Digital Pathfinder – Pay to Play and OERs

This pathfinder is created as a tool to direct and assist in resource finding and selection. This is third iteration of this document that was originally designed in response to multiple requests from teachers and librarians across the school district. All of these have bene chosen as they speak directly to Common Core, coding, math instruction, and language arts. These programs all speak all assist in bridging the intention-behavior gap that often occurs with learning by providing a goal and reward (levels, badges, and printed certificates) that has real world application. In the case of coding, the badges and certificates earned can actually be used as an addendum to a resume in the real world. Most of these sites are OER (Open Education Resources) so there are no costs for these – just sign up and use. OER sites are marked with OER. This list is not exhaustive.

 

Language Arts

No Red Ink: https://www.noredink.com If you are looking for interactive grammar and reading assignments then this site offers what you are looking for. Teachers can review student work which has been specifically formatted to student needs, personality, and interests. Sign up for free or pay for the premium account.

Story Bird: https://storybird.com Looking for creative ways to get kids writing? Story Bird offers prompts as well as the opportunity to create and publish their writings using graphics. This is also a good way for students to learn basic page layout and beginning publishing. Students can explore poetry as well as longer forms of writing. OER

Story Jumper: http://www.storyjumper.com An easy way to explore writing and publishing. This site is excellent when your class has been working on a larger project of writing that can be used for fund raising. Signing up for free or pay for a premium account.

Mathmatics

Mathwizz: https://wizz.com/en-us/ This product offers personalized math tutoring for students. Layout for activities is similar to Lexia except with a focus on math. Accounts for this do cost money, so be certain to get a personalized quote.

Prodigy: http://www.prodigygame.com This program allows student to use math in a role playing game similar to Final Fantasy with an entire world to explore. It allows teachers to monitor progress, assign a specific type of math to be used and repeated by students, as well as create progress reports. You can limit student access to just the classroom as well as expand to include worldwide play. Nonmember’s pay nothing. Members pay a monthly fee and gain full access.

Better Lesson: http://betterlesson.com/comon_core_math So Better Lesson covers a lot more than just math, but we’re going to focus on just the math lessons here. Similar to Teachers Pay Teachers but focused on lessons and free. Teachers have created the lessons for you and all lessons are under the Creative Commons Copyright so feel free to print them out and adjust for your classroom situations. You can see the standards being supported on each lesson as well. OER

Social Studies

Icivics: http://icivics.org/ Supports issus concerning social studies. Specifically good for teaching lessons on The Constitution. This site is a creation of Sandra Day O’Conner. There are lesson plans for teachers, interactive projects and, for those who have moved away from the standard A-F grade system, badges to be earned. OER

Smithsonian Learning Lab: https://learninglab.si.edu This Smithsonian created site brings the museum’s collection to people around the world and helps students create their own presentations. Teachers can also create their own virtual tours of items that include pictures, videos, and quizzes. This site is free but does require users to sign up for an account. OER

Digital Public Library of America: https://dp.la You keep looking for those images or tools that illustrate concepts for social studies, history, etc? The DPLA has it all in one nice place. Very user oriented, you can find a full exhibitions on a topic to run in the background while you talk about your topic. Timelines and apps are available as well. This site is amazing! OER

Coding

Code.org www.code.org A completely free site that offers a variety of coding lessons in a variety of coding languages. This is a great site for those people looking for support in languages like Ruby Rails, etc. OER

Code Combat: http://codecombat.com/ This is a gaming site that teaches the basics of html via gamification. It is appropriate for ages 9 to adult and provides a safe gaming environment. This game is similar to the old Zelda of the 80s and includes teacher’s resources. Access is free to a certain level of the game.

Hour of Code: www.hourofcode.org Famous the world over for the hour of code event they hold, you can also access materials in class for teaching coding outside of the annual, established coding event. Coding lessons on this site are mostly focused on SNAP code which is widely used by places like MIT to teach coding. OER

Generalized Subject Areas

MobyMax: www.mobymax.com This site offers Common Core backed activities for students K-8 in a plethora of areas. You can purchase a classroom product where students can be enrolled as a class. Teacher can monitor student progress, manage student levels, assessments, etc. The professional level for this program have been quoted as costing around $60.00.

