School Libraries Worldwide - Volume 14 Number 2, July 2008

Welcome to a special edition of School Libraries WorldWide (SLW). The theme for this edition (Volume 14, Number 2) is New Learners, New Literacies, New Libraries.

The goal of this issue is to explore some of the current research and emerging notions of School Libraries 2.0. By this we mean implications for libraries of Web 2.0, or “the trend in the use of World Wide Web technology, social software and web design that aims to enhance creativity, information sharing, and, most notably, collaboration among users”(Wikipedia, ¶ 1). Library 2.0 entails “both physical and mindset changes that are occurring within libraries to make our spaces and services more user-centric and inviting” (Wikipedia, ¶ 1). We are publishing this issue in blog and wiki formats to reflect new ways to publish and share information and to allow viewers/readers to add their responses and comments to the content presented. Thus the journal itself is a living example of socially constructing knowledge with Web 2.0 tools.

We have gathered an eclectic set of articles all of which are linked to a variety of web-based resources which support and extend the content in the articles. The authors have varied perspectives and experiences and present a wide variety of issues related to the challenges facing the worldwide school library community. The idea is to present the core set of articles for all to share and then have viewers explore beyond that core in order to build their own understanding of Web 2.0 and the influence it continues to have on emerging notions of new school libraries (what some are calling school libraries 2.0).

While the influences of Web 2.0 may vary in regions around the world, there can be little doubt that the challenges raised by new technologies must be addressed by the entire school library community. Without facing the new realities of how people use information and communication or digital learning technologies, we risk a real danger of becoming isolated as print-only learning environments. We need to draw on our traditional leadership in building collaborative teaching and learning activities in order to engage students in new learning environments which harness their innate interests in new technologies and connect their in-school and out-of-school literacy practices.

While these challenges seem daunting on many levels including providing adequate and equitable access, improving teacher and teacher-librarian education, and developing curriculum aligned with current notions of literacy and learning, we hope this issue will foster an international conversation about how school libraries can show leadership and create compelling models for school libraries in the 21st century.

Guest Editors: Marlene Asselin & Ray Doiron

Table of Contents

School Libraries Worldwide
Volume 13, Number 2, July 2008

New Learners, New Literacies, New Libraries

Editor: Dianne Oberg, University of Alberta, Canada

Guest Co-Editors:
Marlene Asselin, University of British Columbia, Canada
Ray Doiron, University of Prince Edward Island Canada

Critical Concepts
Towards a Transformative Pedagogy for School Libraries
Marlene Asselin & Ray Doiron

Youth and their Virtual Networked Worlds: Research Findings and Implications for School Libraries
Ross Todd

Open Access and the Open Journal Systems: Making Sense All Over
Rick Kopak

Shaping Global Criticality with School Libraries
Keith McPherson

Diverse Contexts
Popular Culture in the School Library: Enhancing Literacies Traditional and New
Elizabeth E. G. Friese

Videogames in the Library? What is the World Coming To?
Kathy Sanford

Immersive Learning Environments in Parallel Universes: Learning through Second Life
Jeremy W. Kemp & Ken Haycock

Towards School Library 2.0: An Overview of Social Software Tools for Teacher-Librarians
Jo-Anne Naslund & Dean Giustini

Creative Expressions
New Learners, New Literacies, New Libraries - a wiki
Marlene Asselin & Ray Doiron

School Library Mash-Up
Lillian Trousdell & Sharon Doyle

Technology in our Lives- Voices of Two Learners
Kaitlyn & Allen

Young People Talk about Libraries - A Video
Maryam Moayeri

Abstracts and Links to the Articles

Included below are the abstracts and links to all the articles in this special issue of School Libraries Worldwide.
You are invited to read any and all of the articles and add your comments at the link below each abstract.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Article 6: Popular Culture in the School Library: Enhancing Literacies Traditional and New

Elizabeth E. G. Friese

In an evolving landscape of traditional and new literacies, the roles of the school library and teacher librarian are changing. In order to support instruction in multiple literacies, teacher librarians must rethink both collections and services. Materials featuring popular culture influences are explored for their relevance to several types of literacy instruction. The inclusion of popular culture materials in school library collections can support achievement in traditional literacy while facilitating connection with everyday literacy practices. Popular culture materials also provide instructional opportunities for critical media literacy as well as information literacy. Popular culture texts are worthy of inclusion in school library collections for reasons enhancing both pedagogy and enjoyment.

