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Archive for the ‘Collection Development’ Category

Book-based thoughts about #alaac15

Posted by lpearle on 2 July 2015

I have so much more to write about, but just don’t have time right now to digest and properly reflect on the sessions.  So instead, here’s the “easy” post, all about the books!

ARCs to savor – look for these books soon! (ok, I haven’t read more than one or two… yet…):

  • Slade House by David Mitchell (huge surprise, given the appearance of The Bone Clocks earlier this year)
  • Worlds of Ink and Shadow by Lena Coakley (historical fiction about the Brontes)
  • The Trouble in Me by Jack Gantos (no one does fictional autobiography like Gantos.  No one).
  • Most Dangerous by Steve Sheinkin (about Daniel Ellsberg, maybe helping students understand why what he did was such a Big Deal Back Then)
  • Untwine by Edwidge Dandicat (need I say more?)
  • The Year of Lear by James Shapiro (maybe understanding the historical setting around the writing of the play will help students appreciate it more?)
  • We Believe the Children by Richard Beck (looking forward to revisiting the hysteria)

For the record, I got nearly 70 books at ALA, all of which I’m hoping I’ll truly enjoy.  These just seemed to be the most universally interesting.  Or not.

A few years ago, Wendy introduced me to the joy that is the Best Fiction for Young Adults teen feedback session.  If at all possible, I try to go and hear what the teens really think (because as a 50+-year-old, sometimes I just don’t think like a teen).  The following is a list of the books that got Much Love, Some Love and Mixed Love from the group that spoke, and one or two that they didn’t seem to like as much as the committee did:

  • Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (Becky Albertalli) – some love
  • The Tightrope Walkers (David Almond) – some love
  • Infandous (Elana Arnold) – mixed love
  • The Doubt Factory (Paolo Bacigalupi) – no real love
  • Silent Alarm (Jennifer Banash) – some love
  • The Darkest Part of the Forest (Holly Black) – mixed love
  • The Game of Love and Death (Martha Brockenbrough) – mixed love
  • The Bunker Diary (Kevin Brooks) – mixed love
  • Alex as Well (Alyssa Brugman) – mixed love
  • Audacity (Melanie Crowder) – some love
  • Death Coming Up the Hill (Chris Crowe) – some love
  • I’ll Meet You There (Heather Demetrios) – some love
  • Eden West (Peter Hautman) –  some love
  • Poisoned Apples (Christine Heppermann) – much love
  • Little Peach (Peggy Kern) – much love
  • Read Between the Lines (Jo Knowles) – some love
  • A Court of Thorns and Roses (Sarah J. Maas) – some love
  • All the Bright Places (Jennifer Niven) – much love
  • Vanishing Girls (Lauren Oliver) – some love
  • The Boy in the Black Suit (Jason Reynolds) – mixed love
  • Bone Gap (Laura Ruby) – mixed love
  • The Winner’s Crime (Marie Rutkoski) – mixed love
  • Fig (Sarah Elizabeth Schantz) – some love
  • The Ghosts of Heaven (Marcus Sedgwick) – mixed love
  • X (Ilyasah Shabazz) – much love
  • Challenger Deep (Neal Shusterman) – much love
  • The Walls Around Us (Nova Ren Suma) – mixed love
  • All the Rage (Courtney Summers) – much love
  • In Real Life (Laurence Tabak) – mixed love
  • An Ember in the Ashes (Sabaa Tahir) – mixed love
  • The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B (Teresa Toten) – mixed love
  • Hold Tight, Don’t Let Go (Laura Rose Wagner) – some love
  • We All Looked Up (Tommy Wallach) – mixed love
  • My Heart and Other Black Holes (Jasmine Warga) – mixed love
  • This Side of Home (Renee Watson) – some love

There were 59 books on the list, so that “only” 24 were left off during a whirlwind 90 minute session isn’t bad.  For me, the surprises were that Mosquitoland (David Arnold), Saint Anything (Sarah Dessen), The Girl at Midnight (Melissa Grey), Razorhurst (Justine Larbalesteir), Hold Me Closer (David Levithan) and Black Dove, White Raven (Elizabeth Wein) were not mentioned at all.  That might not mean anything… or it might.  What I do know is that I’m going to use the much loved and some loved books in a Welcome Back display in September, asking our students to weigh in.

Now I’m off on a brief vacation (and some reading of the new books).  More on ALA when I return.

 

Posted in Books, Collection Development, Conferences | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Reclamation

Posted by lpearle on 25 March 2015

Recently, there have been discussions (both at school and in popular culture) about who gets to use “the n-word” – the Oklahoma SAE “chant”, LiLo’s tweet are among the conversation starters.  I recently watched Pride, and there is a scene where some bystanders call the activists “queer” and the response is that there is a history in the LGBTQ community to “own” the word by using and thereby decreasing its power to hurt (remember the We’re Here, We’re Queer chants during the early days of AIDS?).  Last week a F/friend gave a presentation about the “Disorderly [Quaker] Women” who led the abolition and suffrage movement and asked the question, “where did ‘Quaker’ come from?” (it was deragotory; the founders, and the followers, called themselves Friends but now both are acceptable).

