The #1 Book

I like to ask people what they think is the most popular book among Vancouver children. They usually get it. wrong. They guess Harry Potter or something Star Wars… Maybe a girly book. Almost always fiction. But in fact Guinness Book of World Records is the highest circulating book in Vancouver School Libraries.  Year. After. Year. I find that surprises people. Tell me do you understand it?


As arguments go round about where, when, if the internet will REPLACE books I love to discuss WHY Guinness Book of world records is so popular.

I mean if you want to know who has the longest fingernails in the world today or  world’s hottest chillis eater you can ‘know it’. Why do kids, especially, love Guinness when we know they could ‘just look it up’?  I like to think I know why. Its the compendium of it. The selection, the curation, collation.

Simply put how can kids look up to know… What they don’t know they don’t know? It is the selection of fantastical facts in World records books the kids go for. Same with all the Grossology type info books and other things that stretch the imagination to learn to love fact finding. Our children and their wonder is growing. They love these books because they don’t know what the might look up yet.  Package volumes like these represent something youngsters will still crave. And sumptuous, glossy, oversized page spreads that two friends leaf through on the floor of a rec room is a good time computers should not replace.

Books are ALSO a social media, no? And, tell me what codex rank highest on your ‘likes’ lists?

So sit back and watch every kid checkout their Guinness Book from the library. And if you want to surprises a kid yourself may we recommend.


A good read on kid record culture.  Love the series!

A good read on kid record culture. Love the series!

Footnote: Don’t get me wrong — I am one of those LOOK IT UP! Fairies! But me. The kids. We believe variety is the spice of life.  Let’s say the Internet AND Books, right?

ebooks specs

In preparation for Vancouver Teacher Librarians staging their ebook and ereading plans for 2011-2012 I have to provide a bit of background on what options there are for ebooks to libraries. The current discussions of ebookery have created a good measure of hrumpfing on my part — especially as regards the assumptions some monolithic ‘the book’ discussion is going to address the needs of libraries.

Core to this is the ongoing misconception, or is it wishful thinking?, that libraries are actually bookrooms. We’re not. Libraries are not, and never have been, dusty book warehouses. Libraries — especially school libraries — are fresh lean collections of carefully selected items targetted at improving student information seeking success.

Credit James D. Griffioen.

Credit James D. Griffioen.

So tell me if we find the right content for K12 reading as ebooks, let’s just assume that it is out there… how do you want it delivered? The choices, VERY simplified.

1. Databases of ebooks with selected content lent exactly like print books with statistics for tracking loans and limits on concurrent users. This is most often familar to people as the Overdrive service most commonly experienced in BC through the Public Libraries shared license for Libraries to Go.

2. Database of ebooks with no limit on concurrent users and little control over the content entries but somewhat specialized by genre. E.g. Books 24×7 or NetLibrary.

3. Owned book titles from online bookstores like Amazon-kindle or Chapters, etc. (with or without a library imperative to provide ‘host devices’.)

4. Free book titles selected and promoted for a myriad of devices ereaders, cellphones or other handheld devices, laptops, etcetera.

So I guess what we need to do next is determine.. what do you want? VSB’er speak up here.

see also: iBooks
Open Library

But especially to mess with ya:

Resource du jour: Grown in Detroit

A recent tweet requested a video title that would offer a peek at empowering girls through education.  I jumped to recommend Grown in Detroit. Such a well-rendered telling of a compelling urban story centred on the teen moms of one school is on film that spins in too many directions for me not to want to recommend it. I don’t know that it fits the empowering pigeon-hole but perhaps, more importantly, the connectedness of these girls’ case.

Click to watch the trailer or watch on demandGrown in Detroit

Hybrid Technology

In the past year the Media Services team has worked with, and responded to, school libraries circulating hardware devices including: ereaders, laptops, document cameras and ipads.  Turns out a simple adjust to corollary level of service on our audio/visual education role.  As I have oft said to folks since the disaggregation of devices and the exploding blend of multimedia… It is the 70’s all over again. 70sWhat did I say? “Streaming video clip culture is the filmstrip of today?” Yeah something like that.  Teach and talk.  Nope never a shush centre.

Right as we talk so much about learning commons in breaths that are very much about books and the library space as a site of consumption we seem to be placing second the content generation principles of the common area.  The old fangled monikers of school libraries as media centres are returning. Will staff have the druthers to try again with managing hardware when it is rarely as fun as controlling content? I see that ALA – Video roundtable folk are working hard to place  best scope on how to apply library lending (and service) support to needs for equipment (with or without curated content).

I look, for example, at the the Media Works space of BCIT and see we still have this sort of gap in school technology support systems. Thinking it over should help enunciate the real prompting of learning commons development; it is the other hand of any digital learning promise.  While we might cite (or presume) what access students have we need meet a baseline.  No wireless bubble over the city environs will do as much as staffed hubs with hotspots and long hours offering intersections for tech access.

For public schools controlling  investment in waxing and waning technologies of these ‘books of today’ is as important as ever.  Expensive, only demi-ubiquitous and better used communally newest tools are resources well meant for sharing these days.  Just like books used to be.  Same services different day.

But then again.  What do I know?  I just threw out the laserdiscs, today.  I worry so much as we face new opportunities that we will do it again. Make some major investment that will freeze us in time the way VHS did?  Watch and learn.

#bookend redux

Last spring I started a #bookend conversation about downsizing our library collections.  At collections in excess of 1.8 million items it is an ongoing conversation.  This spring with the plans to map a clear path to replacing hard media video (esp. VHS) with streaming content the conversation has extended.  As we renew this spring I will repeat the message.  If libraries want book to be their brand I say chance it.  Or maybe you would rather choose: books + reader services, comfortable supportive spaces, online leadership and curation for collaboration.

