Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The most wonderful time of the year

Tis' the season to be jolly . . . . well, I have to be honest and say I am not jolly all the time at this time. I tend to get overwhelmed with the many holiday tasks I need to accomplish. I always stress, but everything magically seems to get done.

I do like this time of the year, however, because I get a chance to let those folks who are close to me, my colleagues who are great to know, my staff who put up with me all year and those folks who have somehow done something to make my life a little more manageable in the past year know just how much I have enjoyed working with them, how I appreciate their service, or how glad I am that they are my friends. Special fudge, holiday parties, creating my annual library Christmas card for the campus and finding ways to reward my staff and co-workers on campus are just some of the things that remind me that the year really wasn't all that bad. I am getting ready to have a thank-you pizza party for our maintenance and IT staff (I pay for it myself); we bug them endlessly and I truly appreciate how responsive they always are. My own staff will be enjoying our staff party and gift exchange soon; I like to let my student staff and regular staff know how great it is to work in the library and how I appreciate them working to present a great image of the library throughout the year. I am especially proud of my regular staff; we are small but we do accomplish a lot.

I actually do some baking at this time of the year; I make these chocolate pretzel O's that are very addictive. Just ask Diane!! I like to pass them out as gifts of appreciation so lots of folks get to enjoy them and it lets them know much they mean to me or how I appreciated them allowing me to work with them on instruction projects or other campus events.

I do wish for each and every one of you to be acknowledged for all your hard work and to let someone else know how much they mean to you or how much you appreciate them. After all, the reason for the season is joy and blessings and we can all certainly use more of both in our lives. May you all have a special holiday season and I look forward to talking and working with you all in 2008!

Friday, December 07, 2007

Library as a place

Today is the last day of classes at Ashland University, finals start with a flourish on Monday and students are to be out of the dorms soon after. Things will slow for a time as everyone prepares to celebrate the season. This week also features a library tradition, a holiday open house.

During all of the hustle and bustle surrounding projects and finals and extended library hours, AU library presents a holiday open house to the university community. Filled with home made treats, as well as a lighter fare for those watching their calories, and Christmas music, we gather to celebrate the season. This year our open house event was held Wednesday, December 5th, during the first significant snow fall of the season.

Lucky for us, the snow and cold temperatures did not deter attendees; we hosted between 250 and 300 members of the AU campus community. Open house ambiance was enhanced pianist Ron Sprunger, Professor Emeritus of Music Education, and the Ashland University Chamber Singers. One of the nicest things about this event is the appreciation expressed by all who take part. From shared fellowship to shared cookie recipes, the open house is something people look forward to each year. It is one more aspect of the library as a vital place within the campus community.

Take a few minutes to enjoy the Ashland University Holiday e-card.

Tags: , ,

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Yearly report

I am not an enthusiast of blog posts whose purpose is to lead readers to other blogs, unless of course that is the purpose of the blog in question; it seems to be an "easy out" for posting. This post is going to be one of those posts, apologies to everyone in advance but you will soon see why.

Yesterday afternoon, librarians received their yearly email from the library director asking for updates on our professional development to complete his report for the 2006-2007 academic year (ending June 2007). We were to forward information concerning our campus committee involvement, professional affiliations (ALA, ACRL, & ALAO), presentations, publishing, conference and workshop attendance, and anything else that speaks to our professional development.

I have been lucky in recent years with opportunities to work with our College of Education on search committees and as an adjunct instructor. With ALAO, the Academic Library Association of Ohio, I have been able to be an active member with Interest Groups (CMCIG) and the board. Committee involvement on a national level with ACRL/EBSS has been a recent development that I am enjoying (though winter meetings in Philadelphia?). As to presenting, after several state-wide presentations, I took the professional leap last year and was accepted to present two poster sessions in D.C. Those poster session led to potential publishing prospects that I will discuss more at a later date. I was excited to be able to send this information back to the director and show I had made progress with my professional development. However, I am cognizant of the fact every year will not have the same opportunity. I am grateful to have support from the library director in question enabling me to take advantage of opportunities when they present themselves.

That said, it was with interest that I read Are You Where You Want to Be Professionally? by Steven B. on the ACRLog this morning. In part, Steven mentioned:

"All of this may be a long winded way of saying that I urge you not to worry about where you are professionally. If you think your career needs to be progressing faster, I say think of it as a long run. You’ve got to pace yourself. And keep in mind that the road is a series of hills and valleys. Sometimes you will get things right at the right time and you’ll be on the hill. But then it will be someone else’s turn, and you’ll be in the valley. It’s much better to look at the long view, and focus not on one time recognition but developing the ability to acquire and nuture ideas and inspiration." (Steven B, ACRLog, 12/5/07)

The valleys are coming; I know this without a doubt. I plan (and hope) to weather them with a bit of aplomb and dignity ... and the knowledge another hill is ahead. Take a few minutes and read Are You Where You want to be Professionally, it is both a thoughtful and insightful view of librarianship.

Tags: , , ,

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

What do 8th graders know about a librarian?

On my campus, one of the community outreach acitivites we participate in is to host 8th graders from several counties for career days,usually for several Fridays in the Fall. During these tours, the students visit our campus and the local vocational school - they get college prep, tech prep and vocational prep exposure while we try to make it fun for them. While on our campus, several activities are created to give them some career information. (The library, by the way, hosts Library Jeopardy, where the kids learn about library skills and research as well as some information about both our schools and win prizes). We usually host over 800 kids during this time.

One activity that I enjoy working with is "What's My Line" where professionals in the community come and the students try to ask us questions to guess our profession. There are usually 5-6 of us in a session and the students rotate among us in groups. They play as a group for prizes. I love doing this because it's fun to see how the kids ask us questions and because most often, they cannot guess what I do. We are only allowed to answer yes, no or sometimes, so how they ask us questions depends on how we answer them. I am known as the Queen of Sometimes, because 90% of the time, that's how I answer! The questions themselves are interesting as are the interactions of the kids in the groups.

What I see the kids learning from this is that jobs are not always clear cut or black and white. They slowly realize that many jobs use a variety of skills and knowledge and you can't always assume that if you work around books, you are a librarian (we've had lawyers and real estate folks answer yes to that!).

