Tuesday, July 26, 2011

CLCD and the School Librarian: A Case Study

CLCD and the School Librarian
A Case Study

The Girls’ Middle School in Mountain View CA, is an independent, all-girls day school which focuses on project-based learning in the sixth through eighth grades. The school emphasizes critical thinking and problem solving and assesses students’ learning through narrative assessments.

Tower Heights Middle School, Centerville City Schools (Ohio), is one of thirteen schools in a district that has earned an Excellence with Distinction Rating for over 10 years in a row. Located in the Greater Dayton Area, Centerville is known for its academic program, special services, and extra-curricular offerings.

Mendon Center Elementary School, in upstate Pittsford, New York, serves nearly 800 students in an upscale, ethnically diverse, suburban community. The District has often been nationally recognized for excellence. All are topnotch schools; but like schools everywhere, each must work diligently to get the most for their money. Librarians in all three schools rely heavily on the Children’s Literature Comprehensive Database.

Christine Findlay, Centerville’s Coordinator of Library Media Services and Librarian at Tower Middle School, has used the CLCD for over 10 years. She and other librarians in the District have discovered that CLCD is an invaluable resource for information they need and use every day. They use it as a source for collection building, reading reviews online, finding similar or like books, checking the lexiles for appropriate age or grade materials, and occasionally turning to the database to defend challenged materials. A subscriber for over 10 years, Findlay calls the database “key to collection development.” Not only does the database help Findlay find titles to purchase, it also is helpful as she weeds the collection, allowing her to check Children’s Catalog and many state and national lists to guide decision making.

Peg Glisson, librarian at Mendon Center Elementary, has also been a long-time subscriber. “Being able to read full-text reviews from several professional journals, as well as those written by CLCD’s own, independent reviewers, is invaluable when putting together orders; it was a godsend when I served on the Sibert Award Committee,” says Glisson.

“Through CLCD, I could find reviews from Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, Booklist, Library Media Connection, VOYA, Science Books & Films and more; having them all literally at my fingertips was a huge timesaver.” She also likes the database’s many search options, which allow searching broadly or with several limiters such as grade levels, genre, and publication date. She can then sort results and print a report detailing books for a thematic list for a teacher, recommendations for her principal’s Book of the Month Club, or for purchase in the library media center.

Walter Mayes, librarian at the Girls’ Middle School, like Findlay and Glisson, finds the database useful for weeding. “Our school is committed to engaging and nurturing the girls’ interests in science, technology, engineering and math. The database helps me flesh out areas of the collection that can quickly become dated; by entering keywords, I then find titles to plug the holes in my collection or to fill a new need. Titlewave and Amazon are not as good with their limiters [as CLCD].” Teachers have come to depend on Mayes’ use of the database to help them select titles for literature circles, summer reading, and fiction to supplement curricular topics.

Like Findlay, Mayes commented on the database’s usefulness when he is called upon to justify a teacher’s use of a particular title; “I can immediately point to professionals’ recommendations for that title, showing why it is an important and necessary choice.”

All three like the website’s clean look and find the site easy to navigate. The database is updated monthly and the monthly, online newsletter keeps them aware of trends and new titles, as well as providing themed reviews for holidays and topics. Extensive links to author’s, illustrator’s and publisher’ sites (the most current available), book award sites, recommended reading lists, current literature events and lists of monthly author’s birthdays make the site a virtual portal for children’s literature professionals. “The database now has a blog and twitter,” noted Glisson. “They make it easy to keep up with publishing news as well as offering a forum for thoughtful discussion about children’s literature.”

In Centerville, it’s not only the librarians who rely on the database. The District makes it available to teachers. Findlay finds some of the heaviest users are reading and special education teachers. The database is ideal for teachers needing to find appropriate content at the right level; it facilitates the differentiation needed in today’s schools. “Teachers adore it!” says Findlay. “In the spring, teachers ask, ‘Are we getting CLCD again?’ Fortunately, I continue to say ‘Of course!’”

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Themed Reviews: Rabbits

My desk faces a large window, and throughout the year I get to observe the wildlife in the yard. Generally, this means very active birds, squirrels, and chipmunks, but occasionally I do spot a small fox and a few deer. Lately, I've been noticing several rabbits hopping around the plants. In this area when you spot a rabbit it is usually a pet in someone's home, so seeing these adorable creatures roaming around the neighborhood has been a pleasant treat and made me think about how many children's stories feature rabbits.

