March 19, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Book Review: Professional Reading

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Adams, Helen R. Protecting Intellectual Freedom and Privacy in Your School Library. 263p. (SLM Hot Topics Series). appendix. illus. index. Libraries Unlimited. 2013. pap. $55. ISBN 9781610691383; ebk. ISBN 9781610691390. LC 2012049687.

School librarians at any grade level will find this book thought-provoking, especially if they are updating their library policies or training staff on privacy issues. Primarily a collection of columns previously published in School Library Monthly, it also includes updates, summaries, questions to ask, and extensive lists of additional resources. Few school librarians will read this book without questioning their own policies and practices. Do we too often bar students from checking out materials because of overdues? Are our check-out limits too low? Are students restricted by computerized reading programs or required to borrow books from a restricted reading level? Do we adequately protect student privacy? Do shrinking library budgets impede intellectual freedom? These are thorny issues, and many readers will scramble to update their collection-development and privacy policies after reading these thoughtful essays. Of course, the dreaded book challenge gets lengthy consideration–along with ways to prepare for challenges in advance–but issues like internet filters, confidentiality of library records, serving special-needs students and English Language Learners, and the role of the solo librarian serving multiple schools are also addressed. As a result of the many court cases, organizations, documents, and acronyms mentioned, some of the columns are on the dry side. The book comes alive, however, when the author describes actual sticky situations and quotes school librarians coping with real intellectual freedom and privacy issues. School librarians will want to have it on hand for the resources and guidelines it contains, but its real value is in the questions it prompts readers to ask about their own libraries.–Miranda Doyle, Lake Oswego School District, OR

Applegate, Rachel. Practical Evaluation Techniques for Librarians. 232p. appendix. chart. index. Libraries Unlimited. 2013. pap. $50. ISBN 9781610691598. LC 2013012273.

This insightful manual discusses how to evaluate and assess information using different techniques such as surveys and focus groups. The author stresses the importance of data collection to support libraries and other not-for-profit organizations as they face the daily challenge of defending their contributions to the communities they serve. With a focus on “proving and improving,” Applegate encourages readers to take a critical look at the services they provide and determine their strengths and weaknesses through outcome-based evaluations. Several different evaluation techniques are described in depth, and they will enable professionals to extrapolate the data they need to compile concise organizational reports. Clear, easy-to-use outlines detail how to create and utilize a variety of surveys or gather specific focus groups that will provide the definitive information they seek. Other chapters explain how to format the data and how to create targeted evaluation reports. While the content is presented in a dry and process-driven manner, it is thorough. A useful guide for gathering practical information.–Allison Santos, Princeton Public Library, NJ

Bandy, H. Anthony. eBooked!: Integrating Free Online Book Sites into Your Library Collection. 209p. Libraries Unlimited. 2013. pap. $45. ISBN 9781598848908. LC 2013015533.

As libraries continue to face challenges with budgets and funding, the need and demand for ebooks also continues to grow. Bandy offers practical solutions to this problem by providing an in-depth look at four online ebook sites: Google Books Project, Hathi Trust, the Internet Archive, and the Open Library. He describes in great detail how libraries can use each free service in place of subscription-based resources. Individual chapters provide information on each website’s history and how the service would be useful in library scenarios. At the end of each chapter, a recap is provided for quick referral. The book encourages readers to integrate these sites into their own library’s services and collections. Libraries struggling to support ebook services for their patrons may find this guide useful. Most of the free services, however, work best as a supplement to paid digital content. Bandy also discusses the need for staff training to properly assist customers in the navigation of these sites. Customers would need to be reminded that the offered ebooks are not downloadable to devices and must be read online. Overall, the information provided offers a viable ebook solution for cash-strapped libraries.–Allison Santos, Princeton Public Library, NJ

Bell, Mary Ann, Holly Weimar & James Van Roekel. School Librarians and the Technology Department: A Practical Guide to Successful Collaboration. 117p. appendix. bibliog. index. photos. Linworth Publishing. 2013. pap. $40. ISBN 9781586835392; ebk. ISBN 9781586835408. LC 2013006985.