Does this sound like some of you? - Do you have an office (yes); do you do physical labor (sometimes - when I move displays and furniture around); do you work with one person (sometimes) or large groups of people (sometimes); do you work outside (sometimes - when we are doing welcome week activities); am I in the same place everyday (sometimes), do you have to wear a uniform (no!); do you work with computers (yes); do you work with food (sometimes if I am hosting an an event); do you need a college degree for your job (yes- for my job as director); is your job boring (no!); are math skills important (yes!); is your job dangerous unless you are properly trained (I say no, but I pause and wonder if that is really true); do you train others (sometimes); do you work by yourself (sometimes); do you work with others as a team (sometimes). Sometimes they will look at me and say I look like a librarian; most of the time they think I am a bank manager or the head of a hospital or something like that. When you were in the 8th grade, what did you think a librarian did??

Thursday, November 08, 2007

ALAO Conference Photos

ALAO's Public Relations Co-ordinator, Peggy Rector assistant to the director at Denison University Library, has placed photographs (139 them) on Picture Trail for our viewing pleasure.

Here's the link: 2007 ALAO Conference.

Thanks for the great pictures, Peggy!

Tags: , ,

New Class(room) War: Teacher vs. Technology

"Halfway through the semester in his market research course at Roanoke College last fall, only moments after announcing a policy of zero tolerance for cell phone use in the classroom, Prof. Ali Nazemi heard a telltale ring. Then he spotted a young man named Neil Noland fumbling with his phone, trying to turn it off before being caught.

“Neil, can I see that phone?” Professor Nazemi said, more in a command than a question. The student surrendered it. Professor Nazemi opened his briefcase, produced a hammer and proceeded to smash the offending device. Throughout the classroom, student faces went ashen." (Samuel G. Freedman, New York Times, 11/7/07)

Before becoming too outraged (or instinctively applauding) this professors handling of an increasing classroom problem, click on the article title link and read; it was a setup with interesting results. Found via Steven Bell's blog, the Kept-Up Academic Librarian, this is a growing situation in today's classrooms.

Why situation? Students do not necessarily view the intrusive technology as a problem. There has been an increasing amount of discussion regarding technology and noise, see Steven's post on the ACRL blog from last week; The Academic library is no place for fun.

As a member of the previously discussed technology Faculty Learning Community at Ashland, we are two meetings in to the year long discovery of educational technology, integrating it into our curriculums and libraries, and looking at the intrinsic value of said technology. Something we have not yet discussed is this particular aspect of the technology. Beyond the obvious, how do we make the determination of useful verses intrusive?

Earlier this week several librarians on staff, myself included, viewed a Blended Librarian webcast (part of the Learning Times Network). The topic for this particular session was Designing Deliberately--Putting Pedagogy Into Your Library Instruction Products, and Nadaleen Tempelman-Kluit spoke to Multimedia Learning & Pedagogy. Within this presentation, Ms. Tempelman-Kluit discussed 7 principles of multimedia design, included was one that is particularly relevant to this post: "Students learn better when extraneous words, pictures, and sounds are excluded." While this includes simple things such as keyboard typing and mouse clicks during presentations, the argument could be made that inclusion of extraneous technology such as cell phones, blackberries, and texting would be part of this whole.

One thing is sure; the balancing act between integrating instructional technology in a classroom for learning purposes and removing it for the same, yet different, reason is just beginning.

Update: See also Will Richardson's blog, Weblogg-ed for his response to this NYT article.

"We can try to fight this, I suppose, as many schools are. Or, we can try to inculcate appropriate use from early on by modeling our own cell phone use to access infromation and learn throughout the curriculum. Bottom line is yep, this is a much more distract-able world. We have to somehow find strategies to teach our kids to use cell phones and computers and the like in effective ways, and we also have to bend our thinking a bit in terms of what we ask our kids to do in classrooms in the first place. " (Richardson, Weblogg-ed, 11/08/07)

Again, though much of this focus is upon traditional classrooms, library instruction is facing this obstacle - or opportunity - as well.

Tags: , , , , ,

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Why do librarians want to help?

I was recently interviewed by my local newspaper (The Marion Star) for a feature they call "My Story." Ordinary folks in the community are interviewed and highlighted. I was delighted that they asked me and I tried my best to answer thoughtfully and honestly the many questions asked. The reporter, as he listened to me talk (and talk and talk), wondered aloud how I got such a desire to help people. You know, I'm not really sure; my parents were middle-class hard working folks, who didn't have a lot of time or money to spare. Both tried to be involved in school activities and be proud parents. I have worked in libraries since I was in 6th grade; I learned lots of things along the way. I discovered that when I was able to find a book that was shelved wrong (to fill a request), or help another student find a resource (that they couldn't find on their own), I always felt good. I was fortunate to work with lots of folks at different points in their careers and each contributed some sort of influence upon my thinking and how I viewed working in a library.

I always loved processing books; something about those brand new books looking so neat and pristine made me feel proud. I also learned that by processing those books, I was able to remember and offer suggestions to students who were looking for info.

As I continue in my career, I find that my job perspective spills over to everyday life; I love helping out in concessions for our local sporting events. It might be silly, but knowing that I can provide what they need as fast as possible is fun. I know it helps the folks who must coordinate and manage the concessions to have a worker who is reliable and able to handle the job. I think of all the ways librarians serve: the public, the campus, on committees and boards, fundraising and activities, etc. Sometimes we lead, sometimes we support.

In order to be a good leader, sometimes its best to be a better supporter and help others achieve. That's why librarians are good at what they do. We understand what's needed at different times - but in the long run, we have still helped those around us who needed it.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Reviewers Needed!

Technical Services Quarterly (TSQ) published by Haworth Press is one of the premiere journals for the Technical Services world and I am privileged to be one of the editors for the column "Tech Services on the Web". My co-editors and colleagues, Del Williams and Frank Bove, search out web sites that we've found useful and review them. We cover the gamut of the technical services world: acquisition, cataloging, electronic resources, metadata services, librarian bloggers, training, tools, and whatever else passes our way.

This is a fun job! I tend to review 3 or more sites that are related to a specific topic, usually relating to my passions for metadata and cataloging. For example, I wrote a two-part review of 13 metadata resources in volume 24, nos. 1 and 2 (2006), including Dublin Core Metadata Initiative; Encoded Archival Description; An Introduction to Metadata; Introduction to Metadata: Pathways to Digital Information; and Metadata Reference Guide: A Guide to Metadata by the Metadata Advisory Group of the MIT Libraries. As an audio-visual cataloger, I focused on tools I use to perform my job in volume 24,no. 3 (2007), including Archival Moving Image Materials: A Cataloging Manual; Guide to Cataloging DVDs Using AACR2r Chapters 7 and 9; DVD Demystified; DVD Forum; The Internet Movie Database; and Online Film Dictionary. For an upcoming issue, I will be writing on sites that list commonly misspelled words in online catalog records. Anything is fair game.

