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A library full of new books

IN ALL of librarydom, there may be no better job than Fran Glick's.

Glick is in charge of the library -- well, media center, to be modern about it -- at the $35.3 million New Town High School in Owings Mills, Baltimore County's first new high school in 25 years. This means she had the enviable task this spring and summer of building a library from scratch.

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She didn't actually construct it, of course, but she stocked it with 18,000 brand-new items, most of them books. She had a $450,000 book budget, and that doesn't include the computers and other electronic doodads that make up contemporary school media centers.

"I'm like a kid in a candy shop," Glick said the other day as she surveyed her kingdom. A former librarian at Wellwood International Elementary School in Pikesville, Glick applied for the job in February "almost on a whim."

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The next month she had it, and then came the challenge: opening a library for 1,348 students. What books of fiction do you purchase, what reference works? And because a library's main job is to support the curriculum of the school, how do you do that in a few short months?

Glick didn't do it alone. She and other library experts formed a "practicum" -- fancy word for a practical training course -- at Towson University under Della Curtis, county coordinator of libraries and a Towson adjunct professor. Each member of the practicum was assigned a section of the collection -- Glick chose reference works -- and set out to consider the books to be purchased.

"I actually earned three credits toward my master's for planning a library," said Glick.

On opening day Monday, students could browse a stunning array of reference works, some costing as much as $14,000 a set. There are three sets of general encyclopedias and several specialized publications like The Encyclopedia of Motion Picture Sounds and the Grove Encyclopedia of Music.

Selecting fiction for a library serving a diverse student body wasn't as hard as one might think. On a quick tour of the 3,000- book section, I spotted Seabiscuit, the best-sellers of Danielle Steel, and several Caldecott and Newbery award winners. Sprinkled in the fiction collection are books that are "more manageable for average readers," Glick said.

The American Library Association has lists of books for teens, Glick said, "and we even purchased some books recommended by Oprah's Book Club -- appropriate books, that is."

Now that the school is up and running, Glick said, "The hardest thing is not finding a corner, curling up and getting absorbed in this wonderful library. But I don't have time."

At college, 'friendsickness' common among females

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This is move-in weekend for students at many area colleges, and a Penn State researcher says many freshmen will experience "friendsickness," a variant of homesickness that primarily afflicts young women.

"Part of the adjustment process for first-year students involves grieving the loss of pre-college friendships," said Jennifer Crissman Ishler, an assistant professor of counselor education.

Crissman Ishler studied 91 first-year female college students at an unnamed university with a freshman class of 6,000.

"Female first-year students have a difficult time letting go of their pre-college friendships, a source of comfort and stability, as well as a link to the past," she observed. "They spend much time and energy trying to maintain their pre-college friendships through e-mail, instant messaging, phone calls and visits to each other's campuses and visits home."

Men, minorities vanishing from teaching ranks

Men are disappearing from America's public school classrooms.

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Only two out of 10 teachers are men, the lowest proportion in 40 years, according to a survey of the National Education Association. Just one in 10 teachers is a minority, a sign, the Associated Press observes, that teachers are much less diverse than the children they educate.

What makes teaching less attractive to men and minorities? Not surprisingly, the main factor is that other professions pay better and have less stress.

The NEA survey also found that 60 percent of teachers would choose the profession if they were starting anew.

Forty-three percent of America's teachers, a plurality, have been in the profession for more than 20 years. Twenty-three percent, the next largest proportion, have been at it five years or fewer.


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