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California School Books Going Digital

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger wants to lighten the backpack loads of school children by “phasing out school textbooks” for digital ones. Read all about “California School Books Going Digital” from Google News (AFP). 

Not sure what to think about this one. The students’  backs might suffer less from not having to lug around those huge textbooks but are their poor eyes going to explode from reading large portions
of text from a screen? If I were a kid, I would pray the power would go out so I would have an excuse to skip my homework. Maybe they should create little textbooks they can read for free in Second Life and then they can even cut out the school buildings and save a  whole

My dog, George, thinks it's a great idea.

My dog, George, thinks it's a great idea.

lot of money.

Sarcasm aside, maybe it is a good idea. Get rid of those huge textbooks and make more room in the students’  backpacks for books from the library! Hey, now there’s an idea…provided books are still being purchased for school libraries.

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A Sunny Day at the Houston Cole Library

View from the 5th Floor
View from the 5th Floor

Well, it’s nearing the end of “Maymester,” and I thought I would take a few pictures of the view from the library today.
The Houston Cole libcorrect1lib7Library (HCL) is the tallest library in the state, with 12 floors (the Education Collection is on the 5th floor). There are so many sofas, chairs, tables, and floors in this building that our “regulars” (those students who frequent the library consistently) have their favorite places to study.

View from the 12th Floor

View from the 12th Floor

 While every floor is unique, the view of our Appalachian foothills gets better and better the higher you go. Each floor provides incredible views. It just occurred to me that it seems appropriate that the History Collection is on the 3rd floor towards the bottom of the library as it sort of serves as a foundation, housing tomes of history, maps, and archives of the past, while the 10th floor (the highest floor containing books) is home to books and journals that pertains to technology, change and the future. My floor, the 5th floor, is the midsection of the library. It seems fittting that the Education Collection serves as a bridge between the old and the new.

The Fifth Floor

The Fifth Floor

 I tend to think of education as the heart of this University, but as the Education Librarian, I might be biased. Okay, maybe I’m reading too much into the layout of the HCL, but this is definitely an interesting library with spectacular views and a plethora of study spaces.

12th Floor Study Area

12th Floor Study Area

 Speaking of study spaces, if I were a student, I think I would prefer to study on the 12th floor because there is a panoramic view of the mountains, the campus, and the cute little square of Jacksonville. The town of Jacksonville is rich with history, much of it centered around education, with its first school house built in 1836 and the evolution of JSU from its recognition as a State Normal School in 1883. Rick Bragg touched on Jacksonville’s mill town history in his latest book, The Prince of Frog Town. The 12th floor always offers a beautiful view of the campus and the town, whether it’s foggy, stormy, brilliantly glimmering with Autumn colors, or a perfect blue sky sunny day, just like today.lib100lib70lib106

 ps. I can just imagine reading The Odyssey while watching the sunset from the 12th floor. Oh, to be a student again. Sighlib20lib34

Towards the The Square (looking out from the 12th floor)
Towards the The Square (looking out from the 12th floor)

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Out on the balcony of the 5th Floor
Out on the balcony of the 5th Floor

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The Very Hungry Caterpillar vs Frida: Viva la Vida: The Surge of Esoteric Subjects in Children’s Picture Books

Students and faculty often bring a children’s book up to me and ask me for what age it is suitable. This is one of the hardest questions to answer, particularly when a book appears to be written for a very young child but covers a complex subject.  One trend I’ve noticed in children’s picture book publishing is the surge of very specialized,  mature subjects- more mature than very hungry caterpillar characters, for sure. 
Frida: Viva la Vida: ND 259 .K33 B47

Frida: Viva la Vida: ND 259 .K33 B47

For example, recently, I checked out Frida: Viva la Vida by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand. Bowker’s Books In Print lists this book as appropriate for ages 4 to 8.  Learning about famous artists is wonderful, but I had to wonder if an elementary student would enjoy reading this book. To understand Frida Kahlo’s artwork, which is very personal, one would need to understand the grief and frustration she felt over her husband’s extra-marital affairs (a topic covered in this picture book).  Mention of her sexuality was also worked, somehow, into the story.

Not out of an urge to censor, but out of sheer curiosity, I wonder how these type of books are being received by young children. What is their reaction? Are they bored to death? Do they even understand the topic? Does such specialized subject matter enlighten them and make them want to explore the topic more?

Andy Warhol: Pop Art Painter: N 6537 .W28 R83 2006

Andy Warhol: Pop Art Painter: N 6537 .W28 R83 2006

I’ve learned a lot over the last several years about people and subjects of which I’ve had little knowledge through these types of children’s picture books. Of course, I’m knocking on age forty, not age four. Maybe these books would be more appropriately categorized as “ageless” and, simply, for anyone who can appreciate them. Other recent examples of children’s picture books about not-your-usual kindergarten subjects include Andy Warhol: Pop Art Painter by Susan Goldman Rubin,  Uncle Andy’s by James Warhola, and Action Jackson by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan. I guess I’m most fascinated by how an author can take a subject, such as Jackson Pollock, and translate the “essence” of his life and work into a picture book appropriate for young children ages 4-8…according to Books in Print.

Action Jackson: ND 237 .P73 G74

Action Jackson: ND 237 .P73 G74

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From “no guns” to “no hugs?”

Wow. I heard  a story on this morning’s The Today Show which seems rather disturbing. You hear so much about school violence and school bullying and then you hear that some schools are officially banning hugs. HUGS? Banning hugs?  Apparently, the new “high five” greeting has become the “hug” among today’s youth and some schools are reacting with heavy-handed policies.  Read about the story from the The Today Show website.

According to the news report, Amy Best, a sociologist at George Mason University, explores some of the reasons for this new form of teen affection. I suppose the schools’ concerns deal mostly with inappropriate touching issues.  However, greeting gestures change throughout time and across cultures.  At one time, a kiss on the cheek for a lady was an appropriate gesture. In some cultures, gregarious hugs are the warm way of  saying “how you doing, buddy?”  Today’s youth generation, from what I have observed, do seem to be more apt to hug and cling to each other than my generation which was cool, cold, and rather untouchable. When you hear so much about school violence, I kind of like to hear about teens being kind towards each other, especially boys. I think the “risks” of hugging in school are outweighed by the positives. Are we witnessing the rise of a new generation of  peace  loving, caring hipsters? That would be cool. I say “hug on!” birthdaybasher3