There is – obviously – a long history of groups taking an insulting word or phrase and using it themselves.  So why is this word different? Why haven’t other words been reclaimed (for a list of some of those words, see the Scrabble banned words list)? My theory is that it’s about the leadership of the group taking ownership, or not, of the word/phrase.  Yes, some of these words are out in popular culture, leading to some confusion among non-members of the group (the “if [singer/actor/comedian name] uses it, why can’t I?” complaint).  But are the leaders using it?

Aside: leaders is the wrong word, admittedly, but it’s standing in for “elders, respected members of the group, activists, etc.”

In the case of the word first mentioned, do we hear people like President Obama using it? Congressman John Lewis? Henry Louis Gates? Even Richard Pryor stopped following his trip to Kenya. Rabbis and Jewish leaders don’t use the words and phrases that denigrate them.  Ditto Italians, Chinese, etc. leaders.

So, how do we have those uncomfortable conversations about words that are unacceptable, when for some, using that word is empowering, or reclaiming, the word?  What is the role of the library, beyond ensuring that if the resources we have contain those words, they do so for defensible reasons?

Posted in Collection Development, Musings, School Libraries | Leave a Comment »

The upside (maybe) and other collection thoughts

Posted by lpearle on 21 August 2014

In my last post, I mentioned that I hate shelving.  The upside, besides nice, neat shelves with books that are findable is that it’s a great way to look at your collection, particularly if there’s a research project ongoing (inventory is another great tool, and if you’re not doing an annual inventory, shame on you!).  The collections at three of the four schools I’ve worked at have been… neglected.  There are many wonderful books on the shelves, or they would be wonderful if we were still in the 1980s (or an earlier decade).

At my last school, there were a number of books published in the late teens-early 20s of the last century.  Now, that part of the  collection should be an automatic “weed” right?  Not so fast there! The 11th grade history class was entitled “The Twentieth Century World” and the initial focus is on the Treaty of Versailles, which essentially sets up the entire political world we now inhabit, and those books? They were written by people who were at the talks, crafting the treaty.  So while in the 90s or 80s those may have seemed outdated, by the early 00s, they were primary source materials.

Weeding, it’s tricky!

I saw this tweet a while ago,

and immediately thought, “oh my! wouldn’t that be nice…” The reality is that in a school, you can’t be quite that draconian.  You can do what we’re doing, which is replacing old versions of books like poetry – books we need, but are just so old the students don’t want to use them – and really evaluating the history and social sciences selections.  We did a massive weed of the literary criticism (no longer used) and the science collection already, which dropped about 6,000 volumes from our shelves.  My guess? We’ll probably weed another 3-4,000 this year.  And we’re using Thrift Books to help ease the guilt of getting rid of some of these books.

Without doing shelving, I wouldn’t really be looking at the books that we have, comparing what’s being used for research and what’s still sitting there – too old, too decrepit or just too out-of-date.  So there is an upside… maybe.

Posted in Books, Collection Development, School Libraries | 2 Comments »

I read…

Posted by lpearle on 11 August 2014

Ok, to be honest, I almost titled this post “iRead” but I don’t want to jump on any bandwagons!

So, yes, I read.  A lot.  It’s one of my few real talents – reading, reading, reading.  Since January I’ve read 180 books (well… started 180 books.  some were so bad I couldn’t finish) in a variety of genres and for a variety of audiences.  Format, on the other hand, was limited to print and ebook.  Frankly, I prefer print but for ARC/ARE books, I’ll accept (grudgingly) the e version.  When I left my last school, several friends banded together and bought me a Kindle, making it easier to get e books.  At my current school I have an iPad (there’s a 1:1 program) but I never read on that.

Here’s the thing: there’s something wonderfully immersive about a print book.  I open the book up… dive into the world the author has created (that’s true even for non-fiction books)… and woe betide any animal, human or feline, who disturbs me.  When I’m reading on my Kindle, I don’t feel as immersed.

Last year I was given a copy of the recent Brown/Haverford/Trinity/a few other schools e-book survey.  The results didn’t surprise me, but I suspect they surprised the administrators: students don’t want to go e: they prefer print for both research and pleasure reading (sorry, no link).  The Chronicle reported something similar  in 2013, and Publisher’s Weekly  and the Financial Times did the same in 2014.

And in a completely unscientific survey of 100 students at Porter’s (nearly 1/3 of the student body), the girls said the same: give us print, please.

