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EdTech Update





BFTP: The library's first contact with parents

This question was recently posted to LM_Net:

Do any of you send a letter home with students at the beginning of the year that explains library rules, routines, info, etc..?  If so, could you please share so I could generate some ideas. Thanks in advance.

Ah, the first thing our parents hear from us are our RULES! 

Why not hit them with our SERVICES in that first communication instead?

Rather than...

Dear Parents,

Please be aware of the library's rules:

  • Your child is allowed to check out two books each week.
  • Books must be checked out and returned on the specified library days.
  • If a book is not returned, no additional books can be checked out.
  • Fines will accrue for late books.
  • Lost books must be paid for by parents before report cards are issued.

Your librarian


Dear Parents,

The library program has some exciting opportunities in store for your child this year:

  • Our curriculum will be promoting the very best of children's literature to your child with activities designed to help student's enjoy the stories even more.
  • We be doing our very best to get (or keep) your children "hooked on reading" by recommending specific reading materials to each individual.
  • At each grade level, students will be learning research and computer skills specifically suited to their developmental needs. 
  • The new iPads in the library will be available for reading e-books this year!
  • We have a lot of special events being planned, including author visits, a book fair, and reading contests.
  • If you would like to volunteer to help in the library, please let me know. We'd love to have you.

Your librarian

Parents can and should be our greatest advocates, but this will only happen if we communicate the positive. Sure, it's OK to communicate library "rules." But what priority should this communication be given? Think about it.

See also

Original post August 10, 2102


Whip me, beat me, make me change my password



It's a little embarrassing, but it's taken three years to change our system to allow our students to change their own passwords. Until this fall, students used their student ID numbers as their passwords - number strings that were all too discoverable by fellow students and others.

We will be undertaking a proactive educational program for all kids this fall teaching them both the how and why of good password security. We will reach, I believe, the vast majority of kids with this training, investing in them not just a skill, but an understanding of why that skill is important. At least until biometric access becomes the norm.

The question I have been struggling with is if we should also enforce a mandatory password change.  Many security gurus in the business world recommend forced, regular password changes by all employees/application users with long strings of required password "strengths" including not being able to reuse a password. I use a number of applications that require this. Joy, joy.

My biggest concern of the forced password change is that dilutes the personal responsibility we are trying to invest in our kids. "Real world ready" graduates, I believe, would see all forms of digital safety and responsibility as something that cannot be left to others to manage. It is your job to lock the door of your house, not that of a security officer or neighborhood watch.

Is my idealism putting student privacy at risk? What is your district's policy? 

U of Iowa Library School profiles 25 grads

Considering I barely made it through the program, I find it somwhat ironic that I was chosen to be one of the alums to be given a WHOLE PAGE in the latest newsletter from the University of Iowa's School of Library and Information Science. The issue explores the 50 year history of the program. 

Let me explain...

After spending two years as the world's worst HS English, Speech, and Drama teacher in a small Iowa town from 1976-78, I decided I needed a career change. I had always loved libraries, and more importantly, wondered what job could possibly be easier than that of a librarian? Order books, keep kids on task, and read a lot. Even more importantly, how much does a person really need to know to be a librarian anyway so how hard could it be to get a degree in Library Science? Getting an undergraduate degree in English Ed was primarily reading literature and then bullshitting on essay tests, and I felt that was about my academic ability level.

So I applied (not giving those reasons for my interest in the field) and was accepted into the program, where immediately that first term I discovered that my fellow classmates consisted of about 30 of the most brilliant, hardworking (obsessive?), and serious women I had ever met in my life. That first summer I barely hung on by my finger tips, especially in the cataloging class where I was the only person handwriting catalog cards. I was given a mercy C for the course if I remember. I promised the instructor to never, never accept a job as a cataloger.

But I managed to work my fulltime evening job to support myself and small family and still get through the program. I was the beneficiary of reverse discrimination, being the only white male in the school library part of the program. Two full semesters and two summer sessions later, I had my degree and was back in a small Iowa school, this time as a school librarian.

And I loved it, continuing to work as a school librarian for the next 12 years. Like the library school program, the job itself was more involved that thought.



So now you know the rest of the story.

I am deeply grateful to the U of I's SLIS and very proud to have been selected as a profiled alum, regardless of how mistakenly the decision was made.