Category Archives: Schools

Six Biggest School Library Annoyances and How to Avoid Them

By Doug Johnson
Blue Skunk Blog

The website Lifehacker this week had an article titled: The Six Biggest Media Center Annoyances (and How to Fix Them) and I got excited thinking those smart people were going to help school media specialists become (even) more popular. The “media center” being written about, however, was the home amalgamation of TV, amplifier, speakers, and various tuners, DVRs, etc. – not school libraries.

But it is a great title that I have modified slightly for clarity to use for this post. I am putting on my library patron and parent/grandparent hat in writing this post…

Six biggest library annoyances and how to fix them

  1. Unfriendly/unhelpful librarian. I am always shocked when I see kids treated as an annoyance rather than as a reason for being by any library staff member. You fix this by firing the librarian with the negative attitude and replacing him/her with someone whose personal mission statement includes service to children. The librarian should be a primary reason for coming to the library – not the reason one avoids it.
  2. Book fines. Libraries with policies that seem to emphasis getting books back instead of getting books out, drive me nuts. Find positive ways of helping kids and teacher show respect for other library users by the timely return of stuff. A book sitting on a shelf is worthless.
  3. Computers “for school use only” policies. School libraries should encourage personal learning not just academic learning. OK, a library may have a limited number of terminals and priority should be given to school work, but there is absolutely NO reason for a library workstation to sit unused if there are students wanting to look for information of personal interest. This is a simple policy change. A computer sitting unused is worthless.
  4. Material checkout restricted by age or reading ability. It drives me insane to hear about my grandsons’ book checkout being restricted to the “easy” book section or set of preselected materials when they go to the library. At the very least, librarians should allow a child to check out one book of personal choice from anywhere in the library along with the required book.
  5. Poorly weeded collections. A badly weeded collection is not the sign of underfunding but of professional incompetence. If funding is a problem, collections should be getting smaller, not older. The only fix for old, cruddy collections is a dedication to weeding – and a information campaign to staff about why weeding is imperative.
  6. Excuses. There is no excuse for a library program that is not getting better. Problems with budget, staffing, facility, scheduling and administrative support are not good reasons for not providing kids and staff access to good reading materials, Internet access, and information literacy skills. It is our personal toward our programs, not our situations, that determines our efficacy. Get your head around it.

So what are your biggest annoyances and how would you fix them? Oh, feel free to create a similar list for your tech director or tech department. If you’re going to dish it out, you better be able to take it as well, my mother always warned me.

Reposted from the Blue Skunk Blog under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

Three New Educational Apps From the Library of Congress

The Library of Congress, in collaboration with various educational organizations, has launched three web- and mobile-based applications related to Congress and civic participation for use in K-12 classrooms. From stepping behind the camera with photographers who fought against child labor to building a timeline that traces African Americans’ journey towards freedom, students are able to do all these things and more using the set of new free educational interactives. Each project takes a different approach to the subjects, and each is based on the rich historical primary-source items that the Library makes freely available at loc.gov.

Eagle Eye Citizen, developed by the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media at George Mason University. Eagle Eye Citizen engages middle and high school students in solving and creating interactive challenges on American history, civics and government with Library of Congress primary sources in order to develop their civic understanding and historical thinking skills.

Engaging Congress, developed by Indiana University Center on Representative Government, is a series of game-based learning activities that explores the basic tenets of representative government and the challenges it faces in contemporary society. Primary-source documents are used to examine the history and evolution of issues that confront Congress today.

KidCitizen, developed by Muzzy Lane Software. KidCitizen introduces a new way for young students (K-5) to engage with history through primary sources. In KidCitizen’s nine interactive episodes, children explore civics and government concepts by investigating primary-source photographs from the Library of Congress. They also connect what they find with their daily lives. KidCitizen includes cloud software tools that let educators create their own episodes and share them with students.

Getting Started With the AASL Standards

School Library Journal has compiled a list of essential resources for getting started with the new American Association of School Librarians (AASL) National Standards, beginning with the three-minute introductory video above. Go read the article for all of them.

Then, be sure join us tomorrow, November 28, at 3:30 p.m. MST for our webinar, Talking About the New AASL Standards. Paige Bredenkamp, School Library Consul