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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Library School, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 18 of 18
1. The Library School Diaries: Part II

  Hello, friends, and welcome to another installment of the Library School Diaries! I am so sad that library school keeps me basically incapable of keeping up with you all on blog posts, Twitter, Instagram, and all other places of social fun. I have been diligently plugging away at my second semester of studies for Master of Library and Information Science with a specialization in the School Library Certification Program at the University of Pittsburgh. Just like last semester, I’m taking five classes again. It’s a huge course load, and I also have two part-time jobs, so things have been super busy for me! But without further ado, let’s take a look at what I’ve been learning in my second semester.     I’m in the school library program (I hope to be a high school librarian one day!), and as someone without a previous education background, this means I am also working... Read more »

The post The Library School Diaries: Part II appeared first on The Midnight Garden.

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2. The Library School Diaries

  Hello friends! You might have noticed that I’ve been basically non-existent on Twitter and Instagram for the past couple of months–and I am so sorry! I really miss everyone, and getting to chat about books and have fun! But if I’ve been absent, at least it’s for good reason: I started library school at the very end of August. I am currently finishing up my first semester in The University of Pittsburgh’s online Master of Library and Information Science program. It’s been very, very stressful, but also fun in how challenging it is! I thought it’d be neat to give you some insight into what gets covered in library school and what I’ve been learning.     I’m in the school library program (I hope to be a high school librarian one day!), and as someone without a previous education background, this means I am also working toward my teaching certificate in... Read more »

The post The Library School Diaries appeared first on The Midnight Garden.

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3. Little Cricket by Jackie Brown

Little Cricket won one of the first Paul Zindel First Novel Awards, created by Hyperion Books to promote "stories that reflect the ethnic and cultural diversity of our country" (jacket flap). I'm pleased that such an award exists and I might have similarly awarded this first attempt were it not for the award specifically honoring stories of ethnic and cultural diversity. This story of a young Hmong girl and her family's emigration from Laos during the Vietnam War follows their culture shock and struggles in 1970s Minnesota. Basically, a great first attempt at a novel, but not the cultural content. (This analysis is of the ARC.)

Kia, her artistic older brother Xigi, parents and grandparents all lived in the same village, farming and peacefully coexisting until the communists came and forced most of their village's men, Kia's father included, into the military. Soon, the rest of Kia's family find a way to Thailand where they live as refugees until Kia, Xigi and their grandfather emigrate to America. A typo leaves their mother and grandmother behind for now.

Once in America, they are confused and surprised by everything. Apparently they're too ashamed to ask how to make the lights go off or how to regulate the temperature, so they freeze at night with the lights on. This is one of the first things I don't buy. Maybe I don't understand severe culture shock or the residual fear of being a refugee, but these first few "intro to America" incidents make Kia and her family look foolish. In fact, while still in the refugee camp, Kia was confused that sick people were not going to her grandfather, a shaman, and instead seeing the American doctor. Her mother tells her, "If the Americans see our people going to see a shaman instead of one of their doctors, they may not take us to America. They do not understand our ways. They think our beliefs are foolish. We must pretend to be as they are so they will accept us." Maybe this is true or was true. Maybe I've lived too long in a trying-to-be-color-blind society that I forget how far we've come, but this seems much too didactic a message for so early in the story. And by message I mean the message for me, the white reader, who hears this Hmong mother tell her daughter I think she's foolish and that they need to pretend to be like me so I'll accept them, wherein I resolve to never again make someone feel like that. That message isn't for a Hmong reader wondering if she's in this book. I don't know. Maybe it's a message a Hmong reader will resonate with with her own experiences of discrimination.

There are also too many stereotyped situations for these new immigrants fumbling their way around. There is the church that keeps pushing the grandfather to take English classes and the wise, old grandfather refuses, preferring to stick with the old ways. "If you can't speak English, life will be difficult and no one will hire you." Ouch. Thanks. There are the "American" clothes that they are uncomfortable to start wearing. There is Xigi, the teenager, eager to shed his Hmong identity and revered artistry instead preferring to run away all hours of the day with his new American friends. There is the "high-heeled" woman that visibly distances herself from Kia and her grandfather at the bus stop. There are the two pretty blond girls, Kia and her grandfather's "competition" at the farmer's market, that shun them. There's the whole farmer's market that shuns Kia and her grandfather's vegetable table because "they're different." I mean, really? Am I that clueless about how different the 1970s were or does this all seem like forced discriminatory incidences for the purpose of the moral of the story.

