Tag Archives: literature

2013 ALA Seattle: Midwinter Meeting: Librarians as guardians of public knowledge

25 Jan

Moi is attending the Seattle Midwinter Meeting of the American Library Association (ALA) and that causes moi to reflect about the role of libraries and librarians in preserving public knowledge. Margaret Jackubcin of Southern Oregon’s Mail Tribune gives ten excellent reasons why libraries are important to a community.

  1. Public libraries are good for the economy.

  2. Libraries are a cornerstone of democracy.

  3. Libraries play an important role in helping young children develop reading skills.

  4. Public libraries provide support to schools and students.

  5. Libraries are forward- thinking, and play an important role at the cutting edge of information technology.

  6. Libraries are repositories of the accumulated understanding of mankind.

  7. Public libraries are a bargain.

  8. Libraries provide a neutral community gathering place for the free exchange of ideas, culture, and entertainment.

  9. A vital and attractive library helps define a community, encourages civic pride, and invests residents with a sense of ownership.

  10. Libraries are the heart and soul of a community and reflect the value residents place on literacy, education, culture, and freedom.

Key to the success of libraries are librarians.

The ALA has a great description of what librarians do:

Me, a librarian?

It’s not every day that you find a job that can make a world of difference in people’s lives. Libraries have been empowering people by offering resources, services and training to expand their knowledge for thousands of years. Consider joining the 400,000 librarians and library workers who bring opportunity every day to the communities they serve.

While there’s no magic test that will tell you if a library career is right for you, there are many characteristics and values that librarians and library workers share:

  • Enjoy helping and serving other people 
  • Interested in developing and providing services, resources and materials that inform and entertain, such as books, movies, music, storytelling, websites, local history, databases, and puppets 
  • Thrive in a technologically changing environment 
  • Interest in information research, preservation and instruction 
  • Willing to connect people with a wide variety of value and belief systems to materials that represent multiple points of view
  • Believe strongly in First Amendment rights protecting the freedom of speech and of the press 
  • Wish to contribute to the greater good of a literate society
  • Want to be part of a professional community that encourages sharing information, opinions and expertise
  • Respect and uphold people’s rights to privacy and the freedom to read what they choose
  • Believe all information resources provided by libraries should be equitably accessible to all library users

If you hold many of these values, then visit Oh, the Places You Will Go to discover the many opportunities available to you in librarianship. http://www.ala.org/educationcareers/careers/librarycareerssite/mealibrarian

If there is a trait that most librarians share, is the love of learning and sharing knowledge.

Ramon Barquin eloquently describes the importance of librarians in his speech, Debt to Librarians:

We have to remember librarians have been the guardians of knowledge from the very beginning of man’s attempts to capture information outside the human brain. The media in which explicit knowledge was stored evolved from clay tablets, parchments and papyrus scrolls into books. But librarianship today has gone substantially beyond books, and the focus of its work is connecting people with a need to know something to the right source of content for that knowledge. Most of these knowledge sources now are online databases or virtual documents that exist in cyberspace.
It’s a far cry from the image we have of the librarian of the past. In fact, many schools of library science have now either changed their academic name outright into schools of ‘information science’ or have added that term to their traditional library science denomination.
And well they should since they are very much into the thick of information science and hence IT, as well as knowledge management. Take something as hot these days as search. There is little that has a higher priority than search for an enterprise that must find specific content in the mountains of virtual documents in order to address the needs of its knowledge workers. Well, to a large degree this is what librarians have been doing for millennia. For them, it starts with developing taxonomies and classification schemes that allow the storing of content in a way that will make it easier later to retrieve what they are seeking. The card catalogues of our school libraries provided a basic example of a multidimensional approach to search. We could look under the author, title and subject  headings in order to find a specific tome or list of possible books that might be helpful in researching a given topic.
With automation came quantum changes in libraries too. Fairly soon we saw the computerised catalogues allowing us to search a library’s collection, then expanding its reach to permit searching sets of collections across collaborating schools or other domains. And because the scope of librarians is no longer tied just to books, the content in databases and knowledge spaces is very much their bailiwick.

http://www.ikmagazine.com/xq/asp/txtSearch.Taxonomies/exactphrase.1/sid.0/articleid.D1EDE6F7-63C2-4672-B210-69D2BC66F93F/qx/display.htm

The ALA is the primary professional group representing the many facets of library science.

