Veterans Day Story & Craft

November 17, 2011

Since the school year began, I’ve held a Story & Craft hour one night a month. In September we read The Little Scarecrow Boy by Margaret Wise and painted scarecrow suncatchers. We had 17 students participate. In October we read That Terrible Halloween Night by James Stevenson and made monster magnets! That night got a little chaotic because we had 23 students participate and we didn’t have enough eyes for everyone’s monsters – good thing some people wanted to make cyclops monsters anyway!

Since our Story & Craft hour was scheduled the week of Veterans Day, we read America’s White Table by Margot Theis Raven and then created our own books about Veterans Day using these instructions for an Accordion Index Card Book by Susan Kapuscinski Gaylord. We had 9 students participate – a perfect number for this more difficult craft.

The smaller number of students also allowed us to talk about Veterans Day and what it means to our community. I heard all about family members who were in the Navy or Army, but I also heard about the programs at school and how they didn’t have school on Friday.

In the story, the words of the song My Country Tis of Thee are included. I asked the students if they knew the song – they gave me blank looks. So I used the best voice I had and started to sing the song I sang every single morning in second grade. After the first few lines and uncomfortable blank faces watching me, I stopped and asked if they knew it. Nope.

So I told them maybe I’d serenade them and sing it while we did our craft. One little boy raised his hand and said, “Maybe you should look it up on YouTube so we can hear it from someone that can sing.” The way he said it was so thoughtful – he didn’t say it to be a smartypants or to offend me. I just laughed and laughed and laughed with the moms in the room; the other students thought he had a great idea!

And this is why I love my position at Muir Library…


eBooks at Muir Library

May 31, 2011

This past week has been interesting for me for a couple of reasons:

  1. A book I have wanted to read for several months appeared on my desk: No Shelf Required: E-Books in Libraries by Sue Polanka and friends.I’ve been interested in ebooks for years and a few months ago bought a NOOKcolor and love(d) it and then learned how to borrow books from Seattle Public Library and read/listen to them. It was heaven. It really was. When this book crossed my desk at work in February, I wanted to pick it up and read it. I wanted to know what other “librarians” were thinking about ebooks. We see a lot of what publishers say and what patrons say, but librarians (with the exception of the HarperCollins fiasco) have been relatively quiet and shy when asked about ebooks.

    So, I’ve been reading the book and finding that (of course)itΒ  is an interesting, frustrating and an overall thoughtful read. And here’s why:

  2. This week, Muir Library (where I am the library director) went live with our Overdrive collection. The contract with Overdrive happened before I had the job, so I still don’t have all the specifics, but from what I understand, the library system (Traverse des Sioux) got a grant that will pay for the system to have a contract with Overdrive for the first year and then the individual libraries will have to pay annually.There were a couple of training sessions (before I was hired) for using ebooks and we have also been told we will receive ereaders to train our employees, but we are live with the program as of now. This means many staff people are going to be learning as the patrons learn and unfortunately that means that some of those younger, digital natives are going to catch on quicker than the digital immigrants who work at the library. No – I take that back – that is not unfortunate – that is an opportunity to recruit help from the younger people (like myself). I will say that I am QUITE impressed that Traverse des Sioux is up to the challenge of ebooks and that they’re jumping ahead and learning as they go. There are going to be challenges, but there will also be great rewards for the staff and patrons in this area.

In the introduction of No Shelf Required, it talks about how libraries have been interacting with ebooks for years and how it is expected that libraries have ebook content for patrons. I highly doubt this was the case when the book was written. Not only do many of the rural library patrons not know about ebooks (or, frankly, care about them), but they also don’t know how to use a computer and cannot fathom the idea of using one to read a book. I feel like there were some severe generalizations made in the book and while it covers different realms of libraries (school, public, academic, etc.), it doesn’t recognize the differences in the ways of accessible technology in different libraries.

I appreciate the way the “acquiring ebooks” chapter is written for different points of view. This is helpful when explaining the ins and outs of ebooks and purchasing to someone who hasn’t done it before. But, on the other hand, I think this can/will/already is changing quickly and because this book is static, it will soon be out of date. It’s an absolutely great start to guiding someone along the way of learning about ebooks in the library – in fact, I think I may suggest that my staff read it as we start this busy time of troubleshooting ebooks at Muir Library.

I’ll write more when I finish the book, but that’s what I have right now!

Oh – and – I sincerely think it is SILLY to have bookmarks with the directions for how to download ebooks to your ereader. DUH – people aren’t using paper bookmarks if they’re reading ebooks! *sigh*

What is Visual Literacy?

November 15, 2010

The term — visual literacy — has come up several times in a couple of my classes this quarter. So what is visual literacy? John Debes defined this term first as this in 1968:

“Visual Literacy refers to a group of vision-competencies a
human being can develop by seeing and at the same time
having and integrating other sensory experiences. The development
of these competencies is fundamental to normal
human learning. When developed, they enable a visually
literate person to discriminate and interpret the visible
actions, objects, symbols, natural or man-made, that he
encounters in his environment. Through the creative use of
these competencies, he is able to communicate with others.
Through the appreciative use of these competencies, he is
able to comprehend and enjoy the masterworks of visual

Essentially, visual literacy is literacy of images, symbols, photos, etc. It is critical analysis of visuals instead of texts. Of course there are combinations of text and images, images and music, and on and on, but the important part of this is that a person is able to interpret and “read” it all.

As I thought about this, I was a little frustrated because I connected thinking critically about images with being artistic. How can I instruct or encourage or facilitate visual literacy in the library? What if I’m not artistic? And I am not artistic. I avoided all art classes (except photography) in my schooling. I almost wish I could go back and take some art classes to get a better grasp on the history of images and visual learning. I need to explore this more. But, I think it is possible to become visually literate without this knowledge.

It takes patience and practice, though. Just like learning to read.

In my class that explores genre fiction for adults, we read and discussed [comix, comics, graphic novels, etc]. Many of us had a difficult time reading these books simply because we didn’t understand how to read the text and the images. Do you look at the pictures first? Which text do you read? Left to right? Up and down? Follow the boxes with pictures in them? As we talked about our frustrations, someone brought up that it was almost like we had to learn how to read all over again. We had to become literate in a more visual format instead of the text we are accustomed to reading.

I’m fascinated with this term –visual literacy– and I hope to have a chance to explore it more and share conversation with other people.

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