Inspiration, Innovation & Information for school libraries and learning.
If there was a book about you, what would the title be? How would your students, and your school staff, describe what you do? Perceptions of the role and character traits of library staff have been captured through the decades by writers, cartoonists and movie-makers. Stereotypically these have varied from the stern old dragon to …… [fill in all the images that sprang to your mind!]
Delightful portrayals include:
“You see, “I don’t believe that libraries should be drab places where people sit in silence, and that’s been the main reason for our policy of employing wild animals as librarians.” Monty Python
“As a general rule, librarians are a kick in the pants socially, often full of good humor, progressive, and naturally, well read. They tend to be generalists who know so much about so many things that they are quite the opposite of the boring old poops they have been made out to be...” Bill Hall, editor, Lewiston (Idaho) Tribune
Librarians are not to be taken for granted:
”Mary Kay is one of the secret masters of the world: a librarian. They control information. Don’t ever piss one off.”
Spider Robinson, The Callahan Touch
Certain expectations are required of librarians:
“People flock in, nevertheless, in search of answers to those questions only librarians are considered to be able to answer, such as “Is this laundry?” “How do you spell surreptitious?” and, on a regular basis, “Do you have a book I remember reading once? It had a red cover and it turned out they were twins.” Terry Pratchett, Going Postal
“If she can’t spell, why is she a librarian? Librarians should know how to spell.” Beverley Cleary, Ramona’s World.
Beverley Cleary was a librarian, whose school librarian had instilled in her a belief that she, too, could write for children someday.
The value and influence of the librarian from a student’s perspective:
“As a kid in West Virginia, I had a very rich imaginary world. And my dream was to grow up to be a librarian, because I had a librarian named Mrs. McCann who I thought was the most magical woman on the planet. She used to publish little versions of my stories, typing them on manila folders and illustrating them with pictures of me and my teddy bear: T-Bear Goes to Mars and T-Bear’s Trip to the Moon. She was my first mentor—the first person who really took an interest in me for me, which when you’re a kid is a major deal. I’ve had other mentors, and those relationships were based on reading. They gave me a sense of who I was.” Jennifer Garner Interview, Oprah Magazine
“She’s a librarian, Sim said. They’re not teachers; don’t give you half as much hassle. If there’s a fire in the school and I’ve got to choose who I’m gonna save - a teacher or a librarian - the teacher’s gonna burn every time.” Keith Gray, Ostrich boys
With annual reports and performance appraisals looming, what feedback on you and your library’s services could you include from your students, staff and parents/whänau? What would their responses look like, sound like and feel like? In 10, 20, 30+ years’ time, what memories will your students have of you as having been an influence on their lives?
Our children are our future
It was my privilege at Ulearn 2012 to hear a keynote presentation by Khoa Do, an acclaimed film director, screen writer and teacher. In the past ten years Khoa has specialised in working with marginalised communities, including at-risk and homeless youth, former prisoners and refugees of many nationalities.
Khoa’s own story is a remarkable one. At the age of two he arrived in Australia from Vietnam as a refugee on a tiny fishing boat. He grew up in poverty in Sydney’s western suburbs and since then has won numerous international awards as a film maker and was young Australian of the year in 2005.
His passion, humour and enthusiasm are infectious and uplifting. Throughout his career as a film maker, Khoa has worked with the most disadvantaged in his community, guiding them and inspiring them to incredible success. His message was simple and powerful. Khoa believes everyone, no matter what their background or experience, is extraordinarily gifted, and our goal is to help others to realise their true potential.
He urged us to believe in our young people and to instil in them the self belief that they are valued and that anything is possible.
Khoa encouraged us :
Libraries in our communities and our schools have a rich tradition of inclusion and empowerment. They are known as havens, sanctuaries - where no one is turned away or judged. Libraries build communities. Libraries and their staff have a long tradition of supporting individuals to grow and realise their potential.
Recently however, there was an incident which angered and disturbed me. It is a reminder of the damage and hurt that can be caused by putting library routines and procedures before empathy and understanding, by not listening - not trusting, by putting books before people.
A week before the conference a mother accompanied her beautiful Pasifika daughter - an avid reader - to the local community library. It was their second year living in New Zealand and the library was one of the girl’s favourite places. She had been back and forth almost every day in the school holidays. She always had at two or three books on the go and was always eager to see if her requests were on the shelf waiting to be collected. On this particular day as the mother and daughter left the library, squeezing through the security gates alongside an older pakeha woman, the security alarm sounded.
The librarian approached mother and daughter on the steps outside the library. The little girl explained that the books in her bag had been issued the week before. The other woman, leaving the library at the same time, explained that she had probably tripped the alarm because she had had difficulty self-issuing ther book.
The librarian ignored the older woman and did not wish to check her book. Instead she demanded the little girl go through her bag and remove her library books. The little girl complied, rummaging through her clothes, her leftover lunch treats, toys and games to find the books.
