Monday, 31 October 2011

A Little Frivolity for a Monday Morning!

In case you've not seen it this is the promo for a show made in Australia called - The Librarians. It looks fabulous!

Monday, 17 October 2011

Adult Literacy - Where are the books?

I've really been struggling to find books for our adult learners who have a reading age of 5-8 years. They are only just beginning to read and there doesn't seem to be anything on the market that appeals to an adult reader in terms of content but is simple enough that they can actually read it. Am I missing something? Why has no one really produced any books of this nature? Surely there are people all around the world who need such books. Adults learning English for the first time, people who dropped out of school and never learnt, teens who were slow to get started. It seems obvious and yet here I am desperately searching and finding nothing. I did have some hope today when I met a rep from Ransom Books. She showed me some of the things that they were publishing and it's the first time I've even come close to finding anything that might suit. The best fit seems to be Dark Man which is aimed at teens/young adults.

Surely I can't be the only one experiencing this problem! What are other people using?

My notes from ALA 2011

American Library Association Annual Conference 2011

Sessions attended:
1. Behaviour issues in Libraries
2. Cutting Edge Technology Services
3. From Gutenberg to Google and Globs, from Books to Vooks
4. Pecha Kucha
5. Promoting Ethical Literacy in Youth: Good Kids Tough Choices
6. Autism from the Inside Out: A Look at Autism from a Medical Perspective
7. Wikipedia
8. Do K-12 Libraries Need Books? (What kind of books does your Library need?)

I also attended two talks, one given by Dan Savage about the project ‘It Gets Better’ and the other given by Daniel Ellsberg, the man responsible for leaking the Pentagon Papers.

Summary of information gathered at each session

1. Behaviour issues in Libraries:
This session mainly focused on Public Libraries however it gave me some insights into how to deal with issues that cross over into School Library work. The most important discussion points were about dealing with patrons, specifically those with various special needs.

Points made were:
- Use the term Suspension not ‘Ban’, as it is less severe.

- Suggest that users can ‘earn points’ to decrease Library fines or to reduce their suspension period.

- Be consistent with your behaviour towards users – be ROCK Stars – Responsive, Open, Courteous, Knowledgeable, Stars – Strive to be the best.

- Be part of the environment, not removed from it.

- Clearly articulate the Rules and Regulations – show that you can be consistent with enforcement. Make sure that the consequences of breaking the rules are clearly laid out with the Rules and Regs.

- Make detailed incident reports when problems occur – so you can learn from mistakes made and replicate good practice.

- Have a clear process for Suspensions/Banning of users

- Create a staff Wiki with articles to help staff deal with problems but also other documents for Professional Development.

- Create Community Partnerships – ex. With the local public library

- Do role playing exercises in staff meetings related to real incidents that staff have experienced. This gives everyone a chance to learn from each other.

- When dealing with difficult users:
a) Tell a colleague that you are about to speak to them
b) Stay calm
c) Do not accuse but be firm
d) Realise that not all incidents resolve themselves well
e) Keep your distance from the user.

- When dealing with users:
a) Don’t make assumptions
b) Be sensitive to everyone
c) Avoid stereotyping
d) Avoid your paternalistic impulses
e) Do not finish people’s sentences
f) Be patient
g) Respect personal space
h) Provide support and assistance where needed and asked
i) Don’t be judgemental

- When dealing with users with mental illnesses like schizophrenia it is important to remember that they respond to internal stimuli and are sensitive to non-verbal cues. It takes mentally ill people more time to process information. Their medication can influence the time it takes them to process information and respond to you. If you are in doubt about how to deal with people with mental health issues contact local support workers.

- When dealing with people who are on the autism spectrum, it is important to make connections with them from the start. Realise that they can have difficulties with non-verbal/body language so you need to be clear and direct when you speak to them. They can be sensitive to sound. It is important to: Smile, speak calmly, answer questions as directly as possible (yes or no answers are often best).

2. Cutting Edge Technology Services
This session involved three different speakers:

Kristin Autelman from North Carolina State University talking about the redesign of the University Library’s webpages (section entitled Web Redesign: Strategies for Success)
The NC State Uni Library decided that the Library website was over complex with its 27 sub sites. In order to create a new site they decided that they needed to:
a) Articulate their goals as a whole group/organisation.
b) Make it fresh, modern and appealing – they needed to create and cultivate their brand.
c) It needed to reflect their staff and the Library as a whole
d) Access needed to be streamlined and flexible, with clear labelling and as few distractions as possible.
e) The user experience needed to be at the forefront. User feedback key to the whole process.
f) The work to create it needed to be done in house to ensure that it was done properly and with the Library and users always in mind.