Live Homework Help http://lam.alaska.gov/sled/homework Teachers get phone call and emails all the time about students needing help with their homework. Live Homework Help is a product paid for by the State Library of Alaska and free to all residents of Alaska. Tutors are actual people, paid to tutor in specific subject areas. These people are amazing and know how to keep users on task. They will stay with students on their homework for as long as necessary to complete the job. All free to Alaskan Residents.

Merlot II https://merlot.org/merlot/materials.htm Sometimes teachers need to take some time to cover their own learning, asking advice or seeing what others are doing and thinking. Merlot II offer communities and materials in a number of subject areas. This site is supported by the California State University system. This is some of the cutting edge support educators are getting in California. Much of the material featured here is peer reviewed. OER

PBS Learning Media https://pbslearningmedia.org Everyone loves PBS for its children’s programming, but they also offer some great tools and discussion boards for teachers. Check out their productivity tools and professional development courses as well. You can access puzzle builders and teacher’s blogs. Site is browsable by standards, grades, and subject areas. OER

Gooru http://gooru.org/welcome Gooru (Goo – roo) offers a full spectrum of subject areas with assessments and activities. This site allows teachers to perform real-time assessments and then augment student learning activities Many of the lesson collections have been created by nationally top ranked schools for large school districts. Students are also given feedback that they can use for navigation of their own learning journey. OER

Annenberg Learner http://www.learner.org The Annenberg Foundation presents a large collection of lessons and videos to help you augment your lessons and add interest. Additionally, Annenberg Learner has released copyright control for use in public education for K12 schools. You as a teacher can also benefit from their resources by taking graduate classes for credit. Costs for use in classroom is free, graduate credit course work ranges from $206 to $309 plus a technology fee.

Compiled by David Adkins-Brown

All links accessed 05-09-2017

 

MAKERSPACES: Big Projects for Little Spaces

By David Adkins-Brown and Ann Morgester

Working as the Anchorage regional rep for AkASL I have been able to see and hear from almost every librarian in the district on the topic of makerspace. This has probably been one of the biggest topics across Anchorage School District amongst school librarians. Specifically, librarians have been asking he question: What makes a makerspace?

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Sheninger, E. (2016)

Many people seem to have the idea makerspaces require large 3D printers, saws, and supercomputers capable of teaching children to program the space shuttle. But what is the function of a makerspace? A makespace provides people with the opportunity to explore and create through the presentation of problems and the opportunity to tinker and make mistakes. With this in mind, a school library makerspace doesn’t need fancy machines or huge amounts of space to be successful and fulfill the above definition. In fact, less is probably more when it comes to school library makerspaces, especially when you might be pressed for space, money, and class time.

The ASD Library strategic plan calls for a library makerspace in all schools by the end of five years. In the meantime, here are makerspace ideas to last ten months as well as make sure you don’t break the bank. All of these small kits should store well in a large shoebox or a slightly larger container.

1: Cardboard loom weaving: https://www.craftstylish.com/item/2546/how-to-weave-on-a-cardboard-loom/page/all

 

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Suomi, P. (2016)

Coding with punch cards has roots in the Jacquard Loom and was formalized into the coding we recognize today by the mathematician Ada Lovelace. Get down to the basics and origins of coding with cardboard loom weaving. Students only need cardboard, string, yarn, a ruler, scissors, and a fork to produce a mat of woven cloth. Include a pattern with X’s and O’s and see what your students can produce.

2: Finger Knitting Kits: http://www.wikihow.com/Finger-Knit

Everyone in Alaska seems to know how to knit or quilt. In fact, I can personally say it seems knitting is a very Pacific NW hobby for men and women. Of course needles cost money, and just learning to cast on might take kids a week to learn. Why not take some yarn (nice ropy stuff for small hands) and create a kit where kids can learn to finger knit? This helps develop hand eye coordination, finger dexterity, and problem solving,

3: Electronic Playdough Kits: http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project-ideas/Elec_p073/electricity-electronics/squishy-circuits-project-1

So, you don’t have money for the fancy snap circuit kits and robots. Who cares? Sometimes it’s the simple things kids need to explore. LCD lights, batteries, two wires, and play dough is all you need for this.

