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The definition of a “good time” is different for everyone, but for me its reading a good book, fiction, non-fiction, biographies, history, religious books, comics anything . When I came to America in July 2013, I was fascinated to see a lot of different things and one of them were libraries, since I have a passion for reading books, I try to read one whenever I have free time, there were a lot of books ranging from the ones for small kids to those for adults.
Sometimes I thought about becoming an author and sometimes a librarian. That’s why for my Senior Project, I will be exploring my passion of reading and libraries by showing the importance of libraries. I did not have any knowledge about the libraries in the US and I was very interested in doing it, I did research, surveys and volunteer work. My first objective was to learn the system of the library. In the 18th century, when the people first realized that there should be a way where people can gain knowledge, acquire information about anything they are interested or simply read because they like it that’s when the first library started operating in America.
However, at that time many people donated a lot of money so that the libraries will be build and many donated all of their books so that other people will be able to gain knowledge from them. There was no need for a system back then as there was not much variety of books, but as time passed there were more and more discoveries, inventions and a lot of other knowledge which came, books increased and as the advancement went on and on, people realized there should be books for different age levels and that in order for the library to keep running without any sort of problems like stealing of books, proper organization of books and the supply of books.
The need to check and arrange the large varieties of books was fulfilled by a librarian. There are many different systems of classification of books in a library which vary from library to library. Classification serves two main purposes in the library, to arrange books in a logical manner on the library shelves and to group like subjects together, They are classified either by numbering or on the basis of the author’s name alphabetically. The Dewey Decimal Classification System is the most widely used method for classifying books in the library.
This system is a general knowledge organization tool that is continuously revised to keep pace with knowledge. It is named after Melvil Dewey, an American Librarian who developed it in 1876. This system is a numerical scheme for the arrangement of subjects of nonfiction books, and it classifies books by dividing them into 10 main subject groups that are called categories. Each category is represented by figures beginning with 000 and going on to 999. In other words, it is a system of numbers used to mark and arrange mostly non-fiction books. As I started volunteering in Columbia Pike Library, there were different sections for children, teens and adults. Since I mostly work in the children’s section, this is the type of classification I learned about in children’s section. Since children are the ones who are in the process of learning how to read, their books are classified on a deeper level than that of teens and adults. They are classified on the basis of their level of reading like J, JE, JP, the “J” stands for juvenile which are mostly board books.
The next are the “JP” (juvenile picture books) these books which are generally shelved on the basis of the author’s last name then “JE” (juvenile easy readers) these are for beginning readers, JP (juvenile fiction) these books harry potter, the non-fiction books are the juvenile non-fiction and juvenile biographies. The same goes for CDs and DVDs for children as well, they are also arranged as J/CD/DVD. The adult and teens section is comparatively less categorized and simply classified into fiction and non-fiction. The technological and management skills required for running a library are getting higher that’s why it has become necessary to acquire a master’s degree in Library science. From Ferguson’s careers in focus:- “Most acquisition librarian positions require a master’s degree in library science (M.L.S) a master’s degree in information service or a master’s degree in science of information.” Acquisition librarians are responsible for building and maintaining a library’s collection of books and periodicals (e-publications) so they need a master’s degree in science information .
I did a survey on the type of books preferred by teens the most, the options were fiction, nonfiction, history and biography. There were 0% votes for both history and biography non fiction had 33.33% vote and fictional books had 66.67% vote. Fiction got the majority votes. My second objective was to research about developing recommendation of books based on different age groups, The reason I did this objective was to develop a sense of recommendation or to be able to give an opinion to people about any kind of book. My consultant asked me to make lists of books by searching for them in amazon because they have the latest books and they also have a better search engine then the library’s catalog. By doing this objective I learned how to research about books in order to suggest them to someone or to update the library. My consultant asked me to make lists of books for aged 2-3 or any other group by searching from the catalog or sometimes making a list of books for children that were published after 2009 from amazon, and then give it to her so that it can be used to update the library.
The best website to find the ideal book for any age group is amazon, this I learned from experience, after searching the books for hours and not being able to find the desired ones, the easiest method is to use the “advanced search” by putting in the desired requirements, I was able to easily find the books and then searched for them in the library’s catalog to check whether they were there or not. My consultant gave me several projects about making bookmark bibliographies one of them was about creating bookmark bibliographies for kids and teens about other countries and religions since books give children an idea about the other parts of the world, these books were mostly about their culture, food, religion and daily activities. “If we wish to create a lasting peace we must begin with the children.”-Mohandas Gandhi I personally liked this project a lot, because kids and teens should explore other parts and regions of the world by reading books like picture books, religion, food and culture, because I feel that the media and the internet seem to create a very negative influence on people all around the world, about their neighbouring countries and about all the other countries around the world, children should read and know about other cultures of the world so that their would be more peace in the future.
