Thursday, October 30, 2008

Michele Farquharson's Diane Poole Award Acceptance Speech

In Circulation: 2008 October 28

"BCTLA Executive and colleagues,

In anticipation of today, I wanted to put together something special that would show how grateful I am for this award. I read a lot of speeches! And I found some lines that I liked from a speech by Harrison Ford. He said, 'I have written two speeches for today, a long one and a short one. My short speech is...thank you. And it looks like there might be enough time for the long one as well. Thank you...very much!'

Thank you very much for this incredible honour.

I am very grateful and humbled at being the recipient of the Diana Poole Award. I truly feel that I am accepting this award on behalf all members of the BCTLA, because collectively, we support and foster each other to be exemplary teacher-librarians.

A perfect example of this is Vancouver’s Teacher-Librarian Consultant, Moira Ekdahl, who, I would like to say encourages us to become involved, but for those who know Moira, a more appropriate word is pushes us to be involved, at all levels of professionalism. Pat Parungao, Liz Austrom, and Ken Haycock have helped raise the bar and assist us so that we can be the very best we can. Throughout B.C., we all know “the” Moiras, and “the” Pats, and “the” Kens, many that are here today, that encourage and push us to be our very best. Aren’t we lucky!

What better job could there be—where you work collaboratively with other professionals, learning from each other, to give children tools, skills, processes that allow and encourage them become critical thinkers and future learners. At the same time we instill in them, a love of reading and learning.

As teachers we are innovators. You know we all have those eight or nine lessons that we love to teach. I love showing the male pregnancy website and the follow-up YouTube to teach critical evaluation of the Internet. I enjoy using swamp slugs for the younger grades, but my all time favourite is the urine test, and use it whenever I can—works for secondary and elementary. When I use it I always feel innovative and creative.

However, a teacher that I was working with, was truly the innovator. We had forty-five Grade 7s that were studying archaeology and investigating the various tests that people would do at an archaeology site. Mark and I had planned to do the urine test. He was going to bring in the doctored specimen bottle, filled with the yellow food colouring and water and I would demonstrate the taste test. As the students were finishing up the various tests on rocks and fossils, I motioned to Mark to hand me the specimen bottle. He hits his forehead and runs out of the library. I think he’s forgotten it and carry on explaining to the students that some of the tests that archaeologists do, like carbon dating, use elaborate machinery, but sometimes the best tests are the simple ones. For example, think of diabetes. Does anyone know what diabetes is? Someone gave the answer that it is when we have too much sugar. Mark wasn’t back, so we did a think, pair and share for the tests we could do for diabetes. Sure enough, they came up with check the sugar content in blood and the urine and I suggest that we could taste the urine to determine how much sugar there might be in it. Almost on cue Mark walks in. Then as if in slow motion he handed me the container. I saw it wasn’t clear the way food colouring and water should be and as it reached my hand—it was warm. But with the urine test you actually stir with your index finger but lick the middle finger and continue until one of the student spots it. The punch line is: the most important thing you need for any test or science experiment, is a keen sense of observation.

I was washing up my hands as the students left and Mark rushed over and said, 'I’m sorry, Michele, I forgot the sample and couldn’t find food colouring so I rushed to the staffroom and used mustard powder and hot water'.

Our role as teacher-librarian requires us to be innovative and to be advocates for what we do. I am fortunate to have a long standing affiliation with the journal Teacher-Librarian. Recently, each member of the advisory board was asked to write a report on support for the role of teacher-librarians. It is heartening to review the research that so clearly supports quality library programs. It is interesting to note the emphasis that is being placed on technology. Keith Curry Lance and others have conducted dozens of studies in various states and concludes that when library conditions are optimal, which includes being adequately staffed, stocked and funded, and CPPT is happening and the library program embraces networked information technology, reading scores can improve by 10-18%. Similar findings in Canada are supported by the Haycock Report and the OLA research in 2006.

I am now re-reading Thomas Friedman’s The World is Flat which talks about globalization and how governments and societies can, and must, adapt. It was a wake-up call for me and what I should do as a teacher-librarian. It made me appreciate my job and how we are enabling our students. I think now, more than ever before, we must be lateral thinkers and innovators. I like this quote from Edward de Bono.

'You cannot look in a new direction by looking harder in the same direction'.

These are exciting times. They call on us to once again take a leadership role, be lateral thinkers and innovators. Thank you again for this wonderful award. I would like to read and leave you with this story that I think illustrates how teacher-librarians are lateral thinkers.

A Vancouver teacher-librarian, who was going to teach in Japan for a year, walks into a bank in the heart of downtown Vancouver and asks for a $100 loan. She offers her car as collateral and the bank manager approves the loan. A year later, the TL comes back, repays the loan and the 10% interest and is ready to collect her car. Finally, the puzzled bank manager dares to ask her: 'Excuse me, madam, could you tell me: did you really need that $100 so badly? In order to get the money, you left your luxury car with us for a whole year!' The TL replied, 'That's simple; where else in Vancouver can I find such a great parking spot for just $10 a year?'"

Michele Farquharson, Teacher-Librarian, Kerrisdale Elementary, Vancouver
2008 Diana Poole Award of Merit

Forest of Reading Kicks Off For Another Year

OLA: 2008 October 28

TORONTO, ON --(October 27, 2008) Thousands of schools and libraries across Ontario are ready to register for the OLA Annual Forest of Reading Program. More than 250,000 children and teenagers will then start reading and considering their vote for best books. The hotly anticipated lists of Canadian books are now available on the OLA web site at:

The Forest of Reading is a children’s choice award program, run by the Ontario Library Association, in which Ontario students read at least five books selected for their age range. They then vote for their favourites on the official voting day in April. A committee of librarians and teacher librarians from public and school libraries choose the titles.

“The program is all about kids enjoying reading,” stated Lisa Weaver, Chair, and Forest of Reading. “And the voting part stimulates a lot of conversation with the young readers about why they like certain books”

The reading programs and categories are the Blue Spruce™ Award (kindergarten to grade 3), the Silver Birch® Awards (fiction and non-fiction for grades 4 to 6), the Red Maple™ Award (grades 7 and 8), and the White Pine™ Award (high school), New for the 2009 festival will be the addition of Le Prix Tamarack™ award (French language books for grades 4 to 6).

Two programs are also available for adult readers; the Golden Oak™ Award (adults learning to read) and the Evergreen Award (adult library patrons). The program annually culminates in the Festival of Trees, two action-packed days of award ceremonies, workshops, and entertainment. The event will take place May 13-14, 2009 at the Harbourfront Centre for its third year in a row.

About the Ontario Library Association

The Ontario Library Association provides programs, advocacy and promotion for its more than 5,000 members in academic, public and school libraries across Ontario. The mission of the OLA is to foster free public access to information and to promote Canada’s history and culture through the programs and services of the libraries of Ontario.

For more information:

Amanda Scriver, Program Coordinator
Ontario Library Association
Phone: 416-363-3388 or 1-866-873-9867 ext 22

Kidsbooks staff instil a love of reading

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Federal Election Results

CLA: 2008 October 27

The ballots from the 40th general election are in and Canadian voters have elected a minority Conservative government. This is Canada’s third consecutive minority government. The breakdown of the seats won by party is as follows:

Conservative: 143
Liberal: 76
Bloc Québécois: 50
NDP: 37
Independent: 2
Total: 308

This minority government will affect CLA in a number of ways as the House of Commons continues to be a place of negotiations where the role of individual Members of Parliament (MP) is strengthened. A continuous strong grassroots lobby effort and close ties to your local MP can affect change at the highest levels.

