A Librarian’s Responsibility to our Youth and Adolescent Literature

Adolescent Literature and Library Collections

This week I have been assisting a K-12 librarian with re-organizing the stacks so that her collections are not only easier for students to access, but are up-to-date with current material.  My focus has been on the junior high and high school fiction collection although I have also assisted with their non-fiction section.  Since I am currently working on completing my library endorsement to be a library media specialist, I decided to discuss adolescent literature and how librarians need to keep on top of the weeding and organizational process to make sure students have relevant information.

While working through the stacks over the past three days, I noticed that although the school provides many new titles, there are great deals of books that are very old and dusty.  It was obvious that students haven’t checked them out in a very long time.  In addition, instead of shifting books to accommodate new books, many sections have books either lying on top or in front of other selections.  This system definitely limits easy access to materials for staff and student use.  The librarian that I am working with is very open to new ideas.  She believes that a “fresh set of eyes” can be very beneficial, and help her with finding “new and improved” ways to organize materials.

Libraries can definitely be a huge asset to schools and getting books to into the hands of our youth.  I have taken the past couple of days to move the most popular books into more accessible areas of the library.  I shifted the remaining books so that they are in different places so that students will need to look for books instead of getting stuck going to the same areas of the library and getting stuck in a rut of sorts.  Also, I have repaired books that were slightly damaged as well as “weeded” books out of the circulation.  It is important to have current collections.  When I got home from working in the library, I decided to complete some research on what is currently considered to be “best practice” for deciding what books should stay and what books should be removed from a library collection.  The following information is what I felt was worth mentioning.

1.  Professional responsibility when weeding collections:

Librarians in all types of libraries must weed.  Avoiding weeding degrades the appearance of the collection and creates the opportunity to spread dangerous or misleading information.

As professionals, we need to make informed and responsible decisions so that the information that we provide to our patrons is up-to-date and accurate.

2.  Getting rid of items that are weeded from a collection:

Make sure that after you make a decision, that the books are removed from your OPAC system to avoid any confusion for patrons and staff.  When getting rids of books, librarians need to be thoughtful in regards to what to do with the materials.  Having a plan and following library policy will help diffuse patrons that may be upset by the process.  Once decisions are made as to what to get rid of, there are different options for disposal.  Items can literally be thrown away.  This may be difficult, but it might be what is deemed best.  Some libraries may choose to have a book sale, give them to other organizations, or transfer them to a storage site of a special collections area.  There isn’t one solution that will work for every library.  Librarians need to be cognizant of policies within their own library and follow those guidelines.  The school library that I am currently volunteering in has a couple of ways to deal with the removal of books.  Students always have the option to take these books for free and give them a new home.  Any books that have not been taken home by students at the end of the year are taken to a recycling facility.

On a personal note, I love the idea of donating books to soldiers.  I have MANY military people in our family, and I know that they appreciate reading anything that they can get their hands on to pass time while overseas.

3.  When to weed a collection:

Weeding should be a continual process.  If we wait to complete it once per year, the process is too overwhelming and probably won’t be successful due to time constraints and volume of work.  By breaking the work down over the course of the year, this process remains manageable.

4.  Five different weeding plans:

                1.  MUSTY guide.

                2.  CREW principles.  (Continuous, Review, Evaluation, Weeding)

                3.  Heinemann and Sunlink websites.

                4.  Gail Dickinson’s 3-Step Plan  (One-shelf-per-week procedure)

                5.  Karen Lowe’s Resource Alignment:  Providing Curriculum Support in the School Library Media Center.

5.  The acronym MUSTY stands for:

                M – Misleading information

                U – Ugly

                S – Superseded by better works

                T – Trivial – may have been more valuable to the collection years ago.

                Y – Your collection has no use – (irrelevant to curriculum, student, or teacher needs).