The ALA describes its mission:

Mission & History

Founded on October 6, 1876 during the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, the American Library Association was created to provide leadership for the development, promotion, and improvement of library and information services and the profession of librarianship in order to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all. Our current strategic plan, ALA Ahead to 2015, calls for continued work in the areas of Advocacy for Libraries and the Profession, Diversity, Education and Lifelong Learning, Equitable Access to Information and Library Services, Intellectual Freedom, Literacy, Organizational Excellence and Transforming Libraries. http://www.ala.org/aboutala/missionhistory

So, about 10,000 librarians have come to Seattle for a weekend of seminars, meetings, fellowship, and affirmation.

Where information leads to Hope. ©                 Dr. Wilda.com

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Blogs by Dr. Wilda:

COMMENTS FROM AN OLD FART©                            http://drwildaoldfart.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda Reviews ©                                                   http://drwildareviews.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda ©                                                                                   https://drwilda.com/

The 01/18/13 Joy Jar

17 Jan

Moi is fairly old school. She will buy her first smart phone tomorrow so she can tweet constantly at the ALA Midwinter Meeting which is the weekend of the 25th. There is nothing like having a nice piece of paper and writing on it with your pen. Although, moi uses a computer, she feels more secure with a jar of pens on her desk. She even has that favorite leopard pen and pens in different colors. Today’s deposit into the ‘Joy Jar’ is the pen.

 

To hold a pen is to be at war.
Voltaire

 

You want to be a writer, don’t know how or when? Find a quiet place, use a humble pen.
Paul Simon

 

Beneath the rule of men entirely great, the pen is mightier than the sword.
Edward G. Bulwer-Lytton

Writers are people who put pen to paper every day.
Richard Russo

A writer uses a pen instead of a scalpel or blow torch.
Michael Ondaatje

 

The pen is the tongue of the mind.
Horace

The 01/13/13 Joy Jar

12 Jan

According to the American Library Association (ALA) “There are an estimated 121,785 libraries of all kinds in the United States today. No single annual survey provides statistics on all types of libraries.” Moi goes to the Seattle Public Library’s central library several times a week. One of the joys of moi’s life is that Seattle has an excellent public library system. It really is a temple of knowledge. Today’s deposit in the ‘Joy Jar’ is the public library.

I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.”
Jorge Luis Borges

Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him.”
Maya Angelou

The very existence of libraries affords the best evidence that we may yet have hope for the future of man”
T.S. Eliot

The only thing that you absolutely have to know, is the location of the library.”
Albert Einstein

Few pleasures, for the true reader, rival the pleasure of browsing unhurriedly among books: old books, new books, library books, other people’s books, one’s own books – it does not matter whose or where. Simply to be among books, glancing at one here, reading a page from one over there, enjoying them all as objects to be touched, looked at, even smelt, is a deep satisfaction. And often, very often, while browsing haphazardly, looking for nothing in particular, you pick up a volume that suddenly excites you, and you know that this one of all the others you must read. Those are great moments – and the books we come across like that are often the most memorable.”
Aidan Chambers

The love of libraries, like most loves, must be learned. ”
Alberto Manguel,
The Library at Night

The public library is where place and possibility meet.”
Stuart Dybek

The 01/10/13 Joy Jar

9 Jan

Have you been in a line at the supermarket and watched the person ahead take forever to get out their wallet or been stuck in traffic with no movement or movement at a glacial rate? What about sitting in a cold doctor’s waiting room, waiting for the doctor to get to you or waiting for a friend to finally show up for coffee? You are always early, they are always late, but still you just want to relish that tinge of superiority because you follow the ‘rules,’ even if those rules are only in your head. Today’s deposit into the ‘Joy Jar’ is patience.

