Monday, June 13, 2011

Reference Materials

For our course we are to read from our recommended text Achieving Information Literacy.  When I began the course I assumed this was an optional text that we could supplement with other readings.  I found that I have misjudged this and the book is required reading.  I did order it but it has not arrived as of yet and I fear with the rotating postal strikes it may arrive well after the course is complete.

From my reading the of the discussions I have gained some ideas of what the reading has contained and have learned much from the postings that were made. 

Jody Brummund cited that 70 to 85 percent of a school library collection should consist of nonfiction sources.  She observed that her school's collection was closer to 50 percent.  I would say from casual observation that most elementary school libraries would tend towards levels of even higher than 50 percent fiction  this division with the percentage of nonfiction rising in middle and secondary school libraries. In my main library collection only about 40 percent is non fiction.  I will need to investigate the thinking behind this further but I have intuitively felt that my collection was lacking in balance but if the figure of 70 percent is truly what we are to aim for I will need to learn more.  I suppose that I have been more consistent at culling the nonfiction section and that the size of our fiction collection is large for the size of our school. It has been easier to source funding for fiction purchases in the past because teachers have demanded it much like the experience Susan Roberts has had in her school library.  It shows the importance of having collection development policies that all staff understand to avoid too great of an imbalance developing especially in the fiction versus non fiction tug-of-war.

As to funding levels, I know that my library does not meet the minimum standard in terms of funding per student and despite this I know that my school is doing well compared to others.  Through grants, book fairs and other fund raising I average $5,000 to $6,500 a  year for book purchases for a school population of just under 300 students.  According to the standards mentioned in Achieving Information Literacy I need at least $7500 a year to maintain my collection.  I can attest to the fact that these minimum funding figures are accurate.  I can just barely maintain the average age of my non fiction collection at 13 to 14 years of age with my current level of funding but this is a battle of attrition in which I weeding at slightly faster rate than than I am replacing.

As far as the age of my reference collection it is a real embarassment.  My library stats show it to average at 20 years of age.  This is mainly due to a collection of older dictionaries, and older books of quotations and two animal and science encyclopedia that look brand new but are dated 1991.  I certainly need to just weed these out. Up to this point I was too concerned with the size of the reference section.  It is better to have 30 or 40 reference volumes that are up-to-date than having 100 that are just taking up space. I do have World Book Online and a subscription to Culturegram which makes my reference section a bit more roboust then it first appears.

Periodicals have always been a struggle.  I cancelled all my periodical subscriptions for about two years to get a handle on expenses to develop some pent up demand.  I now have about 8 to 10 subscriptions. This would appear to be lip service to periodicals more than anything else.

As far as DVDs are concerned we have been hoping for more of a district solution such as video streaming as mentioned by a few others in our discussions.  I find that teachers are often looking for shorter clips of video to re-enforce or introduce concepts rather than a full 20 to 60 minute video packed full of information they may not need.  Unfortunately youtube and teacher tube is now the default for videos. I do find it refreshing though that teachers are looking to search for video content to address specific learning outcomes as opposed to more generic "filler."  I think this where the demand and usefulness of video streaming will grow because of the ability to search for content within larger packages of video content.

1 comment:

  1. AIL is merely a guideline, Ben and was produced when budgets were more robust and positive...and before the plethora of electronic resources out there. I am not even sure that you'll get a copy as CASL no longer exists w/in the framework of CLA. I'm not sure how many copies are even left. I've indicated the problem with the "bosses" and I believe there will be adjustments to this partic. course in 2112.
    By the way I don't believe there is a hard and fast rule re: percentages of fiction and non-fiction any longer.
    If you are looking for short video clips, try BrainPop if you have not done so.