Posted by lpearle on 12 December 2016
For years librarians have planned lessons around digital literacy, hoping to teach students how to evaluate resources they find online. We share sites like Facts About Dioxygen Monoxide, All About Explorers and the Tree Octopus (and my personal fave, The Pomegranate Phone). We caution them that just because it’s online, or in a database, they need to use the CRAP test before using the information for research. And they get pretty good at that stuff.
But then, this past election. All that training, all those lessons – gone. Vanished. Ignored. And not just by our students.
Far too often professional friends passed along articles from organizations that appear on this now-infamous list of fake news organizations. Why? Because confirmation bias. Because echo chamber. Because it’s so easy to click and share, not check sources.
Last week they showed Screenagers to our Middle School, and we created a Resource Guide on Digital Citizenship. But how frequently do those parents, so concerned about the digital lives of their children also pass along these types of stories? The ones where [someone] destroys [rival]? The ones where candidates, past and present, allow surrogates to smear and spread semi-truths? The ones with easy-to-agree-with memes or “share if you agree” links?
Several times I recommended that these professional librarians check their source (ditto personal friends, many of whom read a headline and ignore the actual content – clickbait at its worst). Some did, some argued. But what gives me angst is how we can consider ourselves “experts” when we are guilty of just the same things we try to impress on students are “don’t dos”?
If you’ve done this sort of sharing over the past few months, how are you planning to change? or aren’t you? And if not, why not?
Posted in Ethics, Musings | 1 Comment »
Posted by lpearle on 28 November 2016
Part of reenergizing the program at work has included purchasing the LibGuides platform to create what we’re calling Resource Guides (it’s the Kleenex/tissue issue – who knows if we’ll stay with the same platform, so why confuse students with a brand name?). This is the third school I’ve used these guides in, and they’re an amazing way to collect resources and guide students to them, as well as teaching them how to do research. The usual sequence is: teacher approaches us with a topic, we create the guide, we meet with the class, and then we forget about it until the next year or next time the project is done. So imagine my surprise when I found this in our mailbox the other week:
Here’s a guide I whipped up in a few moments, presented and hadn’t thought about in several months that has had an impact on someone completely unrelated to our school! I’m… pleased. Stunned. Thrilled.
Here’s proof that what we do matters in ways we don’t always anticipate or see. And proof that adhering to our mantra of sharing resources (via ILL, online, etc.) is one that serves us well.
So here’s what puzzles me: why do school libraries keep their resources hidden? Why aren’t all school libraries easily findable on the school’s homepage? If you’re using the LibGuides platform, why aren’t your guides public (there are ways to hide database passwords and login information that still make the rest of the guide public)? It’s such a surprise to me when I look for a friend’s website, attempt to search a catalog or try to see what databases a peer school has and I can’t find more than a publicity page created by the communications people. It saddens me that all that’s available to the public is a few facts, maybe a photo. Allowing others to see what’s going on and what you have is such a help to those of us looking to find books on a topic that work for a certain education level (“will this work with our 7th grade?”) or ways to present information for a research project. And it’s free pr for your school and its program.
We’re considering a third revamp of our website in two years, asking students for input on usability and comparing our page to peer schools and colleges. Are we using similar language? What’s important to share, and what can be hidden? One thing we know for sure is that links to our Resource Guides, our catalog and our databases will be available (we use EZProxy, so you can’t access our database content without being a member of our community). We want to share that with anyone looking because we know how important that can be.
And if anyone asks why, that email is response enough.
Posted in Collection Development, Musings, Rants, School Libraries, Student stuff, Work Stuff | 1 Comment »
Posted by lpearle on 23 November 2016
One of the things I heard – loud and clear – when I was interviewing at Milton was that the library needed to change. It needed to be more the heart of the school, more comfortable for students and teachers. It’s one of those concrete-and-glass late 60s/early 70s brutalist buildings, no “curb appeal” as all those HGTV shows say. Inside, I found a wonderful 20th century library and library program – and in 2015 that’s not a great thing, right? So my staff and I went to work, upping the digital offerings, removing the microfilm/fiche collection, weeding the overgrown collection so that the incredible useful resources we have shine through. Then I had to hire new staff, one of whom has the charge of energizing our Middle School program and getting involved with the daily life of that division. And it’s working. People are responding, perhaps slower than we’d like but still… baby steps, right?