There are the classics like Margery Williams' The Velveteen Rabbit, which seems to have a new edition every year; series like Winnie the Pooh, Peter Rabbit and Brer Rabbit; board book favorites Goodnight Moon, Pat the Bunny, and The Runaway Bunny; Easter books like The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes; everyone's favorite vampire bunny, Bunnicula; and the list goes on and on.

But stories with rabbits can be found in just as many children's books being published today. Some of my recent favorites are That Rabbit Belongs to Emily Brown by Cressida Cowell, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo, and The Rabbit Problem by Emily Gravett. The below selections are fiction and nonfiction books featuring rabbits that have come out in the last couple of years. For more ideas search the CLCD database—try using delimiters such as publication date, ages, or fiction/nonfiction to narrow your results list.


Duck! Rabbit!
Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld
The argument of two unseen characters forms the basic text of this examination of the classic optical illusion of the head that can be a duck or a rabbit. Each commentator is certain of his position, with one pointing out the duck's bill and the other insisting, "Those are ears, silly." The central double-page image never changes, but objects may be added around it. On one page, a piece of bread appears on the left as the "duck prepares to eat it with its bill." On the next, the "rabbit" is about to eat a carrot on the right. On the following spread, "Quack" issues from the duck, while the other character hears the "rabbit sniff." Tall greenery next obscures the same creature, but is he wading through the swamp or hiding in the grass? Is he flying or hopping on the following pages? Is he cooling his ears or drinking? When the next double-page appears empty, each narrator accuses the other of scaring him away. Then they reconsider...until another debatable creature arrives. The very simple representations are framed and created with thick black ink lines, watercolors, and "a wee bit of colored pencil." They maintain the ambiguity reinforced by the arguing text. The reader is challenged to perceive both possible creatures while figuring out how they can co-exist. Clouds in nebulous shapes including duck and rabbit float across the end pages. Emphasizing the comic ambiguity, the back cover features the comment, "Hey, look! A zebra!" alongside an animal whose body is the bar code. Or is it a horse? 2009, Chronicle Books, $16.99. Ages 3 to 8. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz (Children's Literature).
Awards, Honors, Prizes:
iParenting Media Award, 2009 Winner United States
National Parenting Publications Award, 2009 Gold Books For Preschoolers & Up United States
Parents' Choice Award, 2009 Silver Picture Books United States
ISBN: 9780811868655

Contributor: Emily Griffin

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

CLCD and the Public Libraries

CLCD and the Public Libraries
A Case Study

Reaching readers of all ages is a prime goal of most public libraries. Having an excellent collection of materials for young people and the ability to move those books from the shelves into their hands is critical in the development of lifelong learners. Many public libraries are finding the Children’s Literature Comprehensive Database to be instrumental in getting the right book at the right time into the hands of young people, their parents, and their teachers.

Meg Anthony, Head of Youth Services at the Deerfield (IL) Public Library, has used the database and its complementary other services, for several years. The library staff praises the database for helping them with Readers’ Advisory in real time as well as virtually through their website. Deerfield is a suburban community with a population of approximately 20,000 and is located approximately 25 miles northwest of Chicago. With a well educated, middle to upper class base, the library circulates over 300,000 items each year. Free wireless service is available at the library and its catalog and database collections, including CLCD, are available remotely.

Sharon Hrycewicz is Children’s Reference Coordinator at Downers Grove Public Library, a western Chicago suburb, with a population around 50,000. Over 35% of its citizens over 25 hold a bachelor’s or advanced degree. It is a firmly middle class community that, Hrycewicz says, “loves their library.”

With a collection collection of over 300,000 and a circulation of over 1,000,000 items, the facts back her up! “The database is huge in helping us build and maintain our collection,” said Hrycewicz. “We rely heavily on the aggregate full-text reviews when deciding what to purchase. It’s more helpful for librarians than Novelist.” The staff is into “heavy” Readers’ Advisory and CLCD is a favorite tool to that end for the staff. Not only do they use it when on the floor, but also when compiling thematic or genre booklists. “ We tend to make our bibliographies mostly developmental, so the Database’s providing Interest Level as well as Reading Level is key.” Downer’s Grove decided to add remote access to CLCD in 2008. “It helps parents and kids make better selections,” Hrycewicz commented. “College students in literature and library classes also use it.”