6.  A weeding plan that I would be most inclined to follow and why:

I actually liked a combination of the weeding plans.  Gail Dickinson’s 3-Step Plan makes sense to me as it has a plan for continuous weeding so that the job doesn’t get too overwhelming.  By taking that approach combined with the CREW approach though, I think that a good process could be worked out.  I am the type of person that likes to keep up with things as I go through life.  I am not a procrastinator and feel that people wouldn’t get so overwhelmed with tasks if they would just make a commitment to tackle jobs from the start and not put them off until later.  Every time that I choose to put work off, I tend to end up feeling very overwhelmed and it makes it harder to produce a successful project in the end.  The library is a place that I feel should be relaxing not only to patrons but to the staff as well.  By tackling this large job one bite at a time, it shouldn’t have to be so dreaded.

 CREW = MUSTY + the following:

                1.  If the book fits the MUSTY standard.

                2.  If of a certain age determined by subject category.

                3.  And has not been checked out in several years.

                4.  THEN THAT BOOK WILL PROBABLY NEED TO BE WEEDED!

I constantly encourage students to find a type of book that they can enjoy.  It saddens me when students say that they hate to read.  Each time I hear that comment, I visit with the student about how with so many books available in the world that there is something for everyone.  Librarians need to be cognizant of how they make selections and organize their collections to assist students with finding materials.  If stacks are “pleasing to the eye” and accessible, that is a great start.  Encouraging students continually is also important.  One of my non-readers at the high school was hooked on reading once he started reading graphic novels.  Although this is a type of book that I have never been terribly interested in, I decided to read a couple for my adolescent literature class to see if they might be beneficial for me in a classroom setting.  I just completed reading Maus & Maus II.  During my student teaching experience, my 6th graders studied the Holocaust.  Some of my readers struggled some with getting into the books that were assigned to them.  A few of my kiddos would have definitely benefited from the graphic novel selection, and I will definitely keep these in mind for future students.

It is my hope that all librarians take into account why and how they make selections for our children.  Also, I hope that they keep on top of the weeding process so that the information students are exposed to is current and relevant to their needs.  It would be a shame for a student to study about a topic that is so outdated that they are receiving inaccurate information.  Librarians can be the first line of defense in making sure that doesn’t happen.

It’s Memorial Day Monday!!!!

It’s Monday! – Memorial Day

Wow!  How time flies when I am reading…  I literally lose track of it.  After finding a quiet place to snuggle down, I sometimes look up and can’t believe how long I have been reading.  This week was no exception.  I set a goal for myself to read for at least 2 hours a day.  To make sure to hold myself accountable to this, I made a checklist to write what hours I read each day.  I was so excited this morning when I added up my reading time for last week and realized that not only had I met my goal, but I had exceeded it!  Last week I read books for a total of 16 hours.  I have no idea the last time that happened.  Since going back to college, my free reading time has been limited.  Reading this much again is so much fun!!!!!

 As I reflect on the meaning of today, I take note of the fact that one of the books I read this week was “Bomb.”  That seems quite fitting as we take time today as Americans to remember those that have and continue to fight for the freedoms that we hold so dear to us.  It was amazing to read first-hand accounts of men and women that were such an integral part of designing weapons of war.  Seeing how they reacted to and questioned the power of such tools really makes one reflect on the chaos of the world in which we live.

 Reading gives us all an opportunity to continually stay on top of what is happening not only in America but globally as well.  Sometimes I think that we take for granted the blessing that our freedoms bring to us.  They completely allow us all to live the way that we choose.  We can read what inspires us.  Each day we have the freedom to stay the course or to take a new path in life.

I hope that we all continue to embrace and be thankful for the opportunities that we have been blessed with due to the sacrifices of others.  Today… I hope that we all choose to continue to educate ourselves in a way that would make us all proud.

 God bless the USA!!!!

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Reading for the Middle Grades

Since starting my adolescent literature class on May 12th, I have been blessed to read many really good books.  Reading for the middle grades definitely seems to be geared around learning more about themselves as well as discussing issues regarding acceptance and diversity.  Middle school is an overwhelming time for many young people.  They don’t quite know who they are or where they fit into not only social groups at school, but where they fit into the world in general.

 I started the class by reading the book “The One and Only Ivan.”  Early on, the animals in the story seemed to see one another as individuals, even though they weren’t the same species.  They looked out for one another and had empathy for each other’s situations in life.  I believe that this is a very important concept for students to learn from an early age.  However, when students are really trying to redefine themselves in these “middle years,” it is a wonderful time to reinforce these concepts so that they can all be empathetic to each other through the trials and tribulations of the changing times in their lives.

