For this coming school year I am thinking about showing the new year 7s how to make use of the library using the analogy of computer hacking. I am also playing around with the idea of Knowledge-Fu and making the Library a Dojo of Learning – I will post something about that one soon.
Anyway on to hacking the library, these are just thoughts that have been coalescing, and if I can get it to work to my satisfaction I will post a complete program.
The advantage of libraries over computers is that a library will not be able to accidnetally destroy the world with global thermonuclear war if you hack it.
I will start with teaching them how to use the library and will begin with the Librarian as the (speech activated) graphical user interface (GUI).
Communication is vital to being able to use the library effectively and efficiently.
I want them to never be afraid to approach the GUI when they need assistance or even just to be polite, and will coach them to say something along the lines of:
“Hello” or “Good morning/afternoon Mr Imrie/Sir/Librarian”
I will then greet them turn.
I am very aware that I am tall and can appear stern or imposing if I accidentally loom at someone, particularly small students, so I want them to get used to my presence and make sure they know that this works:
C:/Good morning Librarian
Librarian:/Good morning small student
C:/Librarian can you please find me a book on origami
Librarian:/I have found three books on origami for you
Once they are used to the idea of coming to me for assistance I will teach them that information is stored in different places in the library.
Reference Works and Magazines are Read Only Memory (ROM) – only accessible within the Library
Everything else (Fiction & Non-fiction) is Random Access Memory (RAM) – random because at times it will not be available as it is being read by another user. Using the Librarian as the interface to the library makes it easy for the student user to know what is available at any given time.
The Library & Librarian is a combined tool that the student user uses to gain information or entertainment in the shortest space of time.
There are times when the Librarian is not available either due to upgrading, picking up a virus or busy helping another user and then the student user is stuck; as while it is possible to find information without knowing exactly how the Library works it can take a long time and often student users do not have the patience to find exactly what they need.
Showing student users how to hack the system without resorting to the User Interface is best begun in the Fiction section.
It is important to teach them the importance of knowing what they are looking for – Fiction makes it easier to do this as (in my fiction collection at least) the main collection is not divided into genres, only the reluctant reader collection is filed separately. So if they are looking for a specific book by an author they can find out pretty quickly if it is on the shelf or not.
If the book is not on the shelf I tell them that they have two options, they can either ask me if the library has a copy of the sought-after text or they can use the catalogue.
After student users have grasped how to search for Fiction titles and use the catalogue I will then turn my attention to Non-fiction.
This will begin by introducing them to the Dewey Decimal Classification System.
I have already developed lessons on introducing Dewey and will start with The Quest for the Missing Duck and then discuss the massive DDC numbers and subject headings on the wall as a way to navigate around the library.
I also have the Dewey Decimal Card Game but will save that for an in-depth session on the DDC System.
As an added attempt to get the basic idea fixed in their heads I will run a Dewey Bookmark making lesson with Dewey numbers corresponding to the subjects they take as well as the main subject headings.
I will show them how to access the reference books as well and explain why they are for library use only.
When students appear to have a firm grasp of searching the shelves using author names and Dewey subject numbers I will return to the catalogue and talk to them about keyword searching to help them find subject specific information in the non-fiction section and genres in fiction.