Saturday, August 29, 2009

An Open Approach to Teaching Literature: Reading Workshop

No longer a literary rite of passage?

Link to August 29 New York Times article, "The Future of Reading: Students Get New Assignment: Pick Books You Like"..

The approach Ms. McNeill uses, in which students choose their own books, discuss them individually with their teacher and one another, and keep detailed journals about their reading, is part of a movement to revolutionize the way literature is taught in America’s schools. While there is no clear consensus among English teachers, variations on the approach, known as reading workshop, are catching on.

Louisville Free Public Library: Downtown Facility Reopens

Link to August 29 Louisville Courier-Journal article, "Library's open door".

Excerpt: The library lives.

It opened again on Thursday, 23 days after the flood and 12 days before its projected reopening date of Labor Day.

Is all right with the world? Not quite. Some areas are still closed off. The elevators don't work. Patrons might have to wait for a book to be retrieved for them. Renovating the post-flood library is a work in progress. Damage could total $5 million.

When asked for a literary reference to the closing and reopening of the library, director Craig Buthod cites author Barbara Tuchman, who said, “Nothing sickens me more than a closed library door.”

More than 2,000 people visit the downtown library every day. The staff didn't want to disappoint that many people any longer than necessary, Mr. Buthod says, and they didn't want to wait until Labor Day to reopen. Special incentive to beat the deadline was seeing people stop by each day and try to open the doors.

Friday, August 28, 2009

A Missed Opportunity

Link to August 28 Eau Claire Leader-Telegram article, "Public feedback sparse on city budget deficit".

Excerpt: Besides boosting revenues, meeting participants also discussed possible budget cutbacks such as reducing employee overtime pay, cutting library hours and eliminating city payments to organizations such as the Paul Bunyan Logging Camp and the Eau Claire Municipal Band.

If anyone spoke up for the library, the reporter didn't hear or ignored the message.

Learn more here.

No, you can't check it out!

Definitely the coolest story of the day.

Link to August 27 Kenosha News article, "Special delivery".

Excerpt: The Metropolitan — a gift from local car collector Vince Ruffolo — has a new home as the centerpiece of the Nash Elementary School library. It was delivered Thursday to the school.

Ruffolo decided to give the car away after getting a tour of the school last year and taking special interest in how the school incorporated Nash history into the building.

“It’s to show the kids that if they put their pluses together in life they can accomplish whatever they want,” he said. “(Charles Nash) was a real rags-to-riches guy who clawed his way to the top.”

On the Mend....and Mulling a Run for Governor

Link to August 28 Capital Times article, "Milwaukee mayor doesn't rule out run for governor".

Excerpt: Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, who has been hailed as a hero since he was beaten while coming to the aid of a grandmother calling for help, told The Associated Press on Thursday that he isn't ruling out a run for governor.

But Barrett said he doesn't expect to make a decision for at least a month and is focusing on his health and his mayoral duties.

"I'm flattered that people have mentioned my name in conjunction with that, but I've got to heal myself before I even start thinking about that," he said.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Best Advice: Give It Up

Link to August 27 Capital Times article, "Rankings rancor: UW-Madison gets pulled into college listings brouhaha".

Current UW Provost Paul DeLuca does not put much scientific stock in the rankings, but knows their influence is nevertheless broad.

"There is just no way that any rating system, no matter how well-devised, can give an accurate and comprehensive picture of an institution," he says. "There is no way to capture the many significant differences from institution to institution. That said, we have to realize that these polls and rankings do exist, and that people do pay attention to them and use them when considering where they might go to school."

As for "giving it up", it won't happen.

From The Chronicles of Higher Education website archives, "What the Rankings Do for 'U.S. News'". (May 25, 2007)

The annual "America's Best Colleges" issue of U.S. News & World Report has long been referred to as the magazine's swimsuit issue. While the comparison is made in jest, in terms of newsstand sales the association with the popular Sports Illustrated cover is not far off.

Last year the U.S. News college issue was among 17 perennial "moneymakers," according to a list compiled by min: Media Industry Newsletter. Only one other
U.S. News.... (Requires premium subscription for full access.)

Letter Writers Support Hudson Library

(Saving you the hassle of having to log in to the opinion page of the Hudson Star-Observer.)

Letter #1
An informed and educated electorate is the foundation of a functioning democracy and a stable community. An up-to-date library is a formidable tool to go hand in hand with a strong system of public education.

