Archive for January, 2008

Literacy and Today’s Youth

Tuesday, January 29th, 2008

When I learned this week that 68% of young Canadians feel they need more instruction on authenticating online information I felt buoyed up, and anxious. Isn’t it terrific that so many young people understand their limitations in the face of the deluge of information on the Internet, but who, I ask myself, is going to help them navigate their way through the plethora of information available to them with a critical eye, ear and mind?

This conundrum was presented to an audience last week at the Burnaby Public Library by Mr. Keith McPherson and Dr. Marlene Asselin both experts in media information at UBC. Further statistics from “Young Canadians in a Wired World” ( note that 94% of these young people access the internet from home, 34% have been bullied online, 33% of their top 50 websites include violent and sexual content, and that 75% do not realize they are being advertised to through the Net. In such an environment, Asselin and McPherson pointed out, it is critical that students become more aware. Basic literacy remains an essential skill, they contend, but critical literacy is, well, critical. McPherson, assured parents and teachers present that with critical thinking skills “mental habits that foster justice, honesty, and ethical treatment of others” will have a better chance of prevailing.

With teachers such as Asselin and McPherson in our midst one can feel more confident that the young people who will be in charge of the world are in good hands. Already we know that they are what these teachers call active participants who are goal-oriented, believe in choice and variety and are active decision-makers. They are also an economic force. They believe in connectivity and community, they take action, are early adopters and are passionately tolerant. They creative ‘personal landscapes’ in the way they learn, shop and work. They learn by doing, they multi-task and importantly they believe in social transformation.

These are the leaders of the future. We are in good hands it seems but we must as parents and teachers ensure that they get the critical thinking skills they themselves say they need. All the more reason, in my view, that we ensure that teacher-librarians who are so well placed to take on this task, have the resources to undertake such an important social role. Every school in the province needs a teacher-librarian with enough hours to teach the skills our children will need in this ever-changing and demanding environment and so that, as Mr. McPherson so eloquently put it, all students can fulfill their dreams.

Margaret Reynolds, Executive Director, Association of Book Publishers of BC

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Authors love school libraries

Sunday, January 27th, 2008

An accomplished editor and author, Pam Withers’ particular forte is the action packed X-treme series for young-adult readers. Geared to extreme sports afficionados, these high-interest books are designed to appeal to both avid and reluctant readers.

Pam often shows up for author events at schools with her kayak!

So, Pam Withers is no shrinking violet.

When you talk to Pam about school libraries she says:

“As a teenager, I liked nothing better than to “hide” in the library, surrounded by the comfort and stimulation of books. Somehow, the librarian always knew just how much to help me, and just how much to leave me to my own devices. Simply by her warm but unobtrusive presence, I felt like I was in a special place, and that she approved of my love of reading. Anyway, it was far quieter
in there than at home amongst five siblings! To me, librarians are essential to growing a child’s love of reading and research, which is nothing less than essential for navigating one’s way through life. Every community should cherish and celebrate their librarians.”

David Bouchard, successful author and motivational speaker, and a self-confessed reluctant reader has this to say in his keynote speech to the More Than Words Conference 2007:

“You must learn to openly discuss, plan for and prioritize literacy. Everything you do can and should have literacy at the forefront. From the money that you allocate to individual boards, to the resources that you make available to them, to the curriculum and the systems you provide and recommend for teachers to use as report cards, each and every one of these things must reflect that for which your public is crying out – literate graduates!”

Advocacy for school libraries is a necessity. We need to focus on the many roles of the school library and the worth of the teacher librarian.

Libraries are a Commons: both calm haven and gathering place.
Libraries are a Repository: of books, knowledge, information.
Librarians are a Resource: for administrators, their teaching colleagues, students and parents

Catherine Howett

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Welcome to the BCCSL blog

Tuesday, January 15th, 2008

The blog is a forum for discussions of material and issues relating to advocacy for school libraries.
This space gives us an opportunity to publish longer comments and discuss current events in our related News.
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