Venn Librarian

Reflections about the intersection of schools, libraries and technology.

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Archive for the ‘Collection Development’ Category

Minor Musings

Posted by lpearle on 31 May 2013

Books, Reading, Etc.

School Life

Tech Related

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

Snob Appeal

Posted by lpearle on 9 May 2013

Many years ago, I worked at Theatre Communications Group.  For those that have never heard of it, TCG is a clearing house for the Off-Broadway theatre community (and by “Off-Broadway”, I mean St. Louis, LA, Seattle, etc.).  They also publish American Theatre magazine and ARTsearch, a job posting bulletin that led me to my first post-college job.

When I was there, the younger staff would often eat lunch together and look over the various flyers and information from member theatres – what was going on in Louisville?  would Arena Stage’s season be successful?  etc..   I enjoy theatre and have been very fortunate to see some wonderful productions over the years.  What separated me from the others was that I wasn’t a theatre snob.  What do I mean?  Back then, the sense around the lunch table was that if you didn’t think that Mabou Mines, Wooster Group, PS 122 and La Mama were the pinnacle of theatre and enjoyed seeing more commercial works, there was something wrong with you.  A few years earlier, I’d seen CATS in London (pre-Broadway opening) and, well, it was a great spectacle.  Not great theatre, mind you, but a great spectacle.  If I had children, that is exactly what I would take them to as a way to get them interested in going to theatre (today it’d probably be The Lion King).  But to my erstwhile colleagues, enjoying shows like this was somehow wrong.  If it wasn’t challenging or experimental, it wasn’t worth seeing (didn’t stop them from grabbing free tickets to previews, but that was work, not enjoyment).

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All things to all people?

Posted by lpearle on 18 March 2013

Recently I started working with The Center for Fiction (formerly known as the Mercantile Library).  It’s one of the few remaining subscription libraries in the country, with a focus on fiction (obviously) and a specialty in what they call suspense, but I call mystery.  There’s also a great reading room, many author events (this week, Jeffrey Deaver, Kristopher Jansma, M. G. Vassanji and Elizabeth Nunez), writing classes and… well, that’s it.

What I mean by “that’s it” is there are no rows of computers (wifi is only available to members of the writer’s studio).  No plans to create a makerspace or purchase a 3D printer.  No databases.  Just an old-fashioned library, catering to the reading tastes of its members/patrons.

For some, that’s a bad thing.  Our profession does a great job of telling us what a library today should be, how we must keep up with the technological times.  And then there’s Terry Deary, saying that libraries should close (wonder what he thinks about a subscription library… people so committed to reading that they’re willing to pay an annual fee to belong, rather than “merely” support it via their taxes).

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Curation mandate

Posted by lpearle on 12 February 2013

The other day I was reading Where the Light Falls and this quote caught my eye:

Take my advice, Miss Palmer, and prune regularly.  Everything not indispensable is noxious, says Carolus. Applies to art as well as to life.

One could also add “and libraries” couldn’t one?

Joyce Valenza very kindly quoted from my last curation post in her recent Educon presentation (slides here), and she’s got great points to make about digital curation.  But what about curating physical objects, be they DVDs or books or technologies or even magazines?  Recently I was asked the question “why do we need school librarians?” and part of my response was all about curation.

Scholars are collectors: they see a book, might be tangential to their major topic of interest or dead on point, and they have to have it.  Just in case.  Miriam Burnstein’s This Week’s Acquisitions post highlights this quite nicely. Some schools have the same philosophy, and still tout their large collection size.  The question is: is it necessary? does it really help students find the information they need?  Librarians, with their knowledge of the curriculum not just for a class but both inside each department and across the departments, are ideally able to help curate the collection to reflect the best possible collection of resources for the school at that time.

Example? When I started at Hackley, we had books on the shelves that dated to the 1920s (not just copyright, purchased!).  Ordinarily I’d say “trash ‘em” but there was a project that started the 11th grade history class based on the Treaty of Versailles.  These books provided primary sources for this project, an invaluable resource for students.  There was reluctance to use them, because there was no index (shock! horror! they had to actually read the book to find the information) but also an acceptance that these were really helpful books.  Once the project ended, however, the books became less useful; thanks to Google’s scanning program, they’re now available online and don’t have to be put on a reserve cart.  One of the librarians I worked with was always reluctant to weed because there might – at some point – be a need for the book.

Sorry, but that’s not an acceptable answer any longer.  “Just in case” leads to many, many dusty books that clog shelves, obscuring the really valuable stuff that is needed now.  Think of when you’re go into a bookstore looking for a book on some topic, without a specific title or author in mind.  There’s no curation there, it’s a collection – an organized collection, but a collection just the same.  How do you know which book is the best? You flip through the offerings, evaluating the sentences and coverage, the layout, etc.. and then you choose something and hope that it’s the perfect book.  In a library with a curated collection, you know that someone has deliberately chosen selected resources that will give you the best information on the topic possible.

Which do you want your students to have access to?

