Friday, April 23, 2010

Philosophical (not Guy) Friday

This is what I did yesterday. Well, in addition to checking out 100 books, reprogramming 20-odd wall mounted televisions, and cleaning out the back store room. I feel a need to apologize for recent lackluster blog posts-- the upcoming library renovation has me distractedly delving through dusty cabinets, determined to oust the last vestige of things like page reinforcement boxes marked "Unidentified Keys- 8/02". The drawer pictured at left is all that remains in the main part of the library from TWO desks and the circulation desk. Everything else has been secured in the back storage area. WHY was there still a button proclaiming "I'm a Happy Booker" in my desk? Just how long has that been there? 1971?

I will endeavor to be better about having focused book reviews next week.

Did borrow Steven Layne's Igniting a Passion for Reading for Mr. Buxton of Buxtolicious Blog O'Books. It was aimed predominately at teachers, with ways to engage students in reading, but did have a few helpful things for librarians as well, especially the interest inventories in the chapter entitled Coaches Who Know Their Players Win More Games. He also points out that students are more interested in a particular book (and he references WELL WEEDED libraries!) and in your recommendations in general if you hand them books and say "I read this and thought of you." This really is huge. I have students fill out interest inventories every fall and hand them in. I take several cross country meets to read and comment on all of them, and the students do like this.

This made me revisit my own middle school library experience. I read tons, and was a student helper. I was the child who needed to hang out in the library every single morning. Oddly, I don't remember the librarian's name (although I was ever so fond of the assistant, a lovely woman named Mrs. Greer whom I understand still volunteers at Boardman Center Middle School), because she was always sequestered in a back room. (Note: I am sure there is a new librarian now. I haven't been to the school since 1979.) Other than using magazines for science reports, I don't recall coming with any classes or learning any library skills. No one EVER recommended a book to me.

My philosophical thought then became: Do I recommend too many books? Are students too dependent upon my advice? My lesson next week will be "Book Shopping". Pick a section. Crane head and read spines until something looks appealing. Pull it off and look at cover. If that looks good, read the summary. Repeat as needed. While I love to recommend books, the students need to be able to make choices without me around. Serendipitous discoveries can be amusing.

Ah, Boardman Center. The library had the most gorgeous blonde Danish Modern style circulation desk from the 1950s, and dark wood double doors at the entrance. Wooden tables and chairs. Windows with those school curtains in weird 1960s prints. *Sigh* Do you think that the architects would be able to work any of those features into my new library? Will students thirty years from now wax nostalgic about whatever Starbuck-esque decor they do use?

Opine: What are your memories of YOUR middle school library?


  1. The main thing I remember about my middle school librarian, Ms. Stiles (the library itself was fairly nondescript), is that she was a serious Sherlock Holmes fan, involved in a local group that put on Victorian parties and Holmes re-enactments. She introduced me to the idea that adults could have fun hobbies/obsessions, and that readers could have literary obsessions. Now I'm impressed that this managed to go on without the Internet to connect people. It sounded like so much fun.

  2. I don't think our jr. high HAD a library (it was bad in Calif. even in those days) but the public library was right next door.

    I would go there after school, usually on Friday afternoons and walk home with a stack of books. I could walk and read at the same time. I think my home was quite a distance. I should google map it and see how far it really was.

    I don't have any memories of my mom or dad being there with me, ever. I vividly remember getting a "adult" card that entitled me to use the grown up section. The building was spacious and light-filled as I remember it. Sober and sensible tables and chairs in both areas. The children's room seemed very, very large. I remember there was a bulletin board that was always quite elaborately festooned. Someone working there must have been very artistic.

    I never asked for help and rarely used the card catalog. I was a stack browser. As I reflect now, the most interesting memory of that library is that I was always alone. I don't remember ever being there with a friend or family member even though my best friend was a reader. I have no memories of the librarians. I was either too shy to ask for help or, perhaps, it never occurred to me that they would have any suggestions for me. What an odd, solitary little thing I must have been.