Thursday, July 07, 2016

eBook Updates, pricing and trends

Based on an annual study from Follett and School Library Journal, we can see that the percent of school libraries offering eBooks has plateaued, although the size of the collections continues to grow:

Perhaps this is due to the disparity in pricing and availability, which while better than a few years ago, is still an issue for libraries.  Based on work pioneered at Douglas County Public Library, we looked at comparable prices for this year’s Abe Lincoln award nominees:

The above chart basically shows that a librarian could buy roughly 20 (21) hardcovers OR 40 paperbacks OR 18 ebooks for the same money ($320 to $325). That amount is roughly double the cost that an individual would spend on Amazon ($172) to buy the same eBooks or, again, roughly double the cost of buying one paperback copy ($161) of each title.  Prices are as of June 2016.  Perhaps we will see some movement in the future as more consolidations occur.  This past spring, Follett purchased Baker & Taylor and last year, OverDrive announced it was being acquired.

Do you have an interesting way to promote eBooks?  Let us know.  Interested in etextbooks use of digital content in schools? Check out this joint report from ASCD and OverDrive, published in April 2016.

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Good Charts and Data Visualization

Good Charts by Scott Berinato is published by Harvard Business Review Press so it understandably uses examples relating to the corporate world (power outages, customer complaints and revenue, for example). However, it is written in such an accessible way that our students will definitely benefit from many of its suggestions on how to best present and read graphs.  Berinato “speaks” to the reader and asks numerous questions and shows many charts (both good and bad), encouraging interaction with them and the data they display. Sections with titles like “When A Chart Hits Our Eyes” or “Getting into Their Minds: Storytelling” further encourages the reader to think critically about the reasons for sharing data and how to best do so, often needing to follow Berinato’s mantra to “deconstruct and reconstruct.” I look forward to sharing Good Charts by Scott Berinato with Social Studies, Business and even Art teachers and classes.  If you would like to see more right now, read Berinato's "Visualizations that Really Work" online from the June 2016 issue of Harvard Business Review.

Visual Literacy is an area that we are increasingly exploring in the library profession.  This 2015 Knowledge Quest article, for example, explores the possible connections with Math, Science and English Language Arts and this Edutopia post from 2014 offers several strategy suggestions. More recently, Journalist’s Resource has published an article, “Getting Started with Data Visualization,” that we have recommended to our newspaper classes along with several database (Statista) and open sources (Pew Research Center) on this Classlinks page.   If you have other ideas to suggest, please let us know. 

I will leave you with a chance to reflect upon a couple of charts; one leads to Berinato's article and the other (click to enlarge) from the Knowledge Quest article illustrates commonalities amongst disciplines -- where the library can often be a leverage point:

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Grit by Angela Duckworth

Captain America: Civil War opened at movie theaters this weekend.  He has GRIT.  It’s Mother’s Day; mothers have GRIT. Angela Duckworth does, too.  She is a Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and a 2013 MacArthur Fellow who will be speaking at New Trier this week about her new book, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance. Duckworth will speak on Wednesday, May 11 beginning at 7pm in the Gaffney Auditorium (385 Winnetka Avenue).  This will follow sessions held that day at noon (Loyola University) and 3:30 (Northside College Prep); all are sponsored by Family Action Network and a number of local initiatives.  

Grit tells about Duckworth’s research and her development of the Grit Scale, a better predictor of who would leave and who would stay during West Point’s Beast Barracks than the admissions measure involving grades, physical ability and leadership potential. Her book has three sections; first she explains “what Grit is and why it matters” with other real world examples like turnover and rejection experienced by sales staff or predicting graduation for Chicago Public Schools’ students.  Then, she discusses “growing Grit from the inside out” and finally “growing Grit from the outside in,” including a profile of NFL quarterback Steve Young and his parents’ “tough love.” Duckworth shares interviews with other high achievers and provides a list of recommended reading and extensive research notes. Throughout, she explains that if adults set high expectations and provide support, kids up their game.  Think about the examples in your own teaching or family that you have seen.

A very few quotes and insights from Grit:
“Our potential is one thing.  What we do with it is quite another.”
“Any effort you make ultimately counts twice toward your goal.”
“Grit can be learned, regardless of I.Q. or circumstances.”
To hear more, follow though by attending one of Duckworth’s presentations this week.  
Added May 11:  David Brooks (New York Times) on  "Putting Grit in its Place"

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Promoting Reading with Speed Dating and Book Trailers

Just a very quick post this month to highlight some of the discussions we have been having at our Library Department meetings about book talks, speed dating, and book trailers.  We have been experimenting with offering shorter “talks” and giving students a chance to preview and react to books.  They sit at a table with several titles on display; choose one and then for a timed two minutes, look at the cover, inside blurb, and read a few pages. As they finish, they rate their level of interest on a form we supply.

It’s fun and the students seem really engaged, often suggesting titles to classmates when we re-start the timer for a new book.  It is relatively easy to interject with quick reviews or to highlight a neglected table or category, too. Response from teachers and students has been very positive.

We have also been experimenting with creating some book trailers and reviewing those that are available on “channels” like the ones listed above. Each year, we use short videos to help promote the Abe Lincoln award nominees, too.  They are often incorporated in a LibGuide like this one (for 2017 already!) by Diana Nelson at Crystal Lake High School.  

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Some ideas for searching help ....

Just posting a few links that lead to much more:

One is Illume Learning which I first came across in an email.  This site makes me think of open educational resources and the efforts to make those more widely available.  Illume Learning is the result of a collaboration between founders Peter Quandt and Justin Irizarry.  On the site, one can search for key terms in a wide variety of sources (books, periodicals, even syllabi and lectures or Khan Academy).  I have shown this to other librarians and we want to spend more time investigating this currently free source.   

My first impressions center on the amount of material that is available – almost too much to efficiently search. The filters (e.g., choose a newspaper name or date range) and advanced searching (add a second term) appear to only work sometimes or in certain patterns but not in others. Although the site may still be under development, it has some exciting potential. This video will give you an idea of the range of sources:

In the meantime, I often turn to the Libguides Community to find ideas of links related to new projects and topics.  The search function could be improved there, too, by allowing for a search of multiple terms and adding K-8 and 9-12 subcategories. Increasingly, it seems that only version1 Libguides are available and that should definitely be addressed.

Saving what is arguably the best for last, here is a link to another favorite, the Journalist’s Resource, a project of the Harvard Kennedy School's Shorenstein Center and the Carnegie-Knight Initiative, which recently posted about “Reporting with Web and Social Media Data.” Last Fall, they also offered a timely pre-election review of “Polling Fundamentals and Concepts.”  Our journalism teachers and student researchers turn to this well-regarded site on a regular basis.