Literacy

'Literacy' sucks

In sum, there are multiple literacies out there, but they can be organized in a way that makes sense. In fact, I think they should be organized better. I'll admit that the organizational structure I tossed up there is a work in progress and may be completely, utterly idiotic. But, it's a start. Feel free to criticize, compliment, or call me a moron, but at least let me know what you think. I'm always open to suggestions for improvement.

Brain’s Reading Center Isn’t Picky About Vision

The part of the brain thought to be responsible for processing visual text may not require vision at all, researchers report in the journal Current Biology.

This region, known as the visual word form area, processes words when people with normal vision read, but researchers found that it is also activated when the blind read using Braille.

Full article

Media theorist Douglas Rushkoff has second thoughts about our digital practices

The kids I celebrated in my early books as “digital natives,” capable of seeing through all efforts of big media and marketing, have actually proven less able to discern the integrity of the sources they read and the intentions of the programs they use than we struggling adults are. If they don’t know what the programs they’re using are even for, they don’t stand a chance at using them effectively. They’re less likely to become power users than the used. It is our job as educators to change all this. We’re our students’ best chance of becoming media—or new media—literate. Yet our digital practices betray our own unconscious approach toward these media. We employ technologies in our lives and our curriculums by force of habit or fear of being left behind.

I regularly visit one-to-one laptop schools where neither the students nor the educators have any real sense of purpose about the highly technologized program they’ve implemented. They bring a very powerful new medium into the classroom and make it central without having reckoned with the medium’s biases.

Full article at School Library Journal

Bus Of Books To Hit The Streets

In an effort to get more people to read, the books are hitting the streets by the busload. And best of all, it’s free.

“The books are free. No charge. These are all brand new books. Never been opened,” Penny Boykins of Metro Community College said.

From nonfiction to science fiction and everything in between, 10,000 books will be handed out for free. Organizers said it’s all an effort to promote literacy made possible by a handful of local organizations.

Full story

Nothing at the library?

I currently work at a small liberal arts college in the Midwestern USA where librarians are "embedded" in introductory courses and oversee the information literacy curriculum. Last week one of my colleagues informed me about a response from one of her students that I just have to pass along. The student's comment was that she couldn't find anything at the library about the Industrial Revolution , her other topic was .... wait for it .... Martin Luther and the Reformation. As Joe Friday is often quoted as uttering "Just the facts, ma'am"....

Catalog keyword search hits

  • Industrial Revolution = 142
  • "Martin Luther" = 204
  • "Martin Luther" AND Reformation = 21

Ok, I know that out-of-the-box library catalogs aren't as "innovative", user friendly (or forgiving) as Amazon, Google, and the like, but the difference between what the student claimed and what the "facts" illustrate is too wide a chasm to cross.

Comments like this make me think that we should have a library lock-in, perhaps overnight, and not let the student out until they find something. Heck, it might even become a succesful reality show. It wouldn't be as goofy as Silent Library but it might still be a goodie. Afterall, there could be worse fates.

One Reader's Experience With 'The Big Read' (One City One Book)

The book arrived from the publisher without any fanfare, wrapped in plain cardboard and sent through the U.S. mail. Record-Bee reports.

With no more effort than it took to tear open the perforated strip that sealed the package closed, the small church library that I oversaw was now part of a "common read." What an exciting moment!

My first experience with a common read was just a few years earlier, during an effort to encourage all of California to read John Steinbeck's "The Grapes of Wrath." My husband and I read aloud to each other from my copy that had been given to me by the Calistoga Junior/Senior High School librarian.

It was intriguing, as we read to each other, to know that across the state of California, other people were reading the same book and that, moreover, public events were promoting "The Grapes of Wrath." One of those events was organized locally through the efforts of Harold Riley.

My experience taking part in a common read had been very enjoyable so when the organization that oversees our local church selected a common read, I knew that I wanted to make the book available to the members of my church: to give them a chance to have that much more in common with people in other communities, in congregations around the world. Read more.

A Palin Flub Becomes a ‘Word of the Year’

At the start of the year the word “refudiate” didn’t exist. In mid-July Sarah Palin, Alaska’s former governor, changed that when she used the word in a Twitter message, somehow mashing up “refute” and “repudiate,” while trying to say something like “reject.”

Full piece here.

The Desk Setup: A Look At Librarian Computers

The Desk Setup

Like many technologists, I may have had some vague notion that librarians had something to contribute to discussions about information and metadata and standards and access, but my concept of what librarians did and what they knew probably had more to do with stereotypes and anecdote than on an understanding of reality. Which is a shame. Although in the last few years I think we’ve done a really good job of making clearer connections between libraries and technology, I don’t think anyone is surprised when librarians are omitted from discussions about and between prominent technologists, such as the one facilitated by the Setup. (Note: by “librarians” I mean anyone who works in, with, or for libraries. Hat tip to Eli Neiburger for saying what I’d been thinking, only less clearly, for some time before he said those words out loud.)

Plan to teach immigrants spurs flap

A public librarian in Nebraska resigned due to confusion over whether or not she should be teaching illegal immigrants English. “A lot of people are afraid of changes and growth. ... I don't know if that was the case with this or not,” Shafer said. “I didn't mean to do any harm. I just tried to do good.”

Read all about it. http://omaha.com/article/20101024/NEWS01/710249869

When 103-Year Old Dies, Her Reading Circle Mourns

When Elizabeth Goodyear died late last month, at 103, a handful of friends, all more than two generations younger, sat vigil. They toasted her over dark chocolate, the elixir Ms. Goodyear had savored daily since she was 3 years old, and Champagne, a more recent favorite.

Two years ago, a front-page article in The New York Times featured Ms. Goodyear, a lifelong lover of books, and the small group of people who would stop by her apartment, in Murray Hill, to read to her after she lost her sight. Those readers became a family to Ms. Goodyear, who had outlived her relatives and loved ones.

It all began about seven years ago, after Alison West, a yoga instructor who lives in Ms. Goodyear’s building, posted a sign seeking readers in yoga studios downtown and sent an e-mail that was forwarded again and again.

“Liz has no family at all, and all her old friends have died, but she remains eternally positive and cheerful and loves to have people come by to read to her or talk about life, politics, travel — or anything else,” the message read. “She also loves good chocolate!”

Young women in their 20s, many of them Ms. West’s students, started to visit. Read more in the NYTimes blogs.

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