Saturday, January 25, 2020

LSSL 5332- Journal Entry Post #4

LSSL 5332

Unit 2

Journal Entry #4

“For the Unit 4 Reflection Journal, please compose a letter to a future student of LSSL 5332. Share a reflection of your own journey, challenges, successes and recommendations/advice about how to 'conquer the course'.  As you think about the content for your letter, review each Module and celebrate what you have learned.”


Dear Future Librarian,

            You are about to embark on a journey full of emotions and knowledge. Your emotions will range from pure anxiety and utter defeat to relaxation and ease of knowing that what you did was correct after all. This course is not easy, but, by no means, is it difficult. The only way to make this course more difficult for yourself is to procrastinate and do assignments last minute.

            When you break down each of the eight modules, they have a specific reason to be introduced at that specific time. The following is a list to allow you to understand the basics of what the overall course will have in store for you:

-Module 1: The Introduction, Understanding Bibliographic Records, Standardized Cataloging, Searching and Cataloging for Non-English Speakers

            Here is where you will be introduced to the class along with your group members for the course. Like the many classes you have taken before this one, the class is small, so get to know your peers and teacher earlier rather than later. One of the first assignments is one of the longest. Do not hesitate to reach out for help from your fellow librarians or Professor Edwards. Many of the upcoming assignments require quite a bit of research, so get your mouse ready to go!

            At the end of every unit or chunk of units, you will have a journal entry to reflect on how your learning experience went. Go back and truly take the time to reflect, going activity to activity, examining what you learned and could use in the future to better your skills. I, personally, will be adding my posts to my blog for my final portfolio to reflect on my learning experiences as my course work comes to an end.

            This was where my anxiety was at an all-time high. I had never encountered any of the work we were currently asked to do and even the textbook couldn’t save me. I felt like I was constantly knocking on my school librarian’s window asking for help. But, you know what? They are there to help, and they want to help. Once I got over my fear of being looked at strangely or seeming like I didn’t know anything, I was much more relaxed when it came to asking questions and getting the answers I needed. My tip for you is to go in with an open mind, knowing that you won’t know everything, and that it is okay to ask questions and do a little side research on assignments. 

-Module 2: Subject Authorities

            This one will require quite a bit of practice and can be time consuming at times. I urge you to reach out to your fellow librarian friends or co-workers and obtain a PDF copy or list of SEARS subject headings for reference. I received a PDF version, and I saved it to my computer for easy searching, using it throughout the course. By searching for “sears subject headings full list” in Google, your top hit will result in an 800+ page document that you can scan through.

            The second most important portion of this module is something that will affect you in the future: the organization of materials paper. Here is where you will choose your thesis question, post it to the group, and critique others’ questions to help them narrow down a true thesis and help with what they could potentially use as research. 

            My anxiety spiked a bit here because I had not written a research paper it quite some time. Again, I asked my school’s librarian for help and received some really great feedback. Along with feedback, he also informed me of some websites and individuals who would be good to explore based on my topic. I was upset with myself when I couldn’t figure out the “key” to SEARS subject headings, but I found out that there was no “key” per se, rather you just had to practice over and over again. It really put into perspective how hard catalogers work to get the correct information into the database.

-Module 3: Dewey Decimal System

            Besides module two, this is the longest module with the most work. Again, do not procrastinate on these assignments. The Dewey Decimal Task Card assignment that deals with exploration of the Dewey Decimal System was tricky at first, but once you understand what to do, it becomes much easier. When you go to the public library, do not do the whole “I know everything smile” and walk away. Soon, you will be a librarian and will know that smile means that you actually need help but are too afraid to ask. Approach that desk, and ask a question! The librarians and aides are there to help you with this assignment. 

            Take Professor Edwards’ words to heart. There were a few assignments where the entire class did not do too well in, and Professor Edwards allowed us to go back and fix the problems, having us state in written reflections why we chose the original answers and if we understood the correct answers. This was hands down one of the best learning experiences I have had in my course work to date. It is one thing to give the answers, but it is another thing to give the answers and have you go back and understand your work. In the end, most students would not have taken the time to go back and review. Since we were capable of getting a grade change, it really put into perspective how much we should go back and review our work, much like reviewing anything you input into a computer for children and adults in the future.

