Friday, April 25, 2008

TLA 2008 Conference Notes, Day One: Session on school librarians and professional reading

Session title: Be PRO-active: Encourage Professional Reading.
Presenters: Mary Ann Bell and Holly Weimar, of Sam Houston State University.

(This session was an example of bad advertising. When it comes to conferences, this is a pet peeve of mine: sessions that on paper look pretty good, and then you discover they are not quite what they say on the program description. For reference purposes, here is the description as listed in the program).

Program description: "Overwhelmed by professional literature? Explore management solutions for busy faculty and staff with limited time. Inspire professional reading by providing resources and technological tools to organize materials and encourage critical and creative thinking."

(My first clue should have been that it was sponsored by the Texas Association of School Librarians. Now, that clue would have told me that it was not geared to those of us in academia. Having said that, I have been known to go to sessions for school librarians since I was a school teacher in a previous life, plus being an education subject specialist, it helps me to keep up. However, the program description made it sound like a more general session about professional reading. Somewhat far from that. In essence, this was for school librarians to learn how to get their faculty the professional reading they need. Nice, but not exactly academic level. However, I did find a silver lining: I learned some things that I can pass on to our education faculty and their students getting ready to go into classrooms. I think I will modify my notes a bit and post them over in our library blog with an "education" tag.)


Two websites, which belong to the presenters: and

(By the way, a lot of this presentation boiled down to the presenters simply showing their wikis. If I wanted that, I would ask for the link and look at it myself. Note to any potential presenters out there: don't do that. Actually present and discuss. I can look at the website later.)

  • Issue: having time to read. This presentation is based on a study of school teachers and reading. ALA used to have a statement on professional reading collections. This is now gone (would be nice if I could have seen that ALA statement. Makes me wonder why they got rid of it since I would think encouraging professional reading would be in the interests of ALA. Then again, ALA is the American Library Association, not librarian association. Anyhow, tried to do a quick search for examples of places with a professional reading collection, and they are pretty slim. Jackson State Community College offers one as a service to faculty. The South Dakota State Library also offers it. See the note here, then find their bibliography, which is a Word doc. And apparently, the Texas State Library offers a library science collection. I need to look into that later. At one point, in my previous job, I had mentioned having some kind of professional reading collection. Idea did not get too far off the ground. And given the budget where I am at now, suggesting it here is probably not advisable.)
  • If we are not reading, we can't be an example to others who are also expected to read (nice idea). Administrators should be seen reading professionally too. If they share it, it is found that staff will do the same. (Careful on this. Forwarding articles because they look good does not equal actually reading them and thinking about them.)
  • However, in schools, lacking other reading is discussed. If not professional reading, it is not seen as OK (I think the point here is about teachers actually reading other things and seen doing it once in a while).
  • Professional reading can lead to other activities. For teachers, it can lead to things like professional development.
On locating the right professional materials (this is addressed to school librarians, but I think with a little modification, we in academia can learn from it t00):
  • Talk to teachers to find needs.
  • Promote things like WorldCat and TexShare.
  • Note: observation that teachers often went to bookstores on Friday or Saturday evenings. This was the only time they had available (heck, when I was a school teacher, I often did not even have those times available. However, the point of the presenter was to observe the school teachers went to the bookstore at those free times considering their public libraries were usually closed at that time).
  • School librarian needs to give some guidance. Maybe start by providing some abstracts to the teachers.
  • School librarians: while providing services, do collect data as well.
  • Remember your online resources.


Alice said...

We're actually working on getting some fresh WorldCat promotional items available this summer. We've been talking about doing a possible tie-in with summer reading programs, where kids could make lists and write reviews of the materials they read. Does that sound like it would be a fun and easy way to promote use of WorldCat?

Angel, librarian and educator said...

It does sound interesting. You shall have to come back and let us know how it works out. I personally do like that simpler interface WorldCat has (the free one on the web, not FirstSearch), which I use even at work when dealing with patrons.

Best, and keep on blogging.