Mother Goose on the Loose, B Diamant

Tags: PUBLIC LIBRARIES, literacy program, Public Library, library staff, American Library Association, Literacy Coalition, public librarians, Hennepin County Library, Adult Learning Center, Elizabeth Birr Moje, Tenth National Conference, tutors, Adult Basic Education, English Language Learning, adult literacy, Vicki Nesting, Steven M. Cohen, literacy theme, Hennepin County, Jim Lange, Tulsa, Oklahoma City-County Library, educational program, Correctional Educational Association, reading comprehension, adult learning centers, Hennepin County Library Outreach Department, community meetings, Grover C. Whitehurst, National Reading Panel, Educational Writers Association, National Institutes of Health, literacy coordinator, Perspectives Nann Blaine Hilyard, A. Paula Wilson, Literacy Practices, Jennifer A. Elmore, Reading Research, Josephine Peyton Young, Shirley Brice Heath, Elizabeth Birr, Elizabeth B. \, Elizabeth Birr Moje McCarthy, Literacy Research, Adolescent Literacy, Adult Literacy Instruction, Adolescent Literacy Research, Reading Is Fundamental, Maricopa County Library District, Federal Depository Library Program, Federal Depository Library Conference, information products, President Luis Herrera, Annie Proulx Brendan Dowling, Nann Blaine Hilyard, Federal Depository Library, Las Vegas-Clark County Library District, Public Library Association, Donna E. Alvermann, Luis Herrera
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The U.S. Government Printing Office congratulates the Tulsa, Oklahoma City-County Library as the winner of its first-ever Federal Depository Library of the Year award
The award, presented at the 2003 fall Federal Depository Library Conference, cited the Tulsa City-County Library for excellence in providing public access to Government information and for innovative approaches to increasing that access via the Internet.
For more information:
T he Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) was established by Congress to ensure that the American public has access to its Government's information. The mission of the FDLP is to disseminate information products from all three branches of the Government to nearly 1,300 libraries nationwide. Libraries that have been designated as Federal depositories maintain these information products as part of their existing collections and are responsible for assuring that the public has free access to the material provided by the FDLP.
Make the Connection at a Federal Depository Library
A Service of the U.S. Government Printing Office
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Renйe Vaillancourt McGrath Feature Editor Kathleen M. Hughes Managing Editor
January/February 2004
Vol. 43, No. 1
33 Read This! It Will Change Your Life The Making of a Creative Reader Peggy Christian 41 Mother Goose on the Loose Applying Brain Research to Early Childhood Programs in the Public Library Betsy Diamant-Cohen 47 California DREAMin' A Model for School-Public Library Cooperation to Improve Student Reading Mark Smith 53 READ/Orange County Changing Lives through Literacy Shari Selnick
IN EVERY ISSUE 8 Editor's Note Renйe Vaillancourt McGrath 9 From the President Luis Herrera 16 Tales from the Front Jennifer T. Ries-Taggart 18 Perspectives Nann Blaine Hilyard 26 Internet Spotlight Steven M. Cohen
28 Tech Talk A. Paula Wilson 58 News from PLA Kathleen Hughes 59 On the Agenda 60 By the Book Jennifer Schatz 64 New Product News Vicki Nesting
PLUS . . . 6 Readers Respond 12 Verso STARs (Story-Telling Adult Readers) Shine in Chicago JoAnne M. Grant 24 Book Talk A Slave to Reading: An Interview with Annie Proulx Brendan Dowling
30 InterViews Making Meaning: An Interview with Elizabeth Birr Moje Linda W. Braun 59 Index to Advertisers 66 Instructions to Authors
The Public Library Association is a division of the American Library Association, 50 E. Huron St., Chicago, IL 60611; Cover design by Jim Lange, Jim Lange Design, Chicago Interior Design by Dianne M. Rooney, American Library Association, Chicago
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Reading and Comprehension I heard about the literacy theme for the January/February 2004 issue of public libraries on the Healingstory electronic discussion list. I have no papers or research to submit. But, as a pre-K, second-, and fifth-grade teacher (twelve years) and special education therapist (ten years) in poverty areas, I can tell you this truth about literacy and reading comprehension: A child cannot hear without the experience of being heard. A child cannot understand without the experience of being understood. Through these two experiences, a child develops an "inner voice" that can connect with meaning to both internal and external experiences. "Connecting with meaning" means the ability to develop a cohesive sense of narrative continuity in one's life. A child cannot "read for meaning" unless the child first has developed his or her own inner voice. Only then can the voice of the author find a way to connect with feltmeaning to the child's experience of life.--Bob Seigetsu Avstreih, Retired Teacher, Traveling Storyteller/Musician, [email protected] What Comes Around, Goes Around Interesting article on rotary reference wheels ("What Goes Around: Telephone Reference Rotary Wheels" by Sharon McQueen and Douglas Zweizig in the September/October 2003 issue of Public Libraries)! My library, the Inglewood, California Public Library, has had a reference wheel for years. (I think I remember it from the late '60s.) Our reference desk is generally staffed by two librarians, and our wheel enables us to perform ready reference and control materials most likely to be mutilated or in high demand without having to bump into a colleague. The wheel is three-tiers high, with a fourth tier that's actually the top of the axle and rotates with the one just below it. We try to maintain materials in LC class order, except for the Information Please books that are alphabetical by title on the bottom tier and the investment services on the top. We don't have a separate telephone reference desk, although we did have a separate line people could call to have numbers looked up in our reverse directories (we no longer offer that service).--Sue Kamm, Head, Audio-Visual/Stack Maintenance Divisions, Inglewood (Calif.) Public Library It's the Collection, Stupid Gary Deane's article, "Bridging the Value Gap," and Michael Sullivan's "Fragile Future of Public Libraries" (both in the September/October 2003 issue of Public Libraries) arrived in our library like thunderbolts. We had just finished the final draft of Pickering (Ontario) Public Library's Long Term Plan, which had been fondly (and unofficially) titled "It's the collection, stupid." Based on an analysis of client use patterns and the results of a client survey, the data showed what all our surveys going back more than a decade had shown: our clients want books and media far more than continued on page 10 Public Libraries encourages letters to the editor. Letters are used on a space-available basis and may be excerpted. Preference will be given to letters that address issues raised by the magazine. Acceptance is at the editor's discretion. Send to Renйe Vaillancourt McGrath, 248A N. Higgins Ave. #145, Missoula, MT 59802; [email protected]
EDITORIAL FEATURE EDITOR: Renйe Vaillancourt McGrath MANAGING EDITOR: Kathleen M. Hughes CONTRIBUTING EDITORS: Hampton (Skip) Auld, Steven Cohen, Rochelle Hartman, Nann Blaine Hilyard, Vicki Nesting, Jennifer Ries-Taggart, Jen Schatz, Paula Wilson EDITORIAL ASSISTANT: Brendan Dowling ADVISORY COMMITTEE Isabel Dale Silver, Chair, Champaign, IL; Marilyn Boria, Elmhurst, IL; Nancy Charnee, New York, NY; Barbara Custon, Pasadena, CA; Nann Blaine Hilyard, Zion, IL; Marcia Schneider, San Francisco, CA; Luren E. Dickinson, Jackson, MI; Cindy Lombardo, Orrville, OH. EX OFFICIO: Jo Ann Pinder, Gwinnett County Public Library, 1001 Lawrenceville Hwy., Lawrenceville, GA 30045-4707; [email protected] PLA PRESIDENT: Luis Herrera, Pasadena Public Library, 285 E. Walnut St., Pasadena, CA 91101-1556; [email protected] PUBLIC LIBRARIES (ISSN 0163-5506) is published bimonthly at 50 E. Huron St., Chicago, IL 60611. It is the official publication of the Public Library Association, a division of the American Library Association. Subscription price: to members of PLA, $25 a year, included in membership dues; to nonmembers: U.S. $50; Canada $60; all other countries $60. Single copies, $10. Periodicals postage paid at Chicago, IL, and at additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: send address changes to Public Libraries, 50 E. Huron St., Chicago, IL 60611. SUBSCRIPTIONS Nonmember subscriptions, orders, changes of address, and inquiries should be sent to Public Libraries, Subscription Department, American Library Association, 50 E. Huron St., Chicago, IL 60611; 800-545-2433, press 5; fax: (312) 944-2641; e-mail: [email protected] ADVERTISING William N. Coffee, c/o Benson, Coffee & Associates, 1411 Peterson Ave., Park Ridge, IL 60068; (847) 6924695; fax (847) 692-3877. PRODUCTION ALA PRODUCTION SERVICES: Troy D. Linker, Kevin Heubusch; Ellie Barta-Moran, Angela Hanshaw, Kristen McKulski, and Karen Sheets. MANUSCRIPTS Unless otherwise noted, all submissions should be sent to the feature editor, Renйe Vaillancourt McGrath, 248A N. Higgins Ave. #145, Missoula, MT 59802; [email protected] See the January/February issue or for submission instructions. INDEXING/ABSTRACTING Public Libraries is indexed in Library Literature and Current Index to Journals in Education (CIJE), in addition to a number of online services. Contents are abstracted in Library and Information Science Abstracts. MICROFILM COPIES Microfilm copies are available from University Microfilms, 300 N. Zeeb Rd., Ann Arbor, MI 48103. The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of American National Standard for Information Sciences--Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials, ANSI Z39.48-1992. ©2004 by the American Library Association All materials in this journal are subject to copyright by the American Library Association and may be photocopied for the noncommercial purpose of scientific or educational advancement granted by Sections 107 and 108 of the Copyright Revision Act of 1976. For other reprinting, photocopying, or translating, address requests to the ALA Office of Rights and Permissions, 50 E. Huron St., Chicago, IL 60611.
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One of the goals of the PLA Strategic Plan, approved by the PLA Board of Directors at the ALA Annual Conference in June 2002, is for "PLA [to] be a strategic
Many People, Many Books Renйe Vaillancourt McGrath Feature Editor
the One Community, One Book Initiative," which taught participants how to plan still more One Book inititatives. The concept of having large numbers of people read and discuss the same book is not new. We have been doing this since elemen-
partner of public libraries' initiatives to cre-
tary school, and by high school many stu-
ate a nation of readers." Public Libraries is
dents have already grown to dread being
proud to participate in this initiative by ded-
forced to read and discuss works that they
icating our 2004 theme issue to the topic of
didn't choose of their own accord.
We continue to read the same books as
The articles in this issue address the lit-
our classmates in college, although at least in
eracy needs of adults and children, native
that case, we have some choice over the
English speakers, and those who are learn-
selection of the course, if not the individual
ing English as a second or other language.
titles. This is analogous to traditional book
The articles spotlight model initiatives and
discussion groups in libraries, bookstores,
offer useful resources to improve literacy
and other community venues. Many people
programs in public libraries.
enjoy reading and discussing the same book,
One topic that is not directly addressed
especially if titles are chosen by group mem-
in these articles, however, is the problem of
bers in a democratic fashion.
aliteracy, or the choice not to read by those
But encouraging everyone in a city, a
who know how. Since one of the main goals of many public state, or a whole country to read and discuss the same book
libraries is to encourage reading for pleasure, we have become removes a particular element of pleasure that comes with recre-
adept at developing reading promotion strategies such as story ational reading--that of being able to choose what you are
times, bibliographies, author visits, book displays, and summer most interested in reading. One of the things that I've always
reading programs that seek to entice reluctant readers with liked about public libraries is that they support self-directed
books on topics they are eager to know more about.
learning. There is an element of free choice in the public library
We also often jump at the opportunity to partner with that is absent in the school setting. Most public libraries
other agencies to sponsor events and programs that can be seen encourage patrons to select whatever materials they choose,
as encouraging reading within our communities. But I believe without restriction. The One Book programs don't allow for
that before public libraries agree to participate in broader read- that freedom of choice.
ing programs, we should assess these programs to make sure
Another problem with the One Book model is that the
that they are in line with the values and goals of our own insti- books are usually selected by a small panel of "experts." Five
tutions. If we seek to encourage reluctant readers to learn to panelists chose the title that all of Canada would read in 2002:
love books, then the programs we support must allow for indi- two authors, an actress, a rock star, and former prime minister viduals to choose titles that are particularly suited to their own Kim Campbell.1 "If All Seattle Read the Same Book" relies on
unique interests.
an ad hoc committee of about six booksellers, librarians, and
In the state where I live, the Montana Center for the Book, members of other cultural organizations to provide suggested
with partners Montana State Library, Montana Public Radio, titles, with the final decision being made by the director and Yellowstone Public Radio, and the University of Nebraska associate director of the Washington Center for the Book.2
Press (go figure), is currently sponsoring "One Book What qualifies these people (or, in fact, anyone) to determine
Montana," encouraging all Montanans to read and discuss what books an entire city, state, or country should be reading?
Winter Wheat by Mildred Walker.
I think the spirit of the public library is better represented
The One Book concept is credited to Nancy Pearl, director by other initiatives to promote reading. Many schools have
of the Washington Center for the Book at Seattle Public instituted Sustained Silent Reading (SSR) periods in which all
Library, who introduced "If All Seattle Read the Same Book" students, faculty, and staff are encouraged to read for pleasure
in 1998 [see the November/December 2003 issue of Public for a certain amount of time (usually ten to fifteen minutes or
Libraries for a Book Talk interview with Nancy Pearl]. Chicago so) per day. Participants can read anything that their heart
and Milwaukee soon developed similar programs, and the desires, from the back of a milk carton, to comic books, to
model spread like wildfire. Many other cities and states across encyclopedias. What if we took this model to the library, city,
the United States have since created One Book programs, and state, or national level and encouraged everyone to set aside a
Canada has gone so far as to designate one book for the entire certain amount of time each day to read together?
country to read (In the Skin of a Lion by Michael Ondaatje).
Or what if we created book discussion groups that didn't
ALA joined the trend with its "One Conference One require all of the members to read the same title? When I was a
Book" program at the ALA/CLA Annual Conference in young adult librarian, one of the highlights of my Teen
Toronto in June 2003, at which attendees were encouraged to Advisory Board meetings was a period at the beginning of each
read The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood and partici- meeting during which kids could talk about the books that
pate in discussion programs throughout the conference. The
conference also featured a preconference program, "Mastering
continued on page 10
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According to the National Academy on an Aging Society, seventy-three billion dollars is the estimated annual cost of low literacy skills in the form of longer hospital stays, emer-
Toward a Literate Nation Luis Herrera
and Dover-Foxcroft, Maine, are proof that these models are effective and will make a difference in improving literacy levels. As children's author Mem Fox notes, librarianparent partnerships should be part of the equation in instilling the love of reading at
gency rooms visits, more doctor visits, and
an early age.
increased medication. Further sobering is the
fact that the United States ranks forty-ninth
among the 156 United Nations member
The Power in Partnerships
countries in literacy levels. Whether the costs
are in our health, safety, education, or other
Public libraries also have the opportunity to
quality of life issues, we may face a future
collaborate with associations that share our
where many Americans are unable to fully
vision in promoting reading and literacy such
participate, contribute, and compete locally
as the International Reading Association.
and globally because of functional illiteracy.
IRA has prepared position papers in support
Public libraries, however, do offer a variety of
of libraries and has outlined ten basic chil-
opportunities to help make our country a
dren's literacy rights, including access to a
nation of readers.
wide range of resources and materials as key
This issue of Public Libraries is devoted
to enhancing literacy. But this also calls for
to the topic of literacy. It comes at a time
stronger alliances between public librarians
when PLA is also on the verge of promoting results on its mul- and schools to ensure that our future readers and leaders have
tiyear Early Literacy Project, which will provide practical tools strong information literacy skills to compete in an information-
for librarians to work with parents and caregivers in promoting based society. Joint library instruction initiatives can pay high
reading in communities. A literate nation is also one of four key dividends when it comes to funding and political support.
goals in PLA's Strategic Plan that calls for increasing the num-
Equally significant is public library support for adult liter-
ber of key audiences aware of services provided by libraries in acy and basic education programs. These programs are
literacy development. The goal stresses the role of libraries as addressing the problem of illiteracy and getting attention at the
essential partners in literacy efforts.
local, state, and national level. Initiatives led by literacy coali-
My goal in this column is to highlight some specific areas tions such as the Cities That Read campaign in California are
where public libraries can make a significant difference in com- raising awareness about the problem of illiteracy on the econ-
munities through literacy partnerships. These include working omy and quality of life at the local, state, and national level. By
with community agencies to promote literacy; partnering with forging strong alliances with these groups, our role as literacy
mission-friendly associations to advocate the importance of lit- providers will be strengthened in the political and social arena.
erate communities; and making public library collections and
services relevant and accessible to a diverse public.
Access for All
Partnering with Community Public libraries across the country are leading efforts to promote community reading initiatives. The One City, One Book programs provide excellent vehicles to build community through dialogue and at the same time position the local library as the focal point of reading and literacy. From Seattle to Saint Paul, and Palm Beach to Pasadena, these programs are engaging our communities by bringing people together to bridge differences and commonalities, and they are giving libraries a high profile as civic partners. Public libraries of course cannot do this alone. To make an impact, public libraries must continue to make working with schools and neighborhood agencies an ongoing priority. One vital partner is Head Start. As this federal program enters into its fortieth year, its philosophical shift and focus will be on literacy. Working partnerships with Head Start programs such as the one in the Tacoma (Wash.) Public Library that targets Hispanic families through bilingual programs have shown a dramatic increase in library use by kids and families. Other similar programs in Ft. Wayne, Indiana,
Public libraries have traditionally played a role in support of literacy. Promoting summer reading programs, providing access to information, and developing strong library collections have been a mainstay of our public library mission. But with the challenges of an electronic information world, we must continually seek ways to remove barriers to access by designing tools that facilitate self-learning and enhance information literacy. Moreover, a commitment to serve the underserved by making funding and staffing for literacy collections and services a priority will go a long way toward making public libraries more relevant in our communities. Partnerships with our communities will also be crucial if we are to have an impact in improving literacy. It's good to know that by making literacy a strategic priority, PLA is supporting public library efforts to build a community of readers and a literate nation. Luis Herrera, Pasadena Public Library, 285 E. Walnut St., Pasadena, CA 91101-1556; [email protected]
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continued from page 6
they want our reference services. The overwhelming preponderance of data shows that the collection is our flagship service no matter which way we analyze it. Surveyed clients told us that their most frequently used services, highest service priorities, and main purpose in using the library, were books and media: reserving them, renewing them, browsing them. When we look at our monthly Web site activity, catalog access accounts for around 12,000 visits. By contrast, the two highestuse electronic information tools, which together cost over $14,000 annually, were visited fewer than 900 times. Our recommended sites, created with great care and at considerable labor cost, are visited less than 1,000 times per month. We have clearly practiced benign neglect of our clients' chief priorities in the past, and we believe that Deane is correct in ascribing this to a culture of professional values. Our Long Term Plan this time, however, will focus intensively on our clients: connecting with them, making our services more convenient and our facilities more welcoming and comfortable, and above all, getting as many books and media into their hands as we can. This will entail some uncomfortable priority setting, but not the complete abandonment of everything we hold dear as professionals.--Valerie Ridgway, Deputy CEO, Pickering Public Library, Ontario, Canada
With respect to diagramming, the article was intended as an overview of a few key value issues, each of which could have been expanded upon in some form or other. I tried to describe in sufficient detail what a value chain was and offer examples of where value chain thinking in libraries could apply. As far as I went, I hope that I managed to get the idea across. And in regards to services marketing, public libraries need to get better at both understanding their markets' needs and wants and developing clear value propositions and offerings that reflect library commitments to service quality and choice. The kinds of service transformations referred to in the article will happen only if determined and shaped by very deliberate marketing strategies and actions. I should have been more explicit about that.--Gary Deane, Library Strategy Consultant and Events Speaker, InformationRich, Ottowa, Canada EDITOR'S NOTE continued from page 8
Value Chain and Service Marketing Gary Deane's article, "Bridging the Value Gap" in the Sept/Oct Public Libraries contained valuable insights, both his prescriptive questions and suggestions as well as the overarching philosophical approach. While the ALA/CLA conference earlier this year in Toronto offered one or two programs addressing the general concept of customer value, they were (of necessity) focused on a narrow list of actions, and did not have the option of encouraging attendees to consider the larger philosophical issue of "What is a library, and what do our patrons (read "customers") want? Thanks for directing many readers towards at least one useful alternative way to view their professional efforts. I have only one small concern about Deane's article. I've been in the Marketing profession for 30+ years, and know well of Michael Porter's 1985 "Value Chain" article. I'd have felt much happier if he had not only given him credit in the References, but directed readers curious about the value chain concept to a diagram explaining how it might be applied to libraries. I also was a bit bemused at the lack of any article reflecting the substantial amount of work done in the field of "Services Marketing," mostly because I think the library community would enjoy knowing that there are resources available.--Joel Selling, Trustee, Sno-Isle Regional Library (Snohomish and Island Counties) Washington
they'd been reading and recommend them to others. In this fashion, we developed a collection of "Choice Picks" or titles that had been read and recommended by at least three teens. Gathering groups throughout the city, state, or country to discuss books--all different types of books--might be an interesting way to introduce readers to new authors, titles, and genres. And finally, statewide or regional book awards (either for adults, children, or both), in which titles are nominated by the public and voted on by members of the community, are a great way to assess the interests of people in a particular geographic area as well as to promote reading. I am aware that individuals and organizations that promote One Book initiatives have good intentions, and I acknowledge that interesting discussions may come out of the groups that agree to meet and discuss the same title. But as public librarians, I think we need to broaden the choices that we offer to our patrons. If public libraries really seek to combat illiteracy and aliteracy, we need to offer many people, many books. Written October 2003. Contact the feature editor at 248A N. Higgins Ave. #145, Missoula, MT 59802; [email protected]
The Author Responds My initial experience with value chain planning came nearly ten years ago with Coopers Lybrand, as part of a library business process re-engineering project. I know Porter on competition but I've not gone to his writing on value-chains. However, thanks for noting it.
References 1. Christine Watkins, "One Country, One Conference, One Book," Grassroots Report (column), American Libraries (Mar. 2003): 83. 2. Nancy Pearl, Director of Library Programming and the Washington Center for the Book at the Seattle Public Library, personal e-mail correspondence, Aug. 19, 2003.
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"In a library such as ours... ReferenceUSA is among the most in-demand databases because of its scope and accuracy. " John Ganly Assistant Director New York Public Library
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After each school visit, we saw our new volunteers glowing with excitement, giggling with enthusiasm, and looking forward to their next STAR visit. One volunteer commented that she would start her day feeling low from the bitter winter weather but come away from a STAR visit energized and uplifted. Beyond the emotional benefits, many of our volunteers have developed friendships with fellow STAR members and have become library regulars.
STARs (Story-Telling Adult Readers) Shine in Chicago
How the Program Works STAR teams consist of two to four volunteers who present one school program a month. Team members visit the library prior to their STAR visit to decide which books to read and which activities to include. The STAR Program is successful for a number of reasons, and any public library that is considering starting a similar program should review these important components to ensure its success.
JoAnne M. Grant Every library wants to shine in its community. At the Roden Branch of the Chicago Public Library, we found a way to do that with the STAR Program, short for Story-Telling Adult Readers. Now in its third year, the twelve volunteer members of the STAR Program make more than thirty-five school visits per year, sharing their love of books and libraries with more than 300 children. Simple and inexpensive to administer, the STAR Program can be adopted by almost any library, benefiting volunteers, students, and the library. How It Started Three years ago, our branch had a full schedule of daytime, preschool story-time activities. We also provided theme-based library programming to four local elementary schools, kindergarten through fourth grade, that visit the library on a weekly basis. Children's librarian, Nan Freeman, and children's library associate, Terry Tikovitsch, recognized the importance of the weekly elementary school visits to the library but were scratching their heads as to how to staff the school visits while maintaining the full juvenile programming schedule. As the branch's newest staff member and adult services librarian, I had noticed the large number of senior citizens hanging out in the adult section of the library and suggested recruiting local seniors and stay-at-home adults to conduct the weekly library visits. After some brainstorming with Terry and Nan, some healthy worst-case-scenario skepticism, and ultimate approval by branch manager, Bruce Fox, the STAR Program was set into motion. It's a Multigenerational Thing and More It didn't take long for us to see that the STAR Program was benefiting more than just our library programming. It provided a new way for patrons to get involved in the library, while at the same time giving our volunteers and students an enriching, multigenerational experience.
Lots of Fun, Little Time The key selling point for our STAR Program is the low time commitment: our volunteers spend no more than two hours per month preparing for and presenting a program. The minimal time commitment allows STAR members to leisurely visit the library to prepare for their visit without disrupting their busy lives. Volunteers need to spend roughly an hour preparing for their visit, although most of our teams have such a good time together that they usually end up staying longer! Team Approach The formation of teams allows one STAR team member to tell/read a story or two during the school visit while the other team members help with students' questions or take a breather. After the STAR visit, the team escorts the students to the children's section of the library where librarians assist them with their book selections. Story Kits The staff of the children's department at the Roden Branch has created a variety of story kits that provide the structure and theme for each library visit. The story kits are literally a story program in a box. The Chicago Public Library's central offices purchased some of the kits, but most were developed by our juvenile department. The kits contain books, storyboards, poem boards, props, games, puppets, and other items tied to various themes such as dinosaurs, fairies, snow, pirates, pigs, firefighters, and families. Tikovitsch and I encourage the STAR teams to be creative and flexible when they prepare for their school visit, and many STAR team members add their own original activities, such as songs, crafts, puzzles, or even experiments, to the books and other materials contained in the story kit. Support and Appreciation Tikovitsch provides enthusiastic advice to STAR members about which books work best for particular grade levels and groups. She also follows up with the STAR team after each visit to make suggestions and provide positive feedback.
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Roden Branch's STAR volunteers Saying thank you is also important. The Friends of the Roden Library underwrite the cost of two annual catered thank-you luncheons, usually in January and at the close of the school year. These luncheons are wonderful opportunities to foster camaraderie among STAR members and library staff and provide a forum for discussing problems, new ideas, and introducing new story kits.
Bonnie Panico gets students excited about making family trees. The workshop should be fun and interactive: have the volunteers tell a funny story about themselves to the group as an icebreaker, and don't forget the refreshments! We have found that people interested in becoming STAR volunteers are those who love reading to children. Many of our STAR volunteers are parents, grandparents, or retired schoolteachers and librarians.
Are STARs in Your Future? The library staff and our STARs have had so much success and joy from our STAR Program that we encourage other public libraries to implement similar programs. Any library wishing to implement a STAR-type program should consider both staff capabilities and audience. The success of any STAR Program will depend on whether a library has a regular audience of school groups and a community of stay-at-home parents or a senior population. The library should have at least two story kits already developed and the staff capability to develop more. And finally, we have found that the program runs best when two library staff members administer and nurture the program.
Gather Your Teams Once you have a committed group of volunteers, cluster them in teams of two to four, depending on the number of volunteers who join the program. Then have the newly formed STAR teams sign up for prescheduled STAR visits posted on a calendar. We have found that scheduling one specific day and time per week for STAR visits works best for both the STAR volunteers and the library. For example, STAR Programs at the Roden Branch take place only on Thursdays at 1:00 P.M. Scheduling one specific day and time helps STAR volunteers and the schools remember their visit, and keeps library scheduling problems to a minimum. We also schedule STAR luncheons on the same day and time.
Getting Started The most important step to implementing a STAR Program is to get the word out into the community. Create a flyer advertising the program, making sure to pitch the low time commitment. Send the flyers to local community groups, churches, retirement facilities, park districts, and other local organizations. Write and send out press releases about the program to local newspapers. Create a display advertising the STAR Program in a prominent place in the library. Attach a clipboard and sign-up sheet to the display. And, if a patron shows interest, pitch the program in person. Finally, once you've got a list of volunteers, schedule a STAR workshop that will introduce the program and provide story-telling training for new volunteers. The training may include tips such as how to hold a book so the audience can see the pictures or how to use your voice to add drama to a story.
Staffing Your STAR Program A STAR Program will operate best with at least two library staff members working on the program. One staff person should serve as the school's liaison, scheduling school groups in advance for each semester. We suggest that this staff member be part of your juvenile department, since he or she should be familiar with the story kits and also have a relationship with the visiting schools. The second staff member will manage the STAR volunteer teams, produce and send out team schedules, provide follow-up, and handle publicity. A Unique Interchange Teachers from the schools involved in our STAR Program continue to marvel at the energetic exchange of ideas and perspectives
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Former Chicago Public Library branch manager Almeda Maynard plays holiday Jeopardy with her class.