-Module 4, 5, and 6: MARC Records, Locating and Copying Records, Original Cataloging, and BestMARC Cataloging Tools

            When I say that BestMARC is one of the most easily accessible and user-friendly websites, I am not joking. I absolutely loved the BestMARC website and being able to go in and add, edit, and download files. This is another portion of the class where you need to take special care to go through the content before the activities or it will become very confusing very fast. Once you are in the program, with the side by side tutorial, you will realize how much fun the program really is. Be sure to save everything as one of the assignments is going to be used for your portfolio.

            Cataloging is not hard, but you learn that it is time consuming. The programs are interactive, easy to use, and fun as long as you watch the tutorials and practice a bit. After speaking with several librarians at several locations (schools ranging from elementary to high school, public branches, and online discussions), you start to realize that every single person serves a different role in the cataloging department. Some school districts have one main higher up group who does the majority of it, while others have the head librarian of each school individually catalog. Whatever your district or branch chooses, it is still vital information for anyone, especially when it comes to searching for a specific book. 

            The second most interesting thing I found during the course of these modules was how different each cataloging program can be. In my school district we use Follett Destiny, but your district/branch may have another focus. It is interesting to even see the difference between SEARS and The Library of Congress’ subject headings. Take into account all of the different ways you may see a single resource.

            The next important chunk of these modules is the practice TExES scenario questions. Don’t overthink things, just use what you know! From my understanding, I got both questions correct because I didn’t sit on it and dwell, I went ahead and chose the answer that fit best. The questions are not hard, but if you have not taken this course or taken it seriously, I could foresee some issues. These are the types of questions you will see on the actual certification test, so take your time to research and review before answering.

-Module 7: Automation Systems Cataloging

            This was the most difficult assignment of them all because you have to take everything you know and put it into practice. You are required to add your own catalog record for six different books, provided by Professor Edwards. What makes this so difficult is that none of the books are real, including the title, descriptions, and there is a lack of a book cover. What helped me most with this assignment was to print out the assignment, separating the lines with plenty of space in between, and to break down each section, highlighting the portions that belong to each tag number. 

            The best advice Professor Edwards gave was to make a duplicate copy to your original catalog, so that you can go in and edit the end result once she has reviewed your work. I chose to make mine into a PowerPoint slideshow because I am familiar with the program. The PowerPoint allowed me to go in and make one slide with the information given by Professor Edwards, the next slide with my information, and the last slide of the bunch with my original cataloging for each book. I highly recommend you transfer over your work as soon as it comes back to you so that you are not pressed for time later on.

-Module 8: RDA Dipping In and Awareness

            The horrid research paper is not as horrid as you think. In fact, my peers discussed some of the most interesting topics and they, along with Professor Edwards, helped me choose a final topic, leading to my final paper. The paper was interesting because you dig into some real numbers and data to weave into your paper.

If I could, I would suggest the same gentleman that my librarian suggested to me when it came to research: Keith Curry Lance. This man saved my life! His website is littered with journals and information that pertains to almost everyone’s’ topics. If you do not choose to use him, he is still a great source of information!

            The best part about this entire course is how specific Professor Edwards is about her loaded, oral lectures, her notations in Smore, and the additional videos added to help guide you in the process. It may seem like a bit much at first, but I urge you to go through the content and videos before moving on to any activities.

            Remember to have fun, ask questions, and know that you are not alone. You’ve got this!


            Molly Childs

Saturday, January 11, 2020

LSSL 5332- Journal Entry Post #2

LSSL 5332

Unit 2

Journal Entry #2

“During unit 2 we will be discussing and learning about Dewey Decimal and organization of materials in a library.  For the Reflection Journal 2, discuss your ideas about standard organization of library materials versus nonstandard methods (genre etc).  Discuss standard organization and standard cataloging (what you know so far) and why it is important for students to develop information literacy skills to be able to locate and access materials.  In other words, why is it important to teach them how to find materials rather then 'making it easy for them' to find books. How does cataloging, particularly using standard methods of organization, support the development of these skills?  As you reflect, think about your role in cataloging and how your decisions impact the development of life-long skills for using libraries. Include specific examples to illustrate your points and cite sources as appropriate.”