Anthony also mentioned the Youth Librarians rely on CLCD when creating all sorts of booklists for children and young adults. “We use CLCD to help us build book lists of all sorts. Thematic booklists, as well as genre lists, are a big part of our Readers’ Advisory services, particularly when it’s not a Youth Services person on the desk,” she said. The database allows staff to search by subject, keyword, reading lexile, and more. “Our schools relay test scores to parents and emphasize to them the need for students to be encouraged to read at the right level,” said Anthony. “The database allows staff to quickly find books on the right level.”

“Even though we read a lot,” Anthony went on, “it’s impossible to know all the books. The database helps us quickly refresh our memories on themes or topics—or when our minds just go blank! In fact, we found the database so helpful we decided to make it available remotely via our website. Parents watched us use it and wanted to have access at home. We give one-to-one demonstrations frequently to parents.” Naturally, teachers also make use of the remote access. The library staff has visited the schools to speak at staff meetings about CLCD. “We provide a handout with screen shots and walk them through searching, demonstrating typical searches and the value of the limiters.” Teachers “love it” and marvel at the ease with which they can enter interest and reading levels, access state and award lists, or topics. Deerfield staff finds CLCD’s electronic newsletter’s Search Tip of the Month helpful. “The newsletter facilitates using the database more efficiently and helps us be aware of more of its features.”

At the Lee County Library System in southwestern Florida, Diane Lettieri manages collection development for 12 libraries and a Bookmobile. The system covers 800 square miles, with a population of 550,000 full-time residents; tourists and seasonal Floridians also use the Library System. The population is quite diverse ethnically and the System offers a Spanish and World Language Collection as well as Language Instructional Materials through its branches. Economically, the county is also mixed, ranging from people living in real poverty to millionaires.

Lettieri’s responsibilities include overseeing the System’s orders, in multiple formats, for toddlers through teens. Collaborative efforts include administering series and “best sellers” ordering, monthly selection lists, and individual requests from branches. She has relied on CLCD for over 4 years to facilitate that process, citing its aggregate reviews and inclusion of lexile and Accelerated Reading levels as two of the database’s often-used features. AR is heavily used in many of the schools and the System’s collection definitely augments what is available in the schools. “We are currently using the database to help us add AR levels to our MARC levels.”

The database is available to patrons both in the library and remotely, so teachers and parents may also use it to search for appropriate levels for their students or children. “We often encourage our librarians to use CLCD, and remind them at our Collection Development meetings as well as through email and our electronic staff newsletter. And use it they do, using the many search parameters that are available as well as the Awards and Best Books lists. When library staff meets with teachers, they make sure teachers are aware of its availability to them.” Many, including Lettieri, are especially happy to have links to author’s websites so easily available.

As budget cuts have impacted the System and Lettieri’s responsibilities have expanded, CLCD is a real time-saver. “It’s also very cost effective,” said Lettieri. “Professional journals continue to go up in price. Using the database has allowed us to cut some subscriptions without sacrificing access to professional reviews.” She also likes that CLCD often has its own reviewers, librarians and children’s literature experts in the field; in fact, Lee County is proud that one of their librarians reviews for CLCD. “Knowing that gave extra assurance on the quality of reviews,” Lettieri added.

All three librarians mentioned using CLCD daily and often several times a day. “What a valuable resource!” said Hrycewicz. “We started with CLCD on a trial basis. It became an instant staff favorite.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Themed Reviews: Focus on France

Paris was the first place I ever visited outside of the U.S. I was fourteen and on vacation with my parents. I had such a great experience that I think my love of travel owes a lot to those two weeks in France. When I travel I always think about my favorite children's books that remind me of whatever place I'm in—when I think of France I think of Eloise in Paris, Madeline or Amy March, and Mirette on the High Wire. Bastille Day is this month, so what better time to create a feature that focuses on France, a country with such a rich history and dazzling culture.