Construction paper and scissors helped turn this school group into firefighters their books, props, and other items, they are smiling too, as they chuckle about how bright the children were.
Keep It Simple, Keep Them Coming Back We've learned a lot since the STAR Program first began. We tried new things along the way, adding different days and times, but found that our original plan always worked best. My advice is to operate a STAR Program as simply as possible. Don't stray from the original set of duties or the original time commitment. Think twice about adding additional STAR days per week unless you have more volunteers than you know what to do with! Follow up with schools, and allow for STAR volunteer feedback after each STAR visit. Don't forget to thank volunteers each time they present a STAR Program. Lastly, expect the first year to be a bit rocky, but soon the program will virtually run itself.
Beverly Petzold, Bonnie Panico, and Arlette Englemann share a funny story with students. between the STAR volunteers and students. Our STAR members are delighted with the fresh faces and youthful interaction, which keep our STARs sharp and ready for anything. The best part is seeing the students' smiling faces as they leave the branch clutching their armfuls of books, carrying cotton and aluminum foil comets with streaming crepe paper, or wearing red construction-paper firefighter helmets made during their STAR program. And as our STAR team members load up
Shining STARs The STAR Program is truly a gem in our community and a real asset to the Roden Branch of the Chicago Public Library. It has inspired children, teachers, seniors, and adults by bringing together a multigenerational audience to explore the many treasures of the library. Our STARs are shining here in Chicago--your STARs can shine, too! JoAnne M. Grant is a former Adult Services Librarian at the Chicago Public Library, Roden Branch. She is currently Head of Adult Services at the Palm Harbor (Fla.) Library; [email protected]
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Columbus Metropolitan Library Allows Kids to Read Off Fines The Columbus (Ohio) Metropolitan Library (CML) wants to make sure fines don't keep children from reading. Last summer, CML's main library and twenty branches allowed young customers to "read off" fines. For every fifteen minutes of reading with staff members or volunteers, a child can eliminate $2 in fines. The library blocks a card when fines exceed $5. Administrators acknowledge that a large number of cards registered to children under the age of seventeen are blocked because of outstanding fines and overdue materials. "Fines are important as they serve as an incentive for customers to return materials to the library," said Patrick Losinski, executive director. "Once we have those materials back, we want children to continue to check out materials." The idea to have children reading to eliminate fines originated at CML's Franklinton Branch, which is located in a low-income neighborhood. The program proved so successful there that the entire system is offering it this year. Losinski said that the "read off your fines" programs
are part of an experiment, leading to a more targeted effort to reach children with blocked cards. A campaign to offer children a "fresh start" is slated for the future, with details still being ironed out. "A blocked card does no one any good," said Losinski. The Columbus Dispatch praised the effort in a editorial, saying, "It's a smart investment in the community." For more information, contact Lisa Sloan at (614) 645-2930. Library Issues a Designers' Challenge When the staff of the Shawnee (Okla.) Public Library wanted to furnish a new reading area, they turned to a popular HGTV cable television show for inspiration. Taking their cue from Designers' Challenge, a program in which design teams compete for a client's business, the library issued its own challenge to local furniture stores: Design a reading nook for the library. Three businesses responded and were invited to set up their designs in the library. Customers who visited the library had an opportunity to vote for their favorite furniture display. In conjunction with the displays, the library presented a workshop on inte-
"Tales from the Front" is a collection of news items and innovative ideas from libraries nationwide. Send submissions to the contributing editor, Jennifer T. Ries-Taggart, Director, Seymour Library, 161 East Ave., Brockport, NY 14420; [email protected]
rior decoration by award-winning designer Kent Fischer from Tulsa, Oklahoma. Project coordinator Linda Kesler was delighted with the response. "The furniture displays and Kent Fischer's workshop brought in hundreds of interested customers who had no reservations about telling us what they wanted to see in the library. In fact, the only reservations we had about the project were those placed on our books about interior design," Kesler said. After one month, the furniture arrangement from Marquis Furniture Store in Shawnee was voted the popular favorite. In response, the Friends of the Shawnee Public Library offered to help purchase the furniture for the library. With the gift from the Friends, a grant from the Shawnee Junior Service League, and a great deal from Marquis, the purchase was made and the result of the designers' challenge is a beautiful, comfortable, popular addition to the ambiance of the Shawnee Public Library. For more information, contact Gary Kramer, public information officer, Pioneer Library System, at (405) 7012646 or e-mail him at [email protected] Local Bank Supports Library In six months the "Civic Action" accounts at the Greenfield Savings Bank (GSB) generated $1,170 for the Jones Library in Amherst, Massachusetts. An extensive newspaper ad campaign was run, featuring well-known local people endorsing the library and the bank as smart choices for the community. GSB's marketing director Joan Cramer approached the library with an innovative proposal in order to promote its new branch bank in Amherst. The bank would give the library a portion of
the fees collected on debit card transactions, plus feature the library in its local advertising. Prolific author Julius Lester agreed to be featured in the publicity campaign, saying, "Here's a great way to be book smart." Library trustee and Rotary president Arthur Quinton also appeared in ads with the message "Physics professor helps Jones Library get a big bang for his buck." Tabletop posters and bookmarks promoted the "civic action" accounts at the three Amherst libraries. "It has been terrific publicity for the library during a year of tight budgets," commented library director Bonnie Isman. "I am sure the promotion helped us reach our Annual Fund Drive goal of $30,000." For more information, call (413) 256-4090. Tablet PCs: Blending Technology with Customer Service Librarians without reference desks? That's where the Salem-South Lyon (Mich.) District Library is headed with the help of tablet PCs. This groundbreaking technology allows librarians to have all their online reference tools at their fingertips, no matter where they are throughout the library. Reference transactions have never been so fast and easy! Tablet PCs are notebook computers that are just smaller than a legal pad--about nine inches by eight inches and an inch thick, weighing only 3.2 pounds. The screen swivels and lays back down on itself so that the user can actually write on the screen with a special stylus. There is no special graffiti like personal digital assistants require, so users write in their own natural handwriting. It also functions as a full notebook computer, with a keyboard and mouse, just by
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Library Clerk Gerri Dorais and Adult Services Librarian Holly Hibner beam as they show one of the new tablet PCs at the Salem- South Lyon District Library. swiveling the screen in the other direction (for a demo, check out Acer's Web site at The librarians experimented with the new tablets for about a week to learn the ins and outs of the new technology. "It was really easy to get used to the tablet PC. It doesn't require special graffiti, and the handwriting recognition is amazing! It feels very natural to use--easier than a PDA," said Holly Hibner, adult reference librarian. Library director Doreen Hannon said, "We want to eliminate all possible barriers to providing first-rate customer service. We believe in `hugging our customers' every chance we get, and being in the forefront with technology is just one more way we do it!" So often during reference transactions, the librarian needs to have the online catalog, the online databases, the patron's library card account,
and other Internet sites available all at once. They find themselves going back and forth between the patron, the bookshelves, and the computer. Tablet PCs allow librarians to stay with the patron through the entire transaction. The librarians at Salem-South Lyon have realized how much more they can offer patrons when the tools are with them all the time. The tablet PCs purchased by the Salem-South Lyon District Library cost about $1,600 each. "Rather than replace a few older laptop computers that the library had, we decided to upgrade to the tablets," said Derek Engi, computer systems manager at SSLDL. "They integrate new technology with our trademark customer service." New technologies help public libraries get better all the time! As Gerri, a South Lyon senior citizen said, "The future is here!" The SalemSouth Lyon District Library can be found on the Web at http://salemsouthlyonlibrary. info. Patience and Pride Who would have thought that getting at-risk youth to learn the patience to teach elders computer skills would bring pride to the library? At the Haines Borough Public Library in the remote southeast Alaskan community of Haines, young people and elders are learning the rewards of patience by participating in a technology awareness program called the Dragonfly Project. The program engages youth mentors to share their
Mentor Linda Paddock assists residents during an evening class on Adobe Photoshop Elements at the Haines Borough Public Library.
computer skills with people of all ages in the community through individualized instruction and evening classes. Funded by a Native Enhancement Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), which was acquired by the library partnering with the Chilkoot Indian Association Tribal Government, the Dragonfly Project is helping to address critical needs in the community, and in the process is bringing more people to the library. "Two problems were identified in our community," stated library director Ann Myren. "Young people without direction in their lives and native elders and other older people without computer skills." Since the program kicked off in January 2001, twenty mentors have worked with hundreds of people teaching them everything from how to use the library's online catalog
to manipulating images in Adobe Photoshop Elements through evening classes and individualized instruction. "It's amazing what this program and the new facility have done for our community," said Barbara Blood, library administrative assistant. "There's a renewed sense of pride in the library. And you can just see the satisfaction the mentors feel every time they help someone accomplish something on the computer." The grant allowed the library to expand the number of computers available to patrons from five to eighteen, five of which are laptops with a full complement of software programs. A wireless network was also installed, the first in Alaska libraries. For more information about the program, visit the Web site at and click on Dragonfly Project.
PDA Downloads
Prior to PLA's conference, attendees will be able to download the conference program, late-breaking conference information, exhibitor information, floor plans, and more to personal digital assistants or mini-pcs. The download link will be available on
PLA's Web site ( in late January. In addition, there will be download stations available onsite at the Seattle Convention and Trade Center during the conference (February 24­28, 2004). Thanks to ProQuest for sponsorship of this project.
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Perspectives on Literacy
each community need, how well suited is the library to meeting that need?" If many organizations are "working to meet this need," then the library "should consider supporting the efforts of the effective organizations." If few are, then "give serious consideration to making this a library priority." These "Perspectives" come from libraries where basic literacy was an identified community need. The literacy programs described are the way that these libraries are striving to meet that need. The Personal Touch Leads to Success
Nann Blaine Hilyard Literacy traditionally connoted a level of reading skill. The Workforce Investment Act of 1998 broadened the definition to "an individual's ability to read, write, speak in English, compute and solve problems at levels of proficiency necessary to function on the job, in the family of the individual, and in society." Whether you use the traditional or the new definition, it is axiomatic that libraries and literacy go together--so it seems to librarians. We know that we're all about reading. We give out "Born to Read" packets in maternity wards, and we deliver large-print books to nursing homes. We know that we're all about lifelong learning. Nursery schools come to the library for field trips, college students plug their laptops into our outlets, and hundreds of people come to library programs to learn, discuss, and enjoy. But to an adult with limited reading skills, the library may be yet one more reminder of inadequacy. All those books are not only inaccessible, they're threatening. The very concept of a library may be bewildering to an adult with limited English who grew up in a country without a public library in every town. Establishing working relationships with social service agencies and adult education providers is not only valuable to public libraries, it is imperative. The staff of these institutions Establishing working relationships with social service agencies and adult education providers is not only valuable to public libraries, it is imperative. may be library patrons themselves, but they may not be automatically aware of what the library can provide for their clients and their programs. If the clients come to the library as part of their instruction, meet library staff, and learn how to use the library, they are likely to come back with their families--turning clients into patrons! If theirs is a positive experience, they will spread the word. They will, hopefully, become library supporters. The "needs decision tree" familiar to many librarians from PLA's planning process (Planning for Results, p.57) asks, "For
Louise Rittberg, Literacy Coordinator Secaucus Public Library and Business Research Center; Secaucus, New Jersey; [email protected] Teaching basic reading and English as a Second Language (ESL) is just part of the literacy program at the Secaucus Public Library and Business Research Center in New Jersey. Our program is successful because it provides one-to-one tutoring. We strive to achieve good tutor/student matches. The relationships developed from these strong matches frequently result in the tutor becoming a mentor in areas outside the academic. Over the last ten years the changing population in Secaucus, which has approximately 16,000 residents, resulted in our "basic reading" literacy program becoming nearly 100 percent ESL. Most of the current thirty-three tutor/student pairings involve students who came to the USA alone or with only a spouse. With little or no family support system to aid these students in day-to-day survival, the Literacy Program and library staffs become their sounding boards, their lifelines, and their surrogate families. At the Secaucus Public Library and Business Resource Center the staff inspires trust and wears many hats. Sometimes we are called upon to fill the role of extended family, legal advisor, or social services director. This is not to imply that we are in the business of dispensing advice. We know our bounds, limits, and responsibilities regarding exposure to working outside our realm of expertise. We are, however, available and sympathetic listeners who can direct students to proper sources or individuals who can provide advice and services. We pride ourselves on the personal attention we give to students enrolling in or inquiring about the program and how we tailor a learning program for each of them, but we are always aware that we are counted on for more. We also commiserate and celebrate with the students. Two years ago, library director Katherine Steffens created the literacy coordinator position to give the program the attention it warranted. Because I had been a literacy volunteer from the program's inception and a tutor trainer, I got the job. It has been advantageous to have one individual, particularly one with personal experience in literacy tutoring, to interview and match each tutor and each student. Once matched, the tutor and student need extraordinary tools with which to work. The tools must be as varied as the needs of the individual students. The program participants are very dedicated to learning and are often university graduates
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and professionals in their native countries. They can study from books and "teach" themselves grammar and punctuation, but how to use that in day-to-day conversation often eludes them. "Improving conversational English" is the greatest need expressed by our students. The Secaucus Public Library and Business Resource Center offers a variety of teaching tools as well as reinforcement materials with which the students can work on their own. Literacy materials are displayed face out, flat on the bookshelves, since there are no spines on the slender workbook format. This method of display takes more space, and the library administration has made a commitment to allowing that. If any literacy program is to succeed, it can't be relegated to a corner. No stigma can be associated or implied with it. To do so would inhibit those in need of the program from coming forward. People who speak in halting English need to be encouraged and commended for learning a second language. The Literacy Program works out of an exceptional facility that opened in January 2003. What a change from our old setting where four tutors and students (eight people) had to share one table, each pair taking a corner! Tutors and students now have the luxury of using one of three private rooms, each equipped with a computer that has both sound and a microphone. These accommodations allow for the use of computerized "interactive" programs, such as "Learn to Speak English" and "Side by Side." The grammar, writing, and vocabulary books, as well as those that test reading proficiency and comprehension, are still the stalwart foundation of our materials, however. The high visibility of the new facility attracted additional tutors to the program, as well as new students. I hold training sessions to train tutors; however, not all the tutors currently serving in our literacy program have attended my training sessions or have had any formal training. In fact, I count as another aspect of our program's success the fact that we welcome individuals to the position of tutor without necessarily having formal training. Since our program focuses on one-to-one tutoring, I feel comfortable matching students who only want to improve their conversational English with tutors who have no formal literacy training other than being shown the library's materials and how to use them. These tutors may use many types of materials, including poetry, magazines, and newspapers, to engage the students in conversation, providing them the opportunity to use the English they already know. Tutors placed with students wanting to learn English are trained, unless they are already certified educators with experience in this field. Retired teachers and persons from the corporate world often volunteer their time. They are joined by those who have a love of reading and a willingness to help others learn to read and speak English. So much of literacy tutoring is common sense. It is important that one person interview prospective tutors to gauge their readiness to take on a student. That same person should interview the students to assess the level of their need. So much depends on instinct when approving tutors. It's that same instinct that makes for good tutor/student pairings. The true measure of the program's success rests with our volunteer tutors. Several are so committed that they tutor more than one student. Their dedication is unmatched by any other literacy program in our area. Our program has both tutors and students who live in other communities. Personal attention--to recruitment, to training, to following up--is the key to our success.
Cooperative Venture Charles Pace Director, Fargo Public Library, North Dakota; [email protected] During the mid-1990s Fargo, North Dakota, and neighboring Moorhead, Minnesota, faced a growing problem: an increasing number of refugees were coming into the community in need of literacy and life-skills services. Many of these individuals were educated refugees of the chaos and warfare that followed the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe and turmoil in Africa. By that time the Fargo Public Library (FPL) had been engaged in Adult Literacy for a decade. One staff member was assigned to tutor adult new readers. The program was modestly successful. It was clear that the traditional literacy program would not be adequate to serve the new population. In 1995, Maxine Hilburn was hired as the FPL literacy coordinator. She had an MLS, was certified by the Literacy Volunteers of America, and had prior experience developing and managing public library literacy programs. In her assessment of the situation, she discovered that the literacy training then available in the community was inadequate. Her first steps in setting up a new, targeted program involved making contacts with Lutheran Social Services (LSS) and Episcopal Migration Ministries, the agencies that coordinated the refugee resettlement program. She established a working relationship with the Adult Learning Center in the Fargo School District. The library then launched a media campaign to recruit volunteer tutors. FPL also contacted the existing local literacy organization, Literacy Coalition of the Valley, and offered it our expertise as librarians and reading specialists. After volunteer recruitment came volunteer training, using materials from Literacy Volunteers of America (LVA). Some training sessions were held at the library; others at community agencies and organizations, each tailored to the specifics of the site. LVA's materials offered the flexibility to create individualized instruction for each group of tutors. We were also fortunate to have a number of high-profile individuals who were willing to devote their time and energy to supporting the literacy program, both financially and as volunteers. These individuals included the wife of the University President and the head of the Fargo-Moorhead Area Foundation. The tutor training offered by FPL had a very significant "hands on" component. This was not simply a case of people coming in and sitting down to listen to a lecture. Role-playing, group projects, and training in how to use the phonics system were all major parts of this program. All of the material used in the training and by the tutors themselves was geared toward adults. Past experience has shown that many adults become decidedly uncomfortable and may drop out of the program if they are presented with a program intended for children. The volunteers were also given the tools needed to ensure that they would be sensitive to the cultural background of the people they would be working with. With the training in place, the time came to bring the program to those in need of its services. Working closely with Randy Eider of the Adult Learning Center, Hilburn identified a number of areas of the city where the need for literacy tutors
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was great. One particularly successful site was at Madison Elementary School in Fargo. The Madison neighborhood had a high concentration of refugees, primarily recent arrivals from Africa and the Caribbean. A second wave of refugees from Bosnia arrived a year later. These newcomers had multiple needs, from obtaining driver's licenses, to learning to negotiate the labyrinth of government assistance programs, using mass transit, studying for citizenship, and finding employment. They also had to master the English language. The library, the school district, the Adult Learning Center, the YMCA, LSS, and the local teachers' organization collaborated on a program to address all these needs. An important component was providing child care so that the refugee mothers could participate in classes. The best indicator of the success of this program is that it is no longer needed! The refugee community around Madison Elementary dispersed throughout the Fargo-Moorhead area and was successfully integrated into the general population. Close collaboration among a variety of community groups contributed to the success of the FPL literacy program. Throughout the late 1990s regular meetings were held and written agreements were signed among all the participating entities. This delineation of responsibilities and regular lines of communication were key to the success of the program. The literacy coordinator of FPL also served as president of the Literacy Coalition of the Valley for two years, guaranteeing a close cooperative relationship between the two groups. Local social service organizations helped identify needs and clients and also provided tutors. FPL staff members were also involved in a robust outreach effort to promote the program in the Fargo-Moorhead area. Staff members attended a number of local conferences and community meetings; the literacy coordinator for FPL played a major role in literacy efforts at the state level as well and attended national conferences organized by the U.S. Department of Education. Some tutors were assigned to local Head Start centers and at the Adult Learning Center. We found the most effective means of reaching potential students was We found the most effective means of reaching potential students was simply a well-developed word-of-mouth network. Strong and effective collaboration is important to developing this network. simply a well-developed word-of-mouth network. Strong and effective collaboration is important to developing this network. The staff of FPL initially provided not only training but also placement and supervision for the tutors. The FPL literacy coordinator worked closely with the tutors and clients to make sure that both parties were happy with the arrangement. However, eventually it became too taxing to maintain this level of involvement with a limited amount of library staff. Eventually it was agreed that the library staff would train the tutors and the Literacy Coalition of the Valley would supervise
them. The library also contributed by developing a collection of materials related to adult literacy and serving as a resource center for much of the Red River Valley region of eastern North Dakota. The work of the FPL literacy program continues today, though in a more limited form than in the past. In many ways this is a tribute to the success of the program. The refugee influx has slowed in recent years. Many early clients of the program have achieved their goals and have been successfully integrated into the larger society. The library can proudly say that it has helped make a difference in these people's lives. Taking Collections to the Streets: The Role of Outreach in Supporting Adult Literacy Patricia Linhoff and Barbara Holden Outreach Department, Hennepin County Library, Edina, Minnesota; [email protected] and [email protected] The Hennepin County Library Outreach Department provides library service for people who live in forty-eight group residences. These include senior assisted or independent living residences, nursing homes, and rehabilitation centers. Library staff pre-pack roughly 450 sturdy plastic boxes with collections of fifteen items per box--including romances, mysteries, westerns, bestsellers, nonfiction, an audiotape, and four regular fiction books. Most are large print, but some are conventional print. The collections are delivered to the group residences six times a year. Staff and volunteers at each site make the materials available to residents, who are primarily senior citizens. These deposit collections, along with services to the homebound and people in the correctional systems, are the Outreach Department's primary way of serving county residents who cannot physically get to the library. But what about new Americans, recent immigrants engaged in literacy activities at community adult learning centers? In Minnesota, as in most states, this group is increasing dramatically. Minnesota's immigrant and refugee population has expanded to record levels, especially Asian, Hispanic, and African population groups; 5.3 percent of all Minnesotans are foreign born; an estimated 200,000 are in need of English Language Learning (ELL). At the same time, the 2000 data show that 9.9 percent of Hennepin County residents are foreign born, and only one-third of those foreign-born residents became naturalized U.S. citizens. Theoretically the clients of these programs could visit libraries in person, but obstacles such as transportation, language barriers, child-care issues, and cultural understanding of the role of libraries are huge. To meet the needs of these residents, library staff needed to reach out. In August 2000, the Hennepin County Library was approached by a suburban adult learning center to provide a deposit collection. The clients of the adult learning center are primarily new immigrants enrolled in the literacy program. While our existing deposit collection boxes didn't fit their specific needs, the service did! With some collection tweaking, lots of communication, and trial and error, we created a unique deposit collection including English-language tapes, grammar books, and slower-paced talking books. Not only did the new
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initiative meet the needs of the clients (as evidenced by their enthusiasm), but it also matched perfectly with Hennepin County Library's five critical success factors: customer focus, diversity, partnerships, lifelong learning, and system thinking. In the fall of 2002, the program expanded to three more sites in communities with large immigrant populations and active adult-learning-center literacy programs. The library consulted with literacy staff, teachers, and volunteers at each of the new sites to determine more precisely their clients' needs. As a result, the library ordered materials including: Adult Basic Education materials, i.e., high interest/low vocabulary for adult new learners Adult New Readers/English-language learner materials/citizenship and American history English grammars, vocabulary, dictionaries, spelling, workbooks, etc. AV language instruction and daily-living instruction (audiotape and video) Audio/book combination packages, e.g., "Listen and Read" Juvenile materials, in particular, new readers "Slow-paced" audiobooks (specifically, "Steady Readers" produced by Recorded Books that are 10 percent to 15 percent slower than conventional audiobooks) At the beginning of the 2002/03 school year, each location received three boxes of core materials and plenty of "library collateral"--branch locations and hours brochures, library card registration information in various languages, and flyers promoting the World Links Web page. While each location handled the process differently, students would check out these materials to supplement their learning program. Some locations kept the materials in one classroom, while others put them on a book truck and rolled the deposit collection from classroom to classroom. Two months after the initial delivery, these collections were enhanced with more materials that would be rotated in another two months. While all four adult learning centers were engaged in the same work, the needs of students and teachers varied widely. Some locations were very interested in juvenile easy readers, picture books, and Illustrated Classics, while other locations wanted only adult new readers. At the end of the school year, we invited everyone involved with our program to evaluate it. That included the contact people from each learning center, the community library staff who provide in-library services to the sites, and, of course, the outreach staff. It was a win times three: a win for the library in that it was able to support adult learning center partners and provide materials out in the community, and it was a win for the adult learning centers in that they had access to a rich array of resources to supplement their instruction programs. But mostly it was a win for the students engaged in literacy activities who had quick and easy access to public library materials to help them learn English. Says one teacher about her new adult students and their children: For my beginning-level adult language learners, partnering with HCL has been great. My students primarily check out children's books, which they read to their kids at home. They also enjoy reading along with books that have tapes, because they love practicing their pronunciation and lis-
tening to English. Having books available at school also accommodates my students' busy schedules, which don't allow them to visit the library on a regular basis. For these new Americans, "Libraries change lives" isn't just a slogan, it's a reality. Personal, Relevant, and Effective Mary Anne DiAlesandro Literacy Coordinator, Mansfield/Richland County (Ohio) Public Library; [email protected] The words "Open to All" are etched in stone just above the original doors of the Mansfield/Richland (Ohio) County Public Library. Ironically 20 percent of our population of 134,000 cannot read that promise--but they know they can come here to learn how to read. Our adult reading program, the Library Literacy Connection, has operated by word of mouth for eleven years. Our promise to provide adults with reading tutors lives in the awareness of our community and patrons. Oh, yes, in our early years we promoted the program in all the standard ways, from telling social service agencies about our services to cooperating with the local city schools' adult education programs. But with time the Library Literacy Connection has become a fixture at the library, just like our books, videos, and story times for children. A man walks in because he has heard about us from another guy at the plant where they both work. A drug court judge sends us a young man who knows he needs to improve his reading but has been thrown out of every school he ever attended. A father brings in his grown daughter because he learned to read with us ten years ago. This is as it should be. Literacy programs belong in public libraries. They belong here because when our adult learners and their tutors complete a project like the one we did last summer, where they chose an inspiring quotation, wrote it down, and explained how it applies to their lives, we can hang their works in a lobby where thousands of community members can share in their accomplishments and pride. They belong here because we can offer a wide variety of reading materials and techniques, whereas schools are subject to the vagaries of educational trends and publishing. We keep our literacy materials for the long-term collection. What worked for someone in 1995 may be out of print, but it may be just the thing that helps someone in 2003. Reading is about connection. That connection may lead to an idea, a person, a skill, or a specific set of instructions. Our adult learners know what they need to be connected with. We do our best to help them to make that connection. We do so with a combination of resources that comes together naturally in every public library. We have Internet access to the finest research-based instructional information. Our staff culls the most useful items and shares them with the volunteer tutors. The tutors use the information to provide the most useful instruction they can for our learners. They can apply these techniques by using any of the thousands of items we hold in an established, deliberate, accessible literacy collection, because we are a library, not just a storeroom. All of this makes it possible to offer an adult literacy program that is highly personalized and, therefore, relevant and
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effective. The learners tell us what they want to achieve with their reading and writing, and we help them to meet their goals. Because of the extensive resources available, each learner uses a unique mix of materials and methods. These are made available by the literacy coordinator, who initially interviews and works with each learner and trains each tutor. We stress that the tutor will be learning along with the learner, as new materials and methods are introduced during the time they work together. This approach incorporates our recognition that training tutors is also about connection, an ongoing responsi- Reading is about connection. Literacy programs belong in public libraries. When we have a literacy program, we make good on our promise that we are open to all. bility that must be met through consistent contact with the participants. This way we can identify the learners' current needs and the tutors' current efforts, so we can evaluate the effectiveness of current methods and materials. This responsive and flexible approach allows us to serve literacy patrons with diverse needs and helps us to retain experienced tutors. Our learners come to us for many different reasons. One man is learning so that he can get further education that will lead to a different line of work. Another has studied to pass the various exams needed for progressive certification as a mechanic. Our longest-standing student is a woman of eighty-one who is writing her life story, recalling the days of sharecropping, wagons, and herbal cures in rural Florida. In sharp contrast, our newest participant wants to pursue a career in cosmetology. All of our learners are working on their reading to keep up with the variety of literacy demands imposed by daily life. Virtually every one of our learners has told us that life will be better when they read. Better. That holds for the elderly gentleman who is learning to read his Bible, as well as for the young woman writing to her brother in a distant prison. Reading is about connection. Literacy programs belong in public libraries. When we have a literacy program, we make good on our promise that we are open to all. What about the Library? Steven Bouchard Head of Adult Services, Auburn (Maine) Public Library, and Executive Board Chair, Literacy Volunteers-Androscoggin; [email protected] Many public libraries across the country are on the front lines in providing basic literacy services as they coordinate various literacy programs in their communities. But what should the role of the library be in a community that already has an agency providing literacy programs? In a word, the answer is support. Lewiston and Auburn are adjoining mill towns on the banks of the Androscoggin River in south central Maine. Like
many New England mill towns, the community includes a large number of former workers, many descended from ethnic immigrants, who have been economically and socially displaced by the decline of the mill industries. More recently, the community has received an influx of nearly 2,000 immigrants from Somalia, who chose to relocate to Lewiston-Auburn from their original resettlement site of Atlanta, Georgia. Because of these and other factors, one in five adults in Androscoggin County functions at a low literacy level, a rate that mirrors the national average. In addition, the number of people who need English as a Second Language (ESL) services has dramatically increased. Our community is fortunate to be served by Literacy Volunteers-Androscoggin, a well-established affiliate of Literacy Volunteers Maine and Pro-Literacy America. The agency is managed by two paid staff members (a full-time director and a part-time assistant), rents its own office space, and operates on an annual budget of approximately $60,000, most of which is funded by the local United Way. Admittedly, our agency is a long way from relieving south central Maine of the daunting problem of illiteracy. But on the positive side, many people in Lewiston-Auburn are improving their literacy skills in demonstrable ways because of their access to an accredited, well-organized agency managed by highly capable staff and offering a full complement of tutoring services. The agency has recently launched a successful annual fund campaign and increased the director's position from thirty to forty hours per week. It has experienced a 50 percent increase in the number of active students and secured funding to hire a full-time VISTA volunteer to develop an ESL conversation program. Clearly the agency is experiencing a period of vibrancy and growth. So where does this leave the library? As valuable as a local literacy agency may be in providing ongoing literacy services to a community, the reality is that many such agencies struggle with the problems of providing a much needed, labor-intensive, volunteer-based service while being woefully understaffed and underfunded. The local public library, with its particular set of resources, can have a powerful impact on the ability of a literacy agency to grow and succeed by providing valuable support to the agency in a variety of areas: 1. Expertise. Some literacy agencies are fortunate enough to employ paid staff to manage their programs. Professional staffers may have expertise in literacy issues, social work, nonprofit management, or grant writing. But since they are often very small, agency staffs generally have all they can handle meeting the day-to-day recruiting, training, monitoring, reporting, and assessment needs of a program that manages scores of students and tutors. Because of this, these agencies must often rely on volunteers, not only to provide actual tutoring services, but also to develop many other facets of a healthy literacy program. Some library staff members have formal training in the areas of literacy or ESL education, and this expertise can be invaluable to a small literacy agency in the areas of tutor training, program development, and student intake assessment. But it's important to realize the types of expertise an agency might need from a local public library are not necessarily limited to the area of literacy issues. Areas such as fund-raising, marketing, and personnel management, which might necessarily be viewed as unattainable "luxuries" by overworked agency staffs, are vitally important to the long-term health of a successful nonprofit agency.
