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1. The Good Soldier Svejk and His Fortunes in the World War
by Jaroslav Hasek
2. Closely Watched Trains
by Bohumil Hrabal
3. I Served the King of England
by BOHUMIL HRABAL
4. War With the Newts
by Karel Capek
5. R. U. R. and the Insect Play
by Josef Capek
6. The Engineer of Human Souls
by Josef Skvorecky, Paul Wilson
7. Prague Tales
by Jan Neruda, Michael Henry Heim
8. Old Czech Legends
by Alois Jirasek
9. The Trial
by FRANZ KAFKA
10. The Castle
by FRANZ KAFKA
11. Duino Elegies and the Sonnets to Orpheus
by Rainer Maria Rilke
12. The Unbearable Lightness of Being
by Milan Kundera
13. Love and Garbage
by IVAN KLIMA
14. Mirroring: The Selected Poems
by Vladimir Holan
Outdated School Libraries: What Can You Do to Update Yours?
In Baltimore, library coordinator Della Curtis keeps examples of outdated books from the county's school libraries on a "shelf of shame." Curtis spearheaded a drive in Baltimore that led county officials this year to fund $10.5 million for the purchase of new books. Today, Curtis tells Education World writer Mary Daniels Brown how she accomplished that. Included: Comments from librarians and other experts on the state of our schools' libraries and advice from Della Curtis on mounting your own successful campaign for funding for new library books.
In May 2000 the Baltimore (Maryland) County Council approved a $10.5 million budget for the purchase of new books for libraries in all of the county's middle and high schools. "Replacing the collections will bring us up to 80 percent of state standards," Della Curtis, coordinator of the county schools' office of library information services, told Education World. Baltimore County is the 24th largest school district in the country.
The Baltimore County secondary schools need this money for new library materials. According to School Library Facts, a Web site that provides information about research done by Curtis's office, only 12.4 percent of high school collections and 22.3 percent of middle school collections were copyrighted in the 1990s, numbers well below standards set by the Maryland State Department of Education. The district also failed to meet state standards in number of library items per pupil.
The new money is for middle school and high school libraries. The district's elementary school libraries are now in their third year of rejuvenation from a five-year state grant that is matched by district funds.
NOT AN ISOLATED PROBLEM
Baltimore County isn't alone in its need for funding for new library books.
Last winter, the Washington Post reported that books in school libraries across the Washington (D.C.) area still speak of communist rule in the Soviet Union, of apartheid in South Africa, and of Golda Meir as the prime minister of Israel.
Librarians in Chattanooga, Tennessee, reported that the area's school libraries are underfunded. The librarians identified problems such as a shortage of current books and other materials, particularly in science; insufficient time to spend with students; and a lack of time to plan with teachers.
In Boston, according to a Boston Globe news story, "many school library book collections in Massachusetts are stuck in the '50s and '60s."
In one Philadelphia elementary school, the library, with its broken furniture and moldy, smelly books, is in such bad condition that the principal has closed it to students.
The "last major infusion of money to support school library collections was in the late '60s, early '70s, and that's where a lot of the collections sit," M. Ellen Jay, former head of the American Association of School Librarians, told ABC News recently.
A CHANGE IN FUNDING
School library collections are frozen in the 1970s because that's when a major change in funding occurred: Federal money previously aimed specifically at library materials was reallocated to block grants that are administered on the local level. Now, "it is the individual libraries' decision where to place their dollars," Harriet Selverstone told Education World. Selverstone is the current president of the American Association of School Librarians, a division of the American Library Association.
Every two years, School Library Journal surveys school libraries throughout the United States about their resources. How Do You Measure Up? is the report of the latest survey, which covers the 1997-1998 school year. The report notes that although the average school library budget increased by $1,000, the increase only returned libraries to the buying power they had four years ago, when the average book cost 9 percent less than it does now.
Marilyn L. Shontz coauthored this report with Marilyn L. Miller. Shontz is an associate professor in the library education program at Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey.
As school budgets have shrunk, local school administrators have often chosen to fund other programs rather than libraries. And even when libraries receive funds, the money frequently goes toward computers and related technology rather than toward books. Many library experts agree that these two trends have combined to leave school libraries with seriously outdated print collections.