Bastille Day is a French national holiday celebrated with parades and fireworks every July 14th. It commemorates the storming of the Bastille prison on July 14th, 1789. Originally, the Bastille, constructed in 1370, was used as a fortress to protect the walled city of Paris from English attack, but in the 17th century it was converted into a state prison for upper-class felons, political activists, and spies. By 1789, the French people were fed up with the monarchy and feudal system. The destruction of the Bastille by the mob of revolutionaries was a historic event that kicked off the French Revolution and immediately became a symbol of liberty, democracy, and the struggle against oppression.

The recently children's and young adult titles featured here focus on France and its rich culture. Through fiction and nonfiction many titles present famous historical figures such as Marie-Antoinette, Jacques Cousteau, Joan of Arc, Lafayette, and the artists Monet, Degas, Piccasso, and Renoir. While other titles take readers on a tour of France's beautiful monuments and scenery, such as Adele and Simon and Dodsworth in Paris. To search for more titles, learn about awards, and find curriculum tools search the CLCD database at http://www.childrenslit.com/.

To see the entire feature from July's CLCD newsletter visit:

For more information about France visit:

Paris in the Spring with Picasso
Joan Yolleck
Illustrated by Marjorie Priceman
Yolleck takes us to Paris for a charming, imaginary soirée at Gertrude Stein's in the early twentieth century. The characters we meet are all real, however, and we see them first early in an ordinary day. The poet Guillaume Apollinaire is distracted from writing a poem by the visit of Marie Laurencin, bringing sketches of him and friends. Up the hill lives Max Jacob with Pablo Picasso and his girlfriend Fernande upstairs. Max has written a rhymed couplet; Picasso is painting. As the sun sets over Notre Dame Cathedral, we follow the friends past a circus and a cabaret. At Gertrude's, her friend Alice B. Toklas is preparing for the soirée. The friends arrive for an evening of talking, laughing, and enjoying the arts. There is looseness to the gouache-and-ink illustrations reminiscent of Bemelmann's Paris, a lively place filled with recognizable landmarks, active artists, and intense colors splashed across, around, and even up and down the pages. There are occasional French words to spice the breezy text. Priceman has included interpretations of two Picasso paintings. There are also added notes about the important characters introduced. 2010, Schwartz & Wade Books/Random House Children's Books, $17.99. Ages 5 to 9. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 9780375837562
ISBN: 9780375937569

Contributor: Emily Griffin

Friday, July 1, 2011

CLCD Welcomes Its New President and Owner

Marilyn Courtot, President of the Children’s Literature Comprehensive Database Company, LLC, announced the sale of the CLCD to Dr. Ajay Vijay Gupte. Ownership will be transferred on July 1, 2011.

Dr. Gupte is currently a partner in the CLCD and has been a part of the CLCD team from its beginning. He developed the software to build the database that supports the product and has continued to do the CLCD monthly updates ever since joining the organization. Dr. Gupte has worked in the Library Automation industry since 1988 starting with The Library Corporation, TLC. He was intimately involved with the MARC data updates and with library data in the early years. Later, he was responsible for the second generation of the Public Access Catalog and was instrumental in development of the associated production system. Dr. Gupte has diverse computer software industry experience having worked as a senior manager in a number of global organizations.

“There will be little noticeable change initially,” states Ms. Courtot. “I will continue as a consultant for the CLCD for the next two years to ensure a smooth transition. My responsibilities will include many of the tasks I am currently engaged in. It is both satisfying and gratifying to know that someone so familiar with the CLCD will be moving the company forward. Ajay has supported the underlying database at Children's Literature since its inception in 1999. He also brings a new perspective and energy at a time when small businesses need to be revving up to encourage economic growth. ”

“Although I left the world of libraries and books for youth for a while, I gravitated back through my work with the CLCD,” comments Dr. Gupte. “Children and their books continue to intersect my personal life, as well. I have been married to a pediatrician for 17 years, and we have a 11-year-old son who just happens to be a voracious reader. The purchase of CLCD is an exciting opportunity for me, and I am already planning ways to further enhance the database and its usability for our customers.”

Dr. Gupte has a Doctorate in Computer Science from George Washington University and a Master’s Degree from George Mason University in the same field. He received his Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering from Virginia Tech.

Effective July 1, 2011, the new address for the company is CLCD, LLC; 322 Shore Road, Somers Point, NJ 08244. The web address will be http://www.clcd.com/. The Toll Free Help Line is still 1 800 469 2070.