With the Conservatives in a minority government situation once again, they will not be able to implement significant elements of the party’s policy platform without support from other parties.

A noteworthy element of the Conservative’s agenda related to the library community is as follows:

  • Reintroduce federal copyright legislation that strikes the appropriate balance among the rights of musicians, artists, programmers and other creators and brings Canada's intellectual property protection in line with that of other industrialized countries, but also protects consumers who want to access copyright works for their personal use.

CLA is well positioned to move forward to work with the Conservative government. Over the years, the association has implemented a non-partisan approach in order to ensure excellent relations with a number of key MPs from all parties.

In particular, several Conservative MPs with whom CLA has developed relationships with have been re-elected. Among these are Merv Tweed, Leon Benoit, Colin Carrie, Jim Abbott, and Lynne Yelich.

CLA remains committed to working with the Conservative Government in order to highlight our key issues of concern, such as fair copyright legislation for Canadians and our over 21 million library users, the Library Book Rate, and the Community Access Program, among others.

Moving forward, we will continue our efforts to ensure the library community’s issues are brought to the forefront of the government’s agenda. As the new Cabinet team is sworn in over the coming weeks, members will be updated on significant postings related to the library community.

For more information on the impact of the federal election, please feel free to contact Alana Fontaine at 613-233-8906 or

Monday, October 27, 2008


BC Ministry of Education: 2008 October 27

PRINCE GEORGE - Education Minister Shirley Bond celebrated National School Library Day Oct. 27 by taking part in the Drop Everything and Read challenge, issued by the B.C. Teacher-Librarians' Association.

"Our family loves to read and has always made it a priority. I am happy to 'drop everything and read' to celebrate national school library day," said Bond. "I have also invited my colleagues around the province to do the same thing."

B.C.'s teacher-librarians challenged everyone in the province to Drop Everything and Read for 20 minutes at 11 a.m. today. The event began last year in Surrey but this year the B.C. Teacher-Librarians' Association took it provincewide and they hope that it will grow to become a national event.

"It's about encouraging young people to read and value literacy," said Karen Lindsay, vice-president of the B.C. Teacher-Librarians' Association. "Studies clearly show that daily silent reading improves vocabulary, spelling, comprehension and much more."

"It is also important to say thank you to teacher-librarians and other educators who work so hard to ensure our students develop a love of reading and excellent literacy skills," said Bond.

Since 2001, government has invested more than $145 million in new literacy initiatives, including pre-literacy and early learningprograms, such as $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.

Schools celebrate School Library Day today

Journal Pioneer, PEI: 2008 October 27

Students across the Island will have many fun opportunities to read today, which has been proclaimed School Library Day by Education and Early Child Development Minister Gerard Greenan.

“Island teachers, teacher-librarians and school library contacts are to be commended for the many innovative ways that they make learning fun and encourage students to read on National School Library Day and throughout the school year,” said Greenan.

One of the day's major events is the Million Minute Challenge which challenges schools to prove that they can read for a total of one million minutes in a day.

The event is sponsored by the P.E.I. Teacher-Librarians’ Association, the P.E.I. Literacy Alliance and the UPEI Faculty of Education.

Last year, Island students tallied 1,334,671 minutes spent reading on School Library Day. They are hoping that number will grow even further this year through the many events that schools have organized to encourage a love of reading.

A wide range of activities are planned such as Drop Everything And Read (DEAR) sessions, celebrity reader visits and library reward programs.

Set an example: Read today

20-minute reading session stresses importance of literacy

Janet Steffenhagen, Vancouver Sun
Monday, October 27, 2008

Drop everything and read.

That's what librarians are asking British Columbians to do today at 11 a.m. to mark National School Library Day and deliver a strong signal to children about the importance of literacy.

"The message it sends could be so powerful," said Karen Lindsay, librarian at Reynolds secondary school in Victoria and chief organizer of the Drop Everything And Read (DEAR) event. "It costs nothing [and] it has that Zen-like simplicity."

The DEAR project began as an experiment last year in Surrey, but this year it's being promoted provincewide and Lindsay is determined to make it a national event. She hopes answering machines everywhere will advise callers to ring back after the 20-minute reading time has lapsed -- unless it's an emergency.

The event also calls attention to the state of school libraries, described several years ago as being on life-support as scarce resources were stretched in different directions and reduced hours for teacher-librarians forced some library closures during the school day.

Whether things have improved since then is a matter of opinion.

Heather Daly, president of the B.C. Teacher-Librarians' Association, said the situation is better than it was five years ago -- after the Liberals changed the teachers' contract and eliminated guaranteed staffing levels for libraries.

Staffing became a school board responsibility and the number of teacher-librarians fell as boards spent scarce dollars elsewhere. "Those were dark times," Daly said. "From that position, we've grown back and we're finally to a position where it feels healthy again.

"Provincially, it feels like things are more positive," she said, crediting the government's decision to give responsibility for all libraries to Education Minister Shirley Bond.

That linked school libraries with public, post-secondary and specialty libraries and allowed them to share resources.

Still, she said there are variations in schools around the province.

Moira Ekdahl, library consultant for Vancouver schools, said staffing in her district hasn't improved dramatically and there are still struggles to keep resources current but there have been some remarkable innovations.

Livingston elementary is leading the way with interactive white boards called Smart Boards, and John Oliver secondary has one of the most vibrant reading communities in the province.

"They have a rock-solid silent reading program," Ekdahl said. "Even the secretaries drop their tools to read every single day."

Kerrisdale elementary also has a well-equipped library, Ekdahl said. Teacher-librarian Michele Farquharson, who won an award of merit from her association this month, said staffing levels are always a challenge.

"It's not a rosy [situation] because it's not a well-understood position," said Farquharson, who has a .8 teacher-librarian position in a school with more than 600 students.

online: Read more education news at

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Set aside Monday to praise libraries

Victoria Times Colonist Letter: 2008 October 26

On Oct. 27, the people of B.C. are called to do one simple thing: "Drop everything and read."

This task seems so easy, so commonplace, yet it is surprising how few of us find time to do it on a regular basis. National School Library Day is a time to examine how the demands of today's competitive and technological society have taken priority over literacy and the library.

However, this day is also a time to appreciate what makes reading and libraries important, what makes them triumphant still.

Every time I enter a library, I am taken back to the first one I experienced, at St. Joseph's Elementary School. The people, and books, I was introduced to there have had a lasting impact on how I view reading, writing and learning about life.

Dreams and ideas grow best in libraries; at least mine did, as I developed my love of literature, especially through the St. Joseph's writing club. Even now, as a Grade 12 student at St. Andrew's High School, I find myself going back through the halls of my memories and into that time and place where imagination came alive.

Raya MacKenzie, Saanich

Drop Everything and Read update

Report Card
Vancouver Sun: 2008 October 26

The countdown has begun towards 11 a.m. Monday when we're all poised to Drop Everything and Read (DEAR). I posted a couple of days ago about this event and noted the organizer's dismay with a lack of response from Premier Gordon Campbell and Education Minister Shirley Bond - both big literacy boosters.

Well, Victoria school librarian Karen Lindsay happily advised me today that both are now on board. Shortly after my post appeared, Campbell sent her an email commending the B.C. Teacher-Librarians' Association for organizing the event.