Over the years, my thoughts on weeding/deaccessioning/curating have changed.  If a non-fiction book hasn’t circulated (and this includes In Library Uses – and if you’re not tracking those, start now because it’s an invaluable tool!) in 5-7 years, and it’s not a “classic” (eg, Darwin’s Origins of the Species or Campbell’s The Power of Myth) start looking for an update and ask the department if it’s really needed on your shelves.  Some departments want those books for their departmental library and that’s ok: let them have it.  Better them using it “if needed” than you keeping it when it’s not helping anyone.  Fiction? I’m giving it 3-5 years and then it can get sold or handed over to classroom libraries/favored readers.  That may give business managers fits, but in the 21st century we need to curate, not collect, in school libraries.

Posted in Books, Collection Development | 3 Comments »

Not synonyms

Posted by lpearle on 14 January 2013

I’m working on a project and one of the requirements is finding multicultural texts.  What worries me is that for some people, “multicultural” is code for “black” or “African-American”.  It shouldn’t be.

Multicultural, and the other word I hear tossed around in schools, “diversity” should be about a wide range of things.  Yes, there’s ethnicity and race to consider.  Religion? sure. A Palestinian Catholic does not have the same references as a Palestinian Muslim.  Ditto an Eastern European Jew and a Coptic Jew.  Or someone from Spain and someone from Guatemala. And within the narrower band of black/African-American, there are differences between North and South, rural and inner city, descended from slaves and immigrated willingly, etc.. So when we’re looking for books that are “multicultural” why do I so often hear about African-Americans?  Within the larger category of diversity, we also need to consider economic status, sexual orientation and learning issues. Yet again, I rarely hear those concerns and qualities when choosing diversity-related books.

I’ve also been wondering how multicultural a book is if the character is merely a different ethnicity, mentioned in passing.  What I mean is, what about the book that says, “my bestie comes from a Chinese family, but you’d never know if you go over because they don’t even have chopsticks” (ok, that’s a gross exaggeration, but you know what I mean – the cool ethnic twist is never really part of the book it’s just an aside tossed in to show that the author is showing a diversity of characters)?  That’s not really multicultural, in my opinion.

To be truly multicultural, the book should expose the reader to something outside their normal experience.  Granted, for an inner city reader, Little House on the Prairie is a multicultural experience. The question is, is that such a bad thing?  Shouldn’t the goal not be to represent another culture or group simply because it’s currently politically correct but because it opens up a world they wouldn’t necessarily be able to envision otherwise?

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Minor Musings

Posted by lpearle on 20 December 2012

Just in time for Winter Break!

Books, Reading, Etc.

School Life

  • Critical thinking is important, right?  Here are six short films that may help teach why.  Then use Joyce’s post exploring Four Tools for Determining Web Cred.
  • Parents always wonder/worry about internet safety.  These 26 Tips should help (or at least start a much needed conversation).

Tech Stuff

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

The YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults Finalists

Posted by lpearle on 5 December 2012

I’ve been blogging about the process since last October (and there’s one more post to come) but until then, here are the finalists!

Posted in Collection Development, Professional organizations | 1 Comment »

Thoughts from #ALA12 – learning sessions

Posted by lpearle on 28 June 2012

With all my meetings, the time that I had to take advantage of the learning opportunities was slim.  That didn’t mean that I didn’t try my best to take advantage of what was there, though.

First, of course, was the session I did with the wonderful Ellysa Cahoy.  We explored “Online Personal Archiving”, talking about the need for us to think about what information we’re creating, what we’re consuming, what tools we’re using to save information and what information we really do need to save:
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Posted in Collection Development, Conferences, Professional organizations, School Libraries, Techno Geekiness | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

The Future of Reference – #ljwikiage notes

Posted by lpearle on 15 June 2012

Yesterday I “attended” a webcast hosted by Library Journal entitled  Authority, Connectivity, and Discovery: The Evolving Role of Reference in the Wiki Age.  I was interested because over the past few years, as I rethought the layout of the “old” (aka “pre-fire”) library and how we would do things in the “new” (post-fire) at Hackley, my thoughts about reference materials have changed.  I’ve even presented on it:

Rethinking reference resources

View more presentations from Laura Pearle

So, what did we participants learn?

  • Reference is mostly for context: an initial point of entry/contact for that topic, helping researchers (formal and not) build keyword lists and get an overview.
  • Currency is still very important (because of the role of reference as an entry point)
  • Convenience is critical: what are the access points? how do we inform patrons what we have and how to use it?
  • We all use Wikipedia – even experienced scholars – and we all understand the risks (I’d argue that in K-12, we teachers tell students the risks but they don’t listen or care!)

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Thoughts about #SLJDOD 2012

Posted by lpearle on 7 June 2012

The idea of spending a day listening to people talk about books?  Heaven! Many thanks to SLJ for hosting this Day of Dialog.

Our keynote speaker was Walter Dean Myers, slightly stooped under the weight of his medal (he’s now the Ambassador for Young People’s Literature) but amazingly passionate about literacy in the United States:

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

 
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