Expanding the arts: rockin’ through the 700s

May 2, 2008 at 10:29 pm Leave a comment

The English High School, the nation’s oldest public high school, now has an enrollment of 820 students in grades 9 through 12. The population is very nearly half black, half Latino. Only 49% of the students speak English as a first language. The library is open both before and after school and during the two lunch periods (staggered so that the whole school isn’t in the cafeteria at once), but students must have a pass during school hours. Library use outside of class time is rare.

Although I evaluated all the EHS non-fiction holdings in the 700s, for the purposes of this assignment I focused on what I considered the “fine arts”–general art history, painting, architecture, and sculpture. My list includes 105 items in all. I chose this section in part because my undergraduate degree is in the history of art and architecture, so I assumed I might be better qualified to evaluate these materials. I also believe that the arts tend to get shortchanged in schools, and often in libraries; while educators no doubt recognize the importance of keeping history and science materials current, many overlook the importance of up to date arts resources.

The current collection is woefully outdated. While many of the items saw heavy circulation in the 1960s and 70s, few have circulated in the last few years. Some of this is no doubt due to a focus on subjects that have fallen out of fashion with young adults–opera and certain crafts popular in the 70s, to name two examples. Most of the items are in fine physical condition, but I found a significant number that seemed either targeted at a much younger audience than high schoolers or extremely dated in content and language.

My suggestions for new collection items come from browsing Wilson’s Senior High Core Catalogue. I chose only items that were published no earlier than 2004 and tried to focus on a few encyclopedias for broad knowledge, materials focusing on the black and Latino experiences, and current topics that might make for good pleasure reading.

My evaluation of the current collection can be found here, and suggestions for new titles are here.


Entry filed under: books, Education. Tags: , .

Misogynist (genius!) What I’ve been reading

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