As mentioned earlier, we have a 1:1 program, with a mandate from the administration that if a textbook is available in e format, that’s what the students should buy.  I’ve heard from some parents, and not a few students, that it works for them with math and science texts, but for their English books?  Please, can we have print?  Some are buying two versions, the e and the print, so that they can read in their preferred format and still comply with school requirements.

How has this affected our collection?  We subscribe to Credo Reference and EBSCO’s Academic E-books, giving the students a wide range of books for research.  They’re pretty heavily used, which is great because we certainly couldn’t keep that many books on hand! It’s also allowed us to remove older books from the collection, knowing that the information is covered in the online collection (and eliminating the “wow – this book might just fall apart in my hands” factor).  But in terms of the fiction collection, we’re still going strong with print.

Last [academic] year I was a panelist for a conference discussion on ebooks.  One of the other panelists uses Axis 360 at her school and has great success; part of that is because she has a co-ed population and it’s a great way to get sensitive books into the hands of readers (by “sensitive” I mean GLBTQCA* books, or books about health/emotional issues… and quite possibly “girl” books being read by boys).  If I had that population, it might work better at Porter’s.  The previous librarian subscribed to some Follett shelf books, and there are six Kindles with books loaded (we even borrowed the themed Kindle idea espoused by Courtney Lewis at Wyoming Seminary.  They’re a hard sell here!

Still, as we move forward into AY15, we’ll be thinking more about this question and trying to see what combination works best with our students.  Note: our students.  As the previous paragraph illustrates, YMMV when introducing ebooks into your collection.  Some schools just force them down students throats (Cushing Academy, I’m looking at you!) but to me, that feels wrong.  Far better is to keep taking the pulse of the students, seeing what they want and what’s out there (devices, programs, availability, etc.).

How are you dealing with this issue/conundrum?  And how do uRead?

Posted in Books, Collection Development, School Libraries, Work Stuff | 2 Comments »

Minor Musings

Posted by lpearle on 30 December 2013

Now that I’m tidying up from a year-end reading binge, it’s time to clear out some of my saved links on Twitter and in my RSS feed.  Lucky you!

Books, Reading, Etc.

School Life

Tech Stuff

Etcetera

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

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 »

Long time no post…

Posted by lpearle on 28 October 2013

but lots going on behind the scenes, as it were.  The move to a new town and a new school have taken up a lot of my time and energy, but I am starting to feel settled and ready to move forward (as opposed to playing catch-up, as I have been over the past two months).

So, I hear you ask (or, more accurately, I imagine I hear you asking… sometimes I hear things, you know?), “what have you been up to?”  Everything, I reply, from figuring out how to use the copy machine and where to get office supplies to getting to know the collection and the curriculum to meeting colleagues and students, with some purchasing and programming and policy-making along the way.  Let’s start with that last part first, shall we?

One might assume that in the year 2013, all school libraries – especially those in independent schools – would have published policies.  In my research for the evaluation chapter of  Independent School Libraries: Perspectives on Excellence I noted that often the accreditation agencies required policies as part of the ancillary materials submitted, but apparently if they weren’t, no one said anything.  I suspect that the school’s administration assumed policies were in place or didn’t care if there were any and just went about their business.  Until, of course, a challenge arose.  Now, I’m not necessarily talking about the “remove this book from your shelves” type of challenge, but the “have you seen what the librarians are removing from the shelves?” types of challenges from parents and faculty who don’t understand that books that are old, perhaps out-of-date in terms of information or falling apart, that have been surpasses by newer critical texts in that subject area, or where a digital version makes it easier for students to access the information really shouldn’t be on the shelves any longer.  Example?  At Hackley, we had the Bloom’s and Twayne’s books on our shelves and one teacher who assigned a short-story study.  The first student who got to the book on, for example, Salinger or Vonnegut, “won” – but with the on-line versions, all students needing that information could get it.  But I digress.  My point is, school libraries need policies in place, both to explain how the collection is developed and to protect the librarians from well-meaning others who don’t understand that a school library is not an archive, it is not a research library in need of every edition of a work, it is an ever-changing entity that needs to reflect the current interests and needs of the school community.

Much more fun has been starting to do outreach into the community, via a twitter feed (@FordLibrary), blog and updated front-end webpage (still a work-in-progress), and many, many displays:

More exciting is our participation in the Before I Die... project/book launch, which you can follow on our blog (photos are updated daily).

And then there’s the girls, and the pace of working in a boarding school.  Our days aren’t 8-4, Monday-Friday.  There’s sit-down dinner (Tuesdays, 6:20-7pm), Study Hall duty (also Tuesdays, 7:30-9:45pm), weekend duty (only eight during the year, but still!) and advising the JSA group; colleagues have breakfast meetings, advising, coaching, dorm duty and other out-of-classroom experiences.  The time we have off is precious, and for me until now, not as book-filled as I’d like.  But that will change!

And, one hopes, regular posting will resume.

Posted in Collection Development, Life Related, Musings, School Libraries | 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 »

 
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