Monday, April 13, 2009

The Mainstreaming of e-Books in Our Library

eBooks @ Adelaide

I recently added over 1300 ebook records to the library catalog from the eBooks @ Adelaide (University of Adelaide, Australia) website.

To access the books search for the series "eBooks @ Adelaide" (from home; from school). This will bring up the entire list of 1306 titles. Most of these books are older and therefore are out of copyright and many are available on such sites as Gutenberg and Bibliomania. The nice thing about the Adelaide e-books is that they provide downloadable MARC records which are the records librarians use in online catalogs. The records are not great and require some tweeking to make them really useful but their availability certainly makes the task of getting the records into the catalog and therefore accessible to the library patron a very simple task.

Once you've opened the record you just click on the link which says "Connect to e-book online" or, for records which haven't been modified, on the URL, to get to the online text. Authors in the collection range alphabetically from Edwin Abbott to Emile Zola and chronologically from Homer to Orwell. This collection will enable the library patron to access many books which we don't actually have on the shelves and electronically many we do have even when they aren't physically in the library. One advantage of e-books is the ability of two or more patrons to simultaneously use the same book.

The eBooks @ Adelaide website allows the user to browse titles by author, title, chronologically, and thematically and allows for full-text searches of all the books on the site. The books are also available as zip files to download to the user's own device for reading offline as well.

Also recently discovered a new e-book resource on the website which provides access to full-text books as well. Engaging the World is the new public face of the U.S. Dept. of State to the international community and presents quite a change from the previous administration. One of the missions of the State Department's Bureau of International Information Programs is to present the United States to the rest of the world as well as its own citizens. Some recently published titles include Being Muslim in America, Abraham Lincoln: A Legacy of Freedom, Dreams of Edgar Allan Poe, Free at Last: The Civil Rights Movement, Sketchbook USA, and American Popular Music. While these books might be considered propaganda they also give the reader an opportunity to see what the U.S. government considers important for the world to understand about us.

Another publication available on the site is an electronic journal. Recent topics of the e-journal, which is thematic, include the movie business, American teenagers, the changing English language, and college education in the U.S.

The publications from this site are available for downloading as pdf documents and are available in a variety of languages including Russian, Spanish, Chinese and Arabic.

As e-books become more and more ubiquitous and accessible I expect all of us will be reading more and more online.

Friday, April 10, 2009

What We'd Love Our Graduating Seniors to Know

Joyce Valenza's statement to her high school seniors in a recently published article in VOYA says it all for me: "I hope you will do more than what the researchers call 'satificing,' a cross between satisfying and sufficing. I want you to use your skills to find quality. I want you to go further than any of your peers will. I want you to search for quality, relevance, currency, and credibility. I want you to find excellence, display excellence, and distinguish yourself from other freshmen."

Joyce is a model teacher librarian in Springfield, Pennsylvania whose contributions to school librarianship are numberless. She has unbelievable energy and enthusiasm for her kids and her work. In her NeverEnding Search blog at School Library Journal Joyce is continually challenging us to find better ways of teaching and learning along with our students in this ever-changing world of information overload.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Delaine Eastin Endorses Tom Torlakson

This video shows Delaine Eastin's April 3rd endorsement of Tom Torlakson's bid to run for Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Delaine is a real hero to the school library community and she mentions school libraries a couple times in the course of her speech. If Torlakson has only half of the passion Delaine has exhibited for school libraries over the years we will be well served by him.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Short Stories, Conic Sections, and the Magic Eye

It's not that often that a teacher brings a class in to find short stories to read. Today Jeff Ryan brought two of his American Lit classes to the library to find short stories.

I was able to show them how to find short stories using the catalog--search for the subject "Short stories," for example. Then I explained than in our library story collections by more than one author are kept in a special collection at the end of all the fiction books but that short story collections by one author are interfiled with the authors novels in the main fiction collection.

We also explored some online sources for stories. Since I had just recently downloaded the MARC records (1306 titles!) for the e-book collection at the University of Adelaide (Australia) I showed them how they could access the books directly from the catalog. Of course, most of the stories online are in the public domain and therefore fall into the "classic" designation.

Jeff had already alerted them several other collections online from his web page and I plan on linking to those sites as soon as I can from the library catalog. Some of the better ones included Bibliomania, Short Story Classics, and Classic Short Stories.

A couple other classes also used the library today.

Aaron Simon brought his Pre-calculus class to work on conic sections and vector projects. There's a well-established Mathematics page on the Library website which features a Google Custom Search box that searches good quality math websites. Students find the search and the links to specific sites to be particularly useful for this project.

And Matt Tierney brought his Psych class in to view some "magic eye" images.