Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Ken Haycock to Head California Library Association

By Rocco Staino -- School Library Journal, 9/30/2008

Ken Haycock, professor and director of the School of Library and Information Science at San José State University in California and former president of the American Association of School Librarians, has been elected president of the California Library Association (CLA).

Haycock is a recent transplant to California, assuming his current position in 2005 after leaving the University of British Columbia.

“CLA was very savvy to nominate and elect Ken Haycock. He brings together academic and school librarians, as well as library educators” says Lesley Farmer, director of the California State University Long Beach Librarianship Program. “Under his leadership CLA can truly represent all types of library and information professionals. Dr. Haycock's wide-ranging network will also inform CLA, and CLA's endeavors will gain visibility.”

Haycock also spent the lat 30 years as publisher and executive editor of
Teacher Librarian, a journal for school library professionals, and its predecessor, Emergency Librarian.

In 1977, he was the youngest person elected president of the
Canadian Library Association. In addition, Haycock has served on the American Library Association’s Executive Committee and was a candidate for president of the American Library Association in 2001.

Friday, September 26, 2008

New ALA Web Site

Check out the new ALA site at http://www.ala.org/

(My apologies for the earlier obituary post. That was supposed to go to a different blog I manage.)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

CLA Election Results Announced

Ken Haycock, Director of the San Jose State University School of Library and Information Science, was elected Vice President/President Elect, and Les Kong, Head of Public Services, CSU San Bernardino was elected ALA Chapter Councilor. They will take office on November 17, 2008 at the conclusion of the Annual Conference in San Jose.

p.s., this is the California, not Canadian Library Association!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Ministry of Education: 2008 September 23

PENTICTON – For the fifth consecutive year, the Province will match all donations raised during CanWest’s Raise-a-Reader campaign in B.C., Premier Gordon Campbell announced today.

“Literacy is a key that opens the door to a world of knowledge, of learning and of opportunity,” said Premier Campbell. “By supporting literacy programs like Raise-a-Reader, we can help ensure that every British Columbian has the chance to open that door and develop a life-long love of reading.”

The provincial government has been matching funds collected through Raise-a-Reader since 2004, and has contributed nearly $2.4 million to the CanWest campaign to date. National Raise-a-Reader Day is tomorrow, Sept. 24. The matching funding will support many family literacy groups, such as CNIB, the Vancouver Public Library Foundation, the Canucks for Kids fund, Literacy BC, Aboriginal HIPPY Canada (Home Instruction for Parents of Pre-school Youngsters), S.U.C.C.E.S.S., the B.C. Council for Families, SOS Children’s village B.C. and Big Sisters of B.C. Lower Mainland.

“Our government’s commitment to improved literacy levels through initiatives like Raise-A-Reader is leading the country,” said Education Minister Shirley Bond. “Partners like CanWest help us support children and adults and increase awareness about the need to raise literacy levels.”

“Literacy involves continuous learning and enables us to reach our goals, develop our knowledge and achieve our potential,” said Kevin Bent, president and publisher of the Vancouver Sun.

There are now nine newspaper outlets in B.C. participating in the Raise-a-Reader campaign with Kamloops and Tofino/Ucluelet launching campaigns for the first time this year.

Since the inception of the campaign in Vancouver in 1997, Raise-a-Reader and its sponsors have made significant contributions to help improve literacy for children and families not only across the province, but also across Canada.

British Columbia is a nation-wide leader in Raise-a-Reader fundraising and the matching funds the provincial government is providing this year will help support more than 180 beneficiary organizations throughout B.C.

Since 2001, government has invested more than $145 million in new literacy initiatives, including pre-literacy and early learning programs, including providing $12 million to operate the kindergarten readiness program Ready, Set, Learn, and $2.7 million for the ActNow Literacy Education Activity and Play (LEAP BC) program that encourages literacy, physical activity and healthy eating in preschool-aged children.

Media contact:
Bridgitte Anderson, Press Secretary
Office of the Premier
604 307-7177

Public Affairs Bureau
Ministry of Education
250 356-5963

Monday, September 22, 2008

Dewey overdue for a makeover, librarians say

Southtown Star: 2008 September 21

In the sober, settled atmosphere of a library there is a radical movement afoot that is knocking books off their long established shelves and throwing Dewey out the window.

At 6 a.m. on a Sunday morning, when most library patrons are pulling the covers over their heads, refusing to acknowledge the rising sun, two bold and daring librarians are stirring at the Frankfort Public Library, shuffling books and tearing off those time-honored Dewey Decimal System numbers that no one really understood anyway.

"We know it's a little radical, but that's OK," said Melissa Rice, head of adult services, who along with reference librarian Joanna Kolendo is leading this revolution. Frankfort is the first library in the United States to retrofit its collection and go "Dewey-free," eliminating numbers and categorizing nonfiction books by topic, she said.

It's an idea so new, the Illinois Library Association was not even up to speed on it.

"You're telling me they are throwing out the Dewey Decimal System? What are they doing? Organizing books by size?" said Bob Doyle, the association's executive director. "This is the first I heard of it."

Melvil Dewey might be spinning in his grave, but these ladies said they can still put their fingers on any and every book a patron wants. "After all, we are librarians," Kolendo said. Learning the code established by fellow librarian Dewey in 1876 and embraced by public libraries everywhere, is "archaic," she said.

What? If news of Dewey's demise is causing cardiac arrest, check out a 612.12 or a 616.123 or peruse the books under "health and fitness" in Frankfort's new system. By the time you track down the Dewey number, (assuming you didn't know that the 600s were technology and applied sciences) and locate the book on the shelf, it may be too late.

That's the point.

"People spend 10 or 15 minutes in the library. They are frustrated if they have to go to a card catalog and get the number. They are embarrassed to ask for help. This Dewey-free system takes out the middle man," Kolendo said.

"I love coding. I read Dewey's biography," she said. "As librarians, we have a hard time changing things. But it's not about me. It's about the patrons."

When Frankfort's patrons walk into their library, they can look for colored signs directing them to books on gardening, cooking, auto repair, health and fitness, travel, computers or whatever.

Cooking and gardening collections already have been retrofitted and broken down into subcategories, all clearly marked and alphabetized on the shelves. Within each subcategory, books are further alphabetized by author.