Help Please!

Del, Frank, and I need your help! We are looking for reviewers. If you are interested in writing a review for our column, please contact us at tsq-reviews@karenplummer.com. If you’re not interested in writing reviews yourself but have a favorite site or sites that you’d like to share, please email us at the same address. We're looking forward to hearing from you!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

More Conference Musings

I'm going to add my two cents worth regarding our conference. First, thank you to my colleagues here at Library Cloud for such gracious and kinds words about me. I'm blushing!

Ohio academic library folks are so blessed to have such a great organization as ALAO. I've said it before, the people are a critical factor in its success. My two colleagues, Diane and Karen, are definitely included in that. While I may have helped them ease into ALAO service, serve they have done fantastically for the past several years. I was truly overwhelmed at the honor of being selected as the Jay Ladd Award winner for 2007; but much of my "success" in ALAO has been because of the people I got to work with and their willingness to let me voice my opinion and try new things and allow me to grow and build each position I held. I have to admit, the two positions I enjoyed the most were being Membership Coordinator and PR/Outreach Coordinator (hence why I was always carrying a camera around!). The members I got to know and the institution liaisons I got to work with were just amazing. The numerous boards I served on; each was unique in its make-up and implemented some really great new services such as our website, our electronic newsletter and our online elections. Not to mention their willingness to help the planning committee at the conferences. I loved it all, but especially the people!

The conference this year had some really great programs and I am unashamedly proud of my assistant, Pat Wood, who presented a program on cultivating quality student workers and who also presented a poster session with one of our Student Assistants, Janah Shumaker. I have made sure our campus knew about our successes this year!

One of the most intriquing programs I attended was one by Linda Dobb, who is Excecutive Vice President of Bowling Green State University. She planned on talking about innovative collaborations, but instead spent some time talking about a new initiative of Governor Strickland. The University System of Ohio (USO) is a new hot topic for Higher Education in Ohio. Obviously, many mindsets will have to change and new collaborations developed to accomplish this, but Linda really pushed our librarians to ensure that academic libraries become part of the planning and dialogue that should be occuring at our respective institutions. I had heard about it somewhat in relation to our consortium, OhioLINK, but my campus has not really mentioned it much. I foresee many conversations to be held in the future over this new mandate. Since I have a technical college and a branch of Ohio Stae on my campus, I can imagine that each will approach it in different ways. I will be curious to see how it will play out and how exactly my library will be able to help.

I really enjoyed Joe Janes' presentation as well as the panel discussion which followed his keynote address. The panel had no fear of no questions; our audience kept them coming throughout the hour. I saw Joe taking notes during the panel discussion; I hope Ohio librarians and their perspectives become a future column in Library Journal.

Programs on various technologies were also plentiful; I enjoyed the folks from University of Akron-Wayne College and their discussion of Community College 2.0. My hats off to them for being so adventurous and offering so many new services for students. The program on creating tutorials on academic integrity at Miami University Libraries was interesting, too. May you continue to add more courses and expand your tutorials! I definitely may steal some of your ideas!

Congratulations to all the presentors and to the poster session presenters. It is a leap of faith to put yourself and your project and progam on the line; rest assured that there were folks who learned from your sharing of knowledge!

Way to go, ALAO and the planning committee!

Monday, October 29, 2007

ALAO 2007: From the Registration Desk

As a conference planning committee member, those few days after the conference ends are a time of contemplation and recovery. After catching up on my sleep, I spent some time reviewing the best and the worst of the conference from my strange perspective behind the registration desk.

This is my fourth conference as a planning committee member and one thing that I've learned over that time is that the best place to be is the registration desk. I get to talk to so many people! Everyone has to stop at the registration desk at some point during the conference so I get to chat with old friends, put faces to names that have long been showing up in my email from discussion lists, and make connections with people I haven't met or heard of before.

The highlights: connecting with old friends, including one from a previous job (Tom Marker now at OSU's Health Sciences Library) and another from library school (Laura Kinner from University of Toledo); a discussion with some of our library science student volunteers about the advantages and disadvantages of online learning; talking with OHIONET's Roman Panchyshyn about the future of cataloging; joking with my fellow planning committee members; surprising myself by performing some non-conference-related reference work for attendees; working with the Greater Columbus Convention Center's network guy, Jeff Greenwood; resolving some membership issues for attendees; watching the GCCC folks set up AEP's "Monte Carlo" room on Thursday night and laughing at the dancing waiter; hearing positive comments about many of the presentations and poster sessions; the mushroom ravioli at lunch; Clifford, the bell-captain at the Hampton Inn, and his cheerful and helpful attitude; and sitting at the lunch table with Betsy Blankenship when she discovered she was this year's Jay Ladd Award winner (Yeah, Betsy!).

The downside: the temperature in the ballrooms and lobby were too cold; the noise from the AEP Monte Carlo event (especially the often out-of-tune karaoke singers!) on Thursday night; the sudden disappearance of the coffee on Friday morning (AUGH!); the mini-crises on Thursday as we were setting everything up for the conference; the horrible tiramsu at lunch; and not getting as many of the presentation PowerPoints/Handouts as I had hoped for the ALAO website (http://www.alaoweb.org/conferences/conf2007/links.html).

Overall, feedback has been pretty good but we'll have examined all the evaluations in another couple of weeks so we'll have a better idea of the level of success for this conference. Planning a conference is a lot of work and I'd like to pass on my thanks to Doug Morrison, Chair of this year's committee, for all his support and enthusiasm when I was losing mine, and to a great group of people who kept me laughing through it all: Joyce Burnett, John D. Crissinger, Alice Crosetto, Ione Damasco, Kevin Deemer, Matthew Farthing, Lori Fielding, Kevin Furniss, Brian C. Gray, Stephena Harmony, Angel M Jackson, Krista McDonald, Melanie McGurr, Diana Nichols, Sue Polanka, Diana S. Riemenschneider, Oliva P. Riley, Rob Withers.

