Sometimes Overlooked Reference Resources!!

April 17, 2012 (2 Comments)

Posted by: ASLC

Collections are ideally about balance. Whether print or electronic, one strives to provide access to reference resources across the Dewey span. Typically for the core LA/SS/SC/Math subject areas this seems easier to identify, select and purchase. Beyond that range it’s a little more difficult to find digital reference resources to complete the picture. This week I’d like to highlight 3 digital reference resources that support often overlooked subject areas: Health/Guidance; Vocab/Multi-language learning; and Art.

Teen Health & Wellness (Rosen Publishing)

Too often our guidance counsellors, physical education and health teachers avoid school libraries as resource points when working with their students. Typically we have little to offer them in terms of current online information that can’t be found on the internet. Teen Health & Wellness is a remarkably sound and useful digital reference resource for junior/senior high school students, their teachers, parents, and admin on topics related to teen health and well-being. Its content can be aligned to provincial curriculum standards, and provides up to the minute coverage of health and medical news, social issues such as bullying/cyberbullying, nutrition, mental health, guidance & career counselling. It is very ‘teen friendly’ providing first-person narratives of real teen experiences, interactive polls & quizzes and is optimized for smart phone usage.  Just think of the ways you could provide access to this unique group of staff and students in your school if you decided to spend some of your budget dollars on this kind of resource!

Visual Thesaurus (THINKMAP)

A print thesaurus is never handy when you need one! How about one that works on tablets and smart phones? And is especially amazing viewed and interacted with via an electronic white board? And what if you could switch to multiple languages with just a click? Visual Thesaurus is all that and more. The 2012 winner of the World Technology award for education, this resource spans the gamut from academic writing to elementary school vocabulary learning this digital reference tool can really perform!  Using a cluster diagram format to expand and deepen understanding of words this resource is unique for all grade levels.

Art Museum Image Gallery (Wilson/EBSCO)

This is another resource for K-12 not only for Art but supporting many other subject areas. The 155,000 images date from 3000 BCE to the 20th century and are easily located for integration into lesson plans, class discussion, examples of artistic style/technique, etc. The best part is that these images are cleared for educational use and come with bibliographic records.

All of these resources offer reasonably priced subscriptions and are well worth the dollars invested. Make sure to take advantage of the free trials offered.  I think you’ll be impressed!

Do you have a resource to share? or Are you lookingfor a resource idea? Please join us this week in a conversation about reference resources that others may be overlooking.

by Diane GallowaySolowan

From Books to Movies to Parties in the Learning Commons

April 11, 2012 (1 Comments)

Posted by: ASLC

In our busy and digitally connected society, it is often hard to know how to get students involved in reading books. One boon to librarians everywhere is when they make a hugely popular book into a movie. How can we take advantage of the movie hype to get students engaged and involved in reading? Here are takes from two teacher librarians:


I had a Hunger Games "Book to Movie" launch party on March 22nd (the day before the official release of the movie) in the library from noon till 1:00! All gr.5-8 students were invited if they had read the book. I started advertising about 2 weeks ago to get kids reading the book that hadn't picked it up yet. We had over 50 kids in the library!

I handed out tickets to come and they became door prize entries at the party! I divided the students into the 12 districts and they had to draw their district out of a hat as they entered the library and then sat at their assigned district's table. I had a Jeopardy type game full of Hunger Games trivia questions that the teams ALL had a chance to answer on their own district's answer sheet. Afterwards, while my volunteers corrected the answers the students had cake (May the odds ever be in your favor) on the cake and I had a draw for Hunger Games paraphernalia I had bought along with a mockingjay pin and one free movie pass!

It was so much fun and the kids loved it (so did I). I would TOTALLY do this again! Without running a crazy club or doing an extensive novel study, these students loved reading the book, sharing their trivia about it and just having fun knowing they had all loved it and were looking forward to the movie's release! Has anyone else tried something like this before?

