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09

May
2016

In Redux

By Elizabeth Wroten

The State of: Biographies and Summer Reading After Weeding

On 09, May 2016 | In Redux | By Elizabeth Wroten

Shortly after starting to look at our diversity numbers I decided that I could tackle weeding the biography collection. It was relatively small and the third grade students would be using it at the end of the school year for a project. I figured it couldn’t hurt to have the biography of Christopher Columbus removed as an option in which it states that Columbus knew the “Indians” he “discovered” couldn’t be Chinese because they were not yellow with slanted eyes (I SO WISH I WAS JOKING ABOUT THIS, BUT I AM NOT!). There were several other questionable bits of information in that book as well as some incredibly questionable other books. I also pulled biographies of people who were white and male and no one cares about. A handful of books were moved to other collections that are used for very specific units of study in the classrooms. Here are the new numbers:

Sure, they still aren’t great, but it’s a start. There is probably another stack we could get rid of, however we’ve got a decent core collection and now we can work on building it up. No more biographies of dead white men. We have a lot of those already, time for something new.


I also went back and revamped the summer reading lists before they went out to our families. I thought I was intentional last year, but I was way more intentional this year. Way more and I think the numbers really reflect that. Here they are:

Note, this lumps all the grades together. As with my last post on summer reading you can see individual grade level numbers here. I was just going to be WAY too many charts to do each one. Please do go look at numbers. It’s also telling. Also note that there was no fifth grade list last year. The teacher wanted to make her own. This year she is leaving so I made up a list.



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02

May
2016

In Redux

By Elizabeth Wroten

Final Thoughts on the State of Our Collections

On 02, May 2016 | In Redux | By Elizabeth Wroten

This was such a telling exercise and I’m so glad I did it. I know now how I can target my collection development dollars and attention to help build up a much better collection. It also shows me where I need to begin my efforts to really clean out our collection.

I’m aware, with all of these numbers that gender and race are only two types of diversity, but the other types are almost nonexistent in our collections. I think they appear in a very few books and maybe incidentally in a few books. I’m not quite sure what to do about that. I will be sure to purchase books and create lists that show things like disability and different family structures and economic diversity from here on out. Paying attention to this will also be really important in terms of ensuring we don’t create a false narrative about certain ethnicities (I’m thinking specifically of making all African Americans or all Latinos appear poor or part of a slavery narrative).

If I have time (that’s a big if) this summer I may take a look at some or all of these same collections again to see how they look after adding to them and subtracting from them. If not this summer I would like to revisit it next year sometime and that may be necessary as I am not sure how much time I’ll have to tackle all of this.

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11

Apr
2016

In Redux

By Elizabeth Wroten

The State of the: Holiday & Seasonal Collection

On 11, Apr 2016 | In Redux | By Elizabeth Wroten

One of my goals and major projects this year has been to examine the different sections of our collection, weed and update them, ensure they are being used, and introducing more diversity into them. I’m going to start sharing the numbers and my ideas on how I’m going to improve the collections. 

The Collection

We have 25 different holidays or seasons represented in our collection. There is one section for miscellaneous holidays (April Fool’s Day, Arbor Day, etc.) that have only one book about them and one small section for books that are collections of holidays- these are shelved in with our regular nonfiction.

The Numbers

Here is how the collection breaks down by holiday. There were a couple nonfiction books that collected Jewish holidays, Hindu holidays, and also National holidays. The miscellaneous holidays are days like April Fool’s, Arbor Day, Memorial Day and New Years- holidays that aren’t really religious and tend to be generically American. There were only a few so I lumped them together. Be sure to scroll through the legend to see what holidays there are- it’s a long list.

Here is a look at the percentages of nonfiction books within some of the religions. I totaled all the titles of the Christian holidays, Jewish holidays, Muslim holidays, etc. and then looked at what percentage of these are non fiction. I will talk below about why this matters.