4: Fruit Electronics Kits: http://www.energyquest.ca.gov/projects/lemon.html

Similar to the play dough, this time kids learn about batteries. Just grab some of those oranges they don’t eat at snack time and peel one. Each wedge should be enough for a small LCD light, but they will have to experiment with that to find out. Note: Lemons work best, and the more the better.

5: Black Out Word Poetry: http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/top-teaching/2016/04/blackout-poetry

Everyone wants to do something with poetry, and I always want to do something with the books I just deleted. Blackout poetry offers a solution to both of these issues.

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Glimco, E. (2016)

Tasteful, artistic, and puts the A in STEAM; black out poetry will offer all ages a fun time and create something to decorate the library and fridge with.

6: Paper Plate Marble Maze: http://buggyandbuddy.com/paper-plate-marble-maze/

When I first heard of this, I thought people meant one of those high standing platform marble mazes that the marble rolls down from top to bottom. Mazes are pathways for our marbles to follow. Keeping this in mind, we can direct our students towards exploring concepts found in disciplines of engineering, i.e., electrical, mechanical, and structural engineering. From this experience with marble mazes, students are experiencing the basics of circuitry, Newton’s Laws of Physics, and basic geometry.

7: Simple Winch: http://littlebinsforlittlehands.com/build-a-winch-simple-machine-recycled-stem-activity/

Engineering and physics are not always the most natural areas for librarians to turn to and explore, but here’s a small project that provides participants with the space to explore both of these. Kids can start with just a pull system and then try out the winch itself.

8: Zine Making: http://www.rookiemag.com/2012/05/how-to-make-a-zine/

I am so Oregon. I had to include something about zine making. We have great writers and journalers. We have some artistic people drawing and taking pictures. It just seems a zine would help communicate with many people over a large state that lacks a lot of internet access seen in other places. Zines can provide for all this!

9: Pine Needle Bowl Kits: https://www.motherearthnews.com/diy/weave-a-pine-needle-basket-zmaz97aszgoe

When I was in college I had a friend making these all the time. I never tried it but always loved the look and feel of his finished product. You may have to order away for pine needles since the best for this project are usually the longer style needle. I happen to know the former librarian for ANCCS placed a book on this very project in the library as well (La La La…). You can order long pine needles on ebay for about $20.00 for 1.5 lbs. average.

10: Noodle Marshmallow Towers: http://kats.org/wpcontent/uploads/2014/07/Spag_towers_instructions.pdf

Okay, I was going to stop earlier, but I had to include this one too. Have the kids make towers with noodles, marshmallows, and their brains. No using a computer or pictures, this project requires kids to experiment with engineering and math. The answer is always triangles . . .

 

Sheninger, E. (2016). Free resources to support your makerspace. A Principal’s Reflections. Retreived from http://esheninger.blogspot.com/2015/11/free-resources-to-support-your.html

Suomi, P. (2016). How to weave using a cardboard box loom. All Fiber Arts. Retrieved from http://www.allfiberarts.com/2011/aa040201.htm

Glimco, E. (2016). Poetry in reverse: The art of blackout poetry. Floodmark: Poetry Beyond the Lines. Retrieved from http://www.floodmarkpoetry.com/2015/04/art-of-blackout-poetry.html

 

 

Basic Steps to Remember in Genrefication

Over the course of the last few years I have seen a repeated conversation crop up on the issue of genrefication in libraries. Everyone, for the most part, seems to be pretty supportive of the idea. I actually wrote a paper for grad school exploring the subject as well; you can see that paper here. Anecdotally, there can be no doubt that the effects of genrefication of a library’s fiction section is positive since the common effects I have seen on circulation numbers for libraries that do genrefy demonstrate the possibility of 7000 item increases within a year of activity (Check out these number here). However, the one thing I feel is missing in the conversation is the best practices for genrefying a library. While still unscientific, here is a list of the five basic steps people have taken towards genrefying their libraries and why these steps are important.

  1. If you are in a school library, then take the summer to genrefy the library.

This should be pretty self-evident, but there are other things to glean from this statement. First of all, the idea of a summer is not a solid figure for length of time, but I have heard from several librarians, through blogs as well as presentations, that anywhere from three to four months is standard for a school library.

This should mean that, when you go to present your proposal to the principal, an average school library should only take a season to genrefy and this is with the help of students.

2. Figure out the subject headings for each genre section.

This might seem like the easy part for a lot of people, but in the end many people have a very difficult time with this. There are a couple reasons for this.

