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.
Weeding is a necessary evil and I have a lot of it to do, especially in light of my planned project. Who isn’t bothered by the painful if necessary process of disposing of out-of-date or even severely damaged books? An alternative is book sculpting. I am tempted to try my hand at it, but it is a temptation I’m determined to resist until I manage to give something up or clone myself. One can always look and dream. At the very least I could supply an art teacher who isn’t afraid of a room full of sharp knives in the hands of teenagers.
So with my tea in hand and little motivation to really start my day this Saturday morning, I Googled “book art” and came up with some wonderful results. The first click was to this blog post by Monique Trottier. There are some gorgeous examples there, one of which was this creative and evocative sculpture.
I tried to find the original artists of this image: sculptor and photographer. Tin Eye came up with 117 copies on the internet. (I still feel it is worth posting again even if only I get to see it when I want.) I only determined that it seems to be advertisement for Anagram Bookshop out of Prague but all attempts to find a site for even the bookshop failed. So this work and the image itself will go uncredited unless a reader more informed or more skilled at internet sleuthing comes by to enlighten me.
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???