Speaking of the moral of the story...there seem to be a few lessons here. There are a few times where Kia and her grandfather are offered help and they refuse because they will make it on their own, besides they don't have anything to offer in return. Xigi has also completely ditched the family and doesn't participate at all. And then, of course, they all feel like outsiders. These three directions come to a head in one or two climactic events. Warning - spoilers. When Kia and her grandfather go the first day to sell their vegetables, they load up with their produce, a white tablecloth from the quirky neighbor (that Kia reluctantly accepted) but they have no luck. Grandfather falls sick, but Kia is determined to go and try again. This time after she sets up shop a loud, expensive-looking woman comes to her table exclaiming how glad she is that Kia is there and that "chef" would die if she didn't get all their vegetables from Kia, and then she proceeded to buy almost the whole table. She totally put on a show, a fake show as it was Kia's quirky neighbor, so that the surrounding shunners would be enticed to now buy from Kia. Which they did. White woman saves the day and Kia's lesson was to be grateful for help from strangers, that not all foreigners are bad. What?! Disappointing.

Xigi, it turns out, was good at gambling rooster fights as a refugee in Thailand and thought he could make a go of his luck at poker in America. This 11-year-old (!) got himself a grocery delivery job to get money for bets and to pay off debts. He actually stole the money Kia had made selling vegetables, and when Xigi's whole story unravels one day, he suddenly is very open and honest and remorseful. He and grandfather make up, go speak with the shop owner, get his job back, and all is well. It's just not believable.

There were parts of this novel that I enjoyed and that started to get good for me. One redeeming aspect I found, which intrigues me enough to read another novel by this author, was her third person voice. The third person voice in this novel is almost first-person from the protagonist's voice. I found myself so wrapped up in Kia's head and thoughts that I forgot she wasn't the one telling the story. I liked that style. I also liked the sideline of the quirky neighbor, Hank (Henriettea) and her dwarf/little person son, Sam. It was an interesting aspect of "being different" that didn't feel forced and felt like a natural learning for Kia. I even liked where I think the author was trying to go with Sam's mom: "Nobody was going to tell me my kid wasn't perfect. I thought I coule make him perfect by just pretending that he was. Except I couldn't...By the time I realized that I couldn't make him perfect, Sam was so used to my making excuses for the way he looked he never even got a chance to like himself. He was convinced I didn't want him the way he was." That's hard insight for a mom.

Some other great sections of this book are the Author's Note, Hmong Pronunciation Guide and Suggested Further Reading at the back of the book. Clearly the novel was researched and the author was passionate about her topic; it just didn't translate as well into fiction as it needed to. I just think this novel bit off more than it could chew, unfortunately.

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4. For those considering a career as a children's librarian...

Here's a wonderful opportunity at the University of Colorado's Morgridge School of Education - 10 fully paid fellowships are available for students planning to specialize in library service to very young children and their families. Read all about it here.

It goes to show that children's librarianship is thriving in some library and information schools. Phew! And this specialty hopefully means more research and other good stuff on early literacy in libraries coming from the faculty and doctoral students.

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5. Librarian Rave Mix

Librarians: You know how it goes.

You are out partying with your librarian friends. Suddenly you realize that your gathering requires a suitable soundtrack. A library-themed soundtrack. Indeed, without the proper music, the event will be a disaster!

It could happen. The worst case scenario is sobering: everyone ends up hopping around to the They Might be Giants’ album “Flood” until the police show up and ticket you with a noise violation.*

Using a combination of technology and powerful query-typing skills, I have SOLVED THIS PROBLEM. Introducing Dancing on the Reference Desk, a free playlist dedicated to libraries, librarians, and their interests.

Including such timeless classics as Ch-Check it Out by the Beastie Boys, and Lady Writer by Dire Straits make sure your next librarian rave is a success with this excellent compilation.

Note: I’m not associated with Spotify, but I do think they are pretty awesome. If you end up using this soundtrack let me know. I would love to attend some rocking librarian parties vicariously.
Credits: I dictated this entire blog post to my iPhone via Dragon Dictate while spooning nutrient-rich goop into the baby’s mouth. Special thanks to Jenny Klumpp who provided numerous excellent suggestions.
* This actually happened. I was in grad school hopping around with my fellow nerds, watching the Muppet Show and listening to TMBG. We chipped in to pay the ticket. This was in my experience hands-down the Dorkiest. Police Intervention. Ever.