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These are all areas in which experienced public librarians are likely to have developed some valuable insight, if not outright expertise, over the course of their careers. 2. A pool of core supporters who are naturally committed to literacy. Libraries are staffed by people who recognize the value of reading and wish to help others experience that value. While library staff members are not necessarily well versed in literacy issues, they are apt to be interested in literacy as a social problem and to be curious about why some adults never learned how to read. The natural, ongoing interest of a positive, energetic library staff can spark further interest in the community and be a source of moral support to staff members who devote time and energy as volunteers. Of course, individual staff members will become involved in different ways and to different degrees. Some of our local public library staff members support our Literacy Volunteers agency by taking part, as players or organizers, in the agency's annual Scrabble tournament fund-raiser, in which local organizations form teams and collect sponsors to compete. Other staff members provide story times to groups in the family literacy program, which models reading as an important activity for parents to share with their children. Still others present tutor enrichment workshops to help agency tutors find interesting but appropriate reading materials to excite their students. Staff members answer telephones during agency fund-raising drives, serve on the agency's executive board, and contribute to the agency's annual fund campaign. The initial reluctance of some staff members to participate often disappears when they become better informed about the wide variety of volunteer opportunities available and discover agency needs that match their interests and talents. 3. Collections and materials. Some literacy agencies are fortunate enough to have small, in-house collections of curriculum materials for the use of their tutors and students. But even so, many students and tutors face an ongoing struggle to find engaging materials in adult students' areas of interest that are appropriate for their beginner reading levels. So, while providing collections of materials designed for adult new readers and ESL students remains a vital and natural role for public libraries, the library can help students and their tutors still further by providing help with finding aids to materials found beyond the Adult New Reader section that might be readable and of interest to mature adults who happen to be new readers. Some of the materials we suggest on our Adult New Reader lists include newspapers and magazines, graphic novels, almanacs and books of lists, and coffee table books with photographs and captions. It's also helpful to keep reading levels in mind when developing the library's regular collections. We shelve much of our young adult nonfiction in with our general nonfiction on the grounds that, since adults in our community read at various levels, many adults are just as likely as young adults to benefit from access to briefer, more basic treatments of many subjects. And of course, for those
who enjoy practicing their reading skills in a more interactive environment, access to the library's Internet workstations is another real benefit. It's worth noting that libraries can be intimidating places for adults with reading difficulties. Many adult new readers venture into their local public libraries for the first time in the company of their tutors. So it's important for public libraries to create a welcoming environment in which students and their tutors will have success finding reading materials of value to them. The simple act of getting a library card is a major achievement for many adult new readers, which can enhance their self-esteem and instill in them a sense of ownership for their public library. 4. Space. While some literacy agencies are fortunate enough to have their own office space, these agencies are still likely to need access to additional community space to hold tutor-training workshops, post displays, and for tutors and students to meet. The latter is especially vital because many agencies encourage their tutors and students to meet in a safe, neutral, public environment--rather than in a private home--for safety and liability reasons. Since many public libraries are centrally located, easily accessible via public transportation, and, increasingly, provide quality study space designed for pairs and small groups, they are often ideal venues to meet the public space needs of a local literacy agency. In a nutshell, even if there is a literacy agency in your community, the public library should be an active partner. Start by making a commitment to have a library representative on the agency's board. This is a natural product of the library's mission. It leads to effective communication between the two organizations and helps the library to develop collections and services that complement, rather than duplicate, those of the agency. The agency in turn benefits by gaining more effective access to resources it needs, helping it grow and thrive. Everybody wins! Conclusion "I learned to read at the library!" Think of how many hundreds of people can say that now--and how many more will be able to say it in the future because of programs like these. The purpose of this column is to offer varied perspectives on subjects of interest to the public library profession. All correspondence should be directed to the contributing editors. Hampton (Skip) Auld is Assistant Director, Chesterfield County Public Library, 9501 Lori Rd., Chesterfield, VA 23832-0297, (804) 748-1767; [email protected] Nann Blaine Hilyard is Director, Zion-Benton Public Library, 2400 Gabriel Ave., Zion, IL 60099; [email protected]
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Book Talk provides authors' perspectives on libraries, books, technology, and information.
A Slave to Reading An Interview with Annie Proulx Brendan Dowling Annie Proulx is the author of six books, including Postcards, The Shipping News, and Accordion Crimes. She has received numerous awards for her work, including the Pen-Faulkner Award and the Pulitzer Prize, and her short stories are frequently selected to appear in best-of anthologies. She spoke with Brendan Dowling via telephone on September 16, 2003, during a promotional tour for her most recent novel, That Old Ace in the Hole. Public Libraries: Your stories are frequently about people on the edges of civilization-- Annie Proulx: I beg your pardon, sir. Rural places are not the edges of civilization. PL: I apologize. But areas of life that the general public doesn't know about-- AP: There you go again. You're talking about urban people as the only people in the world who count as being real people while people who live in rural areas are somehow subhuman? PL: Maybe I should phrase it as, "What it is about these characters, who aren't often talked about in popular literature, that attracts you?" AP: Right, most people write about suburban or personal or urban affairs. I write about rural areas by choice; I live in rural areas. I have for almost my entire life except for brief stints in New York City and Tokyo, which I figured was my lifetime's worth of urban life. I'm keenly interested in the rural surroundings partly because they are neglected. Urban people and power centers--they're seen as places for use: use of extraction for minerals or crops or products of some kind. Or for disposal of unwanted wastes that the cities won't have. And this colonial attitude is something that really irritates the hell out of people who live in rural areas. It's hard to take being treated like invisible people or people who simply don't count. And I write about these people and these places because I like them. PL: A lot of times when rural areas are depicted in books there's a quaintness associated with them that's not present in your
books--their fight against the physical surroundings play a predominant role. AP: It's more complicated than that. It's not battles against the elements. What I'm talking about is that there are still on this continent pockets of individuality. We're not becoming a more homogenous culture, we're just becoming a less exploratory kind of people. We don't go to places where there are different accents and different mores and rural cultures, which are many. It's a very rich continent in terms of small cultures and interesting small local places and regions. PL: Why do you think these places aren't more studied? AP: The people who live in them are simply not seen as important. They're dispensable people to urban centers and all of the decisions that affect rural places are made in corporate headquarters and in large cities and governments. This idea that people who live in rural places are fiercely independent and so forth is a bit of a joke because they have no control over what happens to them. The reason I write about these people also is because I'm interested in their history. I'm interested in the complete background of a place. So I take a look at the geography, climate, prevailing winds, all of the things that make up a place. I'm interested in how people make their living, what the economy is based on, and usually take it from there: the flora and fauna, the topography, all that sort of thing. It's a bit like what the French winegrowers refer to as terroir, meaning not just the soil in which their wines are growing, but everything: weather, climate, latitude, longitude. And that's rather how I regard my characters: as grapevines. PL: What is your research process like? AP: There isn't really a process. It's a question of research and research comes in many, many forms. From eavesdropping to widespread reading of everything from serious scientific reportage on a region, I'm speaking then of geology and soil studies and that sort of thing, to history, especially Local History, which I'm quite fond of. What brought people first into the region? What had they done and how many manifestations of life has the region been through since the first settlers came by? What was there before they came? What is it like now? Are they coming, are they going, are they staying? Is there some kind of cultural/social stasis that's been reached? And when I'm through with the research which usually takes two to three years if it's a novel, then I start to write. And I'm never working on one thing at a time, it's always a number of things. PL: Where did your love of reading and this intense research process from? AP: That seems to be a two- or three-part question. My interest in reading began very early. I learned to read when I was about four and I don't think a book has ever been out of my hands since. I'm completely a slave to books. I adore reading, I
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photo credit: Isolde Ohlbaum
do it all time. I've often thought that it would be an ideal life to be tossed into prison as long as you had access to a great library. I adore books, I've always read, and I've always read widely. I don't read much fiction actually, I read a lot more nonfiction, science, what are called "earth studies," that sort of thing, biography, and history. I was trained as a historian, and I guess more or less my approach comes from those days of studying history. It was particularly the Annales school, the French school, of history that was my background. And you do indeed start with bedrock--literally--and work your way forward. PL: What role did libraries play in your life? Annie Proulx AP: Well it used to be that that's where books were. I have haunted libraries most of my life until recently when it's getting harder and harder to find a library-- small town libraries in particular have gotten rid of their good books and replaced them with a plethora of murder mysteries and crime novels and romances, which I think is a pity. But their loss is my gain because lots of libraries sell off their books for very low prices like ten cents or a quarter, and I've often found wonderful things at these library sales and they can go out and buy all the mysteries they want. So actually my own library now has replaced public libraries. I do use the University of Wyoming library, which for my purposes is excellent. It has an astonishingly good collection of Western history. And I think that's partly because of the English philanthropist who gave very heavily to Yale and the University of Wyoming for the study of American Western history so they've got a wonderful collection. PL: Where do you see contemporary writing heading? AP: Well just when I think there's no hope left something wonderful comes along, and something wonderful did come along this year. Tim Gautreaux who lives in Louisiana has written one of the best books I've read in decades, a really, really wonderful novel called The Clearing. Just out in the last month or so. And it's a novel of place and people. The writing is beautifully crafted. The thing has huge strength and power of evocation. It's the story of the clearing out--the cutting of a cypress swamp in Louisiana after the first World War. It's a wonderful book, a very strong novel. And [also] I like the Irish writers.
PL: What about them attracts you? AP: The fact that they can write like blue blazes. Superb, superb writers! Just extraordinary. Just the quality of the writing, the sentence structure, the care, the playfulness with words, the vast range of ideas, the music of Irish writing is strong. Somehow American writers don't have that. Once in a while they do but generally speaking they do not. PL: What accounts for this lack with American writers? AP: I have no idea. Probably because we're not a nation of readers, we don't really respect books and the word. We're more interested in money and success and material possessions and getting ahead and careers. A lot of Americans simply don't read at all. A lot of writers I know don't read, they always say they don't want to spoil their own style, which is ridiculous. PL: What are you working on right now? AP: I'm not working on any novels at the moment. In the last collection of short stories I did, which was called Close Range: Wyoming Stories, there were a number of stories I wanted to include in that collection but I simply did not have time to complete. So I'm working on those now, so there will be a second collection of Wyoming Stories. PL: How has all of the attention you've received in the past ten years affected your life? AP: Well, it's a lot more traveling, a lot of speaking engagements and running around, a lot more money. I guess just an intensity of schedule would be the most succinct way of putting it. Brendan Dowling interviewed Annie Proulx via telephone on September 16, 2003. If you have any suggestions of authors you would like to see featured in By the Book, or if you are interested in volunteering to be an author-interviewer, contact the contributing editors: Kathleen Hughes is Managing Editor of Public Libraries, and Brendan Dowling is the Editorial Assistant. Both can be reached at the Public Library Association, 50 E. Huron St., Chicago, IL 60611; [email protected], [email protected]
Final Registration Deadline Nears
The final advance registration deadline for the PLA Conference is January 23, 2004. Don't miss this opportunity to join thousands of your public library colleagues as they come together to learn, network, conduct business, and social-
ize at the best conference for the public library world, PLA 2004 (February 24­28, 2004, Seattle, Washington). Visit to register online or call 1-800-545-2433, ext. 5752, to have the form sent to you.
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Internet Spotlight explores Internet and Web topics relevant to librarians in the public library sector. Your input is welcome.
Library Weblogs Steven M. Cohen When Walt Crawford published his article on librarians who maintain weblogs in his column "The Crawford Files" in the October 2001 issue of American Libraries, there were only a handful to mention.1 I was one of the librarians interviewed by Crawford for the column and was proud to have my weblog mentioned in such company as LISNews ( and (, to name a few. Crawford's column delved into an introduction of weblogs, the making of a weblog, and the reasons behind writing a weblog for the library community, all of which were fine for a piece on weblogs written two years ago. But there have been changes in the library weblog world. Countless weblogs have been launched by information professionals, new technology has been utilized to post to and maintain a weblog for our profession, and the types of weblogs that have been started are, in effect, different than those that were around before Crawford's column was published. Weblogs, or blogs, have been defined as online journals, published chronologically, with links to and commentary on various issues. Blogs are easy to create and publish for many reasons. First, one need not know how to create a Web page. The software will do that for you as they all have built-in templates. Second, the weblog writer does not have to secure any space on a server as most weblog tools provide free space. The only work that the weblog writer needs to accomplish is write. It's that simple. This ease of online publishing has made weblogs an international phenomenon, and numerous librarians and library workers have created them over the past six years. In March 2002, I spoke at the Computers in Libraries Conference with Blake Carver on the topic of "Weblogs: Their Impact on Delivering Information." At the beginning of the presentation, I asked the audience, which consisted of at least three hundred people, to raise their hand if they knew and understood weblog technology. Only thirty out of the three hundred attendees replied that they did. The rest wanted, and received, an explanation, which made the presentation a successful one. The next year, at the Computers in Libraries Conference, during a presentation titled "Keeping Current in 40 Minutes or Less," I asked the same question to a crowd of the same number, and only ten or so people didn't raise their hand. The fact is, more and more librarians are writing down their ideas in weblog format. The differences that I have seen over the past few years with the new library weblog writers are worthy of discussion in this column, since this "New Breed" will bring much to the library weblog world that its successor generation will be sure to forage from as well. Thus, our little "Blogosphere" will continue to expand and grow to limitless possibilities. While it is
impossible to discuss all of the New Breeders, I did pick out seven webloggers I have been fond of throughout the past year who bring different ideas to the library weblog table. Thus, this column will not only explore the new library weblog writers who have burst onto the scene, but the reasons why so many have done so. There are many reasons why librarians have started focusing on weblog technology. Many started to work on their webmaster skills; while others wanted an outlet for their writing and felt that publishing to the Web via weblog technology was the easiest way to do it. Some do it for the fun of it, while others are trying to create a niche for themselves. (For more on these niches, see Marylaine Block's article "Creating Your Niche on the Net" at Jonathan, the writer behind Liberry Blooze (, laments, "When I started this blog in October of last year, I didn't see much in the way of library blogs that interested me. As with all types of blogs, my awareness of interesting library bloggers (and my own publicity) grew through linking. Word is getting around, more people are doing it, and I think blogging is a great, casual way to stay informed and sane." Stephanie Wright of Technobiblio ( had a similar experience as she was "listening to librarians talk about how hard it is to keep track of what's going on with technology and how nice it would be to have info that was specific to what they were interested in." One of the differences between the "New Breed" and the "Old School" is that most of the new writers have experience as weblog readers. Anna, writer for Tangognat (www.tangognat. com), relayed, "I'd been reading blogs for around a year before I decided to blog myself." Some new weblog writers got their ideas via other professional development avenues. Michael Stephens, author of Tame the Web ( mstephens7/B143020931/), stated, "I started the Tame the Web blog after returning from Computers in Libraries [conference] 2003 and hearing numerous speakers praise the usefulness of blogging, reading blogs and keeping current." Those information professionals who started more than three years ago to write for the Web in weblog format were able to learn from other types of professionals who were already striving in the field (i.e., IT people). The "New Breed" can utilize their own colleagues for this same purpose. Librarians learning from and helping other librarians. What a neat concept! Another issue that has come into play with new library weblog writers is that there is only a certain number of topics in librarianship that can be discussed. This has driven librarians to write about the issues that they are faced with on the job each day. Cathy Fahey of the Library Girl (www.toomanybooks. com/librarygirl) weblog mentions, "I started my blog because there didn't seem to be anything like it on the Web (blogs dealing with high school libraries and teen reading from an adult/ educator perspective). Despite my efforts to actually write about teen reading, it's ended up being a place where I write about answers to reference questions, and link to articles that I pass on to faculty and staff." Nat, who writes the hilarious I Contemplate ( weblog, relayed the following about library weblogs: "One thing I
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noticed was that all of them (or so it seems) were by librarians, or at least individuals with MLS degrees. None of them were by the `ordinary' paraprofessionals, the library assistants or clerks. You know, the guys on the front line of public service who tell patrons how much they have in overdue fines." I have always believed that the more library workers (including paraprofessionals who make our libraries run smoothly) write about their experiences in their building, the more that workers in similar positions to them can learn from them. While the number of weblogs continues to grow, and the time it takes to read them increases, it would be useful to become more focused in our writing as well as in our reading. Subject specific weblogs in the library community are growing at a quick and exponential pace. With Greg Schwartz, I have started LIS Blogsource (www., a weblog about library weblogs which includes posts of newly created weblogs that are written by librarians. In a span of two months, we have had sixty new entries. Some of them are informational (dealing with the librarianship as a theme or subtheme), and some are personal online journals that wouldn't normally be noticed by the library community and occasionally dab into librarianship in the writing. They just happen to be written by librarians or library workers. Michael Simanoff ( writes of his own weblog, "I've never been able to clearly delineate its focus, but it represents my varied interests, with posts on books, comics, music, librarianship, the Internet, and life in New York City." Greg Schwartz of Open Stacks (http://openstacks.lishost. com/os) mentions that his weblog "began largely as an academic experiment in daily web publishing, an opportunity to contribute my voice to the growing chorus of Internet faithful. In a few short months, it developed from a quiet home for my myriad interests into an ongoing journal of my training and development as a practicing professional." It is common for the themes of library weblogs to change over the course of time, as the writer tries to settle into his or her new space, and sometimes, new-found fame. Freedrich Emrich of Information Commons Weblog ( mentions, "As things have progressed, I have come to interpret this mission relatively broadly. Sometimes the posts on Commons-blog deal with theoretical issues related to the information commons, other times they are driven by news events." Many of the newer library weblog writers find solace in the small but determined library weblog community, which did not exist three years ago. Greg Schwartz states, "Through blogging, I've had the opportunity (and developed the confidence) to discuss issues and exchange ideas with a diverse and active group of LIS professionals. The community that has taken an interest in my writing inspires me to publish in other venues and has produced opportunities that would not have manifested otherwise." With this sense of community comes a feeling of camaraderie that penetrates the barriers that exist within our physical buildings. Like Usenet and electronic discussion lists, weblogs have become an outlet for the average librarian to connect with others around the world, exchange ideas, and belong to a group. Fredrich Emrich explains, "I am also very pleased with the feeling of community that develops among webloggers. It isn't so much that I get warm and fuzzy feelings about [the] online community when I blog. But because blogs make it very easy to link and refer to other information online, and because of the blog etiquette of telling where you saw something when you write about it in your blog, there is certainly a feeling of developing networks of information." In addition, Anna of Tangognat writes, "I've met many new (virtual) col-
leagues, [have] been inspired to learn about new technology, and I feel much more connected to librarianship as a blogger than I ever have before." Another aspect of the newer library weblog writers is the tendency toward anonymity. Sure, the weblog in its pure form allows that outlet of writing exactly how we feel about certain aspects of our jobs and personal lives, and many do not want their identity revealed. Jonathan, the library worker behind Liberry Blooze, decided to shut down his weblog in early September due to the breach of his identity. Luckily for me, an avid Liberry Blooze reader, he brought his witty and intelligent site back online a few weeks later. "Tangognat," who gave me the name Anna to use in this article, also does not tell her readers her full name, nor reveal where she works as a librarian. On a last note, one aspect that any weblog writer (whether a "new breed" or not) should concentrate more on is the potential to use the weblog as a marketing tool for their professional career. Sure, many are only using it as a personal diary, but for those who, more often than not, discuss library issues, the potential for growth is enormous. For example, I wouldn't be writing this column or speaking at national library conferences if I hadn't started writing professionally in my weblog three years ago. I have been lucky enough to have become fairly well known in the library weblog world due to my constant work in updating my weblog on a daily basis, discussing major issues relevant in our profession, as well as continuously reinventing myself as writer. The newer weblog writers have the opportunity to expand themselves personally and, more importantly, professionally by continuing their efforts as library weblog pioneers. Those who haven't started a weblog, but are pondering doing so, should get started right away. While there are many weblog software tools available, users may want to try Blogger (, MoveableType (, or Live Journal ( to get started. All three publishing tools are easy to use, cost next to nothing, and can have a weblog up and running in a matter of minutes. Step right up to the plate, and let me know if you have any questions. Steven M. Cohen is Assistant Librarian at the law firm of Rivkin Radler, LLP. He can be reached at [email protected] Reference 1. Walt Crawford, "The E-Files: `You Must Read This:' Library Weblogs," American Libraries 32, no. 9 (Oct. 2001): 74­76. Resources Creating Your Niche on the Net-- I Contemplate-- Information Commons Liberry Blooze-- Library continued on page 32
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Tech Talk explores issues that public librarians face when they offer electronic services and content. It aims to create a bridge between the practical and theoretical issues related to technology.
Technology and Literacy A. Paula Wilson It is a given that reading is fundamental to the business that libraries provide. Not only is reading required for customers to take advantage of the vast resources available at the library, but library users must read in order to be productive members of society, parents to their children, employees at their jobs, and participatory citizens. Library and community-based literacy programs address many forms of literacy in addition to teaching adults how to read. Literacy programs may encompass any one or a combination of the following focuses depending on the needs of the community: Adult high school (AHS) Children's literacy Compensatory education (CED) Early childhood literacy English as a Second Language (ESL)/English as a Second or Other Language (ESOL) Family literacy Financial literacy General educational development (GED) Human resources development (HRD) or workplace liter- acy Information literacy Web-based literacy course materials and software allow students to gain knowledge through the use of technology, providing a dual purpose--the acquisition of literacy knowledge and the use of computers. In literacy programs, not only is technology prevalent in the delivery of instruction but it also facilitates evaluating the programs and tracking students, teachers, and their progress. Program administrators who want to introduce technology into their literacy classrooms can start by developing a technology plan that evaluates the needs of the students and teachers, current resources, and budgetary concerns. The technology plan should identify software needs, the hardware required to run it, and Internet connectivity. The computer competencies of the staff, tutors, and volunteers should also be assessed. Once a technology plan is created, program administrators can begin the following process: Step 1: Identify software titles. Step 2: Determine hardware requirements of each piece of can- didate software.
Step 3: Create an inventory of existing hardware. Step 4: Obtain software preview copies. Step 5: Determine evaluation criteria and conduct software evaluations. Step 6: Determine how students will use the software and explore ways teachers can integrate the software into instruction. Step 7: Compare existing hardware with the hardware requirements for each piece of candidate software. Step 8: Determine the cost of software and hardware for each of the candidate packages. Step 9: Select a software package and its associated hardware.1 Accountability and Program Management The following legislation and initiatives serve as source documents for literacy program administrators who must follow specified guidelines for implementation and assessing the progress of their program. Funding sources may mandate that the program follow specific reporting guidelines. Administrators should be familiar with required reporting standards and whether assessment software is aligned with measurement benchmarks that may be found in these documents and initiatives: Workforce Investment Act of 1998 National Skills Standards Board Initiatives National Reporting System for Adult Education Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) SCANS (Secretary's Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills) Equipped for the Future (National Institute for Literacy) Teacher Aids Scores of resources exist to enable literacy instructors to create custom curricula or use materials from other successful programs. Additionally, many case studies and best practices are available on the Internet. The resources below provide administrators and instructors with information regarding technology planning and the use of technology in the literacy classroom. Ask Us About: Technology Planning A variety of links to tools and step-by-step guides for creating technology plans.
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Comprehensive Adult Student Assessment System (CASAS) 5151 Murphy Canyon Rd., Suite 220 San Diego, CA 92123-4339 1-800-255-1036 CASAS is used in a variety of adult education programs and offers three types of appraisal testing for student placement in the program. Pre-tests provide a baseline to assess student progress, post-tests demonstrate how much a student has learned as a result of the instruction. Level exit or certification tests determine if the student is ready to move on to the next level. The software allows program administrators and instructors to interpret results, use assessment data for evaluation, and support continuous program improvement. Centers for Reading and Writing, New York Public Library, Annotated Software List Provides description and contact information on more than thirty software titles that cover English, math, reading, typing, and life skills. Last updated on June 15, 2000. National LINCS Regional Pilot Programs Sponsored by the National Institute for Literacy, this Web site provides a gateway to adult education and literacy resources. The site provides a brief description of fourteen pilot projects that focus on developing interactive multimedia lesson plans and curriculum materials. Sample projects include the creation of a Web-based voter resource guide for adult literacy and ESL learners and curriculum that is tailored toward low skill-level literacy with an emphasis on local legal information. OTAN for Teachers: Technology Provides general information about the Internet, technology planning, distance education, and hardware and software issues. Tech21 Tech 21 is a collaborative effort among several agencies to incorporate technology such as videoconferencing, digital broadcasting, and the Internet in the instruction of adult learners. Partners in this effort include the National Center on Adult Literacy, Sacramento County Office of Education, and National Adult Education Professional Development Consortium, Inc. Brooklyn Public Library serves as one of seven field sites. Visitors can find documents outlining best practices by selecting `Tech News' from the main menu. Technology Integration Institute Provides course materials for professionals to prepare a two-day workshop on implementing technology into literacy programs. This site includes detailed information about the materials and preparation necessary to conduct the workshop, an annotated agenda, and links to many adult education resources. Captured Wisdom on Adult Literacy Instructors provide background information on specific lesson plans and students. Video and audio recordings tell the story of how teachers use several lesson plans to
teach adult literacy including workplace literacy and preGED skills. Learner Aids Many software titles exist to support a variety of literacy programs. Literacy administrators must identify the software that supports the particular goals and objectives of their program. The following titles are a sampling of free and fee-based ($) resources supporting adult reading programs. (free) A dynamic online classroom environment which allows students to participate in self-paced tutorials to develop skills in workplace literacy and GED preparation. Teachers and students interact via messages by reviewing student portfolios and leaving comments about their work. ($) Learning Express 900 Broadway, Ste. 604 New York, NY 10003 1-888-551-5627 Offers online interactive practice exams covering adult basic education, work force literacy, GED, and many civil service preparation tests. Rosetta Stone Online ($) Fairfield Language Technologies 135 W. Market St. Harrisonburg, VA 22801 1-800-788-0822 Interactive multimedia learning modules for many languages, including English. They are vailable online through LearnATest or through a stand-alone subscription. Plato ($) PLATO Learning 10801 Nesbitt Ave. S. Bloomington, MN 55437 1-800-447-5286 An interactive assessment tool and self-paced learning courseware for adult education, ESL, and GED preparation. Aligns to national standards. ELLIS ($) ELLIS 406 West 10600 South, Ste. 610 Salt Lake City, UT 84095 (801) 858-0880 Multimedia self-paced instructional modules on basic English language skills and English as a Second Language courseware. The traditional role of the library in teaching reading has expanded greatly not only through literacy programs that teach students to read but also to comprehend and understand the meaning of words in many contexts. This allows adults to flourish in their roles as community members, parents, employees, and business owners. Libraries may partner with other continued on page 32
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InterViews is an occasional column highlighting unique perspectives, individuals, and institutions in the library world.