"The more we as a community can do to help people who slipped through the cracks, and to ensure all students get the time and attention they need to be prolific with language and computation skills, the better off we will all be as a society," the premier wrote.

"Moving literacy forward is key to a better future for all of us and I wish the Drop Everything and Read initiative every success."

She also got a call from Bond's office, advising that a news release endorsing the event will soon be released.

"The Bond press release comes too late to create more participants for this year, but it is fabulous news nonetheless," Lindsay told me. "It raises awareness and creates a fast lane for next year's campaign . . ."

No surprise, I'll be reading the Vancouver Sun tomorrow morning. There you will find more about DEAR and school libraries.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

SLJ Talks to Caroline Kennedy

Debra Lau Whelan
SLJ: 2008 October 23

Caroline Kennedy is asking New Yorkers to shop until they drop. Well, at least for one week out of the year. Her Shop for Public Schools program—which this year ran from October 1-8—raises money specifically for needy school libraries by asking retailers to donate a portion of their proceeds. The program is a key part of Fund for Public Schools, which raises private investments and where Kennedy is vice chair.

SLJ spoke to the attorney, author, and philanthropist about the importance of school libraries and what’s next on her agenda.

Shop for Schools is specifically for school libraries. How did that come about?
One of the main thrusts of the work of the Fund for Public Schools is to encourage everybody in the city to feel like there’s something they can do—and to think about what that is—to help the kids in our schools. The retail community came forward with this idea that they wanted to do something, a promotion. So we talked to them about what the money should go for, and I think they felt that, obviously, literacy is the most important thing. They thought it would be very clear and easy for shoppers to understand.

What can school libraries buy with these funds?
The way we’ve developed the program is that libraries apply to us for grants of up to $10,000. The library and the school community has to come together to decide what their priorities are. It’s different for different libraries. I think that kind of flexibility really has served the program very well because some libraries want technology, while other libraries are helping kids do eighth-grade research projects. Other libraries want dual language. There’s also been a real emphasis on developmental, social, and emotional issues, teen issues, and some libraries have used [the grant money] for those kinds of collections or family literacy programs. I think it’s been so successful because the school, the principal, the librarian, and the school community decides what it is that their school needs, rather than it being dictated from us.

Do you think other cities can duplicate this program?
I think they easily could. We’re lucky here that we have a wonderful woman running the library services department, Barbara Stripling. But I think libraries can really be the heart of the school. It’s where kids can really explore and follow whatever interests them and that kind of independent learning is so important. It’s an ideal thing for the private sector to do. There are many, many needs in schools so every city has to decide what’s right for them. A lot of communities have book drives and reading programs of many different kinds, and so this kind of an effort complements those very well.

How did you personally get interested in school libraries?
I love reading, and obviously reading and independent reading are critical to education in today’s world. Having a library card is one of the most exciting moments of a kid's life. I think school libraries in the same way are an oasis of exploration and tranquility and curiosity. I always enjoyed it myself, but I think obviously it’s because reading and loving to learn and the discovery that exists in the library are so critical today that it seemed like a natural place for communities to support. Our work is how to tie and integrate the private sector into the work of the public schools. So libraries, and arts education and things like that, are a naWhat do you think are some of the biggest problems facing school libraries todaytural area for the private sector to support the work that goes on in our schools.

What do you think are some of the biggest problems facing school libraries today?
So many of our schools are under-resourced in many, many ways and libraries are one of them. In New York, we’ve seen sort of a renewal of spirit and mission in our school libraries and school librarians. That’s so important because people are focused on the core subjects, and some people think libraries are not first in line and they’re toward the end. I think it’s so important when the principal and the librarian can work together and the library really is an integral part of the curriculum and student work. It’s probably getting that balance right—in addition to the resources—that makes the library successful. And once that happens then I think everybody appreciates the value that they provide. But if they are just a stand-alone thing and kids just get sent there and there’s not really learning going on, then it becomes easier to not value the work of the librarian and the library.

Did your kids grow up spending time in libraries?
Being read to by the librarian, library period, or bringing home books were things they always enjoyed.

I heard that one of your family traditions was to write poems as gifts to each other.
It was writing or finding a poem in a poetry book or anthology and picking a poem out that we liked, and either memorizing it or copying it over. That was one of the gifts we would give to my mother and my grandparents on holidays or birthdays. I think that really gave my brother and me an appreciation for that sort of independent reading and discovery. Of course, we complained about it all the time, but in fact, it’s something that I think stuck with both of us—and turned into a lifelong love of poetry, literature, and ideas.

Do you still give poems to each other on holidays?
For my children? Well, they like to get things besides poems for Christmas (laughs). But they give them to me. It’s kind of a one-way thing: it goes from the child to the parent, but not so much the other way around. Although, I do, if I find a poem that I think they will like, I send it to them.

What’s in the works for you now?
I’m working on building Shop for Public Schools even bigger and better next year, and we have a lot of other projects. I’m also doing another book of poems to learn by heart for kids.

When is that coming out?
It depends when I do it, probably in two years or a year and a half from now. I’m a little behind schedule. I got a little busy with other things.

You’ve been a huge supporter of Barack Obama. If he becomes president how will his administration change the educational landscape?
I wouldn’t want to speak for him. There are a lot of plans on his Web site, but I think—to tell you what I’ve heard—the big basics are a stronger emphasis on childhood education, on rewarding and attaining and attracting teachers. And then really there is a huge effort to make college more affordable and accessible. So it’s the entire system. There will be a whole new spirit coming into it, hopefully.

What are you thoughts about reauthorizing No Child Left Behind?
That’s a different kind of interview! It’s just a huge and complicated subject and everyone has spoken about the problems and the need for more funding. I share a lot of those concerns.

I know you’ve been asked this a million times, but do you have any political aspirations and would you serve in an Obama administration if asked?
Well, I’ve got to finish my poems-to-learn-by-heart book first.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Drop Everything and Read

The Report Card

Vancouver Sun: 2008 October 22

School librarians have a big event planned for Monday to celebrate National School Library Day. It's called Drop Everything and Read and librarians hope everyone in this province -- not just school kids -- will do exactly that.

The event got started last year in Surrey but this year, the B.C. Teacher Librarians' Association is taking it province-wide and organizer Karen Lindsay hopes it will soon become a national affair. She envisions 20 minutes of silence province-wide as everyone drops the tools of their trade and picks up a book.

"This is not just about an event," she explained "It’s about encouraging young people to read and value literacy.”

"The more that adults model reading, the more kids get it.”

In planning the event, Lindsay had hoped the legislature would be sitting and at 11 a.m., the Speaker would instruct MLAs to grab a book. It would have been a PR sensation. That was not to be, but Lindsay said she is pleased that former finance minister Carole Taylor has offered her support for the initiative.

What about Premier Gordon Campbell and Education Minister Shirley Bond, both of whom are great literacy advocates? (Bond is the minister responsible for the Liberal push to make B.C. the most literate jurisdiction in North America by 2015.)

Lindsay doesn't know what they will be doing at 11 a.m. Monday because neither has responded to her email invitations to participate. She's disappointed, particularly with the premier, saying: "I know he supports literacy. Where is he?"

Mr. Premier?


BC Ministry of Education: 2008 October 22

VANCOUVER – Author Bill Richardson and illustrator Cynthia Nugent have been named the
recipients of the second Time to Read: BC Achievement Foundation Award for Early Literacy for The Aunts Come Marching, Education Minister Shirley Bond and Keith Mitchell, chair of the BC
Achievement Foundation, announced today.

“By recognizing the importance of developing early literacy skills, the Time to Read award
showcases outstanding children’s literature and encourages our children to become lifelong readers,” said Bond. “Once again, every kindergarten student in B.C. will receive a copy of the winning book this year. It is our hope that families will enjoy reading this book together.”

The $15,000 Time to Read award was presented today to Richardson and Nugent at a ceremony
at Panorama Heights Elementary School in Coquitlam by Iain Black, BC Achievement Foundation board member, Minister of Labour and Citizens’ Services and Port Moody-Westwood MLA.

“This is a great opportunity to celebrate an outstanding imaginative work and to share that
work with some of our youngest learners,” said Black. “By distributing this winning book, we are not only helping to build the literacy and language skills of all our province’s kindergarten students, but we are also giving children and their families the opportunity to explore the joy of reading together at home.”

The Time to Read award is a national award open to Canadian authors and illustrators of books
suitable for kindergarten students. For the 2009 award, preference will be given to a book that
celebrates sport.

“Our thanks to Minister of Education Shirley Bond for initiating and supporting this important
award,” said Mitchell. “Also, I would like to thank our jury panel of Wendy Bainbridge of Kamloops, Sarah Guilmant-Smith of Surrey, and Keith McPherson and Phyllis Simon of Vancouver who diligently reviewed the submissions received and selected The Aunts Come Marching.”

The Aunts Come Marching is a sing-a-long story about a marching procession of aunts who
drop in on a family for an unexpected visit. The 2007 winners of this award were author Linda Bailey and illustrator Bill Slavin for Stanley’s Party.

The B.C. Achievement Foundation is an independent foundation endowed by the Province in
2003 to celebrate excellence in community service, arts, enterprise and the humanities. The Time to Read award is one of six initiatives of the foundation. The others are the B.C. Creative Achievement Awards, the B.C. Community Achievement Awards, the B.C. Award for Canadian Non-Fiction, the B.C. Creative Achievement Award for Aboriginal Art and the recently-launched B.C. Aboriginal Business Awards.

This year marks the fifth year in a row that the Province has distributed a complimentary
illustrated children’s book to every kindergarten student in British Columbia. The majority of B.C. kindergarten students will receive The Aunts Come Marching, while students enrolled in the Conseil scholaire francophone will instead be given a copy of Mon ami le vent.

Giving a book to every kindergarten student is part of ReadNow BC, a literacy action plan to
help the Province reach its goal of being the best-educated, most literate jurisdiction on the continent.

Since 2001, government has invested more than $145 million in new literacy initiatives, including preliteracy and early learning programs such as almost $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.

For more information on the Time to Read award, please visit

Books v2.0

Will e-books drive a stake through the heart of book publishing?

Vancouver Sun: 2008 October 22


Saturday, Oct. 25, 4:30-6 p.m.

PTC Studio 1398 Cartwright Street, 3rd floor Granville Island

Admission: Free

- - -

Paper-and-cardboard books are old-fashioned and bulky and therefore doomed in the electronic age. Right?

Amazon's Kindle e-reading appliance sells for around $350 and once you own one you can choose from 185,000 titles to download wirelessly, anywhere there is cellular service. It weighs 10 ounces, about the same as a paperback novel. Kindle will store 200 books at a time and fits easily into a coat pocket.

Amazon estimates that it will sell almost 200,000 Kindles in 2008 and more than 2.2 million by the end of 2010, by which time the online bookseller expects to rake in $750 million in e-book sales. That's about three per cent of the market.

Book publishers have to be salivating.

E-books cost less to print, nothing to warehouse and less to transport. It's a no-brainer.

Daily newspapers suffer many of the same disadvantages that books have: bulky, costly to print, easy to deliver electronically. Most are preparing for life after death of the paper edition. Some newspapers have already dropped some paper editions in favour of electronic delivery. A few are already available on Kindle.

So is Kindle the devil that finally extinguishes our 2000-year love affair with the printed page?

Raincoast Books marketing guy Jamie Broadhurst doesn't think so. Books are special in a way that newspapers, it seems, are not.

Burn a copy of the New York Times outside the Vancouver Public Library and people will stop to warm their hands. Flick your Bic under a copy of Sons and Lovers, The Satanic Verses or any of the thrilling adventures of Harry Potter and you might well be curb stomped.

Certainly you will be verbally abused and inevitably labelled a Nazi by people wearing hemp shirts.

"Ten years ago people thought that the cookbook would die with millions of recipes available online," Broadhurst said. "Who would walk out their door to get a cookbook?"

"But people still love the idea of a beautifully made, illustrated book."

"From the time you are a child and you curl up with your parent and read Goodnight Moon, you have a special bond with books," he said.

Harry Potter may have given birth to a generation of readers that will keep the publishing industry vibrant for many years to come.

Raincoast sold 850,000 copies of the last Potter title in 48 hours.

Purveyors of paper books continue to swim against the current of digitization, actually growing their market by about 2.5 per cent a year in the U.S. and Canada.

The early book on Kindle is that the devices are mainly in the hands of power readers, people who are also the heaviest consumers of traditional books.

"I think e-books are an opportunity," said Broadhurst. "I don't see it as a threat, rather it is a way to sell more books."

Broadhurst is the moderator of a special late addition to the Vancouver International Writers and Reader Festival, a panel discussion with CEOs and editors from Canada's top publishing houses and book sellers.

"It's early days still with e-books, but tracking downloads for Kindle there has been phenomenal growth," he said. "But it's still a small part of book retail."

Broadhurst remains bullish on the future of traditional book sales and reckons that Vancouver has one of the most vibrant book retail markets in North American in terms of both mainstream and specialty book sellers, such as Books to Cooks and Vancouver Kidsbooks.

Is he nagged by the possibility that once books are released in digital form that people will simply start trading them around for free the way MP3 songs were on Napster and still are on Lime Wire?

You can already get books for free at the public library, he said.

I'm not so sure it's the same thing. You have to ride the bus to get to the library and that's a lot more work than pressing a button.

The Internet has driven a stake through the heart of compact disk sales; it probably has enough wood left to do in the paperback, too.

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A book is an object, as much as a painting or sculpture, especially when particular care is given to design and illustration (where most of my attention is invested). There is a certain tactile quality, presence, portability and thoughtful scale inherent in a well designed book that is hard to beat. However, it is really just one medium among many others, and I think writers and artists have always adapted their skills to suit the materials, processes and markets that are available at any time.

I don't see why an e-book could not be as affecting as a physical book, as long as the interface is aesthetically comfortable (maybe not entirely the case just now). It would likely change the content of my creative work a little, but I'm used to that having already moved from large-scale painting to illustrated books, which is itself a sort of transition from "physical" imagery to "virtual" counterparts in print, which has all kind of limitations I have to negotiate, but also some advantages. There's always a solution, I think, to any constraints presented by a new medium.

Shaun Tan, Illustrator, graphic novelist (The Arrival)

For me, the medium is not the relevant bit. Sure: books on paper are wonderful. They smell good to me. They feel good in my hand. I like the weight and heft of books on paper. I like how books never run out of batteries and don't ever need to be plugged in. And how I can take a book to the beach/ski slope/on rapid transit and not worry if it will work in that place. I know that it will.

Let's face it: the traditional book's design is a good one. It's timeworn and it works. Sometimes all the kerfuffle about e-books seems like a lot of inventing better mousetraps. And sure: there are some good ideas. But when the dust settles, what's in my hand? A book. Always, a book.