Related posts:

  1. Hot Librarian Necklace
  2. Virgin/Whore = Librarian/Librarian
  3. Rock Rock Rock n’ Roll Librarian

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6. September Eureka Moments

Even if you don’t work in a school media center, I’m guessing your life still tends to run on an academic schedule when you work with teens. So welcome to the new school year! Here’s what I think might be interesting, useful, or intriguing to you and your patrons this month.

  • If your teens are interested in what’s new in the going green movement, have them look more globally to see what’s going on. In coastal Ecuador, young people from farming families are heading up efforts to save, cultivate, and redistribute heirloom seeds to revitalize the environment and help farmers prosper. Part of an organization called FOCCAHL, 20-year-old Cesar Guale Vasquez travels throughout nearby areas collecting seeds from farmers and also hosts swapping events so that farmers can trade seeds with each other in order to have more vibrant and diverse crops. Now take that for inspiration and add to it your own library’s resources on climate change, farming, and nutrition and plan an interesting program that combines science with activism and see what your advisory board wants to do with it. Many libraries now are creating their own seed libraries, and whether they’re for wildflowers or corn, they can be a great way to bring communities together, get young people to work with older people, and freshen up your local environment while doing your small part to keep the world cleaner and greener.
    Matthews, J. (2012). Ecuador’s seed savior. World Ark, May 2012: 10-15.
  • At the beginning of the school year, many teens are interested in refining or experimenting with their personal style. There is generally no shortage of mainstream fashion and beauty advice in the magazines and books you have in your collection already, but there might be a population you’re missing, and they’re getting bigger and more vocal. While the natural hair trend has been growing for years, the recent O Magazine cover presenting Oprah Winfrey with her hair relaxer-free has sparked a lot of talk. The social news web is blowing up with discussions of hegemony (the prevalence of hair relaxers in the African American community has been linked to unrealistic standards of white beauty), harassment (nearly everyone with natural curls, regardless of race, has experienced strangers touching their hair without asking first), and self image (who decides what’s beautiful, and is it more important to do what you think is pretty on you or to make a political statement with your hair?). Take a look at the reports of the Oprah cover at Sociological Images and Jezebel (it’s worth taking a look at the comments, too, but they’re probably NSFW and can get heated), and then consider hosting a discussion club or making a display of books on beauty. If you’re not sure where to start, I suggest Naturally Curly, one of the premiere websites (with social components, news, and shopping) for natural hair of all textures.
  • STEM, STEM, STEM. Everybody wants students to engage with science, technology, engineering and math. Federal money is pumped into it. Grants support it. But do teens and tweens care for it? In a study of middle school students, researchers analyzed both boys’ and girls’ wishful identification with scientists on television shows to see what factors influenced positive feelings (possibly indicating an interest in pursuing a science career or hobby). They found that boys were more likely to identify with male scientists and girls with female scientists, which is unsurprising. What was more interesting is that the genre of the television show affected the positive feelings. Scientist characters on dramas were more likely to elicit wishful identification than those on cartoons or educational programs. What can you do with this information? Plenty. For your next film screening, try a drama or documentary that presents scientists in a good light, like Cool It, And the Band Played On, or Einstein and Eddington. If you want to take a crack at those who think that being good at science or math makes you a loser, connect STEM with the things teens already love, like working out, YouTube, and the Web by taking a look at the 35 fittest people in tech, videos by Vi Hart, who turns mathematical concepts and history into snarky audiovisual narratives, or how-tos at Lifehacker.
    Steinke, J., et al. (2011). Gender Differences in Adolescents’ Wishful Identification With Scientist Characters on Television. Science Communication, 34(2): 163-199.
  • Whether you’re in library school or you’ve been working for years, you might find Hack Library School’s new starter kit series interesting, especially their post on services to children. Anyone want to volunteer to write the starter kit for youth services? On a related note, Teen Librarian Toolbox has a post on what to do about all that stuff they don’t teach you in library school (I’m taking notes).
  • If you’ve been trying to find a way to collaborate with nearby schools, see if you can get an advisory group to have a meeting with local teachers (it might be a good idea to make sure that the teachers are not teachers of the teens in your group so as to encourage openness and honesty) and start a dialogue. The topic? Standardized tests. Students may feel like teachers are against them, while teachers probably feel as if it’s administrators who are forcing them to be uncreative. So how do you get all sides to understand each other when schools are still tied to federal standards? For background information, try the journal Rethinking Schools‘ spring 2012 issue, which featured a special section on standardized tests. After a good discussion, maybe everyone can take fun “standardized tests” on personality types, books, or any other fun topics. Then see if students, teachers, and you can work together and form some sort of coalition that bridges the gaps between inside- and outside-of-school education, engagement, and issues. Start a collaborative blog. Take turns hosting book clubs at different places that feel like home to the different stakeholders in your group. What might be an interesting year-long project is to get everyone in the group to develop their ultimate standardized test to replace the ones they’re taking or proctoring in school. What skills do teachers and students think are most important to have before leaving the K-12 system? What topics do people in the real world need to know? Is it better to test knowledge orally? With essays? With student-led, student-designed creative projects? With their perspectives and your skills with information seeking, along with your vast collections, you should be able to create a really interesting partnership. And if you need more inspiration, check out these roundups of education blogs by both students and teachers, both here and here.