In the meantime, the 2008 Conference planning process is getting underway. If anyone is interested in being a member of the planning committee, please contact the Conference Planning Committee Chair, Karen Wilhoit at karen.wilhoit at wright.edu. It's a great opportunity to contribute to ALAO and meet a wonderful bunch of people.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

ALAO 2007: Jay Ladd Distinguished Service Award

Congratulations to Betsy Blankenship, head librarian/director of Marion Campus Library, Ohio State University at Marion/Marion Technical College, winner of the 2007 Jay Ladd Distinguished Service Award. Presented by the Academic Library Association of Ohio (ALAO), this award is ALAO's top honor:

"This award is designed to recognize those ALAO members who promote academic libraries and librarianship not only on their own campuses, but within the state. It also recognizes those who provide leadership in the promotion of ALAO through service such as committee membership, executive board office, or interest group chairmanship." (ALAO Website)

I would also include my personal addendum to this award; Betsy's leadership capabilities are not limited to the promotion of academic libraries in general, she has been a gracious mentor to many new librarians. Several years ago, Betsy was the first person to welcome me as a new CMCIG chair and board member at an ALAO board meeting. She answered my endless questions about the organization and my duties with quiet competency, making me feel at home in this new librarianship venture.

Though not on the ALAO board this year, Betsy continues to embrace challenges in the library profession and ways to promote librarianship. Camera in hand, she enthusiastically supported her library staff in their professional endeavor, presenting poster sessions at ALAO. Though not completely comfortable with the idea, she was quick to say "yes" when asked to venture into this technology endeavor; joining Library Cloud as a contributor (it only took a slight bit of arm twisting).

Congratulations again Betsy!

Tags: , , ,

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

ALAO Conference

It's that time, an annual fall academic library event I always look forward to attending. Tomorrow is the first day of the two day Academic Library Association of Ohio's (ALAO) 33rd Annual Conference at the Greater Columbus Convention Center.

I printed my directions to the Convention Center, located my hotel and judged it's proximity to the Convention Center (easy walking distance), printed the page from the ALAO web site telling "if not parking at the Hampton Inn, use parking lots 3 or 4. These are closes to the C-Pod area" where ALAO events are being held, and printed a copy of the schedule at a glance for both days. Yes, there is a full program available from the ALAO web site, but I like to view that at the conference and look at the schedule-at-a-glance from home the night before.

I am looking forward to hearing Joe Janes on Friday at the President's Program. As I have mentioned her before, I was lucky enough to hear Mr. Janes at the 28th Annual Conference five years ago. There will be plenty to choose from over this two-day event and I am sure I will be blogging about them over the next week. All that's left for me to do is decide if I should drag my work laptop along, or take notes at the sessions I attend and bring my camera instead. I have not been able to determine if the convention center is wireless (shades of unhappy users at Akron looming in my thoughts), so I will probably opt for notes and my camera. It is a lot lighter to carry!

Tags: , , ,

Thursday, October 18, 2007

2007 Blogging Scholarship

Straight from my email inbox, the Actions and Answers section of the lastest issue of American Libraries Direct:

Library Student is finalist for $10,000 blogging scholarship

"Karin Dalziel, an LIS student at the University of Missouri–Columbia, is one of 20 finalists for College Scholarship.org’s 2nd annual
blogging scholarship, which features an award of $10,000 to help pay for books and tuition. Dalziel was selected from hundreds of applicants and is the only library blogger in the group." (ALDirect, 10/17/07)

I have read Karin's blog, already placed my vote, and would encourage people to take a look at the finalists for this interesting award. (And yes, seriously consider voting for Karin.)
And, to answer the question posed in the header of Karin's recent blog posting, Am I the only one that likes library school? ... nah, I really enjoyed my experience at Pitt.

Tags: , , ,

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

It's time for something new

We have taken the first step to a new library web page; not just realizing the time for change has come, but knowing that it will be easier to start anew as opposed to upgrading what currently exists. This has been quietly in the works for several months, to be fair most of a year. After attending two Dreamweaver workshops last fall, I put my new found knowledge to work redesigning the Instructional Resource Center web site (and blogged about it here, here, and here). I learned many useful things, such as utilizing Dreamweaver's option for applying a template as opposed to creating my own generic page, and as is often the case found many things that could have been done better. With a new library page on the horizon, I will be able to put these experiences to good use.

As with the IRC web page, I will be starting the new library web page from scratch. While in theory starting over sounds like more work, it will actually be less problematic making design, flow, and content changes. Additionally, there will not be a period of time where new pages and old pages must live together in less than perfect harmony. When the time comes I am hoping to completely eliminate the existing page, erasing everything but the irc folder inside the main library folder on the server and then sending over new; but I am getting ahead of myself as this is an issue for completed pages.

Monday's librarian meeting set the stage. Each librarian is charged with scouring the web and locating three library web pages they like, keeping in mind there are a few constraints we will be held to; Ashland colors, similar formatting to the current main AU Web site, and the ability of the web designer. I recommended the following resources to begin our search:

I spent some time perusing the offerings on these sites and my favorites are:

  • North Carolina State University Libraries
    This page has six basic categories of information presented to their users and includes brief descriptions of each topic. It is text based as opposed to heavily image based and loads quickly. The basic backround is white, therefore no problems with printing. It also utilizes simple tables to format the page.

  • Fordham University Library
    Four information categories are presented + two side bar menu's with Quick Search and Helpful links (I really like the quick search - we have a catalog quick search but this is nicer). The page uses CSS as opposed to tables and, unfortunately, was a pain to print.

Though only a first step in what will be long process, it's exciting to see what could be. Have a favorite library web page? Feel free to add addresses in the comments section.

Tags: , , ,

Monday, October 08, 2007

Training wheels aren't just for librarians

I just finished reading "Should we take off those training-wheels" by Meredith Farkas @ Information Wants to Be Free and it struck a chord with me. I do not think this is something specific to, or mired in, libraries and librarianship. Though unfamiliar with the term, training wheels culture, two graduate assistants and I have been struggling with a like phenomenon in regards to a lab course. This self-paced basic technology lab is delivered using WebCT; students are encouraged to "try" individual assignments on their own using instruction modules and tutorials (video and written). Each year, students taking the course are more technologically savvy regarding computers. Each year the attempts at completing the work using provided instructions suffers a decided lack of interest.

"As instructors and trainers, I believe we are doing our best work when we can push people to take off their training-wheels, because we are helping them to become better life-long learners. So next time someone asks you for an answer they should probably be finding themselves, think about what you’re really teaching them if you give them the answer." (Farkas, 10/7/07)

We want students to succeed; throughout their entire academic career, not just within the library. In fact, we owe it to them as educators to make this possible, hence the inclusion of video, audio, chat reference, blogs, and other web 2.0 technologies students are familiar with and comfortable using to academic course-work. It is one of the reasons applications to AU's technology faculty learning community doubled from 2006 to 2007. But where do we draw the line, encouraging and expecting students to try? Are we doing them any favors sending email reminders, updating calendars, and posting to blogs?