View the full article.


Karen said...

This article came along at a great time for me. I've always felt that popular culture books, for the most part, wouldn't be put on the shelves in "my" library because they were not what I would describe as "good quality literature" and they often go out of "fashion" relatively quickly and the students lose interest in them. I felt my job was to provide the "better literature" for my students, literature that they wouldn't stumble upon at any box store or wouldn't necessarily buy for themselves, or have their parents buy for them. I'm now re-thinking that mindset!

I have always struggled with this issue, particularly twice a year when I held book fairs. Yes, I knew those type of books sold well at the fairs because they were usually the result of a television program or movie that the children recently saw or were "hooked on watching" but I usually ended up not buying them to add to my collection especially when there were more quality books available to spend my budget or book fair profits on.

After reading the article today, I can see the author's reasons for defending the act of choosing these books for a school library. I understand that students need to get excited about seeing these books in our library (I do have a few popular culture books, especially for the younger students who love Scooby Doo!)and when they see them and borrow them, they get the impression that the library is a place for them because their likes and preferences are being acknowledged. Students do get motivated to read or at least borrow these books as I can attest to every day my grade 1 students come to borrow books and I have to deperately search the racks/shelves for the 6 books I have on a particular television character.

Popular culture books can also be used with those students who can connect more easily with those characters rather than some other character or situation they have no background knowledge about.

I now realize that instead of banning these books from our collections we need to use these books (and also popular culture websites) to teach critical literacy to our students. How else can students become informed selectors in what they read if our libraries are not providing them with a full range of choices?

I really liked these 2 quotes found in the article and will try my best to keep them in mind when I'm pondering what to buy at my next book fair.

1. "If students learn from the teacher librarian that there is room for many kinds of reading and reading material, that some materials are more apporpriate in certain situations, and that reading, in general, is worthwhile and adds a lot to life, we have done our jobs well!"

2. It is difficult to meet the needs of students who won't come in the door, or students that do come in but don't engage with school library offerings. Once these materials are in collections, teacher librarians can promote them, scrutinize them, allow students to enjoy them, and capitalize on them as an entry point into a wide variety of literacies, lifelong learning, critical reading, and enjoyment".

After reading the article today, I looked at a booklet listing the titles of books a book company was offering for half price and I found myself not just looking at the more quality items which I would have only focused on in the past, but I began looking at the popular culture books that I could add to my collection.

I now see a purpose for those books and will include them in my collection from now on. I will also not feel as guilty for adding the ones I have added in previous years to my collection as it exists today. I feel I can now better explain to teachers and parents just why I have a few of these popular culture books because I always felt a bit uneasy having them, as if I shouldn't!

Rosemary said...

Wow, Karen, I’m so glad you enjoyed this article and it changed the way you feel about popular culture literature. I loved the quotes you shared.

My two favourite reasons for including popular culture in the collection are Friese’s Reason 1: The School Library as “A Place for Me” and Reason 3: Building on Background Knowledge. My hope in including popular culture material in the library is that ALL students will feel welcome and that there is something there to interest everyone. Not all kids want to or can read books like the Dear Canada series or Harry Potter or Cornelia Funke books (take your pick, there’s lots of good stuff out there!). I figure, if popular culture gets them reading and they enjoy it, why not. I also think Reason 3 is tied in with Reason 1. If the kids have access to reading material they can identify with --- if their world is Star Wars, or High School Musical or Pokemon or Bat-man --- who are we to say that’s not good enough or that they are somehow deficient if they can’t get into or retell some story that we have deemed worthy of student reading. I’m always surprised by how much some kids know about the things that really interest them but they don’t have much to say about what we want them to read or learn about. Again, and as always, it says a lot about our educational system. But, if we can point out to them that they do a fantastic job of summarizing or comprehending a Bat-man book, maybe they’ll feel more confident about doing the same with other “higher” quality literature selections.

