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29 October 2014 @ 03:33 pm
There has been discussion on a librarian listserv recently about levels and lexiles. Many libraries receive books with records already complete. It is not uncommon for those records to contain AR and Lexile levels already inserted into MARC record fields. So, it is possible for a search to be done for books matching levels and lexiles to some degree. Librarians, however, do not like this leveling of text any more than teachers do for the most part.

There was one remark last week, though, that rankled me. I have spent 25 years working with school librarians. At the same time, I continue to work with teachers. So, I think the best approach is cooperation and collaboration. Sometimes, though, it seems as though one party is unwilling to get along. Such was the case with this one post to the discussion. I will paraphrase the points being made, but essentially this librarian believed that:

1. Librarians know readers' advisory and teachers do not. While this is often true, it does not mean that teachers fail to make recommendations based upon less or less accurate information than do librarians.

2. Teachers, according to this librarian, are assessed on how many students reach a certain reading level and librarians are not. I suspect with VAM in place this might be partly true. However, I do hope it is not what drives the recommendations teachers are making.

3. Librarians read WAY more books than teachers do. Maybe some do. But this blanket statement is not helpful nor is it accurate for all teachers and all librarians. That would be like me saying professors read more than others based only on the reading done by Karin Perry and me.

4. Librarians excel at matching cognitive and interest levels; teachers do not as they are not trained to do so. Again, this is a tad too blanket-y a statement.

Rather than take this person on in the discussion, I decided to post here. And to post something a bit more conciliatory. More helpful, too, perhaps.

Rather than talking about who knows more or knows better, why not work together to address this incursion of levels and lexiles when it comes to books and recommendations of books? Why not offer to help develop some "If you liked _____, then you might like _______ because _____" lists. How about some displays in schools and in libraries that draw readers to books, old and new books? Why not do tag team booktalks? Have teachers go to the library and librarians head to the classroom? What about speaking at one another's professional meetings?

In sort, why not build on the strengths each brings to the table?
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Sherry BorgrenSherryTeach on November 1st, 2014 02:25 am (UTC)
Teacher vs. librarian
I have had similar conversations with the middle school librarian at my school, with whom I have a mostly collegial relationship. (She is a rabid AR fanatic and hold considerable power to make AR part of the school culture.) She often asks me to read books to make my recommendation about books that may or may not be too edgy for a middle school library. One thing we agree on is that I have somewhat greater leeway in my classroom to pass along mature books to readers because I have personal knowledge of their emotional maturity and the mores of their families.