Hello staff, parents, and students!
Thank you for making my previous blog Children’s Literature Blog: Favorite Book Share such a wonderful success. Since there was such a great response to it I have decide to create another blog concerning the issues and trends in children’s literature.
“Giving children access to all varieties of literature is extremely important for their success.”” Educators, parents, and community members should help students develop a love and passion for reading.”Crippen (2019) Ultimately all children are different and all literature does not speak to all children but, in the end each child will find the genre that speaks to them.
I had the wonderful experience of interviewing Mrs. M. a librarian from a high school in my hometown. Mrs. M. was originally a nurse and has also been an accountant. Mrs. M. believes that she could have made more money in her other professions but, she values what she does as a librarian. Mrs. M. does not regret becoming a librarian, she enjoys going to work everyday and loves interacting with the students and staff.
The questions in the following interview:
Wanda: How long have you been a librarian?
Mrs. M.: 20 years.
Wanda: What are the credentials to do have to have to become a librarian?
Mrs. M: 1) First, you have to have a 4 year degree; but it can be in anything. We have librarians with all kinds of educational backgrounds; and I think that makes the profession a lot more interesting because we work together with people who have all kinds of interests.
2) Then you would have to go on to get your Masters in Library Science. It doesn’t matter is you are working in a school library, public library, or other special type of library, you would at least need these two things.
3) But, if you want to work in a higher university setting, you would also go on to get your doctorate. Then you would teach and write academic paper
Wanda: When you started out was the Dewey decimal system being utilized?
Mrs. M: Yes, the Dewey Decimal system was used even when I was a kid and I’m now over 60. So, it has been used for quite some time. Most universities use the Library of Congress Classification; but I think the Dewey Decimal System is easier to understand. But, I do see the benefit of using the Library of Congress system for special libraries where the whole library is about mostly one subjects – like Johnson & Wales where the books are mostly about food related topics. The Library of Congress system has more subdivision in it for placed to put similar items.
Wanda: How have E-books and digital formats changed your job?
For one thing, I don’t purchase reference books in print any longer. I purchase all of our Reference in digital format. That way I can many students can view the same book at the same time; and it is available 24/7.
But, I find that people still like to read a print book for pleasure although that is slowly changing with e-readers such as Amazon kindles, Now, you don’t even have to have an e-reader. You can download the item to a ipad, laptop, etc… So you don’t need an additional device.
What is slowly become more common is the audio-book. With OverDrive and other companies that solely promote audio-books for public libraries and school libraries, listening to books is becoming more popular. But there will always be more books available to read then there will be to listen to. Academic items will never be something anyone will enjoy listening to. But a lot of academic items will end up in digital format.
Wanda: How has technology changed your job?
Now, I just upload records for the books I purchase instead of having to fill out all those paper cards in the card catalog. That took a LOT of time!
Now, we spend a lot of time overseeing different subscriptions to resources. There are resources for history, literature, pictures, games, etc… It seems that companies have chosen to specialize in the kind of resources they enter into their particular databases so that is what they become known for. But, it means there are all kinds of programs out there; and choosing the best ones for your library and then entering students and teachers into these resources takes time. Then, in a school setting, we spend a lot of time keeping equipment such as Chromebooks, laptops, etc… working correctly.
Wanda: Because of social media do you feel students are going to be avid readers?
Mrs. M: No, it has been show by research that social media has substantially decreased the reading level of students across the board. This hurts all of our students. But it especially hurts those who were below grade level to begin with. Because so much of what students access is online, many students think they don’t like to read. it is hard to get them to understand that one of the most common traits of successful people is they read.
Wanda: Seeing how challenges have been created because of social media and digital books can these two things be used to strengthen the appeal of libraries?
Mrs. M: I would rephrase your question to one that deals not just with the appeal of libraries; but with the value of libraries where access to free information of all kinds if promoted. There needs to always be places in the US that promote “free access to information” in our society. If that becomes endangered, then we as a society will be in danger. Should that access come in the form of social media, e-books, databases, video streaming services, or other alternatives? The appeal of a library is that, no matter who comes in the door or what a person’s particular ideology, the library sees your right to uncensored information of all kinds in all forms. We need to look around the world at regimes that hinder and censor information the people living there have access to; and think would we want to live like that. I don’t think so.
