Friday, September 28, 2007

Banned Books Week, Sept. 29-Oct. 6

Banned Books Week is always fun and celebrates books which have been challenged or banned through history. Believe me, the list is long and includes such titles as the Bible, the Harry Potter books, and most of the major philosophers. The most challenged book of 2006 was a children's book called Tango Makes Three about two male penguins who parent an egg from a mixed-sex penguin couple (based on a true incident).

The library recently acquired a series called "Banned Books." It consists of four volumes titled Literature Suppressed on Religious Grounds, Literature Suppressed on Sexual Grounds, Literature Suppressed on Political Grounds, and Literature Suppressed on Social Grounds. It provides a comprehensive history of books which have for many different reasons been suppressed by the churches and society through the centuries.

There will be a display of challenged and banned books in the library during BBW. Come on by and take a look.

In the meantime to see a list of the most-challenged books of 2006 go to the ALA's BBW Web page. Or go to a page on how BBW is being celebrated at such online sites as Facebook, Teen Second Life, or MySpace.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

9th Grade Orientations Complete

After fifteen sessions of more than an hour each over the last three weeks, all the 9th graders (and a few non-9th graders) have been introduced to the library and it's resources. This the earliest we have been able to complete the orientations and I will admit it feels great.

The last class to be introduced to the library was Mr. McDaniel's Alpha class (World Cultures & Geography) and I have to give them a lot of credit because they were very attentive during the presentation which took place right after lunch. All the classes were very attentive and responsive which is important because there is, despite my having to talk a lot, a good deal of give and take during the presentation.

The presentation uses SpongeBob SquarePants and the denizens of Bikini Bottom to help get its points across. (My favorite is Gary, SpongeBob's loyal, meowing snail pet, who wants to be a librarian as revealed in "Sleepy Time" an episode in which SpongeBob enters various critter's dreams). It starts with basic library policies and rules, talks about physical resources of the library including books (fiction and non-fiction, circulating and reference), pamphlet file materials, audio book, textbooks, videos, maps, and periodicals. We discuss how to access those resources using Sequoyah, the library's catalog. I then demonstrate the library's web site with it's myriad of online resources. Particular attention is paid to two databases, Student Research Center, provided by EBSCOhost and CountryWatch, a geographical database. Both of these are subscription databases which require a user ID and password so we explore how to find those passwords online using the Redwood website. We also take a look at MARINet, the catalog for the Marin County libraries. We introduce the library staff as well.

I really enjoy doing the presentations each year and want to thank the World Cultures & Geography teachers, Claire Ernst, Nicolle Plescia, Jon Hirsch, Eric Berridge, and Jim McDaniel for getting their classes scheduled in so promptly and helping with the presentation and follow-up assignments. All the teachers gave credit to their students for their participation.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Welcome to All Redwood Parents

Welcome new parents and welcome back veteran parents.

The Bessie Chin Library would like especially to welcome parents new to the school community to take a close look at the library's Web site ( which provides 24/7 access to many resources for you and your children. Even though you may not be able to come to the library during the school day, the online resources are always available. Starting with the library catalog (click on "Catalog Home Access") you will be able to peruse the rich resources of the Redwood library. The library has over 35,000 cataloged items, including books, magazines, websites, pamphlet files, videos, and audio books.

The library also subscribes to a rich collection of online resources which are accessed from the home page. Click on the link which says DATABASE PASSWORDS and enter the password when prompted. (Obtain the password from library staff or your kids). That will bring you to a page which has all of the user IDs and passwords listed.

The library's main magazine and newspaper database is provided by EBSCO, which also provides access to NoveList, Advanced Placement Source, TopicSearch, and professional educational journals. We subscribe to two online encyclopedias, Encyclopaedia Britannica Online Academic Edition and World Book Online Reference Center, and many other reference e-books through Oxford Reference Online Premium and the Gale Virtual Reference Library (through InfoTrac).

The library subscribes to the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and several magazines which have online editions. The access information is listed on the library's Periodicals Page.
Another very rich database for students is Questia, "the first online library that provides … access to the world's largest online collection of books and journal articles in the humanities and social sciences, plus magazine and newspaper articles." This year each student will have individual access to Questia via a personal ID and password. Students will be informed of their login information as soon as it’s available from Questia. Take the time to check out all the databases available from the library's Web site.

This Web log will provide the latest in library news.
This summer I went to an international school library conference in Taipei, Taiwan and posted several articles with photos about the conference, school libraries in Taiwan and other interesting experiences. Come back often.

We encourage parents who have time to volunteer in the library. Last year we had about fifteen parent volunteers who were able to give a couple hours every week or so. Volunteers perform a variety of tasks and we couldn't run the excellent program we do here at Redwood without their help. We have parents who help with book processing (covering, stamping, typing labels, etc.), filing books and other materials, looking up web pages and adding them to our online catalog, clipping articles from newspapers, magazines and the internet, and more. To see the variety of tasks our volunteers performed last year go to the library Volunteer Page. We'd love to have you join them and look forward to seeing all of you on Back-to-School Night.