John Davison, Assistant Director of Library Services (section entitled: Necessity is the Mother of Cloud Computing)
John Davison talked about how his Library had found it necessary to go to Cloud Computing in order to achieve their goals in creating a participatory Library. This meant that his and other Libraries in his state could share a state wide platform that was built on open access software. This allowed them to cut down on costs (a fraction of the cost of other IT services) and ensure that disparate staff and students could all contribute easily.
They created a collaborative repository of information that was flexible and fluid. It would be able to embed itself in student’s lives and create ownership of learning.

Dr Henry Jenkins (section entitled: Confronting the Challenges of Participation)
Dr Jenkins' talk centred on the challenges of participation. He said that it was important for members/users to know that their contributions mattered otherwise they would be unlikely to participate. He talked about various ways of engaging students and staff with participatory technology.
Examples include:
- Getting students to create their own YouTube videos on how to use Library facilities/technology
- Using blogging sites like Wordpress for students to discuss projects, Tumblr to produce and share content, Netvibes for project platforms, Symbaloo to create content and various other sites like Prezi, Animoto and Wordle.
- Create mobile Library Guides/Apps for Library Services and Subscriptions
- Use Skype for author talks
- Share the minutes of meetings online

3. From Gutenberg to Google and Globs, from Books to Vooks
This session centred on the issues surrounding e-books.
One of the speakers, Angela Corstensen, spoke about how she no longer buys reference books if they are available as e-books. She puts links to them on the catalogue and on Moodle. She says that if it’s not intuitive then we haven’t got the time. She is using e-books from EBSCO which have apps and downloadable content. For recreational reading she recommends, Overdrive (which Surrey Library has), 3M Cloud Library, Baker and Taylor and EBSCO. For free books, Google Books for which there is an App for iPod and iPad. Also Bluefine Reader which is an Adobe product.

One of the other discussions centred on the issue of e-book formats. The Librarians agreed that there were far too many formats available which made purchasing difficult if your PCs/tablets/e-book readers only accept one or two of them. Libraries need to ensure that their resources are available on as many platforms as possible so that people are not excluded from viewing them.

It was also agreed that e-books give the reader a very different experience to that of a paperback. They are multisensory providing videos, sound/music and other graphics that paperbacks do not (of course!). One of the big issues in terms of cataloguing e-books relates to all of the content that they contain. How, as a cataloguer, do you describe all the content so that people can find what they are looking for?

E-book readers are not cheap. This leads to issues of how many, from who and how often do you need to upgrade? What happens if a user loses one or breaks it? The cost is much greater than the replacement of a paperback or textbook.

The other problem is what happens if you lose electricity or do not have access to a PC/tablet? What about capped data usage for your users at home which may prevent them from downloading the e-books that they need?
Suppliers: Often the E-reader you buy limits who you can purchase from. Ex. If you buy a Kindle you can only purchase from Amazon. This means that you may not always be able to get the cheapest e-books/best deals.

Is Print outmoded?
Would you still buy print?
Yes because it’s good for Reader Advisory, patrons often choose books based on the cover art or discover a book that perhaps would have overlooked otherwise by looking at its blurb and reading inside. Also it’s easier to assess the length with a print book than with an e-book.
E-reading is not good for immersive reading. The additional content can be distracting and people read differently on a screen (more often they only skim read).

4. Pecha KuchaPecha Kucha is a presentation methodology in which 20 slides are shown for 20 seconds each resulting in a presentation that lasts a maximum of 2 minutes.
This session involved various speakers using the Pecha Kucha technique to discuss different library related topics to enlighten the listeners about them but also to demonstrate the method of Pecha Kucha.
The presentations were about:
What is Pecha Kucha?

Video Games in Libraries – how having video games in libraries can attract those who wouldn’t normally come in and how learning can happen outside of books.

How can Teen Libraries use Social Media? – how to encourage teens to use the library by engaging them through social media (ex. Facebook, YouTube etc).

Geocaching – how to use geocaching for Library inductions

Reputation Management – how to manage our reputations online. Who is looking? University Admissions staff, Insurance companies, potential employers. There is a huge amount of pressure to share in this digital society. It’s always good to follow the Grandma Rule. If you don’t want your grandmother to see it then don’t put it online.

