or, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Fear and Loathing at a Public Library Reference Desk



Ideas on Serving Students

   July 7th, 2009

stacks of textbooksTwo posts this weekend caught my eye, both being new (to me) ideas on serving kids and students.

Renting Textbooks
The first was a New York Times article about Chegg.com, a company that rents textbooks to college students. They use the Netflix model, which makes a lot of sense for something as temporary and expensive as textbooks.

I always try to imagine the long-term implications of things. For renting textbooks, if it really takes off, it could mean that fewer will be purchased, which may cause them to get even more expensive. If it impacts the publishers' profits, it might drive them faster towards ebooks, which are much more difficult than print books to loan/rent/use for lots of DRM and format issues.

Downside to Summer Reading?
The second was an article from a mother who homeschools her children, on why she doesn't enroll them in summer reading programs. My library's summer reading program is usually elaborate, and kids have always seem to love it - participating seems to make reading more fun.

I read her article and the comments, and I still don't see a downside. Summer Reading Programs are an incentive for kids reluctant to read, and for kids that read anyway, they are still a fun way for them to get recognition. But most important, it's participating in something bigger than themselves, and reading by suggesting books along with other kids their age. It's not just about inflating circ stats or even building reading skills and habits - it's also about the social aspect of being a part of a community of people who enjoy learning and imagination.

via LISNews and Slashdot/LibraryStuff




Tags: , , , , , , , , ,


7 Responses to “Ideas on Serving Students”

  1. Peggy Says:

    “The social aspect” has been the issue that keeps some home schooling parents from signing their children up for public activities. I have on a number of occasions encountered paretns who would not let their children join groups which did not offer enough control over what their children would read or with whom their children would interact.
    It is not always the case but it has happened often enough in my experience to be worrisome.

  2. Auntie Nanuuq Says:

    I’d like to know what she would do if she had a child (like me) who refused to read until their Junior year in H.S.?

  3. Auntie Nanuuq Says:

    I wonder what she would do with a child like me who refused to read until I was a Junior in H.S.?

  4. Kelly Says:

    I agree with Peggy– the word “socialization” is a neutral one to most of us, but it gets torn to shreds in homeschooling magazines every month (or at least it did when my folks were homeschooling me 10 years ago and I was keeping up with their reading so I knew what to expect next). The belief that you shouldn’t provide extrinsic motivation for something that kids should do for intrinsic reasons is a prevalent one in homeschooling culture, as well. All I know personally is that you couldn’t tear my books away from me as a kid, but those pizzas I got through the Book-It! program were a nice bonus. :)

  5. Rosten Says:

    I’m with Kelly. I also homeschooled, and although I didn’t need any encouragement to read, free food was always welcome, especially since eating out was a rare treat in our family. We got a coupon for cinnamon crisps from the local taco place for every 10 books read during the summer reading program.

    Incentives won’t hurt kids who already love reading, and it might help encourage those who don’t care for it. At our library we let the kids set their own goal, and as long as they read at least one book they can pick out a free paperback book at the end of the summer.

    I’ve found that our homeschooling families are happy to participate in the summer reading club, although they don’t necessarily do any of our other special programs.

  6. Brian Herzog Says:

    By “the social aspect,” I was referring to discussing books you’ve read with peers who have also read those same books – not “socialization” in the sense of teaching kids how to act in public.

    I don’t think reading is necessarily an isolation activity. I often get as much out of someone else’s interpretation of the book – and our shared experience of both having read it – than I do from my reading of it. And while I know that summer reading programs aren’t exactly book groups, similar kids tend to read similar books, and that can build connections between them.

  7. Kathy Says:

    I used to work as a teen librarian, and I have to admit that I don’t find the traditional summer reading program very effective. They typically reward students who are already established readers and discourage reluctant readers. Because there are prizes, it makes reading seem like work which requires a bribe. Just as you don’t want to tell your kids that they’ll get dessert if they clean their plates because it implies that dessert is good and their dinner sucks, you don’t want to imply that reading is a chore. The other problem I have is that reading programs often reward based on the amount of reading or the quality of the books read. Kids who are really struggling to read don’t get the same rewards as kids who are established readers and can zip through a larger number of books and can read books with more difficult vocabulary. The kids we want to interest most in reading often become discouraged, and the ones who were going to read anyway are the ones who get rewarded.