February 28, 2008

Thanks for midterm feedback

Posted in Updates at 2:26 pm by maf

I always appreciate candid responses to the midterm “discussion,” and this time is no exception.

I’m sorry about last-minute changes to Exhibition, and I’m glad I gave you a choice in the beginning. Sometimes an idea seems good but then just doesn’t work out that way. I think mainly we needed more time in the day as a whole. I enjoyed all the exhibitions – whether done early or late – and I did get to see them all, which was nice!

Once again, I’m reminded that we can’t “cover” every single topic we’d like in the depth we’d like. I have to remind myself over and over that even if we had 100 courses and could cover every possible thing professors could imagine to cover – it STILL wouldn’t be enough. That’s because the job evolves constantly and the subject matter is a moving target.

You asked that I give my opinion on commonly censored topics. I don’t want to do that in public (here, on the record) but will happily do so in person. Just ask me. I have confessions to make and some of my opinions may actually surprise you.

Here’s a reminder that faculty are on retreat this weekend. My experience with Sapelo has been that it’s so isolated that I’m doubting the supposed availability of internet services, and we’ll be busy all weekend anyway. So – I hope nothing comes up that can’t wait til Monday!

Finally, I promised to review the new editions of the Cataloging texts (EDIT 6380).   I have finalized my choices as:

Kaplan, A., & Riedling, A. (2006). Catalog it! A guide to cataloging school library materials (2nd ed.). Worthington, OH: Linworth. ISBN 1-58683-197-6.  Use the first edition only if you find it free somewhere – you will have to do some work to fill in a couple of new sections.

Mortimer, M. (2007).  Learn Dewey Decimal Classification (Edition 22). TotalRecall Publications. ISBN 978-1-59095-804-9.  Earlier editions unacceptable because Dewey itself has upgraded to 22nd.


February 20, 2008

Exhibition and some rhetorical questions

Posted in Updates tagged , , , , , at 10:59 am by maf

These questions for thought have occurred to me since our last class:

  • Kids as early as 4th grade are required to write persuasive essays.  This is challenging.  I ask: forget writing; can they read persuasive text, recognizing it as such, and evaluating its proposals?
  • Many AUPs you will find out there contain the statement: “Internet access is a privilege, not a right.”  This is standard accepted practice, and I certainly won’t mark it wrong.  However, is this still a fair statement?  Is it fair to withhold digital access from any person nowadays, when so much has moved online?  I don’t mean this in the sense of filtering, but in the broader sense of ubiquitous connectivity and social online life.
  • This is about filtering: do filters provide a false sense of security to children and parents? What happens when they access the Internet on an unfiltered terminal – do they carry their assumption of protection with them?

I’m not going to answer those questions – they are just for thought and discussion.

Now for some Exhibition business. Here are a few FAQs:

  • Q: “I have found many examples of my instructional material format.  Just how many am I supposed to bring?”   A: Provide a sampling.  You need not feel obligated to bring huge amounts of stuff.
  • Q: “Who did you say we should send our online materials to?” A: Lisa, ldelgado@uga.edu.
  • Q: “Where is the link to all the Exhibition topics?” A: Here.  Hint:  I index most resources like this on the 6340 Home Page and at the top of the Agenda.  If you’re looking for something and can’t find it there, then ask me to add it.

February 15, 2008

Selection policy drafts – overall comments

Posted in Assignments tagged at 6:32 am by maf

Here’s a summary of my thoughts as I wrap up reading your Selection Policy Drafts.

Overall, they are very well done. All teams accomplished a proper foundation for the complete SP. For each, I communicated any critical problems that needed to be addressed before proceeding. In most cases, there is handwritten feedback on the drafts which can wait until you see them on Feb 23.

As I read your Intellectual Freedom statements, I purposely refrained from commenting. It is not my place to agree or disagree with your positions. While I wanted to cheer many times, I tried not to do that either. Again, the importance of this exercise was to bring you to reflect about intellectual freedom and to be able to articulate a personal position. All of you accomplished this.

I’ve kept a copy of all the feedback, and so you won’t need to resubmit this draft with the final SP.