What are your plans for this upcoming academic year? As always, your questions, comments and suggestions are welcomed and encouraged!

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7. Of cows and ...

Thank God some of my texts have a sense of humor. This from a list of communication patterns between librarians and users:

"It is harder and harder for experts to understand even what other experts are saying. Using a scale from plus 50 to minus 50, the vocabulary of the more technical fields rank close to 50. Popular magazines and newspapers would be between 0 and 10. A boy chatting with a cow would be about minus 50. Some laypeople feel more at home with the cow. Reference librarians must be comfortable with cows and with vocabularies in the plus 50 bracket ... "
-Katz, W.A. (2002). Introduction to reference work: Basic information services, vol II, 8th ed. New York: McGraw Hill.

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8. When LIS Classes Game

I love that my friend, the newly minted Dr. Stephens, devoted one of his LIS class nights to gaming. I’m sorry I couldn’t be there to help out, but it sounds like the students did quite well on their own. I would love to see more LIS courses playing and exploring like this, helping the students form their own opinions.


“How do you make your college-age son jealous? Tell him you played Guitar Hero… in school…for a class…while the teacher was there. Hey, I thought it was great fun at our Wednesday game night. I’m not totally convinced of all the educational values of these games, but in terms of building community, gaming really show teens that libraries are willing to invest in their interests. I love the idea that gaming allows teens to get to know their librarians on a more casual basis. We might not seem so ’scary’ when they need us for informational purposes. I’m undecided about the concept of making kids check out books before they can play games. That might be a little like having to eat your lima beans before you can have your chocolate cake. In the end, does anyone learn to like lima beans?” [Sharonlis768’s Weblog]

Gaming Night: LIS768


“I definitely think there’s a place for games in libraries, including board games. From my own experience with strategy games, I know that some games require a great deal of thought and attention, as well as critical thinking and a lot of decision-making. At my old job, the president and I would often discuss corporate strategy in terms of strategy games, since we were both avid gamers at the time. He was the ‘conquer and pillage’ type while I was the ‘research and develop’ type, so we complemented each other well. The problem with some strategy games, though, is that you can sometimes learn what it takes to beat an AI without necessarily learning fundamental strategy. I don’t mention this as a criticism of the notion of gaming in libraries or to say that good skills can’t be learned, but I’ve always been disappointed by games that turn out to be puzzles. I guess that’s a bit tangential…” [Nat’s Weblog]

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9. Of cows and ...

Thank God some of my texts have a sense of humor. This from a list of communication patterns between librarians and users:

"It is harder and harder for experts to understand even what other experts are saying. Using a scale from plus 50 to minus 50, the vocabulary of the more technical fields rank close to 50. Popular magazines and newspapers would be between 0 and 10. A boy chatting with a cow would be about minus 50. Some laypeople feel more at home with the cow. Reference librarians must be comfortable with cows and with vocabularies in the plus 50 bracket ... "
-Katz, W.A. (2002). Introduction to reference work: Basic information services, vol II, 8th ed. New York: McGraw Hill.

