Castle Librarian

Archive for March, 2014|Monthly archive page

Recent Reads

In Book Review, Reading on March 21, 2014 at 10:02 am

Here’s what I’ve been reading recently.

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William Shakespeare’s Star Wars

This was an impulse buy. I saw it in the bookstore, read the first page just to make sure it wasn’t ridiculous, and bought it. I enjoyed reading it. It was fun to imagine seeing it on stage. My main complaint is that the author felt compelled to take famous Shakespeare lines and twist them around to be inserted into this. It was jarring to come across these lines and annoying. It was a cheap trick and unnecessary. The worst being Luke’s soliloquy “Alas, poor stormtrooper, I knew ye not…” Really?

(My other complaint is that since this was sanctioned by Lucasfilm, it contained the unnecessary and redundant scene between Jabba the Hut and Han Solo. You know, the one that repeats everything that we learn from Greedo. Thankfully, there are no dinosaurs on a desert planet in this production.)

It is a must read for any Star Wars fan. Probably not for William Shakespeare fans. Just be prepared to grind your teeth occasionally.

Doescher, Ian, and George Lucas. William Shakespeare’s Star Wars: Verily, a New Hope. Philadelphia, PA: Quirk, 2013. Print. 9781594746376


Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library

As a librarian how could I not get a copy of this and read it? It is quite marvelous. The best part is that, throughout, the characters exemplify critical thinking skills. Something everyone should have, but not everyone acquires. This is an excellent read for all students. I’d give it to mine, but then they would be demanding a library with holograms, rocket boots, a computer game room, and a penthouse suite. And, why not?

Grabenstein, Chris. Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library. New York: Random House, 2013. Print. 9780375870897

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The Turtle Secret

This is a rare book because it is published locally (United Arab Emirates) and the characters are Emirati. Not many books are written in English about local people and local interest. It is a chapter book intended for ages 8-12. The main character is an Emirati girl who gets involved in saving sea turtles from poachers. It is a good read and opens the door for discussions of ecological ethics and wildlife conservation.

Johnson, Julia. The Turtle Secret. Dubai: Motivate, 2014. Print. 9781860633508

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This House is Haunted

I picked this one up on a whim. The title and cover were intriguing and I wanted to read a book for adults for once. I was also hoping that it might be a book I could place in my library collection.

This is a very mild mannered ghost story. It is an easy read and I did enjoy it. But, if you read real horror and expect to be scared, this is not the book for you. I knew that the protagonist would survive because she is telling the story in the past tense. The haunting consists of a few incidents over a six week period with long periods of anticipation in between. Not a fast paced poltergeist roller coaster. It is more about figuring out what happened to result in a string of governesses dying horrible accidental deaths followed by a ghost show down. It is fairly predictable. There is one loose end that wasn’t explained to my satisfaction, so I need to go back and read that part again to see if I can find resolution.

As for giving it to my students, that is a no go. Were it not for the references to child abuse (although vague and discrete) and the theological discussion with the vicar, it might have made it into the collection. [note of explanation: my students are 100% Muslim].

Boyne, John. This House Is Haunted. London: Doubleday, 2013. Print.


IB Curriculum and Libraries

In Librarianship, Musing on March 16, 2014 at 9:06 pm

In my job hunt, I’m finding that lack of experience working at an International Baccalaureate institution trumps a Master’s degree, 20 years of experience, and international teaching experience, resulting in my early elimination from the candidate pool. This leads me to ask how is library service to the IB curriculum uniquely different from library service to any other school curriculum?

Here’s what I understand about IB curriculum.

“The International Baccalaureate aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect.” IBO mission

The curriculum focuses on guiding students to be well rounded global citizens, mindful of other people, other cultures, and planetary concerns. The curriculum emphasizes critical thinking skills, a variety of intelligences (ways of knowing), areas of knowledge, and ways of interacting.

Here’s how I would describe library services in a nutshell:
Gather, organize and disseminate information. Teach others to access and utilize information ethically.

How does IB curriculum impact or change library services?

1. Selection of library materials (print and electronic) – everything must relate to the curriculum and support it. Even fiction is related to the curriculum. This isn’t unique to IB schools. Every school library collection should be built to support the school’s curriculum.

2. Information literacy instruction – IB curriculum is probably the best example of information literacy being integrated into the curriculum. The key to successful information literacy instruction is delivery at point of need. Close collaboration with teachers to bring students to the library and make sure they receive instruction on how to access and use information related to an actual information need project is vital.

3. Library environment – Libraries used to be places that people had to go to obtain information. That is no longer true because we have powerful information devices in our pockets. Libraries need to be welcoming, social spaces. Students will come for a place to be alone and for a place to be with others. The library should have a variety of spaces for a variety of activities. Events and programs should be provided to bring students into the library space. Book clubs, board gaming, video book review production, poetry readings, guest authors, quiet times, etc. The timing of these activities should correlate to the curriculum.

The impact of the curriculum on library services lies in the finer details – selecting the right resources, timing the teaching, and planning supportive activities. The heart of librarianship is the same.

I hope that after reading this, if you are weighing a Master’s degree, 20 years of librarianship and international teaching experience against no previous IB experience, the scales will tip in my favor.