Venn Librarian

Reflections about the intersection of schools, libraries and technology.

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Archive for the ‘School Libraries’ Category

Time to breathe

Posted by lpearle on 13 November 2018

Because second semester is essentially Research Semester, with three months of classes (often 15-20 classes a day), we tend to tackle major projects in first semester.  Perhaps not the smartest idea, given the exhaustion I and the other librarians face by, well, now.  Luckily Thanksgiving Break is just around the corner, and then it’s a short time to Winter Break… and after that, we’re setting up for Exam Week and hurtling into Research Season.

  • For example, last year we tackled the junk drawer, and this year we’re continuing looking at the collection – thus far we’ve done the 500s, 600s and 700s (with luck we’ll get through the 800s before second semester; the 900s will wait until next year).  The past two years have brought up some humorous cataloging oopses.  I’ve already mentioned that at PCS I found “The Wrath of Grapes” miscataloged as “The Grapes of Wrath”.  What we’re finding now are more problems either as the Library of Congress is creating the CIP information or in-house as things were cataloged:
      • The Rape of Nanking was found with other books on sexual assault
      • The section on population control contained a book on the Holocaust
      • Among the books on stores like Wal-Mart was a book on slavery
      • The Bone Woman, about a forensic anthropologist working on mass graves, was in the anthropology section
      • Going Dutch: how England plundered Holland’s glory is about the rise of England as a world power, not about art theft and belongs in history, not art

    Each of these books gets a “yes… but NO!” from us and we move it to where it will be found and useful to our students.  There are, of course, many more that are reasonably in one area of the collection but we feel belong elsewhere.  Still, it’s these gems that keep us going.

  • We’re also moving books around physically.  Thanks to this rethinking project, there are shelves we don’t need in our library and would really be helpful for our Art Department library, so we’re rearranging things to free up a bookcase that will be moved over Thanksgiving Break.  It’s also a great opportunity for us to rearrange some of the second floor tables (oddly enough, neither we nor the administration feel that a group “hiding” in a corner playing Fortnight is a group best using the library’s resources and that a rearrangement might help them see the error of their ways).
  • Our Resource Guides are being revised and added to, including one on Violence in America and one designed to provide resources for the recent visit from the Defamation Project. Thanks to our History Department teachers helping assess the utility of a discovery service, EDS will join our offerings – leading, we hope, to better searching during Research Season.
  • The Greater Boston Cooperative Library Association is hosting this year’s AISL conference and Milton will be hosting one morning (during the start of our Intro History classes doing research); I’ll be reprising The What If… Scenario with my two co-presenters and “hosting” a Dinner with a Local Librarian.
  • I’m still reading for the Excellence in Children’s and Young Adult Science Fiction award… a little behind on that, but I can catch up, right?

While it’s not quite an official honor, I was interviewed by one of our Spanish classes (I’m guessing they translated my English answers into Spanish for a class presentation) and our photography teacher asked if I’d sit for one of his advanced students who was being assigned to take a mere 15 minutes for the photo shoot and to turn it around the next day, mimicking some of the realities of being a professional photographer.  The student and I chatted while he was shooting, and this was the final photo:

Next week I’ll be at the ALAN Workshop then away for Thanksgiving Break.  With all that’s going on, it’s good to have time to breathe!

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

And we’re off!

Posted by lpearle on 13 September 2018

The school year officially started on Tuesday.  The seniors processed in to Convocation, there were speeches, and then classes began.  To be honest, I could use another week to get ready but, well, that’s not happening.

Also on Tuesday, we created a calendar to highlight potential displays (no to “National Popcorn Day”, yes to “Centenary of Armistice Day”) and used last year’s calendar to pre-prepare for classes coming in.  One of those classes, working with a teacher of Class IV Physics (we’re a physics first school, and Class IV = ninth grade) has already reached out, saying that his students found our NoodleTools lesson very helpful.  I then emailed the other physics teachers, asking if they’d like a similar lesson and as of this morning, three have already said they’d love it!  Yay!!