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10. On Graduating from School and Getting a Job

I was crawling through my archives this morning and came across this little rant that I wrote years ago, during my first, horrible, post-grad school job at the Cornell University Library. I know several of you Gentle Readers are in school right now, and I thought you might enjoy the sentiment:

First of all, and lets just get this out of the way: a full-time job is actually a pretty shoddy reward for 2.5 years of graduate school stress.

Yes, I’m grateful and all, glad to be here, nice to meet ya, etc. but frankly, I think I was looking for something along the lines of “congratulations on your degree, here’s your houseboat, now get out of here you scamp.”

I suppose having a stable schedule and slightly-more-realistic paychecks is reward enough, but lately I’ve had to face what seems to happen any time you put enormous effort into something. Which is, a rather slow transition into something different that requires enormous effort.

Like learning not to scream when someone suggests you attend the Metadata Working Group Meeting.

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11. Ethnically Librarian

I am a librarian. I am not a librarian.

I have an information science degree. I’ve been working for fourteen years, my entire adult life. Most of my jobs have been in libraries.

I am a librarian. I am not a librarian.


photo by emdot

As a student at Michigan State University, I learned Library of Congress serials cataloging.

I walked through secluded aisles surrounded by rare books, incunabulum, alternative newspapers, and gay pornography.
I cataloged comic books in the world’s largest archive of comic art, radicalism, and popular culture.

In the course of my work, I learned that Spiderman serials change their volume as often as many Spiderman readers change their underwear. By graduation, I could walk into any comic shop in the country and pick a fight about whether X-Men film adaptations should be considered canon.

When I went to graduate school (Michigan ‘02), my program had recently transitioned from “Library Science” to “Information Science.” In the process, they picked up a bunch of renegade computer science professors and expanded to include information architecture, information economics, archival theory, and a bunch of crazyass dot com bubble refugees like myself.


photo by sh0dan

We discovered that the term Digital Library can be used to describe an entire array of cool shit, including the Internet itself.

One of my professors, Sue Davidson, tells the story of how Yahoo cofounder Jerry Yang called to ask about the subject guide to the web she had created for the Michigan Electronic Library. Sue answered: “that’s what librarians do, we organize information.”

Librarianship, defined as the act of organizing information, is a broad and inclusive field. Librarianship as a profession, is not. There are strict professional guidelines determining who is and is not technically a “Librarian,” but there is also a strong case to be made for the authenticity of self-identification.

There are librarians who work in libraries, and there are librarians who just Are.

It’s the difference between being a Jew by Religion, and being a Jew by Ethnicity. Both groups contribute to the cultural whole.

While a Librarian by Profession is inherently a Librarian by Ethnicity, the opposite may not be true. A trained librarian can sport a different job title, but  her clarity and understanding will still contribute to her work.

by Syntopia

photo by Syntopia

I’m a librarian by ethnicity.

Right now, I work as a user experience designer on a software team. I wrestle with ship dates, dependencies, conflicting user requirements, and engineering constraints. I design interfaces and help identify how the software should behave.

But somewhere, deep in my soul, I am doing the work of the Library.

I’m a librarian by ethnicity, regardless of the job I take. I don’t make my living as an ALA going, patron-helping organizer of resources, but I’ll be damned if I don’t use Librarian skills to battle confusing groupings of information.

Librarians bring order to chaos, and so, with a little luck, do I.

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12. Tough Subjects, Dealing with

So, on a daily basis I deal with a really tough topic. Not only do I see people cry almost every single day, but often times I provide people with death dates of lost love ones, provide photographs of unspeakable acts, and verify quotes by Hitler.I have been thinking about what other professions deal with tragedy every single day : ER Doctors, Funeral Home Directors, Insurance Agents. Seriously,

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13. Aleutian Sparrow by Karen Hesse

Nine months later...no, not a baby. A post! I am currently taking a valuing diversity in children's literature class. Part of our assignment is to critique eight books from various "ethnic groupings." Here is my first one regarding the American Indian experience in children's literature.

I can’t believe I’ve discovered Karen Hesse so late in life, but am glad she’s part of my favorites now. I really enjoyed her Depression-era novel Out of the Dust and Aleutian Sparrow holds a similar charm.

