Tuesday, January 31, 2012

All Dressed Up With Somewhere To Go!

Last Friday I attended a Library conference on Young Adult Literature thanks to a generous grant from PAWS, our wonderful parent organization.

I spent an entire day discussing books, participating in book activities and buying new books for the Media Center. The conference centered on new 2012 titles and 2011 paperback releases. I was able to learn more about some of the books currently in our collection that I haven't read yet and make a wish list (one of my favorite tasks) for our Spring order.

Most adults agree that they'd never want to go back in time to their high school years, but as a reader I sure wish I was a teen again. The Young Adult market is exploding right now and the titles, themes and subjects are vast and varied. Paranormal (like the Twilight series) and Dystopian (like The Hunger Games) are still the big trends in the YA market, but I was pleased to see many books about families, relationships and non-apocalyptic events (not that I don't love a good zombie apocalypse novel).

Here's a sneak peek at some titles I'll be purchasing for our students-

Doggirl- by Robin Brande (who hails from Tucson)- Riley is a 9th grader who prefers her dogs over people until she meets a young man involved with the drama department. It's like Glee meets Animal Planet.

Trapped- by Michael Northrope- A group of teens get trapped on their high school campus in a blizzard. High stakes survival at its best!

Running Dream- by Wendelin Van Draanen- Star runner Jessica is in an accident that leaves her body forever altered when her leg is amputated. This is the story of how her friends from the track team help her to accept and enjoy her new life.

Since our big Fall book order arrived three weeks ago, books have been flying off our shelves. Please don't let anyone try and convince you that libraries aren't relevant to today's teens. Our Horizon students have figured out that fresh, new fiction is on campus and they often will check here before heading to Barnes and Noble or the public library. As our collection continues to grow (thanks to your support) I'm able to say "yes we have that" more often than ever before.

Happy Reading!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Digital vs. Real Books- Can't We All Just Get Along?

I read an article today about a library system in Illinois that is considering moving to a 95/5 ratio of digital-to-print materials. This isn't something that will happen overnight, but if funding decisions are made with that goal in mind, patrons will be affected.

I firmly believe that any library that wants to stay relevant must participate in providing digital materials to its patrons. Unfortunately, digital lending is complicated. Publishers are limiting content available for digital lending (they haven't quite figured out how to turn a profit on e-books) and libraries are not institutions able to make quick changes in policy or spending habits.

There are two models of e-lending now. In most public library systems, patrons use their own device and download materials to it from the library. These downloads will expire within the lending period. In public schools (K-12, I don't have a context for what universities are doing) the schools are lending devices with the e-books preloaded on them. (Please see Ms. Orest's blog post about our iPads here at Horizon for more details.)

As I've mentioned before, I still don't own an e-reader device or tablet. At this point I'm waiting to see if Apple chooses to make a smaller iPad with a lower price point before I make a purchase. And even once I own a device, I imagine that I'll primarily use it for travel. I still enjoy holding a book in my hand.

The problem I'm having of late isn't with the rise of e-books and the devices they're read on, it's with advertising them as a replacement for hard copy. I refuse to believe that the world would be a better place with only digital materials. But that doesn't mean a library shouldn't carefully consider how it will grow a useful digital collection.

This year in the Media Center we've been primarily focused on the Fiction Collection. We'll begin work on updating our Non-Fiction collection soon and you can bet we'll consider digital materials in our plans. Because the world of science and research is ever evolving and changing, having digital materials in certain subject areas makes sense.

As our economy continues to struggle, our funding will be limited. Consumers are limited as well, which effects the sale of all devices. If the goal of a library is to provide access to information to its patrons, then it's also our responsibility to maintain a meaningful collection in all formats.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Truth About Our Fiction Collection

There are people who love to read and there are people who love books as much as they love to read. I am one of those people who loves being in the physical presence of books. I like see to see them, touch them and take comfort in knowing that they're there. The rise of e-books hasn't changed that for me. I'm not a hater of e-books, but I don't use them. That's right, this 21st. Century Media Tech doesn't own a tablet or e-reader device, but I do have a Kindle app on my iPhone.

One of the first things I did when I arrived in the Horizon Media Center was assess the fiction collection. And while there were lots of books, I wasn't thrilled with what I saw. Most of the collection consisted of dated materials and titles seemingly more appropriate for an adult collection (by that I mean 1980's spy thrillers, murder mysteries and historical tomes over 1,200 pages long). The classics, science fiction and fantasy were well represented however.

Have you heard of the 80/20 principal? If you applied it to kitchen gadgets it would go like this, you use 20% of your gadgets 80% of the time. In our fiction collection, about 20% felt relevant to our student patrons while the other 80% took up space and made it difficult for students to find the newer YA books. So I spent the first semester going through the fiction collection, book-by-book. I weeded out the old to make room for the new and reorganized the geography of the books to make it easier for students to find the stories they're most interested in. Though we have less on our shelves, I can't help but feel like the Media Center has more to offer our student patrons than before.

Here's a peek at some of the Extreme Makeover improvements-

1. Separate shelves for the Classics and Contemporary Fiction
       The Classics are now housed right across from the Biography section. This is where you'll find Steinbeck, Hemingway and my personal favorite, Faulkner. The Contemporary collection houses Fantasy, Science Fiction and all our current YA titles.

2. Manga and Graphic Novels are in the house!
      We've expanded our Manga collection to include more titles and added a few Graphic Novel titles (including some Shakespeare) as well. All of these books are on their own shelves at the end of the Contemporary Fiction section, right after Z. Following the good advice of the Head of Cataloging in the Scottsdale Public Library system, I created new call numbers for this section. Students no longer need to search through Non-Fiction to find these popular titles.

3. Labels-We're Name Dropping!
     Looking for a specific genre? Check the spine of the book. All our genre books are now labeled  accordingly- Science Fiction, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Sports and New.

4. But Wait- There's More!
     Between our successful book drive and our Fall Follett order (due to arrive any day now) we'll have about 200 new titles on the shelves (90% fiction, 10% Non-Fiction). The wishlist for our Spring order has been started and we're always looking for recommendations.

For a book lover and avid reader like me, 2012 is starting off in the best way possible. The most important thing I do here in the Media Center is put a book in a student's hand. The idea behind all the changes to the fiction collection was to help students be better able to find the books they want themselves and to discover things they hadn't noticed before.

E-books are great, but there's no substitute for walking through the stacks and seeing what catches your eye. Please stop by and take a look, we'd love to hear your feedback on the changes.