Thursday, January 25, 2007

More Classics, Please?

I read this one last week.

So what do you think? Should we push the classics or let the schools do their job of pushing them (and often ruining them for) on kids?

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Info Literacy vs. Literacy

My friend, the Coffee Crone over at Taming Coffeesent me this link to an article in the Washington Post. In it the author laments that books are a hard sell, that the library profession nowadays tends to contribute to that trend by eschewing the title "librarian," in favor of something like "media and information specialist."
The author, Thomas Washington, a teacher-librarian further says:
"The buzzword in the trade is 'information literacy,' a misnomer, because what it is really about is mastering computer skills, not promoting a love of reading and books."

Now tell me something, is it always supposed to be about a love of reading and books?
Don't get me wrong--I do love to read. I enjoy reading books. I enjoy reading just about anything that comes my way, except what I have to read for school (and don't get me started on that!) (that's my problem--getting started!).

Some of us get into the profession because of our love of reading and books and our desire to promote it. Others get into the profession--and have always gotten into the profession because of our love of sharing information, our love of providing access to information.

In essence many of us are teachers, but we are just not comfortable with the classroom setting.

I regret that the teens in Mr. Washington's school seem not to be interested in books, but perhaps it's the books themselves. As I said, I am reluctant to read anything for school--unless it's a lit class and I get to read lots of, well, literature. If Mr. Washington is pushing nothing but "classics" at his student, no wonder they're not reading.

He might try interesting them in young adult works by contemporary authors: Avi, Chris Crutcher, Anthony Horowitz, Edith Pattou, Tamora Pierce to name a few. Even the books that some dismiss as trash can serve a purpose: they get kids reading.

It could be "the Gossip Girls," or "Undead and Unwed." Maybe manga. Of course, Harry Potter, Eragon and others like that.

Maybe instead of measuring literacy by how well the classics are read, it's time we redefined the term to include, well, just reading.

By the way, book is the new cool.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Don't Let the Curmudgeon Read a Book

School has started, so of course I'm reading about information design, and reflecting over the my life as an MLS student.

But more importantly, we have the metrowide Librarian's Read Challenge. We read YA and J titles, fiction or non-fiction, keep track of them and the pages. The person with the most pages read gets a prize and the branch with the most pages read gets to keep the Cat-in-the-Hat trophy for a year. And the system with the most pages read gets our admiration and envy!

The Newbery Award winner by Lynne Rae Perkins, Criss Cross was much more enjoyable than I thought it would be. It's about people, who happen to be teenagers, on the cusp of events. A girl,Debbie and a boy, Hector who like other people (like, like) but you're rooting for them to like (like, like) each other.It's like examining what happens in the moment before something actually happens. Really good--except for the illustrations. I think they're hokey.

Scott Westerfield's So Yesterday, on the other hand had nothing hokey about it. The aptly named Hunter is a "cool hunter." He meets a creative girl, Jen (an Innovator), intrigued by her shoelaces and the two of them join forces to find Hunter's missing boss. In the process, they uncover a plot by some of the coolest people in the world--people who threaten to topple the world of consumer market and Cool itself.

Funny, snarky, strong teen voice and character and absolutely wonderful on-target portrayals of New York.

Just to see what all the fuss is about, I've read one of "The Clique" novels by Lisi Harrison. Invasion of the Boy Snatchers is okay. I wouldn't condemn it, but I wouldn't recommend it. Perhaps because it's not the first in the series, it didn't hold my attention. And yeah, the characters seem shallow and uninteresting.
I see why kids like it. Brand name-dropping. Romantic tension. The typical middle school angst compounded with the lives of the wealthy. Gee--their problems are just as bad. If not worse.

Too bad the writing and editing, you should pardon the expression, sucks.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Tell Me Something New

Changing role of librarians? From the Wall Street Journal.

Been there, done that.

I am almost at the end of my MLS program. The very first day, it got hammered into our heads that we're in transit, we're in flux, we need to be nimble. We think outside the bun.

What is sobering about this article--another thing I've been hearing about for the past 4.5 years (yes, it's taking me this long!)(that's another post down the road)is that the librarian(the be-bunned one) population is aging and retiring and there may not be enough skilled fresh new librarians to fill their shoes.

Do the powers-that-employ expect us to have the same appearance, attitude and skill set as the ones who are retiring?
See,the sensible shoes are changing too.

This I think reflects reality a bit more:
Talk of a shortage doesn't worry many veteran librarians, who remember similar predictions in the late 1960s and early 1970s -- followed by a glut of job candidates a few years later. As new information-retrieval systems simplify tasks and government budgets tighten, growth in the profession may be slower, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Outlook Quarterly.

I'm currently applying for jobs again--just within my library system. Being 3 credit hours away from the degree (and I'm registered and have paid for them already!)it's just making me think of possibilities.

I'm relatively young in my profession, but relatively old next to the average MLS program graduate. I hope that doesn't count against me. I think I've posted before about this, but I also think my age and life experience should count for something.

Even if I don't IM my friends every night. And I'm still catching up on pop culture icons like Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Okay, I'll quit kvetching. I sure don't miss card catalogs. My hair's cut too short for bunnage. And I don't know what I'd do without the Internet.