20 posts categorized "Libraries" Feed

Book-Related News About Univ. of Texas

Yesterday I wrote about some book-related news stories that struck particularly close to home for me. I noted at the end of the article that "(a)t least I haven't heard of any book-related scandals associated with The University of Texas at Austin, or The University of Massachusetts at Amherst, my other two alma maters."

Chris Barton was kind enough to comment this morning, and bring to my attention a book-related story about The University of Texas. It seems that the UT Undergraduate library no longer contains any actual books. Last summer, all 90,000 volumes were transferred to other libraries, and the library was renamed the Flawn Academic Center. Apparently, books are no longer considered essential to undergraduate college learning, to be replaced instead with comfortable chairs, computers, and a cafe. So basically, they turned the undergraduate library into a particularly well-equipped Starbucks.

I wonder if anyone has missed the books? I know that when I was an undergraduate I would wander around the stacks of the various libraries at Duke, finding things of interest. Of course I didn't have a laptop then. Sigh!

But I do thank Chris for bringing the story to my attention. I'm afraid to Google to see what unhappy book news there is at UMass...


Grandparents and Books

I just read an article in the LA Daily News by Dennis McCarthy about an LA Public Library program that I LOVE. It's called Grandparents and Books. Under this program, senior citizens volunteer to read aloud to kids at local libraries. Says program director Maureen Wade "Our readers give the kids a personal touch and are instrumental in introducing children to the fun and pleasure of reading and developing their literacy." The article especially profiles Grandpa Sid Conkwright, who says "I come home after reading to these kids with a glow, feeling like, 'Oh, boy, ain't life great?' You can't beat that at any age." It sounds great to me!! -- Jen


Some Interesting Links

atching back up after a few days out of town, I came across a few blog articles worth mentioning:

  • Camille at Book Moot wrote today about Reading with Children, specifically about "crossover" books that include both Braille and written text. I also enjoyed Camille's Know-Nothing Alert, about people who challenge which books should be in the library.
  • Also on the subject of interfering with library book-buying choices, Melissa Wiley at Here in the Bonny Glen writes about the Brouhaha over Books. I think that Melissa's remarks are a call for reason in the whole debate. Liz at A Chair, A Fireplace and a Tea Cozy contributes her thoughts on the subject, and includes the criteria that she uses for deciding what books to buy for her library.
  • Michele at the BLTeens blog wrote today about Bibliotherapy. She defines bibliotherapy as "when you read a book and so strongly identify with a character or situation that at the end of the book, you feel that you have learned a new strategy or a new way or looking at the situation", and includes an example of a young woman who changed her life because of reading the right book at the right time. I found it inspiring
  • Author Rick Riordan references a New York Times article about Rethinking ADHD. He says "Perhaps the half-bloods from The Lightning Thief are right. ADHD was a useful survival skill back in the old days!" You can see my review of The Lightning Thief here.
  • And Carly of Carly's Book Reviews writes about Books written after the film (in contrast to films made from books, which are much more commonly discussed). I think that this post caught my eye because Carly, like me, is a huge fan of the movie The Goonies.

Hopefully this will make up for the fact that I haven't had too much to say myself for the past few days. Happy Reading! -- Jen


A Child's Collections of Books

I just wrote a review of The Gift of Reading: A Guide for Educators and Parents, by David Bouchard and Wendy Sutton. One point that I thought warranted a separate post was a discussion of the collections of books to which children have access. In Chapter 2, David Bouchard expands on the idea promoted by Paul Kropp in Raising a Reader; Make Your Child a Reader for Life that parents need to reach into their pockets to buy books for their children. He says: "It has been said that children should have access to five collections of books; their public library, their school library, their teacher's collection, their parents' collection and their own collection. It is never too early to start building that personal collection of books for and with your child. It need not contain many books, but they will be precious."

I think that I was particularly fortunate as a child. I had wonderful access to all five collections listed above. My parents bought me many books, both new and used, from school book sales and from bookstores. I also had access to my Mom's old collection of books, especially her Nancy Drew and Bobbsey Twins books, some of which had been her Mom's. I considered my elementary school librarian, Mrs. Tuttle, a personal friend and adviser, and still have several books that she gave me. I lived in a town with a wonderful library, and had a library card from an early age. And I remember especially my third grade teacher's in-room book collection, from which I was introduced to the Little House books.

