Venn Librarian

Reflections about the intersection of schools, libraries and technology.

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Archive for the ‘School Libraries’ Category

Tackling the junk drawer

Posted by lpearle on 24 January 2018

Over the years, as students are doing research and as new books have arrived for the collection, it’s become clearer and clearer that the 300s (“Social Sciences”) are the junk drawer of the library shelves.

Sometimes, it’s the fault of the catalogers at the Library of Congress. Years ago, at a previous school, I purchased the series “The President’s Position: Debating the Issues”  and discovered that half the series was in 973.* (American History) while the other half was in 321.8 (Presidents).  Which meant, of course, that I had to figure out where my students would best find the books.  Sometimes it’s the fault of the publishers for not providing enough information to LoC (the book Islam and democracy in Indonesia : tolerance without liberalism  is really more about Indonesia and Indonesian politics than the religion, yet it was supposed to be shelved in the 200s).  Some things just baffle me, like finding a book on Watergate in our True Crime section, or a book on slavery in among books on Woolworths and LLBean (yes…. but really, no). And that’s only a few of the books ordered over the years.

In going through our collection at Milton, we noticed little things, like Marcus Garvey being in three different places.   And we knew that we had more on China that was in 951, but students weren’t using those books because they were scattered around the collection.  So, in a burst of energy and excitement (or boredom, you decide) we tackled the junk drawer.  It’s difficult to do as a solo librarian, but if you have a team?  It’s really instructive to have the conversations about topics like slavery, LGBTQ issues and history, abortion, etc..  It’s also helpful to go through the shelves and really look at things from a non-librarian’s perspective: where will our students best find the materials?  is it more useful here… or here?  And that’s not even starting to take into account the fact that OCLC occasionally changes DDC (we learned that 329 had been discontinued, but we had several books there.  Whoops!

Our overarching goal is to ensure that the books we have are both useful and findable, which sometimes means adding to the MARC record. Yes, it took a long time to get through the 300s… this time.  And yes, it’ll be an ongoing project.  The overlap between the 300s and other areas of the collection is huge, much like the overlap between the junk drawer in the kitchen and other areas of the house.  We now have a Google Doc that enumerates our cataloging norms so we can, as we get new books or find things on the shelves, put them together.  It’ll also help as we look at which books we need (at one previous school, to support the 11th grade History class, we had many books on the Treaty of Versailles but when that project ended, we didn’t need as many as we’d had, freeing up shelf space for other topics we needed for their new research papers; at another, there were nearly 1,000 books on Nazi Germany, many of which could be weeded or moved back into other areas of the collection when the course on the Nazis ceased to be offered).

To paraphrase a popular commercial tagline, what’s in your junk drawer?

 

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Minor Musings

Posted by lpearle on 27 December 2017

A holiday gift of sorts from me to you: linky goodness from the past few months.  Enjoy!

Books, Reading, etc.

School Life

Tech Stuff

Miscellany

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

Minor Musings

Posted by lpearle on 3 October 2017

Doug has a wonderful post entitled Just another shill for educational companies? that I encourage everyone to read. Here’s my policy: all ideas in any of my posts, from these Minor Musings to other, more detailed commentary, are mine – possibly inspired by others but not paid for or encouraged by a company.  One of these days I’ll go back and do a round-up of what’s worked and what hasn’t (and what sounded good at the time but now… not so much).  The results will probably surprise me, possibly surprise you.  But they won’t be “paid for”, I promise.

Books, Reading, etc.

Tech Stuff

Miscellany

  • As we start to think about building a new space and how to work with the space we have, it’s always timely to remember the Five Laws of Librarianship and working with our faculty and administration to understand what our mission is.

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

And it begins

Posted by lpearle on 12 September 2017

After a mere two weeks of meetings and organizing, school started.  Convocation last Friday… all school photo tomorrow… classes and clubs and athletics and recess and all the other moving parts that go into a school year starting to move forward (note: only 46 class days until Thanksgiving Break, but who’s counting?).  And in the library, we’re ready.

Work done over the summer gave us a new classroom, made possible by combining our workroom and office space:

Our Adult Fiction section was moved slightly, adding more space for students to “hide” (it became a popular spot last year) and we’ve got lots of shelves for displaying New Fiction and other highlights.

 

This month: Immigrants Read Here.