Set in the months and years after the Japanese have attacked Pearl Harbor this story follows Vera, an Aleut, and her people as they are evacuated from the Aleutian Islands to southeast Alaska. Vera’s account is told in prose informing us of how she and her people used to live and how they now struggle to survive in the government camps. The U.S. relocates all five villages of Aleut to Ketchikan hundreds of miles away in southeast Alaska. While the Aleut are comfortable in high winds, high seas and high spirits, Ketchikan and their camp at Ward Lake feels landlocked; they cannot see water anywhere through their rainforest home. The government makes them build their own sparse cabins, launder using four faucets and use an open trough for a latrine. Vera observes that a nearby German POW camp is better off than they are. Yet they are required to stay there and find their own subsistence for the next three years.

I was interested to read a “Native American” story that wasn’t set in the lower 48. Especially living in the south schools get inundated with Cherokee and Algonquian Thanksgiving stories. I still found some interesting stereotypes, however. A doctor from the Outside comes to provide check ups and is surprised at their dress. He asks, “Where are your reindeer skins?” The nearby village doesn’t like the Aleut being “forced” on them. They Aleut find themselves being arrested and jailed constantly for unknown reasons. When they finally return to their village in 1945 they find it ransacked, not by the Japanese but by bored and depressed American soldiers, “even the seal-gut pants. What does a soldier from Arkansas want with seal-gut pants?” Probably the novelty of something “exotic” from a culture he doesn’t even realize possess U.S. citizenship.

What struck me was how effective Hesse is at eliciting sympathy and rage without melodrama. The non-rhyming prose is beautiful and captivating. There is a love story but it’s secondary. There is quite a lot of death but it’s not manipulated to pull at your heart strings. What it is is a story of identity – “We never thought who we were was so dependent on where we were” – and retaining that identity after betrayal – “Worldwide our government spends large sums of money to piece lives back together. No money is spent here.”

I also found a few surprises. The villages were quite religious, and not in the way I would have expected. They practiced a version Russian Orthodoxy! This makes sense being so close to Russia, and added (or removed) an interesting layer to all the assumptions a reader could be making while enjoying this story. I appreciated how this story doesn’t attempt to tell you everything you wanted to know about the Aleut. This is one part of their more contemporary history. We are reminded that they have dealt with years of similar heavy-handedness – “How many times can a people lose their way before they are lost forever?” – but they are referring to first the Russians, then the Americans and now the Japanese, not just the proverbial White Man. This adds a thoughtful perspective not present (or able to be present) in other Native American struggles.

I highly recommend this book for 4th – 9th graders. A big range, I know. It’s an easy read and would provide historic food for thought for younger readers, while older readers will be able to relate to the aging main character and explore identity more in-depth.

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14. Roberto Walks Home by Janice Harrington

I was looking forward to reading more books by Ezra Jack Keats. I'm in the middle of researching about Keats's characters as simply "colored white kids" (Shepard in Henderson, 2005). I should have paid more attention as I started, though, as Roberto Walks Home is "based on the characters created by" Ezra Jack Keats. Doh!

The story, written by Janice Harrington and illustrated in Keats's style by Jody Wheeler, follows Roberto as he waits for his big brother Miguel to pick him up after school only to eventually walk home and see his brother playing basketball, forgetting all about Roberto. Roberto, understandably upset, ditches the green leather jacket his brother gave him at the basketball court, goes home to pout and destroy his brother's side of the room. When Miguel does finally come home and apologize Roberto is not sure if he wants to forgive him. I could definitely tell I wasn't in a genuine Keats story, but I did enjoy myself in Harrington's story and Wheeler's illustrations.

Roberto is visibly upset when he feels his big brother has abandoned him. Harrington does do a good job of keeping us in Roberto's point of view. His brother's friends are "the big boys." He throws a temper tantrum and knocks down his brother's blocks and chair. One interesting part of the story is a picture Roberto draws showing his anger at the situation.
"He drew pictures of Miguel being chased by a yellow dog and a basketball monster. The dog wanted to bite him. The monster wanted to eat him." I like this exposure to kids of alternate ways of dealing with anger and frustration - draw!

We are square in a Keats world with bright oil paints and cityscapes. The first few pages are a little busier than the rest, but they soon give way to a solo Roberto as he copes with being left behind and having to walk home alone. Besides oil paints, Wheeler uses very minimal collage - newsprint for newspaper, a wood stain for Roberto's bed, quilting for his bedspread, and crayon for Roberto's drawings. The mixed media is interesting, although not as cohesive as Keats . It seems thrown in when the page needed something different.