Here are a few clarifications, words of advice, things prompted as I read through them:

  • Take it as a basic rule that it is best to use the required language, whatever that is. We have invented the terms “Target” and “Principles” for this class. Because we agree internally on what they mean, it’s important to use those terms. Likewise (and much more important), as you go forward in your career, there will be many times when you must submit requests, policies, progress reports, on and on. In each of these, make sure to use the exact native language required. For example, when writing a grant proposal, it’s absolutely critical that you use the terms required by the instructions. This basic rule – so often overlooked – is an important survival skill.
  • Most of you quoted your School Mission, because I required that you link your Targets to it. However, the assignment did not specifically call for this. I will change the assignment for next time to require a statement of School Mission. Another important skill for you to have is to instinctively link each project or plan or policy to this Mission, over and over and over.
  • All of you did a great job of finessing that squiggly line between Selection Principles and Criteria. I think this is a first in my years of grading SPs.
  • Targets must always explain what kinds of things are to be purchased.

As always, if you see a way to improve an assignment or clarify instructions, I am happy to entertain your feedback.

February 13, 2008

Bishop 13: Ethical issues and the collection

Posted in Bishop tagged , , , , at 9:07 am by maf

Here are my highlights and margin notes from reading this chapter.

In the introductory paragraphs, I highly agree with this statement:

“For some of the issues, there are definite legal and ethical guidelines, but in other instances there may be more than one acceptable opinion about an issue.”

This is another way of saying that things are gray and there may be no exact right or wrong answer.

Providing Access section:

  • Once again, this theme is one we will emphasize in Cataloging.
  • The section “Children’s Rights and Intellectual Freedom” is highly relevant to the Selection Policy-making process. She relates the First Amendment and clearly explains it, basing her discussion on authoritative analysis.
  • The Barriers section is eye-opening. Under Inequality of Access – if there are people out there that don’t believe in the simple fact that some schools are poorer than others, they should visit my daughter’s urban school, where there is still no paper and an utterly deaf child’s SST was finally processed last week (after a September referral).
  • On page 166, she explains more laws (acronyms again!) and their relationship to Internet filtering. She provides the essential elements of an AUP.
  • Copyright does not get much space here, which is understandable since you would need volumes to explain it. I hope you’ve picked up from me that I consider the area of copyright to be as ethically important as it is legally.

Selection Materials (168-172)

  • Kay does a good job here of explaining how selection can itself be a censoring process. This problem is why I expect to see proactive prevention of self-censorship in your final order.
  • On page 170 she says, “Knowing one’s self is a prerequisite for selection.” Aren’t you glad you already wrote your personal Intellectual Freedom Philosophy?
  • She ends the section on MSs and Personal Biases with this statement: “If you sense that your personal views may be outweighing your professional judgment, seek other people’s opinions.” I agree, except that I say: do it anyway. This is what your Media Committee is for.
  • Kay spends a lot of time on the principle of balance. This is warranted.


This chapter ends with a quick series of tasks and ethical issues in regards to those collection tasks. Some things to watch out for:

  • Accepting gifts or premiums from vendors to influence your decisions (There is a squiggly line here, to be sure!)
  • Being a responsible accountant
  • Sharing e-materials beyond the scope of a license
  • Taking good care of materials as an ethical responsibility (good stewardship)
  • Disposing of materials properly (I would add environmental stewardship to this point)
  • Confidentiality in circulation
  • What to do if you suspect a student is self-destructive or dangerous to others
  • Patriot Act
  • Restricting materials
  • Weeding of controversial materials (rather than just those that no longer meet selection criteria)
  • Obtaining funding: I had never thought of this as an ethical responsibility before.



The scenarios are excellent. If we had all the time in the world, we would discuss them one by one.

Finally, I hope you’ve noticed by now how wonderful the references and resources are at the end of each chapter. This is one great benefit of having a newly-published textbook.

February 12, 2008

A Slightly Different Wrinkle

Posted in Selection tagged , at 10:24 am by maf

There’s a lot I could talk about today! My feeling about blog postings, though, is that shorter is better. I’ll limit this to a couple of thoughts I’ve had since class Saturday.

True or false: The main purpose of a Selection Policy is to protect again challenges. My answer: False.

Yes, a significant purpose of the SP is to do just that. We certainly had that demonstrated to us in class Saturday from our guest speaker. But what if you live in one of those quiet places where challenges are unlikely to occur? It would be tempting to not bother with the chore of writing a Selection Policy.

The main purpose of a Selection Policy – in my opinion – is to guide  selection so that you will have the best possible collection for your students.