We’ve got other displays, too:

Our Charlottesville Resource Guide has been updated, nearly 400 books have been added to the collection, we’re back to our regular opening hours, and – this is the best part – we’ve already started to have classes in!  The entire sixth grade came for a quick tour and book talk (plus checking out books), we’re working with two physics classes on how to use NoodleTools to cite sources and an English class is coming to do work on Hemingway that will inform their work this semester.  All within one week of school’s officially starting.

I’m feeling pretty good about the start of the school year.  Here’s hoping you are, too.

Posted in Books, School Libraries, Work Stuff | 1 Comment »

Minor Musings

Posted by lpearle on 5 September 2017

In December I bought myself a new laptop, and this summer I finally cleared out my old files and programs. Yes, I procrastinate. A lot. Anyway, prior to using Feedbin, I used RSS Owl (which is great, but lives on a machine not in the cloud). Some of these links have been stored there for, well… here they are anyway. Along with some new ones just because.

Books, Reading, etc.

  • Summer’s over Time to start planning next summer’s travel. Perhaps the Lake District? Or any of the trips you can find on BookTrails?

School Life

Tech Stuff

  • So cool: text “Send me [keyword, color or emoji]” to 572-51 and the SFMOMA will send you back a piece of art (I did this early one morning).
  • I’m always in favor of bringing art to everyone, and apparently the Met’s Open Access experiment is working!
  • If only I could use my own pens, I’d grab a Rhodia Bamboo Smart Folio.

Miscellany

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

The next level up: #ACRLNEC17

Posted by lpearle on 8 August 2017

Working in an independent school, particularly one usually considered an “elite college preparatory” school means extra pressure to be aware of what my students will be expected to do and know in their next educational institution. It makes sense to spend the day at the ACRLNEC conference because many of the colleges and universities represented will be where my students end up next.

Keynote: Bringing Down the Empire: Remaking Our Work, Our Libraries, Our Selves

What is the Empire in our world? The idea that libraries no longer matter. Now, how do we fight it?

  • Remake Our Work
    • as users change, we have to change, adapt and educate
    • is higher education worth it? or is training (internships, apprenticeships, etc.) better? there’s been a huge change since the 50s, with the current expectation being “of course you’ll go to college” – however, more hands-on, critical thinking tools are needed
    • digital literacy is important: faculty are finally embracing this and the role of librarians in teaching these skills. NOTE: First Year students need research skills and are coming with subpar skills and understandings.
    • the University of Oklahoma has a virtual reality lab – think about using VR as a tool for teaching language, archaeology, history, etc.
  • Remake Our Libraries
    • with all these changes, what you’re doing with your buildings: we are not just print warehouses, so we need to become an exciting destination.
    • think about this problem/conundrum and the pace of change because what works today probably won’t work in a few years – flexibility is critical
    • one idea: use BrightSpot to rethink space; another idea: create rooms for students to Skype/FaceTime with family, friends, potential employers (or colleges)
  • Remake Our Selves
    • managing is a team sport – we need to support training and opportunity to use new skills later (in other words, don’t train then stuff the skill in a drawer)
    • the 23Things idea (BYU turned it into a contest!)

So: what is a librarian? And what is our role in the academic institution of the 21st Century?

The next two sessions were interesting, but one was (again, as at NEAISL) on archives/digital initiatives and the other was not relevant, so we’ll skip those.

New Model for Library Orientation

We don’t really have a library orientation, but that’s something I’d like to try to create. My college library orientation was four days of one hour instruction in a lecture hall, followed by at “quiz” that took several hours (albeit made easier by all the others doing the same quiz and marking answers or sharing). Did I learn anything? Not really, but I’d been using that library for a few years thanks to my father’s being on faculty there and because my high school library used Library of Congress and was, like my employer, an elite college preparatory school. But… we have students coming to us from a variety of backgrounds and levels of preparation, and while the school can test for math and language skills they have no test for research or literacy skills for incoming students. An orientation might help them feel comfortable in the space, with us as learning partners, and with the resources inside.