But I had access to other collections of books, too. My grandmother, my father's mother, not only had books from my father's childhood at her house, she also had a collection of children's books that she loved herself, and read as an adult. This is where I gained and reinforced my love of the Maida books, by Inez Haynes Irwin. I can also remember going to my own church library, and to my grandmother's church library. I was a lucky kid! And it's no coincidence that I ended up a reader.

Take a moment to consider what book collections you had access to as a child, and what collections your children have. Could there be more? Are there aunts or uncles or grandparents who might have children's books to loan to your child? The more people there are providing and recommending books, the more likely a child is to grow into a reader.

What collections did you have? Did they help to shape you as a reader? -- Jen


"The Writer Speaks" Series: Franz Wisner

The Santa Clara City Library, in Santa Clara, California presents, as part of their "The Writer Speaks" series, Honeymoon with My Brother : A Memoir, a memoir by Franz Wisner. The talk will be held this Wednesday, February 22nd, at 7:00 p.m. in the library's Redwood Room. Here is the text from the library's flier about this talk: "Jilted by his fiancee a few days before the wedding, Franz took his brother Kurt on his honeymoon instead. Enjoying the vagabond life, they decided to quit their jobs and sell their homes. Hear about the brothers' adventures and the interesting characters they met during their two years traveling around the world. The Wisners appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show in September and December 2005. Please call the library Reference Desk at (408) 615-2900 to sign up for this free author event."


Investing in the Libary Children's Section

Thanks to the Read Alert blog (a youth literature blog from the State Library of Victoria in Australia) for linking to a column that I enjoyed from the latest edition of Bookslut. The column, written by James Stegall, urges investment in the children's section of the library. Mr. Stegall, a "single parent on a budget" considers children's library books to be "investments in the future, and vital if we want libraries of the future to be anything more than Internet cafes." He goes into considerable detail about factors that he has noticed in different libraries that "make some better than others." Although many of the things that he describes cost money, he also discusses other things that matter, particularly volunteers. As a library volunteer myself (for the Foundation and Friends of the Santa Clara City Library) I was pleased to see his call for volunteers. And as a supporter of both children's books and libraries, I loved this description:

"A great children's section at the library is a respite for children and parents, a place where kids can feel safe and surrounded by knowledge and wonder."

Who could ask for more than that? If the above description warmed your heart a little, I recommend that you read James Stegall's column. And, of course, visit your library children's section whenver you have the chance. Happy Reading! -- Jen


Banning Children from the Library?

I read on the Chicken Spaghetti website about an article on Tasha Saecker's Kid Lit website. Tasha writes about a public library in Ohio that has recently banned unchaperoned children under 14 from using the library in the afternoons. Tasha asks: "What message are we as libraries sending these future taxpayers and what message are we giving to the parents of the teens? Doesn't seem like a very positive one."

I completely agree (as does Susan Thomsen at Chicken Spaghetti)! I understand that libraries have conflicting patron needs, and that unaccompanied young teens can be difficult to handle. But if you have kids who want to be at the library, shouldn't you let them? Don't we want these kids to grow up reading books, and respecting libraries? The percentage of kids who read for pleasure drops off sometime around age 12 or 13 (per Paul Kropp in Raising a Reader; Make Your Child a Reader for Life). And no wonder, if libraries are going to kick these kids out. Do you readers have any thoughts on this? -- Jen


Donate Books to Your Local Library

As the year-end approaches, I thought that I would suggest a charitable donation option that's near and dear to my heart. If you have spare books or media products (software/CDs/DVDs/Audiobooks) lying around, consider donating them to your local library. Most libraries have Friends of the Library organizations that will sell your donated products, and use the money for library-related programs.

I volunteer for the Foundation and Friends of the Santa Clara City Library, in Santa Clara, California. The Foundation and Friends is a non-profit organization dedicated to supplementing public funding to expand and enhance the Library's programs and services. The Friends group in particular raises funds by selling donated books. We sell the books in a bookstore inside the library, in regular book sales, and online. The money that we raise through these avenues is used to fund great activities like summer reading programs, new library cards for kids, adult literacy programs, and many others. At a recent meeting, the Foundation and Friends voted to fund eight requests like these from the Library totaling more than $20,000 and to establish three endowment funds. (The complete list is here.) The funds to fulfill all of these requests came from the proceeds from the used book sales.

In summary, library Friends organizations can do great things with your donated books. And you can get a tax deduction. So, if you have extra books or videos lying around your house collecting dust, and you would like to give them to a good cause, check to see if your library accepts donations. At our library, children's books and videos are particularly in demand, but any gently read books are welcome.