Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Budget Cuts - Libraries Under Siege

Budget cuts force libraries to re-examine roles
Google News: 6.21.2011 by Kristen Wyatt, Associated Press

DENVER (AP) — A century after the nation's library building boom, public libraries are under siege: plunging tax revenues are forcing closures and staff cutbacks, while e-readers and the Internet can make a library seem quaint as a place to find a book or do research.

Yet amid severe cutbacks, libraries are finding novel ways to generate money and are rebranding themselves as crucial employment resources for people without computers and as community gathering places that cannot be easily replaced.

"If there's any silver lining in the downturn for libraries, it's that it has really forced us to look at new ways of doing business," said Audra Caplan, president of the Public Library Association, a division of the American Library Association. "We can't depend solely on tax dollars anymore."

Library directors are responding to the dwindling support from local governments by charging for premium services, selling passport photos and joining with DVD retailers to offer commercial movie-rental boxes in exchange for a cut of the sales. In the most extreme examples, some communities have decided to privatize library operations.

On Thursday, the American Library Association meets in New Orleans to begin its annual conference and will address the funding crisis and ways to maintain services.
There's no question libraries face an uncertain future. A 2010 survey by Library Journal showed that 72 percent of surveyed libraries said they faced budget cuts in the previous year, while 43 percent said they had made cuts to staffing. Nearly one in five respondents expressed pessimism about the future of libraries.


"Libraries are everything — opportunities to come read, better yourself, find out what's going on. But these days, it seems no one really cares about all that," said Charles Holt of Denver, a 50-year-old out-of-work cook who walks daily to a library to pass the time and search for a new job.

These days, Holt is walking farther because his closest library branch is now open just four days a week. Budget cuts in Denver threaten to shut his branch and up to half the city's library branches permanently.

He said even in his relatively low-skill field of commercial cooking, he needs the Internet to find work.

"Not everybody has a computer," said Holt, who said even some unemployment benefits require online applications. READ MORE !

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

American Commons Photographing Public Libraries

An American Commons
Photographing Public Libraries
Across the Nation
6/24 – 8/15/11

Follow Robert Dawson and his son Walker across the United States as they photograph public libraries in some 22 states: New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia, Washington D.C., Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York and New England.

This project is a photographic survey of public libraries throughout the United States. There are over 17,000 public libraries in this country. Since I began the project in 1994 I have photographed hundreds of libraries in nineteen states. From Alaska to Florida and from New England to California the photographs show a vibrant, essential yet threatened system.

The modern library in the computer age is in the midst of reinventing itself. What belongs in a library? In what form do we want to preserve information and culture? More books are being published than ever before yet library budgets are shrinking. More is also being demanded of our libraries as they move beyond being centers for books to becoming centers for community. People without homes often find libraries to be one of the few safe places as homeless shelters are cut back. Access to the Internet is increasingly necessary to function in our society and many people have only the library to connect to the web. READ MORE !

Examples of earlier work 1994 – 2011

Founder and co-director of the Water in the West Project
Instructor of Photography at San Jose State University
Instructor of Photography at Stanford University

Friday, June 10, 2011

Teach Reading Without Using Labels

Teach reading without using labels
Sign On San Diego: 6.10.11 by John Corcoran

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” As children, we were taught those words. But as adults, we know that words and labels can and do hurt. One such label is “learning disability.”

Like the thorn in the lion’s paw, which others cannot see but the lion feels sharply, the pain caused by being labeled “learning disabled” cannot be discounted. Others may say the label is harmless, or that it is meant to be helpful in the allocation of educational resources. But that label, often given in childhood, can cause pain and shame into adulthood.

Coined in 1963 by Samuel Kirk, who was then a professor of special education at the University of Illinois, the term was first suggested to concerned parents as a means of describing “their children who had disorders in development of language, speech, reading and associated communication skills.”

Before the 1960s, terms that had been used by the medical and education community to describe these children included “brain damaged,” “minimal brain dysfunction,” “mentally retarded” and “emotionally disturbed.” Many parents embraced “learning disabled,” swallowing the psychological placebo in hopes it would make everything all better. But it has not.


So what term should we use? How about “Susie” or “Jimmy”? Call each learner, child or adult by his or her name. Then identify their individual challenges with reading through diagnostic testing. Based on the results, prescribe the evidence-based treatment.


It’s time to stop looking at learners with difficulties as disabled. They are “learning able.” I know because of my personal experience. If I had been in elementary school in the early 1960s, I would have been branded with that new label of “learning disabled.” Instead, when I was a little boy growing up in the 1940s, I was put in the “dumb row” because I was among the many children who had difficulties learning how to read and write.

The term “dumb” stuck with me until I learned to read at the age of 48. Finally, as an adult, I found a teacher who knew how to teach me. She gave me a battery of tests that diagnosed my difficulties (a severe auditory discrimination problem was the main one) and recommended proper treatment and instruction based on the findings. Never was I considered learning disabled by that teacher. She believed I was able to read with proper instruction.


The way forward is clear. We have the research and the science to teach all learners. This is the level playing field that produces equal opportunity for all. Let’s do away with the labels and see each other for who we truly are: learning able. READ MORE !

Corcoran is a literacy advocate and author of “Bridge to Literacy: No Child – or Adult – Left Behind” and his autobiography, “The Teacher Who Couldn’t Read.” He has served on the National Institute for Literacy.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Next Literacy - Mickey McManus, MAYA Design

TEDTalk - Innovate: Education -- The Next Literacy
Huffington Post: 6.7.11 by Mickey McManus, CEO-MAYA Design

What if there were a basic literacy beyond reading, writing, and arithmetic that we missed, or that wasn't necessary until this moment in our history?

What if that new literacy were the organizing principle between STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) and SEL (social, emotional learning)?

What if it could help the least among us leapfrog over the mainstream? What if it could help build collaborative, resilient, creative, & critical thinkers in an age of exponential change? READ MORE !

For more information check out LUMA Institute.