Happy New Year Readers! Here at PHRD in Alberta, today is the first day back from our 2-week Christmas break. Since I believe that a periodic change of focus is healthy, I’ve done my best to forget about my day job (and this related blog), which really wasn’t all that difficult with all the activity around this time. Now it’s back to library land, with a fresh tank of mental gas…
Tag Archives: library
“Right now, ebooks only make economic sense when purchased as part of a consortium. You need to be part of a larger group sharing the costs and distribution of ebooks. And your library needs to carefully consider the type of ebooks being considered.”
“For example, if you bought an ebook for $20, a group of 50 schools might buy the same book for about five times as much, or $100 instead of 50 times as much or $1,000. Given a budget of $5,000, your library could purchase 250 ebooks. However, if you pooled your $5,000 along with the other 49 schools in the consortia, the group would have $250,000 and could purchase 2,500 books at the reduced group rate.
“Given that scenario, you could have 250 books for your library or shared, unlimited, simultaneous access to 2,500 books. The math seems clear to me.”
More at the link.
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.
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.
In earlier posts I have discussed my dissatisfaction with current library organization and my thoughts on how the improvement of successful library use is essential. In these days of almost all public school libraries in Alberta being staffed by heavily burdened, non-professional assistants, it is even more essential that students and teachers can successfully find what they require and desire with minimal assistance.
Working through the possibilities and researching the projects undertaken by public libraries who have embraced the bookstore model like the Spruce Grove Public Library’s Neighbourhoods and Anythink’s innovations, I have designed a plan to transform my collection into the possibly pretentious sounding “Islands of Knowledge”.
From supporting the inquiry-based learning philosophy of Alberta Education to improving the success of the browse for reluctant readers, the Islands concept will transform the way the library is used by students and teachers alike.
Instead of being scattered throughout the library, general topic areas for Grades 3 through 12 will be grouped in u-shaped Islands and will include all media that pertains to that theme including guided access to virtual resources and related fiction. There would be seating and table space within each island and realia decorating the shelves.
By mind mapping the Dewey Decimal System and its uses in my library both for curriculum-specific topics and general interest use by students, I was able to connect disparate areas that are commonly used together. I am still working through the fine-tuning, but my current plan consists of nine Islands with the following working titles: Arts & Entertainment, The Art & Science of Language, Mental Health & Relationships, Fantasy & the Supernatural, Body & Health, Daily Life, Science & Technology, Nature & the Environment, Global Society. The ninth Island, Global Society is far too large and will likely be further divided. As I work out the physical configuration these will all evolve.
This is a custom-fit plan. Each library would be different, based on the needs and interests of their patrons.
Despite my initial thoughts, the Dewey Decimal System will not be eliminated. Rather, it will be preceded in the call number by an abbreviation of the Island’s name and subtopic, and shelved accordingly within the Island. There will be further customization as time reveals the need, but the quick location of specific items by call number is still essential and shelving by author or title is not a useful option.
I have placed almost equal emphasis on curriculum and general interest needs because I believe students learn best when they are following a personal path of inquiry. There is significant learning value in a student successfully discovering and enthusiastically perusing a range of resources to support his or her current fascination with snowmobiles or hamsters.
Easy Street, the fiction and nonfiction section in my library for Kindergarten through Grade 2 will be a large, inviting Island of its own. I am considering the possibility of highlighting some specific genres within these primary books as well: interfiling fiction and nonfiction relating to Dinosaurs and Animals for example. Many books at this level cross the fiction-nonfiction boundaries. I feel it would be a valuable exercise in critical thinking for children to personally and instinctually work out truth from fiction among and within the material they read, a life skill that most are in the process of developing in their daily lives.
A presentation to administration, teachers and program assistants with discussion and feedback and a specific appeal for any potential negative impacts on teaching and learning outcomes yielded only positive, enthusiastic responses.
There are many challenges ahead not the least of which is designing the physical layout and finding the shelving that will work with the plan and within the budget. The nine Islands need fine-tuning for some kind of consistency in size and scope and many areas have been identified for serious collection development.