He that can have patience can have what he will.”
Benjamin Franklin

Patience is power.
Patience is not an absence of action;
rather it is “timing”
it waits on the right time to act,
for the right principles
and in the right way.”
Fulton J. Sheen

It is far better to endure patiently a smart which nobody feels but yourself,
than to commit a hasty action whose evil consequences will extend to all
connected with you.”
Charlotte Brontë,
Jane Eyre

Water does not resist. Water flows. When you plunge your hand into it, all you feel is a caress. Water is not a solid wall, it will not stop you. But water always goes where it wants to go, and nothing in the end can stand against it. Water is patient. Dripping water wears away a stone. Remember that, my child. Remember you are half water. If you can’t go through an obstacle, go around it. Water does.”
Margaret Atwood, The Penelopiad

Patience is waiting. Not passively waiting. That is laziness. But to keep going when the going is hard and slow – that is patience. The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.”
Leo Tolstoy

Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.”
Aristotle

The 01/06/13 Joy Jar

5 Jan

Like colors, ambition has shades. Dictionary.com defines ambition:

am·bi·tion

noun

1. an earnest desire for some type of achievement or distinction, as power, honor, fame, or wealth, and the willingness to strive for its attainment: Too much ambition caused him to be disliked by his colleagues.

2. the object, state, or result desired or sought after: The crown was his ambition.

3. desire for work or activity; energy: I awoke feeling tired and utterly lacking in ambition.

verb (used with object)

4. to seek after earnestly; aspire to.

Today’s deposit in the ‘Joy Jar’ is positive ambition.

The desire to reach for the stars is ambitious. The desire to reach hearts is wise.”
Maya Angelou

Too many people out there tell us what we can and cannot do but…they don’t know who we are, what’s put in us.”
Alex Rogers,
I’m Only Human After All

As long as I am breathing, in my eyes, I am just beginning.”
Criss Jami

The credit belongs to those who are actually in the arena, who strive valiantly; who know the great enthusiasums, the great devotions, and spend themselves in a worthy cause; who at best know the triumph of high achievement; and who, at worst, if they fail, fail while daring greatly, so that their place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”
Theodore Roosevelt

There was no more dangerous kind of madman than one who devoted a good brain and a courageous heart to unhealthy ambitions.”
Michael Moorcock,
The City In The Autumn Stars: Being A Continuation Of The Story Of The Von Bek Family And Its Association With Lucifer, Prince Of Darkness, And The Cure For The World’s Pain

Yes the truth is that men’s ambition and their desire to make money are among the most frequent causes of deliberate acts of injustice.”
Aristotle,
Politics

Prayer, faith, and vision, plus real effort too.
Blend them together for one potent brew;
The magical spell to your dreams coming true.  ”
Richelle E. Goodrich

Find a purpose to serve, not a lifestyle to live.”
Criss Jami,
Venus in Arms

No more reading To Kill A Mockingbird: The scourge of the ‘Common Core,’ Producing automatons in mass

9 Dec

Here’s today’s COMMENT FROM AN OLD FART: Common Core Standards have been introduced in most of the country. As the implementation of the standards proceeds, moi observation is the structure is geared to mass produce automatons which are defined:

automatons  plural of au·tom·a·ton (Noun)

Noun

  1. A moving mechanical device made in imitation of a human being.
  2. A machine that performs a function according to a predetermined set of coded instructions.

Moi wrote about Common Core Standards in Will ‘Common Core Standards’ increase education achievement?

There will continue to be battles between those who favor a more traditional education and those who are open to the latest education fad. These battles will be fought out in school board meetings, PTSAs, and the courts.

There is one way to, as Susan Powder says, “Stop the Insanity.” Genuine school choice allows parents or guardians to select the best educational setting for their child. 2012 Brown Center report from the Brookings Institution, How Well Are American Students Learning? raises questions about what effect, if any, the Common Core Standards will have on education achievement:

Discussion

What effect will the Common Core have on national achievement? The analysis presented here suggests very little impact. The quality of the Common Core standards is currently being hotly debated, but the quality of past curriculum standards has been unrelated to achievement. The rigor of performance standards—how high the bar is set for proficiency—has also been unrelated to achievement. Only a change in performance levels has been related to an increase in achievement, and that could just as easily be due to test score changes driving changes in policy, not the other way around.

The Common Core may reduce variation in achievement between states, but as a source of achievement disparities, that is not where the action is. Within-state variation is four to five times greater. The sources of variation in educational outcomes are not only of statistical importance but also bear on the question of how much state policy can be expected to change schools. Whatever reduction in variation between, say, Naperville and Chicago that can be ameliorated by common standards has already been accomplished by Illinois’s

state efforts. State standards have already had a crack at it. Other states provide even more deeply rooted historical examples.