As the day-to-day job of librarians continues to change, it is important that professionals accept the challenge of redefining their role as information specialists. The premise successfully presented in this title directs readers to assume a position of collaboration with technology specialists, working together in assisting teachers and students. There is a comprehensive chapter on the history of technology development and its use in educational settings– from the early Commodore 64 computers to Apple IICs through floppy disks and then CDs for storage to the Internet and Web 2.0. Along with the rise of the Internet arose the need for schools to utilize online resources, resulting in the creation of technology specialists, and thereby creating a power struggle between the two departments. The authors also address the value of communication, training, practicing online safety, and following best practices. They stress the importance of creating collaborative projects with teachers and students, which allows the school librarian to help guide future technology decisions.–Susan Shaver, Hemingford Public Schools, NE

Coleman, Tina & Peggie Llanes. Teen Craft Projects 2. 114p. diag. further reading. glossary. photos. websites. ALA. 2013. pap. $45. ISBN 9780838911525. LC 2012041728.

There’s nothing new about the 12 craft projects that are suggested in this well-organized guidebook. Comprehensive directions include materials needed, time allotted, step-by-step instructions, and even adaptations of each project; however, many of the proposed activities, such as designing a picture frame or creating paper-scrap stationery, are dated. Others, such as decorating containers or designing patches, seem ho-hum and could easily be arrived at during a brainstorming session of crafters.–Kathryn Diman, Bass Harbor Memorial Library, Bernard, ME

Copeland, Brenda S. & Patricia A. Messner. School Library Storytime. illus. by authors. 195p. (Just the Basics Series). index. Libraries Unlimited. 2013. pap. $30. ISBN 9781610692021. ebook available. LC 2013000170.

Written by two elementary school librarians with 40 years of expertise between them, this practical book is a much-needed resource for library aides, paraprofessionals, and volunteers with little or no experience conducting storytimes. The introduction answers the question, “How do I read to students and keep them hanging on to each page?” with rock-solid and reassuring advice. Activities for kindergarten through second grade storytimes are arranged by month and feature school-year themes. Each lesson is based around a recently published picture book and provides a summary of the story, easy-to-follow instructions for the lesson, and materials lists for related activities. Many of the chapters include reproducible pages that help extend the lesson in meaningful ways after the story is read. Additional books cited at the end of each unit can be used as alteratives for the featured book. The birthdays of well-known authors are also listed, which may be used to create fun library displays. This book is the fourth installment in this series, designed to meet the training needs of library staff in schools without certified librarians. This accessible, easy-to-use guide will help storytime become a lively and enjoyable part of those programs.–Mary Jean Smith, formerly at Southside Elementary School, Lebanon, TN

Crosetto, Alice & Rajinder Garcha. Death, Loss, and Grief in Literature for Youth: A Selective Annotated Bibliography for K-12. 266p. Scarecrow. 2013. Tr $75. ISBN 9780810885608. LC 2012029495.

Who among us hasn’t struggled at some point to help parents or caregivers (or even the young people themselves) find a book or other materials to help them through a difficult time. This comprehensive bibliography includes mostly resources for students, although it includes a chapter for educators, parents, and other professionals. It also includes chapters specifically covering websites, media resources available in DVD format, and nonfiction resources. The annotated entries are organized by type of loss: family member (broken down into specifics, such as mother, father, etc.), the death of a teacher or classmate, friend or neighbor, pets (divided by type). There are two chapters on animal and nature stories and folktales that have death as a theme. Each annotation includes publication information, suggested grade level, identification of award-winning titles, and a brief, informative description. Some of the annotations include quotes from professional reviews. A well-organized and up-to-date bibliography for all collections.–Renee McGrath, Nassau Library System, Uniondale, NY

Crosetto, Alice & Rajinder Garcha. Native North Americans in Literature for Youth: A Selective Annotated Bibliography for K-12. 267p. appendix. index. websites. Scarecrow. 2013. Tr $90. ISBN 9780810891890; pap. $89.99. ISBN 9780810891906. LC 2013015728.