One innovation (for Milton; I freely admit to “recycling” this idea from elsewhere) was to create two pop-up libraries, one in the MS break room and one in the US dining hall, so that busy students and faculty could easily get some vacation reading. For two days we sat there, encouraging people to “not leave Milton without a vacation read!”. Not as many takers as I’d hoped, but enough for us to continue this before Winter Break in a few weeks.
And then, this in our mailbox, from S, a senior:
Posted in Student stuff | Leave a Comment »
Posted by lpearle on 13 November 2016
Untitled via kwout
See that date? Twenty years ago today I wrote that e-mail to a supposedly private list (ACQ-WEB, if you’re interested) as part of my MLS internship. Who knew it’d become public and still “out there” today?
Beware what ye post, kiddies… beware what ye post.
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Posted by lpearle on 2 September 2016
Years ago, at another school,at a difficult time professionally, I led a Mock Newbery group for some interested Middle School students. The excitement (literal jumping up and down in the dining hall) when the winner was announced puzzled those not involved with the reading, but I knew these kids had had a great experience.
Flash forward to last night, when I got this message from the mother of one of the girls in the group:
What a wonderful message to start the school year: no matter how difficult it may be in the moment, ultimately, it’s all worth it.
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Posted by lpearle on 29 August 2016
Wow. I know I promised to post when life calmed a little – guess what, it didn’t. While my position is on the teachers schedule, this summer we had a major project going on. In the space of seven weeks, I and two recent graduates worked hard to weed books, reshelve them in a better order, move furniture and really start the process of creating a 21st century library space:
There’s still much to do, but at least the pace will be a lot slower. I won’t promise to blog more, because that hasn’t worked in the past, instead I will promise to try to blog more.
Posted in Books, Collection Development, School Libraries, Work Stuff | Leave a Comment »
Posted by lpearle on 27 June 2016
The past week I attended a workshop on Design Thinking in libraries at my alma mater, Emma Willard School (currently referred to as Hogwarts by students):
And immediately after, I headed South to a city I never thought I’d visit (Orlando) for ALA’s Annual Conference, where I stayed in the Castle Hotel:
Of course, I’ll be blogging more about those two experiences (and much more) once real life has reasserted itself.
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Posted by lpearle on 9 March 2016
In addition to getting to know a new collection and a new school’s way of doing research, I’ve been working on the 2017 Alex Award Committee. If you’re not looking at adult reads being published in 2016, you’re missing out (trust me on this).
The charge of the Alex Award is to find books with teen appeal, something that is at times difficult for me to suss out. As someone in her second half-century, putting myself in the mindset of a teen isn’t always easy! There have been occasional meme-based responses to our Instagram posts and, well… luckily I have staff who are much closer to that age group and get memes. With Alex, I’m looking for a plot that might interest them – even in non-fiction, as I learned working on the ENFYA Committee and as I’m telling our sixth graders, there can be a narrative arc! – with characters that make sense. That doesn’t mean I’d expect them to “relate” to Hannibal Lecter, but so many teens love to read Silence of the Lambs thanks to the horror and “creep factor” that it’d probably have gotten the Alex, had it existed when the book was published.
A few weeks ago I booktalked some recently published novels by American authors to an American Lit class. We came up with twitter “reviews” to pique their interest (eg, “Orange blossoms mean fascination. Chrysanthemums mean you’re a good friend. More subtle than emojis, flowers speak volumes” for The Language of Flowers, a 2011 nominee) and they were asked to choose one, read it and then present (to the class and others) on how that book mimicked or expanded on themes in the books they were reading for class. Talking with them as they chose these books was interesting, with many excited to read something new and not being taught in class. One or two have even asked for more by that author, or in that genre.
Our fiction collection here was not necessarily bought with teens in mind – Ferrente’s Neopolitan novels, for example – but traditionally we have had a lot of faculty who use our collection for their pleasure reading. As I continue to read for Alex, I’m wondering about that “teen appeal” part and reflecting on some of the books I’ve read in the past, like Millay’s Sea of Tranquility, which (to my mind) had little adult appeal but was not published at a YA book and thus won the award in 2014. It will definitely guide my purchasing for our collection in future, as we try to balance “adult appeal” with what will actually appeal to our students. It will also be interesting to see how we can market these books to both faculty and students without one or the other feeling as though their needs are not being met.
Posted in Books, Collection Development, Student stuff | Tagged: First Year | Leave a Comment »