Book Tasting in the Library

By popular demand, I’d like to flesh out the details of an activity I’ve done in the past that I call “book tasting.”  I’m sure I am not the first to do it, but the term seems to be that appeals to our teens!  Here is how today’s book tasting played out with Susan Lester’s 10th Honors World Literature/Composition students who are also our third cohort of  “Media 21.”

Susan and I have worked together in past years to develop a collection of book sets (fiction and nonfiction) on issues related to countries and/or regions in Africa including the HIV epidemic, ethnic wars and genocide, famine, environmental issues, women’s rights,  apartheid, and children soldiers.  We’ve expanded the offerings for this fall to include other contemporary titles related to these issues in other regions of the world as well as immigrant rights, poverty, human trafficking, and privacy issues in a post 9/11 world.

We placed the books on carts that were ready for students when they arrived in the library today.  I explained to the students that we were going to use today’s class period and tomorrow’s to “taste” and immerse ourselves in the books by selecting at least five books over the two day period and to take time to read 10-15 minutes for each book.  Students were encouraged not only to select any five books of their choosing from the carts, but we also offered the option of nominating any additional selections they might choose using our OPAC, NoveList, or Amazon as a discovery portals for additional book choices.  Students are using the form below to record choices, notes, and evaluating how “read-worthy” the book might be with 1 being “Ugh, I can’t get into this book” to 5 being, “I could really sink my teeth into this text.”

Students have the option of sampling more than five books if so inclined.  Once they finish their book tasting on Friday and complete their final evaluations, Susan and I will take a look at their forms and group students in literature and inquiry circles in one of the following ways:

  • Groups may be formed around a common reading
  • Groups may be formed around a common theme or issue.  Groups formed around a common theme or issue may all be reading the same book, or each member could be reading a completely different text but still be unified by the threads of a common theme/issue.  A group could also be doing mixed readings in the sense that half the group is reading one text, and the other half has a different selection.

Once groups are formed, we’ll spend about two weeks immersed in our texts.  I’ll elaborate more in future blog posts, but we’ll be using collaborative reading responses by group, Fishbowl discussions, and individual responses to the texts to scaffold conversations for learning and as the fodder to help students formulate their research topics and inquiry questions for a digital research composition in October (again–more details coming soon on these learning activities, assessments, and objectives).    Our hope is that this learning structure will give students a more organic series of learning experiences that provides them more freedom, ownership, and participation in the unit of study.

Susan and I are excited to restructure the book tasting in this format; in the past, we had a Publisher template I created that looked like a menu, and we actually required students to sample every book from our menu.   We really wanted to open that up this year to allow more choice, and the students seemed much more engaged with the texts they were sampling today.  We can’t wait to see how it evolves tomorrow and to begin our journey of learning with this unit of inquiry!

IGI Global Call for Contributors to the Advances in Library Information Science (ALIS) Series

I’d like to share an exciting opportunity with you to submit a proposal to IGI Global’s Advances in Library Information Science series!  Here is the call for proposals:

IGI Global is pleased to announce that it is accepting new proposals for contribution to the “Advances in Library Information Science” (ALIS) book series. The series, which first launched in the spring of 2010, currently comprises 20 research-oriented publications on the developments and trends affecting libraries in the United States and around the world.

ALIS mission is to expand the body of library science literature by covering a wide range of subjects, particularly those relating to emerging technologies, digitization of resources,information literacy, library education, and collection development. The series is also complemented by a quarterly newsletter , which promotes each book’s content ahead of publication.

For more information and instructions on how to submit your proposal, please visit the call for contributors page here. Deadline for all spring submissions is May 29.

Touring an Unquiet Library Research Pathfinder

I often receive emails asking about the research pathfinders I create as part of the collaborative process.  Check out the video tour of a new research guide I’ve created and the information sources I’ve incorporated into this guide created using LibGuides.

I Begin a New Chapter in My Life as a Reader

I began a new chapter in my life as a reader this weekend with my first official foray into the world of ereading.  Actually, I began crawling in early April when I purchased my first ebook, The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks (don’t judge–I thought a good guilty pleasure potato chip type of read would be a good starting point), from the Amazon Kindle store for the flight to the CIL conference.  Because I have been in love with iPhone (which truly is like a palm sized computer for me) since purchasing my first one last July, I thought the free Kindle app for iPhone was a logical starting point for me.

As it turned out, I was too keyed up about the conference to really read anything print or digital on the flight to Washington D.C., so I didn’t open my new ebook until this weekend.   Spurred by my interest in the iPad and its possibilities, especially after reading Will Richardson’s post, I decided to finally take the plunge this past weekend.  I will readily admit I was a little apprehensive and slightly skeptical about reading on such a tiny device. To my delight and surprise, however, I found myself relishing the reading experience on my iPhone and devoured eight chapters very quickly.  In fact, I found it easier to concentrate and focus on my reading using the Kindle app for iPhone.    I felt just as comfortable curling up on my parents’ swing beneath the big tree in their backyard/pasture with my iPhone and ebook as I would have with a paperback copy.

I then decided to try the Kindle app for PC to do a little nonfiction reading.  While I can do the highlighting and note taking on my iPhone, I find it a little tricky to manipulate the text since my Otterbox cover sometimes it a little challenging to really “grab” the text; I also am a slow typist on the iPhone.  I thought that trying the Kindle app for PC on my work netbook would be a happy medium for trying out the highlighting and note taking features; after

diving into Seth Godin’s new book, Linchpin, I can totally see myself using this app on my netbook for reading nonfiction as I can easily pool all my notes into my Kindle account and then clip and share any reading notes I’d like to make public using my Evernote account.  How much easier is it to pull up your reading notes in one location rather than fumbling through the pages of a print book and transcribing all your marginalia into a central location?

Right now, I feel excited and eager to read books.  While I do a prolific amount of online reading (blogs, podcasts, videos, news articles, database articles (journals, magazines), and Tweets)  and reading of periodicals (primarily print magazines), I find it difficult to schedule reading time for books in my life, which somehow seems incredibly ironic given that I am surrounded by books most of my waking hours.  When I read something, though, I tend to read it very deeply; consequently, I am somewhat of a picky reader as I am selective about where I might expend my energy for pleasure or professional reading (both fiction and nonfiction).   Having a medium now for anytime, anywhere reading, a more affordable pricepoint (I love the $9.99 ballpark!), the bonus of being able to read on my netbook as well as my iPhone, and the fact I find reading on these devices to be pleasurable—these are all factors that I think will cause me to read more “books”.

The beginnings of this journey are a backdrop to directions and ideas I’m thinking about for my library program in 2010-11.  I’ll be blogging more in a few days about how I envision eReaders in my library program and instruction as well as the notion of commonplace texts discussed in Jenny Levine’s brilliant April 30 blog post, “Broken Boxes”, and the possibilities for a shared social reading experience that are informed by my previous study of Dr. Dennis Sumara’s work and his conceptualization of commonplace texts as locations that are “ongoing sites of interpretation” and are found ultimately in people’s relationships with texts.