 

Thoughts and Concerns

Here is another place we can easily support and promote diversity and it’s a collection that circulates A LOT. We always have out holiday/seasonal displays. Not surprisingly we don’t often have ones that center around Jewish (I don’t think the Hanukah books made it off the shelf this year and that was my fault and I’m very sorry) or Muslim (let’s mark Ramadan on our calendar every year so we’re sure to get those out) or Hindu (Diwali lines up with the Winter Solstice) holidays and that needs to change right away. Our school has a diverse population both in terms of race, but also religion. And once again the collection is overwhelmingly Christian (and therefore white). We need more Hindu holidays and especially Jewish. We do have a fair number of Jewish kids and how sad to see only a handful of Hanukah books next to the shelves bursting with Christmas books. I also have to say, with both Hanukah and Christmas, these are not the most important holidays in their respective religions so we should see more for the more important holidays. I personally think it would be fine to have books about Jesus, so long as we have books about Judaism and Islam and Hinduism.

I actually would like to weed out our holiday section and get rid of a few things (Christmas, I’m looking at you!), but really I have a long list of other holiday books I want to purchase to beef up the weaker sections. Thanksgiving will probably get the royal treatment this summer when I examine Native content in our collection. But really I love this collection and so do our students. It’s just a matter of making sure we’re all there in it and in roughly equal numbers.

It’s good to see these numbers too, because, unless I find a stellar Halloween book, I won’t be buying any more. Same goes for Christmas, Winter, and Valentine’s Day. We just don’t need more of those. Our shelves are bursting and there are other places we can use the money more effectively.

Now to address the nonfiction percentages. These are important to look at because they indicate how Christian- and white-centric our holiday collection is. If you are Muslim you do not need a nonfiction book about Ramadan. Sure, a Muslim kid might check one out, but as with Christians and Christmas, those kids are probably more interested in story books about their holidays. Books that don’t make them seem abnormal (or out of the norm) and needing explaining. They already know about the holiday. I will say this is going to take a bit more digging to find stories about Hindu holidays and Muslim holidays and Chinese holidays, but they are out there. I already have a list started.

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04

Apr
2016

In Redux

By Elizabeth Wroten

The State of the: Folktale & Fairytale Collection

On 04, Apr 2016 | In Redux | By Elizabeth Wroten

One of my goals and major projects this year has been to examine the different sections of our collection, weed and update them, ensure they are being used, and introducing more diversity into them. I’m going to start sharing the numbers and my ideas on how I’m going to improve the collections. 

The Collection

This is all our 398.2s. There are a couple books that fall outside, but I didn’t worry about them too much. We have some books in our harder 4th-5th grade yellow section, but the vast majority of these books are in our easier/picture book red/blue section.

There are 412 books in the collection.

The Numbers

By and large I went with the culture the book identified with unless it was obvious that skin color and setting were just window dressing and the story remained very much the same. So for example Rachel Isadora did a version of The Twelve Dancing Princesses. Sure the people are black and the setting is some where in Sub-Saharan Africa, but the story is exactly the same as in the Western European tradition and quite frankly that makes it a Western European book. I’m glad to see authors and illustrators making books that don’t default white and I think that’s important, but I also think we really need to get away from an almost exclusively Western European folktale tradition. African cultures have plenty of folklore of their own that would be wonderful to draw on.

Please note that you need to scroll through the legend on the chart. The list is long.

Thoughts & Concerns

This is another collection that directly supports many of our cultural/social studies units across grades which I thought would also give us another slice to look at and see how well we incorporate diversity. It’s also an easy place to get diversity into a collection because publishers like to put these kinds of books out.

I mean I guess I can say thank goodness it’s not 50% Western European, but it sure is close. The next closest number is the number of Native American tales (many of which I think need to be weeded), but it has 100 fewer titles. That’s a lot.

As with the biography collection, many of these titles need to be weeded . They are culturally insensitive and disapproved of by the groups they say they represent (Paul Goble, I’m looking at you). Again, I am not drilling down into this collection (yet! there are plans in place to work on this over the summer) looking at who actually wrote the stories or evaluating their accuracy. This just scratches the surface of what’s here and the issues present. I may return to this series after I weed the collections over the summer and look at where they numbers stand then.