Making Meaning An Interview with Elizabeth Birr Moje Linda W. Braun Elizabeth Birr Moje is Associate Professor of Educational Studies in the Literacy, Language, and Culture unit at the University of Michigan. She teaches courses in literacy, cultural theory, and qualitative research methods. Moje's career began as a history and biology teacher, and after several years in the classroom she went on to receive a masters degree in reading education and a Ph.D. in literacy and language. Moje has spent many years researching and writing about the literacy practices and needs of adolescents, particularly those who are considered high-risk, specifically teens in gangs. Moje spoke with Linda Braun about adolescent literacy, the literacy needs of underserved teens, and the role of libraries in the lives of at-risk and underserved teens. Public Libraries: How do you define the phrase "adolescent literacy"? Elizabeth Birr Moje: That's a complex question since there are many different perspectives on it. At the most basic level, adolescent literacy could be just about reading and writing--the encoding and decoding of print. However, some people are looking at the reading and writing aspects of adolescent literacy without considering comprehension at all. That is a very narrow way of looking at it. The comprehension piece is important, and one needs to even go beyond that to the interpretation and making meaning piece. PL: What do you mean by the interpretation and making meaning piece? EBM: Literacy includes both understanding text, what the author is trying to say, and then making meaning of it. The meaning one person makes might be different than the meaning someone else might make. Adolescents also need to be able to make meaning across texts. By that I mean that a teen needs to make meaning out of one text and then make meaning of that text in the context of another text. That's a place where even those who successfully comprehend texts face challenges when in the upper grades. That is what makes adolescent literacy so important and so unique; as you age, you are asked to synthesize ideas across texts. And these might be ideas in a print text or that are a part of oral language.
PL: Have you noticed differences in the literacy skill of teens from different family environments? EBM: If you grow up in a family where language and literacy are a common part of daily practice, then it's easy to crack the code that is valued in schools and mainstream social settings. But, for nonmainstream families, those codes may not be part of the family or community practices. And still, the young people I work with are sophisticated users of language and text. My research team works with young people who are dual-language speakers, and we find that they may have a bit of an advantage over kids who are aren't necessarily dual-language speakers, people for whom the language play isn't as obvious or an explicit part of everyday life. Many of the kids we work with know that there are times to speak different languages--there are times when I speak English and times when I speak Spanish--and that there are conventions for different languages. This is true of the boys in particular who work outside their homes. One youth told an interviewer, "I have to speak straight in front of my boss because he's a white guy." The context of the job demands that they have to speak what the youths consider good or "proper" English. They know there are different conventions for different situations. PL: In your work, you talk about symbol systems and how they play a part in adolescent literacy. Can you tell me more about that? EBM: That is the aspect of literacy that is bigger than print. Teens--and people of any age--cannot make sense of written text without other symbol systems or forms of representation. For example, music or mathematics are symbol systems that come into play as adolescents move into increasingly sophisticated content learning, whether it is in school or out of school. As they get older, students in mathematics classes encounter mathematical symbol systems combined with print symbol systems and oral symbol systems. Because they encounter a wider variety of experiences than do young children, adolescents are coming in contact with more and more symbol systems, and then they invent them as well as they write to one another in paper and electronic environments. PL: Do you think that teachers and librarians should try to use symbols that teens invent in the traditional classroom or library environment? EBM: There's a delicate balance to this. I don't encourage bringing gang scripts into the classroom, for example, despite the fact that gang scripts are particularly complex and sophisticated mergings of print and iconic representations. In a general heterogeneous or mixed group, I don't promote that because it could lead to seeming as though librarians or teachers support gang practices across the board. What's more, such inventions may lose their appeal if co-opted by adults. There is value, however, when kids bring their own practices in, when they introduce them. It is important to make a space for youth to read and write about the practices central to their lives and
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A Selected List of Articles by Elizabeth Birr Moje McCarthy, Sarah J., and Elizabeth Birr Moje. "Identity Matters." Reading Research Quarterly 37 (Apr./ May/June 2002): 228­36. Moje, Elizabeth B. "critical issues: Circles of Kinship, Friendship, Position, and Power: Examining the Community in Community-Based Literacy Research." Journal of Literacy Research 32 (2000): 77­112. Moje, Elizabeth B. "To Be Part of the Story: The Literacy Practices of Gangsta Adolescents." Teachers College Record 102 (June 2000): 651­90. Moje, Elizabeth Birr. "Re-framing Adolescent Literacy Research for New Times: Studying Youth as a Resource." Reading Research and Instruction 41 (spring 2002): 211­28. Moje, Elizabeth B., Deborah R. Dillon, and David O'Brien. "Reexamining Roles of Learner, Text, and Context in Secondary Literacy." The Journal of Education Research 93 (Jan./Feb. 2000): 165­80. Moje, Elizabeth Birr, Josephine Peyton Young, John E. Readence, and David W. Moore. "Reinventing Adolescent Literacy for New Times: Perennial and Millenial Issues." Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy 43 (Feb. 2000): 400­10.
Elizabeth Birr Moje with daughter Avery. to demonstrate their skill with these practices. Part of the reason I do the research I do is to help teachers and librarians to see how skilled kids are with a variety of literacy practices. We assume that young people can't read and write and spell when, if we look closely, we see that they possess amazing skills in all of those areas, but their skill is not with the texts we traditionally value in school. PL: The idea of community is integral to some of your work. Why is this important in the area of adolescent literacy? EBM: The community really shapes people's choices about what they are willing to read and what they are willing to access. For example, if you walk into a space [community] and aren't comfortable there, or if you are identified in ways that don't fit with your own sense of self, or are dangerous, you are probably not going to go back. If the library is situated in a space where you feel bothered, or where you have to perform an identity as opposed to enacting one, that's not a good thing. If kids walk into a library space and feel they have to perform something or feel that whatever they perform will be marginalized, they will not come back, no matter what is offered in terms of literacy enrichment, language enrichment, technology, and so on. The choices of things we read are shaped in the communities in which we live. All of that comes together to help us make sense of texts. We are able to make sense of texts because of the people we interact with. Space, time, and relationships all play a part in making meaning. The books we read shape our iden-
tities, relationships, and vice versa. It becomes an iterative relationship. PL: In your work with teens, is the public library ever a part of a teen's day-to-day experience? EBM: The kids I work with go to the library for Internet use. A couple of the sites they go to are really interesting. Some of them go to gang task force sites and they read what is on the site. One of the longest pieces of prose I've ever seen them read was on a gang task force site. In Detroit, some of the kids I work with go to a site called The site has chat rooms and there is a shout-out board. Kids are posting poems, and other kids are reading them and responding to them. There is a chat-room feel, but [the writing is] very much like [what] we would like to see in writing classrooms. In the time I've spent in Detroit (starting my sixth year of data collection), I think I've seen three kids, all girls, holding a novel. (Of course, I'm not with them all the time.) When I ask the boys, they never talk about reading novels. They are reading magazines and newspapers. They search for music on the Internet. PL: From your experience, what could a library provide to teens in order to serve their literacy needs? EBM: Sometimes I think we are working too hard to make reading novels something that everyone has to enjoy and is enriched by. Whether we have different learning preferences or strengths, we are drawn to different things. Maybe our goal shouldn't be to get people to read novels. It would be great if teens were given opportunities to engage in informational texts.
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Libraries could team up with teen centers and get kids in who are interested in reading their own poetry and published poetry. The kids I work with, kids from all walks of life, would be interested in something like that, depending on where it was and how comfortable they felt in that place--that fits with the community piece we talked about earlier--and the context Team up with teen centers and get kids in who are interested in reading their own poetry and published poetry. . . . Also, peer-led literature discussions can be pretty interesting. that's created for adolescents in the library. Imagine if you tried to build library programs that connect different kinds of kids who feel like outsiders. Also, peer-led literature discussions can be pretty interesting. PL: What would you suggest a librarian read to learn more about adolescent literacy? EBM: It would be good for librarians to get inside the topic of adolescent literacy through some of the ethnographic studies. A recent collection edited by Donna Alvermann would be a great place to start.1 They can find out what kids care about outside of school and see the passion and the skill the kids bring to texts. The work of James Gee on literacy as a discourse and what it really means to engage in literacy is good reading.2 There are also classic texts like Ways with Words by Shirley Brice Heath that give readers a sense of how there are different cultural and community-based practices that shape kids' literacy.3 Linda W. Braun is a consultant with LEO: Librarians and Educators Online in New York City. She interviewed Elizabeth Birr Moje by telephone on June 17, 2003; [email protected] References 1. Donna E. Alvermann, ed. Adolescents and Literacies in a Digital World. New York: Peter Lang Publishing, 2002. 2. James Gee, Social Linguistics and Literacies: Ideology in Discourses. London: Taylor and Francis, 1999. 3. Shirley Brice Heath, Ways with Words. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Pr., 1983.
INTERNET SPOTLIGHT continued from page 27 LIS Live Movable Open Stacks-- TECH TALK continued from page 29 community-based programs that may have the technological means, but not the staff for literacy programs, or vice-versa. Use of computers in the delivery of adult literacy may initially appear as an impediment to learning; however, in an information-driven society, computer use may actually serve as an incentive for students to learn to read. Assessment and reporting of the program's progress has required literacy administrators to evaluate the methods by which this information is tracked and the use of technology to facilitate reporting this information to funding sources. The integration of technology into literacy programs will continue to facilitate all aspects of literacy program delivery and administration as well as provide challenges to administrators, instructors, and students. Author's note: I would like to thank Connie Barker, CALL (Computer-Assisted Literacy in Libraries) Manager at the Las Vegas-Clark County Library District, and Sebastian Gonzalez for providing background information in preparation of this article. A. Paula Wilson is the Adult Services Coordinator at the Maricopa County Library District, 17811 N. 32nd St., Phoenix, AZ 85032-1201; [email protected] The mention of systems and vendors in this column does not constitute an evaluation or an endorsement of the products or services by the Public Library Association or the editors of this magazine. The contributing editor of this column welcomes any comments or questions at the e-mail above. Reference 1. Christoper Hopey, R. Karl Rethemeyer, and Jennifer A. Elmore, Making the Right Choice: Evaluating Computer Software and Hardware for Adult Literacy Instruction, National Center on Adult Literacy (Nov. 1995). Available online at products/ncal/pdf/PG9504.pdf. Accessed Nov. 13, 2003.
Reading Is Fundamental Honors Librarians for Dedication to Students, Literacy
Reading Is Fundamental, Inc., (RIF) has named two librarians as regional winners of the Anne Richardson RIF 2003 Volunteer of the Year award. Vonda Stevens of Bristol, Tennessee, and Donna Teresa of Salinas, California, accepted the awards on
November 5 at a RIF board reception in Washington, D.C. Both have used their roles as school librarians as a way to reach at-risk children and help them to develop a love of reading. By combining RIF book distributions with other literacy activities,
the women agree they are expanding student access to--and interest in--books. RIF ( prepares and motivates children to read by delivering free books and literacy resources to those Children and Families who need them most.
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Read This! It Will Change Your Life The Making of a Creative Reader Peggy Christian I've been a reader as long as I can remember. But in spite of being an English major in college, managing an antiquarian bookstore for twelve years, getting a master's degree in linguistics, and being the author of a number of children's books, it wasn't until I became a literacy tutor that I began to really explore the great creative potential in the act of reading. Join me as I share the discoveries made with my student of how we can all become more interactive and imaginative readers. "A true Reader, that is, one to whom books are like bottles of whiskey to the inebriate, to whom anything that is between covers has a sort of intoxicating savour . . . "--Hugh Walpole1 Dearest reader . . . As I sit here at my desk writing this article for you, I imagine you sitting at your desk, or riding a bus, or curled up in a comfortable reading chair. I imagine that you are like me, that reading has always been one of your favorite activities. You are a librarian after all. And I, being a writer, consider you to be my ideal reader, someone who will take the map of my winding sentences and paragraphs and head off into the wilds of your imagination, bringing my words to life. Without you, my writing would die, entombed in ink and paper. So much has been made over the last twenty years of creative writing. There are graduate courses, and writers' workshops, and scores of how-to books and inspirational books and magazines promising that anyone can be a writer if only they follow a few simple tips. But it hasn't been until the last couple of years that we have seen any credit given to the creative art of reading. For certainly reading is just as imaginative an activity as writing. Taking a few dry words laid out on a page, a creative reader like you will bring them alive, conjuring up whole settings and lively, breathing characters in your mind's eye. You will let the words stir memories and you'll add details not written in the text, enriching the story in ways the writer never imagined. Peggy Christian is a children's book author who lives and works in Missoula, Montana; [email protected]
You'll measure the character's experiences against your own and allow the story to open you up to new ways of thinking and seeing. Connections between seemingly unrelated things will be made and you'll have small revelations or recognitions, those little epiphanies that James Joyce tried to capture in his stories. You may even end up being changed in some fundamental way by what you have read. The good news is, the idea of reading as a creative art may finally be getting its due. Look at the readers' magazines like Book, Pages, and Bookmarks that take the discussion of books out of the hands of the academics and bring it to the everyday reader. Look at the number of book clubs that have sprung up in every community. There are even book clubs on TV and state-sponsored Festivals of the Book. As Holbrook Jackson says: "No book is complete until it has found a reader, not alone because books are written to be read, but because an author can only express a part of himself. The reader completes the circle of expression by transmuting art into life again."2 Still, the Literacy Volunteers of America (LVA) estimates that 20 percent of Americans are functionally illiterate. For them, the transformative power of reading is out of reach. And that transformative power was brought home to me by the simple act of reading an ad in the local paper asking for people to tutor for the Missoula (Montana) chapter of the LVA. Reading Life Just for a moment, dear reader, I want you to imagine what it would be like not to be able to read. How different would your life be? Think back on your day up until now. Think back on all the things you read, all the encounters you had with print and what kind of effect it had on your thoughts. When I read that ad in the newspaper for volunteers, I suddenly became very conscious of my own reading. And in just the next few minutes in my kitchen that morning, I found myself awash in reading. As the kettle started to boil, I reached for my tea box. It offered a banquet of reading. A short list of
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commandments, "The Wisdom of Daily Life," graced one side: 1. Watch a sunrise at least once a year. 2. Plant flowers every spring. 3. Look people in the eye. 4. Compliment three people every day. 5. Live beneath your means. 6. Choose your life's mate carefully. From this one decision will come 90 percent of all your happiness or misery. 7. Live so that when your children think of fairness, caring, and integrity, they think of you. 8. Don't postpone joy. All I really need to know I learned from my tea box. The chance reading of my tea box set my mind in a new direction, this time about that old favorite book, Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten by Robert Fulghum, and all the other little books of wisdom my family and friends have given me. These books can be wonderfully inspirational, if taken in small portions, allowing lots and lots of time for rumination. They are not meant to be consumed in one sitting. Looking in the fridge for a lemon, my hand brushed across the scattering of magnetic words clinging to the door, like shells washed up on a white metal beach. My eyes combed through them, seeing someone, or perhaps it was just chance, had paired "wild" and "heart." Those two words pulled me out of the kitchen and midlife and tossed me back thirty years to my high school bedroom where a poster hung on the wall above my desk. It was a haunting picture of a young man with a guitar, standing on a rock-strewn beach, waiting for the fingers of the waves to wrap around his ankles. And the words on it read: "He was alone and willful and wildhearted, alone amid a waste of wild air and brackish waters and the seaharvest of shells and tangle and veiled grey sunlight. . . . James Joyce." At the time I didn't have a clue who James Joyce was. And having grown up in Colorado, I had never been to a beach. But those words so perfectly captured that strange, wild longing that filled my teenage soul. It was the first time I had ever seen my deepest, most intense feelings put so clearly into words. I sliced the lemon and returned to the fridge. The calendar caught my eye. The quote for the month was from Diane Ackerman. "The Poet refuses to
let things merge, lie low, succumb to visual habit . . . she hoists things out of their routine and lays them out on a papery beach, to be fumbled and explored." Just as the act of writing does this for the poet, so too does the act of reading give us new ways of seeing. And sometimes, reading can make us see everyday things with a new perspective. Hanging below the calendar was a "Zits" cartoon I had cut from the newspaper. It shows Jeremy, the fifteen-yearold quintessential teenager lying on his bed reciting "Good night shoes. Goodnight pizza box." Goodnight Moon was one of my children's favorite books, and I can still recite the text: "In the great green room there was a telephone and a red balloon and a picture of the cow jumping over the moon." Thanks to that cartoon, and the memories of my own teenage angst from James Joyce's words, I was able, for a few moments anyway, to see my own teenage boys from a slightly different, more tender angle. The tea box offered one last quote from George Eliot. Most women feel a strong affinity for Dorothea in Middlemarch, but as a struggling writer, I relate more to Casaubon, her pathetic husband who endlessly struggles with the magnum opus that will never satisfy him. George Eliot says, "Our deeds still travel with us from afar, and what we have been makes us what we are." And what we have read, even more so I think. There, in my Montana kitchen, 500 miles from the sea, three different references to a beach, all in the space of my refrigerator door. Words had been like photos, recalling other times and places, journeys taken both in my own life, and in books that I have read. All my mornings are filled with words and the connections that those words call up in my mind. If I was not able to read, I would not have made all those wonderful journeys and had the thrill of finding relationships between seemingly random things. Holbrook Jackson says: "We differ from one another more by what we have read than by what we have done, for what we have done is often determined by what we have read--or not read . . . there can be no doubt about the difference between a literate and an illiterate mode of life."3 Building Bridges Trying to imagine how different my life would be without the rich web of associ-
ations my readings weave around me, I realize that someone who can't read would not only struggle with day-to-day tasks like looking up phone numbers, reading a recipe, or filling out job applications. Illiteracy would circumscribe their lives, shutting out alternatives and possibilities, diminishing their perceptions, and changing the way they would be able to think about things. As a writer, I felt like there had to be more I could do to open the world up to nonreaders than writing about it in articles they would never have access to. And so, that one little ad in the newspaper for LVA volunteers changed my life. The tutoring experience challenged me to think about reading in new ways and deepened my own reading as much as it did for my student. After a six-week training course, I was assigned to tutor Janine (names and certain details have been changed to protect her identity). She was a young woman in her mid-thirties, single but living with a boyfriend, and the mother of six-year-old Jessica. As Janine was growing up, she had been "diagnosed" as being slightly retarded and put into special education classes. She had a "special education" diploma from high school and, to my surprise, she could already read. At least she could decipher words, some of them quite complex and difficult. What she had trouble with was making any sense of what she read. "I have trouble with that comprehending stuff," she told me. And I quickly saw what she meant. While she could read entire passages out loud without a single error, when I would ask her some simple questions about what she had read, beyond being able to tell me the subject matter--"It was about horses and a girl named Shelly"--she could remember nothing else. Not only that, but she saw absolutely no connection between anything she read and her own life. As I learned more about her life, I saw how this inability to make connections had serious consequences for her. It turned out that her boyfriend was abusive, and she had a history of being in abusive relationships; but she didn't see any connection among them. She would make the same mistakes over and over again, but seemingly wasn't able to learn from them. In many ways she reminded me of my young adolescent sons. Her thought processes seemed to be disconnective, and I wondered if it was because of her "mental handicap" or if it was because she had never learned to make
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connections in reading. Aldous Huxley says: If one happens to have received a rather elaborate academic education, it is almost impossible to represent to oneself the mental processes of people who have been taught, for all practical purposes, nothing except the useful arts of day-to-day living. For the educated mind, all phenomenon [sic] are interrelated. . . . For the uneducated mind . . . there is no beginning. Each experience is unique, isolated, related intellectually to nothing else in the world.4 This all made me rethink what we consider reading to be. Obviously it is more than deciphering words. And more than being able to tell what they mean, individually or together in sentences. Reading has to be an interaction between the reader and the text. Word-Hungry So how was I supposed to teach Janine to become a creative, interactive reader? The first thing I needed to do was to get past her reading block. She had grown up being told she had a reading disability, and reading had been a time when she struggled and felt judged. It would be a challenge to make reading fun for her. I thought back to my morning and the way I had eagerly sought out the printed word. No matter what I did during the day, whenever there was print around, my eyes sought it out like a chocoholic in search of their next fix. I had to find a way to induce this same kind of word hunger in Janine. But Janine avoided print like the plague. When we talked about reading, her mind flashed to passages in reading texts with those inescapable comprehension questions, or government forms that left her feeling stupid and incompetent. And the thought of reading a whole book, with all those pages, seemed like an insurmountable and exhausting task. I don't think Janine is alone in feeling alienated by reading. I have friends who are successful business people, great parents, and very well educated who haven't read a book since they got of school, get all their news from the TV, and have never set foot in the library or a bookstore, except maybe for a cup of coffee. What makes one person have a reading block and another person word-
hungry like me? I think part of it is a need to expand our ideas of reading. I remember when my son was in first grade and was assigned a half-hour of reading for homework. He asked for a book, but quickly rejected it because it wasn't a "reading" book. It had no questions at the end. And even highly literate people can cling to this idea that only a certain kind of reading is worthy. A very successful author friend of mine was being interviewed by a magazine. One of the questions asked was what she was reading. So she went to the local bookstore to get recommendations for "good, literary" books because she was embarrassed to admit to the mysteries she enjoys so much. While I do read "good, literary" novels, I also read license plates, cartoons, notices on boards, ads, the ingredients on cans and bottles, the headlines in the trashy newspapers at the checkout counter, and the graffiti on bathroom walls. Anywhere there is print, I gobble it up. So the challenge was getting Janine to think about reading in a fun, lighthearted way. Of course, what better place to go for that than the public library? To my surprise, it was her first trip there, even though it was only blocks away from her apartment.
fun trying to help Janine meet the challenge of the next item as Janine did. And in the process Janine learned where things could be found. Reading Is Everywhere Then we went out in the community and discovered examples of reading material wherever we looked. I remembered a poster on the wall of my husband's university that said, "Chemistry--It's Everywhere!" Well, I wanted to help Janine see that reading was an integral part of our day-to-day life as well. We searched out signs, bus schedules, menus, catalog descriptions of clothes (which can be whole novels in and of themselves), newsletters, matchbook covers, product labels, etc.; and each of us created a scrapbook where we collected all the examples we had found. It was the first of many kinds of reading journals I used with her. Because Janine wanted to share what she was learning with her daughter, we gave Jessica her own book and she began collecting too. The librarian at Jessica's school was intrigued with the idea and created a scavenger hunt in the library, asking kids to find things among the resources there.
So the challenge was getting Janine to think about reading in a fun, lighthearted way. Of course, what better place to go for that than the public library? . . . "That's a place for smart people," she told me. "It's a place for everyone," I said.
"That's a place for smart people," she told me. "It's a place for everyone," I said. Inside I showed her that the library was not just full of books, but had magazines, newspapers, computers and the Internet, movies, books on tape, and that most wonderful of all features, a librarian who was actually eager to help you find whatever it was you needed and would not make you feel like a dunce for asking. We didn't begin with a formal tour or by learning to use the card catalog. Instead, I made up a scavenger hunt and challenged Janine to find things like a good joke, a cartoon, a recipe for something yummy, a headline she found intriguing, a book with a funny title, etc. Oftentimes the librarian had as much
She also had them bring in any types of reading material they found, including CD liners, t-shirts, tags, candy wrappers, stickers, etc., which were displayed on a "Reading is Everywhere!" bulletin board. Making Connections After the first few weeks, Janine was no longer avoiding the printed word, but actively seeking it out. It was time to try to make some connections between what she was reading and her life. Our next project involved the creation of a commonplace book. These are a type of reading journal that have been kept for
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centuries wherein you copy quotes that have a particular resonance for you. One of the earliest published commonplace books was Timber, or Discoveries made upon Men and Matters by Ben Jonson, printed in the folio of 1640. It was a collection of notes, extracts, and reflections on miscellaneous subjects, made in the course of the author's wide reading, varying in length from a single sentence to short essays. It is one of the first published examples of creative reading in action. I encouraged Janine to bring a quote from something--even slogans from commercials like "Just Do It," and I too provided a quote for us to think about. We would enter the quote in our journals and then write for ten minutes about our reactions to it. If it stirred up a memory, we recorded the memory. If it urged us to action, we wrote about what we would like to do. If it made us see something in a new light, we wrote about that change. When I was in sixth grade, I was assigned to the teacher everyone
Remember the women on the Titanic who waved off the dessert cart." For Janine, looking at a single forceful quote was a way to begin to connect reading with her own experience, without having to tease the meaning out of a complex story. Once she was comfortable with our random quotes, I brought in Aesop's Fables for us to share. We would read the story, copy the moral into our commonplace books and then write on it from a personal perspective. She shared these readings with her daughter who started collecting her own book of quotes she really liked, often lines from movies or songs, and would talk about them with her mother. Inspired by what Jessica was doing with her mother, the librarian at Jessica's school also started a Quote of the Day board in the library, and the providing of interesting or provoking quotes became a fun project for the older students in the school. All of us should start our day with a quote to ponder. I will often open Bartlett's at random, or take something
The first step in taking back the power for the reader is to see that "reading is everywhere," that it really is an integral part of our lives. Reading should be like breathing, feeding your mind the way oxygen does your brain.
dreaded, Mr. Laws. For one thing, he was the first male teacher anyone in our school had. And he was known to be "hard," expecting a lot from his students. On one of his bulletin boards he had a "Quote for the Day." And on the first day of class it was: "There is nothing to fear but fear itself." I remember how that quote struck me between the eyes when I read it. How had he known I was afraid? And what did it mean? It took me months to really understand that quote and how fear was so much worse and debilitating than the reality of anything that brought it on. Many of the subsequent quotes had the same startling affect on me. Finally, Janine and I made a "book of hours." Like the original medieval books, ours were filled with quotes that we wished to keep in mind and meditate on each day. One of the first ones I put in my book was my very favorite quote from Erma Bombeck. "Seize the day.