OLD BOOKS OR NO BOOKS?
From the Education World Archive
Strong Libraries Improve Student Achievement Site-based management teams at 11 elementary schools in Kalamazoo, Michigan, chose to cut their budgets for the 2000-2001 school year by eliminating the position of school librarian. Did they make the right decision? A new study indicates that what they made was a big mistake! Included: Results of a recent study that show that students at schools with strong media centers scored significantly higher on standardized tests than students at schools with less-well-equipped and staffed libraries.
Asked whether it is better to have outdated books or no books on library shelves, Shontz, Selverstone, and Curtis all replied, emphatically and without hesitation, "No books."
"Outdated books give students misinformation," Selverstone told Education World. "Our mission is to give them correct and credible information."
Curtis agreed. "We betray children when we put outdated information on our shelves," she told Education World. "We're working toward better understanding of a global world, toward multicultural sensitivity. These goals are not promoted by outdated information." She has a "shelf of shame" in her office where she keeps examples of outdated school library books.
In addition, Curtis said, "if you don't have nice new books that kids want to read, they won't read. We're trying to get children to read more."
"Old books do more harm than good," Shontz told Education World. She cautions librarians to look carefully at any book dated earlier than the 1990s in fields such as science, sex education, geography, and travel. "Outdated books keep stereotypes alive," she said.
Another danger of shelves full of outdated books is that they foster complacency. As long as books are on library shelves, it is easy to ignore the fact that many of those books may be worthless as information resources, explained Shontz. For that reason, Shontz, who trains school librarians, tells those librarians, "You'll never get money as long as you keep the old books. Throw them away and create a crisis."
THE IMPORTANCE OF SCHOOL LIBRARIES FOR STUDENT SUCCESS
The love of books-- of holding a book, turning its pages, and looking at its pictures-- isn't a very potent argument for funding new books in the face of current budget restrictions. But recent research offers more concrete evidence that investments in school libraries produce dividends in student achievement.
In April, the School Library Journal reported findings from studies done in three states: Alaska, Colorado, and Pennsylvania. That report, Dick and Jane Go to the Head of the Class, contends that data from those three studies indicate that students in schools with strong library media programs learn more and score higher on standardized tests than do their peers in schools with less adequate library facilities.
BOOKS VERSUS TECHNOLOGY
As school libraries have evolved into media centers, library funding has been funneled toward the purchase of computers and related items such as software and electronic database subscriptions. "Library funding is stagnant because extra funds are put toward technology, not books," Shontz told Education World.
Even though school libraries may offer a lot of electronic resources, they still need books, Curtis said. "A lot of nonfiction books aren't available in digitized format," she told Education World. "And fiction--," she continued, "Harry Potter is not digitized yet. Students have to have access to those resources also."
Shontz said that books are especially important in elementary school. "It's tough to run an elementary school library without a good collection of children's literature," she told Education World. "Children need to hold a book, to look at the pictures."
The emphasis in elementary school should be on good books, on literature, and on reading, she continued. "The concept of story is important," Shontz said. "Elementary schools should stay focused on reading."
Curtis says she is an advocate of technology. "I was an early adopter of using telecommunications in school libraries," she told Education World. "As early as 1981, I envisioned libraries without walls and started installing phone lines." However, she added, "we need a balance between newer and older technology-- that is, books."
'COMING FULL CIRCLE'
In fact, Curtis used the available technology to help her campaign for funding of new books. "We're coming full circle," she told Education World. "Now we're using technology to help us with our books."
First, Curtis's office did a computerized collection analysis of the district's library holdings. The database of information about the books in the school libraries made evident the number of books that were outdated. "The collection analysis showed the weaknesses and the strengths of our library collection," Curtis said. "It also showed that the weaknesses were greater than the strengths."
Second, Curtis publicized the findings on her Web site School Library Facts. "You have to communicate the information to the stakeholders," she told Education World. "The Web site has been very helpful."
Third, to ensure that technology will continue to play a key role in Baltimore County schools' acquisition of their new books, the district has contracted with Follett, a book jobber that offers library automation and purchasing services. Follett will catalog the district's collections and provide automated online ordering. The books will arrive at schools shelf-ready: already cataloged, bar-coded, and with security strips attached. All the librarians will have to do is place the books on the shelves.