Now, I’m not about to populate Parkside’s library with popular culture literature (is that an oxymoron?!?) to the exclusion of more quality material, but I do make an effort to purchase some popular culture titles each year. Scooby-Doo! is very popular with our Grade 1 students too. You should have seen them on their first visit to the library in September…they took every Scooby-Doo book I had in the Easy Reader section. I have about a dozen now and they were all signed out that day. When I see how popular such books are with all students, I know it can’t be wrong. I’m giving them a little of what they want and providing lots of quality literature and non-fiction too. I guess it’s all about balance. And yet, I still don’t have any Pokemon or other similar material but I’m keeping it in mind.

I think we need to keep an open mind about popular culture literature and our library collections. Our collections shouldn’t be static right? I mean, sure, we’re going to have our classic-type books and higher quality titles that will probably stay in our collections for years, but maybe we need to view a percentage of our collection as disposable. Can I use that word? We might have it for a while and then when it is out of favour, we get rid of it and replace it with the latest craze. Some popular culture titles will stay around for a long time though and I guess those are the ones I’ve been trying to focus on, like Scooby-Doo, Star Wars, Bat-man, and Spiderman. I also have some Ninja Turtle books…I like the Turtles!

Liz said...

I have always had a closely controlled stash of pop culture in my collection, but would always defend it by saying the books were donations. I'm glad I can now come out and finally admit that I buy it. My feeling is that if it is what kids want to read, we should have it available.It is what many of them ask to read, I'm OK with them wanting something light for their recreational reading. The ragged tattered copies attest to their popularity.

Many of our articles want us to believe that the learners of the 21st century are more unique and complicated than previous generations of learners. Yes, in many ways they are, but in regards to pop culture these kids are no more curious, involved or connected to their icons than any other era. These kids have no other choice, they are more bombarded with merchandising. As a result the fans are much younger than they used to be and their loyalty exhausts quicker than other generations. To ignore this genre of literature is a disservice to our students.

Yesterday was our school shopping day at Indigo. One of our literacy plans as part of the proposal was for students to select books for their classrooms and the library. We bussed 235 students and most of the staff to the store in groups of sixty students. I didn't know what to expect and was prepared for a deluge of High School Musical books. There were some students who went with pop culture titles, but many wanted to pick out non-fiction and serial fiction. Watching the excitement on their faces was priceless, and just as obvious with grade six as grade one. Some students said it was the first time they were ever there.(Library books were preselected by me, students will select a book from my collection and donate it to the library.)

Demand for Pop culture seems to go in waves. Several years ago I couldn't keep a Mary Kate and Ashley and Hannah Montana on the shelf, now students aren't interested in them. The boys seem to commit to more character loyalty, they have always wanted Scooby Doo, Superman and Batman. The graphic novels, particularly Bones books, are a big hit. I have several graphic novels on order with more feminine story lines, I wonder if the girls will be as interested.

Thanks for this article, it was thought provoking.

Crystal said...

I thought this article to be quite thought provoking. As a relatively new librarian I had no idea that having popular culture books on the shelf was such a big thing. Some may think this ignorant but, I have the mindset that if our students will read it, I'll purchase it for the school. But the more I think of it, I am realizing that the pop culture books that I am buying are a little different than Scooby Doo and Pokemon.