This well-organized bibliography will assist librarians, educators, students, and researchers. While most of the nearly 700 resources are recommended, some problematic works are included because they are wellknown, award winners, or otherwise contribute to a broader dialogue about representations of Native peoples in literature for youth. The annotations are brief and highly repetitive, especially for series titles. Annotations provide full publication data and a summary of contents, including series information, suggested grade levels, and quotes from professional reviews where applicable. Entries are organized into chapters on geographic regions, history, religion, customs and social life, or particular nations, as well as sections for oral literature, biographies, fiction, general reference, works for educators, and nonbook resources. Helpful indexes offer access via title, author/editor, illustrator/photographer, book awards, grade level, nations, series, or subject. This sensible organization shows an awareness of K-12 curriculum topics and will be of use to school and public librarians as well as to scholars of youth literature.–Sarah Stone, San Francisco Public Library

Dow, Mirah J., ed. School Libraries Matter: Views from the Research. 173p. bibliog. chart. diag. illus. index. websites. Libraries Unlimited. 2013. pap. $50. ISBN 9781610691611. ebook available. LC 2013009849.

Realizing the need for research-based evidence to prove the value of school librarians, this resource compiles research studies and findings from the past 10 years. The introduction gives an overview of the methods used and briefly describes each of the 10 chapters. The chapters themselves each contain an introduction, research question, methodology, findings and conclusion, and allow readers easy access to the information. Covering topics such as the impact of school libraries on academic achievement, information practices of upper-income high school students, school administration, technology, and school librarian leadership, this is an invaluable reference book for career librarians or those just entering the field. The research is a vital tool that can be used as an advocacy tool and help administrators and funders understand the essential role of libraries and library professionals in 21st-century schools.–Denise Moore, O’Gorman Junior High School, Sioux Falls, SD

Jones, Jami Biles & Lori J. Flint, eds. The Creative Imperative: School Librarians and Teachers Cultivating Curiosity Together. 242p. appendix. bibliog. chart. diag. further reading. illus. index. websites. Libraries Unlimited. 2013. pap. $50. ISBN 9781610693073. LC 2013018364.

Several contributing authors, predominantly from universities, explore the historical and current landscape of creativity in schools and school libraries. The first half of the book provides a background of the research and theories surrounding creativity, although the specialized language and quick pace may confuse readers new to this topic. The strongest chapters with the most relevance for current practitioners come at the end of the book and explore bibliocreativity and the Future Problem Solving method; both include helpful examples of utilizing these strategies in the classroom. This resource includes a thorough index and a useful list of resources for readers interested in further pursuing creativity in the classroom and library. While the academic perspective may limit the practical applications of this volume, school libraries with specific interest in fostering student creativity may find the content thought-provoking.–Amy Koester, St. Charles City-County Library District, Wentzville, MO

Kay, Linda. Read It Forward. 120p. appendix. index. Libraries Unlimited. 2013. pap. $35. ISBN 9781598848083. ebook available. LC 2013029491.

Kay and eight other school librarians from Round Rock, Texas, pioneered a reading program several years ago that should delight teachers and librarians nationwide. The Read It Forward (RIF) initiative is simple, according to the author, and possible even in economically challenged districts. In short, the library obtains multiple copies of a single book and places them around the school for students to find, read, and pass on to others. Ideally, everyone–students, teachers, administrators, staff–will have read the book by the date of a culminating event, which may be a dance, an author’s visit, a library “read-in,” a cooking contest, or anything else the school might deem appropriate and affordable. This slim guide provides steps for selecting an appealing title; detailed programming ideas to increase enthusiasm; and directions for obtaining, promoting, and distributing the books. Kay also offers advice on how to track participation in applications such as Google Docs and SurveyMonkey. An annotated list of 20 recommended titles, with curricular connections, will help even the busiest librarians get started. In its most basic manifestation, RIF is a joyous awy to get students reading and thinking about books. An energetic and inspired librarian might turn it into the happening of the year.–Denise Ryan, Middlesex Middle School, Darien, CT

Nichols, Joel A. iPads® in the Library: Using Tablet Technology to Enhance Programs for All Ages. 136p. appendix. index. notes. photos. websites. Libraries Unlimited. 2013. pap. $45. ISBN 9781610693479; ebk. ISBN 9781610693486. LC 2013007684.