So if a patron wants Rachael Ray's "Thirty Minute Meals," they find "cooking," "quick and easy," and find Ray's name, instead of looking up the 641.555 RAY. (Ironically, this places "cooking" and "heart attacks" in the same 600 category, according to Dewey's system.) If this is confusing, think: bookstore.

The gardening category now combines botany from the 500s, gardening from the 635s and landscaping from 717s.

This dynamic duo pores over one collection at a time and decides what to name each new category and subcategory based on what patrons are asking for and using words they can identify with.

It's all designed to make the collection "intuitive, browseable and accessible," Rice and Kolendo said.

"What's the point of having a collection if no one checks it out?" Kolendo said.

They want to get people "back into the stacks," have them check out more books and make the library a place where people feel comfortable.

They eventually would like to create "nooks" among the shelves with comfy chairs or couches and a computer for additional research.

Rice said she is figuring it will take one year to complete the project, which started this summer, but she hopes it will be sooner. It's a process that has been "evolving," they said. Fiction, biographies and compact discs are already organized by topic. In the meantime, they have a map to guide patrons through this major move. The hardest part is figuring out which collection to put where.

The books that circulate the most have been moved up front. Biographies will become neighbors with history books. Foreign language will mingle with travel tomes.

Dewey has not been the only game in town, but it was believed to be simpler than the Library of Congress classification system, widely used in academic libraries, and the Universal Decimal Classification, which incorporates punctuation marks with decimals. The Dewey-free revolution grew out of Europe, and word of it is slowly spreading here. It's already proven to be successful in Maricopa County Library District in Arizona, which ditched Dewey when it opened a new library last June.

In Frankfort, this radical notion grew out of talks about building a new, larger library. "We were talking about new concepts and what we would want in a new library," Rice said. What transpired is the reorganization of 36,070 nonfiction books.

Rice acknowledged that Frankfort has generated a "lot of buzz" in the library community. She welcomes other librarians to tour their building. It will have no impact on the interlibrary loan system. When a patron looks up a book on the computer, they simply will see Frankfort's new classification.

"I see other libraries moving in this direction," Rice said.

As a library science student, Kolendo said she learned that the purpose of being a librarian is to make access to information easy, to eliminate the hoops.

"The Dewey Decimal System was easy. But when does easy become difficult? What is the purpose of classification?" she asked.

May Melvil Dewey rest in peace.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Social Justice course not offered in district

By Trudy Beyak - Abbotsford News

Published: September 17, 2008 6:00 PM The controversial elective Social Justice 12 course, which includes a “gay friendly” curriculum, is not being offered locally unless approved first by the local school board.

The elective course, initiated in part because of the Corren Agreement, teaches that homosexuality is normal and sexual orientation may cause individuals to experience social injustice.

The Abbotsford school district had asked all of the high schools not to offer the elective course until it has been reviewed by the local board, superintendent Des McKay said.

The final draft of the course was approved by the Ministry of Education last month.

The school board has not yet made a decision to offer the course, McKay explained, noting it must go through the curriculum department and education committee before it will be voted on by the board.

It’s unknown how many school boards are actually offering the course, according to the provincial government.

B.C. Education Minister Shirley Bond told the Abbotsford News it is important to note that Social Justice 12 is a completely optional course and is offered to Grade 12 students as an elective.

She said it’s up to the boards and independent school authorities to decide whether they will offer the course, and it is up to students to decide if they are interested in taking it.

The Social Justice course aims to provide Grade 12 students the opportunity to question their own belief systems and to learn a broad perspective about social injustice in Canada and globally, according to the course outline.

People may experience injustice, states the course program, due to factors such as their age, marital status, mental development, political belief, ethnicity, religion, sex, sexual orientation and socio-economic status.

The school district expressed concerns about a draft outline of the course by sending a letter to the Ministry of Education last January.

The provincial government has not replied to that letter, McKay said.

The new course creates a number of challenges, according to local educators.

McKay explained that the elective course requires a teacher to have a significant amount of legal knowledge, expertise and training on such laws as the Human Rights Code, the Employment Standards Act and The Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The Abbotsford District review team noted the course is more appropriate for second or third year university students and advised the Ministry of Education of that opinion.

The course also raises moral dilemmas. It requires the teacher to express a great deal of sensitivity to be fair to all groups in the community, including religious groups, McKay said.

The district review team wrote to the ministry stating that the issues included in the course are “very sensitive and encroach on areas of family values, beliefs and practices.”

Indeed, some students might feel threatened rather than respected for their opinions, according to the review team.

In the letter to the ministry, the district stated teachers of the course must ensure that religious or moral beliefs and cultural practices of families not be undermined, adding that “many people are discriminated throughout the world because of their religious beliefs and social justice concerns.”

The schools need to be sensitive to the religious values of Christian, Sikh and Muslim families in Abbotsford, for example, McKay explained.

The Education Minister commented on the situation in Abbotsford.

“I understand that the Abbotsford School District has chosen to offer a Social Justice option as an independent directed studies course this fall, because there were students who wanted to take the course,” she said in a press release.

Meanwhile, W.J. Mouat Secondary had inadvertently included Social Justice 12 as an elective course for its fall schedule and about 90 students had signed up, McKay said.

The district asked the teacher to provide an outline of how she wanted to teach the program in order to try to accommodate the students who had signed up for the course.

McKay said the teacher, to her credit, created an outstanding course called “Global Studies and Active Citizenship.” Some of the main topics include: Genocide Past and Present and Moving Towards Solutions for Conflict: Restorative Justice and Active Citizenship.

There is no reference to sexual orientation.

The new made-in-Abbotsford “Global Studies” course did not receive approval from the government as a “Board Authority Authorized Course,” but was approved as an “Independent Directed Study” course for one year – with the same credits applied to graduation.

The Ministry of Education, however, informed the district that the “Global Studies” course cannot be offered in the future, because it overlaps too much with its own “Social Justice” course.

McKay said it is important to note that the district tried to respond to the needs of the students and this is why the “Global Studies and Active Citizenship” was developed in the first place.

In fact, the benefit of the new course is that it includes the important component of educating students on ways to make a positive difference to address injustices in society, McKay said.

The Abbotsford District Teachers Association (ADTA), meanwhile, is concerned that the Global Studies course does not include any references to “sexual orientation.”