And once more, as with the other collections I’ve looked at and the library as a whole, we just need to be really intentional in what we add from here on out. Unless it’s an outstanding Western European fairy tale then we probably don’t need it. Once we weed we should by anything we can find that is high quality folklore from any other culture or tradition.

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28

Mar
2016

In Redux

By Elizabeth Wroten

The State of the: books added this year

On 28, Mar 2016 | In Redux | By Elizabeth Wroten

One of my goals and major projects this year has been to examine the different sections of our collection, weed and update them, ensure they are being used, and introducing more diversity into them. I’m going to start sharing the numbers and my ideas on how I’m going to improve the collections. 

The Collection

The books we’ve added through out the year have been a mix of materials. Some have simply been new releases that are intended to build our fiction collections. Others support specific curricular units.

I worked hard on updating and upgrading our transitional chapter book collection (the red books) adding new books with more appeal, weeding older titles that didn’t circulate and were in poor condition. I also worked very hard to get a more diverse set of books into that part of the collection.

We also bought a fair amount of fiction and nonfiction to support various areas of the curriculum. I bought a lot of Native American books and Latino books to support the second grade social studies units in these areas. I am especially proud of this collection development as I made sure to purchase books written by native authors and that were well reviewed by Native Americans (thank you Debbie Reese in particular!).

The Numbers

So far this year we have added 588 books to our collection (I’m sure that gives you a sense of what our budget is). We are working on purchasing a few more books shelves so we probably won’t add more than a 50 more books for the rest of the year. Which is my way of saying this is pretty close to our final number.

The numbers here aren’t perfect. I looked specifically at the main character in most of the books, although sometimes there were two, in which case I counted both of them. I think a few books that I added new records for slipped in but weren’t technically new books. Also, if I could tell in a nonfiction book that there was a specific gender being shown throughout the book or on the cover I counted this into my tally (for example How to Fly a Jet Fighter, a math-based graphic novel, is narrated by a woman), but it wasn’t possible for every book. Incidental ethnicity in some of the nonfiction and fiction isn’t reflected here because it was hard to tell if people pictured were an actual ethnicity. There are also plenty of longer chapter books that I am not completely familiar with. If they weren’t on the cover I marked the book as white. Let’s face it, people will assume the characters are anyway.

Some of the animals were actually inanimate objects or insects (Stick and Stone or The Day the Crayons Quit). Sometimes you could tell that there was a gender, but not an ethnicity. “Other” refers primarily to Indian characters, but there were two or three Ancient Greeks which I didn’t want to call white (which I think of more as Western European ancestry). In the gender section, +3 refers to three or more main characters that made it difficult to count everyone accurately.

This time around I did look at family structure and at religion because I know I intentionally bought books that showed these things, but for the majority of the books we bought there wasn’t a particular religious or family theme. We added three books that specifically mention or deal with Judaism. We added three books with Muslims in them and only two that were overtly Christian. There were two books added with same-sex parents and two that dealt specifically with divorced parents.

So again, these numbers aren’t perfect, but they give a very good snapshot despite this.

Thoughts and Concerns

This was harder to look at because many books we bought didn’t specifically deal with race or religion, etc. The numbers are still pretty bad. Okay, abysmal. Much as our numbers with the biography collection.

I understand that race is not the only form of diversity, but frankly other types just didn’t feature in the books we have added (I know one book I bought shows a child in a wheelchair). This is a place we really need to focus our attentions. I didn’t want to look too closely at disability either because many of the books you see it in are our chapter books and I know many of those don’t fair well under scrutiny of their portrayals of the disabilities.

I am ashamed to admit many (6ish) of the Asian characters in books are actually Lego Ninjago characters. Ugh.

I am going to pat myself on the back here for a minute. I looked at the books I specifically bought since I made a concerted effort to be buying more diverse materials. I think I did an okay job. Okay stop patting. That being said, I can do a lot better and am challenging myself to do better for the rest of this year and next year (and any years to follow). My point in running these numbers was not to make me look good, but to show that if you focus on getting more diverse materials it makes a BIG difference in your numbers. We have to be intentional about this.

