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Posts Tagged ‘books’

Oh brave new world that hath such media in it!

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Surprise Inside

For those of us with fond memories of Richard Scarry‘s Lowly Worm.

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The Story Place is children’s collection I came across recently with some good resources for children and their parents.  The Story Place pre-school library offers 15 subjects for children’s activities, each with an animated story, animated activity, take-home activity, suggested reading list and parent activity.  This is a nice resource for parents and children’s librarians to reinforce concepts for children beyond story-time.  The activities supplement and reinforce the vocabulary learned during story-time, and the parent-child interaction promotes bonding and information retention.  Toddlers pay very close attention to their primary care-givers, learning speech and behavior from their example, so they are more likely to absorb information from primary care-givers than from a librarian they only see once a week.  Parents and librarians working together will be doubly effective in locating appropriate resources and facilitating effective learning techniques.

The Internet Archive Children’s Library has a very nice interactive feature that gives the user the impression of turning pages in a book.  I know it’s just a trick of animation and it shouldn’t make such a big difference, but I find this so appealing, so much more satisfying than just viewing static pages!  This collection is more for older children and individuals with archival interests, I think.  It includes children’s books that have passed out of copyright, into the public domain.

In other news, after class today, I went to the computer lab to try out the Greenstone digital collection building software.  I skimmed the introductory info and browsed the sample collections.  I can’t say I feel that it’s any better or worse than Omeka, but I’ll have a better feel for it when I can start building my collection.  Greenstone is not currently set up in the lab for students to upload objects and practice building, because I’m sure the IT department doesn’t want the lab computers to become a free dumping zone.  Still, I will feel more comfortable when I can practice uploading and manipulating information.  Omeka will be available for building soon enough—I’ve got plenty to read while I wait.

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My Readers Advisory class is so much fun!  You’ve got to love a class where novels are part of the required reading.  I never realized how spoiled I was as an English major, just reading novels all the time, until I had to face my first semester of grad school, which was completely devoid of fiction!

I have to admit, I wasn’t too enthused about having to read a romance novel as part of our genre studies.  I mean, I only made it to book six in Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake series before the romance drove me off.  All the sex was getting in the way of my vampire story, dang it!

Nevertheless, I’m learning to rethink my scorn of the romance genre–it never hurts to reanalyze the validity of your prejudices.  I’m learning about the appeal elements in various genres so I can offer customers suggestions for books they may like.  Romance fans are looking for a romantic fantasy, a fairy tale love story for the escapism, vicarious enjoyment of the emotional relationship, and the happy ending.  I have to admit that escapism has been a major motive for my reading habits.  If my guilty pleasures are the Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter, it isn’t really fair for me to disparage other readers’ appreciation for escapist literature.

For my romance study, I read Honor Bound by Sandra Brown.  I have to admit, I tore through the book in about two days.  It wasn’t terribly suspenseful, but just enough to keep me turning the pages, wondering what would happen next.  Which doesn’t make much sense to me because at the end of the book I had to say I didn’t care for it much.  The characters were too flat, too idealized for my personal tastes, but I have to understand that some readers are looking for an idealized fairy tale story.  Some people want a knight in shining armor and a happily ever after, even if I can’t buy into that stuff.

I guess the thing that always turned me off from Romances is the gender stereotypes, the woman that has to be rescued by the handsome hero, the hostage who falls in love with her kidnapper.  blech.  It seemed to me that these stories painted unrealistic pictures of relationships and reinforced gender stereotypes.  I hated to think of young women reading these stories and buying into the misogyny.  But Dr. Van Fleet suggested that these romance novels could actually be empowering to women–these novels encourage female readers to carve out some time for themselves in their busy schedules.  These books give women permission to enjoy a little escapism, to preserve a personal time and space for themselves.

And then I thought, aren’t I being rather misogynistic, thinking that women need to be protected from the lie of romance novels?  I’m assuming that women cannot tell the difference between reality and fantasy.  Who am I to tell anyone what they can and cannot read?  I certainly don’t want anyone dictating what I read.  If I believe in the freedom to read–and I do–I have to quit judging readers and start serving them!

The Romance Writers of America report that over 64 million Americans read at least one romance novel in the past year.  These readers are part of my service community.  I don’t have love romances, but I do need to respect the reading needs of my customers.

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Here’s something from an online discussion I’d like to preserve here.  I’m not posting it for class credit–just for my own interest (or vanity).  These thoughts stem from reading Anthony Grafton’s article, “Digitization and its Discontents,” The New Yorker, November 5, 2007.