off the e-mail subscriptions I have to Minnesota Public Radio's "Writer's Almanac,", or the endlessly fascinating "A Word A Day" at Both of these are free online services. Reclaiming Reading For readers like you, these may be things you are doing already. But the vast majority of people out there have a very different idea of reading. For them, it is a chore, or an assignment, or even if they read novels and newspapers and magazines, it is a very passive activity where they are doing little more than gathering information or being mildly entertained. Always, the power is given over to the author, the authority. Few of us have ever been given permission to play with the printed word, to treat it as something we can make our own. And so, we either
take the written word so seriously that we are intimidated by it, or we dismiss it entirely, lest we be buried under an avalanche of meaningless information. The first step in taking back the power for the reader is to see that "reading is everywhere," that it really is an integral part of our lives. Reading should be like breathing, feeding your mind the way oxygen does your brain. As storyteller and librarian Kathryn Davis says: The point is ownership. The point is, I believed these were my stories (fairytales). Mine. I didn't think they'd been written for me, Andersen having "had me in mind," or that they conveyed my view of things with unusual precision--no, when I heard these stories I was infused with that shiver of ecstasy that is an unmistakable symptom of the creative act. I felt as if I'd created the stories, as if they had their origin in my imagination, as if they were by definition my original work, having `belonged at the beginning to the person in question'--that person being me. Nor am I referring to plot. In fact plot was the least of it. I'm referring to individual words, phrases. Black as coal. Goblin. Spangle. Snuffbox.5 At this point Janine was still a long way from being able to claim ownership of stories. But she was beginning to see reading in a less threatening way, and she could relate in much the same way as Kathryn Davis did to certain evocative words and sentences. In reading through the Aesop's Fables though, I discovered a big roadblock to her being able to enter a story. She could not visualize from text. When she read, no images were called up in her mind's eye. This made remembering what she had just read nearly impossible. Using picture books helped, but I wanted her to be able to create the story in her mind and not be dependent upon the illustrator. So the next step was to teach her to "sensualize" what she read. Writing in Horn Book magazine, Julius Lester said: The failure of modern living is the failure of the imagination. The root meaning of the word imagine is "to picture to oneself." In other words, when we imagine, we create an inner picture of something not visible to our physical eye. One kind of picture we are all accustomed to is an image
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of something we have done or witnessed. This is the visual aspect of memory. It is not imagination. Imagination requires something more of us. It requires that we see what we have not seen, what we may never see, what may not even exist.6 Knowing that I am writing for some of the most creative readers in the world, I'm going to ask you now to do some imaginative work for me. I'm going to give you a simple sentence, and I want you to conjure up an image from the words I set down on the page. Ready? Here goes. "There is a tree by the water." Can you see it? What kind of tree is it? Is it a pine, or an aspen, or an apple tree; or perhaps it is something more exotic like a Pohutakawa growing in New Zealand? And what kind of water do you imagine? A wild, whitewater river or a peaceful pond barely ruffled by a breeze? Every one of you who reads that sentence will come up with a different picture. That's one of the amazing powers of reading: how we are able to take what is written on the page and combine it with our own memories and experience, creating something that is uniquely our own. It is a freedom that we can never have watching television or movies. When we read, we get to choose the details of the setting, the exact look of the character, the costume he or she wears, and more. Often, in our imaginations, we are able to re-create the smells and sounds of the scene as well, even if the author doesn't state them explicitly on the page. For example, if I were to read the sentence: "There is a cottonwood by the river," I might be overwhelmed by the sweet, sappy smell of its bursting buds in spring because I have cottonwoods in my backyard; and it is that smell that makes the mess from the cotton fluffs on my screens every year worth it. This kind of re-creation through imagination is one of the keys to creative reading. By experiencing sensations through mental imagery, the reader is able to animate the text and imagine himself or herself into the experience the author is conveying. But for my student Janine, this process was a mystery. Unless the words were illustrated, as in the picture books she read to her daughter Jessie, she could see no mental picture. Part of the problem is that her imagination had atrophied from lack of use. Rarely, if ever, doing any reading, she entertained herself with television and videos. Her mind never needed to
make any pictures since they were already there, and so it was passively idling most of the time. The other part of the problem was that she wouldn't give herself permission to use her imagination. "How will I know if I get it right?" she asked me. This abdication of power to the authorities, whether it was the author or the illustrator or the "smart people" who knew more than she did, is a common problem for many readers. Not realizing that reading is a creative act, too many people are unaware of the powers of their own imagination and the need to actively help create the story as we read. Do You See What I Say? To help Janine begin to understand the concept of experiencing the written word through her senses, or sensualizing text, I started out with the sense of sight, since in our visually oriented society, it is often the easiest to master. We began with single words. I had her look at the word, then glance up from the page and close her eyes. I told her to take all the time she needed and not to open them until she could clearly see the image suggested. This took a lot of practice on her part, but slowly she began to be able to describe the images she saw. Then I asked her to read the word out loud while thinking of the image. This tied the picture to the word on the page. We then moved on to whole sentences, like: "There is a tree by the water." She repeated the technique, looking at the sentence, but this time drawing the image called up by the words and then labeling the picture with the sentence as the caption. At first, what she drew was the stylized tree we all drew in about third grade, with a scalloped circle standing on a fat, straight trunk and the wavy blue line for the water. But as I began asking directed questions, her picture grew more creative and detailed. Once she understood there was no right answer, that whatever she saw was correct, her images became more personalized. But what happens when you are dealing with a story where the writer probably had something very specific in mind when he or she was writing it? I know this is an issue I have to deal with every day in my work. When I write for children, I am acutely aware that I have only so much power over what the reader will imagine. So much depends on
their own experience. Luckily we live in an age when, thanks to television and movies, our visual stores are much more extensive than when we had to rely only on what we experienced firsthand. Robertson Davies has said: The visual imagination of the modern reader is much greater than that of his great grandparents. It is said, cynically, but with a terrible ring of truth that the modern film is made for viewers with the intellect of a twelve year old. Emotionally and intellectually this may well be true, but the visual imagination of a twelve year old today is acute. If something happens in a city street, he does not need the street to be set before him, garbage can by garbage can. He has seen all the city streets he needs on the large screen or the small one.7 As a writer, this means that there are times when I can use this visual knowledge of my readers and leave the descriptions up to them. And there are times when I have to use very specific details to guide their imaginations in the right direction. If the kind of tree matters to the story, then I need to be very specific. If not, I don't have to waste a lot of time painstakingly building the picture with my words. This becomes especially true, and sometimes excruciatingly difficult, when I write picture-book texts, because I am giving over at least 50 percent of the creation of my book to the illustrator, who will interpret the words visually in his or her unique way. It is startling to see the scenes you imagined so clearly in your mind's eye as you wrote, rendered in a completely different form. It's also exhilarating, because it gives you a glimpse of the imaginative creativity that happens whenever a reader encounters your words. And often you will discover things in your own writing that you weren't even aware of in the creation. Just as each of you envisioned a unique "tree by the water," so it is that every person who reads the same book creates a different story from the text. In fact, even a single person, going back to a favorite book at another time in their lives, will get a different story. It's true that you can't read the same book twice. Just Imagine Let's take a moment and see what you can do with this idea. Imagine if you
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will, the beast in Beauty and the Beast. Do you see him clearly? Is your beast the hairy, snaggle-toothed creature with grasping clawed hands that Mercer Meyer drew in his version? Or the horny-skinned Cyclops of Michael Foreman? Or perhaps, like Barry Moser, you see a man but one with masses of curly hair, pointed ears, and hideously bulbous nose. Could he be a scaly giant with long curving horns and hoofed feet similar to Hilary Knight's creation? More than likely, he is like none of these. He is probably some amalgam of your own worst nightmares. Looking through the variety of picture-book versions of fairy tales illustrated by different artists helped me show Janine that there is no right answer for what the beast looks like in Beauty and
was business-like. `Look acrost the river, Lennie, an' I'll tell you so you can almost see it.' Lennie turned his head and looked off across the pool and up the darkening slopes of the Gabilans. `We gonna get a little place,' George began. He reached in his side pocket and brought out Carlson's Luger; he snapped off the safety, and the hand and the gun lay on the ground behind Lennie's back.8 George goes on to describe in detail the animals and how their lives will be peaceful and "Ain't gonna be no more trouble." For the reader this is twice as intense, as we, like Lennie, see in our mind's eye the idyllic "little place" that
If we want to really enter into the story, body and soul, we must be there in body with all six of our senses activated: sight, hearing, touch, taste, smell, and feelings. Every writer knows that they must know much more about any given scene than ends up on paper.
the Beast. Or the fairy godmother in Cinderella. Or any of the other characters in familiar fairy tales. It certainly helped liberate her mind from accepting only the Disney versions she'd seen on video. Using these books, I could show her that the same words inspired dozens of different creatures in the illustrators' minds. And this isn't just true of children's picture books. Look at any collection of editions of a single novel published over the years. One of my favorites is Jane Eyre, who has challenged any number of illustrators and movie directors to imagine what a plain, "little toad as that" might look like. The ability to create images in the minds of your reader can be one of the most powerful and magical aspects of writing. A stunning example of this power occurs at the end of John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men. Lennie has accidentally killed the girl, and George knows what the crowd of vigilantes will do when they catch them. There is only one thing for George to do. Lennie said, `Tell how it's gonna be.' George had been listening to the distant sounds. For a moment he
George describes, and at the same time we are visualizing George making the agonizing choice to use the gun. By taking the time to imagine the pictures that the words call up in our minds, we are able to feel their meaning. I Won't Believe It Until I Hear It, Smell It . . . But, as Carol Birch reminds us: The ability to imagine is richer than merely visualizing the story. Seeing with the inward eye is only one form of imagining. Equating images in stories primarily with visual orientation is a conditioned bias. Those blind from birth have the capacity to imagine. . . . Limiting images and imagination to visual acuity is attractive in a cerebral age. It lends itself to a kind of purity, no embarrassing or jarring noises, no sweat, no odors, no gluttony, no libidinous sensuality. Ask someone to smell their way through a story and responses may include giggles, suspicions, or revulsion. Yet, just as full
sensory awareness enriches daily life, sensory awareness makes characters and settings vivid and compelling.9 And if we want to really enter into the story, body and soul, we must be there in body with all six of our senses activated: sight, hearing, touch, taste, smell, and feelings. Every writer knows that they must know much more about any given scene than ends up on paper. It must be imagined fully in the writer's mind before he or she dares to try to recreate it on paper. And the same thing is true for the reader. Take a moment and read the following excerpt from my children's novel The Bookstore Mouse. This story is written from the point of view of a mouse named Cervantes who lives in a bookstore. One day, he falls into an open book and gets caught up in the story of a medieval scribe named Sigfried who wants more than anything to become a knight. Sigfried gets his chance, sort of, when he intercepts a note describing the reign of terror that the dragon Censor has unleashed on a village by capturing all the storytellers. Cervantes, reading the words, feels as if he is actually right there participating in the story with Sigfried. At this point in the story they are making their way up to the dragon's lair. Read the scene through, and then close your eyes and try to imagine it in as much detail as you can. As we climbed, the heat and the smell got worse. I had to keep flicking the sweat from my brow with my tail and pinching my nose shut with my paws. At last we reached the top of a large outcropping and together we peered over the other side, into the mouth of a large cave. "I fear I cannot look closer," Sigfried said. "You go up yourself." "Alone?" I cried. I had no intention of leaving the safety of Sigfried's hood, however tenuous that safety was. "Read ahead then. Skip to the part where the dragon is described and then come back and tell me what it says." . . . I had no sooner found it than I came up against a fearsomelooking word. "The dragon, slimy and squamous . . . " I had no idea what squamous meant, but the very word made my whiskers tremble in fear. I paused, then thought of Sigfried all alone a couple of pages
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back and knew that the dragon could awake at any moment. So I forced myself to read on. The picture that the words created was the most terrifying thing I had ever seen. I don't know what I expected, but when we had first set out on this adventure I pictured a dragon as a sort of large, green cat. But now I realized that I could never have imagined anything as horrifying as the real thing. He was big . . . much bigger than I'd thought possible. In fact, he was bigger than the giant. I could not even see the end of his tail, which was coiled into the murky depths of the cave. His nostrils were like two bright craters of molten lava. Their glow illuminated his grotesque head. The slimy scales that covered his body glistened like stagnant water. And his snores . . . his snores thundered in my ears. But worst of all were the waves of stench that rose from his body. I quickly lifted my eyes from the page and away from that terrifying spectacle.10 Okay, dear reader, do you have the scene clearly in your mind's eye? I want to ask you some questions about it now: What time of day is it? Is it the dark of night or broad daylight? Maybe it's sunrise or sunset? Is it raining or is the sun shining? Is it hot or cold outside? I want you to look closely at the cave. Is the cave hot and dry and dusty? Or is it cold and damp with water dripping from the ceiling? Are there stalagmites and stalactites, or are the walls smooth stone? Does the dragon fill the cave, or is the cave a gaping hole around him? How big is Cervantes the mouse in comparison to the dragon? What colors are the rocks in the cave? What color is the dragon? What color is Cervantes? Is he a brown deer mouse, or a gray house mouse, or a white mouse with red eyes? What does the rock floor in the cave smell like? What does the dragon smell like? Can you think of something you have smelled before that smells like the dragon? What noises does Cervantes hear? How loud are the dragon's snores, and what do they sound like? Can Cervantes hear anything else? Maybe he hears the sound of water dripping from the stones? Or the sound of his heart thumping in his chest, or maybe his knees knocking together?
,ARGE0RINT"OOKS!VAILABLE3OON $EAD-ANS4OUCHBY+IT%HRMAN 4HE%DGEOFTHE'ULFBY(ADLEY(URY 3ILVER,IESBY!NN0ARKER &ORACATALOGORTOCONTACTUS [email protected]<;GWhat do you think Cervantes is thinking? What do you think the dragon is dreaming about? How would you have felt seeing a dragon for the very first time? Now I am fairly certain you could answer all of these questions, and probably in great detail and depth. And yet none of the answers are actually in the original text. These were all things that
your imagination conjured up from the words of my story. Whenever, and whatever, you are reading, you should pause at intervals and give yourself the time to fill in the sensual details of the scene. It will help you venture deeper into the story and put you there, in body as well as mind. We all know how powerfully these images can remain with us, even after we
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have finished reading. Just look at the variety of reactions to any movie version of a book. When the first Harry Potter movie premiered, debate raged among both children and adults as to whether the director had "got it right." Some people were thrilled. "It's just like I imagined," they said. And others moaned that one of the characters was "all wrong." Slowing Down to Smell the Roses Janine and I practiced this kind of sensualization on everything we read over the next year. As her powers of imagination grew, she was able to remember more about what she read. And she was developing the ability to put herself in someone else's shoes, which proved useful in her day-to-day life as well as in her reading ability. At the same time, she worried about using this method. In her mind, being a good reader meant reading fast. Stopping to really experience the scenes in her imagination slowed her down. And she's not alone in believing that speed and quantity are the measure of a good reader. The March/April 2003 issue of Book Magazine talks about "extreme reading," celebrating the "uber-booklovers (how's twenty books a week sound?)." I don't know about you, but reading twenty books a week sounds ridiculous to me. I think back on the contests my son's school held every year for the greatest number of books read in a certain period of time. And how for a few weeks he would drag himself out of whatever novel he was enjoying and would rush through the skinniest, simplest books he could find, just to rack up the titles. Of course, when it was all over, he could remember none of them, but
that wasn't the point of the contest. I would far rather that his teachers had taught him to slow down and savor each book he read, the way you do a fine meal. What good does it do to make readers word-hungry if they are going to wolf down their words and not taste what they are reading? When we read, we should all do as Carol Birch suggests: Each character, every important scene, details of setting--these are pieces that fit together to create something larger than the sum of their parts, like a puzzle. So on a given day, break off a piece of the puzzle and carry it around like a key or a talisman for a time. Metaphorically, turn it around to see which way the pattern goes. Learn its edges. Sometimes keep it as a focal point; sometimes let it float on the fringe of consciousness.11 When we experience the writing by bringing it alive in all its sensuality in our imagination, we are doing our part as artistic readers in the creation of the story. We are expanding on what is there on the page and making ourselves so much a part of it that it can work its transformative magic on us. Working with Janine, I began to examine my own reading habits. In my writing, I was always very conscious of the images called up by my words and, because the illustrator would provide visual details, I deliberately tried to include the other senses in the text. Yet, in my reading, I often forgot the importance of slowing down to "smell the roses." At the time, I was reading Barbara Kingsolver's Prodigal Summer. I started pausing every few pages and taking the time to build the scenes in my mind, one by one in all their sensual splendor. My reading experience became much richer, and it really did feel like I
was living in the story. Even now, years later, some of the images are still fresh in my mind, and I can remember exactly what feelings I experienced in reading that book. After months of practicing the art of sensualizing what she was reading, Janine had a small breakthrough. It was not a rise in her test scores that was so exciting, although her scores on comprehension steadily improved. The breakthrough came the first time we read a passage in a story and she cried at the end. "I know exactly how (the character) felt," she said. "It was like I was the one it was happening to." This woman who had been labeled as retarded and told that she would never be more than just functionally literate was well on her way to becoming a truly artistic and creative reader. References 1. Hugh Walpole, Reading (Garden City, N.Y.: George H. Doran, 1926), 43. 2. Holbrook Jackson, The Reading of Books (Champaign, Ill.: Univ.of Ill. Pr., 2001), 24. 3. Ibid., 38. 4. Aldous Huxley, Beyond the Mexique Bay (Albatross Ed., 1936), 240­41. 5. Kathryn Davis, Mirror, Mirror on the Wall (Landover, Md.: Anchor Books, 1998), 91. 6. Julius Lester, "Re-imagining the Possibilities," The Horn Book, (May/June 2000): 283. 7. Robertson Davies, Reading and Writing (Salt Lake City: Univ. of Utah Pr., 1992), 52. 8. John Steinbeck, Of Mice and Men (New York: The Library of America, 1994), 876. 9. Carol L. Birch, The Whole Story Handbook (Little Rock, Ark.: August House, 2000), 17­18. 10. Peggy Christian, The Bookstore Mouse (San Diego, Calif.: Harcourt, 1995), 88­89. 11. Birch, The Whole Story, 29.
Contact Information for Public Libraries
Renйe Vaillancourt McGrath, feature editor of Public Libraries, will be on maternity leave from January through April 2004. Jen Schatz and Linda Braun will be serving as guest editors during her absence. Please contact the guest editors with questions, submissions, and other Public Libraries­related issues.
From January to February 2004, contact: Jen Schatz 213 Waterfield Library Murray State University Murray, KY 42071-3307 (270) 762-3760 (w) (270) 753-5328 (h) [email protected]
From March to April 2004, contact: Linda Braun LEO: Librarians and Educators Online 290 Riverside Drive #14D New York, NY 10025 (917) 847-7804 (646) 698-2825 (fax) [email protected]
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Mother Goose on the Loose
Applying Brain Research to Early Childhood Programs in the Public Library Betsy Diamant-Cohen Mother Goose on the Loose is an award-winning early childhood literacy program for babies and their caregivers offered each week at the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore, Maryland. This article describes the history of the program including the theories behind it, practical implementations for creating optimal learning environments for very young children, descriptions and benefits of the program, and parent reactions to it. Where can babies receive applause for throwing a stuffed animal up in the air, pulling Humpty Dumpty off his wall, or jumping over a candlestick? At Mother Goose on the Loose (MGOL) programs for babies, that's where! Public librarians have approached the question of how to design programs to introduce very young and pre-literate audiences to library activities in many different ways. This article will present an innovative, time-tested, and successful approach to emergent literacy programming in public libraries that integrates the most recent findings in baby brain research. Studies in brain research have shown that children learn best through routine and repetition in a nurturing atmosphere.1 Immersing children in pleasurable language experiences on a regular basis has been shown to result in increased brain capacity that will prepare them for reading and writing at a later stage.2 Integrating movement with learning activities appears to increase memory retention.3 Expressing emotions through movement can release tension and aggression harmlessly, helping children to relax, absorb, and learn.4 Research also indicates that caregivers who enjoy books together with their children help those children develop an attitude toward books and reading that will likely have a positive effect in later life.5 MGOL is a thirty-minute structured program held four times each week at the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore, Maryland. It is appropriate for children from birth up to the age of five and their parents, led by a trained librarian. The Pratt pro- Betsy Diamant-Cohen, Children's Programming Specialist at Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore, Maryland, was instrumental in creating the Mother Goose on the Loose program; [email protected]
The Mother Goose on the Loose logo, illustrated by Celia Yitzhak grams were created with the attention span of babies (birth to age two) in mind and provides activities that complement the recent research in brain development. Goals MGOL has three major goals. The first is to increase use of the public library by families with young children, providing families with the opportunity to foster emergent literacy skills in young children. The attainment of this goal can be demonstrated through increasing use of the public library services by families with very young children, resulting in high demand for new book purchases. Secondly, MGOL aims to provide an educational model to parents, empowering them in their roles as their child's first teacher. Running MGOL programs helps library youth services staff increase their comfort level working as parent educators. The third goal is to create a community of parents, children, and librarians with an open dialogue where parents can make programmatic requests and librarians are encouraged to respond accordingly. Format During the MGOL program, the librarian leads parents to interact with their children through a variety of musical activities, using rhymes, songs, finger plays, musical instruments, puppets, and colored scarves. The program is highly structured, but within the structure there is room for
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A mother and child enjoy activities during Mother Goose on the Loose variation and creativity, and program leaders contribute their own unique talents and personality. Approximately 80 percent of the program's content is repeated from session to session, giving very young children a sense of stability that comes from knowing what to expect. The 20 percent of new activities introduced each week keeps the program fresh and exciting. Following a predictable pattern, the program is based on traditional rhymes and songs that use repetition to help children learn vocabulary, recognize words easily, and feel that certain rhymes have become old friends. MGOL instills in very young children basic emergent literacy skills that include patterns of music (fast/slow, high/low, loud/soft) as well as phonemic awareness. MGOL encourages a rich vocabulary and use of language by introducing concepts such as syllables through use of songs, rhymes, and musical instruments. MGOL nurtures appropriate responses to verbal cues, for example, by helping children feel a proud sense of achievement by performing actions such as hitting a drum or jumping over a candlestick. Children are encouraged to pay attention to musical sounds and patterns as a precursor to phonemic awareness. The program fosters motor coordination and speech development through interactive rhymes, movement, games, and songs, while simultaneously familiarizing
children (and their parents) with books, book illustration, and a library atmosphere. By providing a social environment where very young children can interact with other children of the same age, MGOL teaches children patience and the need to take turns through participatory activities. The Evolution of Mother Goose on the Loose MGOL evolved from a free-flowing library nursery-rhyme program into a thirty-minute structured program based on the learning theories of educator Barbara Cass-Beggs. Cass-Beggs, a Canadian opera singer in her eighties, devoted her retirement years to developing and perfecting a system for teaching music to babies and young children called the Listen, Like, Learn method. The main idea behind Listen, Like, Learn is that first the children listen. From listening, they become familiar with the works of music. When the music becomes something they recognize, they start to like it--as if it is an old friend. Once they like it, their minds are open to learn concepts related to the music, such as high and low, fast and slow, tones, notes, and rhythms. In addition, Cass-Beggs felt that security and stability, curiosity, feelings and emotions, imitation, and variety are essential parts of this program. The environment of Listen, Like, Learn programs is one full of optimal learning conditions. In a music course developed and taught by Cass-Beggs called Your Baby Needs Music, participants are always asked to take off their shoes and sit in a
circle on a rug with babies on their laps. The program of musical activities includes physical movements, singing songs, keeping time to classical music by playing on rhythm instruments, and many finger plays. Everything is repeated twice; if the parents have not heard the rhyme before, they are usually able to repeat it aloud during the second time around. Some babies can sit on their parents' laps bouncing along to the rhymes or ringing their little bells; other children prefer to run around the room, crying or trying to distract another child. In these instances, instead of letting parents become frustrated or embarrassed, both parent and child are made to feel welcome, giving the sense that active behavior in very young children is not unusual or inappropriate. If they are encouraged to keep returning, drastic changes can be observed. Usually, during the fourth class the "inattentive child" suddenly begins participating. The baby sits attentively, reaching up high when the musical instruments are being played "up high" and leaning over in expectation for a leaning rhyme about Mother and Father and Uncle John even before the rhyme has reached the leaning portion. Amazingly, at each session, the children become more attentive and their skills increase remarkably. They all become more socially aware of the other babies and more receptive to the interactive parts, such as putting instruments away or tapping hands together. They love going to classes and their parents enjoy taking them. In 1988 Cass-Beggs gave a series of workshops in Listen, Like, Learn techniques in Israel. The staff of the Youth Wing Library of the Israel Museum in
The Core Structure of Mother Goose on the Loose 1. Introduction and starting rituals. Reciting rhymes, reading picture books, and singing songs. Generally includes accompanying flannel board illustrations, puppets, or finger plays. 2. "Body activities" with interactive songs about the parts of the body. 3. "Stand up actions" including songs and dances that teach about syllables and rhythm. 4. Activities about animals, with illustrations, flannel board characters, songs, or puppets. 5. Physical interaction through nursery rhymes (such as "Jack Be Nimble," where children take turns jumping over the candlestick, or "Humpty Dumpty," where children are invited to pull the flannel board character off his wall). 6. Ending rituals including good-bye movements and songs.
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research in babies. It was instantly clear that the structure and activities in MGOL provided an optimal learning environment for the growth and development of babies' brains. Programs were presented for librarians throughout the state of Maryland that incorporated the most recent findings in brain research with training in how to plan and run MGOL programs. See table 1 for the increases in EPFL programs and participation levels for children under age three.
Parent-Training Sessions
By January 2003, Pratt librarians noted
that parents enjoyed attending MGOL
programs but were generally not aware
of the theory or value behind it. Since
many parents want to do what is best
educationally for their child, we decided
Barbara Cass-Beggs with parents and children during a "Your Baby Needs Music" class.
to provide the opportunity for parents to learn about their child's development in
Jerusalem combined the structure, music, and movement elements of the Listen, Like, Learn program with traditional library programming props such as books, puppets, nursery rhymes, and the flannel board. This program was named Mother Goose on the Loose and was presented weekly from 1988 to 1998. The response to these sessions for babies from birth to age two was tremendous. Each week a group of regulars brought their babies for fun and stimulation. Participants included parents and caregivers, retired and practicing librarians, and day-care providers. In addition, visiting tourists who were intrigued by the idea of an English-language program for babies in Jerusalem often attended. Over the course of the years, children of
amazed that babies could be so attentive for an entire thirty minutes and pleased that, unlike other baby programs, ours was offered for free. The program quickly grew, expanding from one weekly program to four weekly programs for the public. In addition, Early Head Start Daycare Centers began bringing their children to monthly MGOL sessions presented just for them. Librarians in the Pratt library system were trained in the methods, and MGOL was offered at a variety of locations around the city. A training program was offered at a Maryland Library Association Workshop on Baby Programs, and librarians throughout the state of Maryland began coming to observe sessions, ask questions, and receive training packets. In
an easy way. We began offering bimonthly parent-training sessions concurrently with the MGOL program. In these sessions, parents have had the opportunity to explore brain anatomy and development, to review specific groups of skills that their child is developing through MGOL, and to learn exercises that support brain development.7 They have been encouraged to take home and use the activities introduced in the library, and have shared ways in which such activities can be incorporated into home rituals, for example, at bedtime or meal time. Parents have even been inspired to create their own craft activities based on the MGOL programs. (See appendix for an overview of topics covered in the parent-training sessions.)
non-English-speaking parents learned addition, a Terrific Twos program was
English through regular attendance at created for those children who had outMGOL. The warm and nurturing envi- grown the MGOL program but were not
Benefits of Mother Goose
ronment provided a place for parents to quite ready for preschool storytime.
on the Loose
interact together without tension. Jews,
At the same time, the Enoch Pratt
Christians, and Muslims sang nursery Free Library was active in emergent liter- MGOL programs have created environ-
rhymes together and watched as their acy programming and kept up with the ments where families from different eth-
babies smiled when they saw their recent developments in the field of brain nic, cultural, and economic backgrounds
accomplishments appreciated by the
crowd. Play groups were formed and
support networks grew. Over time, the
program was modified according to trial and error. It was mentioned by Robin Works Davis in her book on library programming for babies, Toddle on Over.6 The Enoch Pratt Free Library began
Year 7/98­6/99 7/99­6/00
Increases in Programs and Participation Levels
No. of EPFL Programs
No. of Participants in Programs
for Children Under Age 3
for Children Under Age 3
offering MGOL programs in 1998.
Parents from around the city brought 7/01­6/02
their children to this program. They were
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interact in a welcoming community space. The program provides parents with suggestions for interactive activities with their child and answers to parenting questions, such as how to redirect their child's negative behavior in a con-
balls) for 2- to 3-year-olds and Mother Goose on the Loose, which combines songs, movement, and finger plays with rhymes and musical instruments."8 The increasing number of participants in the MGOL program at the
7. Paul E. Dennison and Gail E. Dennison Brain Gym: Simple Activities for Whole Brain Learning (Orange) (Ventura, Calif.: Edu-Kinesthetics, 1992). 8. "Best of Baltimore," Maryland Magazine, August 2003: 152.
