Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Diigo presentation for CAIS, Southern California

This is the Diigo presentation I gave at CAIS last month. Or, I gave most of it, but then the projector broke.. oh well! I enjoy using Diigo, and I am modeling using it for a 3 week mini-class I am teaching to seniors this week about ethical decision making about food. All the short YouTube videos and websites I want to show them are in my Diigo list. Enjoy! And feel free to ask any questions or give your Diigo/social bookmarking suggestions in the comments.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Huffington Post Censors Comments by School Librarians?
The above article by James Tracy of Cushing Academy fame (yes, the one who tossed thousands of books in favor of buying several Kindles) is about information overload, bias, and the importance of teaching kids how to find reliable information on the Internet. The Huffington Post allowed some comments by a few independent school librarians (including me), then took them down within 24 hours. Our comments weren't mean or offensive. They fell on the right side of the rules for commenting on The Huffington Post. I don't know why they were taken down. So, I am posting my comment on his article here. Feel free to do the same - post your comment to his post here. I will give you more than The HP allotted words!
 Mr. Tracy gives us nothing new in this article. School librarians teach students how to wade through information in any format to find the best, most reliable sources. We teach about books, databases, videos, e-books, radio transcripts, and more, depending upon the information needs of the student or the guidelines of the project. We also teach about books, sites, and databases that not only have great secondary sources but primary sources as well. We have experimented with and sometimes taught meta-search engines and federated searching (what is macro-searching, anyway? It sounds like meta-searching, which has been around for quite some time).
For years we have taught web-site evaluation, and now that discussion is increasingly more interesting as Wikipedia grows and the concept of authority is questioned. We talk with our researchers about what type of blog is used for what types of research. We teach how (and why) to investigate the author of the information gathered. We are now struggling with how and when to cite a post from Twitter. Our lessons change and grow with the information formats, as our goal is to help the students learn, discover, create, and succeed. An article about teaching how to evaluate information found on the Internet that doesn't mention the necessity of a professional school librarian is missing the point.
The above isn't exactly the comment I submitted (I don't have a copy of it). The one I submitted was shorter, and nicer. It was published, then later retracted. If it was moderated and deemed suitable, who then read it and decided it wasn't? Maybe the people at The Huffington Post or Mr. Tracy thought my comment was argumentative (I tried not to be). It did slightly refer back to other disagreements the school librarian community has had with Mr. Tracy regarding book collections used for research purposes. But, as Laura Pearle pointed out to me, why would The HP delete comments that disagree with the blogger? Who really took the comments by school librarains down? Could Mr. Tracy have made that request? Isn't starting a conversation one of the points of blogging? Don't school librarians need to speak up for ourselves and what we do?

I'd like to encourage Mr. Tracy to attend ALA, AISL (next week!) or an upcoming conference for school librarians in his state. Or perhaps browse our literature from time to time. He just might be pleasantly surprised by what he learns.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Bookstores are Easier to Navigate? Really?

I was quite the spy today at my local Barnes and Noble store. I went looking for Food Rules by Michael Pollan. I was by myself and took my time looking around. I checked the paperback display areas, the nonfiction display areas, and the sections about nutrition, cooking, and food. I even looked in Social Sciences. I found some interesting books, and grabbed a few, but not the one I wanted. So I went to wait in line at the information counter. There were two people working there, a line of people and a ringing phone. One of the workers went off to help a customer and a man was left to answer phones and the people waiting in line. He was nice and helpful, and people had mostly questions about the location of particular books, like I did. He disappeared to get me the book, came back and was ready to answer more questions (I never did find out what section Food Rules is in).

Next, I lingered by the information desk browsing my load of books. As I stood watching and listening, new people were constatnly coming up to the counter and asking for titles. It made me wonder about all they hype the bookstore shelving idea gets in the library world. Does it really decrease the amount of questions and increase self service? I'll bet that nice young man at the information desk goes home exhausted at the end of every day - and this was a 3:00 on a Thursday! Imagine what a Saturday must be like.

Image: Shakespeare & Co., Paris