Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Why I Don't Believe the Library Doomsayers

I had the opportunity to visit the Library of Congress during Fall Break and took a fantastic tour with a lovely man named Frank.  Among the many beautiful works of art that Frank showed our group, the Evolution of the Book murals really stood out.  As I listened to him explain their meaning, I thought about how similar the current book evolution period we are living in is to these earlier changes.   
The first mural depicts man before his ability to speak.  He is creating a stone memorial to express himself.  The urge for self-expression is a primal human desire throughout the ages though the format has changed.   
The second mural shows the beginning of speech and the oral tradition.  A massive leap forward, this evolution allowed people to share with one another their thoughts, feelings and ideas and pass on the history of their culture.  
The third mural shows an example of expression with pictures: hieroglyphics.  The use of pictures to tell a story increased the ability of humans to communicate complex messages to one another in less strenuous ways than rock piling and more permanent ways than speech.  
The fourth mural shows indigenous people using hides to capture writing and drawings in a portable and permanent way.  For the first time, written material could easily be transferred to others.  
The fifth mural depicts a scholar creating a handwritten manuscript.  He is able to set down thoughts to a portable product and again share and communicate thoughts and ideas to an increased audience.
The sixth mural is of Gutenberg and his printing press.  A massive step in the Evolution of the Book, printing opened the door for democratization of learning and the sharing of ideas and information across much broader areas.   

I would offer up another mural today.  The next step in the Evolution of the Book is digital.  Rather than fear this step or see it as something to be hated, let’s celebrate that the evolution that brought us so much farther in the democratization of learning is continuing.  The current availability of information on a global scale is unprecedented in history and rather than run from it, I say run to it!  Let’s be glad that more people than ever are able to find the information they need, read it in their languages and enjoy the feeling of getting lost in a great story.    

I strongly believe that libraries still have a roll to play in this.  As a Librarian, I must not insist on a familiar format, but rather be willing to work with my patrons to learn new technologies, provide the best service possible, fulfill needs and steer our library ship through the sea of information.   Our students need libraries and librarians more than ever to help them sift through the information available to them and decide what is worth their time.  Every student needs access to all these resources through strong and well-funded school library programs with full-time certified School Librarians to run them.  I truly believe that the library is the cornerstone of our democracy.   How many other places in our society can every single person regardless of socioeconomic status have access to the best research, technology and reading resources available free of charge?   In a country that has a lot to learn about sharing, the library brings out the best of our humanity.  Whether we support this equal access and continuing democratization of learning will deeply impact the future of our world.  So let’s embrace the change and continue to support our libraries as we take this next step in the Evolution of the Book.  

Alexander, John White (Artist).  (1896).  Printing Press mural in Evolution of the Book series [Image of painting]. Washington, DC; Library of Congress. Retrieved October 29, 2013, from  http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2007684315/

Alexander, John White (Artist).  (1896).  Picture Writing mural in Evolution of the Book series [Image of painting]. Washington, DC; Library of Congress.  Retrieved October 29, 2013, from http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2005675757/

Alexander, John White (Artist).  (1896).  Manuscript Book mural in Evolution of the Book series [Image of painting]. Washington, DC; Library of Congress.  Retrieved October 29, 2013, from http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2005675759/

Alexander, John White (Artist).  (1896).  Egyptian hieroglyphics mural in Evolution of the Book series [Image of painting]. Washington, DC; Library of Congress.  Retrieved October 29, 2013, from http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2005675756/

Alexander, John White (Artist).  (1896).  Oral Tradition mural in Evolution of the Book series [Image of painting]. Washington, DC; Library of Congress.  Retrieved October 29, 2013, from http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2005675755/

Alexander, John White (Artist).  (1896).  Cairn mural in Evolution of the Book series [Image of painting]. Washington, DC; Library of Congress.  Retrieved October 29, 2013, from http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2005675760/

Friday, October 11, 2013

Ms. Couch's English Class: Perspectives by Kelsey

Innocence to Experience 
by Kelsey Woody 

As I walked into the Library this morning for my latest Library Brigade session of shelving our latest books, or even just to practice the perpetual the perpetual Speed Graph Quizzes of Precalculus, the accosting tones and occasional bursts of laughter from a Sophomore English class discussion caught me by surprise. Of course, my first thought was: "This seems like it would be a great Library Article!" 

So now, of course, I am somewhat suspiciously typing on my iPad and taking part in one of the routine yet involved conversations of Ms. Couch's latest endeavor. All of the rolling chairs have been gathered into a large circle with the teacher among the students while gummy bear bags rustle and opinions clash. The subject- go figure- is "Innocence to Experience," and the book is Power, by Linda Hogan. Being a Junior at Chatham Hall, I remember reading the book at the cusp of my Sophomore year, glaring at the Power and Control Wheel that was to lord over my English class for the coming months. 

Intrigued by a compelling nostalgia for the discoveries and challenges that I faced with Hogan's poetic language and descriptions about nature and religion, I am now sitting in one of those comfortable rolling chairs of the circle, writing this article and recognizing where I was emotionally and spiritually last year, and noting how the environment, and I, have changed. 

Surrounding the debate about whether Omishto is active; passive; naive; or experienced, an Alumnae Council meeting is discussing some grave and mysterious subject in the Mezzanine. Ms. Stenzel is preparing her next book presentation, Ms. Gammon and Mr. Lyle are puzzling over technology, and the Kuerig Coffee makers are buzzing full force. The Lee Library is evidently not the secluded Round Table classroom in Willis Hall of my Sophomore year: this area is bright, refurbished, and electric with activity during most hours of the day. The class's in depth discussion, however, is just as intense. The symbolism of muddy boots and panthers, Janie Soto and white horses is being attacked with abandon as I swiftly take notes of the musings of these brilliant girls who, frankly, I am in awe of for their ability to analyze with very few interjections from their teacher. 

Even now, the Music Maven for the day is playing a song (by Dustin O'Halooran) that alludes to her interpretation of the previous night's reading. As the class ends, yet another day carries on here in the Lee Library. Now, coming out of my reverie, it is time for me to return to the present and my Junior English class, hopefully a little bit more appreciative of how far I've come than I was 50 minutes ago.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Library Assistant Alex's Reviews on TeenReads.com

Our wonderful Library Assistant, Alex has applied for and been accepted to be a contributor for TeenReads.com!  This means that she'll be able to read ARCs (advanced readers copies) of brand new books and write reviews of them before most other people are even able to read them.   We're so proud of her!   Check out her reviews below...

Alex's Review of More Than This, by Patrick Ness

Alex's Response to Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson