Monday, June 14, 2010

I'm working (writing curriculum for Plugged-in to Nonfiction), but I just had to stop for a minute and write about my experience with Ask a Librarian. Did you even know that Florida offers such a service? I didn't, but it was like a wish come true this evening.

You see I'm working on curriculum to go with our next book in Plugged-in to Nonfiction. Our team generates teaching ideas around a core text and then we turn those ideas into teaching guides and student activities. The core text I'm working with right now talks about disasters, natural and man-made. A great topic for students, right? While reading about the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire I got to thinking about a book I used in college to shop responsibly. The book provided consumers with checklists and charts which compared American companies on a range of social issues (the environment, labor practices, treatement of women, etc.). I got to thinking. Wouldn't it be interesting for students to research their favorite brands/companies in order to investigate labor practices.

Well that 's where I hit a wall. I couldn't find such an index online and I couldn't remember the name of the book. I was chasing rabbits. Struggling with search terms. Wishing I were friends with a research librarian I could skype, I thought: Wouldn't it be great if we had Ask a Librarian like we have Ask a Nuse? I googled it and lo and behold, we do! How can I be a teacher and not know this?
I had a fruitful chat with Dani L. from PBCLS (maybe Palm Beach County Library System?) and she not only pointed me to online databases I could access with my library card, but she also dug for that book I remembered. She found it and she found one printed more recently (The Better World Shopping Guide: Every Dollar Makes a Difference). I capitalized on the search terms our converstion bubbled up and found Better World Shopper, an online resource that grades companies on social issues.(much like Florida grades schools, right?)

Simply amazing. What a valuable service that is. I posted Ask a Librarian to my Delicioius. I'll definitely be heading back with more questions.

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