It is better to have an idea about something before believing anything about it which the TV shows. My third objective was reviewing practicality of normal libraries and virtual libraries. Virtual libraries or digital libraries are a great source of information and learning, while many predicted that as digital libraries will begin, that will be the end of the normal libraries and that all the shelves of the public libraries will be sweaped clean, but it did not. While many people who want to save their time and effort prefer digital libraries, there are many people including myself who prefer reading the old fashioned way. In my survey of virtual libraries vs. normal libraries, 13 people responded to the survey, out of which 8 prefered virtual libraries and 5 preferred normal libraries, there was a 38.46% vote for normal libraries and 61.54% vote for virtual libraries.
The results surprised me because I thought people will choose normal libraries, because even though a virtual library sounds good, it is difficult to access virtual library and some require membership too. I researched about the advantages and disadvantages of normal and virtual libraries. My second survey was to find out the biggest advantage and disadvantage of virtual libraries. The advantages included Immediate access to resources, Information updated immediately, No physical boundaries, Support different learning styles, Accessible for the disabled.Information retrieval,Teaching tool for information literacy, Storage of information, Networking capabilities (provides links to other virtual libraries) and Directs students to relevant resources. Out of 12 people, 7 chose Immediate access to information making it 58.33%, 3 people chose information updated immediately which made it 25%, one person chose support different learning styles and one person chose directs students to relevant sources making each of them 8%. These results were very predictable because no doubt the biggest advantage is immediate access to information. The disadvantages included Restricted by copyright law, the requirement for internet access and that skilled professionals are required to organize,maintain and help students.
Out of 12 people 5 chose requires internet access, 4 chose that skilled professionals are required for help and 3 chose restricted by copyright. So in the disadvantages the need for internet access seemed to cause the most problems. So my overall conclusion from my surveys is that even though normal libraries will not end, there are many who prefer digital libraries over normal ones, the biggest advantage is the immediate access to resources as there is no need to go to the library and if it is checked out, there is no need to wait for it the because the virtual libraries gets rid of that long process and the biggest disadvantage is the requirement for internet access, it is no doubt that internet has made the life of people unimaginably easy but not everyone can afford this luxury. My fourth objective was to research about the history of the libraries in the US.
It is due to the founding fathers of America like Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson that the system of library began the US. The first public library came in the 18th century after some time, lots of people contributed millions of dollars so that education could be given to all for free. In 1731, Benjamin Franklin and his friends operated library company of Philidelphia. Andrew Carnegie gave millions to bring books and information to the people. From Gail Sakura’s Library of Congress “Thomas Jefferson had retired from the presidency and was living at Monticello, his home in Virginia. He offered to sell his personal book collection to the library of congress as a quick way to quickly replace the library’s losses.”
The library of congress was set on fire on August 24, 1814. Some assume that the British had done it. Due to the efforts of our leaders, today the library of congress is the world largest library. It contains 100 million items, including 29 million books and pamplets, 53 million manuscripts and 4 million maps and atlases which are shelved in three buildings in Washington DC. My fifth objective was to volunteer at Columbia Pike Library. I started doing it in October and I will continue to do it after Senior Project .I worked in the children’s section where putting books back on the shelves, finding books for them and displaying them is the most important thing to do I also painted the walls of the library once and I decorated it by paper cutouts of different animals for the children. Sometimes on the weekends there is a story time in which teachers and students or parents and children come to the library, at that event I come earlier then usual and along with the other volunteers arrange the cookies and tables for the children and after they are done with it. I help to clean up the mess.
My biggest obstacle was finding a job or volunteer work at a library, because since I just came in july and had never done volunteer work before, I was nervous and furustrated. I struggled hard to find a job, sometimes by searching on google and sometimes by going there like I went to Aurora Hills Library since it was close to my house but there was no volunteer work being offered at that time. I was not able to work at the school library, because they had another girl working there whose senior project was also on libraries. I thought about changing my Senior project but finally in October with the help of a friend of mine I was able to contact Barabara Dean the incharge of the Arlington Public Libraries and she asked me to contact Ms.Desiree Fairooz who was the incharge of Columbia Pike Library, she even gave me her e-mail address, and through that I was able to finally start volunteering. My new skills are that I learned about the history of Library system in the US, I got to know about virtual libraries and the qualifications required to become a librarian.
I learned to make bookmark bibliographies and I learned how to do surveys, which I am sure I will need to do later in college and then in my career. I was thinking about printing out copies and then giving them to people but then my teacher told me about an online survey that was very useful, I just sent the link to my friends and I was able to get the results I needed, I am currently working on learning to make pamplets for the library. This project will help me by giving me volunteer hours which will help me get accepted in my desired college, because they require volunteer hours, The new skills I learned like making surveys, pamphlets and bookmark bibliographies will help me in college and later on in my life too, also the way the project is organized in a step wise manner with its deadlines, has shown me that putting everything till the last minute is not the solution, we should make achieve our targets by setting up a timetable and follow it.
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