We shortchange ourselves by turning a blind eye to the deficiencies in the existing library, especially when the economy wavers for so many.

If you support an improved library, perhaps you should remind your elected officials of your concern.

Letter #2
The recent brouhaha over the Indianhead Federated Library System report has served only to obscure a more important issue, that of community growth with its accompanying need for enhanced infrastructure.

I’ve lived in the town of Hudson for a little over 10 years, and I’ve watched with amazement as the surrounding farms have been turned into subdivisions, and two-lane roads have been replaced with four-lane highways.

The community of greater Hudson has witnessed the building of a new hospital facility, a new elementary school and numerous commercial and industrial facilities on the hill. As the population has grown, so has the infrastructure that is needed to support it.

It is within this context that the Hudson Area Joint Library’s status must be considered. Comparing our local library facility to other libraries seems to result in unproductive arguments about the validity of the statistics presented (no matter who is presenting them!). Why not compare the current status of the library’s service capabilities with that of ten years ago? Has the floor space, staffing, and collection grown as the population of the service area has multiplied? The answer would be “no.”

As local municipalities prepare their budgets for the coming year, they will struggle to allocate funding for all of the demands of their growing communities. It is to be hoped that decisions will be made not in terms of “either-or” but rather in a spirit of community awareness; that all needs will be considered and an attempt made to spread the limited funds equitably.

Our library provides a valuable community service, especially in stressful economic times. Attendance at the children’s Summer Reading Program, for example, is up 300 percent from five years ago, yet the physical space for the programs remains the same.

It is time for the Hudson Area Joint Library to be included in plans for a growing local infrastructure.

Indianhead Federated Library System Director John Thompson also responds to the criticisms leveled at him by Hudson Mayor Dean Knudson

Library Now Included on City of Marshfield Budget Survey

Library Director Lori Belongia to the rescue.

Survey found here.

Plus-Size Teen Lit

Link to August 27 Oshkosh Northwestern article, "Teen lit alive with positive characters of size".

Excerpt: Like never before, teen lit is alive with plus-size characters who take on their school tormenters and get the guy, soaking up self-esteem as football heroes and big-girl models.

While fat may not be the new vampire, the uptick comes at just the right time for young readers. Childhood obesity is epic while a large, loud and proud fat acceptance movement advocates good health at any size over doomed diets, food obsessions and body shame.

In titles that include “Looks,” “Models Don’t Eat Chocolate Cookies” and “This Book Isn’t Fat, It’s Fabulous,” young people with meat on their bones are front and center in at least two dozen new books out since last year, rather than the usual ugly-duckling best friend or neighbor. Many of the stories conclude without significant weight loss, a huge breakthrough for some young fans.

Wisconsin Assembly Speaker: Jobs Top Priority

Link to August 27 Oshkosh Northwestern article, "Assembly speaker Mike Sheridan says jobs are top priority".

Excerpt: Saving and creating jobs will be Democrats’ top priority when the Assembly comes back in session next month, Speaker Mike Sheridan said Wednesday.

But Sheridan, a former United Auto Workers union negotiator at the now closed General Motors plant in Janesville, was short on details about how that would be done.

A particular focus would be on growing so-called "green" jobs, Sheridan said. The only proposals he cited were bills that would clear the way for wind farms to more easily be built in Wisconsin and that would spur alternative energy growth.

There's been some speculation that Sheridan might run for Governor, though he's currently downplaying it.

Link to August 26 AP article at WTMJ, "Sheridan Unlikely to Join Governor's Race".

Excerpt: Democratic Assembly Speaker Mike Sheridan of Janesville says it is unlikely he will run for governor next year.

But Sheridan still isn't completely ruling out the possibility.

He was asked about his plans during a Wednesday news conference. Sheridan says, "in all likelihood I'm going to stay right where I'm at."

Wisconsin DPI Jobs (JOBS) Webpage

Very useful information posted here.

1. Wisconsin Library Agency Employment Help Web Sites
2. Articles on the Role of Public Libraries in Helping Job Seekers and other Libraries in the News
3. Examples of What Individual Public Libraries are Doing to Help People Looking for Jobs

As well as this sidebar......

Overview of the 2009 JOBS Projects
JOBS Project Highlights
2009 JOBS Project Abstracts
2010 LSTA Information
Unemployment Figures by County for the State of Wisconsin
WLA Fall Conference Session on JOBS

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Local History Finds a Niche at Brown County Library

Link to August 26 Green Bay Post-Gazette article, "History detective's work space speaks volumes".