Tags: , ,

Friday, October 05, 2007

Are the students out there?

October is here and Autumn Quarter (for us) has definitely arrived. Along with that is the usual assortment of activities, events and community functions.

Ohio State Marion welcomed over 500 new freshman this year with a convocation program and a Common Book reading and discussion of the book "Honky" by Dalton Conley. Many students did read it this time and quite a few actually liked it. Many special welcome events were planned; the library collaborated with our new campus security office to offer a safety quiz and win an Ipod. I was amazed at the lack of response by many students; they were not interested in winning an Ipod or even getting a free prize just for doing the quiz. Others events and activities were similiarly not attended. I know how much work the staff put in to the events (myself included) to offer a great environment in which to start their academic careers. In a way they are shortchanging themselves; it's one way to distinguish college from high school and a great opportunity to explore what is out there. After all, who doesn't want free food and free prizes for doing virtually nothing but being interested? I fear that the lack of interest may spill over into areas of work performance, volunteer initiatives and others. We need students to be committed and interested!!!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Participating in a Faculty Learning Community

On campus professional development opportunities are not always readily available to library professionals in academics. Librarians may be faculty, non-tenured faculty, or staff, just to name a few possible ranks within the ivory tower. Librarians at Ashland are faculty (non-tenured) and as such may participate in various available professional development activities; this fall I have joined the Teaching with Technology Faculty Learning Community.

What is a Faculty Learning Community, or FLC? Beverly Heimann, Coordinator of Faculty Development at Ashland University, presented some background information on the concept of FLC's:

Developing Faculty and Professional Learning Communities (FLCs) to Transform Campus Culture for Learning

"A faculty learning community (FLC) is a group of trans-disciplinary faculty, graduate students and professional staff group of size 6-15 or more (8 to 12 is the recommended size) engaging in an active, collaborative, yearlong program with a curriculum about enhancing teaching and learning and with frequent seminars and activities that provide learning, development, transdisciplinarity, the scholarship of teaching and learning, and community building. A participant in an FLC may select a focus course or project to try out innovations, assess resulting student learning, and prepare a course or project mini-portfolio to show the results; engage in biweekly seminars and some retreats; work with student associates; and present project results to the campus and at national conferences. Evidence shows that FLCs increase faculty interest in teaching and learning and provide safety and support for faculty to investigate, attempt, passes, and adopt new (to them) methods." (FLC: What are they, 9/28/07)

Ashland's Faculty Learning Community is topic-based, teaching with technology, and defined as:

"The Teaching with Technology Faculty Learning Community will be a cohortbased group of faculty who will be actively engaged in the exploration, discovery, and learning of how to best employ technology in teaching – whether it be in the traditional classroom or in virtual classrooms." (Faculty Learning Community, Ashland University)

There are currently two separate communities involved with teaching with technology, each has fifteen members (including the facilitators), pre-determined the topics to be discussed at an opening retreat held in August at the Shisler Center in Wooster, and scheduled six session dates to be held throughout the 2007-2008 academic year. My communities topics are:

  • Podcasting, Desktop Movies and TeacherTube/YouTube: Creating interactive videos and podcast of lectures, tutorials and informational sessions.
  • Blogs, Wikis & MySpace: Using popular free technologies to engage in reflective practice and develop critical writing skills.
  • PowerPoint and Beyond: Expanding the possibilities of the slide show.
  • SMART classroom technologies and it's assessment.
  • Creating web pages: Designing and uploading web pages on the Ashland server and free web servers (see also portfolios).
  • Enhancing the online experience with LMS and Web Conferencing.

In true learning community fashion, each member is responsible for leading and co-facilitating a session and highlighting hands-on learning during the meeting. Last week, September 28th, was the first official meeting and focused upon podcasting, video-casting, and tutorials with screen capturing software. By the end of the three hour session, each attendee had used a video camera, loaded the digital video onto computers, and had opportunity to edit and add voice to the video! A number of members were interested in creating movies out of existing presentations and we further explored saving PowerPoint presentations as individual photos (.jpeg and .gif) and importing them into Windows Movie Maker.

I started working with Camtasia, developing a tour of the "new" Instructional Resource Center Web Site to post on the IRC blog, with a secondary option of placing it on the "What's New" page. I am not quite finished as of yet, but hope to finish within the next week. Our next session is scheduled for November 2nd and I am looking forward to learning more about Wiki's and MySpace. Working as an adjunct instructor for the College of Education, increasing my technology skills is mandatory. As a librarian, many of these topics will be useful in the Library, Instructional Resource Center, and provide opportunity for increasing the usability of the Library web page.

Tags: Academic Librarian, Faculty Learning Communities, Teaching with Technology, Libraries & Technology

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

YALSA: Teens' Top Ten

The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) blog has information regarding the 2007 Teens' Top Ten. This list, "the only book award list that is recommended soley by teens," has been posted on the YALSA blog and the Teens' Top Ten web site. Teen groups selected the twenty five books, all published in 2006 and 2007.

About the Teens:"Nominators are members of teen book groupsin five school and public libraries around the country Conneccticutt, Kansas, New Jersey, New Hampshire, and Utah selected for their experience in discussing books." - Teen Read Week, YALSA

The 25 Nominated titles are:

I am always intrigued learning what young adults are reading verses what we think they are reading. Differences between public and academic libraries are often noticeable in this particular area as our patron base differs; public libraries purchasing for the teens and academic libraries supporting the curriculum of teacher education programs teaching the teens. AU library has fourteen of the twenty five titles listed (alas, only 56%) and I have read several of them.

My favorites in this group? I enjoyed both Firegirl and Life as We Knew It. For more on these books, links from this post go to Amazon.com and most have reviews from Booklist, School Library Journal, and Publisher's Weekly.

Voting will take place during Teen Read Week October 14 - 20, 2007.

Tags: , , ,

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Borrowing library books

Amongst my various Bloglines feeds on Wednesday afternoon was a new Read Roger post; Throw the book at her? In it were links to an incident concerning a Lewiston, Maine library patron who decided the content and illustrations of a children's book inappropriate, has checked them out of the library, and refuses to return them.