As parents routinely show appreciation for the accomplishments of their babies, the babies push themselves to do more!
structive way. Positive reinforcement is central to MGOL interactions with frequent use of the child's name, clapping, and verbal encouragement. With at-risk parents, this is an important element. Often these parents do not realize that their very young child is doing something special by simply being able to follow instructions. This element of positive reinforcement helps them to appreciate their child while teaching the parents several different ways of offering praise. Over time with the consistent nature of the program, this reinforcement becomes communal. The ritual becomes habit, and as parents routinely show appreciation for the accomplishments of their babies, the babies push themselves to do more! Recognition for Mother Goose on the Loose In November 2002, the Enoch Pratt Free Library received the second annual Godfrey Award for Excellence in Public Library Services for Families and Children. This award recognized the Enoch Pratt Free Library's MGOL as an outstanding program with a comprehensive set of library goals relating to children's services. MGOL was selected for meeting the needs of young children and families; demonstrating ingenuity, imagination, innovation, and creativity; and being responsive to the individuals and groups being served. In 2003, the Enoch Pratt Free Library was also chosen in a yearly contest run by Maryland Magazine as "the best family library." Among the reasons mentioned were "the thousands of books in its Children's Room and its never-ending children's programming. . . . Terrific Twos, a book-based program (replete with bubbles and bouncing
Enoch Pratt Free Library has shown that parents respond well to a fun, free program for their babies. The excitement and active participation of very young library patrons demonstrates the value of incorporating principles of brain research into library programming. We look forward to continuing to serve these parents and their children as they grow into lifelong library users. References 1. Gerald N. Tirozzi, "Using Brain Research to Leave No Child Behind." Paper read at Learning and the Brain Conference VIII, Apr. 26, 2003, Cambridge, Mass. 2. National Research Council and Institute of Medicine, From Neurons to Neighborhoods: The Science of Early Childhood Development. Committee on Integrating the Sciences of Early Childhood Development, Jack P. Shonkoff and Deborah A. Phillips, eds., Board on Children, Youth and Families, Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education (Washington, D.C.: National Academy Pr., 2000). 3. Jeb Schenck, "Role of Movement and Decision Making in Creating Memory." Paper read at Learning and the Brain Conference VIII, Apr. 26, 2003, Cambridge, Mass. 4. Ann Lief Barlin and Paul Barlin, The Art of Learning Through Movement: A Teachers' Manual of Movement for Students of All Ages (Los Angeles: Ward Ritchie Pr., 1973), 27. 5. Zero to Three: The National Center for Infants, Toddlers, and Families, accessed May 22, 2003,; Martha S. Burns, Care and Feeding of the Brain: How to Prepare a Child to Be a Good Reader, accessed July 8, 2003, =col/burns00mar; Virginia A. Walter, Children and Libraries: Getting It Right (Chicago: ALA, 2001). 6. Robin Works Davis, Toddle On Over: Developing Infant & Toddler Literature Programs (Fort Atkinson, Wis.: Alleyside Pr., 1998), 18­19.
Resources Barlin, Anne Lief, and Paul Barlin. 1973. The Art of Learning Through Movement: A Teachers' Manual of Movement for Students of All Ages. Los Angeles: Ward Ritchie Press. Barlin, Anne Lief, with Ruthe Gluckson and Mady Taylor. 1979. Teaching Your Wings to Fly: The Nonspecialist's Guide to Movement Activities for Young Children. Santa Monica, CAlif.: Goodyear. Burns, Martha S., Care and Feeding of the Brain: How to Prepare a Child to Be a Good Reader. Accessed July 8, 2003, =col/burns00mar. Cass-Beggs, Barbara. 1978. Your Baby Needs Music. Vancouver, B.C.: Douglas & McIntyre. Cass-Beggs, Barbara. 1986. Your Child Needs Music: A Complete Course in Teaching Music to Children. Canada: Frederick Harris Music Co. Davis, Robin Works. 1998. Toddle On Over: Developing Infant & Toddler Literature Programs. Fort Atkinson, Wis.: Alleyside Pr. Dennison, Paul E., and Gail E. Dennison. 1992. Brain Gym: Simple Activities for Whole Brain Learning (Orange). Ventura, Calif.: Edu-Kinestheics. Hannaford, Carla. 1995. Smart Moves. Arlington, Va.: Great Ocean. Kirchoefer, Kathy. 2001. Babies Into Books Handbook. Hyattsville, Md.: Prince Georges County Memorial Library System. Accessed July 2, 2003, www. Kathy Kirchoefer, a Children's Librarian from Prince Georges County, Maryland, created an excellent Web site about her program, Babies Into Books, which is based on the principles of Mother Goose on the Loose. Lambert, Sylvia Leigh. Mother Goose Time Pathfinder: Library Programs with Books and Babies. Accessed July 3, 2003, mothergooseindex.html. This site was last updated Dec. 12, 2002. National Research Council and Institute of Medicine. From Neurons to Neighborhoods: The Science of Early Childhood Development. Committee on Integrating the Sciences of Early Childhood Development. Jack P. Shonkoff and Deborah A. Phillips, eds. Board on Children, Youth and Families, Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. (Washington, D.C.: National Academy Pr., 2000). Walter, Virginia A. 2001. Children & Libraries: Getting It Right. Chicago: ALA. Zero to Three: The National Center for Infants, Toddlers, and Families. Accessed May 22, 2003,
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Appendix In one session of Easy Parenting 101, parents were given a brief review of specific motor skills, musical skills, social skills, and pre-literacy skills associated with activities in MGOL. This was followed by an analysis that included a game for parents--matching the benefit with the activity. Below are some examples. Motor Skills In this game, the librarian recited certain rhymes from MGOL programs and parents were asked to call out specific motor skills that were related to those particular activities. Speech development--Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers Develops a sense of rhythm-- Grandfather Clock Goes Tick-Tock Hand-eye coordination--I Had a Little Turtle Responding physically to verbal cues--Mother, Father, and Uncle John Feeling comfortable within your own body--(all tickle rhymes) Movement helps muscles with development and coordination-- Open, shut them A fun way to get some physical exercise--The Hokey Pokey Promoting use of the voice--(making animal sounds) Developing locomotion--Row, Row, Row Your Boat
Showing children that any part of the body can develop movement-- We hit the floor together Up and down--Grand Old Duke of York Social Skills These MGOL activities encourage development of social skills, including helping the young children to feel comfortable in a group setting. Taking turns--(Throwing pigs up in the air to Hickory Dickory Dare) Waiting patiently--(Pulling Humpty off the wall) Putting toys away when asked-- Toys Away Learning the rules and sticking to them--(Invisible circle around flannel board) Interacting with others in a positive way--(Clapping for all) Receiving positive reinforcement for a job well done--(Hearing the applause) Giving positive reinforcement to others--(Using many encouraging words) Feeling friendship, love, and trust through partner rhymes--Pat-acake Developing social responsiveness -- I Can Ring, Ring-Ting-Tingle Gaining self-confidence by recognizing sounds and mimicking them-- When the Cow Gets Up in the Morning
Overcoming fears--This Is the Way the Ladies Ride Bonding with others--(Rolling beach ball to each other) Experiencing the enjoyment and awareness of everyday activities-- This Is the Way We Wash Our Knees (using colored scarves as a washcloth) Musical Skills Songs can strengthen musical skills and emotional health. Fast and slow (tempo)--I'm Riding in My Car Loud and soft (timbre)--Two Little Dickey Birds High and low--(Using instruments) Recognizing sounds--I Went to Visit the Farm One Day Connecting sounds with actions--If You're Happy and You Know It Developing a sense of rhythm-- Polly Put the Kettle On Encouraging accurate listening and singing--(The leader sings, participants repeat) Listening to sounds and patterns as a precursor to word awareness-- (Hearing a short story being read) Providing an emotional outlet through music--(Shaking maracas to varying tempos) Relaxing with lullabies--Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star Recognize the underlying beat in various musical works--Pachelbel's canon
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California DREAMin' A Model for School-Public Library Cooperation to Improve student achievement Mark Smith THE RIVERSIDE County (Calif.) Library System, in partnership with the San Jacinto Unified School District, has recently completed a one-year trial program to test the assumption that a library- based program of reading diagnostics followed by concentrated tutoring and a long-term program of guided reading can achieve results in student achievement as measured by standardized tests. Based on the experience of fifth and sixth grade students at the Monte Vista School who participated in the San Jacinto Library's Project DREAM, the answer is a resounding yes. The modest funding of this program achieved remarkable improvements in student reading scores as well as other gains in school achievement, self-esteem, and motivation as observed by parents, teachers, and library staff. This article reports on that project. Can the public library make a difference in student achievement? This question motivated staff of the Riverside County Library System in California to apply for Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) funding to launch a demonstration project to tutor students in its San Jacinto Library. That experiment--called Project DREAM and made possible by a grant from the California State Library--was conducted at the San Jacinto Library between October 2001 and September 2002. The results were startling. Most student test scores increased, some dramatically, and the school as a whole improved markedly. By any assessment--staff pre- and post-tests, internal district assessments, standardized scores, and anecdotal information--students who participated in Project DREAM improved their reading performance. The San Jacinto Library made an excellent test site for this program. First, because it is a combined public-school library that has been operated by the county Mark Smith is Deputy Administrator of the Riverside County (Calif.) Library System; [email protected]
library system on the campus of the San Jacinto High School since July 2000. Second, because the San Jacinto Unified School District student performance scores are among the lowest in Riverside County and in California. Third, the library staff included experts in reading instruction, including Project DREAM Coordinator Carolyn Hillary, who had many years of experience as a reading teacher in another district before joining the library staff. The Project Plan This confluence of factors led the RCLS to develop a small grant application to the California State Library. The library system sought $45,000 to tutor up to 250 students in multiple grades, with a concentration on grades five and six. The plan was simple: working with school district officials, library staff would identify the 240 lowest-performing students in the district as measured by California SAT-9 tests administered each spring in California public schools. Those students would be brought into the library where staff would conduct a short diagnostic session to identify the technical source of their reading deficiency. Based on that diagnostic session, tutoring would be planned for the students to be conducted three times per week for an eight-week cycle. At the end of that period, the students would be moved to a program of free voluntary reading in which they were encouraged to check materials out of the library and read for pleasure. On a theoretical level, the library staff hoped to demonstrate that a project using a combination of techniques borrowed from the rival camps of technical instruction (phonics) and free voluntary reading (whole language) would improve student reading achievement and enjoyment. Thanks to the support of the California State Library staff, especially the helpful advice and encouragement of Children's and Youth Services Consultant Bessie Condos Tichauer, the grant was funded and the project began in October 2001. How Project DREAM Worked Between October 2001 and September 2002, library staff enrolled 196 students
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in four rounds of tutoring in Project DREAM. Work with each student reflected three phases: Intake and initial screening Tutoring Post-test and post-tutoring follow- up During the intake and screening phases, students eligible for Project DREAM were referred from the district, and arrangements were made with classroom teachers for the students to visit
the library and enroll in the program. On the first visit, the student was enrolled into the program. Enrollment consisted of the creation of a file for that student, including an intake form and completion of a diagnostic test to assess the student's reading abilities. The diagnostic phase took between ten and twenty minutes to complete and was always conducted by the project coordinator, a library staff member with a background in reading instruction. During the diagnostic phase, the staff member would interview the student,
What You Could Do in Your Public Library Project DREAM is highly replicable in any public library. It is not necessary to have a joint-use or combined school-public library for this program to work. All you need is a determination to help students in your area improve their reading performance. Here are some suggestions about how you can get started providing this service in your area: Get to know your local school administrators. Discuss your interest in the library playing a role in improving school achievement. They will probably be very interested and, if they are a school that gets special funding to improve performance, they may have funding that you can access. Look for other community partners. What other organizations in your town would like to partner to work on a project like this? You might be surprised to find a high degree of interest--and even funding--for a project to help kids read better. In addition to the natural partner of schools, consider literacy programs, social service agencies, churches and synagogues, and service organizations such as the Rotary Club. These organizations are also a key source of volunteer tutors. Identify a coordinator for the project. While it helps, you don't have to have a reading specialist on staff. But you do need someone to manage the work of the project. This might be a library staff person, literacy staff, contributed staff from the school district, or a volunteer from another organization. The project coordinator will conduct student intake and evaluation, match and schedule tutors with learners, and monitor the progress of the program. Form an advisory group. Input from key stakeholders is critical to the program's success and to developing a core group of supporters. The advisory group should include parents, teachers, library staff, and even one or two students from the program. The group should meet at least every other month with library staff regarding the progress of the program and to offer suggestions for improvement. Investigate available reading products. There are many brands of reading instruction materials available, so research these carefully. Make sure the materials are appropriate for children and that they are from reputable and proven providers. If possible, look at reading instruction materials used by your local school district or literacy program. Spend time with the kids. The key to the project is to identify the reader's problem and work with him or her to address it. If you don't have a reading expert on staff, seek technical advice from literacy personnel in your area or from the school. Then spend as much time as possible with each child having them read aloud, reading along with you, starting with simple texts and moving up. For some students, this will be the first time they have had an adult work with them in an attentive and caring way. That interaction may change their lives--and yours!
talk about his or her level of reading abilities, and complete a pre-test. For most of the course of the program, the pre-test was a vocabulary test, the San Diego Quick Assessment decoding test. The project coordinator made several determinations about the student based on the results of the test and the interview. First, did the student have a clinical obstacle to learning? For example, does the student show signs of dyslexia or attention deficit disorder? The program as envisioned by library staff could not address such needs, and the students were referred back to the school, which had resources to help. Second, the staff assigned an approximate reading level to the student. This assignment was a guideline only to determine what level to focus on in instruction. Third, and most important, staff attempted to identify specific problems in learning to read. For example, did the student have decoding problems? Were there specific confusions between sounds, letters, or words? Was English-language acquisition a problem? Based on this assessment, staff developed a plan to work with each individual student. For those students whom the program coordinator referred to volunteer tutors, a meeting was set up with the tutor to discuss the student prior to the first tutoring session. For each student, the project staff would discuss the student's situation with the tutor, explain the student's specific needs, and lay out a plan of tutoring. Assistant Project Coordinator Kary Kinsler would then schedule a series of tutoring sessions between volunteer tutors and the students, making arrangements with the student's teachers if tutoring during school hours was required. All tutoring was conducted in the library. Volunteers conducted most tutoring; however, project staff--the coordinator and the assistant coordinator--also conducted tutoring for some students. No other library staff was involved in providing tutoring. During the period of the grant, volunteer tutors, including adults from the San Jacinto community as well as older students from grades eleven and twelve, completed 5,166 tutoring sessions and logged a total of 2,671 hours of tutoring. Of the 196 students enrolled, 158 finished the program. Retention of students was a continual challenge for a variety of reasons, including relocation of students out of the district and lack of transportation to the library.
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After tutoring was completed, stu- Among the fifty-six fifth and sixth percentile score of one to a 2002 per-
dents were given a post-test to assess
graders from the Monte Vista centile score of eleven, another advanced
their progress during the course of the
School who completed Project from the eighth to the twentieth per-
program. The post-test was also a San
DREAM, 62 percent (thirty-five) centile, and yet another from the eighth
Diego Quick Assessment similar but not
increased their percentile scores on to the twenty-sixth percentile. See table
1 for a complete breakdown of reading
Of the fifty-eight students for whom both years of
Of the remaining Monte Vista students, ten showed a loss of percentile
assessments are available, forty progressed at least
points. This does not indicate that their reading skills declined from 2001 to
one grade level, and eighteen students progressed
2002, but rather that the students did
more than one grade level.
not attain their grade level between 2001 and 2002. It does not, however, neces-
sarily indicate that they did not improve
their reading skills. Analysis of the
identical to the pre-test. Following the
the standardized tests administered school district's own internal assessment
results of that assessment, some students
to them in the spring of 2002 in (called the Primary Assessment of
were given additional tutoring, but
comparison to their scores in the Literacy, or PAL) shows that five of the
most, having shown significant progress,
spring of 2001.
students who showed a decline in scores
were moved into a program of guided Of those who increased their scores, against national percentiles nevertheless
reading. Students would visit the library
sixteen improved by more than ten progressed at least a grade level. The
each week to talk to the coordinator,
percentile points and six students PAL data also indicate the following:
who recommended books at appropriate
improved by more than twenty
reading levels and interests. This was a
Of the fifty-eight students for whom
particularly gratifying process since One student improved by thirty
both years of assessments are avail-
many students who had entered the pro-
points, another by thirty-three
able, forty (71 percent) progressed
gram highly frustrated with and resistant
points, and a third student by a
at least one grade level, and eighteen
to reading became regular readers and
whopping thirty-six percentile
students (31 percent) progressed
began to enjoy reading.
more than one grade level.
Of the 158 students enrolled in the Fifteen students advanced from the In the fall of 2001, only eight of
program, 56 (35 percent) were fifth and
first to the second quartile, and one
these students were reading at grade
sixth graders from Monte Vista
student moved from the first to the
level, while a year later, fourteen
Elementary School. The scores of these
third quartile.
were reading at their grade level.
students--representing the largest single
Thirteen students stayed at their
block of students from any one school in
These facts are significant; however,
grade level; however, ten of these
the district--are the subject of the fol- the achievement of these students grows
increased their percentile scores on
lowing analysis.
in importance as one realizes that all stu-
the STAR test, four by double digits.
dents in this program were drawn from
Results for the Monte Vista
the bottom quartile. A ten-point gain
Again, these are remarkable
from the first to the eleventh percentile achievements considering that these
Elementary Students
represents a 1,000 percent increase, were the lowest-performing students in
while an advance from the ninetieth to the district, most of whom were reading
Under the California Public Schools the one-hundredth percentile represents far below their reading level at the start
Accountability Act, students are tested an 11 percent gain. Because gains of stu- of the school year.
each spring to assess their achievement in dents are more significant the lower the
Did Project DREAM help the Monte
reading and mathematics. This program, percentile they start from, the advances Vista School as a whole? According to the
known as the Standardized Testing and of these students--several of whose "2001­2002 Academic Performance
Reporting (STAR) Program, uses a variety 2001 scores were in the single digits-- Index (API) Growth Report" published
of testing instruments, including the are huge. One student went from a 2001 by the California Department of
Stanford 9 and the California Standards
Test in English Language Arts. Student
achievement on these tests is expressed as a percentile score as measured against national percentiles for students at the same grade level. So, for example, a fifth grader's STAR score of 50 percent theoretically means that 49.9 percent of fifth graders tested nationally read better than she and 49.9 percent do not read as well. Anonymous scores provided by the
Distribution of STAR Percentile Increases for Project DREAM Students
at Monte Vista
No. Fifth Grade (n=34)
No. Sixth Grade (n=22)
Total (n=56)
Negative growth
No change
1­9% gain
10­19% gain
San Jacinto Unified School District con-
20% or more gain
tain the following highlights:
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Education (, Monte Vista was one of only five elementary schools in the San Jacinto District--and one of only three of the eight district schools--to meet all growth targets and, therefore, be eligible for state monetary award. The growth target set by the state was a growth of twelve points in the API from 2001 to 2002. Monte Vista improved its API by nineteen points. This growth indicated strong progress compared to the previous year (2000­2001). For that prior year, Monte Vista failed to meet its target of a thirteen-point gain in API scores, attaining only a two-point increase. For 2001­2002, Monte Vista also showed a comparable growth rate among all "numerically significant ethnic and socioeconomically disadvantaged subgroups" at the school. (San Jacinto Elementary also met its target for API improvement; however, it did not show comparable improvement among all subgroups within the school.) Project DREAM can take only partial credit for progress at the Monte Vista Elementary School, which has a robust reading program and a dedicated and talented reading specialist on staff. However, the improvement of individual students suggests that Project DREAM may have directly contributed to the ability of Monte Vista not only to raise its API scores, but also to improve reading achievement performance of subgroups within the school. Is Monte Vista Representative? While these are scores for only a subset of the students enrolled in Project DREAM, two indicators suggest that similar results will hold for students in the other schools. The first is the preand post-test results for all DREAM students. Staff performed an initial diagnostic assessment for every student entering DREAM that included a vocabulary test (the San Diego Quick Assessment) that
assigned a grade level to entering students. Many of these students were also administered a similar test upon their completion of the eight-week tutoring program. However, eighty students were administered a pre-test and post-test. Of these, all but three showed improvement of at least one grade level: thirty-two gained between one and two grade levels, twenty-six gained between two and three levels, eleven gained three levels, six gained four levels, and one student each gained five and six reading levels. Monte Vista students account for fifty of these eighty students, but the scores for students for the other schools tend to be similar or even higher than those for Monte Vista. For example, a majority of students for North Mountain Middle School and San Jacinto Elementary School advanced two or more levels, a higher rate than Monte Vista. Admittedly, of the three assessments completed on these students--the other two being the STAR and PAL scores described above--these are the most cursory and the most subjective. These scores, however, closely parallel the results of both the STAR and PAL scores. For example, 28 percent of Monte Vista DREAM students advanced more than ten percentile points on the STAR test, a number that seems to correspond to the percentage of students whose reading advanced on the PAL test (31 percent) and the DREAM assessments (56 percent). See table 2 for details. Anecdotal Information Statistics tell only part of the story. Project DREAM staff heard and recorded a wealth of anecdotal information from students, parents, teachers, and school administrators that confirmed the progress made by these students. Those comments tend to cluster in the following representative observations:
Students enrolled in DREAM became more interested in reading and began to ask to go to the library for pleasure and research, which they had not previously done. Interest in all schoolwork began to improve now that they could read better. Students did not want to cycle out of DREAM and continued to return to the library for more tutoring. Students felt "important" for being tutored in such a "fancy" place (the library is only two years old). Students who had no interest in reading previously began reading chapter books and even books of considerable length (Harry Potter became a big hit among this group). These messages were heard repeatedly and shared at meetings of the Project DREAM Advisory Board. These comments were heard from students themselves as well as from parents who took time to come to the library and discuss their children's successes, and from school faculty who saw dramatic improvement in their students' performance. The DREAM Continues Early in the life of Project DREAM, State Library Consultant Valerie Reinke suggested that the Riverside County Library System consider applying for a grant from the State Library's English Language and Literacy Intensive (ELLI) program. ELLI grants funded librarybased programs designed to address the literacy needs of school-age children for whom English-language acquisition was a barrier to reading. Valerie suggested that a grant under this program could use the same DREAM methods to reach students for whom English-language acquisition was a barrier to reading. This suggestion led to a successful grant application and an eighteen-month ELLI
Comparison of Available Data for DREAM Student Achievement by Testing Instrument
STAR Test (Monte Vista
PAL Assessment (Monte Vista
DREAM Pre- and
DREAM Students) n=56
DREAM Students) n=58
Post-Tests (All Schools) n=80
Percent advancing at least one grade level
Percent with significant advancement*
*Defined for STAR scores as percentile increases more than ten points; for PAL and DREAM as advances in reading of two or more grade levels.
43n1_final.qxd 12/16/2003 3:11 PM Page 51
program in San Jacinto, led by Project Coordinator and San Jacinto native Rolando Olivo. As the DREAM funding year ended, many students who had
Program to provide supplemental tutoring and instruction to children after school. This funding--along with the continuing support from the California
Project DREAM is a highly replicable project demonstrating that relatively small amounts of money spent in the library can yield startling results.
received services from DREAM transitioned to the San Jacinto ELLI program. San Jacinto ELLI provided after-school tutoring to 468 students between January 2002 and June 2003. Early tabulation of data indicates that San Jacinto ELLI will be able to demonstrate the same level of success with its students that were achieved in the DREAM program. Due in part to the California budget crisis, only a small portion of the state library's funding for ELLI was carried forward for the 2003-2004 fiscal year. However, the San Jacinto Unified School District, recognizing the success and potential of the DREAM and ELLI programs, successfully applied for federal funding from the No Child Left Behind
State Library--will allow ELLI staff and tutors to continue to provide intensive reading tutoring to students in the San Jacinto Unified School District. Lessons from Project DREAM Project DREAM is a highly replicable project demonstrating that relatively small amounts of money spent in the library can yield startling results. Staff of the Riverside County Library System believe that they have demonstrated several key findings: Any public library can be a key player in addressing K­12 student achievement, especially in reading.
School-public library combinations are particularly well situated to partner with the schools in their efforts to improve student achievement. The phonics vs. whole-language debate has a needlessly polarizing effect, and a combination of the two methods can be highly effective. A relatively simple, phonics-based diagnostic session by a trained reading specialist can reveal specific reading deficiencies that can be addressed during a series of individualized tutoring sessions. Such tutoring sessions followed by a system of free voluntary reading and other guided voluntary library use can engender in students a love of reading and a sense of accomplishment and control over their school performance. Test scores will improve as a byproduct of a greater level of student comprehension, enjoyment, and engagement. Staff of the Riverside County Library System demonstrated what we already knew: the library can help students read better and, if they read better, they will do better in school and be more successful throughout their lives.
PLA Launches e-Learning @ PLA
PLA has launched its online education program e-Learning @ PLA. This new PLA online learning format is designed to help users learn more efficiently and to facilitate ease of collaboration between colleagues and instructors. The first course of study offered in this new venture is "Creating Policies for Results." In this course, which is based on the popular American Library Association (ALA) publication, Creating Policies For Results--From Chaos to Clarity, participants will work with the publication's authors Sandra Nelson and June Garcia as they encounter real library policy problems. Participants will gain useful knowledge, skills, and judgment that will enable them to produce useable policies tailored to their individual libraries. The curriculum features interactive exercises, collaborative work, and online chats with instructors and colleagues. Each participant will have approximately six months to finish the course, and then another six months access to the [email protected] system.
