Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

BOOKS NEED R&R; for Media Specialists, That Means Some Rehab and Repair

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

BOOKS NEED R&R; for Media Specialists, That Means Some Rehab and Repair

Article excerpt

Byline: DEIRDRE CONNER

Just when Michaeleen Chalut thought she'd seen everything - every snapped spine, every waterlogged cover, every dog-eared page - a book topped it all this spring.

She doesn't remember the title but does remember the chewed and sticky pages, mangled beyond recognition.

The whiskers still stuck inside were a giveaway to what turned a brand new library book into a raggedy stack of pages.

Chalut, who runs the media center at Hickory Creek Elementary School in northwest St. Johns County, laughs when she recalls the sight of the dog-mauled book. Then she looks ruefully at the stack that after only two years - Hickory Creek opened in 2005 - are in the waiting room of a makeshift book hospital.

As summer approaches, school library staff members are taking inventory. Some of what they find is often not pretty.

Sure, school librarians - they're called media specialists now - hate it when a book comes back in bad shape. But there's a little part of them that loves to see books that have been enjoyed too much. They are the ones with the overly thumbed pages that cry out to be smoothed, the crinkling covers whose corners need a little reinforcement.

The rehab stack, educators say, always offer a clue to what books are capturing children's imagination.

"Reading for pleasure sometimes takes a back seat for high school kids," said Sally Wolfe, media specialist at Robert E. Lee High School in Jacksonville, which holds 19,000 books. The key, she said, is being creative and finding the right authors.

The Accelerated Reader program, in which children choose books at their individual level and then take short comprehension tests, has brought many kids back to reading, said Karen Robinson, Clay County school system's instructional media services specialist.

Ordering Accelerated Reader books is only a small part of how school libraries choose their materials. Most people, Robinson said, mistakenly believe schools just put anything on the shelves instead of relying on the array of comments, curriculum and interest before buying.

"There's a very sophisticated process for it," she said.

There are some books, however, that may never go out of style. …

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