Heather Eby is a teacher-librarian in a K-8 school in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Tu Loan:

Great fun Heather! I loved the dividing kids up to 12 districts. I had a "Half Moon, Full Moon, New Moon" party to celebrate the opening of New Moon a couple of years ago. I decorated the room in red and black, had red and black snacks (apples, black licorice), candied fangs, and roses laid out on the tables that were papered black and red. I had kids donate a can of food for a raffle ticket for two New Moon posters I was giving away. We had a Team Edward vs. Team Jacob debate, trivia, and then a showing of Twilight. The kids were in the library until 9ish on a Friday night! Many of them headed to the theatre to catch the movie. It was loads of fun even though I was(am) not a Twilight fan. I would call it "getting kids excited about reading!"

Tu Loan Trieu is a teacher- librarian in Coquitlam, B. C.

Please join us this week as discuss and share our ideas on promoting reading through movies.  So what have YOU done with books that are movies in your library?  or What have you thought might be fun to try with movies and books in your library?

Going Digital with Overdrive in the School Library

April 01, 2012 (4 Comments)

Posted by: ASLC

In my past few posts I have been talking about Web 2.0 tools in the library, but this week I would like to address another digital tool and talk about using eBooks in the library. 

We are currently trying Overdrive in a cohort with four other high schools. Overdrive is a digital distributor of eBooks, audiobooks, and other digital content; a subscription service that allows libraries to lend digital copies of books. How does it work? Most of our students have their own mobile devices and have downloaded the Overdrive App. They add Edmonton Public Schools to the App and can then download an eBook from the library collection that we have purchased directly to their device. For students who do not have their own device, we have 12 Kobos that students can check out to use with Overdrive. However, I must point out that never have all 12 Kobos been checked out. Students are more interested in reading on their own devices. Currently Kindles are not supported in Canada on Overdrive, although the rep has assured me that this is just a matter of time.

The service has been very well received by our students who are avid readers. Students can check out one book at a time and can have the book for up to 14 days. If a student finishes the book, they return it and check out another book. We have several books that we purchased more than one copy of to help meet reading demands. Just like in print, when a book is checked out it is not available to other students until it is returned or the 14 days has expired. Students are also able to put a book on hold and they receive an email letting them know the book is in and will be held for four days. We also ordered a few audio books on Overdrive, like the Hunger Games. I find the audio books very expensive---$80.00 for one book makes me cringe.

As a teacher librarian, I love the service. No waiting for processing, no worrying about students returning books; it is automatic with Overdrive. Students like it because they can check out a book anytime, anywhere. No more waiting for the library to open for the next in a series! I am looking forward to seeing what circulation looks like in the summer when the school itself is closed but our library books can still be accessed.

Some of my concerns with the service are, of course the cost. There is an annual fee of $2000.00 per school for hosting. Out of that $2000.00, $1000.00 is used for book purchases. If we choose to stop the service, then we lose access to the books that we have purchased. As well, to get records to add the books to our catalogue is extra and if we want to have a separate collection available per school---for instance, literature circle novels, then we also have to pay extra. So in essence, as a cohort of 4 schools, we have paid $10 000.00 and received $5 000.00 dollars in books. Now, it is also important to note that currently, Overdrive is the only service of its kind available to libraries in Canada, so until a competitor comes into the field, the price for hosting Overdrive won't drop. My other concern is the publishers and their uncertainty or lack of support for the service. Many publishers like Penguin have not made their authors’ work available to libraries with Overdrive. As well, some publishers, like Harcourt, have put a limit on how many times a book can be checked out before it disappears from the collections. After 26 checkouts, the school has the choice of repurchasing the book.

I read an interesting post Should Libraries Get Out of the eBook Business from Bobbi Newman, who blogs at Librarian by Day, questioning whether libraries should step back and wait for better options. The comments and links are worth reading.

However, even with my concerns, I will keep Overdrive as long as I have the money. The demand is there and students are devouring the books that are available to them. We can't wait for publishers to "duke it out" if we want to meet the demands of our students.

Please feel free to take a peek at our collection by clicking on the image below. Although you won’t be able to check out books you can check out our collection.

I invite you to join the conversation this week on eBooks, eReaders and services like Overdrive. Is Newman right when she urges us to wait for the publishers to make decision on eBooks? What obligation do we have to our patrons? Will demand force the publishers to hasten a decision on eBooks? 

by Kelly Reierson



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