I agree with Grafton that humankind has struggled with information glut and access difficulties since the stone tablet libraries of Nineveh and the scrolls of Alexandria were in circulation.  True, there is more information floating around today than ever before, but that was true in every age (except maybe the dark ages, but that’s another discussion). 

I think digitalization is our newest method of coping with our informational growing pains.  It’s not perfect, but I’m not sure any of our previous methods can be characterized as perfect either.  There were access issues in ancient times in the form of illiterate populations, access issues throughout history in terms of specific populations being denied access to information (slaves in ancient Greece, Christians denied access to biblical texts in the vulgate, women and African Americans denied access throughout history).  There were access issues with microfilm and microfiche in that very few people had personal microfilm and microfiche readers.  I think this demonstrates that in the interest of the democratization of information, libraries must extend outreach efforts and strive to provide access to everyone through literacy programs, tech assistance programs, and efforts to connect the unconnected countries of the world to libraries both physical and digital.

I also think Grafton is right that all human information is not going to be captured and digitized any time soon.  Information has been “left out” throughout history, from books left out of the Christian Bible to texts overlooked for conversion to microfilm.  It is troubling to think about who is making the decisions today as to what will be digitally preserved and what won’t be.  But do we preserve everything, down to the last child’s coloring book?  One man’s trash is an archeologist’s treasure in 500 years.  But I guess that passes into archival territory.

Still, as long as people prefer reading print on paper to text on screens, as long as parents want to take their children to story-time, as long as digital information is vulnerable to a powerful electromagnetic pulse, as long as people seek that Third Place for democracy and community, libraries must persist in bricks as well as bytes.

Anyone interested in the history of libraries in greater depth should check out Library: An Unquiet History, by Matthew Battles.  It’s a facinating account.  Thanks to Doc Martens for introducing me to it!

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This morning I went to the Martin Regional Library to observe the children’s librarian doing story time.  My mom takes my two-year-old nephew to My First Storytime every Tuesday, so I tagged along with my new digital camera to see what I could learn.

I asked permission from Ms. Suzanne, the Children’s Librarian, and the other parents in story time to take pictures, because I didn’t want to post pictures of other people’s children on the Internet if they were opposed to that.  My background with Domestic Violence Intervention Services has taught me to be careful—you never know if a mother and child have fled an abuser and are in hiding.  I guess people have limited expectations of privacy when it comes to pictures taken in public places, but I want to ask permission before I post a person’s face and location on the Internet.  No one objected to my photography, but I will still try to avoid posting face-on photos of other people’s children on my blog, as a courtesy.

My First Storytime is for newborns to 2-year-olds.  Ms. Suzanne started out with a “welcome to storytime” song, read about five easy picture books, introduced some animal finger puppets, led the children in making animal sounds, and closed with a goodbye song. 

I thought it was worth noting that Ms. Suzanne was very laid back; even when the children got up and tottered around in front of her instead of sitting and listening quietly, she just kept reading and periodically making eye contact with each child.  One little girl even got up and tried strumming Ms. Suzanne’s guitar during a story, but Ms. Suzanne didn’t let it distract her.  Clearly patience and a relaxed, flexible attitude is key.

The library also had a special program after storytime today.  The Music Together program, presented by the Barthelmes Conservatory, is for ages 5 and under and encourages children to sing, keep a beat and participate in music.  The presenter sang songs while playing guitar, and sang songs with motions, like “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” and “Trot Old Joe.”

Giddyup, Giddyup, Giddyup, WHOA!

She encouraged the children to march, dance and turn in circles while singing, and she handed out plastic eggs filled with rice for the kids to shake and keep time. 

She also encouraged the parents to sing, clap hands and interact with their children, which kept the children interested and engaged.  The kids loved it!

Mom and my nephew

Mom and my nephew

"Jack jumped high, Jack jumped low, Jack jumped down and stubbed his toe!"

"Jack jumped high, Jack jumped low..."

One especially interesting bit, the presenter had the children sing “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” while doing the motions, then had them do the motions without singing the song.  She said this promotes audiation, “the process of mentally hearing and comprehending music, even when no physical sound is present,” according to Wikipedia.  She also encouraged the children to play with their voices by singing songs that involved shouting “Whee!” or “Whoa!” or making sounds like horse hooves clopping.  Since most of the children present were under age three, she said such vocal play is beneficial to their vocal development.

It’s surprising what you can learn from a room full of toddlers giggling and wiggling.  Thanks so much to Ms. Suzanne, the Martin Regional Library and the Barthelmes Conservatory for this learning experience!

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Are you seeking an open source means of controlling your zombie minions, but having Linux installation issues?  Have I got a book for you!

Reader’s Services class, here I come!

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