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After a Room for Debate discussion last week, “Do School Libraries Need Books?” the comments from readers included some first-hand views from students. This follow-up column includes excerpts of their observations on how studying has changed, how they use libraries (if at all) and how to use the space differently.
Here's one, from Ari, "Get Me Away From the Screen":
I am an 18 year-old student and I definitely spend large amounts of time on my computer. I don’t watch a ton of TV, but I’ll freely plead guilty to charges of texting, IMing, facebooking and reading the newspaper online (hello, NYTimes.com!). However, at the end of the day, I always pick up my flashlight and book and read for a few minutes before falling asleep. Reading remains one of the few activities that gives me a real break from being in front of a screen, be it computer or TV or iPod or cell phone or camera or … the list goes on. If my best source of novels or textbooks or required reading was routed through an electronic device, my entire life would literally be spent in front of a screen! Is that really what we as a nation want to have happen?
Student commentary from the New York Times.
NYTimes VAIL, Ariz. — Students endure hundreds of hours on yellow buses each year getting to and from school in this desert exurb of Tucson, and stir-crazy teenagers break the monotony by teasing, texting, flirting, shouting, climbing (over seats) and sometimes punching (seats or seatmates).
On buses equipped with Wi-Fi in Vail, Ariz., officials say more homework is getting done, and there's less rowdy behavior. Armando Lagunas finds the bus a place for quiet pursuits, even when he isn't online.
But on this chilly morning, as bus No. 92 rolls down a mountain highway just before dawn, high school students are quiet, typing on laptops. Morning routines have been like this since the fall, when school officials mounted a mobile Internet router to bus No. 92’s sheet-metal frame, enabling students to surf the Web. The students call it the Internet Bus, and what began as a high-tech experiment has had an old-fashioned — and unexpected — result. Wi-Fi access has transformed what was often a boisterous bus ride into a rolling study hall, and behavioral problems have virtually disappeared.
Up Next: Wi-fi access from the bookmobile?
What do inner-city teens want and need in a public library? Boston.com's Lawrence Harmon talks about how teens are using the new Mattapan Branch Library and how he thinks they will remember it when they look back at their childhood.
Not a single teen at the Mattapan library so much as touched a book on the shelves during a recent hour-long visit. Granted it’s the digital age, and several kids were using the computers constructively for homework projects. But there is still something off here: a city builds a $16 million library, designs it in such a brilliant way that kids come streaming through the door, yet can’t staff it adequately to introduce the young people to the full range of library materials.
Less is known in the world of library science about how best to serve teenagers than adults or young children. The teens in Mattapan appeared happy just to spend unstructured time with friends in the comfortable, well-lit space. But how does that experience differ from a clubhouse or community center? Teen librarians make the difference, provided they have adequate time to do their jobs.
The library, a $16.7 million modern building with an airy mixture of wood, glass, and attention-grabbing color, opened last year, despite a budget crisis that has imperiled many city projects, programs, and services.
Interesting discussion in The Scotsman about how today's children are no longer reading classic novels such as Wind in the Willows, Moby Dick and Oliver Twist. The bestseller lists are dominated by Harry Potter, The Twilight Series and other recent titles.
"Sometimes it can be a little daunting to be given a 600-page classic and told it is a classic if you are a young kid, so maybe it's about how you present books and talk about them."
To get hung up on whether children are reading "the classics", though, is to miss the point, says Ali Bowden, director of Edinburgh's Unesco City of Literature Trust .
"I think the most important thing is that kids read, rather than being overly prescriptive on what they read. "I think the classic novels are still being taught in schools and I suspect most kids are being given contemporary books rather than classics at home. A lot of kids are reading a whole range of books, including classics.
"Nurturing a passion for reading is really important, rather than giving kids a really strict book list."
“Bitch.” “Pimp.” “Candy Licker.” “Snitch.” A few of the more lurid titles offered up by Mission High School students when asked what they were reading outside of class. The librarian explained that such books gain popularity through word-of-mouth. While some pegged as street lit or ghetto fiction are read mostly by African-American females, darker subject matters resonate across ethnic and gender lines.
I function as an "embedded" librarian of sorts as part of my instructional duties, and last week I filled in for a class session. Well, to make a long story short, the assigned classroom was not the regular classroom. The class began at 12:30 and only three students had showed up, I was beginning to panic at 12:40 - was I going to have to do an abbreviated instruction session, reschedule the session for a later date in an already tight semester schedule, etc. Anyway, a few more students came in during the next few minutes but at 12:45 12+ students walked in as a group! I found out that one of the students in the classroom had texted another student and some how the texted student gather up the remaining students! So cell phones and texting may not always be a distraction for students after all!
Two Nicholasville librarians are fired for not allowing a kid check out a book. The women say the book contains pornographic material inappropriate for children.
The two women say they were fired last month when they wouldn't let a young girl check out a book from The League of Extraordinary Gentleman series. Now, both women say they're less concerned with their jobs and more concerned with keeping material like this out of children's hands.
Ender sent over a link to Where To Start With Young Adult Science Fiction: Where's the best place to start your kids with reading Science Fiction? Here's a booklist of some of the best Sci-Fi for the discerning young adult, because it's never too early to teach them about the dangers of dystopian societies.
Teens get a voice in how Dakota County libraries can serve them
At a time when teen interest in the libraries is surging -- Dakota County saw its young adult circulation numbers rise 11 percent this year, even when excluding the new Robert Trail Library -- the county library system launched the Rosemount group and two others in August. The goal: to build even more interest among teens by giving them a voice in decisions about book selection, programming and even interior design.
Florida youth have not spent the entire summer at the seaside; in fact, many of them have been participating in summer reading programs!
From the Foster Folly News, an update on the Summer Reading Program at the Chipley Library. Childrens librarian Zedra Hawkins said 18 preschoolers, 114 elementary school students, 68 students from the middle schools, and 31 high school students participated in this year's summer reading program. More than 536 book reviews were entered for drawings for prizes.