Interested parties are encouraged to enroll in one of following three sessions: Session I, February 16, 2004 Session II, March 22, 2004 Session III, April 26, 2004 Registration for the first session opened on December 15, 2003. Please note that course curriculum will supplement information provided in Creating Policies for Results--From Chaos to Clarity, and participants will be expected to have access to a copy of the publication before they begin the course. The book is available via the ALA Online Store at, or by calling the ALA Order Department at 1-866-746-7252. For more information regarding Ae-learning @ [email protected] please contact the PLA office at 1-800-545-2433, ext. 5752, or
43n1_final.qxd 12/16/2003 3:11 PM Page 52
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43n1_final.qxd 12/16/2003 3:11 PM Page 53
READ/Orange County Changing Lives through Literacy Shari Selnick READ/Orange County is the Literacy Service of the Orange County Public Library in California. This program provides tutoring for adults in English reading, writing, and speaking through family activities; teaches basic literacy skills to English speakers; provides assistance in the county jails; and offers an English as a Second Language (ESL) program. READ works to equip adults for their future with new knowledge that has practical applications in every area of their lives. The hundreds of dedicated READ volunteers work thousands of combined hours to make a difference in their community by giving the gift of literacy. The Orange County Public Library (OCPL) understands that to impact the community, it must offer services to a variety of clients. Children's reading programs, teen programs, special events, book clubs, and other programs have become our foundation for outreach and service. "The library receives revenue from all members of the community to serve the entire community and, therefore, has a basic responsibility to serve all," states John M. Adams, county librarian. That basic responsibility extends to the literacy needs of the community. "For out-ofschool adults, libraries are the only source for literacy programs," continues Adams. READ/Orange County, the literacy program of OCPL that was implemented in 1992, strives to reach out to the community, to make a difference by giving literacy students the tools they need to be successful in their future lives. Illiteracy Affects Many Tone is a ninety-five-year-old retiree who remains vibrant and full of life. He cares about his community and is willing to devote his time and energy to make a change. Tone tutors a seventy-two-year-old man, Will (not his real name), in reading and writing skills. These two retired men have been meeting twice a week for eighteen months and have formed a special bond as friends, confidants, teachers, and students. Each learns and helps the other. Each plays the role of teacher and student and benefits greatly. Each is changing a life forever. Tone understands that by teaching Will, he is creating a ripple effect in that what Will learns today will affect him, help him, and Shari Selnick is Outreach Specialist and Training Coordinator for READ/Orange County in Santa Ana, California; [email protected]
serve him the rest of his life. Will understands, through painful experience, that there is no area of his life that is not impacted by his lack of literacy skills. Increasing his literacy skills means he can become an example to his children and grandchildren, he can vote more responsibly, and can serve his community more effectively. A lack of basic reading and writing skills affects many adults in the United States today. This deficiency keeps adults from meeting their full potential, affecting their ability to get and maintain a job, to provide for their families, to be members of their community, and even simply to read a book to their children. The detrimental effects of illiteracy can be combated with library programs to teach adults the skills they need. To truly understand the importance of a literacy program, one must consider the number of adults affected by literacy. Current studies suggest that one out of every four adults nationwide needs assistance with basic reading and writing skills. In California, that represents between 3.5 and 4.8 million people. In Orange County alone, somewhere between 350,000 to 450,000 adults are unable to develop their potential because of their inability to read and write proficiently. The reasons for the lack of skills are as varied as the learners themselves. Some individuals had trouble comprehending in school, moved often, had to quit school to go to work, or made it through the system without the fundamental skills to continue their growth. The increase in population in the Orange County area means that the numbers of adults requiring assistance will continue to grow. Many believe that in Southern California only immigrants need literacy assistance. There seems to be a common misconception that illiteracy affects only non-native English speakers. In fact, the number of Caucasian nonreaders in America is twice the number of AfricanAmerican and Hispanic nonreaders combined. In the READ program, 62 percent of the learners are native English speakers. Community Support and Funding The mission of READ/Orange County is to create a more literate community by
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providing diversified services of the highest quality to all who seek them. The program began in 1991 with a grant from the California Library Services Act. Having gained the support of the community, READ is now funded primarily by the Orange County Public Library, as well as through grants and donations. The program has been directly serving the community since 1992 by offering free and confidential reading and writing assistance in a small group setting or one-to-one. The program's volunteers work in the thirty-two county libraries and other locations throughout the county, including five jail locations, the migrant center, and other locations where organizations have allowed the use of their facilities. A unique aspect of the program is the level of support from the library administration and Orange County Board of Supervisors, states Marcia Tungate, Literacy Programs Administrator for OCPL. "We have had strong support from the board, and our county librarian, John Adams, is most helpful, accommodating, and supportive. We also have many businesses and organizations in the county that assist us. Through them, we are able to continue our mission." Local businesses, such as the Wal-Mart Foundation, local WalMart stores, and Sam's Clubs have provided support with donations of funds to provide books for home libraries for children in the families programs. Starbucks, the National Charity League, and MeadWestvaco donated items for the annual picnic and recognition celebration; Barnes & Noble Booksellers allow READ volunteers to hold giftwrapping events at several stores each year. Ingram-Micro has made READ the recipient of its "Casual for a Cause" days four different times, amounting to hundreds of donated children's books. Strong community support enables the program to grow and touch many learners' lives. Tangela Barnes, technology and literacy specialist for READ, reports that presently READ has more than 400 learners who are actively matched with more than 200 tutors. The number has greatly increased over the last eleven years as the first year reported fewer than 100 learners and the first Tutor Training Workshop (TTW) in 1992 had eight participants. Today, the TTWs average about 25, said Barnes. During the past ten years, READ has assisted more than one thousand adults to learn to read and write by way of
hundreds of volunteers contributing more than 400,000 hours. The devoted READ staff keeps the program running smoothly. More than a dozen employees and contractors work under the direction of Tungate. The responsibilities of this dedicated group include the implementing and coordinating the different aspects of the program, including learner support, volunteers, Families for Literacy, EL Civics (see page 55 for more about EL Civics), field support, training, assessment, and outreach. Each individual works with the others as a team toward the goals and mission of READ. The READ program is assisted by the Friends of READ/Orange County, "one of the few organized Friends of the Library group to solely support a literacy program," states Adams. "This group leads to additional opportunities for volunteers to expand involvement and participation beyond the standard libraries, creating a high level of partnerships with community groups and increasing the ability to help." National Institute for Literacy Roles and Standards For too long adult literacy and lifelong learning programs have attempted to make up for a perceived gap in learning that occurred in the past. Now it is known that the real purpose of adult literacy is to build on what people have already learned through experience as well as through formal education, to prepare them for new responsibilities in the present, and to provide them with the tools that enable them to continue to learn in the future. The National Institute for Literacy (NIFL) looked at what roles adults play in their lives and what responsibilities they have in relation to these roles. The institute discovered that adults play the roles of citizen/community member, parent/family member, and worker.1 To be successful in these roles, adults have four purposes for literacy: Having access to information so they can orient themselves in the world Having a voice to be able to express ideas and opinions with the confidence that they will be heard and taken into account Using independent action to be able to solve problems and make deci-
sions on their own, acting independently, without having to rely on others Being able to bridge to the future to learn how to learn so they can keep up with the world as it changes In the first step of the READ program, the learner and tutor map out these roles and the goals they want to meet. The skills used to meet these goals are outlined in the NIFL Equipped for the Future (EFF) Standards (http:// The four major skill areas are communication skills, decisionmaking skills, interpersonal skills, and lifelong learning skills. READ strives to ensure that the skills and knowledge provided will be useful to students in all aspects of their lives. The EFF Standards are implemented into every lesson. For example, Will and Tone will work on the communication skills of read with understanding and convey ideas in writing by way of reviewing the newspaper and practice writing letters to each other. The life-long learning skill of learning through research is achieved by Will when they use the local library to find out more about formal letter-writing structure in a book or manual. All tutors are trained on how the standards are beneficial to the learners; one of the main ways they work toward their students' goals is to build on their learners' experiences and education by using these standards to match their roles as adults. Becoming a proficient reader and writer lays the groundwork for accomplishing the learners' goals and enhances the sense of empowerment that literacy brings. That empowerment allows the student to perform well as a citizen, worker, or parent. READ/Orange County Program Components Core/Basic Reader READ/Orange County provides a variety of programs to assist the community. The learner who needs basic literacy skills in reading and writing only would be placed in the core component where he or she meets with a tutor either in a small group or to work one-to-one to meet the goals established by the tutor and learner. For example, when Tone and Will meet, they work on basic literacy skills. Will's present goal is to write a letter to his son without anyone's assistance.
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Other students may work on goals such as reading a children's book to a grandchild, writing a shopping list, or reading the newspaper for comprehension to become a more active participant in the community. Tutors and students work on whatever the student's goals are to help him or her now and into the future. READ/Orange County works with the learners' individual goals to ensure that what they are being taught is immediately relevant, but at the same time, something that they will be able to take away and use in other situations in their lives. Tutors keep in mind that what they teach should be student-centered (everything aimed at and for our learners). For example, when Will stated what his interests were in writing letters to his family, the lessons were created around those interests, with reading materials, activities, and stories not only aimed at what interested him, but also tailored to his abilities. Tone works to be goal-oriented (goals used are obtainable and specifically designed for each learner as an individual). Will's goal is to be able to write a letter without anyone's assistance, therefore, he and Tone work toward achieving that long-term goal with short-term goals, such as sentence writing, learning when to use capital and lower case letters, letter structure, etc. With the lessons being context-based (everything taught within a context, rather than using word lists or tests), Will can begin to see how words themselves don't stand alone, but are components of larger messages. With Will's goal of writing on his own being very important to him, Tone will find that teaching materials relating to letter writing and correspondence will be immediately relevant (important and something of interest that matters to the learner for success). When Will and Tone work together, they will see that using letters to the editor of a local newspaper or Dear Abby as a source of reading material will not only help Will today, but will also help him bridge to the future (not only "just-in-time skills," but a demonstration of how what one learns today can be used in the future) as he will soon understand the words in the columns and can use those words in other situations. Families for Literacy The Families for Literacy (FFL) component started in 1997 by a partial grant from the California State Library with
the remainder of funds coming from the Orange County Public Library. Its mission is to break the intergenerational cycle of illiteracy. Studies have found that if parents don't read or encourage reading, their children will develop the same habits, and the cycle continues. The Literacy Beat, a newsletter of the Education Writers Association, stated, "Children's literacy levels are strongly linked to the educational levels of their parents--especially their mothers. Mother's education had more effect than other variables, including socioeconomic level. And parents who read books daily raise children who regularly read for pleasure."2 Even with the new maternal working force in the community, the primary link to education continues to be the mother. FFL is intended for learners with children ages five and under living at home--whether the child is a son or daughter, grandchild, niece or nephew, or cousin. In 2001, READ's FFL component served more than 700 families with 24 dedicated volunteer tutors. Last year, they gave away nearly 600 new children's books, many of which were donated by local groups and businesses. "To see a child's face light up and know that we've touched a life by giving what seems to be a simple gift is one of the best parts of my job," states Jill Klubek, READ's FFL Coordinator. "That book can become the foundation for education and create a love of reading that will assist that child for the rest of his life." Building from the local Head Start programs and working with dedicated children's librarians, the FFL staff has created an extensive lesson-planning catalog and tutor manual. FFL is expanding to Family Literacy Nights where families gather to celebrate literacy while they participate in a group lesson. Inmate Literacy One of the services offered by the OCPL literacy program is that of providing tutors in a partnership with the Orange County Sheriff-Coroner Department to inmates in the county jail system. The program, called WIN (Working for Inmate Literacy Now), works to improve literacy skills of the inmates, thus lowering the recidivism rate. In 1992, about one in three PRISON INMATES lacked basic literacy skills, compared with one in five of the general household population. The Three State Recidivism Study found that the re-arrest, reconviction, and re-incarceration rates were lower for the prison
population who had participated in correctional education compared to nonparticipants. The differences were significant in every category.3 The findings concluded that the re-arrest rate of correctional education participants was 48 percent, compared to 57 percent for the nonparticipants; the re-conviction rate was 27 percent for correctional education participants, compared to 35 percent for nonparticipants; and the re-incarceration rate was 21 percent, compared to 31 percent for nonparticipants. To assist in lowering these rates, READ tutors teach in one-to-one settings in five county jails--three in Santa Ana, one in Irvine, and one in Orange. The learners are assessed by trained jail staff and given a READ volunteer tutor who works with them for as long as possible. English as a Second Language The newest component for READ is the English Language Civics Education or EL Civics program, focused on nonnative speakers. READ started this component by a federal grant administered by the California Department of Education Workforce Investment Act/ Adult Education and Family Literacy Sections 225/231 and English Literacy/ Civic Education ( adulteducation). "Recognizing the community's needs, we expanded the program to change with the rising desires of non-native language learners," stated Tungate. This component provides opportunities for non-native Englishspeaking adults to become better parents, workers, and community members by gaining language and literacy skills. "We've wanted to implement this component for a number of years," said Adams. "As a California community, it's overwhelmingly obvious that the need exists. Many might think it's a question of just Spanish, but we know of at least a dozen different languages in the county. All groups can benefit." The benefits begin with the READ ideology and include the same basic structure as the core component but focus on the hear/speak aspect of language acquisition (which includes hear, speak, read, write) as how humans learn and use language skills with total physical response and communicative immersion being the main techniques used. Each student is treated as an adult, and the lessons are centered on his or her goals with immediate relevancy to their present and future goals. The four objectives of the curriculum include a
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range of topics including accessing family health care, nutrition, employment skills, and helping their children succeed in school. These objectives lead to the creation of individual goals that become applicable to the learner. The EL Civics one-to-one lessons last approximately twelve weeks, and the group sessions last fifteen weeks before an individual assessment to discover growth and enhancements. Repetition drills, dialogue role-playing, and other exercises help the learners explore and learn their new language. Tutor Training All of the tutors joining READ receive extensive training. The twenty-threehour Tutor Training Workshop exposes them to the philosophy, techniques, and tools they will need to work with adult learners. Upon completion, each tutor invests fifty hours with his or her learner throughout the year. Additional trainings, speakers, events, and meetings are offered. As READ is an accredited affiliate of ProLiteracy of America, all of its tutors are certified to train in all fifty states and one hundred countries. The training sessions begin with an understanding of the collaborative process that is central to READ's success. The collaborative process stresses that the student's learning and the tutor's teaching are a shared experience and each brings new ideas, knowledge, and insight to each of the tutoring sessions. Each person plays the role of teacher and learner, working together toward the student's goals. Although the tutoring sessions sometimes take place in groups with a group goal, the individual is never lost and also establishes his or her own goals and has individual time with the tutor. Often, the learners in the group setting become tutors themselves. Student Richard Carrizosa came to READ after visiting the booth at the Orange County Fair. He has been making great strides as he explains that "earlier this year, a new student wanted to join our group. She was a little behind the rest of us so I volunteered to help her catch up. So now I am helping someone else to read." It is this give and take between tutors and learners, and the learners themselves, that adds uniqueness to the program.
As the training continues, new tutors learn that reading is not just putting together sound/symbol relationships; they acquire a full understanding that reading entails three views of moving from pronouncing words, to identifying and defining words, to bringing meaning and comprehending what the words put into sentences mean. Tutors are taught techniques for direct instruction including phonics, word patterning, writing, and reading for comprehension. They learn how one only needs a piece of paper and a pen to teach an adult to read. The tutor writes down the student's own words as they are stated, reads from those sentences, lets the student choose the words that he or she doesn't know or wants to work on, and continues the lesson from that point on using all of the techniques presented. This is called the Language Experience Approach (LEA) and has been very successful with adult learners, as it lets them see their own words used in their education. In Tone and Will's case, the practice letters written become their LEA. Lesson planning and goal setting are also important components of the training as they assist the new tutors in understanding that what READ does is for the student and each lesson follows the READ ideologies of being student-centered, goal-oriented, context-based, immediately relevant, and a bridge to the future. All of the techniques taught are incorporated into the tutoring sessions, and trainees practice creating lesson plans as part of their workshop experience. Goal setting starts with discussion with the learners as to their roles as an adult and the goals they want to accomplish within those roles. Trainers understand the importance of the student's goals and how they can help him or her achieve them by learning how to make them SMART--Specific, Measurable, Actionoriented, Realistic, and Time-bound. Being Recognized for Making a Difference READ/Orange County received the National Association of Counties Acts of Caring Award in 2001 and 2003. This award honors community services provided by a county-sponsored volunteers program that enhances or preserves the
quality of life for its residents. READ/Orange County was also recognized as a November 2001 Points of Light designee. The FFL program was awarded Congressional Recognition. In 1998, READ received the International Reading Association Honor. The program has also been given many accolades from local cities and the county. "The READ/Orange County program has made a profound difference by providing crucial tools to the students who can use them to cope in society and improve their lives," states Adams. And Tone and his learner agree. They, like many of the participants in the READ program, have seen a difference in their lives. Will has improved his ability to read and is working toward that goal of someday writing his son a letter. Carol Marshall, a tutor with the program since 1995 and a student at Cal State Long Beach working on her teaching credential because of her experiences, proclaims that "it's fun and it's a neat learning experience and I learned a lot about myself." Because READ is making a difference in the lives of its students and volunteers, it will continue to have an expanding role in the county library system. "If the numbers were to decline in those who need READ's assistance, it would be a magnificent day," declares Adams. "Until then, we will expand to include more students to start even more ripples and continue to make a difference in even more lives." References 1. Sondra Stein, Equipped for the Future Content Standards: What Adults Need to Know and Be Able to Do in the 21st Century (Washington, D.C.: National Institute for Literacy, 2000). 2. The Literacy Beat, Newsletter of the Educational Writers Association 2, no. 4 (June 1988). 3. Stephen J. Steurer, Linda Smith, and Alice Tracy, Three State Recidivism Study (Lanham, Md.: Correctional Educational Association, 2001). For additional information about READ/Orange County and its components, visit
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PLA Early Literacy Research Demonstrates That Libraries Do Make a Difference Four years ago, under the guidance of then PLA President Harriet Henderson, PLA embarked on a project designed to validate public librarians' contributions to early literacy by linking our activities to relevant research and evaluation. PLA partnered with the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), a division of the National Institutes of Health. NICHD had just released the National Reading Panel's report, providing research-based findings concerning reading development in America's children. A primary goal was to develop model public library programs incorporating the research. NICHD officials partnered with PLA because they recognized that parents, teachers, and day-care providers rely on their local public library for resources to help their children learn to read. PLA contracted with Dr. Grover C. Whitehurst and Dr. Christopher Lonigan, to develop a model program for parents and caregivers. Whitehurst and Lonigan created a unique, three-workshop structure for the distinctive phases of a young child's emergent literacy--pretalkers, talkers, and prereaders. To broaden dissemination of materials and to test their effectiveness, PLA, with the Association of Library Services for Children, partnered to pilot and test materials in public libraries, using an evaluation method specific to each of the three developmental stages of reading readiness. The evaluation was designed to test whether parents incorporated necessary skill-building activities into their time with their preschool children and to document library effectiveness as early literacy providers. Over the past two years, twenty library demonstration sites have worked with these models, and librarians were trained to conduct parent and caregiver programs and to collect pre- and postevaluation studies. (See Renea Arnold, "Public Libraries and Early Literacy: Raising a Reader," American Libraries [Sept. 2003], 48­51.) Results Are In Evaluation results make a very strong and documented case for public library influence. When we use current research practices and partner with a young child's most important teachers--parents and caregivers--there is a tremendous positive influence on those individual's behaviors and in getting preschool children ready to read. (See the PLA Web page for more information about evaluation results, Community Partnerships Integral to the design of the project were key community partners. Site libraries partnered with teen parenting programs and agencies such as Head Start and Healthy Families and saw these
agencies incorporate early literacy information and library information into their ongoing work. Other community partners were colleges, hospitals, corporations, and existing literacy initiatives. These community partnerships are fundamental to the success of the program and to positioning the library as a major player in the local and education communities. Next Steps Armed with these very positive evaluation results and the experience of the twenty demonstration sites in carrying out programming, PLA is working to develop training and materials to help public librarians learn more about the model and convey the value of this research-based approach. PLA products will include ongoing adaptation of materials to incorporate new research and new learnings from libraries. Order forms and samples of the first series of training materials and more project information will be available at the PLA National Conference. These programs will allow all libraries to be more productive and influential in our communities. Read more about it at PLA Answers Conference Questions PLA staff members and membervolunteers are getting ready for our Tenth National Conference (February 24­28, 2004, in Seattle, Washington). In the interest of making the conference experience as enjoyable as possible for attendees, we have assembled answers (below) to some of the most common conference questions. When does conference educational programming start? Conference educational program begins at 8:30 on Thursday morning. On Tuesday (all day) and Wednesday (morning) preconference programs and tours are held, which require an additional fee. Wednesday is the Conference Opening General Session from 2 to 4 P.M., and the Exhibits Grand Opening Reception from 4 to 6 P.M. The conference ends with the closing general session on Saturday from 11:45 A.M. to 1 P.M. Why are the meeting rooms are so crowded? We're hoping that our session preference form (located at will help alleviate this problem. It should help us predict more accurately which programs will attract the largest crowds. However, this is not an exact science so if there is a program you really don't want to miss, you should plan to get to the room early. Also, check out the front of the room, there
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usually are seats available up front in even the most crowded sessions. In addition, have a back-up program to attend just in case or take advantage of this time to visit the exhibits. Most of our programs are taped; should you miss one that you really wanted to attend, check and see if the tape is available. Why aren't all the programs taped? We must get written permission from program speakers in order to tape their presentation. If the tape is unavailable, it's because a speaker did not grant us permission. The same goes for posting handouts on the PLA Web site--we need the author's permission. If the handouts are not on the site, it's because we don't have the necessary permission. Why are the meeting rooms so cold/warm? Rest assured that just as soon as you sit down from complaining that the room is too cold, someone has approached another staff member complaining that it is too warm. Unfortunately there is no way to keep everyone happy temperature-wise, but we do try hard to accommodate. Find a PLA volunteer or PLA staff member who will contact the proper building authorities and ask that the temperature be adjusted. Remember though that, due to the size of the convention center, it's usually difficult to make immediate temperature changes in individual meeting rooms. Your best bet is to dress in layers and bring a light sweater that you can take on or off as need be. Why is the food in the convention hall so expensive? While we have no control over food prices in the convention center (which is set by the concessionaire), we do work with the Local Arrangements Committee to bring attention to reasonably priced restaurants in the area. Check out their Seattle restaurants link at How do I mke the best of a visit to the exhibit hall? The exhibits hall is a big part of the conference experience. With so many booths and vendors to visit, it can be an overwhelming place. Here are some tips to make your visit to the exhibits hall more productive and enjoyable. 1. Wear comfortable shoes. The exhibits hall is enormous and the floors are usually concrete. 2. Make a plan. Make use of the exhibitor's listing in the conference program to map out your trip to the exhibits floor.
3. Bring a big bag. Wheeled carts are not allowed on the floor. 4. If you take treats from a booth, you should also politely greet the people staffing the booth. 5. Remain polite at all times. Even if you are not remotely interested in what the vendor has to offer, just smile and say, "No, thank you." If you take it anyway, do not discard it until you're out of sight of the vendor. 6. Take time to chat with the vendors. Booth duty can be very boring, especially if traffic in the hall is light. We're confident that you will have a positive experience at PLA's Tenth National Conference. Please contact us at [email protected] with any questions or check out We look forward to seeing you in February! 2004 February 24­28 PLA 2004 National Conference Seattle June 24­30 ALA Annual Conference Orlando, Fl. 2005 January 14­19 ALA Midwinter Meeting Boston March 7­9 PLA Spring Symposium Chicago
Alaska NW Books . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46 Baker & Taylor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . cover 2 Barnes & . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Book Wholesalers Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . cover 3 Brookhaven Press . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45 Columbia University Press . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52 Dynix . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . cover 4 GIS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 68
Info USA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 Morningstar . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 Neal-Schuman . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57 OCLC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3, 67 Poisoned Pen Press . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39 Sirsi . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 TLC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 U.S. Government Printing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
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The Neal-Schuman Authoritative Guide to Kids' Search Engines, Subject Directories, and Portals By Ken Haycock, Michelle Dober, and Barbara Edwards. New York: Neal-Schuman, 2003. 236p. paper, $55 (ISBN 1-55570-451-4) LC 2002035766. In this day and age where the Internet rules, especially for kids, this book seems especially apropos. Designed for librarians, teachers, and parents, this title offers recommendations and evaluations on the top search engines, directories, and portals available to children in grades four through nine. Based on studies conducted by the authors, data were gathered on how children seek and gather information using the Internet. These data were then used to identify and evaluate more than sixty search engines, subject directories, and portals that are especially designed for youth. The result is a useful, well-organized resource guide containing information on how to find and conduct the best searches for a child's specific information needs. The first chapter begins by providing the reader with definitions and examples of search
engines, subject directories, and portals. From here, the authors provide extensive information on how to evaluate and rate kids' search tools. Evaluation criteria and a sample checklist are also provided which can be used when conducting your own evaluation. The heart of the text, though, can be found in chapter 4, where the authors provide in great detail their recommendations for the top twenty search engines, subject directories, and portals. Each of the twenty entries includes detailed information on display and navigation tools, selection and content coverage, search features, results and ranking, ownership and documentation, and a one-page overall impression that includes a "star" ranking. The key to interpret the rankings, however, can only be found in chapter 3. For ease of use, it would have been helpful to also find this key included at the beginning of chapter 4. In addition, the authors conducted identical searches on each search engine to further support their research and recommendations, displaying the results so that an easy comparison can be made by the reader. Chapters 5 through 7 provide additional information on other notable search engines, subject
If you are interested in reviewing or submitting materials for "By the Book," contact the contributing editor, Jen Schatz, 213 Waterfield Library, Murray State University, Murray, KY 42071; [email protected] "By the Book" reviews professional development materials of potential interest to public librarians, trustees, and others involved in library service. PLA policy dictates that publications of the Public Library Association not be reviewed in this column. Notice of new publications from PLA will generally be found in the "News from PLA" section of Public Libraries. A description of books written by the editors or contributing editors of Public Libraries may appear in this column but no evaluative review will be included for these titles.
directories, and portals as well as online tutors, homework sites, and reference sites. The final chapter offers timely discussions on the issues of filtering, Internet privacy, and commercialization, and includes appendixes that more or less summarize the authors' findings, providing tips for successful searching, safe surfing, evaluating Web sites, and selecting search tools. You may want to consider purchasing two copies of this title, one to circulate and one to keep at the reference desk.--Ellen Bassett, Reference Librarian, Cook Memorial Public Library, Libertyville, Illinois The Accidental Systems Librarian By Rachel Singer Gordon. Medford, N.J.: Information Today, 2003. 262p. $29.50 (ISBN 157387-161-3) LC 2002152865. With this remarkable new book, Rachel Singer Gordon fills a gap we almost failed to notice until she came along. There are print and online "how to" resources for nearly every library application of information technology (IT). What Gordon addresses instead are the confidence and skill-building needs of all those librarians who discover they have become the designated "computer geeks" for their institutions. With good humor and inspired practical examples, she maps what those skills are and tells "how to use your library background to gain or feign such skills." Gordon sees self-identified systems librarians--regardless of their actual titles and responsibilities--as fulfilling a crucial liaison role between patrons, staff, and the technology itself. In this role, she believes they have distinct advantages over nonlibrarian IT specialists. They bring core people skills and fluency with the library environment, and they have the knack of defining problems, digging for information, and critically evaluating what they find. Thus, while the book's focus is the learning and managing of IT concerns, Gordon insists her readers remain first of
all librarians, with the responsibility to teach and interpret technology to other librarians, to staff, to administrators, and to the public. Unlike other IT books, this one is about the people who must cope daily with machines and software in their library work. The first chapter advocates establishing and helping to develop technical competencies for all staff (as well as for the public). The second lays out those technical areas the systems librarian herself may need to master. Specific skills are secondary to the librarian's openness to learning and change. Hence, rather than giving technical details, Gordon walks the reader systematically through each area of concern and then points to timely, authoritative resources for learning more. Chapters 3 through 5 describe applying the librarian's skills in knowledge organization, research, and professional networking to IT concerns. For example, Gordon says to treat troubleshooting problems as reference questions (e.g., using a computer error message as a phrase search in IT listserv archives). Chapter 6 argues that systems librarians must be teachers for their colleagues and patrons, and offers an excellent overview of adult learning principles and techniques. Chapter 7 addresses the reader's own learning needs, focusing on training resources that don't require funding. Finally, since many readers will be official or de facto administrators, chapter 8 covers institutional technology plans, IT projects such as software migration, and supervision of other systems staff. Despite the book's title, Gordon's premise is that the accident is really no accident. Those who don't just give up stay because they have caught the technology bug and thrive on change and puzzles. Chapter 9 therefore speaks to the life lessons crucial to this unexpected career path. A section on job hunting and self-promotion includes cues for deciphering ambiguous job ads. The section on techno-stress tells how to help nontechnical colleagues over-
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come their resistance to using (and teaching the use of) IT tools. Gordon's conclusion is optimistic for all her accidental peers. This book is a delight to read. Whether as a solo computer person in a small library or as part of a library system or consortium IT team, the reader will recognize the situations Gordon describes and welcome her insights and the information referrals she makes. Includes an appendix that lists recommended readings and all the URLs the book mentions. As a bonus, Gordon maintains a Web site ( where she links and regularly updates all her online references. Recommended for library staff and for all library collections.-- Michael Austin Shell, Integrated Library Systems (ILS) Librarian, Jacksonville (Fla.) Public Library The Library's Legal Answer Book By Mary Minow and Tomas A. Lipinski. Chicago: ALA, 2003. 361p. paper, $48, $43.20 ALA members (ISBN 0-83890-8284) LC 2002-8095. "How do you know what's legal?" prompts the blurb on the back of this informative work by two librarians who are also lawyers. The question is best read ambiguously: "legal" signifying both "lawful" and "pertaining to the law," and in this second respect the book will help readers identify library-related issues, the legal ramifications of which ought to be addressed sooner rather than later. The answer to the question of the legality of particular conduct--such as creating links on a Web site, photocopying an article for a patron, or developing a public meeting room policy-- is often "it depends," because the facts and circumstances of individual cases and situations turn out to be the legally determinative factors. It is thus no shortcoming of Minow and Lipinski that The Library's Legal Answer Book is not precisely, as the blurb also states, a "quickreference." Rather, it is a helpful
sketch of the contours of legal issues related for the most part to computers, the Internet, and intellectual property, but also somewhat to more traditional library functions. Nine chapters cover a range of apt topics: copyright (in its hard copy and online manifestations), trademark, Internet filters (approved by the Supreme Court after publication), ADA issues, patron privacy (including the USA PATRIOT Act), meeting rooms and public displays, professional liability (perhaps more a red herring than an issue requiring significant attention), employment issues, and political conduct of nonprofit organizations such as Friends groups. Of course, these topics do not exhaust the range of legal concerns that affect libraries. There is, for example, no discussion of physical injuries on library premises, or of how to deal with difficult or violent patrons, perennial worries in many libraries. But there are probing treatments of nontechnological questions, such as how to deal with latchkey children and policies restricting fraternization among employees. Minow and Lipinski present each chapter as a series of questions and answers, ranging from short paragraphs to discussions of several pages, including real and hypothetical examples, citations to cases, statutory materials, law review articles, and library professional literature. As previously noted, the paucity of definitive answers is mostly a function of the caseby-case nature of the law, and it is also a consequence of the different approaches taken by state and federal jurisdictions, a circumstance of which the authors frequently remind the reader. They also wisely caution libraries against assuming that a nonprofit status will secure them against suit in situations where the law is likely not to respect their distinction from commercial operations. Necessarily, the book treats obscure legal concepts such as constitutional principles and standards of negligence and obscenity in order to help the read-
Information Literacy in Your Library: Recommended Titles Becoming familiar with the library, learning effective research skills and strategies, evaluating various sources in print and online--public library users are faced with a seemingly overwhelming task when it comes to finding just the right information. How do you, as an information professional, move your patrons toward good information-seeking habits? From elementary school students to adult learners, your patrons depend on you to guide them. In keeping with this month's theme of literacy, By the Book contributors recommend the following information literacy titles to help you help your patrons learn this essential life skill. Developing an Information Literacy Program K­12: A How-to-Do-It Manual and CD-ROM Package. By the Iowa City Community School District, edited by Mary Jo Langhorne. New York: Neal-Schuman, 1998. 294p. paper, $89.95 (ISBN 1-55570-332-1). LC 98-007714. Information Literacy Instruction: Theory and Practice. By Esther S. Grassian and Joan R. Kaplowitz. New York: Neal-Schuman, 2001. 468p. paper, w/CDROM, $65 (ISBN 1-55570-406-9). LC 00-067866. I-Search, You Search, We All Learn to Research: A Howto-Do-It Manual for Teaching Elementary School Students to Solve Information Problems. By Donna Duncan and Laura Lockhart. New York: NealSchuman, 2000. 159p. paper, $49.95 (ISBN 155570-381-X). LC 99-089993. Learning about Books and Libraries: A Gold Mine of Games. By Carol K. Lee and Janet Langford. Fort Atkinson, Wis.: Highsmith, 2000. 80p. paper, $16.95 (ISBN 1-57950-051-X). LC 00-029288. Power Research Tools: Learning Activities and Posters. By Joyce Kasman Valenza. Chicago: ALA, 2002. 144p. paper, $55, $49.50 ALA members (ISBN 08389-0838-1). LC 2002-008972. Practical Steps to the Research Process for High School. By Deborah B. Stanley. Englewood, Colo.: Libraries Unlimited, 1999. 230p. paper, $34 (ISBN 1-56308762-6). LC 99-050169. Teaching Information Literacy: 35 Practical, StandardsBased Exercises for College Students. By Joanna M. Burkhardt, Mary C. MacDonald, Andre J. Rathemacher, and Andree J. Rathemacher. Chicago: ALA, 2003. 128p. paper, $35, $31.50 ALA members (ISBN 0-8389-0854-3). LC 2003-007074.