The Latino elements include characters' names - Roberto and Miguel. They live with their abuela; she calls from downstairs at one point. We never see her, but her presence indicates an extended family typical of Latino culture. We are told Miguel's nickname for his little brother is Habichuelita, which means Little Bean. With "beaner" being a common derogatory name for Latinos, I feel like a different choice could have been made.

Some other elements present are typical to Keats's kids-in-urban-communities stories, however, they may also be a statement of this cultural group's statistically lower socioeconomic status. Roberto attends a public school with nearby graffiti and walks home via an alley with an angry barking dog and homeless man. Interestingly, the story points out these things as "the yellow dog that growled" and "the man pushing a grocery cart" as if these sightings are everyday occurrences. He lives in a city apartment with a fire escape and shares a room with his teenage brother.

All in all, an okay story. A few things sent up red flags for me. On the title page is a stuffed white rat with pink nose, toes and tail. When we are in Roberto and Miguel's room we see this is a small stuffed toy of theirs that sits on the windowsill and watches everything. I later found out, as this is based on previous Keats stories with Roberto, that this is a mouse puppet. So, Wheeler is just following Keats here. So, it's Keats I must admonish this time. Isn't this is another slightly derogatory comparison? Aren't all the Speedy Gonzalez cartoon characters mice? Why is a rat chosen to be the boys' stuffed animal pal? On a similar note, the only other animals in this story are an angry dog, an alleycat and a city pigeon - all urban, filthy animals. When Roberto daydreams he has wings and can fly, a potentially inspirational passage, but the wings he's grown are pigeon wings! Again, some of these comparisons may be more a reflection of city life and not a culture, but it's a little too unclear for me to be comfortable with the choices.

Lastly, this could be a discussion of just youthful perspective or non-member voices (Harrington is AfricanAmerican, Wheeler is Caucasian). The story seems to have chosen some of the more negative identifiable elements - Roberto was forgotten at school. He walks home via graffiti walls and a dark alley. When he's rowdy upstairs his grandmother scolds him, not a parent. Although Roberto and Miguel appear to be the only siblings in this family, a teenager has to share a bedroom with his little brother, implying that they live in a very small apartment with abuela and probably a parent or two. I go back and forth whether this is just presenting stereotypes or creating an identifiable world with a universal story. If it's presenting stereotypes - are they just following Keats? I may have my filter on too strong.

Henderson, Darwin L., and Jill P. May. Exploring Culturally Diverse Literature for Children and Adolescents: Learning to Listen in New Ways. Boston: Pearson Allyn and Bacon, 2005, p. 270.

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15. The Degree

Degree or Not Degree, That Is the Question. Of all of the new crop of posts I’ve seen today about library education, Josh Neff’s has the best comment thread. This is an extremely touchy subject. It’s a sensitive subject for me.

It’s fascinating to me how so many librarians feel their educations were useless and they didn’t learn anything in library school. I’ve only been to one library school, but I am a completely different person than I was two years ago. Maybe my school is extraordinary (well, I’m partial to it), but it has changed me. The program balances theory and practice very well. Students coordinate internships at libraries that interest them. Even though we don’t have a health sciences program, we have a health sciences library where students can get experience. We don’t have an archives program, but we have archives where students can work. In the school library program, students have to have 10-11 semester hours of practical experience, focusing on certain aspects, with reflection and guidance.

I find the comments made by Mr. Neff’s coworkers to be a bit passive-aggressive… “Bet they didn’t teach you this in library school.” They don’t and can’t teach you everything in library school. My view of library school is that it builds a theoretical base of knowledge about libraries and librarianship, gives structured and guided practice at specific aspects of librarianship, and grounds students in the intellectual history of the profession. It doesn’t teach how to clear a printer jam, how to clean up patron vomit, how to handle an 11-year-old asking to learn how to French kiss. It doesn’t teach you how to deal with a library board (or how to craftily stack that board when you get the opportunity.) Perhaps there is an assumption that there are things that are appropriate to learn on the job.