I put the Star Wars books in their own category because it was this big set I bought. I guess I’m trying to make myself feel better about my numbers, but I am also not sure if there are any in there that have any of the female characters featured or the new character that is black (I know so little about Star Wars, I’m sorry!). The animal character numbers are high because I have a soft spot for them!! Good to see that so I can work on checking that bias.

It’s not easy to find good quality literature that celebrates diversity, but it is out there. And the last thing our library needs, as the numbers are beginning to show, is yet another book with a white boy (and to some extent girl) in it. I believe we have a good collection at its core, by weeding and being more selective in what we purchase we can make it an even better collection. We can sell what we already have in the library and worry less about adding new books. I do hesitate when I know kids come in and ask for certain books that might not fit with my efforts to buy diverse titles, but I have to balance wanting to encourage kids with wanting to spend our budget on better books.

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21

Mar
2016

In Redux

By Elizabeth Wroten

The State of the: Biography Collection

On 21, Mar 2016 | In Redux | By Elizabeth Wroten

One of my goals and major projects this year has been to examine the different sections of our collection, weed and update them, ensure they are being used, and introducing more diversity into them. I’m going to start sharing the numbers and my ideas on how I’m going to improve the collections. 

The Collection

The biography collection is broken into two sections- yellow and red/blue- that very loosely indicate the reading level of the books. Many of our picture book biographies are in the red/blue section. The colors are indicated by stickers on the spines of the books. There are two series that are set aside on the shelves (more on them below).

The Numbers

There are 533 books in the collection about 423 subjects (people). There are 270 books in yellow about 219 subjects and 216 books in red/blue about 204 subjects. Note that there are books in the red/blue section and in the yellow section that overlap on subject (person) which when you look at the pie charts makes it seem like there are more subjects than there are.






329 are men 138 are women

338 are American 129 are not (as per traditional curriculums we study a lot of American history which in part explains the big difference in these numbers)

319 are White, 83 are Black, 2 are Asian, 22 are Native American, 26 are Latino/Hispanic, and 15 are Other.

(If you want to see the charts and graphs in Google Sheets click here.)

If you want me to name names here’s a link to my list that’s broken up into the series and sections. The Childhood of Famous Americans series is yellow (it’s not listed as such in the document). The Who Is…?/Who Was..? series is considered red/blue. And the DK Biography series is yellow.

Series

We have two series of biographies, the Who Is…?/Who Was…? and Childhoods of Famous Americans.

The former works well enough for our third grade biography project and the later is hit or miss. My biggest complaint is that they read much like a novel with dialog and detailed scenes from the person’s life. I think this gives the wrong impression for our younger readers who are not nearly as savvy as older readers and may confuse this for fact. I also find they have a huge range of reading levels (400L-980L with most falling in the upper 500s to 700s range) which makes it hard to say they work well for classes with a mix of readers. It’s also very hard for kids in lower school to pull information out of what they are reading, understand it, and put it into their own words. Adding the invented dialog and novelization of the information makes that even harder for them.

I decided to find Lexile numbers for the Who Is…?/Who Was…? series. Turns out they are just as high if not consistently higher than the Childhood series. I think it works out well enough, though. The Who Is…? breaks up the information more and intersperses pictures more frequently. They are also more factual than novelized. This makes pulling information out of them a little easier.

As a side note I don’t find Lexile numbers especially useful except in relation to one another (is one book harder than another). I find their grade level ranges often don’t apply to my students and overlap a lot. I also hate to limit children’s reading based on reading level. I’ve talked about this before at length, but thought I would mention it again. I do like them as a reference point though which is why I include them with my chapter book reviews and in this series.

Thoughts & Concerns

Well, the numbers don’t lie. I know this is just a slice of our collection, but I’m sure it’s a microcosm. To be honest, it’s probably a better balance than most of the rest of the collection. I also know it directly supports curriculum and learning of our students. We may say we support diversity, but these numbers are pretty abysmal. I don’t think this is intentional, however we can do better. MUCH, MUCH BETTER. I can think of two ways we can do that. First is by weeding out biographies that are old, incorrect, or don’t circulate. Second we can buy more, A LOT MORE, biographies of people who are not white and who are women. For an expensive private school we have a surprisingly diverse population and our library collection needs to reflect that. Our students, white and not white, deserve that.

