Saturday, December 01, 2007

Reading skills

The Institute for the Future of the Book has an interesting set of discussions on the NEA announcement of declining reading skills. I have mixed feelings about such reports--they have an elistist feel (that free time should be spent reading alone instead of night clubbing with friends), but working in urban centers, I have to admit that I get many young people who do not know 1) what an encyclopedia is, 2) what a periodical index is, 3) what a table of contents is, 4) what an index is, and 5) what a title page is.


Betsy McKenzie said...

Dear Jackie,
I am starting to teach my advanced legal research students how to read an index -- that indents show how the terms relate, for instance. And tables of contents, how to notice the labels on the spines, how to use an online catalog and how books sit on the shelves in subject order. I am (I think) sure that for some, they wonder why I bring up such topics, and I try to go over it lightly. But others, I think it's all news to them. Times change!

Marie S. Newman said...

In my Advanced Legal Research class, I show students how much valuable information may be contained on the spine of a book. We also cover Library of Congress Subject Headings (broader terms, related terms, narrower terms, etc.) and talk about how indexes are constructed. As Betsy says, most of this stuff comes as a total revelation.