According to the ADTA president, the teacher who was to teach the course felt pressure to modify and revise the program.

“The Social Justice 12 course was designed to encourage inclusion and respect for diversity, including sexual orientation,” said Rick Guenther, ADTA president.

Student Vote—Federal Election Material for Teachers

The BCTF would like to make teachers aware of the valuable information and materials available through Student Vote. During the previous provincial and federal elections, many BC teachers involved their classes in Student Vote, discussing the issues and holding mock elections.

With the federal election under way, Student Vote is active once again and has asked that the Federation share this message with members.

“As you are aware, Canada’s 40th General Election is now under way. Student Vote is once again partnering with Elections Canada to provide students under the voting age with an opportunity to develop and practice the skills of citizenship.

Our non-partisan organization equips your members with a special Elections Kit for use throughout the campaign. The kit includes: Lesson plans, electoral district maps, posters, campaign DVD, ballot boxes, voting screens and ballots.

The program culminates in a vote—hosted by students themselves—where the student body casts a ballot on the real candidates running in the schools’ riding. The Student Vote results will be displayed to the public following the close of official polls in partnership with CBC and regional daily newspapers across Canada.”

Teachers can learn more about the program and register at

Irene Lanzinger, President
BC Teachers' Federation

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Bratz books banned from Scholastic school book sales

Vancouver Sun: 2008 September 18

Parents, psychologists complained the controversial dolls promote ‘precocious sexuality’

The largest distributor of children’s books to Canadian schools has decided to yank all Bratz books from its roster after parents and psychologists complained the controversial dolls promoted “precocious sexuality.”

Scholastic Inc. distributes its products through school-based book fairs and clubs, selling books to students and teachers at discounted prices. But after a North American campaign led by the Boston-based Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood against books and products featuring the popular Bratz dolls, the book distributor has relented.

The company confirmed Wednesday that its fall product line for schools no longer includes the Bratz brand — a switch from last year, when Scholastic said the books appealed to “reluctant readers” and its job was to “offer materials that appeal to children where they are, not where we would like them to be.”

In a statement, Scholastic declined to comment on Bratz books, saying “the books we offer have been selected by an experienced team of editors who consult with our teacher and librarian advisers and review thousands of titles from all publishers.

“Our goal has been and continues to be to provide quality, affordable books that meet the wide range of reading levels and interests of today’s students and help every child develop a love of reading.”

The Bratz book line is a spinoff of MGA Entertainment Inc.’s top-selling fashion dolls notable for their skimpy wardrobe of miniskirts, high-heel boots and feather boas.

In addition to books like Lil’ Bratz Dancin’ Divas and Lil’ Bratz Catwalk, Scholastic last year also offered the Bratz: Rock Angelz computer game so girls can create their own fashion magazine and the Bratz Fashion Designer stencil kit for elementary students to design “the perfect purse.”

Since February 2007, Scholastic and its Canadian subsidiary received more than 5,000 e-mails as part of the anti-Bratz campaign.

“We’re just really thrilled and it really attests to the power of people working together to try and make change,” said campaign coordinator Susan Linn.

“The Bratz are a highly sexualized brand and when a brand is marketed in a school, it has that school’s endorsement. Essentially, schools were saying to their students, ‘This is a good way to portray girls, these are models that you should strive for.’”

Linn, a psychologist and author of The Case for Make-believe: Saving Play in a Commercialized World, said she was particularly troubled with Scholastic’s apparent tacit endorsement of the Bratz brand.

“Scholastic has such a stellar reputation with parents and with teachers and for Scholastic to be supporting and promoting this kind of sexualization, it was very troubling.”

Edmonton mother Wendy Boyko was among the thousands who flooded Scholastic with their objection to Bratz books for sale in schools.

“For me, my main concern was just the appearance, the makeup and the clothing being more suggestive than necessary or more suggestive than what our teenagers should be wearing, and targeting that to little girls who don’t need to be looking like that,” said Boyko, whose daughters are ages five and eight.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Smithsonian to put its 137 million-object collection online

CNN: 2008 September 16

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Smithsonian Institution will work to digitize its collections to make science, history and cultural artifacts accessible online and dramatically expand its outreach to schools, the museum complex's new chief said Monday.

"I worry about museums becoming less relevant to society," said Secretary G. Wayne Clough in his first interviews since taking the Smithsonian's helm in July.

Clough, 66, who was president of the Georgia Institute of Technology for 14 years, says he's working to bring in video gaming experts and Web gurus to collaborate with curators on creative ways to present artifacts online and make them appealing to kids.

"I think we need to take a major step," Clough said in an earlier interview. "Can we work with outside entities to create a place, for example, where we might demonstrate cutting-edge technologies to use to reach out to school systems all over the country? I think we can do that."

Smithsonian officials do not know how long it will take or how much it will cost to digitize the full 137 million-object collection and will do it as money becomes available. A team will prioritize which artifacts are digitized first.

Clough told reporters and editors of The Associated Press that the Smithsonian will need a reorganized, central department that would become an authority on K-12 curriculum development.

The biggest advantage for the museums, including the American history and air and space, is that many of their visitors are younger. Longtime Smithsonian leaders acknowledge, though, that the academic side could do more to relate to youngsters.

"Wayne's coming from a place, Georgia Tech, where he spent a lot of time with 19-year-olds, which is a demographic that the Smithsonian doesn't relate to all that much," said Richard Kurin, the acting under secretary for history, art and culture. "That's where the future is."

It's also a new way for the Smithsonian to generate cash from private educational foundations or the U.S. Department of Education at a time when funding from Congress is flat and could decline, Clough said.

The Georgia native replaced a Smithsonian chief who was criticized for pursuing questionable commercial ventures, including a television deal with Showtime, and spending lavishly on corporate travel and expenses while trying to boost moneymaking operations.

The push to connect with schools comes as some museums across the country are seeing declines in student field trips, said Ford Bell, president of the American Association of Museums.

The federal No Child Left Behind law with its "focus on math and reading, and the high prices of gasoline is a double whammy," Bell said.

Some museums are going out of their way to prove their programs tie in with state education standards, Bell said. Museum leaders also are increasingly focused on digitizing their online collections, despite its expense, he said.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Learning 2.0

New breed of teacher blends Facebook with textbooks. Fourth in a Tyee reader-funded series.