One aspect I want to look at are the picture book biographies. I want to be sure that they are in the correct reading level sections. None of the collection sees much circulation outside the third grade biography project and I think picture books for older readers, unless they are being hand sold to kids, don’t tend to circulate. I think they might circulate better if they were in the red/blue section, but only if they aren’t way too hard or contain older content. Plus, the third grade tends to rely on our yellow biography section and while the picture books are great starting points they do not often contain enough information to be a single source for the project and so they may be better down in red/blue.

Per my observation a few weeks ago that many children’s nonfiction books perpetuate incorrect information I am concerned that our biographies do just that. I am also concerned that they do not portray history accurately enough e.g. they whitewash a lot of it. I am at a loss of what to do about it considering that I cannot read and fact check all the books in our collection. I am withdrawing the worst offenders, but that only goes so far and admittedly doesn’t get rid of the most egregious books or worst offenders.

UPDATE 3/22/2016:

Just a few more thoughts about these statistics. The first is that there are a few books missing out of the collection that are checked out. They won’t actually make much, if any, difference in our numbers, though.

I also want to add that this doesn’t actually drill down deeper into the collection. I did not examine the books about people of color to see who wrote them. I suspect many were by white authors (although not all) which makes a difference. And the same is true about the authors in the collection in general- I don’t know how many are people of color.

I largely ignored sexual orientation and religion. Quite frankly the numbers are just so overwhelming that it wasn’t worth it. There are maybe three Muslims in the collection (Muhammad Ali , Saladin, and Malcolm X). There are maybe as many jews (Anne Frank being one and a man in connection with her). As far as sexual orientation, we don’t really deal with that too much in the lower school as a stand alone issue. We do have biographies of Bill Peet and a few others who were gay, but I’m not sure that’s even mentioned in the biographies.

I would also like to add that while many biographies about white subjects can and should be weeded, unfortunately many of the biographies about people of color need to be weeded too. I just read yesterday one of our biographies of Martin Luther King, Jr. In it the book uses the n-word twice. TWICE! And says nothing about the word and only implies it as an insult, to say nothing of calling it out for the racial slur that it is. The book is also so old it refers to African Americans as Negroes and colored people. If I’m not mistaken, these terms are outdated and maybe even insulting.

Finally, going back to the idea that our numbers aren’t intentionally bad. This is problematic, though, because with the current state of the publishing industry we need to be intentional in what we are adding to our collection. This is especially true when we want to ensure we have a diverse collection. To that end I will be looking at the books we’ve added just this year.

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19

Oct
2015

In Uncategorized

By Elizabeth Wroten

I’m not the f*cking book police

On 19, Oct 2015 | In Uncategorized | By Elizabeth Wroten

Sorry for the language, but I’m about to rant. Recently a few colleagues have come to me wanting me to limit types of books kids can check out (in particular I Spy, Where’s Waldo and Elephant and Piggie books). In lieu of these I’m supposed to push them into chapter books. And while I was gracious and conciliatory I didn’t give them a definite “yes, I will do that”. Because I’m not the fucking book police.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all about helping kids find all kinds of books they like. From chapter books to picture books, from non fiction to fiction, from classics to new releases. The way I see it our kids come to library NOT to learn how to read, but to learn to want to read. One factor in this is that the other librarian is, by training and practice, a reading specialist. She has no other library experience and has in no way been immersed in library culture. That’s not a bad thing. Quite the contrary, she’s an incredible teacher and she knows her stuff. Plus she doesn’t get mired down in some of the library crap there is. The kids like her and she gets books in their hands. But it does mean she sees the library as the place to teach reading, not literacy. She has the same end goal as I do, life-long readers, but our approaches are vastly different.

Here’s why I refuse to become the book police:

Making reading a chore, something where you are told to choose something else or handed a book by the teacher with little to no input from you, does not make life-long readers. It makes kids who don’t want to read. It makes reading feel like something they have to do. Or worse yet, something they need to pretend to do to get the grade, make the teacher happy, or get by. I don’t want to teach kids to dissemble. I want them to love to read.