From the Associated Press
Boston Sun Journal

Critic of sex education book refuses to return library copies
September 18, 2007

LEWISTON, Maine --A Lewiston woman who was upset by the content of an acclaimed sex education book published 14 years ago has checked out copies from two libraries and refuses to give them back.

"Since I have been sufficiently horrified of the illustrations and the sexually graphic, amoral abnormal contents, I will not be returning the books," JoAn Karkos wrote the Lewiston and Auburn public libraries last month.

Each letter was accompanied by a check for $20.95 to cover the cost of the book, "It's Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex & Sexual Health."

"This has never happened before," said Rick Speer, director of the Lewiston Public Library. "It is clearly theft."

Speer returned the check, along with a form Karkos could use to request that the book be removed from library shelves. But he said he may seek help from police if she doesn't return what she borrowed.

"That's really what we want," Speer said. "We want the book back."

Written by Robie H. Harris and illustrated by Michael Emberley, the book features frank but cartoon-like illustrations of naked people in chapters on topics that include abstinence, masturbation and sexually transmitted diseases.

The publisher, Massachusetts-based Candlewick Press, said "It's Perfectly Normal" has been sold in 25 countries and translated into 21 languages.

Championed by Planned Parenthood, the book has come under fire from conservative groups such as Concerned Women for America and the anti-abortion American Life League. It was the American Library Association's most challenged book in 2005, topping a list that also included books by J.D. Salinger, Toni Morrison and Judy Blume.

Karkos, 64, said in an interview Tuesday that she first heard of the book from the American Life League, an anti-abortion group. She felt compelled to act after she checked out the book and found it to be "pornographic" and worse than she originally feared.

"Hopefully, this will harness enough people to be sufficiently horrified and and want to speak out, to say it's gone too far," Karkos said, adding that she was aware that drawing attention to the book might raise people's interest in it.

Rosemary Waltos, director of the Auburn Public Library, said Karkos' decision not to return the book was "an inappropriate act" that will likely prove fruitless.

"If somebody wants a copy, they can get one," she said, noting that at least three dozen Maine libraries have copies available for interlibrary loan.

Both libraries have ordered replacements for the books Karkos took. Speers ordered two more copies because of an increase in requests for the book after the (Lewiston) Sun Journal published a letter from Karkos condemning the book.

There has been a subsequent flurry of interest regarding this issue, especially happening this close to ALA's yearly celebration Banned Books Week. Here are a few links to more information:

Comments on the news articles and blogs range from "how dare she" to "bravo." I found a statement on the Boston Daily Blog from a LIS student particularly well done:

"Not everyone will like what is selected for a library — not even librarians at times — but it is important that the materials selected present ideas and views in every area (liberal, conservative, radical, etc.) and should be, at the very least, unbiased. Librarians take extra means to selecting material and analyze how the materials will be used. They understand that some books may cause an uproar and they are trained to know how to handle those type of situations. It is not up to a library patron or a librarian on selecting books, it is rather on the basis on meeting the needs of the public." LIS Student, Comments, Boston Daily Blog

This student is right; librarians are trained to select books for their library and library patrons. Not everyone will agree with the selections, therefore policy is in place to process this through legal channels; recourse on what may be perceived to be objectionable material is available to every patron.

Books are not selected for collections without thought to readership, usability, function, and information. Librarians take pride in their collections and the development thereof. Case in point, each year when a children's literature professor brings his class to the IRC he mentions that prior to my arrival, the collection was seen as somewhat stagnant and did not fulfill needs for his class. As a result, he did not bring them to the library. Size and breadth of the collection before my arrival was contingent upon a small budget for children's literature; there were many quality titles in the collection. A budget increase allowed for considerable growth and ability to purchase curriculum supporting children's literature. I take pride in knowing "my" collection is growing and meeting the needs of library patrons.

Curiosity compelled me to see if AU library had It's Perfectly Normal as part of the juvenile circulating collection. We do not. However, OhioLINK has 20 libraries with the original 1994 publication, and six libraries with the 2004 ten year anniversary edition. Both public and academic libraries have copies in their collection; interestingly, various public library copies were checked out and several academic libraries had their copies tagged local use only. The book is particularly well represented in larger academic libraries, public libraries, and academic libraries with curriculum materials centers. If interested, Amazon and Barnes & Noble.com have the book and both have reviews from Publishers Weekly and School Library Journal.

Wrapping this up with a neat bow is the upcoming celebration of ALA's Banned Books Week, this year taking place September 29 - October 6. One of the most frequently challenged books in 2005? Robie H. Harris's title It's Perfectly Normal.

Have you read a challenged book lately?

Tags: , ,

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Smile, smile, smile :-)

Happy Birthday to Smiley! Reported by Wired Blogs, The Chronicle, and undoubtedly dozens more technology and news blogs, today is Smiley's 25th birthday. Invented by Scott Fahlman at Carnegie Mellon University in 1982, Smiley has since been used (and misused!) and has been the forefather to emoticons.

"Fahlman posted the first emoticon Sept. 19, 1982 in answer to a discussion about the limits of humor in online test and how users could denote comments meant to be taken lightly. Despite the protests of many an English professor, who claim (quite correctly) that the limits of humor in text are the result of poor writing skills, emoticons are here to stay." (Gilbertson, Compiler Wired Blogs, 9/19/07)

Is it odd that today is also "Talk Like a Pirate Day?"


Tags: , , ,

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Settling into a New Semester

I had every intention of writing a mass of posts for Library Cloud as soon as Diane invited me to participate, but as often happens my good intentions got blind-sided by reality. Preparing for fall semester and getting through those first couple of weeks with sanity intact became my only goal and poor Library Cloud has had to wait a bit until I could think clearly again <grin>. Now that we're into the third week of classes, I find myself, like many of my fellow University of Akron colleagues, more than a bit frustrated and wondering about the sanity of the world at large.

If you've been keeping up with the news, UA is one of those universities recently plagued by bomb threats (CBS News | FBI Probing University Bomb Threats). We've had some buildings closed for parts of the day and classes canceled or moved to other buildings as the police painstakingly went through each inch of the threatened buildings to check for explosives.

So instead of the usual beginning of semester computer problems and confused freshmen, we've had to deal with bomb threats. Needless to say, everyone is a bit jittery but overall, the campus has come closer together in the face of these threats. With the assistance of local and state police and the FBI, UA is taking every threat seriously, informing the campus community in a timely manner, and diligently investigating every lead. Counselors are available for anyone suffering from stress over these issues.