Ontology: Listen, I wish I could make this easier for you, but welcome to the world of cataloging.

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photo credit: radientskies

 

Trying to figure out what your subject headings are can be monumental. You can get into all the arguments of what sorts of fantasy there are and the subtle differences between high fantasy and light fantasy, but let’s be real about this: Do your users care all the time or can they figure it out on their own? Keep it simple. You might just want to use the terms your patrons are using.

School District or Federated Catalogs: You might want to consult with your school district or the main branch. If the head cataloger tells you there is already a list of approved subject headings, then I would suggest keeping with the approved list. One reason for this is the hard work of arguing subject headings has been done for you. It might also be that the list of approved subject headings is going to be used in other cataloging that most front line librarians are not going to have to deal with (Take a look at this from a cataloger’s POV). Remember, you are probably working with a team of library professionals (I’ll skip the para vs professional talk here). Show them a bit of respect for the work they have already done. If you do happen to disagree with a subject heading or want to use another one, then talk to your catalogers and see if you can add one or argue for a replacement.

3. Put those students and parents to work.

The library is more than a reading room; it is a community learning space. Take the people you have and put them to work in creating their library. This can take the form of a learning experience for everyone involved since many students may not know what genres are, much less understand how to differentiate the genres. The same goes for parents, teachers, and principals.

Side note on this: We all know that school principals usually have no idea what a librarian does, but genrefication and shelving projects have been my one way to demonstrate the complexity of what it is we do. I once had a principal and group of volunteers come help me shelve, alphabetize, and shift an entire library over a week. It was during this activity the principal turned to me, with wonder in her eyes, and said, “This really requires three dimensional thinking. I didn’t know it was so complex.” After this, she had a hell of a lot more respect for me and consulted with me more often on a multitude of school activities, both in and out of the library. Gaining administrative support will help you in more ways than you can imagine.

4. Your biggest expense is always going to be labels and tape.

This is not really based on some big study, but after I built a school library as well as spoke with other people, the one thing everyone had to run for at one point or another was tape and labels. You will probably run out at some point. Plan ahead and don’t skimp. You’ll need it, and there’s nothing more embarrassing than having to tell your users it will take another week or two because you have to wait for those very specific labels.

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Photo Credit: Semanticseosolutions

 

5. Keep track of your circulation numbers from before and after.

While many people may see their circulation numbers as merely End of Year report fodder, it is wise for us to remember these statistics can be pulled up at almost any point in the year for things like reports to administration as well as used in grant writing. Keep those number

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Photo Credit: Statistics and Maths Tutoring

 

s handy as well if you want to argue for increased library funds form the school district. If you can demonstrate greater use, your argument for funding goes up as well.

This list is by far not definitive. I’m sure many of you will read over these and have some argument or add in another point of important. But I also hope this post leads to deeper thoughts on what you can do and how to branch out on your programming as a whole. Let us not forget as well, and as I said before, the LIS community needs to take the time to study and research genrefication more. We cannot rely entirely on anecdotal evidence to add efficacy to the genrefication movement.

Professional What?: LIS and Conversations around Professional Titles and Paraprofessional Titles

Recently I took on a challenge from a friend of mine to post a question about the concept of the professional title in library and information science. I asked people what they thought of the professional title and who should be able to be called a librarian. This of course brought on a huge fire storm of talk. Some of this was directed at me for even thinking to ask about the subject. There were some who thought I was self-serving in asking the question. Just as a point of open disclosure, I happen to support the idea that the an MLIS degree should automatically confer a professional title just as taking the degree of MD would do the title of doctor, but I’ll get to this later. Moreover, my point of view is not the end all be all, but I wanted to take the time to talk about what I found out from this discussion.

First of all, the world of library and information science is strongly divided on the idea of who can be called a librarian, and this leads us to consider there may be two terms being used. There seems to be an understanding through all the library world of a “Librarian” and a “librarian.” The “librarian” is any person the public comes in contact with who happens to work in the library. The “Librarian” is really only understood within the library world and consists of a person with a MLIS, MLS, MMLIS, or a PhD in LIS who has been granted a professional position, no by peers within the library but by the HR department. This HR department bit can get a little sticky as well so hold on to that idea.