er anticipate how a court is likely to frame its assessment of particular conduct. Occasionally, however, the authors' lawyeridentities predominate and begin to undermine the usefulness of a treatment. For example, there are numerous references to the Restatement of
Torts, a staple legal title that summarizes state case law of injuries and accidents, not likely to be known by or textually accessible to many librarians outside of law libraries. Indeed, the authors briefly describe the Restatement, but late into the book, after it has already been
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cited several times. Minow and Lipinski are plainly satisfying a demand for intelligent discussion of the legal aspects of librarianship. Useful titles have appeared over the years--several topical titles over the last decade by the team of Arlene Bielefield and Lawrence Cheeseman come to mind--but the law has changed significantly during that time and, in any case, it remains complex and arcane, and therefore demanding of continuing elucidation. Perhaps, because it will not greatly simplify law's complexity, The Library's Legal Answer Book might have more appropriately been titled The Library's Legal Question Book. Nevertheless, it is highly recommended to librarians interested in advancing the discussion.--Dean C. Rowan, Student, Boalt Hall School of Law, Berkeley, California Learn Basic Library Skills By Elaine Andersen, Mary Gosling, and Mary Mortimer. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow, 2002. 230p. paper, $34.95 (ISBN 08108-4498-2) LC 2002-26811. Learn Basic Library Skills is the fifth entry in the Scarecrow Press "Library Basics" series. Meant to outline the skills required for competent performance in a library environment, this title covers every aspect of library operation and management through the course of its ten chapters. Geared toward beginners in the information field, some of the subject areas go into much more than an overview, often to the point of being overwhelming. Acquisitions, for example, is discussed in the chapter on "assets and access." This one topic alone is divided into six steps, or subsections, and takes eight pages to describe. This may be too much detailed information for readers new to the field. Instances such as this are common throughout the title. The authors strive to cover every aspect of the profession, ranging from serial publication control to shelving to inventory. However, many librarians in modern libraries no longer perform many of the topics that are
covered in depth. An overview of print card catalogs, for example, may have been sufficient, as opposed to the number of pages dedicated to this topic. Information is presented in a workbook format, and each chapter includes up to sixteen exercises that readers can do independently to evaluate their understanding of the content covered in that chapter. However, the simple and repetitive format of the exercises may become dull, and readers may be tempted to simply skim through the many pages of practice activities. Providing in-depth coverage may backfire when readers hoping to use this book as a learning tool discover it lacks the motivational qualities available in other professional tools that focus on specific areas of librarianship. These readers may want to explore titles such as David F. Kohl's Reference Services and Library Instruction: A Handbook for Library Management (ABC-Clio, 1985), Managing the Public Library by Donald J. Sager (G. K. Hall, 1989), or the numerous titles by William Katz.--Cathie Bashaw Morton, MLS/Children's Librarian, Somers Library, New York Men's Health on the Internet Edited by M. Sandra Wood and Janet M. Coggan. Binghamton, N.Y.: Haworth, 2002. 117p. $39.95 (ISBN 0-78901-924-8); paper $19.95 (ISBN 0-78901925-6) LC 2002-17208. Connecting a patron with reliable health information is often a challenge for librarians. Most lack education or work experience in medicine or health fields, which makes it difficult at times to judge the merits of certain sources. That's why the numerous annotated Web-site bibliographies included in Men's Health on the Internet, edited by Sandra Wood and Janet Coggan, may serve as useful resources for public librarians. While numerous larger and more general works on the subject exist, this title stands out by targeting libraries with articles written by librarians.
Little is written about the purpose of the book, but the lack of theoretical discussion makes it obvious that it's not intended as an academic study. Instead, it is meant to serve as a practical reference resource for librarians and patrons. There is not a great deal of background discussion about the various health topics, with the majority of each article being devoted to site annotations. The ten articles that comprise the book cover a wide range of topics, including general health and obvious concerns such as cancer and heart disease. However, less obvious but still important topics like infertility, hair loss, and health information for gay men are also included. These may not be topics that many patrons feel comfortable addressing directly with a librarian, but they could be useful when offered to patrons through a list of links or other means. While one article is written by a registered nurse, the rest are written by health and/or medical librarians. The vast majority of the cited Web resources are run by respected government health agencies or medical organizations, and the difference between nonprofit and commercial sites is made clear by those authors who cite both. There is some variation in the length of annotations given for each site, from one sentence to a half-page. These annotations are for the most part excellent, although certain brief explanations could have been lengthened to help the user of this resource. One small problem with this book is that several of the links have already been removed from their sites or had their URLs changed. This seems to be the case only with longer URLs that are pointing to a specific page deeper in a site. While most librarians could likely find the page by searching or navigating through the site, patrons using these citations may become lost. However, the "dead link" problem is hardly unique to this effort, and it doesn't detract a great deal from the overall work. Men's Health on the Internet should prove itself a valu-
able quick reference resource in public libraries. The list of links, which is extremely practical for frontline staff, could be used by both librarians and patrons in their search for health information. This would be a wise purchase for any public library, especially those lacking a medical or health librarian.--Craig Shufelt, Lane Public Library, Oxford, Ohio The Visible Librarian Asserting Your Value with Marketing and Advocacy By Judith A. Siess. Chicago: ALA, 2003. 176p. paper, $34, $30.60 ALA members (ISBN 083890-848-9) LC 2003-1922. Stories of public libraries facing branch closures or severe budget cuts are pretty common these days. In many cases, librarians will not have to read about it to be aware of it, as Siess notes in her introduction to The Visible Librarian, since positions remain unfilled and materials budgets dwindle at many of our own libraries (xi). Siess argues in her book that effective marketing is one of the most important things a library can do to combat this problem. One of the best things about The Visible Librarian is the author's ability to distinguish marketing from public relations and advocacy. In the final chapter of the book, Siess goes on to illustrate how all three work together to meet a library's goals. Customer service is what sets a librarian apart from the Internet and other competitors, Siess argues, and the book is filled with practical methods of improving customer service and making sure the customer makes note of it. Siess stresses the personal touch, taking the time to get to know customers, something that public librarians can do without overtaxing the budget. The Visible Librarian is easy to read, quickly highlighting important points without getting bogged down in excessive detail. The author makes good use of quotes, giving the reader key statements from a variety of authors without losing sight of her own message.
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She also provides a good overview of how to create a public relations plan. This book is well indexed and has a thorough bibliography. It would be of value to any member of a public library staff. Librarians who are already doing this kind of work will still find plenty of new ideas here. A good purchase for all public libraries.--Julie Elliott, Reference and Instruction Librarian & Coordinator of Public Relations and Outreach, Indiana University-South Bend, South Bend, Indiana Puzzles and Essays from "The Exchange" Tricky Reference Questions By Charles R. Anderson. Binghamton, N.Y.: Haworth, 2003. $34.95 (ISBN 0-78901-761-X); paper, $14.95 (ISBN 0-78901762-8) LC 2002-68857. Before there was a Stumpers archive or other similar library electronic discussion lists, there was Research Quarterly's "The Exchange" column. A perennial feature for more than thirty-five years, "The Exchange" shared librarians' most difficult reference questions. In Puzzles and Essays from "The Exchange," Charles R. Anderson, former column editor, has compiled the best and the most frequently asked reference questions from "The Exchange," as well as select essays that ponder all things falling under the auspices of reference librarianship. The thrill of the hunt in tracking down the right answer drove reference librarians to share their toughest challenges and to rethink pat answers to seemingly easily answered questions. In chapters ranging from "Quotations" to "Poem Fragments" to "Miscellany" to the elusiveness of "Unanswered Questions," the questions that have had librarians searching their shelves and scouring their
collective memories are provided in a "Q and A" format, with each reference work used in response cited in a list of references at the book's end. Among the questions are the riddle of the "­gry" words, verification of the bibliographic citation of Dean Koontz's Book of Counted Sorrows, the incorrect attribution of the quote "heaven is like a library" to Albert Einstein, and the origin of collegiate homecomings. While several of the questions and answers in Puzzles and Essays from "The Exchange" may now be found on the Internet, this compilation will save the time of reference librarians by allowing them to easily locate and verify answers to these standard questions. The questions posed make excellent training questions for new reference desk staff. Moreover, the questions are indexed by subject, with references to the appropriate lines of a quote or poem as subheadings, making the entries easy to locate. Interspersed among the numerous brain-tickling questions are essays addressing topics of importance in reference librarianship, including "There Will Always Be Reference Librarians." Anderson notes that "we play a role in meeting one of the most basic human needs, the need to wonder" (58). In another essay, "Right or Wrong-- What's the Question?" he fittingly describes librarianship as "an existentialist art." Lest librarians become too engrossed in the seriousness of their quest, Anderson provides a parody of reference librarian anxiety fashioned after a Merck Manual entry, an amusing laugh-aloud piece that serves as a perfect anecdote to a lengthy reference desk shift. Puzzles and Essays from "The Exchange" is highly recommended for all reference librarians. Noting that only
47.25 percent of all the questions posed in "The Exchange" were successfully answered, it serves to remind reference librarians to go the second mile and a third, if needed. This is a must-have title for reference shelves and personal libraries. It is further recommended as standard reading for library school reference courses.--Lisa Powell Williams, Reference Librarian, Moline (Ill.) Public Library Journals of the Century Edited by Tony Stankus. New York: Haworth, 2002. 506p. $79.95 (ISBN 0-78901-133-6); paper $49.95 (ISBN 0-78901134-4) LC 2002-024215. Originally published in The Serials Librarian (vol. 39, nos. 1­4) as a series of articles describing the most influential journals of the twentieth century, this book represents the contributions of thirty-two librarians who were deemed subject experts in their respective fields of knowledge. Stankus divides the book into six broad cluster areas (i.e., "The Helping Professions") and twenty-one chapters (i.e., "Journals of the Century in Social Work") within these cluster areas. Each cluster is preceded by a brief introduction to the history of serials publishing in that subject area and by two pie charts that show the geographic origin (i.e., USA or "Former British Empire") and the type of publisher (i.e., university press or for-profit publisher) for the journals chosen for inclusion in that subject field. The subject experts were given wide latitude in writing their chapters. Stankus explains, "The only mandate was that the authors be highly discriminating rather than all-inclusive" (1). Consequently, each chapter reflects its own standard for selection of periodicals as "journals of the century." Some contribu-
tors provide their selection methodology and criteria, while others simply list and describe the journals that they have chosen. The number of entries included in each section varies widely. The chapter on business and economics includes just over fifty titles, whereas Stankus' own life sciences chapter contains more than three times that number. The description of each title also varies widely. The best chapters provide a paragraph describing each entry, whereas other contributors cram three or four selections into one sentence. Few contributors examine the historical or scholarly significance of the journals included in their chapter. Contributors also vary widely in using footnotes and bibliographies. Some chapters include lengthy footnotes covering more than two pages, whereas others don't use any footnotes. Journals of the Century lacks the strong editorial direction that could have imposed parameters and criteria for selecting the most significant journals, arranging chapter formats, describing the chosen journals, and using footnotes or bibliographies. The term "journals" itself is never defined for the reader. Perhaps this editorial omission explains the exclusion of Time or Business Week as compared to the inclusion of The Economist or Inc. Most significantly, the purpose of this book eludes this reviewer: Journals of the Century is neither a guide for purchasing titles nor an historical overview of the twentieth century's most significant journals. This book is not recommended for purchase for public library collections.--Joseph Eagan, Manager, Periodicals Dept., Enoch Pratt Free Library, Baltimore, Maryland
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Gale Creates Virtual Reference Library Gale announced a new e-book program that integrates e-reference books in an easy-to-use database interface. Gale Virtual Reference Library will offer libraries the opportunity to select from an initial collection of eighty-five reference sources--encyclopedias, almanacs, and series--to create a customized, completely integrated online information service. Each library customizes Gale Virtual Reference Library to fit its needs, selecting from what will be a fast-growing selection of titles to serve children's, academics, and general audience needs. Gale Virtual Reference Library is accessed from a common menu that integrates all the library's Gale databases. Users can search a single ebook or search across the entire collection. The GPO and National Archives Unite to Provide Permanent Online Public Access The Government Printing Office (GPO) and the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) announced an agreement that will ensure the documents you see today on GPO Access (www. will remain available permanently. The GPO-NARA agreement covers the content on GPO Access, including the online versions of the Congressional Record, the Federal Register, the Code of Federal Regulations, and other electronic publications distributed by the Superintendent of Documents. GPO Access provides free online public access to more than 250,000 Federal Government titles. NARA will assume legal custody of the records as part of the official Archives
of the United States, and GPO will retain physical custody and be responsible for permanent public access and preservation of the records. Relaunches Its Multimedia Educational Web Site The newly relaunched hosts a new combination of free and premium features that includes hundreds of multimedia educational activities for children ages two to twelve. After registering for free, families can use activities at the site covering topics in math, language arts, social studies, science, and the arts. Premium features such as progress reports and quiz makers enhance the personalized learning environment available at Children can create and save projects, then show them to others. Through e-mail invitations, a child can virtually say, "Look what I did, Grandma!" All content on the Web site is original. has also partnered with leading companies in the field, including [email protected] and McGraw-Hill. MARC Records for Popular eBooks Now Available from OverDrive OverDrive, provider of library e-book solutions, announced that it has been added to the OCLC Cataloging Partners Program. OverDrive's participation in the program has led to the creation of a new MARC record for e-books that contains full-text bibliographic information pertain-
ing to digital media. Now libraries can add best-selling e-books into their catalogs by utilizing customized MARC records from OCLC for titles purchased from OverDrive. As part of the program, OCLC is also adding OverDrive's Content Reserve collection of e-books to WorldCat, their database of bibliographic information containing nearly fifty million records. In addition, OverDrive is providing OCLC with critical catalog data on tens of thousands of popular e-books in several formats. E-book titles from leading publishing houses are available for purchase by libraries through Content Reserve, an online repository of e-books developed by OverDrive. ProQuest Acquires SIRS Publishing ProQuest Information and Learning has acquired SIRS Publishing, publisher of SIRS Researcher, SIRS Discoverer, SIRS Enduring Issues, and other databases. SIRS' proprietary-published products are designed to address curriculum-oriented, research-based information needs that arise as students study social problems, science, health, controversial current issues, legal issues, ethics, and more. SIRS databases place their editorial emphasis on balanced coverage of both current and enduring social topics. SIRS products are sold by subscription to libraries, school districts, and consortia worldwide. SIRS products join the recently acquired bigchalk and eLibrary offerings to create a product suite that will provide ProQuest customers with a wide range of choices.
The contributing editor of this column is Vicki Nesting, Regional Branch Librarian at the St. Charles Parish Library, Louisiana. Submissions may be sent to her at 21 River Park Dr., Hahnville, LA 70057; [email protected] The above are extracted from press releases and vendor announcements and are intended for reader information only. The appearance of such notices herein does not constitute an evaluation or an endorsement of the products or services by the Public Library Association or the editors of this magazine.
Generations on Line Helps Libraries Extend Services to Seniors Generations on Line offers libraries an Internet tutorial designed especially for seniors. This web-based software program is now in more than 500 libraries in 46 states and throughout the library systems in Philadelphia, Miami, Charlotte, North
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Carolina, and Boston. Free to seniors and targeted to those who have never tried a computer before, this friendly interface has large-type instructions on each screen in plain English to guide a novice through the basic steps to use the Internet. It searches in any one of twenty-five languages and opens links popular with seniors, including Medicare, Social Security, newspapers in other languages, and health and hobby information. There is also a very simplified e-mail tutorial and an intergenerational question-andanswer section in which fourth graders ask questions about the past and seniors share their memories. Each of these Internet applications keeps instructions on the screen so no or minimal staff time is required. The cost for a site license to cover all the computers in a branch is a one-time $350 with an annual maintenance fee of $100. The program includes Technical Support and a kit of turnkey publicity and support materials. New Edition of the Sears List of Subject Headings H. W. Wilson announced that the Sears List of Subject Headings, eighteenth edition, is scheduled to be released in January 2004. Developed to serve the needs of small and medium-sized libraries, the Sears List delivers a basic list of essential headings, together with patterns and examples to guide the cataloger in creating further headings as needed. Practical features include a thesaurus-like format, an accompanying list of cancelled and replacement headings, and legends within the list that identify earlier forms of headings. Major revisions in the eighteenth edition include: New and Updated Headings: New terms reflect developments in computers and technology, psychology and personal relations, and popular culture and handicrafts. Updated Dewey Numbers: All the classification numbers assigned to the Sears headings in this edition have been revised to conform to the new fourteenth Abridged Edition of the Dewey Decimal Classification. Revision of "Principles of the Sears List": This twenty-three-page document states the theoretical founda-
tions of Sears List and offers a concise introduction to subject cataloging in general. It has been revised to include new guidelines for the application of subject headings to individual works of fiction. CybraryNT Solutions Announces Software Updates Computers by Design has rolled out the most recent release of its Internet-filtering software. The software offers three options: The CybrarySiteT component is a protected Web browser. It can integrate seamlessly with the library's existing filtering software and can be configured very simply to ask patrons if they want filtered or unfiltered access to the Internet when they sit down at a public-access computer. The CybrarySafeT component can be used as the library's filtering software, giving library staff the ability to manage their own list of known and accepted Web sites. Library staff has the ability to add sites to the list at any time, so the list of sites may be expanded as needed. Finally, CybraryNT software has an option to connect to and integrate with the library's ILS/ALS for true patron authentication, allowing the library to manage one patron database to control all aspects of their public-access computers. In addition, when a parent logs in to their library account, they can access their children's lists of sites in the CybrarySafeT program and edit the list, adding and deleting sites for their children, creating a personalized list for each child. Which Periodicals Are Included in Which Databases? Books and Periodicals ONLINE, produced by Library Technology Alliance (LTA), offers a comprehensive compilation of serial publications that can be researched electronically via online hosts, such as LexisNexis, Dialog, and WestLaw. The database includes references to more than 106,000 sources that have been selected by leading information providers,
such as Gale and Questel, for inclusion in their databases. The database is published in both print, as Books and Periodicals ONLINE, and in electronic format, as For easy identification of the sources, Books and Periodicals ONLINE offers the following information for each record: Source name, title changes, cross references Journal ISSNs Name and file location of host services Identification of 15,000 full-text sources Coverage dates Identification of full or selective cover- age Coded for full text, abstracts, citations Books and Periodicals ONLINE covers publications in selected databases hosted by online vendors and Internet aggregators such as: Dialog, Electric Library, EBSCOhost, Factiva-Dow Jones, FirstSearch, Gale InfoTrac Web, LexisNexis, Medlars, ProQuest, Questel-Orbit, WestLaw, and WilsonLine. Sources featured in LTA's publications and its database include more than: 35,000 popular magazines; 28,000 newsletters; 21,000 scholarly, peer-reviewed jour- nals; 12,000 newspapers and tabloids; and 300 business directories and reference works. Gale and Discovery Communications Bring Popular Cable TV Show to Print Fifteen-million viewers tune in to Animal Planet's The Jeff Corwin Experience TV show every month. One quarter of those viewers are kids. Now The Jeff Corwin Experience is available in a book series for kids. In a cooperative effort with Discovery Communications, Gale has created highinterest, fact-packed books on animals and habitats that also capture all the fun and excitement of the television programs. The titles will be published by Blackbirch Press, a Gale imprint that specializes in illustrated nonfiction for students in elementary and middle schools.
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Instructions to Authors
Public Libraries, the official journal of the Public Library Association, is always eager to publish quality work of interest to public librarians. The following options are available to prospective authors: Feature articles. These are usually ten to twenty pages doublespaced. (Contact Renйe Vaillancourt McGrath at [email protected]) "Verso" pieces. These express opinions or present viewpoints and are not to be longer than six pages. (Contact Renйe Vaillancourt McGrath at [email protected]) Library news for "Tales from the Front." (Contact Jennifer RiesTaggart at [email protected]) Items for "News from PLA." (Contact Kathleen Hughes at [email protected]) Vendor announcements. (Contact Vicki Nesting at [email protected] Reviews of professional literature. (Contact Jennifer Schatz at [email protected]) Please follow the procedures outlined below when preparing manuscripts to be submitted to Public Libraries. Mechanics Manuscripts should be submitted on a PC-compatible disk or as an email attachment (preferably in Microsoft Word format). Please write both your name and the type of word processing program (including version) on the disk label (or include in the text of an e-mail). Submit a separate cover page stating the author's name, address, telephone, and e-mail, and a brief, descriptive title of the proposed article. The author's name should not appear anywhere else on the manuscript. Do not use automatic formatting templates. Make the manuscript format as streamlined and simple as possible. Specialized formatting may be lost from one program to another. Justify text on the left margin only (i.e., ragged right). Double-space the entire manuscript, including quotes and ref- erences. Number all pages. Add two hard returns between paragraphs to delineate them. Do not indent at the start of a new paragraph. Do not use the automatic footnote/endnote feature on your word processing program. Create endnotes manually at the end of the article. Do not use characters that do not appear on the standard keyboard, such as bullets or arrows. Indicate special characters in angled brackets as necessary (e.g., ). Such characters are embedded later during the production process. Style Abstract. Include two or three sentences summarizing the content of the article before the first paragraph of the text. Spelling and use. Consult the Random House Webster's College Dictionary for spelling and usage. Style. Consult the Chicago Manual of Style, 14th edition (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Pr., 1993) for capitalization, puncuation, abbreviations, etc. Presentation. Write in a clear, simple style. Use the active voice whenever possible. Avoid overly long sentences. Subheadings. Break up long sections of text with subheadings. All nouns, pronouns, modifiers, and verbs in the subhead should be capitalized. References. Public Libraries uses numbered endnotes, the standard humanities style detailed in the Chicago Manual of
Style, chapter 15. References should appear at the end of the paper in the order in which they are cited in the text. Bibliographic references should not include works not cited in the text. Please refer to the preferred form for citations in past issues of the magazine and the Chicago Manual of Style. Revision. Articles are edited for clarity and space. When extensive revision is required, the manuscript is returned to the author for approval. Photographs, Tables, and Graphs Photographs enhancing the content of the manuscript are welcomed. Print copies are preferred over digital copies, unless digital copies are prepared at high resolution, suitable for magazine printing. Web-quality files, such as gifs, cannot be used. Please include captions for all photos submitted. Tables and graphs should be prepared using a spreadsheet program such as Lotus or Excel, if possible. Number tables and graphs consecutively and save each as a separate file. Indicate their placement within the text with the note [insert table 00 here]. Provide each table or graph with a brief, descriptive caption. Use tables and graphs sparingly. Consider the relationship of the tables and graphs to the text in light of the appearance of the printed page. Provide data points for all graphs by marking them on a printout or including them in electronic file. In some instances a graph may benefit from being recreated on our software. You need not provide graphs in final form. If you prefer, you may provide a rough version or even a sketch. If so, please mark all data points clearly. We will create the graphic. You will have a chance to review the graphic when you review your typeset pages during the proofing stage. For complicated illustrations such as maps or screen captures of Web pages, prepare TIF files on a separate disk labeled with the name of the author and the type and name of each file. As with photos, these files must be of high resolution, suitable for magazine printing, not just Web use. If you have any questions about manuscript preparation or submission, please contact Renйe Vaillancourt McGrath, Feature Editor, at [email protected] Submission and After Feature article manuscripts are evaluated by the feature editor and a panel of persons knowledgeable about the topic of the work. The evaluation process generally takes eight to twelve weeks. Articles are scheduled for publication mostly in the order of acceptance, except where space considerations dictate. For example, the number of pages available might require a longer or shorter article to complete the issue's allotted page count. Send the original, a disk copy, plus two paper copies of the manuscript (or an electronic copy, as an e-mail attachment) along with your name, address, telephone, fax, and e-mail addresses to: Renйe Vaillancourt McGrath, Feature Editor, 248A. N. Higgins Ave. #145, Missoula MT 59802. Queries can be addressed to [email protected] Receipt of all manuscripts is acknowledged. However, manuscripts cannot be returned unless a self-addressed envelope, large enough to contain the manuscript and with sufficient postage, is provided. Please feel free to contact Renйe Vaillancourt McGrath at (406) 777-1228 or Kathleen Hughes at the PLA office, 800-5452433, extension 4028, for more information. Your queries and suggestions are welcomed.
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"GIS shares our vision for library service and is committed to helping us achieve it." Eva Calcagno, Manager Washington County Cooperative Library Services
WCCLS Manager Eva Calcagno (standing) and Automation Librarian Barbara Kesel explore ideas for Polaris enhancements with GIS President Bill Schickling during a visit to the Forest Grove City Library in Oregon. Forest Grove is one of 15 libraries in the WCCLS consortium using the Polaris library system.
"When our consortium purchased Polaris® in 1997 we were investing in a company and a technology for the long term. We viewed our relationship with GIS as a collaboration where, as partners, we share a common purpose ­ building a flexible, dynamic library automation system that helps us expand into new areas to meet the growing needs of our communities. "Our experience over the past 5 years, and most recently as a beta test partner for Polaris 3.0, has reinforced our partnership. As libraries increasingly compete with the services of online retailers and 'bricks and mortar' bookstores, it's important that we continue to up the ante by delivering services to our users. Polaris 3.0 makes it easy to add the new technologies that patrons want into our existing Polaris framework. By developing a variety of strategic alliances, GIS has also made it easy to incorporate applications from third party vendors that deliver enhanced services to patrons and improve staff productivity.
"The personal relationships we have with GIS staff have withstood the test of time and make this partnership work. Looking around the library automation industry you see so many personnel changes. It makes it difficult to imagine that management could establish a sense of commitment or connection to a product or to its customers. Bill Schickling ­ now GIS president and CEO ­ was the chief architect of Polaris development and identifies 100% with its success. Bill's commitment to the product, to us as a customer, and to the company is part of what sets GIS apart. "GIS listens and responds to our needs. Since the beginning, we've had an open and honest dialogue. GIS shares our vision for library service and is committed to helping us achieve it." Eva Calcagno, Manager Washington County Cooperative Library Services Hillsboro, Oregon WCCLS is a consortium of 15 libraries with 6.5 million circulation transactions annually.
GIS Information Systems, Inc. 1-800-272-3414
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