Bloggers often seem frustrated at the lack of classes on things like blogs and wikis. Perhaps my school is unique, but in many of my classes, we had choices of assignments, including electronic formats. In at least one class, starting a blog was a required practice. (This was the genesis of my Tween Lit site.) I would prefer to see technology worked into classes in that way, rather than requiring a specific class on just learning html/blogs/wikis/exciting new social software of the future. A specific class on current software would always be in danger of being behind. There is a danger, though, of being too far on the cutting edge. One of my classmates is working in a library that has no OPAC– just a card catalog. A conference I hope to present at is asking presenters to bring their own presentation gear or go without because of the cost of the equipment. Schools can have such aggressive filters and firewalls that starting a wiki can be an impossible dream. Students need to know how to do things the lo-tech way as well.

I am continuing my education because I believe in the MLS (or, in my school, the MAISLT). I like that people come into the field with a variety of undergraduate degrees (and other graduate degrees) and a variety of backgrounds. That adds a richness to our profession.

I think library school professors/ researchers bring great value to the profession. They have much to teach to those willing to learn.

Last week, we had a visit from Thomas Mann, a Library of Congress reference librarian. It was an excellent visit, about which I will post another incredibly long post (actually, two parts), but a key thought is that library “evolution” is a myth. When librarianship changes, it’s not “evolution,” it’s a result of decisions– conscious or unconscious. At least some of the people making those decisions need to be people with an awareness and understanding of library history, library sociology, library psychology, library culture. You don’t need a degree to be one of those people, but library school is (should be) a safe place to get that kind of knowledge.

One more interesting point from Mann’s lecture: people are defending “library as place” in a way that makes them not libraries any more. We have to think about the implications of what we are doing and the history of what has been done. That’s true in librarianship and it’s true in library education. How is this movement for reform different from the other movements for reform in the last century?

Disclaimer: My words here represent only my own beliefs. No agreement or endorsement by my school or my professors is implied or stated. My interpretation of the words of Thomas Mann are only my interpretation.

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16. Another Semester

It’s almost the start of a new semester. I’m working on finalizing the syllabus for Literature for Children. This is my first time teaching adults and it’s one of my favorite subjects, so I’m very excited.

I’m starting the semester in Seattle. I’m attending my first ALISE conference and then attending the ALA Midwinter conference. I’ll be observing and recording a focus group on romance novels. I also hope to gather audio for LISRadio shows for this semester. I plan to try to live-blog the conferences as much as possible, with pictures.

The first semester went by in a kind of haze. I was overwhelmed by the transition… it was much more difficult than going from being an undergrad to a graduate student. I wonder if it was made harder because I was in the same institution, so I was used to things being a certain way. Being a doctoral student is definitely an education.

I was pleased with how my classes went in the fall. I came out of them with two ideas that I’m going to work into presentation proposals.

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17. in honor of short and sweet

I created this blog to follow my Life and Times at Info. Sciences High. I wanted to track my thoughts and learnings and experiences, perhaps get a jump start on a thesis with this baby. Something. The problem is I now work 3 jobs during 13-hour days. So while I am thinking and learning and experiencing more than the average bear, I have no time to report said thinkings and, well, you know. Sadly, this may become a weekly blog *she laughs "as if it weren't already!"*

This week: the necessity of diagrams in information sciences textbooks.

I thought graduate curriculum work was abstract. It ain't got nothin' on four different definitions of a "book" - work, expression, manifestation and item, in case you were wondering. All with very specific definitions and interactions and all pretty worthless to my understanding without some kind of visual aid. They look like glorified outlines, but then it all made sense. I'm actually getting this stuff. But only if somebody helps me out with some pretty pictures to explain all these abstractions and can't-keep-up-with-itself terminology. I swear to you, this diagram is helpful.

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18. in honor of short and sweet

I created this blog to follow my Life and Times at Info. Sciences High. I wanted to track my thoughts and learnings and experiences, perhaps get a jump start on a thesis with this baby. Something. The problem is I now work 3 jobs during 13-hour days. So while I am thinking and learning and experiencing more than the average bear, I have no time to report said thinkings and, well, you know. Sadly, this may become a weekly blog *she laughs "as if it weren't already!"*

This week: the necessity of diagrams in information sciences textbooks.

I thought graduate curriculum work was abstract. It ain't got nothin' on four different definitions of a "book" - work, expression, manifestation and item, in case you were wondering. All with very specific definitions and interactions and all pretty worthless to my understanding without some kind of visual aid. They look like glorified outlines, but then it all made sense. I'm actually getting this stuff. But only if somebody helps me out with some pretty pictures to explain all these abstractions and can't-keep-up-with-itself terminology. I swear to you, this diagram is helpful.

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