 My favorite book by far at this point over my past 2 week of reading is “Wonder.”  For eight years I worked in the Special Education department of our local high school.  So many times I would see the struggles of students and the insensitivity of others.  This book very eloquently shows the importance of acceptance during these important times in students’ lives as they are so rapidly changing.

 Acceptance of diversity among others is also important during the middle years.  We live in a very rural community, and our students aren’t exposed to very many different ways of living.  Therefore, literature can be one of the only ways that our students can get a glimpse of how other cultures function.  I went on a field trip with my 6th graders this week, and it was amazing to me at how many of them had never traveled very far from home.  We expanded their horizons only by a four-hour drive, but for some of them, this was quite a distance away.  I love that by connecting them to literature in our classrooms that we can essentially give them some of these experiences on a continuing basis.  It is wonderful when we have class discussion about our group readings, and I can see that they are visualizing and really connecting to what is being taught.

 The one area that I personally struggle with that is shown in some books for the middle grades is when the topics get personal.  For example, in “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian,” there were parts that I would be uncomfortable discussing with students.  I actually know teachers in our district that have used this book as a read-aloud, but it is not something that I would be comfortable tackling.  Even with some of the classics that I have had to read aloud with students I have had moments that make me uneasy.  When interacting with students, I am always aware of speaking professionally.  I can remember reading books such as, “Of Mice and Men” and “Saint Iggy,” where some of the language was so inappropriate that I would skip those parts and students would giggle.  They got used to me skipping words eventually, but I would prefer to find books that provide powerful messages without the use of bad language or sensitive issues that students are dealing with throughout puberty.

 I am excited to see that there are MANY books out there that provide quality messages in school appropriate language.  By continuing to network with other like-minded professionals, I am confident that I will never have a shortage of wonderful books for my students to absorb.  Today I will be starting a biography by Jeannette Walls.  By reading the book jacket, it appears to be another story for YA literature that shows students that no matter what hurdles they have to make in life that a good outcome is possible.  One of the students where I am completing my school library internship recommended it to me, and I can’t wait to get started!

It’s Monday!!!!! Here’s what I’m reading…

It’s Monday! – What Are You Reading?

 It’s Monday!  I can’t believe how quickly the weekend flew by.  Today I am reading “The Mighty Miss Malone.”  I am about one-third of the way into the book and truly enjoying it so far.  Deza Malone (the main character) is an extremely bright young girl growing up during the Great Depression.  She is fortunate to have a teacher that recognizes her talents and encourages her to keep working hard.  I am looking forward to this evening when I can immerse myself into the continuing story.

 Over the weekend, I read two other books.  The first was called, “Wonder.”  This book has now rocketed up to one of my all-time favorites!!!!  It is a heartwarming story that discusses the trials and tribulations of a fifth grade boy trying to fit in when entering school for the first time.  Due to his extreme facial deformities and health issues, he had been homeschooled up until that point in his life.  It is an inspirational story about not only overcoming challenges, but how students can learn acceptance of differences as well as forming authentic friendships.  Over the course of my adolescent literature class, one of my hopes was to find books that I can use in my classroom.  This is definitely one that I will invest in as it can teach students a great deal about compassion and diversity in the human race.

 I also read “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.”  My teenage daughter said that she loved this book and picked it for me as my next reading choice on Sunday.  Although I did enjoy the overall storyline of the book, it is definitely not one that I would keep in my classroom due to some more mature content in parts.  I know for certain that I would have parents upset with me if I were to use it in a group reading setting.  It is available in our school library in the high school section though, so if they were interested in checking it out on their own, I do see that it is a book that could also teach students about diversity, acceptance, overcoming challenges, and friendship.

Learning Goals

Over the duration of this Adolescent Literature course, I am hoping to learn about how to find the best books to enhance my students’ learning.  There are so many books available in the world that I want to learn to find ones that will increase student vocabulary while getting them excited about reading.  Since going back to college, I have not been able to read books of my choosing very often, and I miss that part of my life.  Once I wrap up all of my classes, I hope to tackle a book per week.  This summer, my adolescent literature class is helping to get me back into the swing of reading again.  So far I love it!  Hopefully I will be able to continue this trend for the foreseeable future.

