April 30, 2007

Mr. Bean : The Library

Oh Mr. Bean your hilariousness is mindboggling!

April 22, 2007

How are Ghosts like libraries?

"The public is hardly concerned by what supernatural way a library delivers the goods, just as long as the goods are delivered" (WebJunction), so true, so true with public libraries. A little difference with school libraries. EVERYONE is concerned with how the goods are delivered, because it has to do with the children...the children...doesn't anyone think of the children? It seems when school dollars are the discussion topic EVERYONE has something to say. And when cuts are in the air the library is the first of feel the sharp edges, and EVERYONE turns their heads.

Many think librarians are the aforementioned book babysitters, but it you look at all the studies and articles, and testimonials you see that school librarians are amazingly more. Many question the validity of spending, staffing, and supporting the school library, especially until statistics prove a need. For example, the Ohio Educational Library Media Association Research Study boasts 99.4% of the students surveyed indicated "that the school library and its services, including roles of the school librarians, have helped them in some way with their learning." Other state studies echo the same statistics, yet districts are always (especially a local one I am cursing loudly as I type) looking to cut cut cut.

Why don't they ever do statistical analysis on the importance of the assistant principals...bus drivers...lunch ladies...English Teachers...coaches...because that would be stupid. So would the idea of getting rid of the person who is a constant for a student's 4 years in high school, 3 years in middle school, and 27 years in elementary school that teaches research skills, reading engagement, technology competencies, literacy...my god literacy, the foundation of a modern, prosperous society.

So I guess libraries and ghosts are similar even in school libraries...who cares who delivers the goods, as long as test scores are up, budget is balanced, and a good scary movie can be made from the apparition even though it was probably already made really well in Japan.

April 18, 2007

Let every sluice of knowledge be opened and set a-flowing

I love this quote by John Quincy Adams. It makes me visualize the inside of a student's head as a dam blocked by debris (which by debris I really mean pubescent ooze) which is only cleared by the reading of a book so good, so appropriate, and most importantly put in their hands by me. And the sluice is a-flowing. Plus I love the word sluice, just tell me the last time you heard the world sluice in a sentence. I know some 49ers that probably use it daily, but other that who else.
I worked today at an "alternative" high school. We are trying to put together a little lending library. This school is pretty far from the traditional high school, and most these kids either ride the city bus, or live in their car, or have never been to the public library, so they never have access to a library. Consequently they are never reading-whether for pleasure or duty, they don't know how to research, and they hate any type of reading time at school. I substitute there quite a bit, and am set up for a long-term sub for the last six weeks of school. Is it too late? Can I change their attitudes towards the most evil of teaching tools that disguise themselves in those clever little jackets with pretty pictures. I'm gonna sure as heck try.
Where to start? No really, where? What do you do with students who have spent the last 10 years creating a personal mantra that spouts the horrors of reading. I'm going to go out on a limb and say the reason for most of these attitudes is low levels of reading, or noone at home putting a book in their hand.
Due to the size of the school, you could really make the library very personal. Get to know what they really like to do. If they like skateboarding get Transworld Skateboarding magazine. Do they like anime, get some graphic novels. Find non-fiction books about a job they plan on getting. There are ways of getting them interested then the sluice will be set a-flowing. I think that is what they mean by a learner-centered media center. I know we need to consider standards and curriculum, but if the student's hate to read it doesn't matter what textbook or novel you give them or how you assess them, they'll find the cliff notes...what's wrong with cliff notes anyway. I learned more about what the heck The Great Gatsby was about from Wikipedia then the real novel.
I've been trying to collect books they will like. I'm getting stuff donated that, well let's say my grandmother refused to read when she was school, but when I took the last batch I heard one girl say that she had heard about that book and really wanted to read it. I've gotten some magazines too. Getting them into a sanctuary for a magazine is a little venus flytrap action. It's the bait. Then bam, their reading books...ha ha ha. That's why I love Harry Potter, he (well she) got more kids reading than ever before, now libraries can't keep fantasy books on the shelf. Man I wish I could write, that's how to make the bucks, a fantasy trilogy. My first purchase...a robot vacuum, I hate vacuuming.

April 15, 2007

"The Medicine Chest of the Soul"

We teacher-librarians are much more than book babysitters. Oh yes much more than check-inners and check outers of books. I think that has a lot to do with the redefining of our school libraries. No more the authoritative "person-centered" library, but rather a "cultural-and-learning-centered" media center (Dr. Ross Todd, Rutgers University). To be the learner-centered hub of the intellectual life of a school, libraries are now sanctuaries for students and teachers. I recognize that more and more as I work in them. It's a community where one feels comfortable and safe in a neutral environment. (We could place here an entire discussion on intellectual freedom, and the freedom to read, however another time). So teacher-librarians are hosts to a sanctuary. Wow! providing access to information, ideas, freakin democracy. Wow! We should get paid more.

So what does one do when they are teaching and librarying at the same time. There are many studies that report on just that...and what role libraries play in schools. Try the Library Research Study for in-depth analysis on school library impact to student success. Summarizing the basic roles discovered by these studies:
leadership partner, teacher collaboration, media & information literacy, enhancement of curriculum (geared towards state standards), access and delivery of information, student support, and technology master guide (oh yes master), and that doesn't even touch instilling the love of reading.
Not only do they provide all this, but many of the studies have revealed a correlation between higher/improved test scores with well-staffed, well-budgeted, well-stocked school libraries.
What? That's right, you heard correctly, better libraries will help those children left behind.

so what have I been doing during my practicum, well some of this, I'm still a baby teacher-librarian...I'll get there.

April 14, 2007

"The Steam of the Social Soup"

So begins the adventures of a library nerd in the world of the anti-luddite. I enter as a student of librarianship. A lover of giving knowledge, even to those who put the book I spent an hour finding for them slyly into the bookdrop on their way out.
I am finishing my library science endorsement with a delightful thing called a practicum. For those not familiar with educational jargon, this comprises of 90 hours of library time. Working in a school library--the central hub--where things can be insanely chaotic one minute then immediately eerily quiet. For requirement fulfillment I must reflect and comment on the daily life o' a librarian. However, we must never speak of this person again, we shall call her library media specialist, or more in the now, teacher-librarian. For librarians do not exist. They are extinct, old fashioned, tight-hairbunned evil eye givers, that shush and frown. We no longer do this. Teacher librarians love action and excitement, and more importantly book usage.

So I am at a University as a student, but moonlighting as a Teacher Librarian (TL) in the local schools, mainly the middle school. So far I've done some projects, created a webquest, reference analysis, collection development, collection maintenance, etc. But now I am getting my hands dirty. I'm diving in with my hair loose and ready to tell them how much I love Ms. Funke's InkHeart, and Mr. Card's Ender's Game, but to also show them a sweet ninja slide show a student made, or a cool database where you can hear the national anthem of Bonaire. For like any profession reading books about the job or taking classes is not sufficient.
Put your trays in an upright position, buckle your seat belts, and keep bandages ready for those worthwhle papercuts.