Loaner Laptops Available for ZB Library Cardholders

The ZB Library’s circulating laptop computer collection was recently featured in a blog post at the Tech Soup for Libraries web site.

Registered cardholders age 16 and older can checkout laptops for an unlimited amount of time for use in the library while the library is open. The collection, which helps the library bridge the digital divide in the Zion and Benton communities, is one of the more popular collections. Most days all the loaner laptops get checked out.

The laptops connect to the Internet through the library’s wifi system, which is available to any visitor with a laptop or mobile device. Printing is also available using the library’s remote printing software, which is accessible for anyone connected to the Internet at the ZB Library’s web site.

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Online Resources, Collections Support Common Core

Public libraries are well-positioned to work with school libraries in providing seamless and systematic integration of resources and services to promote Common Core principles and upgrade the quality of education in the community. Through its collection of online resources and apps found at its web site, the ZB Library supports K-12 students in Beach Park, Winthrop Harbor and Zion in meeting Common Core standards.

The Common Core language arts/literacy principles emphasize reading informational, or non-fiction text. The fourth-grade standard is 50 percent non-fiction reading, which increases to 70 percent by 12th grade. Through its non-fiction collection development (selecting and acquiring books and other media), the ZB Library already has expertise in the realm of children’s and young adult non-fiction literature.

Students, parents and teachers can use the Novelist K-8 Plus and Novelist Plus online resources at the ZB Library’s web site to create lists of non-fiction books that meet a student’s reading level and interests, while also meeting Common Core standards.

In addition to online resources and e-books, the ZB Library’s print collections includes Common Core books and audiobooks:

  • Items that earned awards from a number of organizations, including Newberry, Caldecott, Lincoln, Printz, Sibert, YALSA Excellence in Non-Fiction and Orbis Pictus.
  • Items in non-fiction categories like STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and STEAM (A for art) that offer an interdisciplinary approach and hands-on non-fiction content.

The library’s non-fiction adult and youth collections offers connections to a wider world. Common Core emphasizes reading non-fiction because it involves comparing, integrating, synthesizing, and evaluating books and information.

With its relatively large collections compared to school libraries, the ZB Library offers a seamless extension of education opportunity to K-12 students after school hours and during the summer and school breaks.

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Education is key in preserving U.S. economy

In the documentary Inequality for All, former Labor Secretary Robert Reich gives an iPhone lesson: When you purchase an iPhone, your dollars for labor and materials go to: Japan (34%), Germany (17%), South Korea (13%), U.S. (6%), China (3.6%) and other places. Why does the bulk go to Japan, Germany and South Korea? Because they have educated workforces capable of producing highly technical and precise components.

Due to shrinking tax revenue and the subsequent reductions in government investment in education, tech companies must go abroad for skilled, high-tech production. The No Child Left Behind scheme was an unsuccessful initiative to promote education with less funding. The latest effort is called Common Core, which emphasizes skills that students need to succeed in college and professional world.

Common Core is benchmarked with international standards with the goal of educating students to be equipped to compete in today’s global economy. Common Core establishes guidelines for what students need to learn, but not how they should learn. Teachers and school administrators in the local school decide how the standards are to be taught and establish their own curricula to allow for continued flexibility and creativity. Since each student has unique needs, teachers are best positioned to determine how to meet these needs.

Common Core standards emphasize critical thinking and concept mastery. In its language arts curriculum, Common Core underlines the importance of reading nonfiction, using
evidence to back claims and expanding academic vocabulary.

The objective is for all K-12 students to meet a set of general standards in the areas of English language arts/literacy and mathematics:

  1. Research and evidence based
  2. Clear, understandable, and consistent
  3. Aligned with college and career expectations
  4. Based on rigorous content and the application of knowledge through higher-order thinking skills
  5. Built upon the strengths and lessons of current state standards
  6. Informed by other top-performing countries to prepare all students for success in our global economy and society

IN THE NEXT POST we’ll show how public libraries can work with schools to meet Common Core standards.

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What’s on your shelf? Show us your shelfie

If you want to get to know a person, take a look at their bookshelf.

The kind of books someone acquires, presumably reads and chooses to display will tell you what that person is all about: What do they like? What interests them? How do they look at the world? What do they know about the past, and what is their outlook of the future?

Looking at what books people read and the authors who write them gives you an even better description of a person than the likes listed on Facebook. Do they read Stephen King or Stephen Ambrose — or both? Mary Shelley and/or Mary Higgins Clark? Barbara Tuchman and/or Barbara Kingsolver?

Fiction and/or nonfiction? History and/or Harlequin romances? The permutations are endless, because every reader has his or her own unique reading DNA.

And this is yet one more area of knowledge in which reference librarians provide service to the communities they serve. At the ZB Library, one of many considerations librarians consider in acquiring books is if the subject, author and themes of the item is relevant to the readers we serve. It is both an art and a science in doing that. How have previous books on similar subjects circulated in the past? What about books written by a particular author? Are there any local ties to the item? Should this be acquired in book form and/or other formats like audiobooks and large print?

Reader advisory–providing specific recommendations for a particular reader–is yet another related service available the the Adult and Youth Reference Desks. In fact, it’s available as an online resource to all cardholders at anytime: Plus, but we’re happy to provide that service in person and/or teach you how to do it yourself.

Selfies–self-portrait digital photos–are all the rage in social networking, but another trend is spinning off. A “shelfie” is a photo of a person’s bookshelves, a far more in-depth self-portrait of who a person is all about.

Send us your shelfie and include your name (or web identity) and what city you live in, and we’ll post them here.

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‘Edge Library’ offers ZB community a bridge over digital divide

Fair access and equal opportunity to digital media is a primary objective of the ZB Library, and that is why it was recently chosen to be a leading library for the Edge Initiative project.

With this designation, residents of the Zion-Benton community will benefit from a thinner “digital divide” — economic inequality among communities that prevent or limit connectivity and access to the Internet, technology and communication.

“We continuously evaluate how well we serve our customers,” said Nann Blaine Hilyard, director of the library.  “That includes technology, from hardware to content.”

The Edge Initiative is a nationwide initiative designed to assess public library technology and assist public libraries in determining their technology services and needs to improve and refine those services.

“Through Edge, we assessed our current services and were pleased that we exceeded expectations with the number of devices available, our bandwidth capacity and the amazing resources we offer,” said Tara Caldara, assistant library director.

The driving force behind the Edge Initiative is a set of benchmarks that libraries use to evaluate their current public technology services. ZBPL identified focus areas and created a plan to improve its technology services. These areas include engaging the community about technology needs, connecting community resources and making resources more accessible for people with disabilities.

“Our biggest challenges are money and time,” Caldara said.

The assessment is one component of the Edge program, and ZBPL has received customized tools to elevate its strategic planning, shape the story of the library and communicate its value.

By exploring community goals and identifying the ones in which the library can assist in achieving, the library can make a positive difference in the Zion-Benton community in the areas of education, health, economic development and more. These are the higher ideals of today’s public library: to provide all people with the opportunity to enrich and improve their lives through open access to information, communication and technology services.

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