Yesterday was our Department Chairs meeting, and we discussed the book Meeting Wise.  Now, some of our departments have 20 members… the library has five.  Two of them are part-time (one 25 hours/week, the other 10).  So our meetings are a little different from most, as it’s easy to have discussions with everyone’s voice is heard.  And, like other departments, we see each other all the time.  But there were a few take aways from the book that I’m going to try.  For example, each week we start with a One Minute Debrief, so we’re all aware of what’s going on in our daily professional lives.  It’s turned into a laundry list of “I shelved… I watered the plants… I worked on a Resource Guide…” and this year, I’m going to try to get that to morph into more of a “I’ve been working on [larger project]…. I’ve been thinking about how we’re teaching [skill] for [class]…”  We’ll see how that goes.

We also talked about departmental goals for the year.  For me, those include continuing to “rightsize” and “right place” the collection – are the books in the best place for students to find/use?  do we need these books (eg, do we have the right books on the shelves)?  – by both looking at each book on the shelf and asking departments to come in and look at “their” collections to advise on areas of growth or shrinkage.  Another goal is to broaden our range in terms of classes and departments, trying to build bridges to teachers who have never used the library’s resources or departments who never come in.  Of course, thinking about the new library we’ll be in (in 3-4 years) and what that will look like physically is important, so we’ll visit several new (or newly renovated) libraries.  And then there’s the “yes, I am crazy enough to try to pull this off” thing I’m not going to talk about just now… but stay tuned.

I was joking with two high school friends about how the year had just started and that I was counting the days (then 271, now 269) until graduation.  It feels like it’s forever away… and right around the corner.

Posted in School Libraries | 1 Comment »

Speaking their language

Posted by lpearle on 30 August 2018

One of the many problems I’ve had over the years with various sets of standards is the language.  Those whom I’ve edited over the years know that jargon is a no-no (ok, I use it here but this is my personal blog not a professional publication).  If what you’re saying relies on jargon indicating an insider status, it excludes anyone not part of the group, right?  And if you’re publishing, in a journal or magazine or even a professional blog, why do you want to be exclusionary?  Why not say whatever it is in clear, plain language?

Last night AASL’s (that’s the American Association of School Librarians, a division of the American Library Association, or ALA) President tweeted that there were crosswalks between the AASL standards and those of Future Ready Libraries and ISTE (International Society of Technology in Education).  This is great, as it provides me, and other librarians, with language we can use to talk with our technology partners.

It would be even better if we could get the same for the standards for all other disciplines, like math or science or even English.  Don’t get me wrong – we have a great relationship with our math department, but what if we could say to them “your national standards say xxx, and our national standards also say xxx – see?” in their language?  How many more collaborations could bloom?  I’m also looking for a crosswalk between the AASL and ACRL (Association of College and Research Librarians) so we can help our schools better prepare our students for their next educational experience.

Having these crosswalks is great.  More need to be created.  Or maybe we could all write them in plain, easily understood language so anyone can understand them?

Posted in Professional organizations, School Libraries, Techno Geekiness, Work Stuff | Leave a Comment »

Minor Musings

Posted by lpearle on 20 August 2018

One final round-up before school begins.

Books, Reading, etc.

School Life

  • Do you have students who study architecture or the classics or ancient history?  This twitter thread on ruins might give them some interesting resources.  And then there’s Tutte le opere from the Museo della Civilta Romana
  • LGBTQ issues (especially Stonewall) are always popular research topics at my schools.  NYPL has great online resources to help.

Tech Stuff

Miscellany

  • The larger site deals with NYC’s grid but there are maps of other grids – perfect for thinking about city planning, urban life, etc..

 

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

My reading journey

Posted by lpearle on 16 August 2018

Last week I had an upsetting exchange with two friends on Twitter that I have to share because school’s starting and this nonsense will start again.