California has had state curriculum frame-The Common Core may reduce variation in achievement between states, but as a source of achievement disparities, that is not where the action is. http://www.brookings.edu/~/media/Files/rc/reports/2012/0216_brown_education_loveless/0216_brown_education_loveless.pdf

See, Common Core won’t likely boost student achievement, analysis says http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/common-core-wont-likely-boost-student-achievement-analysis-says/2012/02/16/gIQAOfZuJR_blog.htmlThe Common Core State Standards Initiative has some excellent information about the standards. https://drwilda.com/2012/02/19/will-common-core-standards-increase-education-achievement/

Some classic American literature may be dropped from the curriculum.

The U.K.’s Telegraph reports in the article, Catcher in the Rye dropped from US school curriculum:

Schools in America are to drop classic books such as Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird and JD Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye from their curriculum in favour of ‘informational texts’.

A new school curriculum which will affect 46 out of 50 states will make it compulsory for at least 70 per cent of books studied to be non-fiction, in an effort to ready pupils for the workplace.

Books such as JD Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye and Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird will be replaced by “informational texts” approved by the Common Core State Standards.

Suggested non-fiction texts include Recommended Levels of Insulation by the the US Environmental Protection Agency, and the Invasive Plant Inventory, by California’s Invasive Plant Council.

The new educational standards have the backing of the influential National Governors’ Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, and are being part-funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Jamie Highfill, a teacher at Woodland Junior High School in Arkansas, told the Times that the directive was bad for a well-rounded education.

“I’m afraid we are taking out all imaginative reading and creativity in our English classes.

“In the end, education has to be about more than simply ensuring that kids can get a job. Isn’t it supposed to be about making well-rounded citizens?” http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/booknews/9729383/Catcher-in-the-Rye-dropped-from-US-school-curriculum.html

The Common Core seems to ignore the value of a liberal arts education in favor of a checklist.

Moi wrote in Cultural literacy: Is there necessary core knowledge to be academically successful?

Back in the day there was this book entitled Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know. It was published in 1988 and was written by E.D. Hirsch, Jr. Moi liked the concept, some others, not so much. “Cultural Literacy” is defined by Education. Com:

Having sufficient common knowledge, i.e., educational background, experiences, basic skills, and training, to function competently in a given society (the greater the level of comprehension of the given society’s habits, attitudes, history, etc., the higher the level of cultural literacy). http://www.education.com/definition/cultural-literacy/

Marci Kanstroom wrote E.D. Hirsch, Cultural Literacy and American Democracy which was published in Education Next liked the concept. http://educationnext.org/e-d-hirsch-cultural-literacy-and-american-democracy/ Others, like Patrick Scott criticized the concept in articles like Scott’s A Few Words More about E. D. Hirsch and Cultural Literacy. http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/378146?uid=3739960&uid=2129&uid=2&uid=70&uid=4&uid=3739256&sid=55881093943 Scott takes issue with Hirsch’s criticism of education icons Dewey and the NEA.

Bernard Schweitzer wrote an interesting 2009 piece for the NEA, Cultural Literacy: Is It Time to Revisit the Debate?

Some will say, “What’s so wrong with being unable to pick up references to a few historical figures, most of them dead White males? Our students are equipped with vibrant local cultural knowledges of their own.” Others will caution me not to expect too much from freshmen, saying that it is my job to ensure that they leave the academy armed with a degree of common knowledge that they may not have when entering it. Yet others may be more concerned, agreeing that while a basic fund of knowledge should be expected of freshmen, my students are perhaps performing so poorly on general knowledge issues because most of them come from underprivileged socio-economic backgrounds (e.g., poor inner-city high schools) and diverse ethnic backgrounds (e.g., immigrants). But here’s the rub. If undergraduate students have never heard of Gandhi, Orwell, or Thoreau (or have no reason to remember them), they obviously have such a huge gap in general knowledge that four years of college education are not likely to make up for what has been missing since middle school. Although I may strive diligently to fill those gaps, I realize that we no longer live in a culture that encourages and reinforces a shared knowledge basis with regard to history, geography, literature, and the sciences. But that does not mean that this kind of cultural literacy has ceased to be relevant. Indeed, I believe it is still alive and well, but that it is now cultivated only in a narrow circle of the privileged classes. The reason I don’t see much evidence of this shared knowledge in my own classroom is that I do not, as a rule, encounter the products of the country’s elite preparatory school systems. What I’m saying, then, is that the issue of cultural literacy is socio-economically coded.