  • Step One: get away from library jargon, passivity and lack of real need connection
    • the early days at school are overwhelming, and the library shouldn’t contribute to that stress
    • recognize that the library and resources won’t/can’t/shouldn’t compete with their first stop for information (Google and Wikipedia, duh)
  • Step Two: find a model that works for your institution
    • the presenters work at the UVM Medical School library, so they use the clinical care model that students will be using in their every day classes – it’s a format they’re familiar with, so it makes sense and it’s “special stuff” in their lives
    • what does this look like?
      • Need (what information is sought)
      • History of Need
      • Past Information History – social, previous education, family
      • Diagnosis of Needs
      • Review of Information Systems
  • Step Three: ask for feedback from students and teachers
    • does this make sense?
    • does it help?
    • will you remember it?

Other models? The Scientific Method, Literature Review, Annotated Bibliography, Pathfinder/LibGuide, SWOT, Design Thinking.

Other ideas? Consider using Instagram or other social media to post a Research Question of the Week or Information Resource of the Week.

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Minor Musings

Posted by lpearle on 28 July 2017

Summer is a great time to binge watch while digitally organizing/reorganizing/decluttering, isn’t it? So here’s what I’ve bookmarked and saved over the past few months.

Books, Reading, etc.

School Life

Tech Stuff

Miscellany

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

The Very Overdue #AISLNO17 Post (part 3)

Posted by lpearle on 27 June 2017

My goal: to blog all the PD I’ve done this year before the academic year ends. In eight five four days. Get ready!

****

Day Two: E-Books

The best presentation advice: start on time, end early, feed participants.

This is an area we explored gently over the past few years (both at Milton and Porter’s) and haven’t gotten much buy-in for, so I was interested to see what other schools were/are doing.  There’s so much to think about, and as one person said, we need to suck it up: things are evolving (as they did from film to VHS to DVD to streaming).  Here’s my question/problem: my students, based on a survey I did at Porter’s that got a 33% response, prefer print for fiction.  Why?  Because it’s an escape from the screen, providing a more immersive/less interrupted experience.  So… there’s that.  I might do a survey of Milton’s students and faculty, particularly as Overdrive is pushing a consortium for the local independent schools.  The Massachusetts ebook program is difficult, particularly since it only allows for one book/reader!

We agreed that there are So.Many.Platforms. ABC-CLIO, Amazon (might need to circulate Kindles), Destiny Discover (which only works with Destiny, so that’s out), EBSCO, GVRL, OUP and Salem Press for NF; Overdrive, Axis360 are for Fic.  The big question is how do you support all of them, including train people in their use because it’s not “one size fits all” for platforms!  Promoting them is also an issue, because discovery isn’t as obvious as it is for print (you can’t easily browse a shelf) you need to add MARC records to the catalog.  Another way to promote is to put links everywhere, in all Resource Guides, on pamphlets, etc. You could also let students know that Snapchat reads QR codes and include those codes in book displays or on the inside cover of a reference book.

Day Two: Personal Librarian Program (CD McLean and Katie Archambault)

Another “we need to try this at MPOW” idea, which may or may not work given our size population.  But still… They got the idea after reading The Personal Librarian (there’s also this one), which further enhances the idea of library as “third space” (see a theme?  Doug and Claudette both talked about this!).  It’s important to get Admissions, Communications and the Dean of Students on board before starting, particularly since you can start talking about the program on revisit days.

Other ideas?  Create a “what is a personal librarian?” video and “get to know your librarian” videos… Tasty Tuesdays (send a surprise gift of treats to a random class)… send emails to all incoming students, detailing how the program works and connecting it to the work they’ll be doing.  CD sends a letter, a follow-up letter, is a presence during orientation retreats and promotes library tours by “their” librarian.  Make sure the program is seen as two-fold, promoting reading and research.  Asking teachers if you can embed is great – digital embedding means you can drop resources into the class page (be it WhippleHill, GClassroom, Schoology, Moodle, or whatever your school uses), pushing databases, print books and critical websites.  Encourage 1:1 consultations with both faculty and students, adding a link to your sig. file for setting up an appointment.  What about YouTube videos personalizing the experience?  New Book lunches?  Having students sign up for Reading Recommendation and then do video/email outreach.  Constantly promote services and resources.

We were reminded that it’s important to do an annual debrief, to collect statistics and to keep up with alumni.  Equally important is that we don’t have to do it all: the same program doesn’t need to exist for 9, 10, 11 and 12th grade!  You can push heavily into 9th, less in 10th and 11th, and they’ll still remember to come in in 12th.