But first, some background.  Most people know I read quite a few books in a year (I also read magazines and newspapers).  I’ve never understood people who say “I don’t read” because I’m reasonably certain they’re not actually illiterate.  What they mean is they don’t read books (or as many as I do) or they don’t read novels or something.  I also doubt those Pew surveys that say that people don’t read books after they leave college: how are they defining books?  Are they including graphic novels or audiobooks?  Anyway.

My mother has an MEd and for a few years before I entered her life, she taught Kindergarten and first grade.  She’s an incredibly smart person and yet, somehow, the idea that there were developmental differences between a toddler and one of her students didn’t quite sink in, so when I was 2 1/2 years old, she started to teach me to read by placing labels on things all over the house (so the table had a big label that said, you guessed it, table on it, etc.).  By the time I was in Kindergarten I was reading above my age group so my teacher gave me additional reading; when we moved from Ohio to Central New York, it was clear that between that and my father’s teaching me basic math (and my grandfather teaching me cursive!) first grade would be boring, so I moved up to second grade.  Dad used to read to me, really bringing his favorite childhood stories to life with voices and inflections; when I was seven, he started <i>Treasure Island</i> and for some reason never got through the last few chapters – to this day, I don’t know how things end.  He’s still around and I live in hope he’ll finish.

The next year, a babysitter gave me her old Nancy Drews and I read <i>The Clue in the Dancing Puppet</i> one night – it gave me my one and only wake up screaming nightmare.  My parents suggested that perhaps I not read any more of those. At nine, I read <i>The Hobbit</i> and by ten I’d read <i>The Lord of the RIngs</i>.  Then we moved to Geneva and I discovered Enid Blyton and Elinor M. Brent-Dyer… and Victoria Holt’s <i>The Mistress of Mellyn</i>.  My school librarian realized I was a reader, but when I concentrated on the Blytons and rediscovered Nancy Drew, she spoke with my mother about how I could be reading better (or more difficult, or something like that) books.  Mom apparently told her I was fine.

Back in the US, in eighth grade, two things happened.  The first was we spent part of our year in English doing minicourses.  Somehow, I didn’t get my first three choices so they put me in a speed reading class.  At the start of the class we took some test to determine our starting speed and I tested at 1000wpm.  The teacher left me alone after that.  The second was a standardized test that determined your reading level, and for some reason we graded each other’s tests before the teacher asked “how many got xx wrong? you’re reading at y level. how many got xx-1 wrong? you’re reading at y+1 level” etc.  She stopped when they got to those who had 10 wrong, then counted.  After double counting, she asked who was missing… and the person grading my test said, “Laura got none wrong” which apparently meant I was reading at a college or above level.

None of this made a difference to my reading – I read what I wanted, when I wanted.  Rereading things like <i>Mistress of Mellyn</i> as a later teen made me realize how much of that book I’d missed at age 10.  As an adult, I read a wide range of books, from picture books to learned tomes.  I’m not saying this as a humblebrag, just as information.  And over the past few years, I’ve been increasingly grateful that back in the 60s and 70s we didn’t have programs like AR and F&P, and no one cared about lexiles.  I’m astoundingly unatheletic, nor am I interested in crafts like scrapbooking.  If I’d been born in the 90s or later, who knows how my teachers and librarians might have killed my love of reading and how unhappy I’d be with nothing but tv or videos to keep me occupied.

So, with all that as background, here’s part of the conversation last week:

Um, excuse me?  Please tell me this was misheard, or misunderstood.

And here’s Angie, with the perfect response.

We have some amazing readers at my school.  Last year, one high school student borrowed a bunch of classics (including <i>Moby Dick</i>, which was handed back with a DNF comment) as well as the latest in YA.  Imagine if we’d said that something was above or below her AR level or Lexile level?  It’s not just about the incredible waste of money paying for these programs, nor the time spent managing the programs.  It’s about loving reading and encouraging reading at all levels, in all genres.  Who knows where this student’s reading journey started, or where it will end?  My only goal is to make sure it doesn’t end too soon.