Some will say, ‘What’s so wrong with being unable to pick up references to a few historical figures,most of them dead White males?’

The problem with the argument that cultural literacy is irrelevant is that it does actually matter to some. It matters to the upper-middle and upper classes, who hold the reins of wealth and power. Those families who can afford to send their children to top schools can be sure that their offspring are inculcated with precisely the kind of cultural fluency that some are trying to persuade us holds no importance in today’s diversified world. The more we argue the unimportance of cultural literacy among the general populace, the more we relegate the possession of this knowledge to the province of a socio-economic elite, thereby contributing to a hardening of social stratification and a lessening of social mobility. In the upper echelons of society, cultural literacy indicates belonging, and it signals the circulation of knowledge within tightly knit coteries. http://www.nea.org/assets/docs/HE/TA09CulturalLiteracy.pdf

Whether one wants to argue that certain cultures are not included or do not have a prominent enough place in the definition of cultural literacy, the real question is what is the baseline knowledge necessary to be upwardly mobile?

Kenneth P. Ruscio argues in the Christian Science Monitor article, Why a liberal arts education is the best job preparation:

Although my own position, unsurprisingly, is that the fundamental philosophy of the liberal arts is more relevant today than it ever was, I base this belief on the strengths and weaknesses that today’s students bring to college. These strengths and weaknesses, in fact, are the opposite of what they were 20 years ago.

When I first started teaching, I found myself writing comments on term papers along the lines of, “You have a great thesis and you argue it with great passion and fluent writing. Unfortunately, you have no evidence to support it.”

When I left teaching a few years ago, I was writing comments like these: “Congratulations on the mass of data you have discovered. Unfortunately, you have no thesis or central argument. I have no idea what you are trying to prove.”

Students today can easily find information. The challenge is making sense of the whole, finding connections, evaluating the credibility of the information, taking a position, and dealing with complexity.

If ever there was a time when we should be emphasizing education – more than distributing information or training for specific jobs – if ever there was a time for the classic liberal arts, this is it. And I worry that in our enthusiasm to embrace new technologies, we will play too much to our students’ supposed strengths, ignoring the weaknesses they bring to us.

It is hard to find a commonly agreed-upon definition of the liberal arts. For those of us who experienced this kind of education, the definition would be personal. If we went to a college that claimed to be a liberal arts college, we would define a liberal arts education as what we got there.

For me, a liberal arts college is one premised on learning together what we cannot learn alone. A liberal arts education provides perspective and raises the “why” question along with the “what” question. In a hierarchy that starts with information, then moves up the ladder to knowledge, and then even higher to wisdom, a liberal arts college aspires to be operating at the highest rung.

One of the best books I have ever read on the liberal arts came out this year. “College: What It Was, Is, and Should Be” was written by Andrew Delbanco, a literature professor at Columbia University. Early on, he provides wonderful focus for what is to come.

“A few years ago,” he writes, “I came upon a manuscript diary – from 1850 – kept by a student at a small Methodist college, Emory and Henry, in southwest Virginia. One spring evening, after attending a sermon by the college president that left him troubled and apprehensive, he made the following entry in his journal: ‘Oh that the Lord would show me how to think and how to choose.’”

Mr. Delbanco considers that probably the best way to define the mission of the liberal arts: to teach people how to think and how to choose. http://www.csmonitor.com/Commentary/Opinion/2012/0919/Why-a-liberal-arts-education-is-the-best-job-preparation

We are developing a system to mass produce automatons.

Where information leads to Hope. ©                     Dr. Wilda.com

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Blogs by Dr. Wilda:

COMMENTS FROM AN OLD FART©                           http://drwildaoldfart.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda Reviews ©                                                http://drwildareviews.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda ©                                                                                                           https://drwilda.com/