Digital Literacy – Adults assume that teens are digitally literate when in reality they may not be. Teens think that they know or understand how things work online when really they don’t.

QR codes – What they are, how to use them and what they are good for.

5. Promoting Ethical Literacy in Youth: Good Kids, Tough ChoicesThis session discussed the issues surrounding ethical literacy in youth.
Speakers: Nancy Zimmer and Dr. Michael Zimmerman

Nancy Zimmer:
Cheating is seen as normal to most kids/teens. They don’t understand why it is a problem. Celebrities (who are seen as role models) often lead unethical lives or extol inappropriate values.
Parents want to raise kids who have good values and character. They want them to have moral courage – honesty, compassion, sense of responsibility, fairness and respect.
What should we do? We should ensure that they are using the right “lenses” to see the World and that they can have the courage to figure out and know what’s right, make tough choices and stand their decisions.
The 15-18 age group is the time when this is most important to instill this in them.

Dr. Zimmerman:
Teens/Youths face many ethical dilemmas, for example cheating, gossiping, stealing and bullying. These are common dilemmas for all ages but crucial issues for teens as choices involving these issues can greatly affect their lives (example: being suspended/excluded from school, being sent to prison or having to do community service if they make the wrong choices).
But what happens when you introduce technology to these dilemmas?
Assignment shortcuts:
Students are faced with easy options like Sparknotes/Wikipedia, Essays for Sale and Cut and Paste options for completing assignments. The ethical concerns related to this are plagiarism and responsibility and truth and bias of the information they are using. Students don’t understand why they can’t use someone else’s work without using proper citation.
It’s easier to engage in bullying online because it can be anonymous and you can say online what you wouldn’t normally say face to face because of the consequences. There can be no escape of the person being bullied because the bullying is coming from everywhere.

Rumor and Gossip:
Online rumors are in the public domain and can be almost impossible to take back. Even though things can be deleted they’ve already been seen and can be copied and redistributed very easily. Even if what’s said is the truth, some truths are not meant to be shared and people can lose control of their own lives.

Content Stealing:
Involving illegal file sharing, copyright infringement, password sharing (to access subscription only content).

Online Sexual Interactions:
Webcams and sexting, online predators, pornography.

How can Libraries help to address these problems?
Create (or use one that already exists – like the one provided by the American Association of School Libraries) a Literacy Standard. Teach/instruct teens/youths about how to think critically, inquire and gain knowledge as well as how to share knowledge with others and participate ethically. Create respect for authors by discussing citation and plagiarism.
Infuse ethics – 4 brief strategies:
1. Talk and listen to teens. Discover what they think about these issues and shape ethical lessons and examples accordingly. Create a Privacy Policy and discuss with them how organizations are giving their details to others.
2. Ensure ethics are integrated into all literacy related educational activities. Specifically address ethical questions related to each learning outcome. Add ethical components to IT lessons.
3. Reach out to teens through technology. Create ways to teach ethics through the active use of Facebook, Wikipedia and other web 2 technologies.
4. Turn all information interactions into ethical teaching moments (ex. Cheat codes in gaming, YouTube and copyright, Google and bias, free speech and censorship).

Challenges ahead:
Obtain ethical training for all staff. Make ethical teaching interesting and not nagging or preachy. Trust that teens/users can make the right decisions if they are given the right tools.

6. Autism from the Inside OutThe speaker at this session was Dr. Ricki Robinson, a Clinical Professor of Pediatrics. The talk centered on Dr. Robinson’s work with children with autism and the medical aspects of Autism.
This was a fascinating session. I feel I now have a better understanding of the medical issues surrounding autism and how the brain works.

7. WikipediaSpeakers: Paul Kobasa – Editor in Chief of World Book and Debra Hoffman Broome Library California State

Paul Kobasa – History of the Encyclopaedia, how it works and Wikipedia’s first 10 years:

10 years on from its inception, Wikipedia is the most consulted reference source now and possible ever. It has been chosen by many as the reference source of choice.
What criteria for evaluating reference sources still apply?
- Authoritative
- Reputable
- Comprehensive
- Up to date
- Written without bias
- Easy to use
- Reference to other sources
- Well illustrated
And now?
- Depth of detail
- Reading age
- Relevance to topic question

How much information is enough?
At what point does too much information become useless? 500 words may be just right but 4000 will be too much and won’t gain you anymore knowledge.
Uniformity of information – the same kind of information and layout each time.