At the library, we have been reviewing our emergency procedures and doing our best to present a calm face to our colleagues and students, reassuringly going about our normal business as usual, but more alert to our surroundings. Over my 27 years in librarianship, I've encountered the verbally abusive, the mentally ill, sex in the stacks, theft, fights, lost children, strange and unusual things left in bookdrops and in books themselves, and, of course, people without a clue. This is my first experience of a bomb threat, but I have to admit, I do feel safe here.

Why do I feel safe here? Well, I think it's the regular communication with the campus at large that does it for me. Like most people, if I know what's going on it's more difficult to panic over imagined possibilities. Seeing more of a police presence on campus is also reassuring. Folks on campus can have no doubt about how serious UA is in terms of dealing with these threats.

So as we wait for answers (who is responsible for these threats and why), we continue our daily routines. Students continue to come to the library, asking for help with research databases, and learning how to print from the Library's many computers. Library faculty and staff continue on as usual, working with students, attending committee meetings, and maybe being a bit more vigilant than usual. And all of us are thankful to the UA Police, the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety, and the UA Administration for their efforts in keeping us all safe.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Blog Etiquette

I just read the September issue of Campus Technology last night and in it was an a column about blogging. The Editor-in-Chief, Katherine Grayson, was commenting on an IT blog that was not getting read. She offered some suggestions, which I thought were useful for bloggers to remember (which now means me!). The particular blog was intended to mark the progress of a construction project, but no one was reading it. She mentioned some good points, such as many blogs are long- winded and not organized for easy retrieval of info. Being succinct, using bullets, boxes, headlines and other editorial type features would be more helpful and allows readers to see quickly what was new. See the complete article at http://www.campustechnology.com/articles/49914/

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

That librarian stereotype

A hot article topic remains the changing face of librarianship; how many new, and not so new, librarians continue to break the molds we were forced into many years ago. At home over Labor Day weekend, I chanced upon an article in the Valley News Dispatch Sunday Living edition featuring three librarians in the Pittsburgh area who are doing their part to change how people view the profession.

Not So Prim and Proper introduces Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh librarians Sara Beasley and Tim Williams, both employed at the main branch in Oakland, and Charlene Hoffer, a librarian at the Vandergrift Public Library. An excerpt from the article, and something to remember because new does not always mean better:

"But while librarians might now skydive, ride motorcycles, play hockey or perform in noise-metal bands, they still have respect for those quiet, stern women who for so long made libraries a refuge of information and knowledge."

"So much credit has to be given to the librarians who came before us," Williams says. "They laid the foundation for the impressive collections we have here -- the resources, the indexes, the organization of it. Every day, I feel humbled by it." (Not So Prim and Proper, Regis Behe, VND, 9/2/07)

Kudos to the "not so prim and proper" librarians featured in this article (though I do wish they would have taken the photo in the Vandergrift library nearer some of their new titles)! It is always a joy to see local papers feature and appreciate libraries and librarians.

Tags: , , , ,

Friday, August 31, 2007

It's Blog Day 2007

Library Garden had a post today reminding readers today is the Third Annual Blog Day. What is Blog Day; I missed it last year, but do remember reading about it and possibly posting late? The Blog Day 2007 website defines the event:

BlogDay was created with the belief that bloggers should have one day dedicated to getting to know other bloggers from other countries and areas of interest. On that day Bloggers will recommend other blogs to their blog visitors. With the goal in mind, on this day every blogger will post a recommendation of 5 new blogs. This way, all blog readers will find themselves leaping around and discovering new, previously unknown blogs.

I am not a fan of playing blog tag and realize that is the basic point of having Blog Day. I will, however, post the five newest library and technology themed blogs I have added to my Bloglines account this summer. So in no particular order:

  • Lifehacker, Tips and Downloads for Getting Things Done
    "Lifehacker points out software downloads, web sites, do-it-yourself projects, how-to's, tutorials, shortcuts and tips for going beyond the default settings and getting things done in the most clever, unexpected and efficient ways. Think of Lifehacker as self-help for geeks."

  • YALSA Blog
    ALA's Young Adult Library Services Association Blog

  • Cranky Geeks
    "John C. Dvorak, whose crankiness knows no bounds, is a contributing editor of PC Magazine, for which he has been writing two columns, including the popular Inside Track, since 1986. "

  • Compiler - Monkey Bites
    "Wired.com's Compiler blog is everything you need to know about software that makes the web tick — and how you can put it to use on your own website and digital media projects. By Wired News Senior Editor Michael Calore and Wired News blogger Scott Gilbertson."

With the campus change to MS Office 2007 this summer, the new blogs on my list are more heavily technology oriented than library. I also admit to letting my Bloglines account stagnate somewhat instead of adding interesting new reading. I will tag this post with the requisite Blog Day 2007 Technorati tag and look to see what others are reading.

Anything to recommend?

Tags: , , ,

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Librarian laughter

From Brad Barker, at the Modesto Bee, via Michael Rogers at LJ Insider, (just following the path for blogging provenance) comes this article: Mr. Library Man Wants You To Speak Up and Ask Questions.

"You know the stereotype. Librarians are portrayed as stern, old-fashioned ladies with cat's-eye glasses whose only jollies come from shushing the giggles of children. As an antidote to narrow- minded caricatures, and to perhaps demystify my profession, I offer this (potentially recurring) column -- Ask Mr. Library Man." (Brad Barker, 8/29/07)

One of my favorites? It fits in with, "but you don't look like a librarian."

"Q: Answer me this, Library Man: Do you wear your hair in a bun?"
"A: I used to, but I'm searching for a new image."

And alas, as an academic librarian we generally speak in code about LC. But I can't divulge any secrets for fear of being expelled from the society.

Tags: , , , ,

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

ALAO: 33rd Annual Conference

Registration for ALAO's 33rd Annual Conference, Innovation Generation: Tools, Techniques, Transformations, is now open! This year's conference is a two day event at the Greater Columbus Convention Center on October 25th and 26th. Featured speaker for the President's Program on Friday, October 26th is Joe Janes, Associate Dean for Academics at the Information School, Univerisy of Washington.

