The Joe and Rika Mansueto Library opening next week at the University of Chicago is a clean space of light which appears to be devoid of books. The collection is beneath the dome, efficiently sorted by size. Watch the video to see how this amazingly automated system works.
Tag Archives: change in libraries
To explain the term ‘call number’, I tell my students about traditional library service in the ‘old days’: where the librarian stood behind a counter and ‘called out the number’ of a requested tome to a page in a back room where the books were all kept. “Still,” states History Magazine, “libraries remained the domain of the learned: teachers, scientists, scholars”.
When they hear this, my students are appalled: to not have the freedom to browse the shelves for the perfect book seems completely barbaric!
And yet, now, with the potentially universal freedom to browse the unlimited quantity of a full range of quality internet material, one library has chosen to again remove the books from public access and replace them with a “so-called red room: a space filled with more than 100 plastic red crates, where students can pick up books they requested online”. Tradition seems to have gone full circle with a distinct digital twist.
Granted, this is a college library where students are still presumably able to get the traditional library experience at their local public library but I am nonetheless saddened to view the cold, sterile and to me uninviting space where students are expected to be inspired.
It’s true that you learn something new every day and when you’re in a position that was traditionally filled by professionals with master’s degrees, you always feel like you’re on the middle rung of a never-ending ladder that’s sinking in the mud: constantly climbing, but never getting to the top. I knew I could include links in print resource records, but today I learned that you could potentially include web resources in your online catalogue. Why did I not know that before?
Web resources that I discover are usually delivered to my K-12 staff by email and the onus is on them to bookmark them, or otherwise note them however possible. I’ve tried various methods over the years to organize them and make them more permanently available, from themed card-stock bookmarks to custom websites and bookmark sharing sites. With the often ephemeral nature of individual websites, changing staff and curriculum, and the always present challenge of time, these methods proved to be little more than make-work projects. The time involved did not compare favourably to the usefulness.
Through Diane Galloway-Soloman, the ORC Coordinator for Alberta Learning, I have just learned about a very interesting program by Marcia Mardis documented in the School Library Journal. Marcia has built a program that automatically generates a MARC record for online resources.
“The Web2MARC tool allows school librarians to automatically generate MARC (Machine-Readable-Cataloging) records for anything they see on the web…and tailor the records to their local needs—no cataloging required,” says Mardis
What a great idea! I’m off to learn more about it. We’ll see if it works with my software.
I’m trying not to steal too much time on the details of potentially converting my library to the book store model until I know whether or not it’s actually going to happen. My principal is for it, but several other things have to fall into place before it happens.
However, it is ever in the back of my mind and there’s nothing to be done when an idea is pushing you around, but to indulge it a little.
I am concentrating on the primary nonfiction at the moment, since it is a little less daunting. Kindergarten to Grade 2 students are so certain about their reading desires and the curriculum is fairly cut-and-dry.
I’ve ‘stolen’ a little time from preparations from my impending Book Fair to attempt to mind-map the collection, marking curriculum connections and popular topics. In discussing the use of the Accelerated Readers, a teacher helpfully pointed out that the primary students browse more successfully in face out (or even piled) displays. As a result of that discussion, the early AR books will go into bins by level.
That got me thinking about how the children use the nonfiction. Aesthetically, it’s not going to be ideal: plastic bins as opposed to books lined up on lovely wooden shelving is not my idea of attractive, but each bin could have bold word and picture guides on it and I know the kids would love it. And that, of course, is what it’s all about.
Curriculum topics and popular subjects would be gathered into single bins and books re-catalogued to reflect that. I can imagine the children pulling out a bin and pouring through the contents together. The process would be so much more fulfilling than carefully placing their spacers to keep the place of the books while they look at them one-by-one, or wait for their turn in the section. The Dewey numbers would not be eliminated, at least not during the first trial year or so, but they would be given new call letters based on the topic itself. The WordThink grid at Anythink gives some good connections. (I can’t thank Susan enough for directing me there.)
I’m not even sure that the primary nonfiction will remain on these shelves once the library is reorganized. It’s not ideal, extending as it does, rather distantly from the picture book area, which I call ‘Easy Street’. I am tempted to purchase the bins and give it a try without re-cataloguing, since once they are in clear subject bins shelving and retrieving should not be too much of a problem. The same does not hold true for the Grades 3-12 nonfiction. It will be much more complex.
Some important questions though: What colour and size should the bins be?…and Where am I going to find the time???
I have the go-ahead, in principle, from my principal. I can kill Dewey if I want to.
My boss loves the book store concept – even mentioned a cappuccino machine, but I’m not sure parents would go for that. I’m dreaming about a fireplace, a large screen TV, ebooks lying around…I’ve only just begun.
I do have to decide on which ebooks to buy. I have approval to buy some for at least the Special Ed. Department. I understand that copyright issues for international titles in Canada can be an issue. It’s about time we bought some, though. Kids are reading novels on their smart phones. I should have pushed them sooner.
As for Dewey…I can see how difficult it could be to place some books, but there are others I’d really like to shelve together. I sure wish I could get some feedback here. Pros and cons, I want – no, I really need – to hear it all.
Perhaps I should arrange them by colour. Kids are always asking for books that way.
And it would look cool.
There’s a very interesting discussion here, with some very good arguments for hanging on to the Dewey Decimal System. One commenter suggested, “These so-called nouveau-libraries would be better served by holding classes in their neighborhood schools to educate both the student[s] and, obviously, their teachers on how to use the Dewey Decimal System.” So true! However, that statement does not address the reality of libraries staffed by non-teacher-librarians and teachers who can barely find the time to teach research skills as needed. Library managers are not in control of policy or budgets. We can only do our best so support curriculum and promote literacy.
It was also suggested there that no-one ‘browses’ nonfiction. Although I understand that school libraries are not the focus of the discussion, that has not been my experience. My students, especially up to Grade 7 and particularly boys, browse the nonfiction stacks with enthusiasm. In my opinion, the potential ‘success of the browse’ is what is going to keep nonfiction books in the hands of our children. The question is only how radical does the change need to be to make this happen. Is signage enough, or does there need to be a revamping of the way books are displayed as I outlined in my previous post?