Monday, September 24, 2012

Week 4 (Elementary Age Children)

Kiefer, Barbara. "Understanding Reading." School Library Journal 47 (Feb. 2001).

         One quote in particular stood out to me from this article. Kiefer mentions that, "Like any professional involved in education, librarians will want to try and stay informed about research in learning and literacy through professional meetings and journals. This does not mean that they must become literacy experts or teachers of reading. However, librarians' understanding of the reading process and literacy learning can empower them to speak up for children and for books" (my emphasis added).
         I am fortunate enough to have a fantastic support group of friends and family who have encouraged my endeavors as a librarian-in-training. However, there have been naysayers along the way, too. I've been asked, "Since when do you have to go to school to be a librarian?" I've been told that, "Libraries are dying," and "You have a long, thankless road ahead of you." Perhaps now I should write down Kiefer's quote and keep it with me to silence the pessimistic folks. Surely they will understand that being a librarian is not about the bricks and the physical space. It's not about print material battling electronic material. It's about engaging children (and adults) and helping them discover what type of book makes them forget where they are. It's about leveling the playing field and demonstrating to others that a library (whether the physical space, bookmobile, or personal collection) freely gives all of us access to the same materials.
         I think the above excerpt from Kiefer directly applies to what Margaret Meek said in the reading given below.

Ross, Catherine Sheldrick. Reading Matters: What the Research Reveals About Reading, Libraries, and Community.

           When summarizing what we know about reading, Meek writes, "A book, a person, and shared enjoyment: these are the conditions of success." I am by no means trying to say that being a librarian is easy or easily defined. Rather, I think we should remember to take a step back and focus on the root of the LIS field: as librarians, we are advocates for children. My job now is to learn more about developmental stages so I can thwart the naysayers with factual information in defense of libraries, literacy, and learning. Even librarians can use some extra empowerment from time to time.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Week 3 (Young Children & Emergent Literacy)

Defty, Jeff. Creative Fingerplays and Action Rhymes. Chapter 1.
  • "The term 'attentionspan' must always be qualified for what?"
Ghoting, Saroj Nadkarni and Pamela Martin-Diaz. Early Literacy Storytimes @ Your Library. Chapter 1.
  • "Repetition is not just something they want; it is something they need in order to learn."
  • "Research has shown that mothers from lower income groups engage in less shared picture book reading and produce fewer teaching behaviors during that time than mothers from middle-class groups."
            In addition to other assigned reading for the week, the above excerpts had me reflecting a lot on my time spent as an AmeriCorps volunteer. [Beware, as I talk about this experience quite often.] I became enamored with a first grader named Megan. She could not sit still in class for more than 45 seconds and it was obvious that school was difficult for her. This is why the first quote, taken from Defty, jumped out at me. While practicing penmanship or reviewing phonemic awareness, Megan was like a jumping bean. She frequently looked around the room, chatted with other students, or stared at the tip of her pencil as though it were magical. However, if I was able to read a book about Disney princesses with her one-on-one, she (generally) maintained laser-sharp focus. I think as adults we must occasionally step back and ask ourselves why children are not focusing on a task at hand. Would we want to sit for 30 minutes straight listening to someone criticize our every movement? 
            The reading from Ghoting also relates directly to my experience with Megan. I found an Easy Reader story called What is a Princess? and we read the story together ad nauseam during our tutoring sessions at the library. I'm fairly certain that Megan memorized the entire story within a short amount of time. However, Ghoting's point that repetition has a purpose, makes me feel validated that I allowed Megan to read the same story time and again. It may not have taught her new words, but it engaged her in a subject matter she identified with and boosted her self-confidence, which was more beneficial. 
             The last quote from Ghoting is a hard truth of reality. I didn't get the impression that Megan's mother (or family) read to her often and it showed. I think Megan craved individual attention and (I hope) she experienced firsthand an adult who truly enjoys reading. It's clear that emergent literacy can be part of an incredibly positive or incredibly negative cycle. My goal was to bring Megan into the positive cycle, as best I could.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Week 2 (Intro to History of Youth Services Librarianship)

Ziarnek, Natalie. School & Public Libraries: Developing the Natural Alliance. Chapters 1-2

Top three "takeaway" issues:

1. A lack of reliable roads during the Progressive Era (1890-1920) meant less access to books and information. This prompted me to question whether or not we have solved the issue(s) today. While our physical roads may be more stable, does everyone have equal access to information? The Internet plays a crucial role in our lives, yet we overlook the fact that not everyone has both the technology and funds available for Internet at home. Perhaps we have our own "Progressive Era" happening now, in different ways.
    • Real life example: I served with AmeriCorps in rural Washington State two years ago. I worked in a town of approximately 800 people and it was painfully obvious that not everyone equal access to information. Thankfully the town had a library, but many parents could not provide transportation to get their children there. 
2. Librarians must strike a balance between promoting services and "lying low." This reminds me of servers at a restaurant. Very few of us like servers who operate too far on one end of the spectrum: I don't want someone hovering over me while I eat, but I certainly don't want someone disappearing until the end of the meal either. Librarians must artfully craft a happy medium where the public is aware of available resources but does not feel smothered and/or driven away.
    • During my History of Library Buildings course, we toured various libraries that partnered with marketing firms. I was highly impressed that they had the initiative (and funds) to do so. I am of the mindset that by providing information through multiple formats (online blogs, social media sites, SWAG, etc), we can truly reach the greatest amount of patrons. 
3. The main goals that both public and school libraries share include: placing the right book in the hands of the right child at the right time, advocating for intellectual freedom, promoting quality literature, and encouraging lifelong library use. This is why I want to be a librarian. These are the values I will continue to uphold.
    • Throughout periods of change in the LIS field, the core remains.