Friday, October 7, 2011

Hype, Homecoming and Mount Rushmore

Another crazy week! Homecoming week is such a blast, especially when you’re a class sponsor and the students aren’t feeling any school spirit. I supervised float building and they actually told me they don’t care what it looks like as long as we can get it finished before 6 pm.

In between these adventures I took the time to catch up on the LM_NET. A few interesting things popped up. On October 3 Aviva Adler posted the responses she had received from people giving tips for books needed in an out of date high school library. There were some good ideas for this librarian such as getting input from the faculty who teach the subjects which really need to be beefed up. This way the new books will fit in with the ideas of the curriculum. Another poster said they put the catalogs out and see what students would be interested in. This is an interesting idea – though I see the value in asking students, you want to purchase stuff they’d like.

On October 1 Alice Yucht shared the link to an article about discovering if someone has been quoted correctly or not. I’ve never really stopped to consider until now how often people are misquoted and this article made me consider that. Maybe it’ll make you think too:

If you’re looking for information to help teach students about cybersafety and copyright issues Marcia Dressel posted some websites on October 3. All three websites looked to have good information and one even had a couple of quizzes which can be taken online.

I’ve noticed I keep getting drawn back to the Books on the Nightstand podcast. This week was no different. I listened to the September 27 episode which was #148 and entitled “Your Literary Mount Rushmore.” The first part of the podcast was discussing the difference between hype and buzz. With all of the books which are pushed so much anymore is it really worth it? Are they going to be worth the hype? It was decided in the podcast that the difference between hype and buzz is that hype is manufactured and buzz is genuine enthusiasm. Hype can start out as buzz but the buzz takes on a life of its own and the powers that be decide to really push and manufacture the excitement. There are so many books which have huge hype and I wonder at the truth of it. Twilight was huge and still is due to the movies, but at first the books were what people were talking about. I think this is an excellent example of something that starts out with buzz that becomes hype. I finally read them when a couple of students brought their copies to me to read. I figure if they are going to go to that much trouble I need to actually read the book. I’m sure I’ll get some flak for this, but honestly they were only okay. After the first it seemed so awkward and like she was just pushing to get more books out of the series and ride the hype. Another one that started with buzz that turned into hype would be the Harry Potter books. I remember them first coming out and hearing everyone talking about them. I finally had to go to the public library and check the first out and from there I was hooked. I was the perfect age for them when the series started and I couldn’t give them up. The ultimate question is, when is it too early to start hearing about a book?

The next section of the pod cast was inspired by a message from a listener who asked; “who would you put on your literary Mount Rushmore?” The entire time they were discussing their own lists I was trying to think of mine. My first and it seemed most obvious choice was J.K. Rowling, she wrote an amazing series which helped get so many back into reading and books. After that it got harder because there are just so many authors I love. Do I stick to children’s/young adult authors? Do I just go with my favorites? There were no parameters because that leaves the question up to everyone’s own interpretation. I must continue to think of my Mount Rushmore and I’ll get back to you on that.

Doug Johnson’s Blue Skunk Blog never fails to amuse me in some way. His Blog on October 6th, “Thank You Mr. Jobs,” was his response to the death of Steve Jobs. I was amused at his description of the Apple II he was chosen to learn how to use in 1982, which I have seen these in pictures I will admit I’ve never had to use one because well, I wasn’t even alive yet. Now I do remember the later models with the floppy disks we had to change to finish the Oregon Trail. To me the computer has just always been there, sure they’ve become more common throughout the years, but I grew up learning how to use them. I can definitely say they are faster now than when I was a kid. I can’t imagine the life before computers really. I do see how much they benefit our students who struggle to write neatly. There have been times I’ve had to ask, now what does this say and often they have no clue either. I do have a deep appreciation for the innovations of Steve Jobs and the impact he has had on the world.

Next I moved on and read the ALA TechSource blog; “Librarian, Robot,” by Kate Sheehan. Posted on October 4th. It brings up the question of a librarian being replaced by a robot. It is a scary thought that our jobs can be easily replaced on day by a machine. The computer comes close sometimes with automated checkout stations. I do picture in my head robots moving around and putting books back on the shelves, answering patron questions and helping location information. When this world comes I also picture robots asking for the information because well, if a robot can do the job of a librarian surely we’ll all have our own personal librarian to do those tasks we don’t want to do. The blog wasn’t so much about robots completely taking over the job, but taking over those tasks that could be automated so librarians can spend more time on interacting with patrons.

I also enjoy checking out the Adult Books 4 Teens blog and seeing what books are being recommended each day. On October 6th the book Word Hero by Jay Heinrichs was featured in a posting by Angela Carstensen. This book sounds like it would be a great addition to any speech teacher’s classroom library. It helps teach how to use things such as onomatopoeia, alliteration, hyperbole and other tricks of speech.

Empowering Learners talks about “Staffing” and “The Learning Space.” The biggest consideration with Staffing is that each school library must have a certified school librarian to manage the program. There may be other aides, but one staff member must be certified. It seems some schools are trying to get around that anymore. With the budget cuts some have looked at the library and said, why do we need someone certified there when anyone can checkout and shelve books? Part of our job as a librarian is advocating why we are important and why the school needs us. The library should also have both virtual and physical space for students and teachers. The section promotes flexible scheduling so the library is open to use all day. It also promotes having digital resources which are available off campus such as databases which can be accessed from home.

Woolls comments on “Managing Personnel” in the library. Very little focus is put on managing other personnel in the library during the degree programs because often school librarians run the Media Center on their own. As a librarian you need to be able to train your staff, this can include the teachers in your building. With the ever changing technologies the classroom teachers may not have the time to keep up with what’s new, while as the librarian you are expected to. In this era librarians are expected to be a leader in the school because of how they deal with technology. As the media specialist it is our role to help put the new technologies with the teachers and student s who can best use them. It is important to note how staff will be evaluated so the media specialist can be prepared. As a library media specialist we are required to interact with the administration slightly more than regular classroom teachers sometimes. We have the library budget to present and maintain along with getting the approval for the programs we hope to develop. When getting along with teachers it is important to know what they expect from you. Dealing with students just requires being friendly and able to help them locate the books and information they are hoping to find.
Back to my Literary Mount Rushmore, since I started with J.K. Rowling I decided to stick with children’s/YA authors. My final list is J.K. Rowling, Ann Rinaldi, Laura Ingalls Wilder and Gary Paulson.
Oh yeah, and we did get our float for homecoming finished by 6pm for my students!


  1. We had a lot of problems with floats at LSN as well. We tried to talk the admin. out of continuing it but it is too big a PR thing to give up.

    Alice Yucht is such a card. She has been to several Missouri conferences. There have been more than one news reporter who has been tripped up by publishing false quotations -- many of them from Wikipedia.

    Twilight: Couldn't get into it. Harry: I can't get enough of them. Books, movies, etc. --- all good.

    Oh, believe me -- there was life before computers. But, who would want to go backwards? And now you can get an iPhone you can talk to -- just like "Star Trek!"

  2. I too was sucked into the Twilight series by my students. I'm glad I read them so that I know what all of the hype is about, but it can't compare to Harry Potter!