The “librarian” is a result of the public not understanding all the members that make the library work, and perhaps this confusion is mostly the fault of the “librarians” of the world not clearly explaining what we all do and how we function together. I personally do not have a whole lot of problem with calling a person a librarian to a member of the public if said person is just doing a job like directing a user to a section, checking books in or out, repairing or processing materials, or paging a book for ILL. The public really doesn’t care for the most part; they just want their items. But I think we might want to take a step back and make it clear that there are divisions of labor and all these jobs are important. Without each person participating in the structure of the library we end up with a mess. There is truly an appreciation within the library for the shelvers, pages, and technicians, but we do a horrible job demonstrating this. As an example of this, take a moment to check out the Unshelved comic by Gene Ambaum and Bill Barnes and take a look at how Buddy the Beaver (the library page) is often treated. Perhaps mastered and “professionally titled” librarians need to rethink our approach to the other staff members in general.

This leads me to another thought on some of this. What makes the title of a librarian professional? Taking a look at Michelle Mach’s website (http://www.michellemach.com/jobtitles/realjobs.html) we can see a huge list of “professional titles.” I put this in quotes here because my exploration of this topic has led me to realize that in some cases, if the title does not include “Librarian” then some organizations – especially Human Resources – have a very flexible way of using these titles and usually not in a very favorable fashion towards librarians. Some of this is due to budgetary issues with organizations as well as what seems to be a very random selection of phrasing on the HR department’s part. This issue of what constitutes a professional title in LIS could also stem from library administration, i.e., library directors, boards, etc. Exploring who can or cannot be a library director has been an interesting study but is best left for another day.

Dewey started his first school of library economy in 1887 at Columbia College. In a few years other schools also began opening LIS schools and master’s programs. So we know the ALA has been working on some form of accreditation and standards since that time and has clearly had a full accreditation process starting in 1924 based on their historical list (http://www.ala.org/accreditedprograms/directory/historicallist). In this time the ALA has been instrumental in the formation of librarians, creating competencies and standards for defining and shaping the professional librarians – not dissimilar to other professionals. Yet, in all my exploration of this topic, I have not seen people referring to the MLIS (or its variations) as a professional degree such as seen with nursing or other professions. Socially I think this might be due to the fact that we, librarians, do not carry a prefix or suffix to our names as doctors do. Even with nurses we can refer to a person as Nurse Surname (we all remember Nurse Ratchet don’t we?) which implies a professional title. But librarians do not have this form of address, and this issue might further separate us from the being seen as professionals within and especially without our ranks at times. It is necessary we understand some of the complexities of these titles as well because while some professional titles require a master’s degree in LIS, there are other titles where the MLIS is disregarded. Take for instance the title of library director or manager. In many cases libraries do not require the director or the manager to hold an MLIS or other graduate degree. Perhaps some of this is the science’s own fault since most often the study of library management has been relegated to that of a certificate which might be awarded to a person after they have completed a weekend course with a library association. Only a couple schools in the US offer a full degree in library management (not the management of information but the management of the library or information center as a whole).

Image result for information professionals

The separation between the mastered librarians and the professionally titled librarians can get even more complex when you consider the limits some states place on mastered and non-mastered librarians alike. In some states, for instance New York, an individual is asked to pass a state exam which can only be administered to a person who has already worked in a library. This confers on the individual the ability to gain a professional library post in the state. This makes me wonder why the master’s degree is necessary in the state of New York if you can’t get into a library position without having first obtained a degree and the degree means nothing if you have not passed the state exam but you can’t take the exam without having worked in a library information organization. Catch 22 I think…

Pennsylvania, as well as other states, appear to have their own tests which allow a person to obtain a professional position in lieu of a degree. This came as a surprise to me but a number of librarians stated this was the case for them as they moved from paraprofessional to professional in their libraries. (Discussion on this and the information mentioned above about New York can be found here.) The confusion around how to gain the coveted professional title as well as who can take a professional title is never ending and only leads to deep resentment amongst the LIS community.

