Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Not A Joke: The Pentagon Just Destroyed Thousands Of Books

Disheartening news regarding our government and censorship: During Banned Books Week, we learn that the Pentagon has destroyed all 9500 copies of Operation Dark Heart, a nonfiction title about Army Reserve Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer’s time spent working special operations in Afghanistan.

This is what is posted to Amazon's Operation Dark Heart page:
Important Message for Customers

On Friday, August 13, 2010, just as St. Martin’s Press was readying its initial shipment of Operation Dark Heart, the Department of Defense expressed concern that its publication could cause damage to U.S. national security. The publication of the initial edition was canceled. However, after consulting with the author, Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, St. Martin's Press agreed to incorporate some of the government’s changes, which includes redacting classified text, into a revised edition.
Perhaps, for transparancy's sake, and to help maintain an informed democracy, Lt. Col Shaffer and St. Martin's Press could publish the book freely and electronically in some format.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Obama: D.C. schools don't measure up to his daughters' private school

On NBC's special Education Nation segment airing on this morning's Today Show, the President said that his two daughters, who attend the private Sidwell Friends School, would not receive the same education if they attended the District of Columbia public schools. The article paraphrases Obama as saying
'that many teachers unions are making efforts to improve schools through innovation but that sometimes they favor the status quo.'
But, it's been my experience that the umbrella phrases 'teaching reform' or 'education reform' are aimed at eroding teaching unions themselves. And further, it's not the objective of teaching unions to protect incapable teachers, just the bargaining rights of its members, and the processes involved in their evaluation. It is the job, though, of capable principals to follow the necessary steps to improve teaching performance, or change out the teachers. The teaching unions need to re-frame the national educational reform arguments away from 'status quo' or 'tenure' and back to effective leadership.

Anger as a Private Company Takes Over Libraries

This New York Times article hits on the notion of the personal relationship between public libraries and the communities they serve, and the bigger issue of how big businesses negatively impact employment and employees in pursuit of the bottom line. A company, Library Systems and Serices, created in 1981, is now managing the operations of over a dozen American library systems, with the promise of saving costs, largely at the expense of union employees. Even Frank Pezzanite, LSSI's chief executive agrees with the perception of libraries, saying
“There’s this American flag, apple pie thing about libraries. Somehow they have been put in the category of a sacred organization.”
Libraries run by LSSI cede control on such important local and subjective issues of hiring and even acquisitions, and, of course, LSSI operates on a for profit basis. Interesting that Santa Clarita Library Director Margaret Donnellan Todd says the perception is that there is no local connection, but
“People are receiving superb service in Santa Clarita. I challenge that L.S.S.I. will be able to do much better.”
Is that view not a reflection on the job that Ms. Todd was doing as director before LSSI took over?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

School library 'lost opportunity'

Baroness Morris says libraries could play a more integrated part in school life
"Schools (sic) libraries are too often a "wasted resource" which should be brought into the mainstream of teaching, says a report. The report from the School Library Commission says their importance has been neglected."
Notable quotes:
 The report "says that there is a clear link between successful schools, high-achieving pupils and well-run libraries, with eight out of 10 good readers using school libraries."
"The value of school libraries, as a way of opening the minds of the young, was emphasised by the former poet laureate, Sir Andrew Motion.
'School libraries form an absolutely vital part of every child's education, and it is essential that they are protected, expanded, diversified, and enriched... They are nothing less than the rooms young people enter in order to discover the world,' said Sir Andrew, who is now chair of the Museums Libraries and Archives Council."

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Registered sex offender indicted after stealing high school yearbooks | TriCities.com

This development can't be good for the school library business, and I've always been leery of allowing the general public to view our yearbook archive.

BLOUNTVILLE, Tenn. – A registered sex offender was indicted Tuesday on five criminal charges after authorities accused him of stealing two yearbooks from Tennessee High School.