By Nick Smith
Georgia Straight: September 12, 2008

Chris Kennedy asks me to call him back after he has put his children to bed. Eager to speak to the new assistant superintendent of the West Vancouver School District, I readily agree. As a school administrator in Coquitlam, he made a name for himself as an advocate of "blended learning," a fusion of best classroom practices and online tools.

"As I see it, every class of the future is a blended class," Kennedy declares when I get back to him, after he has tucked in his kids...


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Delta’s the new hot spot

Entire school district will soon be wireless

By Kristine Thiessen - South Delta Leader
Published: September 11, 2008 4:00 PM

As soon as next month all schools in the Delta School District will be plugged in for a wireless connection to the Internet.

Superintendent Steve Cardwell sees a future where students and staff adapt to new ways of learning and sharing knowledge.

“It’s about the communications opportunities, the research capabilities, the ability to link up with other schools, other students in other sites,” he says.

He envisions students, Grade 5 and up, participating in web casts, and teachers hosting video conferences for students with experts in their fields, like a scientist in the Arctic.

Cardwell reiterates his vision of young learners with laptops “gathered under the proverbial oak tree,” accessing the Internet anywhere on the property.

While wireless network access has become increasingly common for post-secondary campuses and coffee shops, from the University of B.C. to Starbucks, to have the Internet at the fingertips of high school and elementary students is largely untested.

While some teachers may worry laptops will bring a host of distractions, Cardwell believes this will not be the case.

“Actually, there are a number of school districts (in North America) where the entire district has laptops or certain grade levels have laptops and they’ve found that it’s not,” he says.

He cites the state of Maine as an example, which has provided laptops to its middle school students.

And he says there’s evidence laptop access does not come at the expense of skills such as handwriting.

“Also, it’s not just about typing words on a computer . . . All these doors just open,” he says. “The ability to create podcasts, wikis, there are all these opportunities.”

The next step for the district, says Cardwell, is finding a way for students to have equal access to the technology.

Other challenges he forsees range from network security, to providing technical support, to teachers adapting to the technology in the teaching and learning environment.

To get the ball rolling Cardwell sent out a call last week to teachers interested in using laptops in the classroom and keen to get training on how to design lessons which incorporate the technology.

In his letter to staff Cardwell said, “I am seeking expressions of interest from teachers and school administrators to work with me in utilizing wireless laptop computers along with productivity and multimedia software with our students.”

He goes on to note, “This is, of course, a dream without a major funding source! I am considering various options, which could include a ‘lease to own’ opportunity for parents/students and/or school/district. I would seek to capitalize on existing mobile laptop carts, and would find a way to handle cases of hardship.”

As for the cost of setting up the wireless connection, Cardwell says the district received a deal through company called Ruckus interested in moving into the Kindergarten through Grade 12 sector.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

All villages to get libraries by ’20

Howrah News Service: 2008 September 9

Sept. 9: If all goes according to plan, each village and each school in India is set to have a library by the year 2020. This is the ambitious goal that the National Mission on Libraries, it is a proposal currently being finalised by the government, has set for itself.

The gargantuan project is expected to cost Rs 484 crores over a period of five years as estimated by the Union ministry of culture which is dealing with the mission. The ministry’s proposal has already got "in-principle"approval of the Planning Commission and is now awaiting the nod of the expenditure finance committee (EFC). Only after clearance by the EFC can the proposal be put before the Union Cabinet for final approval.

The Library Mission was conceived by the culture ministry following a recommendation by the National Knowledge Commission, headed by Sam Pitroda, to establish such a mission. The NKC, which is an advisory body to the Prime Minister, while formulating the motto: "Libraries: the key to prosperity" had said that it needs to be publicised proactively in order to shape public opinion and change the attitude of policy-makers in order to promote the significance of libraries.

Not only did NKC clearly state, "For each village a library, No school without a library", it also suggested that the culture ministry undertake a census of the country’s existing 59,000 libraries and establish an Indian Institute for Library and Information Sciences under the Mission.

Accordingly, the culture ministry has envisaged a library census which will take about two years to be completed. The census will be undertaken by the Raja Rammohan Roy Foundation for Libraries based in Kolkata.

Monday, September 8, 2008


Ministry of Education: 2008 September 8

VICTORIA – The Province is expanding its literacy strategy to continue to support school districts in B.C. and to reach rural, remote and Aboriginal communities with new programs, Education Minister Shirley Bond announced today.

“As we celebrate International Literacy Day, I’m confident this additional funding will help ensure that literacy programming continues to move forward in every part of the province,” Bond said. “Our goal is to provide rural and remote communities with the same learning opportunities as those in larger urban centres.”

The Province has granted $2 million to 2010 Legacies Now to fund literacy co-ordination in all 60 B.C. school districts. The new funding will enhance co-ordination within each region and support school districts as they work with their communities on district literacy planning. This funding builds on a previous investment of $1.6 million to fund regional literacy co-ordinators at 16 public post-secondary institutions to enhance the co-ordination and delivery of adult literacy programs.

The Province is also investing $2.4 million in 70 community adult literacy programs that will offer free tutoring for adults wanting to upgrade their education or strengthen their literacy skills. The community adult literacy program is being delivered through post-secondary institutions across the province.

“This funding will help B.C. build a seamless adult education system,” said Advanced Education and Labour Market Development Minister Murray Coell. “Access to education will be designed and co-ordinated to benefit British Columbians of all ages and abilities in all communities.”

Additional investments will support literacy programs for Aboriginal families. The B.C. Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres is receiving $1.2 million to support the implementation of Aboriginal family literacy programs in Friendship Centres across the province. Another $110,000 will fund an Imagination Library book program for Aboriginal children living in 30 rural and remote B.C. communities. The Province is working with Invest in Kids in partnership with the Dollywood Foundation of Canada, the First Nations Education Steering Committee and Métis Nation BC to provide a free, age-appropriate book each month to children enrolled in the program from birth up to their fifth birthday.

“The funding for Aboriginal family literacy programs will be able to better reach many children and adults in our communities,” said Grace Neilsen, president of the BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres. “Improving literacy is a goal of our organization and we welcome this opportunity to work with the Province to improve the lives or our clients and their success in work and life.”