The mother did not understand why it was necessary to search her daughter’s bag on the pavement -in view of passers-by. She did not understand why the librarian didn’t wish to check the other woman’s book. She did not understand why the librarian did not listen to her daughter, or believe her.
She felt humiliated, belittled. She wanted to return to the community she had come from in the islands – where she and her children were treated with respect and dignity. She did not want to ever return to that library. The little girl was confused and did know what she had done wrong.
Library practices and routines that put books and procedures before people, serve to marginalise and alienate us from our communities. Library staff must recognise the hurt and harm they can do when they don’t listen, trust, and care. They need to understand the fragility of our young peoples’ sense of self belief and confidence.
Libraries have the power to lift people up. There is no place for library staff in any school or community who treat others with disrespect and damage their confidence.
As a library professional I was outraged.
As a husband and father I was heartbroken. That beautiful little girl was my daughter.
This is the first in a series of posts about the keynote speakers coming to the SLANZA Conference, 15th–17th July 2013 in Wellington.
One of the perks of being on the planning committee for the 2013 SLANZA conference is in knowing who the keynote speakers will be before they are publically announced. So, in addition to the profiles of keynote speakers on the SLANZA website, I will also write a series of posts about each one and their particular relevance to our work with school libraries.
Tara Brabazon is Professor of Creative Media and Head of Photography and Creative Media at the University of Bolton in Greater Manchester, UK. After hearing Tara at the Librarian’s Information Literacy Annual Conference (LILAC) in 2008, a conference delegate wrote
“Tara Brabazon…gave one of the most outstanding performances I’ve ever seen…from her lack of PowerPoint, to Star Trek references. We need to bottle her enthusiasm for librarians and information literacy and sell it; she really has the potential to do for information literacy what Jamie Oliver did for school dinners!” Jane Secker
Information literacy is just one of the areas in which Tara talks and writes with great passion. Her other interests include:
A podcast of Tara’s address to a Master Data Management Summit in London last year entitled Change we need? Moving from information obesity to digital dieting discusses how popular search engines like Google not only “restricts, reduces and limits” but also encourages “sloppy thinking” and information behaviours that are “easy” but not necessarily beneficial.
Tara recommends that we start using simple interventions before moving onto more complex information scaffolding and to ask ourselves the following 10 questions when thinking about the management of information:
Tara says that due to a lack of information literacy, students become easily satisfied with superficial information and need to “stop snacking on crusts of knowledge and develop advanced interpretive skills” because real learning is “slow, gradual and incremental”.
I’m curious to know what kind of “digital diet” Tara might have us consider next July, but I agree with what she says about “less being more” and I like her references to Harold Innis’s work The Bias of Communication which argues that the medium is not the message but rather, as Tara emphasises, “the medium is the first moment of choice to create meaning.”
The American Educational Research Association’s (AERA) met in Vancouver earlier this year. The theme was ‘Non Satis Scire: To Know Is Not Enough’.
Educators’ knowledge about learning and teaching continues to increase through the publication of scholarly research. However, although AERA gave high marks to advancing knowledge about education through scholarly inquiry, the report was not as glowing for “the use of research to improve education and serve the public good”.
What would our New Zealand report card look like?
If your Board of Trustees asked you for studies and evidence that reading for pleasure supports student learning outcomes, what would you suggest?
What research would you mention as part of an ‘elevator speech’ about the value of school libraries?
Reflect for a moment. Check your list against the information in Education counts.
Which studies do you consider most useful? Are NZCER, PISA and PIRLS on your list? Which others? What about research on improving students’ inquiry learning skills, what examples would you draw on?
For starters, we could refer to BlueMountain College, Tapanui (Otago) where teachers and library staff used the National Education Monitoring Project’s (NEMP) Information Skills survey to test Year 8 students. The findings showed the need to focus on developing the students’ skills and attitudes to writing.
How can we place more emphasis on using research as well as adding to the body of research on the difference school libraries make?
Let us know of anything you have done that has transformed the impact of your library service on your students’ learning. Share your research journey and inspire others with examples of evidence, which supports student achievement.
One avenue for you to share your research experiences and to learn about others is National Library’s Online Community: Collaboration, Advocacy and how libraries can add value to learning.
For inspiration, these research findings will help you on your way.
National Library’s Services to Schools includes research findings on school libraries, learning and pedagogical models. See:
At 7pm on a Friday evening The National Library Auckland Centre is usually deserted, staff and customers alike are beginning their weekends, the lights are off and the doors are locked, but on October the 12th it was a very different story, or nine very different stories to be more exact…
To mark the end of the Kermadecs: Expeditions and Connections exhibition The National Library partnered with The New Zealand Book Council to present Deep Water – A True Stories Told Live Event.
At its deepest the Kermadec trench plummets to ten kilometres and due to this extreme depth most of this area remains unexplored. With this highly successful exhibition as its backdrop, ‘Deep Water’ was an obvious theme for the evening. It was a theme speakers could apply literally, while also allowing plenty of scope to interpret and shape laterally to serve their own ends.
