Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Portable MLIS - Chapter 9

Chapter 9 - Reflections on Creating Information Service Collections by G. Edward Evans

Evans shares his collection development thoughts and experiences with us in this chapter. He lists seven important points to keep in mind when building a library's collection. I think that the most important one of these points is the need to know the community the collection will serve. A library may have a wealth of newly published books with shiny covers and that wonderful new book smell. If these books are not ones that will be of interest to the library community, they will be uncirculated books sitting on a library shelf taking up space. In times of increasing book prices and shrinking budgets, this is a waste of valuable budget dollars.

Besides perusing circulation and user statistics to view typical trends in subject matter and type and format of materials circulated, other surveys can be done to assess what materials would best serve the users. In public and special libraries, community analyses can be done. I think that it is easier in a school library because each library serves a certain number of grade levels. Some libraries may be solely elementary grades (K - 5), or maybe they include only early elementary (K-2). Maybe they also include middle school level students, or maybe it is a school library that serves students in grades kindergarten through high school. The target audience is a known commodity. To further understand the needs of the user, school librarians would need to know the demographics of the school community including social status and have an understanding of the basic reading levels of the students.

School Librarians need to know the state and school's curriculum requirements. Knowing these, they are more prepared to select materials that will support the curriculum. When teachers come to the library looking for resources, it is great to be able to go to the shelf and pull off several books that will aide them in their teaching. Another way to know what materials to add to the school library collection is by listening to the students and faculty. Requests for materials makes the selection process easier.

Lastly, I wanted to share an experience that I had with a library vendor this past school year. One of Evans' seven main points was to build relationships with vendors. At least once a year, a Follett district representative visits with me in the school library for a short visit. Although he always seems to come when I am buried with work, I always agree to meet with him. He tells me all about his company's products, shows me several books, and I listen as he sells his company's services. While listening to his spiel, I think that at least he will leave me with a new pen, some notepads, and a new Caldecott poster and I can get back to my work. Last year there was a new representative – a young man, newly married to a librarian, and expecting his first child. I took a different approach to our meeting. I asked him questions about his librarian wife and about his upcoming role as a new father. The conversation was very pleasant. The next time he came to see me, I asked about his new baby and he showed me several pictures. This time, as he was telling me about new books, I told him that the school district had just frozen all budget accounts and I no longer had money to spend. I told him that I had planned on spending the last of my funds on books to support an upcoming author visit. He told me to select three books that I would have purchased and he would get them to me at no charge. Needless to say, the author visit went well, the books were well used, and I'm actually looking forward to our next visit.

Evans, G. Edward. (2008). Reflections on creating information service collections. In Haycock, Ken & Sheldon, Brooke E. (Eds.), The Portable MLIS: Insights from the Experts (pp. 87-97). Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.


Has anyone seen the new commercial on television for Bing.com? It's a new search engine by Microsoft. The commercial is very funny and really grabs your attention. It features a pregnant woman in a trance because she is suffering from "search overload." She hears one word from a normal conversation and starts reciting back information about that from her online search. She does this multiple times.

Monday, June 29, 2009

The Portable MLIS - Chapter 1

Chapter 1 – Stepping Back and Looking Forward: Reflections on the Foundations of Libraries and Librarianship by Richard E. Rubin

One of the first things that struck me while I was reading this chapter was Rubin's sentence in the first paragraph, “Yet, although we might think that libraries are indispensable, this might not be what others think.” (p.3) This has been one of the most important things that libraries can strive to do – to advocate for the services they provide, the collection they have, and more importantly how the library can become a relevant, vital part of the common population. Those of us who are librarians and avid library users know how indispensable libraries are. We need to be cognizant of how other people think and what can be done to show them all that libraries have to offer and how libraries can be relevant to their needs.

Rubin also talks about the importance of knowing the history of libraries. (p.3) As I was reading this, I was relating that to our own lives, particularly own own personal histories. I have done a fair amount of work researching the genealogies of several branches of my family tree. This research gives a considerable amount of understanding about the history of certain diseases that have affected family members throughout time and information about social status by understanding occupations held within the family. This history has helped me understand “where I came from” and is relevant to who I am today as it is an important part of my personal history. So too with libraries. As we understand how libraries have developed over time and how their mission has changed to reflect society at the time, we can understand the importance of libraries today – how they have adapted and been flexible to reflect the society in which they are a part.

There seems to be controversy surrounding the first modern American public library – the Boston Public Library. (p.8) In the 1850's, this was the first library in America to be open to all members of society and available without charge for anyone. Was it truly because of the benevolence and ideals of Andrew Carnegie who believed that free public libraries were essential for the self improvement and education of the masses? Were there some ulterior motives for opening free public libraries at this time in history when immigration to the United States was soaring and the Industrial Revolution was at its beginnings? I think that it was a combination of both. The library at that time was a reflection of its period in American history. Because of the rise in immigrants and the need to supply workers to the workforce, libraries could fill the niche needed at the time by helping to educate and assimilate foreigners into the American culture. The Boston Public Library was merely adapting its mission to serve the needs of the community of which it was a part.

The American Library Association has constructed several documents which help define the purpose of libraries today while ensuring that all citizen's rights outlined in the United States Constitution are upheld. The Core Values of Librarianship, the Code of Ethics, and the Library Bill of Rights are guides that help each librarian and library in America adhere to the basic rights of free and equitable access to all libraries for everyone. No matter how libraries may change in the future, these values will continue to be upheld.

Rubin, Richard E., (2008). Stepping back and looking forward: reflections of libraries and librarianship. In Haycock, Ken & Sheldon, Brooke E. (Eds.), The Portable MLIS: Insights from the Experts (pp. 3-14). Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Ready to Roll

Despite unnatural fears about creating a blog for my Gateway class at SU, I must admit that it was easier than I ever imagined. I went to a recent conference on Media Literacy presented by Dr. Cyndy Scheibe of (NAMLE) the National Association for Media Literacy Education. She said that in the digital environment, there are two different types of media users - the natives and the immigrants. Unfortunately, I am definitely an immigrant...but willing and eager to LEARN!