And if we’re being honest, isn’t that the goal of all school librarians and English teachers?  If it isn’t, shouldn’t it be?

Posted in Books, Links, Rants, School Libraries, Student stuff | Leave a Comment »

I’m so excited!

Posted by lpearle on 14 August 2018

Not by the fact that in less than two weeks I’ll be sitting in Opening Meetings for the year, talking about our focus for the year and how we’ll move forward on several initiatives.  And certainly not by the fact that I’ll have to be up all day, with no nap time.  What’s exciting me is this email from one of our Class IV Deans (that’s ninth grade to most schools):

[W]e will be launching the Class IVs and their advisors onto a Quest Challenge. As part of this challenge, we have included the library as a destination where these advisory groups will need to complete a challenge in order to earn a set of points. The goal is to get the Class IVs to become familiar with the library… You can come up with a bunch of fun things and rotate them through with different advisory teams. We will have roughly 15 teams of two advisories each. So you can have them look for different books, or find different things all around the library. If you and the librarians are willing to hand out the tasks and then mark them and award points, then you can make the tasks as fun and varied as you wish. I really want to kids to know how great our library is and who the librarians are right off the bat. Just remember that they each will only have a max of 10 minutes to complete their library challenge.

So excited!

Two years ago we tried to do an introduction challenge for the students (all of them) and that didn’t work for a wide variety of reasons.  This isn’t we librarians doing it on our own, it’s part of the orientation for new students (and advisors will be there!  many of whom never come to the library!).  That we only have 10 minutes isn’t great, but it’s enough to give them a little taste.

Excuse me while I start to think about what we can have them find.

Posted in School Libraries, Student stuff | Leave a Comment »

Future work

Posted by lpearle on 9 August 2018

At AISLNOLA Courtney provided inspiration to once again dig into the high school-college skills continuum (something I’ve been thinking about for over 20 years).  Following up on the research she and Sarah did with First Year Experience Librarians, I and one of my librarians created a survey for independent school librarians to give us all some benchmarks; we then created infographics condensing that information.

Survey of Independent Schools

Survey of First Year Experience Librarians

Need more?

Ok, so, now what?  Well, we’re going to reopen the survey (maybe tweak a few questions) to collect more data to share with others.  I’ve also shared what we know now with our History Department Chair and am hoping to have conversations with that department and the Academic Committee about what we (as a school, and as librarians) can do to best prepare our students for their next academic experience.

Posted in Musings, Pedagogy, School Libraries | Leave a Comment »

Minor Musings

Posted by lpearle on 6 August 2018

As promised, here are more of those links I’ve collected.  Helpful tip: if you’re saving things as Twitter bookmarks, you can access them on your laptop by changing from twitter.com to m.twitter.com.

Books, Reading, etc.

School Life

Tech Stuff

Miscellany

  • As a lifelong Red Sox fan, it’s fun checking out the Library of Congress’ Baseball Archives.  It’s probably fun for fans of other teams, too.
  • Timesuck, but in a good way: GeoGuesser.
  • When I attend conferences (in person or virtually) I take notes longhand and then transcribe into a blog post (or other document).  NPR on why it helps me learn.

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

Minor Musings

Posted by lpearle on 30 July 2018

Summer break is the perfect time to get my personal life in order, including some summer cleaning, digital style. The below is what’s been languishing my Feedbin Starred Articles (still need to tackle the Twitter bookmarks, so stay tuned!)

