Random Thoughts: Change, Primary Sources & Other Stuff

Posts Tagged ‘Media Centers

catalogA delightful display greets visitors arriving at the home of a Minnesota Media Services and
Instructional Technology Program Director. Click the photo to view these reminders of school library media center things past in more detail! How many of these artifacts do you remember?  How many were part of your career? Are some things puzzling?

Enjoy. . . reminisce. . .  think about how much school media centers and technology have changed since 1980.   Change is sometimes hard to see when we are part of it!  Celebrate!

Jane Prestebak, the owner of this collection, would like to know if anyone  has a book that held the cards that one checked magazines in with?  “What’s it called?”  She hopes someone “can part with one of those magazine thingys.”

A picture really is worth a thousand words!



CD Rom Encyclopedia

I loved being an early adapter and introducing technology to students when technology first became available for school media centers. We piloted a circulation system on an Apple II, the text only CD-ROM  version of World Book on CD-Rom, and Gopher Internet with its text driven commands.  We explored software, collaborative initiatives and multimedia.  We  tried out a few non-computer innovations such as video disks and created a video production studio with a mix of scavenged old and new technology.  Cutting edge technology was not without it stress and there were a few failures But, through trials, errors, and frustrations we learned what works, what doesn’t work and what’s best for real learning.  We expanded possibilities for students and the media program. We were part of change and it created change.     The Verge post of photos and animated GIFs of old-school technology (including a few audio visual items) are worth a few seconds of reminiscing. Be thankful for wireless, and no longer hooking up zip drives or pry jammed floppy disks out of drives.
Enjoy  Reboot: these stunning still-life photos will take you back to the future

Photo: The CD-ROM still worked after a  dunking in a boys’ bathroom toilet!  Remember making signs with Print Shop?

(Originally published as a guest post on  A Media Specialists Guide to the Internet,  Julie Greller’s Award Winning Blog!)

Addressing a statewide group of media specialists, my former principal said, I have two simple wishes for my school–that when the students wake up in the morning they want to go to school, and when the staff wakes up in the morning they want to go to school.  He also talked about the importance of technology, staff development, and media specialists partnering in the school and beyond. Scott Hannon wanted the media center to be a place where kids wanted to be, where things were happening; joked that something was wrong if it was too quiet. I was fortunate to work with him; I miss middle school as I hear about exciting possibilities for today’s media specialists and for our students.

And, something is on my mind. Why are so many people still entering the field because they love books? One administrator told me she would not hire that person. I love books, too. That is not enough for today’s media specialist. Why do I read comments such as, I didn’t know technology and advocacy were part of my job. Do you mean I have to learn how to use all of this technology?

A soon-to-be media specialist now teaching third grade knew the teachers she worked with did not know how to access electronic books for their iPads. She knew the current media specialist would not help. She saw this as an opportunity to provide staff-development sessions; she recognized that staff development is always an important role.

Why, moving towards our third decade of Internet access in the schools are so many media centers lacking enough technology for even one class to do 21st century research? Why are there concerns about giving up shelving for more technology? Why are so many educators, including media specialists, not aware of the wealth of free database resources provided to their schools by their states? Why are still discussions about when to close for inventory? Technology has long made that unnecessary. A university professor said it well. I’ve visited many media centers; the thing teachers dislike the most is when the media center is closed at the end of the year for inventory.

The other day I caught a bit of a public radio discussion about accessing information. A panelist shared a discussion between two children. A boy said, I go to our school library and they only let me check one book out. His friend replied Why don’t you just steal? Why do people who want students to read put up barriers? It saddened me to hear this public dialog from non-educators. Perhaps the public airing will do some good. It saddens me that after many years of profound change in our careers I still hear about media centers that are unwelcoming and underutilized. It’s a wonderful opportunity for a new media specialist to make change.

When I discussed plans with Scott he often said, Do what’s best for kids. Along those lines, a few lost books are the cost of doing business. Teach responsibility, but fight problems that are worth fighting.

A few other nuggets of wisdom from administrators and other educators have stuck with me for years:
1. If people see you doing clerical tasks that’s what they will think your job is. (Yes, some of it needs to be done; some does not.)
2. It’s all about relationships.
3. We want a media specialist to help us with technology. We can take care of the literature.
4. Just do it; that’s why we hired you.
5. You can have any kind media program you — or you and principal — want to have!

Now nearing retirement as the district Superintendent, Dr. Hannon said,  It’s just a pleasure coming to work every day . . . and trying to do good things for all of the students in the district. **

I hope that all media specialists love going to work every day, are good things, and making your media center a place where kids – and teachers — want to be.

November/December Internet @Schools column, THE NEW MEDIA CENTER: Questions, Musings, and Other Things On My Mind  (Full Text)

Dr. Scott Hannon, Minnesota Educational Media Organization Conference, October 1996
Winona Daily News, Winona Area Public Schools begins search for new leader

Frustrated by endless email threads that result from even the simplistic scheduling process?  Finding a meeting time for as few as three people can be more work than it should be. It gets worse if phone tag is part of the problem.  As several of us often do, send a Doodle!

Doodle’s Scheduling option makes setting a meeting time as easy as 1-2-3.

  1. Log in to your free account
  2. Enter a list of options,
  3. Send a password free email to colleagues or friends

Recipients need only select the link and check the times the work.   You, the originator of the invitation, can view results in a convenient visual format and announce the meeting date.   If 5 of 6 people are available at 10:00 Tuesday that’s when you meet!