Moreover, limiting and saying no to their choices invalidates those kids. They like those books. That’s why, of their own volition, that have sought them out on the shelf and brought them to me (or the self-checkout station) to check out. They have sat down with them and started reading them. WITH ABSOLUTELY NO INTERVENTION OR ENTICEMENT on my part. None. Far be it from me to tell them they shouldn’t like that. Or that their choices suck. They probably think that about the books I choose to read. Every book its reader, right?

Also, what if a student is choosing a particular book because they see them self in it? When we tell them it’s not good enough, we invalidate that child. And let’s face it, the large majority of books that are deemed “good” and “worthwhile” are white, middle to upper class, heteronormative, with a traditional family structure. Even in my very wealthy private school these books reflect a small part of our population.

Policing kids reading also underestimates motivation. My colleagues don’t just want me telling kids they can’t read books that are “too easy”. I’m also supposed to stop kids from reading books that are “too hard”. Kids are really good at self censoring, both when it comes to content and when it comes to difficulty. I don’t want to tell the kid who loves mythology he shouldn’t be reading Percy Jackson if it’s a stretch. Especially if he really wants to. That desire is going to do a lot more for advancing his ability to read and his success than me giving him a book he’s not interested in. One thing I do, do when kids bring books that are really hard is tell them it’s okay to put it down and come back to it or ask a parent to help them read it.

I have been that reluctant, struggling reader. That was me. And guess what I learned to pretend to read the book that was handed to me by my parents and my teachers. There was stuff I wanted to read (god awful crap, looking back as an adult), but I was told it wasn’t good enough and that it I shouldn’t want to read it. The result? I read a total of 5 books for pleasure between high school and the start of graduate school. Five books in in ten years. Five books. Ten years. That’s not what we want for our students, is it? And let’s face it, the kids I’m supposed to get all book nazi on are the reluctant readers. The weak readers. Forcing them into books they haven’t chosen will do exactly this. Actually I probably read so many books in those ten years because my parents were readers and it was part of the family culture.

What happened in graduate school, you ask, that made me start reading again? Oh, just that it was library school and I was suddenly given permission to read all the YA, MG, and Kidlit I wanted. And no one batted an eye. It was “for work” and “for school”. Except I love that stuff. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE IT! I wish I could just read all day. Sometimes I do. Oops. I found myself as a reader. I found what I love (most things, especially if they are for younger audiences) and what I don’t like (adult fiction about sad women in bad marriages, tedious and dry nonfiction). And that’s (one of) my goals in the library- to help kids find themselves as readers. I can’t do that if I’m the one selecting their books for them. That’s them learning they don’t know themselves and I do. Which is completely false.

Sure, I’m happy to do reader’s advisory with them. I will make all kinds of suggestions and ask them questions. I may even put a book in their hand and say “try it”. But when I do that I tell them my feelings won’t be hurt if they try it and hate it or even if they don’t want to try it. My ego isn’t on the line. I know they like what they like and I like what I like. It’s not up to me to make that call for them and when they make it, it’s not a rejection of me. Just the book they didn’t like.

It’s not like these kids don’t get other practice or support reading. They’re in library for an hour a week. They are in their classrooms five days a week for 6 hours. In those classrooms the teachers are reading aloud to them and having them read aloud. Choosing books that will both challenge and help them. They have books that are precisely where their reading level is. They read these several times a week. They practice reading directions, math boxes, words on the board, spelling books, and worksheets (ugh). The classroom is where reading instruction takes place. Where they look at phonics and mechanics. That’s why librarians don’t take classes on the mechanics of reading. It’s not usually part of their curriculum. It certainly isn’t in our school, nor does it need to be.

So, to the kids in third grade who want to check out a Where’s Waldo and Elephant and Piggie, to the kids in second who want to check out three Elephant and Piggie, to the kids who want all picture books, to the kid reading graphic novels and comics, to the kids who want the thickest book in the library, to the kid who reads ten books a day: do it! You go! I love those books too. I’ve read them. I haven’t read them. I hate them. What I think doesn’t matter. What you think is the only thing that matters. You are reading. Good for you! Keep going!