Standardized Organizations of Materials

Standard organization of materials in a library falls under multiple categories, all of which equally important. MARC 21 and AACR2 help catalog the material in the computer database, but they do not necessarily organize them on the users’ level. Librarians have access to the records, understanding them with ease, allowing them to find specific information on a book and then finding the book faster. Within a library, most individuals do not know how to use the cataloging system, therefore, rely on other ways to find materials. While I do not necessarily think that every patron should be able to access and understand the above mentioned records, I do believe that patrons should be able to find materials they need in a quick, logical manner.

Specifics such as the Dewey Decimal System help patrons find books. When librarians decorate signs and hang them on the edge of the bookcase, much like in school settings, children tend to peruse more than normal. Instead of finding a book on the computer’s system, the child will walk around looking at the pictures as opposed to finding the number associated with the book they actually want. This has actually been an ongoing issue at my school, and the librarians are having a difficult time of breaking the habit of the older students who want to wander and find a book based off of the cover instead of finding one for what its contents have. Honestly, I see it every time we go to the library. Students have expressed to me that they just don’t want to read for fun and find it difficult to find a book. Many students have to be prompted on a genre, author, or idea and then we, the librarian and I, will guide them to a book they may enjoy. It can be frustrating at times, now after these classes, to know how much effort was put into organizing books in a library, especially one as large as some of these are nowadays, and people not taking the time to use the information and honor it.

The Dewey Decimal System, as an idea rather than a full out concept, is explained, in detail, to students at the beginning of the year in almost every grade to make sure that students understand how to find a book and what to do when replacing a book. Yet, even after hearing the same instructions for ten plus years, students leave high school still not knowing how to find a book without asking an adult for help. I truly believe that if students used the skills they already had, along with the information given to them over the years, the anchor charts, and computer programs within the library, they would develop a better sense of what they enjoy reading and a deeper meaning of why they enjoy it.

Students need to be able to know what they enjoy and don’t enjoy reading because of the rigor of our schools increasing each year, adding in more individualized, self-sustained reading to correlate with reading and writing within the classroom. As a seventh grade teacher, I am required to take them to the library bi-weekly, but I do not have to require them to check out a book because it is their choice. I can “require” them to check out a book, in Lame man’s terms, but I can’t make them read when they leave the classroom. And, in all honesty, I sometimes can’t even get them to read when they are in the classroom. The constant struggle I face is students not knowing what they like, therefore, they don’t choose books they actually want to read. When they don’t read in class for fun, gaining those habits and asking deeper questions, they definitely don’t read at home for fun. My go to quote is that one can only better themselves at reading and writing if they practice it over and over again. If a student isn’t practicing reading, inside or outside of the classroom or library, they are not improving their literacy skills. If we continue to sit here and give children books because they say they like something specific, they are never going to branch out on their own and take the initiative to find something new. 

As a current teacher and future librarian, I make it my goal to help guide children to books, never giving them anything. I ask probing questions, pick their brains, ask what they have recently read or watched, and go from there. I make sure, after gaining enough knowledge of their likes, to give them a plethora of genres and books to choose from instead of saying they should read only one book because it fits all of their criteria.

When a child can think for themselves about a specific kind of book they like, choose a book for themselves based on their reasoning, and want to read something on their own, without being told by an adult, is when I will finally say I succeeded as an educator who engrained that reading can be fun.

Intner, Sheila S., Fountain, Joanna F., & Weihs, J. (2010). Cataloging correctly for kids: An
     introduction to the tools (5th ed.). Chicago, IL: American Library Association Editions.

Teacher Comments:

Great work on the reflection!  You've noted key points in the why and how of cataloging.  It is so important to help our users get comfortable with searching and understanding the organization.  This is why the idea of varied genrefiying schemes are troublesome for me.  I'm just not convinced they are best for kids.  

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