Thursday, April 22, 2010

A Gift from My Daughter, via YouTube, of course.

Apparently they have shown this to kids at my daughter's school a number of times, receiving howls of laughter.


Guilt, Fear, and - Humor? Anyone?

Am I the only one who was giggling through much of this? In between panic attacks over the improper use of the 500 tag, and anxiety over what the future might hold and the extent to which a giant flashlight might be shone on my shoddy catalog, I could not help but guffaw at some of the prim warnings. I think the broad smile that spread over my face at the discussion of cataloging Theory at the end was enough to scare the poor kiddies at the dentist this morning.

Is smiling allowed at these conferences? Am I alone in wishing they carried these heated discussions live?

On one hand, I do admire and appreciate such a carefully thought out and thorough system (in spite of changes that have left us befuddled school libraries lacking in proper form); on the other, I was reduced to tears that were most difficult to explain to family at some of the missteps the authors found so shocking. It was akin to reading Miss Manners and comparing the dining habits of my children.

Resistance is ... Inevitable

Maybe it was the 9 years of catholic school complete with nuns, some in habits. Maybe it was being the youngest and only girl in a litter of 6. Maybe I'm just contrary by nature. Maybe it was doing library work for years in a state of total ignorance.

Whatever. I refuse to put Maus in 741 OR 940! 'Tis not a comic book nor non-fiction on the Holocaust, which was not about cats killing mice, as my daughter so helpfully points out.

So, yes. Lots of "must"s and "must not"s and "should"s and "should never!"s but at the end of the day, it is, on some level, MY library. My responsibility is to know my community (teachers, students, staff, parents) and provide the best collection and access possible with an eye toward moving my students forward in the development of their info lit skills, within the confines of a tight budget.

With that in mind, Maus will stay, with the rest of the graphic novels, in their very own section, adjacent to the fiction section, with their very own spine: GRA/aut. Will it destroy their ability to find American Born Chinese in their college library? Gosh, I hope by then that they have the navigational and info lit skills to discover it elsewhere!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

One Last Word

I would like to take a moment to express my gratitude to Minnie Earl Sears and what seems to be an eminently practical approach to subject headings for us little libraries.

Phew! Dewey at Last.

Okay, I'll come out and say it, I enjoyed the reading and even the exercises. What a relief. But best of all was the discussion of Dewey at the end of the week's reading and (finally) a few carefully chosen areas where WE HAVE THE POWER!

Ah, now this is where I love cataloging. Beyond the fields and subfields, where executive decisions about placement, arguments over graphic novels and non-print media, and classification of story collections enters and we have the ability and responsibility to think about ease of access, info lit skill development, and the practicalities presented by space and population and resources.

I also greatly enjoyed learning about the origins and justifications of the 2 - 20 numbers I tend to chop off of my classifications. I honesly don't think more than 2 after the decimal is required for the bulk of elementary, middle, and high school libraries.

Enlightenment, if Not Nirvana Proper

I'm sure it would give Kaplan and Riedling premature heart failure, but I have been using our automated system (SmartMarc) to create records, supplemented by manual ones when the software hasn't a clue, for a good six months with NO CLUE about the various fields, subfields, and detailed information about the $a, $d, 650s, or, really, anything beyond what an average grad student needs to know to create a works cited page.

I am truly grateful to be enlightened on the subject of MARC records, their power, and the relation between the LC records versus Sears, not to mention the history and points of contention. I especially appreciated the warning that we neophytes not attempt to post what would surely be silly questions to the listserv as they would not be met with much patience. Almost makes me go directly there and ask something truly idiotic.

I had to flip back to the cover because, in the beginnng, it seemed the book took a dim view of school librarians ("However, even school library media specialists should be aware of these issues." p.12). Are we at the bottom of the barrel or what? Funny, considering we probably have the most chance of impacting library use on the general population.

Librarians in the Middle or, the Richardson Juxtaposition

Okay, so we spend all of this time ingesting and digesting Richardson's advice that we not disregard community created knowledge ("folksonomies," p.90, Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms) but instead embrace them as the new reality, a move he directly contrasts with what we did "Back in the old days" when we depended upon librarians to categorize information for us.

