation.  This History 101 class (and rationale) is something every history department should read about.
  • This walkabout is something I’d love to try during orientation/the opening of school (for faculty and students!)
  • IMVHO, ninth graders should do a serious annotated bibliography instead of a research paper.


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

When you’re the boss…

Posted by lpearle on 9 March 2020

Last week the other librarians and I had a real case of the Friday’s.  I’d been a little inspired by Sara at Thayer, but then I saw this twitter thread and, well… to help us get over our Friday’s, I thought it might help for us to create the following:


DISCLAIMER: We are not responsible for any earworms.

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

Not a fan

Posted by lpearle on 3 March 2020

There are words that we, in polite society, don’t say.  Some of those words have been claimed, or reclaimed, by the group intended to be insulted by that word (eg, queer).  And some are supposed to be used only “in group”.

I raise this because one of our popular databases here is the online OED.  It’s used heavily in the ninth grade English classes, and I suspect many adults use it to find etymologies of words (or alternate spellings).  So imagine my shock when I read this on LanguageLog, that the “Y-word” has been repurposed and defined:

2. British. In extended use: a supporter of or player for Tottenham Hotspur Football Club (traditionally associated with the Jewish community in north and east London). Originally and frequently derogatory and offensive, though also often as a self-designation.

Even the football club is asking for people to stop using That Word.

At MPOW the English Department has established the norm that while they may have texts that use certain language, in reading aloud or speaking about it “n-word” is to be used. That makes sense because there are many works that use that word that are still worth reading.  But there are many other words that do not need to be written or read, and this is one of them.

While looking through our language/grammar section, I and a colleague found a book listing ethnic and other slurs.  It’s now gone, despite it possibly having value in a linguistic setting.  Why provide even more ways to spread division and cruelty?


Posted in Books, Collection Development, Ethics | Leave a Comment »