I want to take a moment to reiterate I am not looking to demean or lower those long time staff members who have been serving in the technical positions for decades and are often referred to as librarians by library staff and patrons alike. I respect the work they do, and often these people are more skilled in the jobs they perform than if a mastered librarian were asked to do the same job. We need to, as said before, fully appreciate these people, but this raises the question as to whether or not librarians in general are really dedicated to the concept of lifelong learning since there are certificates for all the various paraprofessional library positions. I recently presented a small, unscientific, survey to the ALA Think Tank group on Facebook. Of 73 respondents 39 reported they did not hold any certificates or degrees and only received on the job training. 10 of the respondents indicated they held only a single LIS certificate for the paraprofessional. There were two respondents who said they held two certificates in LIS for paraprofessionals. Of special interest was the fact that only two respondents said they felt their organization supported them obtaining further certificates. (To see this super scientific study click here)

I find it odd the library and information science world advocates so strongly for the concept of lifelong learning, but the practice does not seem to be evidenced in our ranks. We do not appear to be supporting our own staff, whom we rely on for essential duties, to further themselves and expand their own skill sets except when this education includes the pursuit of a graduate degree. For many paras I conversed with I noticed a certain level of bitterness towards the exclusivity as well as dismissive attitudes from the mastered or professionally titled librarians.

There are no simple answers for all the problems listed here, but ALA as an oversight and accreditation organization is in an excellent place to begin the processes of cementing as well as formulating the titles and professional development pathways for the library community. Something needs to be done sooner or later though. These changes will help to formalize and give substance and respect to a profession that has been around for millennia yet still has not moved beyond a public definition of book shelvers.

Wisconsin’s Fine for Porn in the Library

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A truly great library contains something in it to offend everyone.
Jo Goodwin

I don’t mean to always harp on issues of censorship, but it’s just something that rubs me the wrong way. I recently saw a post go through on Facebook the California Libraries page concerning a decision in Wisconsin to support a ban on the viewing of pornography. I can’t link directly to the FB page, but here is a link to the Wisconsin decision. I was more than a little uncomfortable with the reactions of some librarians who were in support of the censoring since some of them were saying this decision was “inspirational” or “THIS IS WHAT I HAVE BEEN SAYING FOR YEARS [sic]” (please go to the Facebook California Libraries page to see the original quotes).

The one that really disturbs me here is the quote from a person saying, “I’m happy that it wasn’t a case about the content, as much as a case about whether it was disruptive.” I just don’t think people have thought through the ramifications of this case, and here’s my argument for this (I am going to give a warning here and say I am going to use a Slippery Slope argument, but we are discussing the ability for people to argue laws in the end and this could be used for fodder later for another case).

I want to point out page four of the Wisconsin decision, for what I take so much issues with, which says:

‘Disorderly conduct in the context of this case means “violent, abusive, indecent, profane, boisterous, unreasonably loud or otherwise disorderly conduct under circumstances in which the conduct tends to cause or provoke a disturbance, in university buildings or on university lands.’ WIS.ADMIN.CODE §UWS 18.11(2); see also WIS.STAT.§947.01(1). The State need not prove that an actual disturbance resulted from Reidinger’s conduct, only that the conduct was of a type that tended to cause or provoke a disturbance (page 4) [my emphasis, not theirs].

I have argued a few times in other forums that while I do not love the idea of people viewing pornography or violent death photos in the public areas of the library, we should not be attacking, fining, or suing people for accessing such materials. Rather, we should be establishing policy on physical conduct and then providing privacy screens and headphones for users who may be viewing or reading sensitive materials. What really bothers me here is the court’s opinion that the State does not need to show how a person has made an actual disturbance. We could press the issue in this case by applying this ruling to music as well since The Beatles were able to create such a sensation when coming to the United States that the crowd was riotous. We could also say the same thing about Rite of Spring.

Bigger still is the amount of intellectual freedom that may be stymied by this decision. Take for instance a situation where a medical student is viewing materials displaying the human body. These images or videos have been known to cause disturbance. What about a clinical psych student who is viewing something emotionally uncomfortable or sexual in nature? The areas of study exist.

Libraries need to be making an effort to create policy that attends to both the comfort of non-viewers as well as those who wish to or need to view material of an uncomfortable nature. With the absence of physical excitement, there is little that can be viewed as offensive if a privacy screen and headphones is being used in an academic library or adult section of a library.

The fact that librarians and libraries have not problem solved these issues better almost offends me. The fact we have librarians supporting censure of materials because THEY feel uncomfortable offends me. We work in a field that will cause offense. To not recognize this would be to fall in line with those who seek to destroy art because a shoulder is shown or because it presents nudes or gods not your own.