Another way to be personal?  Get college matriculation information and create a presentation highlighting the college libraries to students (eg, “If you’re going to Bates, you’ll find….”).  Do outreach to those librarians so your students are known.  (kudos to Elizabeth Nelson for this!)

Day Two: Booktalking

This is so easy to do with LS/MS students, but US?  Sigh.  So here are some great ideas we’re going to try in AY18 to try to get our overworked, overscheduled, overstressed students to read more fiction:

Whew!  One conference down… two (NEAISL and ACRLNE) to go…

 

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The Very Overdue #AISLNO17 Post (part 2)

Posted by lpearle on 26 June 2017

My goal: to blog all the PD I’ve done this year before the academic year ends.  In eight five days.  Get ready!

****

Day One: What Keeps Me Up At Night (Courtney Lewis)

Courtney started by talking about some of the things that keep us all up at night:

  • faculty still referring to their experiences doing research, ignoring changes that have taken place since (and insisting students do it the way they did research “back when”)
  • budgets
  • what is the mission of the library, and does it mesh with the school’s mission?

She’s started to also think about other things, like discovery (how do students and teachers find our resources), tools and what students really need, as opposed to what we think or are told they need.  To find out, she reached out to the First Year Experience librarians at the schools her students matriculated at most, using a personalized letter with a link to a survey; she also posted it on the ACRL list.  There were many responses and as of March, she was still getting data.  No surprise: selectivity in schools matters, particularly in this regard (“selectivity” as defined by US News & World Report and Barrons).

I’m not going to go into the nitty-gritty of her results, but it was interesting to see how we, at a relatively selective independent school, align already with some of the results at the lower, less selective level.  The question I have to ask myself (and my staff) is how high up we want to reach, and can we differentiate between what we do with our Middle Schools students, our 9/10 graders and 11/12 graders? One big complaint – or, perhaps more accurately, concern – was that students don’t always come with the level of ability that FYE librarians/teachers need for them to have, which (IMVHO) is a result of not being able to mandate specific learning and skills for all high school students, in all high schools.  We run into this challenge with our Upper School students entering from schools other than our Middle School, so why should college be any different?

The biggest thread was that students need better understandings of what resources are useful for what types of information retrieval, to be able to transfer skills from one thing to another.  The idea that you are part of a community of learners, sharing knowledge and resources, is more critical than knowing exactly how to use a specific citation generator or style.

She learned that students will be asked to create traditional research papers (number one response), visual presentations (number two) and DIY science experiments (number three). BUT: the traditional paper, while still the top response, was favored by older professors (see about re: referring back to your own experience) and younger professors were asking for more digital types of responses (blogs, videos, etc.).  There is a critical need to make these types of products part of our curriculum!  Again and again, she heard that the end goal of all research was to make students part of the global community of scholars.  What can we, in K-12, do to ensure our students start on that path?

The other things she learned?

  • format is invisible to students (the UVA Source Death exercise, for example)
  • students need to know what librarians do and how to ask (corollary: they need to know that not everyone working in an academy library is a librarian, or does reference!)
  • skilled searching
  • how to create a topic
  • what the community of scholars is
  • how do you pace yourself when writing a paper (5 pages is different than 20 pages)
  • oral presentation with visual aids skills (don’t silo things)

Next?  She’s looking at a larger sample size, plus cross-referencing with NSSE/BCSSE/FSSE data (they have great research questions), using the data to make smart budgetary choices.  Bigger challenge: changing faculty and students from a local to a global mindset.

As I sat there, I wondered how we can do similar work at Milton.  There are schools around the country wondering that as well.  Maybe we team up and tackle this as a group?  And how can I get local buy in on changing some of how we do research and teach research skills so we know our students are better prepared for their FYE than the average student?

Day Two: Building Community (Claudette Hovasse)

For the past few years I’ve been in awe of what Claudette’s built at Cheshire and tried to think of ways to replicate it at my school.  At Porter’s we were working on it, with some success; at Milton, we need a more concentrated effort.   So, what’s she doing that’s so great?  well…

Example one: she started with a station to create a card for Faculty Appreciation that has grown into cards for Valentines, Thank Yous, Mother’s Day, etc.

Example two: Zentangle (purposeful doodling), book folding, trivia nights, games, stamping, candy sushi, cupcake decorating, pumpkin decorating, vision boards, Lego Nights, coloring book table, comic book artist, bingo, Banned Books Scavenger Hunt.