I honestly had to sit and think of some of the titles I have within the walls of the library that may be considered pop culture by some. Lately the students have been requesting the auto/biographies of popular musicians. Scar Tissue by Anthony Kiedis and The Heroin Diaries by Nikki Sixx (Montley Crue) are two of their favorites. These two books alone have brought in more unsuspecting visitors to the library that I would have ever imagined. I truly believe that we as librarians have to make the library accessible to everyone and if that means having books of this nature in the library than I definitely support it.

Rosemary said...

Hi Liz,

Closet pop culture purchaser no more, eh?!? That's great.

I agree, if it's what the kids want to read then get it. As I said to Karen, I certainly wouldn't devote my whole budget to pop culture books but there's no harm in spending a portion on it.

Glad you mentioned graphic novels. They're so popular right now, mostly with the boys at my school. My collection is growing slowly but I can't keep them on the shelf.

Congratulations on being awarded that big prize from Indigo. That's fantastic! And what a great idea to take the school to the store to pick out books. I wonder how many of those who had never been in the store (isn't that sad?!) will go back one day soon?

Rosemary said...

Hi Crystal,

I agree with you about giving the students what they want (within reason of course!) and I'm glad you mentioned pop culture biographies because they're really important too. I have kids who ask for them, but I'm always hesitant to spend money on them because they often do go out of favour so quickly -- a show gets cancelled and the kids forget about the celebrity. I don't mind buying novels quite so much because at least it's still a story the kids can get into. But a biography is a story too and I do have a number of kids who will take bios off the shelf and happily read then even though they're years old.

Thank you for bringing up biographies. I'll definitely invest in more over the next couple of weeks as I put some orders together.

Anonymous said...

In my role as newly initiated teacher-librarian, I find I am constantly learning about what kids want to find in the library. Recently a collection of Pokemon books were donated and I can't wait to get them on the shelves as a few students ask for them virtually every day. I have recently observed some students who have never shown an interest in reading anything in our library before, simply devouring Jeff Smith's Boneville Books.
Angela and I keep a list of titles recommended by students and as soon as we are out of the red, those are the titles I would love to purchase first. I often think of Karla and her Animoto communicating the idea that a school library must truly be OUR SCHOOL LIBRARY. What better way to send that message than with the books we have on OUR shelves?
I really enjoyed the ideas of reader's advisory and using pop culture fiction to teach critical literacy.
Many years ago, many teachers frowned upon R.L. Stine and his Goosebumps series. While not a huge fan myself, I can't deny the phenomenal reading focus of the fans in my class when they hold his books in their hands. If Stine can get kids hooked on reading, I say more power to him!
Another section I would love to develop is the comics. We have more in French than in English as I find they are a great hook to get our Immersion students reading French without realizing they are reading! The pictures can support their comprehension and they can smile to boot! Our English comic section is extremely limited. I read somewhere that Archie comics had a higher ratio of challenging vocabulary to frequently used words which would provide more support for our inclusion of this resource in our collections.
I am finding that the time I have available to read children's books is far too limited right now due to other demands. Wouldn't it be wonderful to have a teacher-librarian book club when this Masters program is complete? We could alternate adult and children's books. In this way we would be 'forced' to stay abreast of the latest and greatest!

Rosemary said...

Hi Leslie,

Glad you mentioned Goosebumps. I've always felt Goosebumps is rather taboo. I haven't seen those books in too many libraries. Was it a Dept. decision or just school by school decision to not include them in library collections? Or, is this my imagination? I know we don't have any at my school though I do have kids who ask for them. I believe the aversion to them had gone so far as to remove them from the Book Fair when it arrived. I never have, since I figure if kids want them, this is one of the ways I can get them to them. I really must ask if there's a Goosebumps "policy".

As for a book club, I think it would be great to get some dialogue going about children's books. I can't possibly read everything that I buy for the library and because of this I sometimes miss out on recommending a book to teachers who are looking for one just like it. As well, when I'm pressed for time at ordering time (almost always)I rely heavily on publishers/distributors that I've turned to in the past. If I had some ideas from fellow T-Ls who are also ordering or could make suggestions, it would be a huge help.