“Improving literacy for Aboriginal learners is a key objective of this government and part of our commitment to help close the social and economic gaps between Aboriginal people and other British Columbians,” said Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation Minister Michael de Jong. “These initiatives will help build capacity and bring the joy of reading to Aboriginal communities across British Columbia.”

Further tools to promote literacy include Reading for Families, a new DVD developed by the Ministry to support parents and caregivers of children aged birth to eight years. The DVD will be distributed through public libraries, elementary schools, StrongStart BC centres, Aboriginal Friendship Centres, Literacy Now and Literacy BC, as well as made available on the ReadNow BC website.

“Making British Columbia one of the most literate jurisdictions in North America is one of this government’s Great Goals”, said Bond. “By funding literacy projects in all areas of the province, as well as encouraging lifelong learning by ensuring those projects are available to all citizens, B.C. is well on its way to meeting that goal.”

Since 2001, government has invested more than $140 million in new literacy initiatives, including pre-literacy and early learning programs such as $9.5 million to operate the kindergarten readiness program Ready, Set, Learn and $2.7 million for the ActNow Literacy Education Activity and Play (LEAP BC) program that encourages literacy, physical activity and healthy eating in preschool-aged children.

Why so many are 'reluctant readers' and what to do about it

Melanie Jackson
Special to the Sun
Monday, September 08, 2008

When Bobby O. stood up to read aloud, we all groaned. The next minutes, as Bobby stumbled painfully over texts by Sir Charles G.D. Roberts or some other venerable Canadian writer, were agony.

We were supposed to read along silently, so our eyes would be trapped on every syllable that Bobby mangled. Unsure of what he was reading, Bobby kept his voice to a dull, ambiguous monotone.

Eventually the teacher would cut short Bobby's turn at reading aloud, and pass with ill-concealed relief to the next student.

Bobby, everyone shrugged, was just not a natural reader. Educators would invent the term "reluctant reader" to define kids who reached the intermediate grades and floundered over texts their classmates absorbed with ease. In recent years, however, educators have reconsidered the case of the reluctant reader.

Maybe it's not that these kids don't take to reading. Maybe the way reading is taught doesn't take to them.

The traditional view was that teachers taught primary schoolchildren how to read. From intermediate grades on up, the teachers taught what the kids were reading. The gates to reading comprehension effectively clanged shut to the Bobby O.'s still struggling with the how.

In such new approaches as the Vancouver School Board's Later Literacy Project, students read texts they're comfortable with. Gone is the old idea of across-the-board texts.

"We want to make sure students have appropriate reading activities for their level, and opportunities to write for enjoyment," says Meredyth Grace Kezar, the VSB's later literacy consultant.

"We're looking at all the components of reading: fluency, vocabulary, comprehension."

Thus the advent of the so-called "hi-lo" text, with simple vocabulary, yet a mature enough storyline to appeal to older readers.

In other words, it's no longer an either-or between Sir Charles G.D. Roberts and Dick and Jane. With focused instruction, Kezar insists, all students can learn to read -- and enjoy it.

How do you tell when a reader blossoms into a good reader? Kezar cites the research of P. David Pearson, dean of Berkeley's Graduate School of Education.

According to Pearson, good readers make connections between personal experiences and what they're reading.

They break information down into key ideas and form their own conclusions. Further, they can infer, or fill in, information not overtly presented in a text.

For example, if a character in a novel is being ironic, the other characters may not get it, but the reader will.

Today, with the flow of information increasing and intensifying, we need lots of good readers, says Kezar.

She points to several awareness-raising initiatives in the Lower Mainland this fall.

The Surrey Board of Education has adopted a proposal by its teacher-librarian association that everyone Drop Everything And Read (or DEAR) for five minutes at 1 p.m. on October 22. Two days later, in Vancouver, Kezar co-hosts an International Reading Association conference on the reluctant reader.

A new Vancouver publisher, Gumboot Books, has just released a fictional anthology, The World of Stories, for different elementary-age reading abilities.

The book, with all proceeds going to community literacy efforts, will be launched September 9 at Caulfeild elementary in West Vancouver.

Says Kezar, "We want people to realize that it is never too late to get into reading -- and that it's never been more urgent."

Melanie Jackson, a volunteer with young writers through the VSB, is one of the B.C. authors who donated a story to Gumboot Books' The World of Stories (www.gumbootbooks.macwebsitebuilder.com/page/page/5659839.htm). Gumboot Books sponsors the Raise A Reader Brunch for Books at the Fairmont Waterfront on the last Sunday of each month.

Are Librarians Totally Obsolete?


33 Reasons Why Libraries and Librarians are Still Extremely Important by: Will Sherman

Many predict that the digital age will wipe public bookshelves clean, and permanently end the centuries-old era of libraries. Technology's baffling prowess and progress even has one librarian
predicting the institution's demise...

Keep the candidates on their toes with tough questions on learning

Province: 2008 September 8
David Berner

Wealth, fame, sex, food, and other pleasures are all transitory.

The only thing we can still be doing until our last breath is learning.

To contribute in any way to the opportunities for young men and women to learn is an honour and a core duty.

As the various political contests heat up, ask the candidates pointed questions about the specifics of their commitments to learning.

Here are four good sample questions to get you started: One. Utilizing dead quiet buildings for everyone's benefit is fiscally-responsible.

Will we open school buildings during evenings and on weekends for yoga classes, language labs and the like? Premier Gordon Campbell said recently that he would like to see schools turned into neighbourhood centres of learning, for people of all ages to use, all year round.

"Maybe the best thing is to make schools the centre for the community again," said Campbell. "They are actually centres of learning for everyone." To this end, the $30-million Neighbourhoods of Learning pilot project will see three Vancouver schools accommodate additional services.

Queen Mary Elementary, General Gordon Elementary and Lord Strathcona will be renovated to include new learning opportunities.

That's wonderful, but do we really need all that money spent and only three schools to benefit?

How about making hundreds of schools across the province available to their neighbourhoods for those bake sales and clarinet classes?

Two. Drug Prevention. Every school corridor in the land is a drug mart. If you don't know this, you don't know your own kids. Ten minutes a week on drug prevention is better than nothing. Or will we invest in counsellors or recovering addicts to add some real girth to drug prevention? Or, are we going to continue to say nothing about this epidemic?

Three. Obesity. Education Minister Shirley Bond has declared that at least 30 minutes-a-day exercise is now mandatory in B.C. schools. But has she backed it up with a budget? Where are the phys-ed teachers or playground supervisors? Do math and history teachers still "volunteer" for these duties?