Your call.

The time is now to separate art from junk (checkout this though provoking —  somewhat dubious — slideshare for attribution sake on that one.)

*** Updated to add, See also: #smileoftheday

Digital Library Content for Classrooms and Vancouver Families

Every year MLST purchases database and ebook content for the webcat digital library.  With the help of Teacher Librarians, technical staff and classroom teachers some titles are specifically selected for Vancouver students.  Many others are part of legacy work to build a digital collection and others are additions chosen based on provincial process with BCERAC.

If you have feedback on current items, questions or if you have suggestions for additions just make a comment on this post.  Subscription seasons run July to July and every September these resources are reintroduced to teachers, students and PAC through the school library.

Students login to our databases as often as 50,000 times a month.  Vancouver student love their web use, of course, but they also are top-flight researchers who consume high quality publications to get the most authoritative information they can for their learning.  We’re proud of VSB students hitting this important information literacy benchmark.

ps. a limited trial for ebook use is available to interested schools by contacting the librarian in MLST.

Recommended titles list from #39edtech

Some rights reserved

Some rights reserved

In the same way libraries offer great selected print resources the school experience should expose students to beautiful, engaging, technically excellent video experiences. Here is a list of titles to fit to the curriculum meeting all those criteria. Use them in the classroom or refer these sources for home use.

For everyone at home and at school. Bully Dance (DVD or streaming)
The quintessential Pink day video: Bully Dance. Beautiful film without words with a strong message about bullying. Suitable for ages 5 to Adult, really.

For younger students: Bookflix (Database)
Online literacy resource that pairs classic video storybooks from Weston Woods with related nonfiction eBooks. An engaging way to link fact and fiction, BookFlix reinforces early reading skills and introduces children to a world of knowledge and exploration. Don’t miss classics like Click, Clack, Moo and Knuffle Bunny. (ask your TL for login info as needed, or your students!)

For Science (DVD or Streaming)
Check out the Bill Nye streaming content and junior space science titles licensed for VSB by visiting webcat for streaming video. Login with your VSB login for delivery of VSB streaming.

For Social Studies/Global Education (DVD or Streaming)
Tune in to the4Real School series via VSB streaming. Using thought-provoking, hands-on lessons, multimedia and music, 4REAL School fits for students in grades 6-12 making connections with issues such as poverty, human rights, and the environment.

The M Word (DVD)
Canada is the only country in the world that is constitutionally multicultural. Many Canadians think that this principle, after more than three decades, is well entrenched. Yet, at the first sign of disquiet, our Multiculturalism policy is called into question. Multiculturalism, a work in progress.

Hans Rosling titles (Youtube streaming)
Selected titles in featuring charming speaker Hans Rosling Swedish professor of global health. Rosling’s work focuses on dispelling common myths about the so-called developing world and his has developed outstanding graphics to give a ton of information in a very short time. You have never seen stats like this before.

For English teachers
Take advantage of writers and poets online with these two sources. Poetry Everywhere is a PBS stream of poets presenting their works. If you lose this link this title is easy find keyword searchable in and is currently on our recommended list of links. (also includes new animated poetry titles). This Canadian producer’s Youtube channel offers great content on the writing process through author interviews.

RSAnimate (Streaming)
Does VSB have a whiteboard pro who can draw like this? Extreme-art transformations of lectures, RSAnimate offers great resources for student, parent and teacher, learning. As demonstrated on #39edtech here the Power of Time video from the routinely excellent stream.

For Aboriginal Education Plastic Warriors (DVD)
“Plastic Warriors” is an eye-opening and much-needed examination of common harmful First Nations stereotypes. An very demanding conversation opener this is one among a number of videos recently acquired to aid the classroom teacher meet VSB Core Values of excellent Aboriginal education standards.

Facing up to Cyberbullying (DVD or streaming)
Lesson plans and paired with VSB student video production for grades 5, 6 and 7. Many Vancouver schools have made good use of this title since it’s release in September 2010 and sales have extended to many other BC school districts.

Visit my VSB likes playlist on Youtube to preview.  Let’s start crowdsourcing the picks that VSB teachers like; email me and we can set up a login to share.

Reminder: To answer the VSB media_shift survey go here.  Thx. We want to index the best youtube finds from VSB teachers.  Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!

BrainPop Video

Schools have been inquiring for a bit over a year about using BrainPop video in the classroom. Brain Pop is a database of hand made animations for curriculum objectives. Short animations that offer quizzes or ending activities this tool is very desirable for a lot of our schools with the tools to use streaming video.

The bonus too is that it comes in three flavours. BrainPop regular, BrainPop ESL AND BrainPop French. We have feasted on a few trials but the access to free content seems to be winding downs, as per usual, as the marketability winds up. In consultation with French TLs we were agreed that we would be at a loss if we cannot offer it in the Fall. (This is what happened to the ESL group).

For now there seems to be not clear district budget for this sort of resource. The hope is in short order a coordinated purchase of school accounts will make the price affordable and the flow of teaching practice with the tool mobile.

Any feedback teachers can offer on using BrainPop in the classroom is useful to the whole group.

What do we need?

What kind of video do we need in the classroom? Is there such a thing as educational video anymore? Or can all video be ‘made educational’? Would you get better success with Green Zone? Or Love, Hate and Propaganda?

Do you need supporting lesson guides? Or can you do without?

What is the urgency for Canadian content like, The M Word or youth focus like Make some Noise? Is there any interest, or onus, on schools as content consumers to support Canadian distributors, producers or filmmakers… anymore?

I know what I’d say.