Reading for 14 hours each week will definitely be challenging for me as I am completing other classes for my library endorsement as well.  However, I am a very determined person, and once I set my mind to a task, I believe that it is imperative to follow through.  My plan is to set aside two hours of time each night before bed to just read.  The only problem that I sometimes encounter with this strategy is what I like to refer to as “the point of no return.”  By this I mean that even if my two hour goal has been reached, there is a point in the book (about ¾ of the way in) that I struggle to put it down.  So…. It is possible that some nights may keep me up later than I anticipate.  J

Blogging is a brand new experience for me.  Due to this, just learning to navigate through the program will initially be challenging for me.  However, so far I think that things are going well.  I hope that trend continues.

Until next time….

Introduction

My name is Stacy, and reading has been one of my passions for my entire life.  Growing up I have many memories of reading.  I loved lying in bed at night and reading with my mother.  Once early in my reading life, I remember being so excited for my father to come home from work as I was finally able to read an entire Clifford book to him by myself (with some really hard words)!  Reading was something that almost everyone in my home did in their free time all the way through high school and beyond.  I even got into trouble for not being a good hostess to my very tomboyish cousin once.  All I wanted to do was read a book, and she wanted to climb trees and catch critters.  She actually put a frog down my shirt when all I had wanted to do was curl up with a good story.

 When I was really little, my absolute favorite book was, “The Saggy Baggy Elephant.”  I still have the book – ragged pages and all. Judy Blume and Little House on the Prairie consumed many other hours of reading.  I recall “Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing” as being one of my favorites.  Fudge was a riot in my young mind.

 After I had my own children, I was thrilled to see that all three of them enjoyed reading as much as my husband and I do.  One of my daughters would almost run into other patrons as she read while walking through the grocery store.  While I was pregnant with our third child, I experienced what is still one of my favorite reading memories.  In our queen sized bed, my husband, my son, my daughter, and my very pregnant self were laying side by side each reading our own selection before turning off the light for the night.

From the time I became a mother, my children were my priority in life.  With two children now out on their own with one heading into high school, I decided to make a huge life change in May 2011 and go after my lifelong dream.  I was tired of my job as a paraprofessional at our local high school, and I really wanted to go back to college to finish up my Elementary Education Degree.  Although scared, through encouragement from my brother-in-law, I signed up for two classes to “get my feet wet” and see if I was really cut out for this school thing.  On July 7, 2011, I received a phone call that completely changed my world.  The brother-in-law that had encouraged me to follow my dreams died from head trauma sustained in a wakeboarding accident.  I knew in that instant that life was too short not to go after this dream.  Instead of taking classes on a part-time basis, I quit my job of 8 years and registered for school full-time.  I have enjoyed every minute and never looked back.  On May 10, 2014, I received my Bachelors of Science in Education with a minor as a Library Media Specialist.  For certification purposes, I am completing five more classes to receive my library endorsement.

I am currently applying for elementary teaching positions in the community where we live.  Since my daughter won’t graduate until May 2016, we have promised her that we won’t seek jobs out of the area at this time.  Although I applied for an elementary library position, the district decided to give the job internally to a teacher that wanted a change.  Since we live in a rural community, there won’t be any other library positions for next year.

If I am fortunate enough to someday have a position in a school library, I hope to bring an enthusiasm for reading to my students.  Many students that I have encountered claim that they “hate reading.”  This statement truly makes me sad.  I want to show students that there is something out there for everyone.  Education is and should be a lifelong journey, and reading is a huge part of that.  Whether students choose to attend college or join the workforce upon graduation, they can always continue to educate themselves through reading.  What a true gift this is in our country.

Reading for enjoyment

Wow!!!!  I have been in school full-time for the past 3 years (including summers).  Needless to say, reading for enjoyment hasn’t been at the top of my “to-do” list.  Taking adolescent literature is allowing me time to just READ!!!!  It is wonderful!  My hope is to read at least one book per week when I am not so swamped with classes.  Right now I am working full-time (for free as it is a practicum class) and taking five classes.  I am soooooooooo glad that this class allows me to read for enjoyment again.