Four. Even with the availability of Google and Wikipedia, school libraries are essential. But we are closing and starving these sanctuaries too often in B.C.

The heft and smell of a good book in the hands of a student leaning over a wooden table are treasures not to be lost. "School librarian" used to be an honourable title. Is it still? So challenge the political wannabes for the sake of your children, for the sake of the future.


Saturday, September 6, 2008

Students need full-time librarians

Arizona Republic Letter: 2008 September 6

Regarding "After budget cuts, aides running school libraries (Valley & State, Tuesday):

The decision to replace certified teacher-librarians with aides is detrimental to the students of Mesa Public Schools and all of Arizona.

A certified teacher-librarian does much more than check out materials or order resources. These professionals are first and foremost teachers who instruct students in navigating the vast resources that are available since the explosion of electronic communication and the Internet.

Contrary to popular belief, librarians are still needed to teach students how to effectively find and use information. These skills are vital to the success of our students in the 21st century.

Providing scripted lessons taught by aides in lieu of instruction by a certified teacher-librarian is not beneficial to students. Every student in Arizona should have a full-time, certified teacher-librarian at school so that they are prepared for learning and living in the 21st century.

I am the spokesperson for Fund Our Future Arizona and a librarian at Arizona State University. - Ann Dutton Ewbank, Phoenix

Friday, September 5, 2008

Word On the Street

Vancouver Courier
Friday, September 05, 2008

Word On the Street, an annual book and magazine event, takes place Sept. 28 at Library Square (Homer and Hamilton streets between Robson and Georgia). The free event includes author events, exhibits, performances and a marketplace with books and magazines for sale. It runs from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. For a schedule, visit www.thewordonthestreet.ca/vancouver.

Authors include Gabor Maté (In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts), Ian Ferguson (How to be a Canadian), Meg Tilly (First Time), Mel Hurtig (The Truth About Canada), Karen X. Tulchinsky (The Five Books of Moses Lapinsky), Steven Galloway (The Cellist of Sarajevo), Vancouver's Poet Laureate George McWhirter (The Incorrection) and Richard Wagamese (One Native Life).

The authors tent will feature James Glave (Almost Green: How I Built an Eco-Shed, Ditched My SUV, Alienated the In-Laws, and Changed My Life Forever), humourist Mark Leiren-Young (Never Shoot a Stampede Queen) and TV personalities The Smart Cookies (The Smart Cookies' Guide to Making More Dough).

Main stage acts include spoken-word performer C.R. Avery, singer-songwriter Rose Melberg, klezmer-ladino-Israeli musicians Y'teev, king of the ukelele Ralph Shaw and the Vancouver Poetry Slam Team.

Other authors include Susan Juby (Getting the Girl: A Guide to Private Investigation, Surveillance, and Cookery), Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas (The Flight of the Hummingbird: A Parable for the Environment), Pummy Kaur (What Would Gandhi Do?), Howard White (Imagining B.C.), Jean Barman (British Columbia: Spirit of a People), Daphne Bramham (The Secret Lives of Saints), Norma Charles (The Girl in the Backseat), Linda Richards (Death Was the Other Woman) and Roy Innes (West End Murders).

The Word "Under" the Street is an exhibition of comic book artists and illustrated 'zine producers. It includes an art class with Robin Thompson, comic book artist and writer Peter Bagge (best known for the '90s comic book series HATE) and panel discussions.

In the Alma Van Dusen room downstairs in the library are Writing Talks, a series of panels about writing.

A magazine life tent will feature the magazines Canadian Gardening, Shared Vision, YES and KNOW magazines for kids and sessions by the B.C. Association of Magazine Publishers.

The kids' tent will feature readings by Linda Bailey (Stanley at Sea), Duane Lawrence (Sammy Squirrel and Rodney Raccoon: A Stanley Park Tale), Nicola Campbell (Shin-Chi's Canoe), Elizabeth Denny (Jenneli's Dance), Deborah Hodge (Who Lives Here?), Robert Heidbreder (Crocodiles Play) and Lisa Cinar (The Day it All Blew Away).

The poetry tent will see the launch of Poetry in Transit XII, which includes poems by George Stanley, Garry Gottfriedson and Matt Rader.

There will also be readings by Adelene Da Soul, Lucia Gorea, Seann Traviller, Peter Lojewski, Shannon Stewart (Penny Dreadful) and Zoë Landale (Once a Murderer).

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Library Blog Blasts Palin

By Debra Lau Whelan -- School Library Journal, 9/4/2008 5:26:00 PM

Mary Ellen Baker, the librarian at the center of the Sarah Palin book-banning controversy, may not be talking to the press, but librarians around the country are voicing their concerns about having an alleged censor on the Republican ticket—through a blog called
Librarians Against Sarah Palin!

Launched on September 3, the blog has interesting information (some speculative)—and lots of questions—about what exactly happened in 1996 between Palin, then mayor of Wasilla, AL, just outside of Anchorage, and Baker, former director of the
Wasilla Public Library.

“[Palin] essentially forced Mary Ellen out,” says June Pinnell-Stephens, chair of the Alaska Library Association Intellectual Freedom Committee and a friend of Baker’s. “She all but fired her.”

Press reports ranging from the
New York Times and Time magazine to the local Frontiersman and the Anchorage Daily News say that the newly-elected Mayor Palin asked Baker (whose name was Mary Ellen Emmons at the time) about possibly removing objectionable books from the library if the need arose. Baker refused to consider any kind of censorship and replied, “This is different than a normal book-selection procedure or a book-challenge policy,” reports the Frontiersman.

A few months later, the librarian received a letter from Palin saying she would be fired, without any mention of the censorship issue. According to the Anchorage Daily News, Palin told Baker that she appreciated her service but felt it was time for a change. ''I do not feel I have your full support in my efforts to govern the city of Wasilla. Therefore I intend to terminate your employment,”' the letter said.

But after a public outcry in support of Baker, Palin eventually reversed her decision and let the librarian keep her job.

It doesn’t appear, however, that any books were actually banned, says Pinnell-Stephens, who documents book challenges in the state but couldn’t find any evidence in her files and doesn’t remember any conversations with Baker about the subject.