School Life

  • We teach students to use the CRAP Test as they review websites (if I could insist they use it for all resources, I would!) and then this link floated across my Twitter feed and I’m reassessing the checklist approach to evaluation.  It’s also important to have conversations about what news is supposed to do.
  • One of our teachers had his students do a project commenting on the various art pieces around campus and then attaching the videos to a GMap.  What if the had done something like this, a virtual reality tour (not of UNESCO Heritage sites but campus)?
  • Years ago I’d add websites to the online catalog, but checking that those links worked was challenging; now we use LibGuides to create Resource Guides for classes and projects.  These “magical portals” are definitely getting added! I’m also pondering ways to convince students to use these alternative search engines, instead of automatically going Google.
  • If you’ve worked at a school long enough, you’ll realize that some student has become famous (or, occasionally, infamous).  Does the fact that you knew them “when” mean you should talk about them?

Miscellany

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

Think before you write

Posted by lpearle on 25 July 2018

Yes, this is about that Forbes article, the one about libraries and Amazon.  I’m not linking there  (YALSA has a version if you must read it), but there is great analysis over on Wonkette and Quartz among others. Quartz also mentions that Forbes actually took the article down, because “…This article was outside of this contributor’s specific area of expertise, and has since been removed.”

Perhaps you’re now asking what was this contributor’s specific area of expertise?  He’s Chair of the Economics Department at LIU’s CW Post campus and an author (contrary to one twitter rant, he’s not a libertarian, although his co-author appears to be one).  And this is where my heart sank: LIU is also the home of the Palmer School of Library and Information Science.  If you go over to my cv, you’ll see that I got my MLS there in 1996.  While most of my classes were held in their outpost at NYU’s Bobst Library, I did take three classes on the Post campus.  In their library.

So not only is the author outside his area of expertise, he’s insulting colleagues who are working to train new librarians.  In an attempt to change the narrative when “library twitter” started to react (spoiler alert: we weren’t pleased), the following was added:

To be fair, library surveys do not seem to confirm the idea that public libraries don’t have the value they used to. A Pew Research Center survey finds that Millennials are the most likely generations to use public libraries. Though it isn’t clear whether “public libraries” are community libraries or school libraries.

Let’s ignore the fact that he’s trusting Pew (statistical accuracy is questionable) and focus on the fact that, despite working at the same institution that trains librarians, he clearly doesn’t understand the difference between a “school” library and a “community” library (what most of us call a public library).  Millennials are, according to Pew,  “[a]nyone born between 1981 and 1996 (ages 22 to 37 in 2018)” or, in the author’s professional life, those in graduate school and older.  In other words, not in K-12 education as a student.  And while there are some school/public library combinations, the vast majority of school libraries are not open to the random public member (I’ve had to stress this to several people over the past year, including the gentleman looking for tax forms, something the public library virtually around the corner does provide).  A simple email to someone at Palmer, or a stroll across campus, would have clarified things for him.

While I agree with Justin the Librarian’s Hot Take Opinion Fatigue, this really got my aging goat.  Waaaaay back in 1995, when I was starting my MLS degree, I had to take one of those general Intro to Librarianship classes.  One of the difficulties of this type of class is making it applicable to everyone, because while there were some who knew which specialty they wanted to pursue, some of us did and if you were interested in law librarianship, why did you care about academic or public library issues? The was a fall class, and the final for this class was a take home essay in which we were asked to think into the near future where we were seeing family and friends during the holidays and, when we told them about our studies, they would respond, “but with the [seriously limited, back then] internet and databases, why libraries?”  What would our answer be?

At first I was tempted to mimic what a high school classmate did for her philosophy research paper.  She studied silence as a means of communication and turned in a cover sheet and full bibliography* that surrounded nine blank pages (reader, she got what would have been an A had the class not been pass/fail).  My idea was to do the same, only on my inside pages type WHY NOT? in incredibly large font, one letter per page.  I didn’t, but oh was it tempting!

That ignorant opinion pieces like this get written (especially by someone who works where I got my degree!) this many years later really, as Lanford Wilson wrote, gripes my ass.

 

  • I know she cited John Cage‘s 4’33”: I don’t remember if Sounds of Silence was also on the list.

Posted in Rants, School Libraries | Leave a Comment »