For more information regarding Featured Speakers and a Preliminary Conference Program schedule, visit the official ALAO conference web site.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Rain, Rain, Go Away

The amount of rain that Ohio has experienced this past week served to remind me that while I was craving some relief from the drought in the past, I am now more than ready for the rain to go away. The flooding has wreaked havoc on many of my surrounding communities, and many school beginnings have been delayed. I have a wall of floor-to-ceiling windows in my office and I got to witness the fury of Mother Nature in full view. What an awsome sight! My library was fortunate to only get two or three leaks. It is a regular duty to patrol the library in search of leaks when it rains heavily. We have had several serious ones in the past. We have some persistent places that just won't go away. So the local roofing company knows the library very well. Storms like the ones we have experienced in the last two weeks reinforce the critical importance of a library having a disaster response plan in place. Whether you have a faulty lighting system or a serious flooding problem, administrators need to work closely with their maintenance and public safety departments to ensure that patrons as well as the collections are protected as much as possible. Yesterday, someone asked me the elevation of the library above the flood plain of the creek that runs near us. I admit, I never considered the creek ever flooding enough to reach the library, but after that last storm, I think I'll go have a talk with the Maintenance Department, just to be sure.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

What's in a name?

What's in a name? Or, for that matter, a password? Well, it can mean getting access to your computer, your bank account, your e-mail or even your own blog. I have more usernames and passwords than I can remember and the older I get, the less I can remember them. If a tool does not require you to have one, then your IT Department certainly will.

Today, increasing security risks mean that you are likely to have to submit to a more complicated sign-in process to gain access to your work computer and your employer's networks. A university network is highly desirable and many are taking steps to better protect them. I do not blame them; it is frustrating and scary when you discover that someone has "invaded" you.

Now I have to admit, I do not always follow suggestions not to use familiar words and numbers to create a password. And yes, I do use the same password more than once and even write them down sometimes. If I didn't, I would constantly be hitting the forgot password link on every system I was trying to access, like this one, since I couldn't remember what I used for a password to post to the blog!

It is unfortunate that there are people who wish to do nothing more than to create electronic havoc wherever they can and as often as they can. As an administrator, I understand the necessary evils of having to log into my various accounts and networks to protect the information they contain. As a librarian, I wish that we could all freely access information without worrying about someone doing unethical things with it. Technology has given libraries incredible ways to share knowledge and librarians are eager to use as many as possible, if only it can be made easier to do so.

But even if it is tedious to always have to "log-in," there is a bright spot to it all-- my vocabulary skills get a rigorous workout as I try to create that perfect username and password combo that I will least likely to forget.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Library Cloud News

Welcome to our new Library Cloud contributor Betsy Blankenship. Betsy is the head librarian/director of Marion Campus Library, Ohio State University at Marion/Marion Technical College.

Betsy has significant experience with library outreach programs for her library and has presented at both state and national library conferences including "Bringing Museum Exhibitions to Libraries: An Innovative Partnership Reaches Communities Nationwide" at the American Association of Museums Annual Meeting and Museum Expo in 2004, "Staff Appreciation on a Shoestring: It's 'Knot' as Hard as You Think!" at the Ohio Two-Year College Library Director's Conference in 2004, and "Upsetting the Applecart: What Happens When Your Lecture Class Goes Online" at last year's ALAO Annual conference in Akron.

Betsy is an active ALAO member and board alumni with experience serving as a Conference Program Committee member, ALAO board member, and Public Relations coordinator.

Welcome Betsy!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Blogging librarians

Are you a librarian that blogs? Are you interested in learning more about the librarian blogosphere? If so, take a few minutes and complete a survey developed by Meredith Farkas, author of the Information Wants to be Free Blog:

“If you consider yourself a “biblioblogger,” please consider taking this survey and pass the word on to other library-related bloggers. The more people who fill it out, the better picture we will have of the characteristics of the library blogosphere. I’m looking for both people in the profession who have blogs and people who blog at their library as part of an official library blog. You don’t have to have an MLS to be a part of the survey and you don’t have to work in a traditional library setting. If you consider yourself a part of the profession and you blog, please do take part. I’ll probably keep the survey open for four weeks.” (Farkas, 7/29/07)

Check out the 2007 Survey of the Biblioblogsphere. Thanks to Walt at Random for pointing readers to this information in his post: Surveying the State of Liblogs.

Tags: , , ,

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Learn something new ...

Library inventory has made its way, along with the technical services assistant responsible for completing the process, to the juvenile collection. Working through the collection triplicates are considered for removal (weeding), spine labels are replaced, missing items are sometimes located, and an occasional book catches her attention which she, in turn, often brings to my attention. For both of us, yesterday was an instance of the latter in the form of Bang, Bang You’re Dead (1969) by Louise Fitzhugh and Sandra Scoppettone (photo c. 1969).

In Bang, Bang, You’re Dead, James and his friends, dressed as Cowboys and Indians and outfitted with toy guys, decide to play war. In the gleeful manner of young boys, a fight to the death ensues and concludes in a celebratory manner with ice cream for everyone. One day a second group of children lays claim to their hill and an ownership fight ensues, only this time it is with fists and blood and injury. The ultimate question of winning is voiced and met with James realization that “Nobody won.” Fitzhugh’s pencil illustrations present an oddly multicultural group for the time period and she does not minimize the violence depicted by their war. In the end, a quiet and appropriate moral of getting along is addressed when the boys decide to play war together, tomorrow.

A bit disconcerted with the graphic violence and unseemly topic portrayed, further investigation was warranted and revealed both a copyright date of 1969 and a date due slip last used in 1986. Asked if it should be removed from our collection, I determined it had intrinsic value for studying social issues in children’s literature and said no. Why? Thirty-eight years ago children playing war was commonplace, as were toy guns and stereotypical instances of Cowboys and Indians. The underlying theme of peace and “playing together” during the Vietnam War makes it historically and culturally significant from a juvenile literature standpoint.

I did a bit of Internet research this morning on Louise Fitzhugh and while a children’s literature scholar would be shaking their head at my lack of knowledge and naiveté, I found what I was looking for – in spades. Amongst other things, Fitzhugh is the author of Harriet the Spy and well known for her social commentary, writing, and illustrations during the 1960’s and 1970’s. Among the interesting information I found is a review of Bang, Bang, You’re Dead, from Time Magazine, July 13, 1969 (scroll down), posted on the Time/CNN website:

“BANG BANG YOU'RE DEAD, by Louise Fitzhugh and Sandra Scoppettone, illustrated by Louise Fitzhugh (Harper &amp; Row; $3.95). Four scruffy kids playing "army" on a hill learn more about war than they bargained for when the rules change and fighting becomes real. A cheerful book despite its moral.” (Time, 7/25/07)

Internet Resources:

Tags: , , , , ,