Need to schedule a group of volunteers?  Enter the time slots and job descriptions; send the link to the group, asking them to indicate their choice and add an optional comment.

Doodle is efficient for planning large group or classroom activities.  Teachers who give students a choice of project options can ask students to check their choice from a list.  The choices can be limited to one or several participants.

Doodle Poll is free and practical.  Make a Choice and MeetMe Requests are other options.  The premium version includes additional options such as email reminders.
Check it out at Doodle.Com to see what else you can do.
You really will wonder how you got along without Doodle!!

The arrival of enhanced e-Books and iTextbooks is exciting; both add a new dimension to the continuing discussions about the future of the book.  Media specialists are purchasing e-readers, e-books; media centers and classrooms are providing iPads and other tablets for students. This week I visited with a former teacher who has been retired for several years.  She is an avid reader and book lover.  Her iPad filled with books, videos and photos is her constant companion.  She “blames” me for dragging her into the technology age in the 1990’s.  The reading/technology projects we developed for her middle school students are among my favorites.  I’d love to see enhanced e-books of the Gary Paulsen novels her students couldn’t get enough of. Last night I explored a biology textbook on our iPad;  It makes makes total sense to enhance textbook learning with built-in audio and video.

Media specialists are asking what to purchase; some are getting requests or suggestions to replace all books with digital content.  It’s a more daunting mind-shift than the “why do we need books when we have the Internet?” questions of a few years ago.

These discussions always bring to mind From Scribes to Printers, to You/Me,  a seminar I attended three year’s ago. The English professor’s entertaining, scholarly, and thought-provoking history of the book stuck with me. He chronicled the evolution of the book and reactions to its changing formats throughout the centuries. Hstorically, he placed books publishing in three eras.

The medium: Stone, clay, parchment, paper, disk
The container: Book, html, and scroll
The production/dissemination method

He included visuals and a fun video, “The Medieval Helpdesk with Subtitles,” in the session.  Take a look if you haven’t seen it. Enjoy watching the scribes who are both amazed and afraid when they examine a book, the printed word in a new format. They had to turn pages! I left the seminar full of thoughts, excited and comforted.  Books will remain, they just will they will be different.

Learn more!
Medieval  Help Desk with Subtitles

The New Media Specialist.  Internet@ Schools, Jan/Feb 2012
   or  http://wp.me/P9FeO-9z
Teaching Digital Media Literacy in the Content Areas Online class
Learning Together: The Evolution of a 1:1 iPad Program Internet@ Schools, Jan/Feb 2012

An email signature tells a familiar story:

________, Librarian
Lincoln/Century/John Marshall/Golden Hill

The signature represents media specialists serving multiple buildings or working at new grade levels as media positions are reduced. Cuts abound despite an infusion of technology, restructured media programs,and research connecting media specialists to improved student achievement. Verbal and written support about the value of a library or media specialist has not translated  into monetary support at a time of universal funding problems.  . .More      The decline  in positions is disturbing and disheartening.

The experiences shared by several media specialists who responded to my request for their stories are shared in a journal article, What Happens When Media Positions Are Cut? is available as a full text article via Ebsco Databases.

Select the Link for a PDF version.   What Happens when Media Positions are Cut?   (Library Media Connection, May/June, 2011, Vol. 29 Issue 6, p16-18 3p) Reproduced with permission of ABC-CLIO, LLC.

Updated October 2011

As the school year begin a media specialist posted a request for help on LM_Net.*

I know [we] used to be able to set up free accounts to databases such as EBSCO and must admit, I just never seemed to get around to taking care of this  . . . Are any databases still available at no charge to school libraries ? And if so, which ones?

A new media specialist was thrilled by the resources available, but, the topic that has been the most taking my brain has been developing and organizing how to advocate the materials and tools.  I’ve wanted to do it, but I don’t have any ideas about how to do it. Another media specialist also sought help. Our databases are on school websites, we have brochures and instruct students doing research projects, but the school tech support people and I know we need to do more.  

Many years ago, when I taught an English class along with my media job I spotted a video I could have used to teach concepts in the novel the class had just read. My oversight is a reminder of how easy it is for busy educators (and media specialists) to forget what’s there for us. Now with far more choices, it’s even easier to forget or ignore what is available.

Even when we know what ‘s available  it can be challenging to get students and teachers to use them. Database underutilization is a common discussion topic among media specialists.  There are easy solutions.

Making the horse drink

The most effective way to reach students is direct instruction with students at the time of need.  My memorable experience with younger students was a teachable moment inspired by a You Tube April Fool’s video. Penguins can Fly was the perfect introduction to research for a rain forest project.    The students “got it” in seconds; they knew why it’s a good idea to begin research with World Book Student or Kids.  Enjoy the flying penguins! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pG5dzybHgTo

Other solutions:

  • Reaching out to teachers through collaboration and staff development
  • Sharing ideas with colleagues
  • Less is more — just promote what is really needed and will be used
  • Promote with tangibles — flyers, book marks, newsletters, stickers

More ideas and details are described in Subscription Databases in the Age of the Internet: A Problem with an  Easy Solution,  Internet@Schools, September/October 2011,  The NEW Media Center column.   Partial column  now available online.   Full text is available through EBSCO.

Previous post on flying penguins!

*LM_NET, August 20, 2011

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