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Censoring Gay Books

I just recently finished my Master’s program at USC for management in library and information science this last week. It’s been a rough road, but I am super excited about what the future holds. victoryI think gaining this degree has only opened me up to seeing how much I still need to learn and grow in ILS studies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A couple weeks ago I promised a quick talk about the recent request to bar access to a book called “This Book is Gay.” This happened just an hour north of Anchorage (where I live now) in the city of Wasilla. Yes, Wasilla, the former home of Sarah Palin – former Alaska governor and former VP of the USA hopeful.

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So the story goes that a mother, Vanessa Campbell, came home to find her 10 year old son reading this book. She then took the book away, read over it, went back to the library, and then asked the library manager to move the book to a place where children would not have access to the book.

Due to the complaint the library review board took the book into consideration. The review board decided to not remove the book but to instead remove the entire YA non-fiction section and have it absorbed into the adult non-fiction section.

I don’t know how I feel about this. I think the board did the best they could since there were more than a few people who showed up to a hearing with the city council on the topic of this book. I heard some sound bites from the hearing, and I can’t say I am surprised by what happened. Wasilla is a very conservative community. But this brings to mind some things I think the people of Wasilla, and many people in Alaska, often forget: silence breeds a dangerous form of ignorance.

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I have to wonder if Vanessa Campbell had a deeper conversation with her son. I mean the book “This Book is Gay” is not quiet about its subject matter in anyway. Its cover is a freaking huge rainbow. I doubt a person would ever pick the book up without a slight guess at the content. I am left wondering if her son is LBGTQ identified. I am wondering if he just shoved that conversation back in the closet or if he was outed to the entire Wasilla community. But I think this points out some other shortfalls like the ability to create private dialog and discussion in a family about what’s really going on with those in the family. I have my doubts. I am concerned Ms Campbell might not be doing what librarians and book sellers the world over ask of families and book critics- have a conversation on the book that leads to personal decisions. Rather, it seems this only led to less access to books and knowledge in general rather than respecting personal rights and choices in reading.

Thoughts?

Charter School Libraries: Different Considerations

Working at Alaska Native Cultural Charter School (ANCCS) has been one of the most gratifying experiences I have ever been through in library science. Not only have I had the opportunity to build a library and start information literacy classes for students, but I have gained the experience of being involved with a charter school.

Charter schools sit within a grey zone when it comes to the public vs private world of education. While they are publicly funded, these schools do not fall under the same rules and restrictions normal public schools do. Programming can be molded into the framework of the charter of the school. Strong philosophies can change the way a charter school not only operates but redefine how classrooms are designed, how lessons are delivered, and what the teacher-student relationship might be.

For a library, the charter school presents opportunities which may not be found elsewhere. For instance, in ANCCS I have been able to create a special collection of Alaskan Native materials. Some of these items are ol9780152656614d and rare; they are never circulated but access is provided to students across the school district. Most public schools would never put money or effort into creating a special collection of this type since they serve a general population, and as can be heard, at least in the Anchorage School District, a school library is not an archive. But we need to remember the charter school is created for a specific type of community who might need very specific needs met.

The meeting of these needs starts by looking at a large spectrum of topics that touch a charter school or private school in general. These topics might cover specific psychological and social areas of interest for educators (think of a Waldorf or Montessori school).  Furthermore a library might need to consider issues of space and design for their collection to meet the needs of the school.

This might childrens_books_creativitymean creating more digital access points for students in the case of a technology focused charter school. As I have said about ANCCS,the definition and focus of our school allowed for the creation of a special collection that focused on Alaskan Native culture and voices.

Being in a charter school has also affected the ways we create access at ANCCS. Our school has been highly influenced by the transitory nature of the Native community. While students are present most of the year, we might have several students leave suddenly to go hunting, visit their villages, or live at fish camps. Within the culture these are all naturally occurring situations with nary a second thought given about the situation. To those outside the culture these are seen as interruptions to the normal flow of education and school activities.

If you are in a charter school library or an independent school library (think special homeschooling programs or even private schools) what topics or special points do you bring into the equation when developing your library? Is there something you have had to consider that many of your counterparts in public schools or traditional school environments might not commonly take into consideration?