Follett will also maintain accounting records online. "We'll be able to make this information available to county government officials," Curtis told Education World. "The information can be sorted by legislative district so that officials can keep track of this wonderful thing that's happening in their district."
ADVICE FOR OBTAINING FUNDING FOR NEW LIBRARY BOOKS
For other schools working to secure funding for new library books, Curtis offers this advice:
Do your homework and your research. Gather your statistics.
Make your statistics into pictures or graphs, which can be powerful ways to illustrate your library's needs.
Dig deeper. Use the technology available to get answers about the state of your current library collection.
Communicate your findings. Attend public meetings. Have parents show some old books from the library's collection.
Acknowledge and thank the people who support your efforts.
During the 2000-2001 school year, each middle school and high school library in Baltimore County will receive between 400 and 500 boxes of new books. The school district is planning several reading-promotion programs to make use of the new material.
One such program will incorporate time for reading into the school curriculum. "One reason teens don't read is that they don't have time to read," Curtis said. "We want to work to provide time to read for teens. We want our students to know that books are not 'out,' that books are still a cool thing."
"Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun. Orbiting this at a distance of roughly ninety-eight million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue-green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea."
From The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Douglas Adams was born in Cambridge in March 1952, educated at Brentwood School, Essex and St John's College, Cambridge where, in 1974 he gained a BA (and later an MA) in English literature.
He was creator of all the various manifestations of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxywhich started life as a BBC Radio 4 series. Since its first airing in March 1978 it has been transformed into a series of best-selling novels, a TV series, a record album, a computer game and several stage adaptations.
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy's phenomenal success sent the book straight to Number One in the UK Bestseller List and in 1984 Douglas Adams became the youngest author to be awarded a Golden Pan. He won a further two (a rare feat), and was nominated - though not selected - for the first Best of Young British Novelists awards.
He followed this success with The Restaurant at the End of the Universe (1980); Life, The Universe and Everything (1982); So Long and Thanks for all the Fish (1984); and Mostly Harmless (1992). The first two books in the Hitchhiker series were adapted into a 6 part television series, which was an immediate success when first aired in 1982. Other publications include Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency (1987) and Long Dark Tea-time of the Soul (1988). In 1984 Douglas teamed up with John Lloyd and wrote The Meaning of Liff and after a huge success The Deeper Meaning of Liff followed this in 1990). One of Douglas’s all-time personal favourites was written in 1990 when he teamed up with zoologist Mark Carwardine and wrote Last Chance to See – an account of a world-wide search for rare and endangered species of animals.
He sold over 15 million books in the UK, the US and Australia and was also a best seller in German, Swedish and many other languages.
Douglas was a founding director of h2g2, formerly The Digital Village, a digital media and Internet company with which he created the 1998 CD-ROM Starship Titanic, a Codie Award-winning (1999) and BAFTA-nominated (1998) adventure game.
Douglas died unexpectedly in May 2001 of a sudden heart attack. He was 49. He had been living in Santa Barbara, California with his wife and daughter, and at the time of his death he was working on the screenplay for a feature film version of Hitchhiker.
Quotations from Douglas Adams:
He hoped and prayed that there wasn't an afterlife. Then he realized there was a contradiction involved here and merely hoped that there wasn't an afterlife.
There is a theory which states that if ever anybody discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another theory which states that this has already happened.
He felt that his whole life was some kind of dream and he sometimes wondered whose it was and whether they were enjoying it.
Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so.
In those days spirits were brave, the stakes were high, men were real men, women were real women and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were real small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri.
Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so.
Nothing travels faster than the speed of light with the possible exception of bad news, which obeys its own special laws.
The ships hung in the sky in much the same way that bricks don't.
In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.
I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.
A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.
That young girl is one of the least benightedly unintelligent organic life forms it has been my profound lack of pleasure not to be able to avoid meeting.
Life? Don't talk to me about life! (Marvin the Paranoid Android)
Space is big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind- bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the drug store, but that's just peanuts to space.
It is no coincidence that in no known language does the phrase 'As pretty as an Airport' appear.