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07

Aug
2014

In Redux

By Elizabeth Wroten

Information and Digital Literacy Specialist

On 07, Aug 2014 | In Redux | By Elizabeth Wroten

By way of my husband I came across a really interesting job opening at a Bay Area independent school. Sadly, it isn’t one I would be applying for simply because we don’t live close enough to Walnut Creek. But it got me thinking about updating my resume and about working on some different projects. The title and description are:

Information and Digital Literacy Specialist

  • works with the Librarian, the PC Specialist, the Mac/iPad Specialist, and the Director of Technology as a member of the Information Media Team
  • the candidate must have
    • a knowledge of STEAM and Maker movements
    • experience working with the students and teachers on planning, implementing, and assessing authentic, integrated, hands-on projects in innovative work spaces
    • strong research and organizational skills
    • a knowledge of media/information literacy and integration of electronic resources
    • a proven ability to assist teachers and serve students in a variety of environments

It’s not technically a library or librarian position, but I think a lot of librarians, especially school librarians would be well suited for the job. I was particularly interested because I think at this point I want to stay (and am stuck) in school libraries. They’re also looking for some skills and interests that I’m interested in, particularly the Maker Movement and the project-based learning portion.

Just thought I would share. I haven’t done a lick of research on this, not even a simple Google search, but I am curious if anyone else has run across this type of job (maybe not with the same title) before?

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12

Mar
2014

In Redux

By Elizabeth Wroten

Elevator Speech

On 12, Mar 2014 | In Redux | By Elizabeth Wroten

Well, it finally officially happened. I was at a party last weekend and someone said to me, “Do you really need a master’s degree to check out books?” He then proceeded to say that he thought libraries were on their way out and then ask me if I agreed.

In all honesty, I’m surprised this hasn’t happened before, but I was caught completely off guard. I rather lamely told him libraries do a lot more than books, but I wasn’t really sure how to respond. It didn’t help that we were in a social situation and I didn’t want to get all evangelist librarian on him and start some hour long lecture on what it is libraries (and librarians do) and how important they are. I also hate having this conversation because it often feels like you won’t convince these people who think we’re irrelevant.

The whole incident put me in mind of two things, though. First, that I need some kind of elevator speech, a brief, well-stated speech, that tells people what libraries are about (beyond books) and why they are important. Second, I wondered when did libraries become synonymous with pleasure reading?

As much as I hate having the conversation about the value of libraries (because I think it’s obvious and also think it’s very hard to quickly convince people who are decided against us), it’s obviously going to happen. And probably at awkward and inconvenient times. Like at a housewarming party. I would sound more convincing and probably more authoritative if I had a few thoughts prepared and always at the ready. Something less lame than, “well, we also do research and storytime.”

But the really irritating thing to me about the particular argument that this person shared, is that it sees libraries as places that merely check out pleasure reading to patrons. When did that attitude happen? Do only people who don’t go to the library think that? Have they never been to a college library or a school library? Even the public library, who does check out a lot of pleasure reading, obviously has more going on. I don’t have any good thoughts or answers on this, but I do find it incredibly baffling.

In the end I told him that yes, you do need a degree. That there are different kinds of librarians (such as law and school) who have a variety of responsibilities that require more in depth knowledge. I also pointed out that libraries provide access to people who maybe can’t buy all the books they read, have Internet access, and provide a community space. I also explained that people do a lot of research in libraries, especially college libraries, and that those librarians provide materials and research help. I don’t think my answer was bad, I just wish it had sounded less apologetic when it came out and that it had been more eloquent.

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24

May
2013

In Reading Round Up

By Elizabeth Wroten

Tweets Round Up

On 24, May 2013 | In Reading Round Up | By Elizabeth Wroten

There wasn’t much this week:

Thank you Rita Meade for putting it so well.

Last week I participated in readers advisory chat on Twitter lead by Sophie and Kelly. It was a lot of fun and I got a few great ideas from some of the other participants.

 

Check out the awesome Pinterest board for movies to books! A really great use of a library’s Pinterest account.

 

I am so relieved to hear that Moonbird is still out there. I really loved this book that I read for The Hub Challenge.

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