My second thought: many of us are opposed to profanity in children’s materials. Many people are, period. However, the intellectual freedom doctrine would tend to encourage us to ignore our concerns about profanity because it often constitutes a personal bias.

But here’s another wrinkle. We are also bound to avoid stereotypes in materials, or messages that oppress certain groups. Am I alone in believing that much profanity is gender-specifc? Are not many profane words depicting sexual acts cruel in their connotation, implying cruelty to a certain gender? There certainly may be arguments for including such language in a collection. There may also be important arguments against them that have little to do with prudishness. Unfortunately, this whole line of reasoning has been given a tired label: PC.

These are thoughts that occur to me as I read through your Drafts! Remember, there are still no right or wrong personal philosophies of intellectual freedom.

Update: I am 1/3 finished, and plan to do another third tomorrow and the final third on Friday. As I go, I’m sending emails to the teams that include any critical formative feedback, as in “Do not continue until you have fixed ___.”
I am pleased with what I’ve read so far.

February 8, 2008

Intellectual Freedom Personal Statements

Posted in Assignments tagged , , , at 8:50 am by maf

Here’s a compilation of answers I’ve sent out this week to individual questions about the Intellectual Freedom (IF) personal statement portion of the Selection Policy Draft:

If you ALONE were going to write the SP, what would your position on intellectual freedom be? Without the need to compromise or negotiate?

If I see deep reflection, I will be mostly happy. There is no wrong or right position.

The one paragraph given in the SP Draft assignment description accurately and fully describes the task. There are no hidden quality criteria. This is an open-ended, free-form task.

Certainly, you can include as examples specifics from your Reflection About Controversial Issues, as you see fit and are willing to share.

The big idea here is for you to have a chance to think through your own position on IF before you must launch into the fray of constructing a compromised position within your team.

You will not be asked to stand up and read your positions aloud :-). Although I won’t guarantee secrecy on these reflections, they will be read only by me and Beth with the possible help of Stephanie. We won’t be sharing them with anyone beyond the necessary circle.

February 5, 2008

Super Tuesday

Posted in Updates tagged , , at 2:25 pm by maf

Why do you suppose Bishop says, on page 2, “… as we help students become critical thinkers and competent problem solvers who can contribute in a democracy?” Democracy is on our minds as we vote in our state primaries, and we will be talking about critical thinking (evaluating information) on Saturday, but can you put that logical train together? I think it is important that you be able to do that.

Other margin notes from my reading of Bishop Chapter 1:

  • The questions raised on p. 1, para 2 are quite provocative, in regards to online resources.
  • The bullets on p. 2 could almost double as criteria. They are certainly questions that should be asked from a practical point of view.
  • This section on Physical Entity and Accessibility is important regarding the general theme of Information Access – something we emphasize in Cataloging.
  • p.3: We must all wonder how the new learning standards will change discussions like this one.
  • p.5: I really like Kay’s graphic on this page (pardon me, the cat is now lying over my open book…). It’s different how she’s separated them into user/collection-oriented and direct/indirect roles. I think we spend so much time talking about the Four Roles in SLM because things can get so chaotic – it helps to keep reminding ourselves what we’re supposed to be doing.
  • In the section on “Relationships that Influence the Collection” (p.6) she gives a “who’s who” of agencies and how they’re organized. We all know about our own district level, and I wondered how private (independent) schools might write that paragraph differently. We have our RESAs at the Regional Level. At the State level, we have Judy Serritella (if you don’t know her name, you should stop and memorize it immediately! :-)) Kay mentions that “other state agencies are information resources” – and several names to remember along those lines are the Carl Vinson Institute of Government, the Digital Library of Georgia, and of course GALILEO.
  • The section under National Level is a tidy list of laws (with acronyms) that you should recognize: ADA, DMCA, NCLB, LSTA.

I’ll provide more of my margin notes as we go along and they seem relevant. I’m proud to say that I’ve finally finished the book! Just in time to choose the Cataloging texts.

A couple of announcements:

  • The dates for Cataloging will likely be May 17, June 14, July 12. A very small number of people can’t make those dates. We’ll figure out makeup plans for these folks later on.
  • I installed Cohort7 Blog subscription feeds on the course home page. Take your pick: a reader of your choice, or email. I highly recommend one or the other!