Wednesday, March 24, 2010

It All Started with a Rant...

JOHNSON, Doug. School Libraries Head for the Edge: Rants, Recommendations, and Reflections. 196p. illus, bibliog. Web sites. CIP. Linworth. 2009. pap. $35. ISBN 978-1-58683-392-3. LC 2009022053.

When I "discovered" the world of blogs, RSS feeds, and online interaction, I began by reading the offerings of four people: David Warlick, Will Richardson, Joyce Valenza, and Doug Johnson. Although I now skim more than 240 subscriptions in my Google Reader, this quartet continues to challenge my thinking and enrich my professional understanding.

Doug Johnson's new book, School Libraries Head for the Edge: Rants, Recommendations, and Reflections is a collection of his columns for "Library Media Connection." For some reason, this volume became vacation reading for me: I first opened it on the train to Philadelphia for EduCon, and finished the Afterword on a beach in Dorado, Puerto Rico.

The book is divided into thematic chapters, like "On LIbraries and Education in Transition," "On Reading, Research, and Technology Skills," and "On Technology in Education." Individual offerings are arranged in chronological order, which shows both Doug's evolution as a teacher/learner AND his early identification of trends and issues in educational applications of technology.

Rather than try to reprise the author's pithy and entertaining writing, I decided to spotlight one entry, "How We Spend Our Days."

Doug begins by mentioning time management and the stress of increasing job demands. But rather than stopping at advocating for staffing or funding, he urges "all educators, especially those involved in libraries and technology" to consider some key points when assessing a program:
  • Should someone else be doing this task?
  • Am I operating out of tradition rather than necessity?
  • Is this a task that calls for unique professional abilities?
  • Is this a job that will have a long-term effect?
In times of fiscal crisis and budget slashing, it's not enough to "save" programs. Appropriate utilization of available resources, including personnel, is essential. As Doug reminds us, " is important to our patrons, our organizations, and to ourselves that on a daily basis we consciously evaluate how we direct our energies."

"School Libraries Head for the Edge" is full of observations that cause the reader to pause, reflect, reconsider.

Like a fine wine, it is for savoring, not gulping. This book was, after all, perfect vacation reading.

Thanks, Doug!

Disclosure: This review was based on a press copy of the book, which I received for free from Linwood Publishing.


Carolyn Foote said...

really well done review Diane. I'm enjoying the book too. It's like Garrison Keillor!

doug0077 said...

Hi Diane,

Thanks so much for the thoughtful review! Glad to hear you are enjoying the book.

And Carolyn, Keillor, I think, often gets described as the Doug Johnson of the radio world ;-)


diane said...

So, will there be a movie version? Who will play the Doug/Garrison character?

"...where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children's standardized test scores are above average."