In the end, it will be preference, won't it? A good book transports us, does it not? It lifts us from the place where we are -- with a paper book or an e-book reader in hand -- and drops us into the world of that story. The message does that, then. Not the medium.

As is so often the case in life, it's all about the journey. The method of transportation barely factors in.

Linda Richards
Author, journalist (Death Was the Other Woman)

Message from the Superintendent

North Shore News: 2008 October 22

The beginning of each school year brings into focus possibilities for the future. With the introduction of an over-arching Vision for the North Vancouver School District, we now have a compass by which to set our course and enrich our educational programs and services.

This Vision will help us to continue to progress as a school district in an era of unprecedented change. It provides the clarity we need to go forward with a strength of purpose and a shared awareness of the contribution that is made by public education, and our school district, to a better world.

Our focus on enhancing student learning encompasses literacy, numeracy, social responsibility, safe and caring schools, emergency preparedness, health and physical fitness, early learning initiatives, early school success and information and communication technology.

There are many profound examples throughout the School District of alignment between the Vision and our recent achievements. As always, our greatest successes are realized by our students and we continue to maintain and build upon an outstanding School District.

Our students continue to receive awards and honours for a full range of academics, fine arts, and athletics at the provincial, national and international level. Their environmental and social responsibility has reached into the international arena through eco-challenges, not-for-profit home-building projects, and climate change awareness programs.

In April, we hosted author and education consultant Damian Cooper to deliver "8 Big Ideas to Improve Learning" as part of our Instructional Institute professional development program. We are currently implementing a number of projects to improve success rates for struggling students and new strategies to support differentiated learning and assessment for learning.

We are excited by the popularity of "Programs of Choice" in our schools. The International Baccalaureate (IB) Program application continues to make good progress at Carson Graham, Balmoral and Capilano Schools. Late French Immersion is being introduced at Grade 6 at Boundary Elementary this school year and Windsor Secondary is proceeding with the implementation of French Immersion in 2009. Opportunities available through have also greatly expanded in response to increased student demand.

The ongoing engagement of parents and community members in our recent "School Talk" communications audit is appreciated, as well as the Towards the Future for Schools public consultation process and the 6th Annual Community Forum scheduled for October 16, 2008.

We recognize the positive influence our educators have in encouraging healthy living and are implementing the Ministry of Education's Daily Physical Activity mandate throughout the School District this year.

We are privileged to have co-hosted, with the Tseil-Waututh and the Squamish Nations, an evening of literacy with Chatelaine Gwen Point on October 2nd. In partnership with the B.C. Coalition of School Libraries, we look forward to the honour of a visit from Lieutenant Governor Steven Point on National School Library Day, October 27th, at Carson Graham Secondary. We are, as always, grateful for our strong community relationships that contribute so much to "the natural place to learn."


John Lewis, Superintendent of Schools

North Vancouver School District

Monday, October 20, 2008

School libraries crucial in promoting reading cult

Daily News (Botswana): 2008 October 20
By Lesego Kelediyakgotla

FRANCISTOWN-Participants at an International School Library Month have been told that libraries in schools are important as they help students to explore subjects fully and to think more critical and creatively.

Safety Health Environment and Quality Divisional Manager, Mr George Sefunelo said this when giving a keynote address at the event in Francistown on Friday.

The theme of the event was “Literacy and Learning at your School Library”.

He said the aim of the school library is to promote reading and appreciation of culture, literature and the arts, and to meet information needs of the users.

He noted that libraries support the school curriculum by promoting independent reading, studying and research and helps users to explore their imagination.

Mr Sefunelo said libraries should be set up with appropriate staffing to provide guidance.

Training and provision of libraries, he said, should be intensified with the aim of providing a graduate librarian in each senior secondary school and a teacher librarian with a certificate at junior secondary.

He also noted that libraries help the realization of some of the pillars of Vision 2016 which call for an educated and informed nation and an open, democratic and accountable nation.

He suggested that parents be taught to play a role in the development of their children to study by visiting libraries at their schools.

Mr Sefunelo acknowledged Tati Nickel Company’s contribution towards education by promoting a healthy, well educated and skilled community with enhanced employment and business opportunities.

Giving objectives of the commemoration, Principal Education Officer , Mrs Thando Mudongo, said the aim was to share information, skills and knowledge and to strengthen parental and stakeholder involvement and market the school libraries.

She said school libraries which are effectively utilized would ensure that the culture of reading is being developed in children and the entire nation.

A parent, Mrs Catherine Muzila, emphasized that school libraries are places of opportunity because it is where students can strive for and achieve success.

It is also a place where a quality collection that supports the curriculum and addresses a variety of learning needs is found.

Mrs Muzila noted that an effective school library addresses a broad range of reading levels, is cost effective because one book is used by many, and provides flexible scheduling and timely access to the collection by all students.

Reading challenge set to promote literacy across the province

Reynolds students Bret Enemark, 16, and Anna-Maria Trudel, 15, and
librarian Karen Lindsay prepare for the DEAR Challenge.
Debra Brash, Times Colonist

Victoria Times Colonist: 2008 October 20
Jeff Bell

Karen Lindsay is an easy person to read. She loves books, and she loves seeing people use them.

Lindsay, a teacher-librarian at Reynolds Secondary School and vice-president of the B.C. Teacher-Librarians' Association, is leading local efforts in a provincewide push to establish a special day when literacy and reading take centre stage.

The day's big event is being called the DEAR Challenge, short for Drop Everything and Read. Lindsay and her colleagues around B.C. are challenging everyone, from school communities to businesspeople to MLAs, to take 20 minutes out of their schedules on Oct. 27 and relax with some reading material. The occasion corresponds with National School Library Day.

The DEAR project, based on an idea from a teacher-librarian in Surrey, was started last year on a trial basis and was popular with students, Lindsay said.

"This year, we've worked on it a whole lot harder, and it's starting to develop a life of its own. There's a blog on it and there's a Facebook page on it, and there are lots of members on both.

"The big deal for me is the idea of taking it into the public. The government has said that it wants to make B.C. the most literate jurisdiction in Canada, and I just think this is a simple little idea that models something for kids. I get a feeling of purpose and peace when I think about it."

Schools throughout the Greater Victoria school district will be taking part, Lindsay said, and she would like to see things extend as far as possible into the wider community.

"I have a fantasy in my mind where you might call your real-estate office and there's just a message saying 'We've dropped everything and we're reading right now, if it's an emergency call this cell phone number'."

Beyond that, Lindsay envisions other provinces joining in, and B.C. emerging as the champion in a national DEAR event.

Most schools will have their Oct. 27 reading session at 11 a.m.

Reynolds will be a major participant, of course. Lindsay said the school already does something similar with daily "silent reading" times.

"The staff has become creative around the silent reading. Some of them, instead of having silent reading, might have kids bring in poetry or short stories that they love. The teacher might read to them or they might read to the class, and some people have even talked about getting an author in."

Lindsay said studies clearly show that daily silent reading improves vocabulary, spelling, comprehension and much more. Students thrive on having the chance to sit down and read "away from the threat of tests and questions," she said.

Asked if she had any recent favourites on her own bookshelf, Lindsay was quick to answer The Secret Life of Bees, a novel by Sue Monk Kidd set in the civil-rights era in the United States. A movie based on the book was released last week.

"I read it this summer, and it was so important to me that I intend to reread it once a year until I'm tired of it," Lindsay said.

