Portmouth Library News

Content or Format: Is one more important than the other? by Susan Catlett

Once having read the final line of Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, “It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known,” one can never unknow those words. Whether the words have been read on a printed page or a digital screen, the feeling and emotion conveyed by the words themselves remains the same. Both print and digital mediums remain extremely relevant to today’s educators as they work with students, parents and colleagues.

It is not a case of choosing one medium over the other, but of creating a balance that enables students and teachers to access needed information in a timely manner. Unfortunately, it is almost impossible for our school libraries to physically purchase, house, and maintain classroom sets of each book that we as educators would like to have our students experience during their time with us. However, the digital world opens a vast expanse of texts to our students that might otherwise remain out of reach.

One digital resource that I would like to highlight is the collection of ebooks available to students and staff at each Portsmouth Public School through the MackinVia hyperlink off the PPS Library Services web page. These ebooks were selected by district librarians to directly support classroom instructional goals, with titles such as King Lear by William Shakespeare, Masters of the Renaissance by Jim Weiss, and Frequently asked questions about financial literacy by Mary-Lane Kamberg. Each ebook can be accessed at school or wherever a student or staff member has wifi connectivity. The user name and password for this wonderful resource can be obtained from your school librarian.

So, in answer to the question of whether content or format is more important, I believe that the question itself is flawed. The question is not whether content or format is more important but what is more useful in the moment for the student.

Talk to Your Librarian by Lauri Newell

When considering a “tip” or special item of interest that I wanted to share with teachers, many things came to mind. I wanted to WOW and inspire teachers to utilize their school library to the fullest! I thought of various technology tools that I have shared in the past—Flip Snack, Animoto, etc., but what consistently came to mind was this: talk to your librarian.

Yes, it is wonderful to know how to search the library catalog online from home, or look at the eBooks available and preview what you might use with your lessons. However, talking with your librarian, describing your specific need or simply discussing what you are doing in your classroom, may reap additional benefits.

My conversations with teachers have prompted the purchase of updated class sets of novels as well as specific biographies and nonfiction books for check out. Other conversations have provided insight into specific research projects that one teacher assigns each school year—projects that impressed me since I witnessed increased student engagement using the unusual themes. Since we have forged that relationship through conversation, this teacher now readily notifies me when the parameters of his projects change so we may work together to obtain/seek materials to fit the new parameters. I look forward to this collaboration each year since I witness the excitement and interest these students display while completing their research.

Other conversations with teachers have prompted me to move materials (biographies and collective biographies) into Reference, so those materials are readily available for specific projects (and I check them out ONLY to the students involved in the projects).

The possibilities are endless—but we need to know what you need and how we may help!