Written for librarians and other library staff, this title provides a wide variety of iPad-based program ideas. Following an explanation for developing and using this type of technology in the library, the introduction further explains the organization of the book and includes suggestions for substituting other tablet devices if iPads are not available. There is a chapter on app selection, limitations, restrictions, and tips for using iTunes. Nichols also includes a list of review sources for selecting apps and offers guidelines for selection. A chapter on program ideas for each age group includes a broad variety of carefully planned programs, complete with goals, apps needed, planning notes, a list of complementary materials for enhancing the lesson, detailed step-by-step instructions, and program extension ideas. Adaptations for other types of devices direct readers to utilize the lessons regardless of the availability of iPads. Preschool programs include activities to develop literacy skills and stress the importance of one-on-one interaction, as well as face-to-face games and storytime activities. School-age programs include folktales, research, and cartooning, while teen programming explores building skills with photo and video and graphic design. Adult programming is geared to practical skills for ESL learners and job skills. Various screen shots are included, but these are dark and grainy, adding little to the otherwise useful and well-organized text. Appendix A lists apps alphabetically, while Appendix B lists them by subject area.–Susan Shaver, Hemingford Public Schools, NE

Pandora, Cherie P. & Stacey Hayman. Better Serving Teens through School Library—Public Library Collaborations. 256p. appendix. bibliog. chart. further reading. index. Libraries Unlimited. 2013. pap. $40. ISBN 9781598849707. LC 2013018497.

The fostering of a strong relationship between school and public libraries is not only a worthwhile goal, but is also one that needs proper planning and implementation. This point is even more relevant in light of the economic challenges and smaller budgets facing both school and public libraries. When libraries work together and share resources, the benefits can truly make a difference to the populations being served. Pandora and Hayman provide guidelines for those who need constructive and feasible ideas in order to begin, broaden, or enhance and strengthen this collaborative effort. Better Serving Teens addresses a wide assortment of topics that cover multiple suggestions and strategies that librarians can pursue on a variety of levels. Some of these topics include social networking, homework help, poetry slams, team teaching, author presentations, and advisory boards. There is also a section about professional development that includes checklists, evaluation forms, and worksheets. Not all of the suggestions or topics are applicable for every library, but the helpful advice offered in this resource will strengthen any library program.–Donna Rosenblum, Floral Park Memorial High School, NY

Starkey, Monique Delatte. Practical Programming: The Best of YA-YAAC. 160p. ALA/YALSA. 2013. pap. $40. ISBN 9780838986707.

Including programs from parkour to “zombies versus humans,” this practical, refreshing guide offers librarians a variety of fun, free (or almost free) activities to what many have labeled one of the most difficult programming groups: teens. Some of the material may not be new to teen librarians who have followed the YA-YAAC listserv, but for newcomers, this guide offers a multitude of easy go-to activities. Each program is accompanied by a description, program type, estimated costs, supply list, duration, marketing tips, and feedback. The addition of sample templates for permissions, photographic releases, and teen volunteer forms is a welcome starting point. Overall this volume is a successful compilation of the best practices, programs, and tips for reaching the teen audience.–Krishna Grady, Darien Library, CT

VOYA’s Five-Foot Bookshelf: Essential Books for Professionals Who Serve Teens 2000 to 2012. 96p. ISBN 9781617510106. LC 2012935475.

VOYA’s Perfect Tens 2000 to 2012. 118p. ISBN 9781617510090. LC 2013934035.

ea vol: 2013. VOYA. pap. $25.

The books listed in these volumes are meant to be among the best of their respective genres. That a title was worthy of being included in annual the Five-Foot bookshelf, or merited the highest possible rating awarded by a VOYA reviewer, signified that it was a book that should be included automatically in library collections. Perfect Tens indicates when a title has won an award or been included on an ALA selection list, and as with all VOYA reviews, includes a synopsis and whether the book is more appropriate for a middle, junior, or senior high school audience. What should be noted, however, is that while there are indeed some titles in both volumes that have proven to have staying power, it is unlikely that books published up to a dozen years ago would be purchased now. It is also questionable to see several titles in a series obtain a perfect rating, especially when the original review suggests that a title doesn’t stand on its own. These books may be of use for larger libraries or academic settings, where reader’s advisory, or the art of the review, is of interest.–Betsy Fraser, Calgary Public Library, Canada

This article was published in School Library Journal's February 2014 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.