History of the Encyclopedia:
The Encyclopedia as a social movement has a long history dating back to the 1700s.
632 – The First Western Encyclopedia – Etymologiarum Libri by Isidore of Seville
1704 – The German Dictionary of Government and News (many contributors)
1768 – Encyclopaedia Britannica

Wikipedia: The First 10 Years
Wikipedia is our reference reality. It’s quick, easy to use and cross curricular. It is a global project with millions of sharers, adders and editors. It has roughly 17 million articles none of which are ever considered complete.
Wikipedia is built on the social principles of shared enterprise and the importance of collaboration. It assumes a ‘good faith’ policy that people want to add positively to the site. But it is also realistic about the realities of the net and that not everyone will add positively. That is where the editors come in.
The point of Wikipedia is to make information available in pursuit of social education.

Wikipedia is:
- Free and reusable
- Neutral – its content needs to reliable and good for everyone no matter what language.
- Unoriginal – there is no original research on Wikipedia, just a collection of information and sources of information from other places.
- Appropriate in scope
- Verifiable – it provides references, further reading and links to sources
- Unfinished – it is constantly being updated and changed as new information is added

Debra Hoffman – Using Wikipedia as a teaching tool
Example of method of teaching students about how to evaluate sources:
Ask students to conduct research on an author using book resources and encyclopedias.
When they have done this, ask them to look at the Wikipedia article about the author and ask them to evaluate the material and the sources that are listed.
Ask them to look at:
- Accuracy
- Authority – source materials, page creator
- Scope
- Intent – why was it written? Is there an angle/slant/bias?

When the students have done this get them to discuss in groups what they think about the article based on their findings.


There are many people who believe that Wikipedia is not a reliable source for information. There have been many studies done including one from the scientific magazine Nature, in 2005, which said that the Wikipedia scientific articles came close to the level of accuracy in Encyclopedia Britannica and had a similar rate of serious errors. Wikipedia is closely monitored and incorrect information is quickly removed or altered. Wikipedia has hundreds of editors. Because the site is open source and anyone can add, this means that on the whole people are wary of the information and do check with other sources to verify the information. This is standard good practice in research anyway. Used correctly and cited properly Wikipedia can be a useful and reliable source for information.)

8. Do K-12 Libraries need books? (What kind of books does your Library need?)
Speakers: Head Librarian from Cushing Academy and Alison Ernst, Consultant on youth services at school and public Libraries.

Head Librarian from Cushing Academy:

Cushing Academy – one of many schools that has removed almost all paper based books from their Library (they have kept art books and poetry). They still retain paper based books in their classrooms so in fact the school itself has not gone completely digital.

Why did they do this?
The cost of maintaining the print collection was incredibly high compared to changing over to e-resources. The switch to mostly digital texts allowed them to put the money into increasing the number of Library Staff and focusing on promoting information literacy.

The Librarian at Cushing says that he sees his Library as having two roles:
1. Supporting research through the use of laptops and tablets
2. Supporting reading through the use of e-readers
He feels that this sponsors trans-literacy.

(EMMA SIDE NOTE: This is the main focus of all libraries except that they do it through the use of various formats and research tools. I worry that using only digital tools will stop them from learning how to use other sources and formats and may impede their progress either at university or at work. Not everything is digital.)

What problems arise from having a print collection?:
1. Limited space
2. Theft/loss recovery – time and money
3. Duplication of content can often be enormous (class sets etc).

(EMMA SIDE NOTE: What problems arise from having e-resources?
1. Prohibitive cost of purchasing e-readers, tablets and laptops and the cost of repairs, theft and loss.
2. The cost of purchasing e-resources can be incredibly high
3. Formats – not all are compatible with all e-readers, tablets and laptops
4. Home access for students without internet or who have capped download limits)

Questions he asks us to think about:
1. Does deep reading require paper?
2. Are librarians taking full advantage of the digitization of text?
3. Is your physical library conducive to information sharing, group collaboration and teaching?

Alison Ernst:
You need to deconstruct the question

In elementary school libraries our students are:
- Learning to read
- Learning the basics of information literacy
In middle school libraries our students are:
- Continuing to hone their reading skills
- Improving and increasing their research skills
In high school/secondary school libraries our students are:
- Expected to be fluent readers of text
- Expected to have a high standard of skills in research and presentation

Assumption that we are talking about print volumes but are we?
What do books look like at different levels:
- Picture books
- Novels
- Nonfiction
- Reference
- Print
- Audio
- electronic/digital