Friday, November 21, 2008

B. C. AND ITS PEOPLE: 1858- 2008 (The Vancouver Sun, 19 Nov 2008, Page A1)

B. C. AND ITS PEOPLE: 1858- 2008

The Vancouver Sun
19 Nov 2008

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ME on the Multi-vendor Display:

This year's multi-vendor display, organized as usual by Jonathan Lillow from Knowbuddy/Saunders, was accompanied by a new Chapters Wednesday morning session and in-service by our Maryann; by all accounts it was a success with too little time in half a day to get to everything. Hope you got to have the lunch which is particularly good there.

In reflecting on my short time on the floor at the Firefighters' Hall and at Chapters (I was juggling teaching a class in SLAIS at UBC as well as a meeting of Metro-area TL Consultants and a workshop after school on Thursday), I decided that I have still a finely-honed "library eye."

In the olden days, teacher-librarians had "library ear" that was inflamed by noise, as often evidenced by the stereotypical shhushhing! This sense is still important -- the screaming of the security gate will bring our vestigial "library ear" into play, and despite our understanding that learning is social, sometimes it is simply just too social! And I would draw on "library ear" (some might call this eavesdropping but I saw it as part of my job to be attuned to the real needs of the students who sought out the library) if I thought a student was in distress, sad or conflicted -- these ones were sometimes in need of a little chat with a sympathetic or "motherly" adult, and in serious cases, I might put a word in the ear of his or her counsellor. My "ear" dealt with light counselling only.

I once heard about a TL who had "library lung," although I have never seen any literature on this affliction. I sometimes wondered if I had "library allergies" -- dust, decaying books, keyboards in constant use that I never knew whose job it was to clean them, sick kids with books -- but I am not conscious of any change in my health, for better or worse, now that I am steadily ensconced in an air-conditioned and windowless cubicle.

So what is "library eye"? First, it's the capacity to scan the space quickly and see that five grade 8 boys suddenly convening around one computer means a call for instant intervention. It's seeing bookshelves that need straightening. It's spotting poor shelving and less-than-optimal visual merchandising. It's seeing the escalating interest in one hot new book ... and buying more. It's seeing the bargains when you are out shopping on the weekend, the book you know belongs with an upcoming unit or that is likely to have some real appeal to one or more students. It's certainly the ability to see a book and know where it would fit in your collection or your annual plan for collection development.

But I have a new dimension for "library eye" as your TL consultant. Deprived as I am of much of the fun of book-shopping, I take my advisory role very seriously and love to "shop" vicariously. I really appreciated the newer TLs at the multi-vendor who took me along to browse and buy at Chapters: what do you think I need, Moira, they would say? Old skilled "library eye" enjoyed this a lot, but -- because she-with-a-highly-developed-library-eye tries not to miss the big-picture -- was also attending to the natural "gaggles" of TLs in deep conversation ... in the bargain section, in the children's section, in the non-fiction.

In thinking about what was going on, I caught wind of a whole new selection tool. We shop with reviews in mind, with curriculum needs, with peer reviews ... but when have we ever used the "book squabble" as a tool? Two of our seasoned TLs (secondary) were disputing how many copies of a bargain book each would take, in the ever-so-charming way of TLs: "No, you take three, I'll take two. It would work with this unit or that unit," and so on. Eventually they agreed how to split the pile ... and then all the books were gone.

Aha! Clearly this was more than a bargain. I advanced upon Chapters Accounts Manager Anne-Marie who had hosted our early-morning session. Yes, she could bring together enough copies for all the other secondary school libraries and arrange for them to arrive at our nearby store or the Oakridge Coles Books for pick-up, which constituted a little consolation book-shopping for me. Elementary libraries received The World of Stories in September, so I needed to do something for "the secondaries." The deal was made; I have paid. These have arrived. The Great Migrations: From the Earliest Humans to the Age of Globalization (London, UK: Quercus, 2008) by author/historian Dr John Haywood includes accounts of 50 human migrations, many of which can be linked to social studies curriculum, including all secondary grades. The book begins:

Migration is one of the defining characteristics of the human race. No other species has ever ranged so far and colonized so many different environments .... Human migration has also been incessant, with the numbers of people on the move increasing constantly, keeping step with the growth of the human population. It is its ceaseless nature that makes migration one of the great driving forces of work history, spreading technology and ideas, and creating and destroying nations and empires. The importance of misgrations as agents of historical change has long been recognized. Migrations, both real and legendary, form essential components of many national identities .... Migrations both promote diversification of human cultures and provide the means for the transfer of information and technologies between cultures.

Haywood looks at different patterns of migration and the recent work of geneticists which is linking different populations to their likely origins. Can't wait to find out about my own dual Celtic and Norman or Roman (or so my dear old dad would claim -- ) roots. Thanks, Virginia and Susan, for putting this onto the secondary shelves.

"Library eye" was also taken as ever by Paul Yee's recently revised Saltwater City (Douglas & McIntyre, 2006), a book I consider to be a "must-have" for every Vancouver school library. I mean "eye" was forced to look at page 145 as one TL said, "Guess which one is me?" One little girl stood out -- she doesn't appear to be paying attention! Who couldn't resist picking her, and you would have chosen correctly -- the one who appears not to be paying attention is in fact our secondary TL colleague and she is actually reacting to Paul Yee's (behind her) pulling her pony tail! Your guess?

Have a great weekend, everyone. I love the rainy weekends when I have several good books going. I can't read fast enough -- LeCarré's new A Most Wanted Man, my half-finished Follett historical fiction World Without End which I'm not so enamoured of, and the borrowed copy of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society which I have discovered has another TL-colleague on the waitlist. Where to start?!!

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