On Facebook:

Blog address:

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The perfect time to make Library Month meaningful

Vancouver Sun Letter: 2008 October 18

On Oct. 1, Education Minister Shirley Bond proclaimed this to be Library Month. As a library worker and a library user, I've reflected on what this means.

On Oct. 1, many library workers in B.C. didn't have pay equity. They still don't.

On Oct. 1, school libraries in B.C. were understaffed and underfunded. They still are.

On Oct. 1, school districts in B.C. had school libraries that are closed to students for some or all of the school day. That's still the case.

Libraries workers appreciate October being Library Month, but we'd appreciate it more if it came with a commitment to pay equity for all library workers and stable, adequate funding for school libraries.

This is an election issue. I urge British Columbians to ask school board and city council candidates if they support pay equity for library workers and stable funding for school libraries.

It's not too late to make Library Month meaningful.

Zoe Magnus, President, CUPE 523 Okanagan Valley School Employees Union


Friday, October 17, 2008

Elementary teachers want to narrow funding gap

The Sault Star: 2008 October 17

$700 more per pupil for high schools

Elementary school teachers are calling on the province to close the funding gap between primary and secondary schools as part of their new collective agreement.

Elementary schools get $711 less per student than high schools, according to David Clegg, president of the Elementary Teacher's Federation of Ontario (ETFO).

"Does the province believe elementary students deserve the same resources as secondary students?" he asked at a press conference Friday in Sault Ste. Marie.

Clegg was in the Sault as part of a cross-province tour, laying out the federation's demands to the Ontario government for local unions and the media.

But Algoma District School Board head Mario Turco doesn't believe this is the place to argue that case.

"While it is commendable the ETFO is concerned about funding, that is not an issue for negotiations."

He urged the federation to return to the provincial bargaining table so his board would be able to negotiate a better deal for local elementary school teachers.

The previous four-year collective agreement expired at the end of August but federation-province talks have been at a standstill since May. The situation worsened after Premier Dalton McGuinty's "ultimatum" last month for the teacher's group to reach an agreement by Nov. 30 or risk losing a 12-per-cent pay hike over the next four-year contract, said Clegg.

The federation does not want to enter another four-year deal without new funding measures in place.

The funding gap has meant fewer textbooks, computers and musical instruments for first through eighth graders. Current funding provides only one teacher-librarian for every 750 students and one guidance teacher for every 5,000, said Clegg.

A former grade eight teacher, he said class sizes are enormous and family studies and design and technology programs have all but been axed.

"Some (students) haven't been engaged because there isn't the breadth of programs and subject areas that allow them to connect to school," he said, citing the practical math applications in design and technology classes.

In Algoma District, aging schools and declining enrolment are hurting teachers and schools, said Vel Liut, president of the local teacher's union.

"We have few people in each school to wear many hats, but we still have large class sizes in those schools," said Liut, who admitted school closures may soon be a necessity.

Turco said a lack of funding and cut programs are nothing new to secondary schools as well as elementary schools.

"There is always going to be a shortage of money," he said, adding the board is looking for ways to re-implement some of the lost programs within the current budget.

The local union and ADSB enter negotiations Wednesday.

"If history repeats itself, it will be slow but I do pride myself and our local that we do have a good relationship with this school board," said Liut.


BC Ministry of Education: 2008 October 17

VANCOUVER – The web-based Vancouver 2010 Education Program has expanded to include two new initiatives that are designed to connect teachers and students in B.C. and across Canada to the Olympic and Paralympic Movements and to the 2010 Winter Games. The expansion was announced today by Education Minister Shirley Bond and John Furlong, chief executive officer for the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC).

“Whenever I talk to students in British Columbia, they want to know more about the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games,” said Bond. “With the Olympic and Paralympic Games coming to Canada, we want to ensure that students all across the country have an opportunity to learn and be inspired through our Vancouver 2010 Education Program.”

The first new program, the Pan-Canadian Paralympic School Week, will be launched across the country on Nov. 3, 2008. The week-long program offers an opportunity for students to learn about the Paralympic Movement, to explore the significance of human interdependence, and to recognize and celebrate wide-ranging examples of Paralympian achievements. The curriculum, developed by the B.C. Ministry of Education in partnership with the Canadian Paralympic Committee and VANOC, is inspired by VANOC’s Paralympic School Day, which engages students and guest Paralympians in Paralympic-style sports, such as ice sledge hockey, cross-country skiing or wheelchair curling. An educator guide is now available online to help teachers plan activities and events at their schools during that week.

On Nov. 12, 2008, the Ministry of Education is launching its Sharing the Dream Webcast Series with its first student-led webcast interview, with Olympic gold medallist Carol Huynh in Coquitlam. Students on-site will interview Huynh while students across the country will be able to log-on to view the webcast and email questions to contribute to the discussion. Following the webcast, discussions will continue through the TakingITGlobal website, which will connect Canadian students with students from around the world to help them all become global citizens.

“The Games have the unique power to positively inspire our youth through sport and culture and we encourage educators and students in B.C. and across Canada to visit our website and get involved in the spirit of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games,” said Furlong. “We want Canada to stand as a shining example of what can be accomplished for the youth of a country when a nation learns, plays and grows together.”

The Vancouver 2010 Education Program components are hosted on the Vancouver 2010 website at The site features additional information on the Pan-Canadian Paralympic School Week and Sharing the Dream initiatives, as well as other interactive programs connected to school curricula and student interests. Schools also have the opportunity to share their stories and showcase some of the exciting and innovative projects that are happening in classrooms across Canada.

“The Vancouver 2010 Education Program is the first totally web-based program geared towards the Olympic and Paralympic Games,” said Bond. “The program can be implemented anywhere in Canada, and we encourage schools to participate in some of the exciting activities, including Paralympic-style events and webcasts that connect students with Olympic athletes.”

VANOC is responsible for the planning, organizing, financing and staging of the XXI Olympic Winter Games and the X Paralympic Winter Games in 2010. The 2010 Olympic Winter Games will be staged in Vancouver and Whistler from Feb. 12 to 28, 2010. Vancouver and Whistler will host the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games from March 12 to 21, 2010.

Visit for more information.

AASL launches national Learning 4 Life (L4L) initiative

ALA: 2008 October 14

CHICAGO – The American Association of School Librarians (AASL) is launching a national initiative to support states, school systems and individual schools in implementing the Standards for the 21st-Century Learner.

The goal of the initiative, Learning 4 Life (L4L), is to increase awareness and understanding of the learning standards and to create a committed group of stakeholders with a shared voice.

L4L is now available online at The Standards for the 21st-Century Learner can be downloaded at

L4L incorporates the belief that it is essential to offer the necessary tools for educators to transform the learning standards and their school library media programs into meaningful and effective practice. AASL president Ann Martin commented on the choice of "Learning 4 Life" as the title of this plan. "School library media specialists need to bring home the message that learning for life is the essential component in developing successful students. This plan will facilitate the integration of the standards and bring learning for our students into the 21st century."

In addition to public awareness initiatives, AASL will create hands-on tools to assist in realizing the learning standards and program guidelines. Such tools include assessments, planning and discussion guides, toolkits, educational opportunities (conferences and webinars), best practice articles and searchable online FAQs and resources.

Susan Ballard, chair of the AASL Standards and Guidelines Implementation Task Force, emphasized the value of customization to the plan. "L4L provides a variety of options that will assist and support implementation efforts in many areas. It is designed as a flexible framework that states, professional associations, school systems and the higher education community can adjust in order to develop their own built-to-order plan."