Although Pinnell-Stephens hasn’t had personal contact with Palin, she doesn’t think the Republican vice presidential nominee is up to the job. “There are many, many issues of which she has no understanding at all [like] the role of libraries in a democracy,” she says. “I certainly have no reason to believe she’s ever been a strong supporter of libraries, partly because she [forced out] a very competent and wonderful director.”

Those voicing their opinions on Librarians Against Palin! have similar views. “I am a public librarian who is concerned about having Sarah Palin in the White House,” writes the author of the blog. “I do not want a book banner in the White house!”
The blog is for “library staff, library lovers, and anyone who cares about public libraries and freedom to read!” says the site.

Baker, who is on vacation this week and didn’t respond to telephone and email requests for an interview, is currently the public services manager in charge of the reference department, youth services, and circulation for the
Noel Wien Library in Fairbanks.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Aides Now Run More than Half of Mesa, AZ, School Libraries

By Debra Lau Whelan -- School Library Journal, 9/4/2008

School libraries in Mesa, AZ, don’t look the same this fall. That’s because more than half of last year’s media specialists are gone, leaving only 31 certified librarians to serve a total of 87 schools.

Some 47 teacher-librarians either retired or were reassigned to classrooms as part of the Mesa Public School Board’s decision last June to eliminate all school librarians over a three-year period.

By comparison, 78 Mesa schools had certified librarians last year, says Ann Dutton Ewbank, a librarian at Arizona State University and the key organizer of the Fund Our Future Arizona movement to save the district’s media specialists.

“That leaves Mesa with librarians in 31 schools,” says Dutton Ewbank. “And those librarians will be phased out by 2011.” The plan to get rid of media specialists—which was met by fierce opposition by library supporters—is intended save $1.2 million every year for three years to offsett a $20 million budget deficit.

So who’s running those Mesa school libraries now? Library aides. In fact, says Dutton Ewbank, by the 2010-2011 school year “all libraries will be operated by aides.”

And that’s unacceptable to her, she says. “No amount of training or scripted lessons can replace the expertise of a certified teacher-librarian in guiding students to find and use the right information at the right time,” Dutton Ewbank adds. “One of the key tenets of Information Power is that skills should not be taught in isolation. Replacing certified teacher-librarians with aides takes resources out of students’ hands and may negatively impact student achievement.”

The Fund Our Future Arizona movement is modeled after the Spokane Moms—Lisa Layera Brunkan, Susan McBurney, and Denette Hill—three women who worked tirelessly to obtain state funding for school librarians—and succeeded earlier this year by convincing legislators to allocate $4 million in library funds for the 2008–2009 academic year.

Fund Our Future Arizona plans to solicit state lawmakers to introduce legislation after the November general election, using Washington’s legislation as a model.

“We hope that legislators will be responsive to introducing legislation that requires a certified teacher-librarian in every school, with an appropriation to support the endeavor,” says Dutton Ewbank..

Arizona doesn’t have dedicated funds for school libraries or mandate-certified media specialists at any grade. School libraries and librarians are controlled at the district level, not by the state Department of Education, which means that when funds are scarce, librarians are typically the first on the chopping block, says Dutton Ewbank, adding that state funding would have ensured a “dedicated funding stream” for school librarians.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

SmartBoard Inquiry Research Group at David Livingstone

VESTA News: 2008 August


Find this article on Page 6

Palin pressured Wasilla librarian

TOWN MAYOR: She wanted to know if books would be pulled

Anchorage Daily News: 2008 September 4

WASILLA -- Back in 1996, when she first became mayor, Sarah Palin asked the city librarian if she would be all right with censoring library books should she be asked to do so.

According to news coverage at the time, the librarian said she would definitely not be all right with it. A few months later, the librarian, Mary Ellen Emmons, got a letter from Palin telling her she was going to be fired. The censorship issue was not mentioned as a reason for the firing. The letter just said the new mayor felt Emmons didn't fully support her and had to go.

Emmons had been city librarian for seven years and was well liked. After a wave of public support for her, Palin relented and let Emmons keep her job.

It all happened 12 years ago and the controversy long ago disappeared into musty files. Until this week. Under intense national scrutiny, the issue has returned to dog her. It has been mentioned in news stories in Time Magazine and The New York Times and is spreading like a virus through the blogosphere.

The stories are all suggestive, but facts are hard to come by. Did Palin actually ban books at the Wasilla Public Library?


In December 1996, Emmons told her hometown newspaper, the Frontiersman, that Palin three times asked her -- starting before she was sworn in -- about possibly removing objectionable books from the library if the need arose.

Emmons told the Frontiersman she flatly refused to consider any kind of censorship. Emmons, now Mary Ellen Baker, is on vacation from her current job in Fairbanks and did not return e-mail or telephone messages left for her Wednesday.

When the matter came up for the second time in October 1996, during a City Council meeting, Anne Kilkenny, a Wasilla housewife who often attends council meetings, was there.

Like many Alaskans, Kilkenny calls the governor by her first name.

"Sarah said to Mary Ellen, 'What would your response be if I asked you to remove some books from the collection?" Kilkenny said.

"I was shocked. Mary Ellen sat up straight and said something along the line of, 'The books in the Wasilla Library collection were selected on the basis of national selection criteria for libraries of this size, and I would absolutely resist all efforts to ban books.'"

Palin didn't mention specific books at that meeting, Kilkenny said.

Palin herself, questioned at the time, called her inquiries rhetorical and simply part of a policy discussion with a department head "about understanding and following administration agendas," according to the Frontiersman article.


Were any books censored banned? June Pinell-Stephens, chairwoman of the Alaska Library Association's Intellectual Freedom Committee since 1984, checked her files Wednesday and came up empty-handed.

Pinell-Stephens also had no record of any phone conversations with Emmons about the issue back then. Emmons was president of the Alaska Library Association at the time.Books may not have been pulled from library shelves, but there were other repercussions for Emmons.

Four days before the exchange at the City Council, Emmons got a letter from Palin asking for her resignation. Similar letters went to police chief Irl Stambaugh, public works director Jack Felton and finance director Duane Dvorak. John Cooper, a fifth director, resigned after Palin eliminated his job overseeing the city museum.