Then, like slamming into a brick wall, we encounter Catalog It! and its continuing mantra that one MUST NOT (gasp!) create one's own subject headings but follow strictly those carefully and microscopically created for us by committees of people who spend months debating the relative merits of Seuss, Dr. vs. Geisel, Theodor, vs. Dr. Suess (AACR 1988 ed.). One almost wonders, when the tears of laughter have subsided, whether so many trees needed to die for this significant development to be shared or implemented.

Thank god they do spend some time assuring us that cataloging police do not, in fact, exist. Even this comes with the caveat, however, that if our catalog is online and can be shared (and thus viewed critically by others) well, then, uh - better have your subject headings in order!

From the weekly overview and discussion posts (not to mention the horror in the eyes of my mentor that appears when I murmur "cataloging decision") I gather that earlier versions of this content have been loads more brutal.

Cataloging It!

I approached this first of two weeks dedicated to cataloging with a mixture of excitement (I've always loved cataloging and happily did a lot of what I thought of as cataloging for my mentor librarian), apprehension (did I really know what cataloging was? Did I want to know?), and procrastination (okay, it was a loooong week at work with author visits, greek day, 8th grade research, and summative evaluations due).

Having (belatedly, and against the express (and excellent) advice of my professor, crammed all of the reading into two days, I can honestly say, I love cataloging!!!

Topic specific posts to follow - a warning or an encouragement, depending largely on whether you are one of a select band of oddballs that enjoys this topic or, NOT.

Peeps Update

Courtesy of my learned professor, I want to share this link.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

And . . .

Almost forgot. I loved this on ways to help students create a positive digital footprint. Instead of saying, "Don't do this! Don't do that! This will get you in trouble! This will have predators at the door!" - an essentially negative, and bordering on alarmist, approach, instead take a positive approach and teach them how to create a good digital footprint.

Internet Safety: resources

There are so many resources for teaching kids about safe online practices. Many say similar or the same things. I think it's more a question of finding the right way to say these things to your particular populace than what they need to know.

A checklist;
A simple 'ten tips' sheet;
A K - 12 site for teachers, parents and students with lesson plans and activities;
A list of links for teaching internet safety;
A great site for teens with both animated shorts and corresponding interviews with teens;
An FTC/MSLA sponsored site;
A site specific to sexting, including corresponding criminal offenses;
And a nice site containing tips, power points, rules, games and sample pledges for multiple grades.
And in print:
Leu, Donald J., Deborah Leu and Julie Coiro. Teaching with the Internet K-12: New Literacies for New Times, 4th Ed. Christopher-Gordon Publishers. Norwood. 2004.
Richardson, Will. Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms. Corwin Press. Thousand Oaks. 2009.

My favorite thing about the Richardson is the sample forms for kids and parents. I would rather students take pledges and make promises, knowing the consequences of failure to follow through, than censor them.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Hometown Librarian

How idyllic is this? I live a five minute commute from my job!

When I go to CVS, the market, ANYWHERE, weekday, weekend, I hear, "Hi, Mrs. Lutwak!" No more pajamas at the grocery store for me.

My niece posts on Facebook that she has run into a TEACHER at the airport and it is SO WEIRD and awkward.

Is it a mistake to teach locally? I like that I know moms and kids from K on, but. It can be dicey!

Professional Development for Web 2.0

I detected a measure of dread in all of us this week as we contemplated teaching teachers. Not for lack of things to teach them, or enthusiasm for the content, but for what we had experienced of them as students. Funny.

It seemed clear to me, given my faculty and grade level, to choose the basic tools that could serve across the curriculum and be used again and again, both by teachers and students. Although I included some of the more specialized applications - FlickR, Bubbl.Us, Doodle - in my plan, it was really the basic stuff like a Google account, blogs and wikis that I wanted to get across to them and, hopefully, to their students.

For the presentation itself, I simply made an outline. That's how I teach, and how I argued as an appellate lawyer. I don't want to be squinting at notes or a script when I'm in front of people with limited time, but I don't want to forget the main points, either. An outline always works for me.

As with the students I have taught online applications to so far, I wanted to spend as little time lecturing as possible and as much time as possible having the teachers play with and create the chosen product. In this case, a blog. That way, I would be available to help troubleshoot if they stumbled. I wanted them to walk away with something, and feel like they had mastered something new.

Unlike students, I did feel the need to spend more time up front justifying what they were about to learn. To that end, I frontloaded the presentation with Common Craft video and examples of great teacher/classroom blogs to whet their appetites.