Wanda: Have you personally seen or read of librarians in the U.S or throughout the world successfully using alternative means to create a desire for young students to visit the library?
Mrs. M: I don’t think that visiting the library necessarily has to mean that a person has to physically come in a building. We don’t look at worship as something that only happens in a church building; and I think that libraries today provide a variety of ways for anyone to access information and enjoy reading. Even the online Reference Desk at universities and now some high schools promote the use of the library for young people. And one of the nice things about these online methods for accessing what is available at a library is they are 24/7 for anyone. I worked with a librarian that helped start the virtual world Second Life which is now used for education and to connect with others from around the world.
Have you encountered budget cuts or lack of funding from your school board or school administration for yours or other library problems?
Mrs. M: Of course. I think budget cuts and funding is a problem for almost every type of service oriented organization. We don’t necessarily “create a product or entertainment” that people want to purchase. So, unless the public comes to see the value in what is offered by libraries, we will continue to have this issue permeate what we do. It is not just a school library problem. It is a problem of demand. People want to put their money towards what pleases them. When I grew up my father had a Third Edition Webster’s Dictionary (the one that weights like 10 lbs) sitting on his dresser all the time like some people use to have the big family Bible sitting out. When he didn’t know a word he would go look it up. Knowledge and the what it produces use to be valued; and I hope one day we find a swing back to that kind of thinking
Wanda: Where do you see the modern library being in the next ten years?
Mrs. M: Oh, I know there will be more and more online opportunities for engagement with each other and educational endeavors; but I surely hope that we come to be more aware of how our online activities effect each other. Words have power; and that power can be used to destroy or build up. You don’t have to be in front of someone to tear them down; and I hope in the next 10 years that is recognized more. I do think we will see more high school courses taken online and students more engaged in internships of different kinds. Sitting in a classroom is a very outdated way of learning; and we will be moving to more interactive kinds of activities both online and in-person. Classrooms will not disappear because some people just naturally learn more by being around other people or just need the organization the classroom atmosphere brings with it; but being in a classroom will become an option for those whose personality tends to learn better in that atmosphere. There will be more choices for accessing information; and therefore more need to learn how to evaluate what is out there at any particular time.
After doing this interview, I got to thinking about Mrs. M’s responses to my questions and how they would relate to the question I had to answer what reputable leaders in children’s literature community say are the trends and issues in children’s literature. One of Mrs. M responses touched upon a person’s ideology and how it doesn’t matter. A trend that has been a recent conversation piece over that last few years among writers and illustrators in the children’s literature world has been the issue of diversity. “Jamie Campbell Naidoo The ALSC President (2018-2019) wrote a paper The Importance of Diversity in Library’s and Collections (PDF)” (“Issues And Trends”, 2020).
Technology is another trend that is becoming increasingly popular in children’s literature. “According to “Issues And Trends”(2020), Digital literacy continues to grow as an important library service. Research shows that families are increasing their access to digital media, but they lack the knowledge to use it effectively in a way that enables learning. Additionally, libraries are incorporating more digital media in their programming for young children.” From Mrs. M’s response and research from ” Dr Cara Booker, research fellow at Essex University’s Institute for Social and Economic Research (IESR), said the tendency to use shorthand words on social media or when texting such as “nite”, “u” and “@” could be having an impact on literacy.”(“Children’S Literacy Levels Fall As Social Media Hits Reading”, n.d).
With the different trends and issues in children’s literature today one could get lost in all the information. but the core of the matter is the importance of young people having access to different forms of literature and information. The diversity of both the literature available and the demands of availability not only in the traditional sense i.e. brick and mortar buildings but also digital access as well. I firmly believe after having Mrs. M and researching the issues most folks involved only want to provided the best opportunities for young people to have access and to enjoy the gift of reading.
Children’s literacy levels fall as social media hits reading(n.d). Retrieved from https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/08/20/childrens-literacy-levels-fall-social-media-hits-reading/
Crippen, M. (2019). The Value of Childrenâ€™s Literature. Retrieved from https://www.luther.edu/oneota-reading-journal/archive/2012/the-value-of-childrens-literature/
Issues and Trends(2020). Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/news/state-americas-libraries-report-2015/issues-and-trends