Palin told the Daily News back then the letters were just a test of loyalty as she took on the mayor's job, which she'd won from three-term mayor John Stein in a hard-fought election. Stein had hired many of the department heads. Both Emmons and Stambaugh had publicly supported him against Palin.

Emmons survived the loyalty test and a second one a few months later. She resigned in August 1999, two months before Palin was voted in for a second mayoral term.

Palin might have become a household name in the last week, but Kilkenny, who is not a Palin fan, is on her own small path to Internet fame. She sent out an e-mail earlier this week to friends and family answering, from her perspective, the question Outsiders are asking any Alaskan they know: "Who is this Sarah Palin?"

Kilkenny's e-mail got bounced through cyberspace and ended up on news blogs. Now the small-town mom and housewife is scheduling interviews with national news media and got her name on the front page of The New York Times, even if it was misspelled.


Ministry of Education: 2008 September 2

BURNABY – To kick off the new school year, players from the Vancouver Giants and other Western Hockey League (WHL) teams joined government representatives, students and teachers at Cascade Heights Elementary school to demonstrate the importance of reading and physical activity, Education Minister Shirley Bond announced today.

“Physical activity and reading are taking centre stage for the new school year, and what better way to get the year started than by celebrating the success of the Vancouver Giants’ Read to Succeed program,” said Bond. “In fact, the program has now been expanded to include all B.C. WHL teams, so that more students will be able to take on the challenge of gaining literacy skills and being more active every day.”

The Province is providing $25,000 to expand the Vancouver Giants’ Read to Succeed Literacy program, which is now in its sixth year. The program is aimed at students in grades 4 through 6 and encourages students in their reading skills and overall studies as they begin their intermediate school years.

“Read to Succeed is an excellent opportunity to engage children in physical activity while having fun reading,” said Vancouver Giants vice-president Dale Saip. “The connection to our players has assisted in drawing out their learning potential and encouraged each student to excel academically, athletically and personally. We are incredibly happy with the success of the Read to Succeed Program and see it as a win-win situation for everyone involved.”

As part of the program, WHL players visit schools to speak about the importance of education and to present a reading and activity challenge to the students. The two-week challenge consists of 15 minutes of reading and 30 minutes of physical activity over and above what the students achieve during school hours. When all students in a class complete the challenge, they receive tickets to a WHL game. In addition to Vancouver, the expanded program will run in Chilliwack, Cranbrook, Kamloops, Kelowna and Prince George.

“The Read to Succeed challenge is a great way for students to develop reading and exercise routines that will help them at school and in their daily lives,” said Healthy Living and Sport Minister Mary Polak. “We encourage students to participate in these types of programs and to continue to develop healthy habits outside of the classroom.”

Today marks the Province’s implementation of two key ActNow BC strategies to help address the issue of childhood obesity and improve the health of B.C. students. With the introduction of mandatory daily physical activity and the ban on junk food sales in B.C. schools, British Columbia now has the highest school health standards in Canada. These strategies help support the Province’s Pacific Leadership Agenda goal of improving health for British Columbians and renewing the public health-care system, and the work of the WHL’s Read to Succeed program helps support the Province’s goals of being the best-educated, most literate jurisdiction in North America and the healthiest jurisdiction ever to host the Olympic Games.

“We know that children who are physically active and eat nutritious foods do better in school,” said Bond. “Our government is committed to student health and achievement, and we want every student to be healthy so they can achieve their best, in school and in life.”

Since 2001, the Province has invested $137 million in literacy strategies through ReadNow BC, a comprehensive provincial literacy action plan that helps to provide preschoolers, K-12 students, adults, immigrants and Aboriginal people with the reading skills they need to succeed.

ActNow BC is the provincial government’s health and wellness initiative that works together with government ministries, the health sector and partners to deliver programs and services that encourage healthy choices for all British Columbians.

For more information on ActNow BC and to take the ActNow BC Healthy Living Pledge, visit www.actnowbc.ca. For more information on ReadNow BC, visit www.readnowbc.

IASL 37th Annual Conference report

IASL 37 th Annual Conference
02-07 August 2008 in Berkeley, California, USA

Imagine if you can 250 registered delegates, from 26 countries, enjoying the serenity and ambience of the Southern California Spanish influence on the Clark Kerr Campus, for six 6) days of workshops, meeting, presentations and plenty of social networking. The weather was excellent; food, delicious; surroundings, conducive to discussion; and the entertainment, relaxed. Twenty-two (22) delegates represented five (5) Canadian provinces...


Something to think about as the school year starts

Vancouver Sun Letter: Tuesday, September 02, 2008
(Province Letter: Lacking libraries)

During the first few days of school, ask your child's principal how many hours a week the school library is open and if the teacher- librarian is trained. In a province that brags about its plans for literacy, it's embarrassing how many students don't have this basic service available to them daily.

Val Hamilton, Vancouver

Monday, September 1, 2008

School Librarians at IFLA

World library conference draws 4,000 attendees
-- School Library Journal, 9/1/2008

More than 4,000 librarians from 150 countries gathered in Québec, Canada, last month for the World Library and Information Congress of the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA). And although school librarians were not in the majority, they did have a presence.

Prior to the main conference events, there was a UNESCO-sponsored satellite workshop on information literacy at Laval University.

Representatives from each continent talked about the value of information literacy in their respective countries and the entire group discussed how to design information literacy training sessions.

Lesley Farmer, an International Association of School Librarianship representative, emphasized organizational networking.

During an IFLA session called “All aboard at the school library: giving children the tools they need to navigate the future!,” Elmir Yakubov of the Municipal Library in Khasavyurt, Russia, talked about the importance of overcoming ethnic intolerance through reading discourse. Hirono Aoyama-Yazawa of the Senri International School Foundation in Osaka, Japan, showed how she integrates information literacy into the curriculum through student presentations of local plant life and world inventors. Gry Enger of Vahl Primary School in Oslo, Norway, shared results of a national survey on the added value of Norwegian school libraries. Nearly all schools in her country have a library, although upper secondary school libraries have the best staff, resources, and availability.

What's in store for next year? The IFLA's School Libraries and Resource Centers Section is exploring the status of school libraries around the world to determine relevant competencies that teachers and administrators need in order to make sure that 21st century library tools are used in schools. There also was a consensus that school librarians need to make a bigger splash in IFLA.

Revisiting the added value of the school library

J-E bilingual school library in Japan: a challenge