At the completion of the initiative, AASL envisions school library media programs that prepare learners to thrive in a complex information society, seek diverse perspectives, gather and use information ethically and use social tools responsibly and safely.

The American Association of School Librarians,, a division of the American Library Association (ALA), promotes the improvement and extension of library media services in elementary and secondary schools as a means of strengthening the total education program. Its mission is to advocate excellence, facilitate change and develop leaders in the school library media field.


BC Ministry of Education: 2008 October 16

VICTORIA – Students across the province will have the opportunity to experience first-hand what life was like 150 years ago in B.C.’s one-room schoolhouses, through the new BC150 Resources website, Education Minister Shirley Bond announced today.

“This website offers students the opportunity to explore the history of B.C.’s education system through archival photos and stories about the pioneer teachers who taught in one-room schoolhouses throughout our province,” said Bond. “I want to thank the students and teachers at Anniedale Traditional School, École Marigold School and Marie Sharpe Elementary for participating in this project and helping to bring B.C.’s history to life.”

Teachers will have access to the following resources that can be used to supplement the regular social studies curriculum:

  • B.C. Education: The Story of the One-Room Schoolhouse, a set of activities illustrating the history of education through images and stories of remote schoolhouses in the province.
  • Far West: The Story of British Columbia, a book that was written by award-winning B.C. author and Canadian historian Daniel Francis, and a teacher guide that supports the book chronicling B.C.’s cultural past, from the first Aboriginal people to present day.
  • The Rush to B.C. activity page, a set of interactive student activities focused on explorers, fur traders and gold miners.

B.C. History in Action, a teacher’s guide to exploring history through drama for grades kindergarten to 7 and 8 to 12.

All schools will also receive a copy of the commemorative book, British Columbia: Spirit of the People by Jean Barman. Students, parents and teachers are encouraged to access BC150 Resources using the button found at

“BC150 is an opportunity to gain a new appreciation of our rich history and the compelling, inspirational, and sometimes dramatic, stories that have shaped our province,” said Tourism, Culture and the Arts Minister Bill Bennett. “This is a timeless resource where students can learn about our shared past, and develop a better understanding of where we’ve come from as a province and where we may be headed in the future.”

The website was developed after schools were invited to design, build and fill a memory box that tells the story of life in B.C.’s one-room schoolhouses in the late 1800s. Anniedale Traditional School in Surrey, École Marigold School in Greater Victoria and Marie Sharpe Elementary in Williams Lake each received a grant of $2,500 to collect the historical objects and write stories that go with them. Since the artifacts are too delicate to go to every school, a virtual tour was created so all students have the chance to experience the one-room schoolhouses and learn more about the adventures, struggles, people and events that have shaped B.C.’s identity.

BC150 is a celebration of the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Crown Colony of British Columbia in 1858. Every community in B.C. is invited to participate in this year-long celebration of the province’s cultural diversity, community strength and widespread achievement. For more information on BC150 programs and events, visit

1 factsheet(s) attached.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Stifled by Copyright, McCain Asks YouTube to Consider Fair Use

Wired: 2008 October 14

After seeings its videos repeatedly removed from YouTube, John McCain's campaign on Monday told the Google-owned video site that its copyright infringement policies are stringent to the point of stifling free speech, and that its lawyers need to revamp the way they evaluate copyright infringement claims.

"We fully understand that YouTube may receive too many videos, and too many take-down notices, to be able to conduct full fair-use review of all such notices," wrote Trevor Potter, the campaign's general counsel, in a letter to YouTube and Google. "But we believe it would consume few resources — and provide enormous benefit — for YouTube to commit a full legal review of all take-down notices on videos posted from accounts controlled by (at least) political candidates and campaigns."

The McCain campaign's web video ads have been repeatedly either knocked off YouTube or have had to be revamped for using excerpts of television debate footage, and pop songs as soundtracks, without negotiating for the rights first.

One of its highest profile hits on the web, "Obama Love," for example, faced an embarrassing revamp in July when YouTube received a DMCA take-down notice from The Warner Music Group. The campaign had used Franki Valli's hit tune "Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You" as the video's sarcastic soundtrack.

The letter is notable both because YouTube and online video generally have become prime platforms for communicating political messages during the 2008 presidential campaign, and because this is one of the rare instances when a member of Congress is speaking out in favor of fair-use rights, after experiencing for themselves the onerous burden put on citizens using media to express ideas.

The concept of fair use has had few defenders in Congress, where it's usually treated by lawmakers as code for piracy.

The letter was addressed to YouTube's CEO Chad Hurley, William Patry, Google's senior copyright counsel, and YouTube's General Counsel Zahavah Levine. Patry, ironically, is known for scholarship on the fair-use doctrine.

The doctrine says that four factors should be used to determine whether the unauthorized use of copyrighted material infringes: Whether the use is non-commercial and transformative; whether it's factual; the extent of the use of the material and the impact of the use on the market for the work.

McCain's campaign on Monday argued that its uses of tiny clips of copyrighted material falls within the scope of the doctrine.

"The uses at issue have been the inclusion of fewer than ten seconds of footage from news broadcasts in campaign ads or videos, as a basis for commentary on the issues presented in news reports, or on the reports themselves," Potter wrote. "These are paradigmatic examples of fair use, in which all four of the statutory factors are strongly in our favor."

Earlier last year, the McCain campaign was the subject of copyright infringement claims from Fox News, which objected to the campaign's use of its debate footage.

A copy of the letter is available here. (Hat tip to Larry Lessig.)

American Libraries lifts access restrictions

ALA: 2008 October 15

American Libraries, the flagship magazine of the American Library Association (ALA), celebrated the first Open Access Day, Oct. 14, by opening up its content on the Web and making its companion weekly e-newsletter, American Libraries Direct, available to anyone for the asking.

“Opening up American Libraries’ searchable PDFs at is just the first step toward making all future features and columns available on the site in HTML format in 2009,” said Leonard Kniffel, editor in chief. The current issue of the print magazine will be open to all, as will back issues through 2003; they were all formerly accessible only with a member log-in. The revamped AL website will link content to the AL online forum [hot link] where readers are encouraged to express their opinions about professional issues, news and controversies.

The decision to open up the magazine and the e-newsletter was made after consulting with key ALA member committees during this year’s ALA Annual Conference in Anaheim. “We’ve known for a long time that this is the direction in which magazine publishing is going,” said Kniffel, “but we have to be careful to counter the perception that member organizations rely on member-only perks to retain members.” The fact is, he said, “making your content difficult or impossible to find on the Web simply means that your members, especially those who are writing for your organization, get left out of all the conversations occurring online.”

American Libraries Direct has been extremely popular with ALA members, and many have been forwarding it to nonmember colleagues,” said ALA Executive Director Keith Michael Fiels. “It’s the best library news aggregation in the profession, and we want the world to read it and see the kind of essential services that ALA and libraries across the country are providing.”

To subscribe to AL Direct, visit the AL Direct sign-up page [].

American Libraries celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2007. American Libraries Direct Editor George Eberhart picked up first prize in 2007 in the “E-newsletter” category in the American Society of Business Publications Editors’ 29th annual awards competition.

Open Access Day [ ] is sponsored by SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition), the Public Library of Science (PLoS) and Students for Free Culture. Building on the worldwide momentum toward open access to publicly funded research, Open Access Day was established to create an opportunity for the higher education community and the general public to understand more clearly the opportunities of wider access to and use of content.

