Monday, August 29, 2011

Aug. 23-29, 2011

In what ways do schools still need brick-and-mortar libraries and librarians to run them?

When faced with the task of learning something new, I quickly think of "where" I want to be to effectively learn "what" I will be learning. I want a space that is comfortable for my mind as well as my body. I want a place that has the ability to give me access to the information I need in the format that best presents the information, surrounded by people who have the same general quest for knowledge. And I want a person who is able to help me in my quest, whatever technological roadblocks may come my way. My kitchen table is my most easily accessed learning environment (my office), but I often find myself driving to the public library's computer terminals or the Lee's Summit UCM annex to do research. I need this common space, this shared experience of learning, and a librarian to help me manage the every increasining information that is infinite, it seems. How do I find it? Once I find it, how do I evaluate it? What if a link is broken? Can I find another way to access it? Is there a better/faster/easier way to accomplish my search? I want a hard copy (and my home printer never seems to work). And I NEED a librarian to help me. The constantly changing face of technology highlights that a professional trained to use all the tools available is not a perk, but a necessity for every library, whether public or private. Keeping up with this technology is a full-time job that students (or any libray user) cannot be expected to do, but using this technology is a skill most jobs in the near future will require. A librarian will be essential in teaching not only tech skills, but how to use the information that is found. Service is the most important role of the librarian in the future. One blogger's response to the question was to describe the librarian as "someone on their side," showing "subjectivity, empathy, clarifying questions," which no terminal can duplicate. I know my doesn't.

Blue Skunk blog
As I read Doug's list, my own list developed (since I'm not in a school setting and won't be for a while) in my head after reading our assignments:
5 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started the Media Specialist Program
1. The entire field of library science is in the middle of a digital makeover.
2. The title "media specialist" is more appropriate than "librarian."
3. That I should have taken a community course on web 2.0 .
4. That I would be learning as much about basic technology as I would concepts of librarianship.
5. How much time would be devoted to keeping up with changes in this profession.
I'm both excited and daunted by this job. I had the stereotypical librarian as my role model when I decided on this career, but instead of backing away before too much time and money is invested, I've decided to embrace this new idea of librarianship.

Bob Sprankle "Bit by Bit"
Sprankle discusses what he misses about paper books and what he would like to have in ebooks. I agree with some of the things readers lose when they are using only ebooks:
-no one can see what you are reading, so it loses its value as an easy conversation starter.
-the gradual loss of books off your shelves in your house. Like the loss of good friends.
-the inability to easily lend books.
-I also marvel at the simplicity of a paper book: the batteries never die, it needs no intruction manual  to use
  it, I will never need to worry that the technology of a paper book will become obsolete, and it will never
  break down (unless the spine is worn out from multiple uses - a good reason to break down).
Sprankle would like a way for ebook users to, in "real" time, connect with each other over the internet. While two people are reading the same review on Amazon, for instance, how could they engage in a discussion at that moment? Like a chance discussion in the same section in the bookstore?

Classroom Q&A with Larry Ferlazzo
A follower posted the question on "How Can We Help Students to Develop Better Listening Skills" Aug. 25, 2011
There were two comments, mostly supplying links to helpful sites, and Ferlazzo plans to revisit the question Wednesday after more input. I will keep up with this. Listening must come before learning (in most structured cases), and I feel I can learn much from this discussion.

Teacher 2.0
Posted the question "Do you keep a professional blog for yourself (separate from your students)? What is its value?"
Most people (as I would expect) answer yes. The value for each was a little different, though. Some see it as a way to "brand" themselves, some others described it as a professional presence on the web. Other see it as a marketing tool in the shifting job environment. Some use it as a way to connect to others who share the same interests within the library community. Some use it as a way of personal reflection, or a diary. I have heard job search experts stating that to be competitive in finding a job, you should have a professional web presence, so I think I must give this idea serious thought.

I found a site entitled "Suggestions for Successful Internet Searches" by Susan Beck at New Mexico State University. She gives several good guidelines including being aware of the disappearing websites; hard copies are always a good idea; have students evaluate the search process; never assume what the student already knows about internet searching; and collaboration with teachers is paramount for a successful learning experience.
I also found  Awesome Library, and am eager to spend more time here. It linked me to BCK2SKOL lesson entitled "A Class on the Net for Librarians with Little or No Net Experience." There are over 20 lessons that include email; listserv; searching disciplines such as humanities, fine arts, social and other sciences; netiquette; gopher and other terms I don't understand. I hope this will help me become more literate about the web world.
Awesome Library also directed me to a site that helps figure out the MLA style for web sources. I'll use that often. Enough said.

Children and Young Adult Book Review
My first experience with a podcast, and I didn't know how to evaluate, so I just closed my eyes and picked.
The book chosen for this review, Mockingbird, by Daisy Whitney, was reviewed by three people. I have no idea who they were except they were librarians. I feel to get the most out of this review I should have read the book, but the conversation did get me interested in checking this book out. The author loosely based the story on her own experiences with a date rape while attending Brown University (1990). Set in a boarding school on the east coast somewhere, the main character is date raped, and the book, it seemed to the reviewers, not only followed the main character's journey through this ordeal, but also the formation of the "mockingbirds," an organization, I could only guess from the discussion, which helped her through her ordeal. The reviewers thought teens would be drawn to the themes of date rape, the power to overcome life's adversities, and how you can make a positive change in your life as well as helping others do the same. They thought the characters were well developed, although the administration of the school was mostly one dimensional. It's the author's first book, and her style is described as easy, but interesting. The book was compared/contrasted to another book, Speak, several times.
Another section of the podcast discussion centered on librarians as reader advisors and how best to do it. Emphasis was given to knowing your library collection across all genres; a librarian should not rely on using key word searches. Just because a student's last favorite book had a dog in it, doesn't mean that was the reason the reader enjoyed it. Careful questioning is an important skill to learn to help a child chose the next book to read. Also, don't be overly enthusiastic about one particular book you happened to love. Pick out several the child may be interested in, then give them the space and power to chose one book on his/her own.
Finally, the reviewers had the chance to promote a book or gadget that they found interesting. One reviewer recommnded a nonfiction book, Cooking for Geeks by Jeff Potter, and a graphic novel, Alice in Sunderland by Brian Talbot. The latter is described as a nonlinear, collage and mixed media complex story set in the Sunderland District of Great Britain that centered around Lewis Carroll. I feel I must look this book up. Another reviewer picked a Moleskine as the best Christmas gift she received. I need to look this product up, also. It is a book journal (although there seems to be several types of journals available). She never described the item well, but her enthusiasm for the product was catching. I want one even though I'm not sure what it is! She urged going to the website were there are several videos showing how people have used the product. Going there now.