Tag Archives: schools

The State of School Libraries

I remember the first time I visited my school library and was told by the librarian “This isn’t a library.”

“What is it, then?” I thought, as I looked around at the bookshelves fully stocked with books and a world of imagination and information.

“It’s a media center.”

At first, I had no idea what that meant. But as I got older and took on more research projects, I learned the true meaning of “media center” and came to appreciate it. The days we were given to do research in the media center were so fun, not only because it meant less lecturing, but  because we learned how to use all these programs I’d never heard of before — like LexisNexis, a large database of public records and information. Not to mention, the librarians — or rather, media center specialists — usually pulled for us the materials we would need.

But as school budgets are slashed and more teachers find themselves unemployed, school libraries and media centers face major cuts — no new books, no full-time staffing, no additional programming. I thought art education cuts were bad enough. Now this?

According to this essay by The Huffington Post, a group made a petition to fight education cuts that would force schools to be without fully operational media centers.

As a lover of learning and the daughter of a high school family and consumer science teacher, I’ll be the first to say how important it is to make sure our schools continue to get sufficient funding, no matter what kind of budget crisis our country faces. Children deserve it.

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Apple Reinvents Textbooks

Ah, behold the power of textbooks — educational and valuable? Yes. But they’re also pricey, heavy, and often not used to their full potential. Students tend to avoid opening them at all costs, and even teachers only use certain sections from them. But Apple is reinventing the wonderful world of textbooks — or hoping to.

Last week, the techie company rolled out a new app called iBooks 2, which would allow students to download textbooks onto an iPad for only $15 each. That’s a price students are more willing to pay if it also means having more portable, interactive books.

According to this article by Huffington Post, Apple says the iBooks 2 app — the next step up from its iBooks app, which only offers non-textbook-books — will allow publishers to incorporate 3D models, images, and videos into the books. Students will also be able to look up words, highlight text, and search through the book.

The app is available for free download on the iTunes store. So far, Pearson, McGraw-Hill and Houghton Mifflin have partnered with Apple.

The article only references high school textbooks for the iBooks 2 app. But Apple also announced an iPad and iPhone app for iTunes U that would allow teachers to create syllabi, upload videos from class lectures, and publish class notes.

Overall, this seems like an awesome plan. Yes, the kids will need an iPad to use the program, but many high schools have them now, and if not, the money kids will save from textbooks can now be put toward an iPad! I love the idea of interactive textbooks. It’s a modernized way of making learning fun, and I think that’s something any teacher, student, or parent can appreciate.

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Free Books: Making Good Use of Borders’ Goodies

Though Borders continues to close its doors at hundreds of stores around the country, some have already begun to leave a legacy.

The Borders bookstore in Chicago locked up for good last week, but made one large donation first. According to this article by Huffington Post, the company hired to liquidate the stores, Hilco Trading LLC, donated 8000 books — worth about $130,000 — to Chicago schools.

The Hilco CEO Jeffrey Hecktman says making the donation was an easy decision.

We believe that education, above all other factors, is the foundation of commercial success and so we have decided to do what we can to help ensure American children receive the best education possible. The book donation was only our first step in a continuing commitment to align our corporate resources with the needs of public education.

Included in the donation are books about history, science, math, poetry, business, politics, and travel.

I hope that as more stores close, books are donated nationwide. They may as well make the best of Borders’ dying resources.

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