Library celebrates with author, slam poet Houston Today

Houston-Today: 2008 October 15

The Houston Public Library is celebrating National Library Month with a series of workshops and readings made possible by writers-in-libraries grant from the Public Library Services of B.C. under the Ministry of Education.

The library was able to welcome Sylvia Olsen, a writer who specializes in writing about First Nations issues. Olsen married into the Tsartlip First Nation and explores the in-between place where native and non-native people meet. She is an award-winning B.C. author of books for children and young adults.

Author of The Girl With a Baby, Just Ask Us: A Conversation with First Nations Teenage Moms, No Time to Say Goodbye: Children’s stories of Kuper Island Residential School, Which Way Should I Go?, White Girl and Yetsa’s Sweater, Olsen did a reading for the public on Oct. 6.

She also visited Twain Sullivan, Silverthorne Elementary and Houston Secondary where she educated the children on life in First Nations communities.

“Her presentation was the perfect way to kick off library month,” Karen Filipkowski, chief librarian said.

Northwest Community College has sponsored another author — Barbara Adler who is touring literary centres in B.C.

Adler was in Houston Wednesday to facilitate a writing workshop aimed at youth in the afternoon, then performed Slam Poetry in the evening.

The solo-spoken word artist has had a spot on the acclaimed Vancouver Poetry Slam Team four times since she was 18. She has also performed at the The Vancouver International Children’s Festival.

She has also presented workshops at high schools and elementary schools all over B.C.

She spoke fondly of councillor Shane Brienen, who taught fly-tying. As part of the tour, Adler is collecting material from each town she visits and making memory cards with graphics and facts about each community. She will be featuring Brienen on the CBC show, North by Northwest.

She also joked about the two bears put down on Hungry Hill and told Smithers to, “Get their own bear,” during her performance.

The Houston Library is also taking advantage of National Library month to promote evergreen, the newest service at the Houston Library. With Evergreen, patrons can now access the the library’s entire catalogue online from home.

There is also a Drop Everything and Read Hour on Oct. 27.

“All you have to do is show up and choose a book,” Filipkowski said. “At the sound of the bell, people drop everything and read for 15 minutes. After the bell rings participants can share a bit about the what they are reading and what reading means to them.”

Monday, October 13, 2008

VA School Librarians Reject Donated Titles

By Lauren Barack -- School Library Journal, 10/10/2008

A conservative Christian organization recently rallied outside a Fairfax County high school in Virginia to protest the decision by high school librarians to reject donated books, some of which argued against same-sex marriage.

“This was simply about freedom of information,” says Tom Bognanno, who, along with his teenage daughter Elizabeth, attended last week’s rally, sponsored by Focus on the Family, a Colorado-based organization that, among other activities, promotes conversion therapy for gay people.

Freedom, however, is exactly what the school librarians practiced, says Susan Thorniley, coordinator of library information services for Fairfax County Public Schools. While one of the 11 high schools approached by the organization did accept some of the books, the other 10 did not — nor were they required too. “Our librarians are autonomous,” says Thorniley. “We do not control what they choose or how they run their library.”

Indeed, school librarians in Fairfax County often reject donated books if they’re deemed inappropriate, says Thorniley.

Media specialists have a rigorous set of regulations that include examining a book’s authenticity, factual content, and educational significance. “These were self-published books, and were not professionally reviewed,” Thorniley says of the titles in question.

Nevertheless, some Christian students and their parents demanded that the books be added to their libraries—even though school officials claim that students hadn’t read some of the titles. “This was a national organization that wanted to create a political issue,” says Paul Regnier, spokesperson for Fairfax County Public Schools. “Some of our students are being used by [them].”

Many of the 40 or so students at the rally wore black T-shirts that read, "Closing books shuts out ideas." Monica Marti, a spokesperson for Focus on the Family, declined to comment beyond a press release.

Thorniley remembers a similar incident four years ago in which a donation request was made by Parents, Families, & Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) asking to donate titles that included a biography of Matthew Shepard, a slain gay University of Wyoming student.

“We told them we didn’t accept books,” says Thorniley. “But if they met our regulations we would put them out for librarians to take if they felt their collections were lacking.” PFLAG sent in eight titles, attaching the professional reviews, says Thorniley. “They met our regulations, and that was very important,” she says. “And some librarians took them. And some did not.”

Sunday, October 12, 2008

DEAR Responses

My MLA Carole Taylor's constituency office replied:
We have received your message and will be setting aside some pleasurable reading time in the Vancouver-Langara constituency office on October 27th! Looking forward to it and thank you for the reminder.

The Premier's office said:
Thank you for letting us know. This is a great way to raise awareness about the importance of reading and we commend you for the work you are doing in that regard.

Instilling love of literacy

Organization sets up libraries worldwide

Elaine O'Connor
The Province: Sunday, October 12, 2008

A book can be an escape. Or a life line.

That's why the global literacy charity Room to Read, founded in 2000, has founded more than 5,100 libraries in the developing world. Its focus is breaking the cycle of poverty and illiteracy by instilling in children a love of reading and learning.

The charity was born after former Microsoft executive John Wood took a trip to Nepal in 1998. He'd planned to push his limits on a three-week hiking trek. Instead, he visited a school that pulled his heartstrings. It had 200 students and 30 books. He vowed to change that. So he came home and changed his life, leaving Microsoft to found Room to Read.

The charity aims to reduce the number of illiterate people in the world -- an estimated 770 million, two-thirds of them women and girls -- one book at a time.

That little Nepalese school now has 3,000 books. And Wood has written his own book, Leaving Microsoft to Change the World.

That's how Kitsilano's Sharon Davis got involved. After reading the book she'd bought for her husband, the former financial adviser and community literacy volunteer knew she had to help.

"I read the book and was hooked," she says. "If you can't read and you can't write you are just going nowhere in the world today. Even if you are poor in Canada you can still go to school, you can still go to a library; none of those things cost money. If you're in Nepal or India, school is not a given; you have to pay to go. In Nepal, there literally were no children's books, we had to start a publishing program. The need is just so much greater there. I really believe [Room to Read] will change their lives."

Davis, 53, became the charity's Vancouver chapter leader in the summer of 2007. Her team of 14 held their first fundraiser in February at UBC and raised $250,000.

Early next year, UBC, UVic, UNBC and SFU students plan to host the Live-in for Literacy campaign, where students pitch a tent and live in school libraries for ten days to raise awareness of and funds for Room to Read. UBC students raised $5,000 through their library camp-in last year.

Room to Read works in Vietnam, Cambodia, India, Laos and, most recently, South Africa and Zambia.They not only fill libraries (with English and local language books), they build them -- and schools too. They also publish books, build computer labs and provide girls with scholarships.

In Nepal, where they first started,they've established 1,728 libraries, built 169 schools, 31 computer labs and placed 764 girls on scholarships between 2000 and 2007.

In total, Room to Read has built 442 schools, published 2 million books in 226 new local languages, donated more than 2.2 million English-language children's books, funded 4,036 girls' scholarships and created 155 computer labs.

Many donations come from corporations, foundations and private donors. But children are making a difference to. Room to Read's Students Helping Students initiative sees youth from all over the world raise money for books -- in 2005, 200 schools in the Western world raised $400,000 to create libraries in Sri Lanka.

To learn more visit To fundraise for the Vancouver chapter or to set up a new B.C. chapter, e-mail