Excerpt: Anybody have a pristine copy of the 1875 wall map of Brown County that shows ownership?

It's high on the wish list of Mary Jane Herber, whose work space is Brown County Central Library's Local History and Genealogical Department.

"There are things that still every once in a while will walk in," says Herber. "And you never know what it's going to (be) coming in. And you never know when it's going to come in. And you never know who's going to bring it. Or how it's going to get here. But there are still things out there. There always are."

The department's constantly growing collection tops 10,000 volumes.

"That's the last time I counted, and I don't have time to count, so we're probably well past that now," she says.

Herber has been in the department since the week after the library opened in January 1974.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Sony Reader and OverDrive Sign Library Marketing Agreement

Link to August 12 news release.

Excerpt: OverDrive (, the leading global digital distributor of eBooks and audiobooks to libraries, announced today a joint marketing agreement with Sony Electronics, Inc., developer of the Sony Reader Digital Book ( OverDrive and Sony will cross-market OverDrive's library network and the Reader, the leading eBook device that is compatible with industry standard eBook formats offered by libraries.

"What's Your Sign?"

Link to August 23 New York Times article, " Mining the Web for Feelings, Not Facts".

Excerpt: Computers may be good at crunching numbers, but can they crunch feelings?

The rise of blogs and social networks has fueled a bull market in personal opinion: reviews, ratings, recommendations and other forms of online expression. For computer scientists, this fast-growing mountain of data is opening a tantalizing window onto the collective consciousness of Internet users.

An emerging field known as sentiment analysis is taking shape around one of the computer world’s unexplored frontiers: translating the vagaries of human emotion into hard data.

Julia's # 1

Link to August 23 New York Times article, "After 48 Years, Julia Child Has a Big Best Seller, Butter and All".

Excerpt: The book, given a huge lift from the recently released movie “Julie & Julia,” sold 22,000 copies in the most recent week tracked, according to Nielsen BookScan, which follows book sales. That is more copies than were sold in any full year since the book’s appearance, according to Alfred A. Knopf, which published it.

The book will make its debut at No. 1 on the New York Times best-seller list of Aug. 30 in the advice and how-to category.

“In a month, I’ve sold almost seven times what I sell, typically, in a year of ‘Mastering,’ and it’s going to get even higher,” said Lee Stern, the cookbook buyer for Barnes & Noble. “It’s amazing.”

Director Nora Ephron is pleased "that people are walking out of the multiplex and into the bookstore.”

But not everyone is interested in buying the books that are getting a boost in sales from the popular movie.

LINKcat holds
Mastering the Art of French Cooking (86 holds on 12 copies)
Julie & Julia (119 holds on 36 copies)
My Life in France (120 holds on 32 copies)

There are no holds, however, on the 56 copies of French Women Don't Get Fat.

West Bend Book Controversy Continues to Simmer

Link to August 25 Fond du Lac Reporter article, "Librarians watching West Bend book controversy".

Excerpt: In February, West Bend couple Jim and Ginny Maziarka asked that the books in question be moved to a restricted section of the library and that the Library Board balance its collection of books about homosexuality with books that affirm traditional "heterosexual perspectives."

The popular novels criticized by the couple are sold in bookstores and are available in public and high school libraries throughout the state, said West Bend Library Director Michael Tyree.

The anti-library crusade just keeps getting worse, he said.

"About 10 days ago, the couple filed an open records request for the library's expenditures involving reimbursements. I gave them that. Now, another person within their group of supporters wants us to re-catalog books that are science but from a creationist viewpoint. I told her no," Tyree said.

Manitowoc Public Library Removes Wiggle Room from Fine Policy

Link to August 25 Herald Times Reporter article, "Manitowoc library tightens its policy on overdue fines".

Excerpt: Hoping to soften budget shortfalls, the Manitowoc Public Library is getting tougher on patrons who have significant overdue fines.

Effective Sept. 1, patrons will not be allowed to renew their library cards until all of their outstanding fines are paid in full.

Library patrons are required to renew their cards every year, and previously were allowed to do so even if they had fines up to $10. By removing that leniency, library director Cherilyn Stewart hopes to generate extra revenue for the library.

The new policy is expected to generate an additional $20,000 in revenue. (Manitowoc currently averages $40,000 per year.)