How is she doing it?  By “starting with Yes“, which has led to program and space changes.  By starting with “what if…” – students felt ownership of the space and program? what are local libraries doing (take classes and crib)?  It stemmed from a desire to build bridges between day/boarding, American/International students and has grown!  Even non CA students come to some events.  She promotes them with signs, in the parent weekly email (and has found that parents push students to attend, which helps build community and leads to greater visibility for what the library is doing).

Some final thoughts:

  • work with what you have – staffing, furnishings, facilities/maintenance, etc.  It doesn’t have to be fancy!
  • puzzles on casual tables have led to new friendships
  • when I started saying “yes” it changed how I saw myself and how the students see [the librarians]

Day One: Design Thinking (many, including yours truly!)

This was an opportunity to report and reflect on the AISL Summer Institute I attended, so here are a few bullet points:

  • Design Thinking is not a magic bullet, it really needs thought and planning (ie. it’s just another tool in the toolbox) – it is a way to give and get better feedback that is more constructive and is very collaborative
  • You don’t need to use DT language, you can create language that works for your school and your population
  • Empathy is the end product, woven throughout the project.  It is not a step.
  • What you’re really asking is not “what do you need” but “what’s missing”

I’m currently taking a Space Planning class that is using DT methodology.  Not because I need it, but as an attempt to get my staff to learn more about DT as we plan for the future of our space and program.  More on that when it’s all over.

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The Very Overdue #AISLNO17 Post (part 1)

Posted by lpearle on 23 June 2017

My goal: to blog all the PD I’ve done this year before the academic year ends.  In eight days.  Get ready!

****

I haven’t attended AISL in 16 years, since their 2001 Library Space Odyssey for a variety of reasons (schedule conflicted with school research season, sessions didn’t really apply, etc.) but 2017 in New Orleans during Spring Break (link goes to the conference guide and many speaker handouts/presentations)?  Ok, that works!

Keynote: Doug Johnson (handouts)

Doug spoke about facilities and changes, a topic near and dear to me.  After all, last summer and this we made/are making minor changes to the library and bigger things are in store.  He started with a video of the Songtext song. And then posed the following question: what does my library offer that gets patrons out of their robes/recliner? In other words, in an era when information and books can be obtained by simply looking at a screen, why go to the library?  why get dressed and go out, rather than Google?  What if instead of having a circ desk, we had a genius bar (at Milton, that would mean bringing IT and ATS into our space, at our desk – not a bad idea at all!).  Learning corners might allow tutors to work with students better.  In other words: make the space a one-stop shop with zones.

We’ve been talking a lot about the library as “third space”, where social learning takes place in space that is comfortable and relaxed.  When students are asked what they want, they want casual groupings, zones (quiet, social, etc.) and tables vs. chairs/carrels.  But for so many, the layout makes things difficult to effectively zone.  So what if we “zoned” by time?  During the academic day, silent or very quiet, then noisier after hours? What if we allowed students to move tables and chairs around, to create their own groupings?  It’s critical to remember that one style does not fit all, physically or culturally.   (aside: NCSU’s Hunt library redesign offers many different spaces and furnishings for students to chose from)

He also reminded us that rules should be friendly, more Do than Don’t.  Example?  DO use your cell to read, work on an assignment, play a game, etc. DON’T use your cell to have a conversation.

So, what’s stopping us?  What more?  Here’s a partial list to think about:

  • more adults in a space are better (aka passive supervision)
  • rebrand as an “one space” area
  • computer lab spaces are now obsolete thanks to 1:1 programs but we still need high-end spaces for editing, podcasting, etc.
  • consider a “make it” space not just a “maker” space (not all high-tech – knitting, cards, origami, etc.)
  • consider a presentation space, where students can practice their skills before presenting to a class

Having said all that, we are still a teaching space.  Perhaps provide tech tools for teachers to use and practice with before working with a class.

It’s critical to remember that the internet is not a librarian!  It doesn’t have the expertise, skills and knowledge we do, but students and teachers don’t always know that.  Solution?  Get rid of the Library Office (and Ft. Reference Desk) and be where the students are, at point of need.   It’s far less important to worry about things like DDC and overdues/fines, inventory, etc.  The focus must be on the kids.

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