The speakers came from a broad range of backgrounds; musician Don McGlashan; visual artist John Reynolds; marine biologist Tom Trinski; writer and blogger Rosabel Tan; journalist Jose Barbosa; playwright Arthur Meek; painter and novelist Jacqueline Fahey; Sir Peter Blake student voyager Isabel Ikin; and writer Stephanie Johnson.
When considering ‘Deep Water’, the speakers told us about: life as an altar boy; writers block in the Scottish highlands; being chased by sharks in the Kermadec Islands; and an eye-opening experience during a relationship therapy session. As The saying goes, ‘Life is stranger than fiction’ and the fact that these stories have to be true makes this format unexpected to say the least.
Several events associated with the Kermadec programme have taken place in the exhibition space and contributed to The National Library Auckland centre’s growing reputation as a knowledge centre. A place where customers can engage with issues, be entertained and informed in a variety of ways. These different levels of engagement provide opportunities for connections between communities and individuals across different sectors.
While the National Library and the Kermadec exhibition provided the backdrop, context and theme for this event, the evening would not have been so memorable without the generosity of the people attending and sharing their stories. Our True Stories Told Live event was a fundraiser for the Book Council, so the mix of speakers reflected this. The communities that have developed around the storytellers are diverse and ensured lively discussion after the event.
The communities that develop around our Schools and Libraries are equally, if not more, diverse and when we consider our own approaches to fundraising it is easy to underestimate the resources we have to draw on. True stories Told Live provides a format that allows anyone to contribute and enables us to value and recognise the rich texture of life experience that makes up our community.
This needs to be relevant but also open to interpretation. This could be related to an inquiry learning topic your school is exploring, a current event, or it could even reference the fundraising goal. The possibilities are limitless and could even be something that is crowd-sourced as part of the publicity for the event. As the main goal of the theme is to bring the community together,, consider an idea that is relevant, important and will engage speakers and audience.
The next stage is finding story tellers; ideally this group will be connected to the community and have a diverse age range. While not everyone enjoys public speaking, most people know someone with a great story.
This works best if it is a well lit community space with comfortable seating. Some sort of sound amplification may be needed depending on the size of the event.
We recommend a Master of Ceremonies to introduce the event, its purpose and the speakers. The rules are simple:
The event works best if it’s informal, with money raised by charging a nominal entry fee and perhaps asking guests to bring a plate.
True Stories Told Live is an opportunity for community groups to raise money, get to know each other better and explore an idea from many different points of view. The results are often surprising and always hilarious. We are looking forward to our next True Stories Told Live event and also to hearing about yours.
Photo by author
By Lisa A
Are you looking for a captivating and easy-to-use tool to add to your display, poster-making and online repertoire?
Try Tagxedo, a free tool, which allows you to arrange words (like a tag cloud) into cool shapes. With a wide range of available shapes, fonts and colour schemes, it is a flexible and addictive tool.
You can use text you make up, text from your own tweets or blogs, or any text that is not copyright. Creative Commons have a directory of CC text sources.
The example below uses text from our Sail into summer reading course promotion.
Tagxedo provides existing shapes to work with and gives you the option of creating your own from photos or shapes. Check out the gallery for ideas. To make the Tagxedo below, I typed in 700 as the shape and then added words reflecting topics found in the 700 section of Dewey.
To get started:
The first in a series of posts reflecting on and sharing the learning from Ulearn12.
by Lisa A
Karen Melhuish presented : Punch above your weight at Ulearn 12
Key themes were: Knowledge is in the network and Blend to extend
Karen observed that teachers who actively reflect (and this applies to library staff too) are more likely to improve their practice. With the advent of online virtual learning possibilities and flexible pathways, we no longer have to be isolated in our practice. De-privatisation of professional practice is now possible, allowing reflection, comparison and a shared conversation on what it means to be effective.
Karen identified the following trends that will support this shared learning:
Enablers and amplifiers in technology:
The characteristics of future oriented learning include:
Karen finished with a step by step approach for getting started:
Prompted by two novels about what happened after Macbeth
When I was at school, I studied Shakespeare. I well remember the fun of Midsummer Night’s Dream, the romance of Romeo and Juliet and the drama of Macbeth. One standout memory, however, would have to be the prophecies of the three witches from Macbeth. Who could forget the iconic lines:
“Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and caldron bubble” ?
Here I am, two generations later, reintroduced to those three evil, almost supernatural, characters with their capacity to so accurately prophesise future events.
My memories were rekindled reading Tania Roxborogh’s Banquo’s Son and its sequel Bloodlines. These are the first two books of a trilogy, set in 11th Century Scotland after Macbeth had killed the king and was then eventually killed himself. The stories are ably researched and beautifully written. In both, the evil witches materialise as fascinating and ghoulish characters who make oblique prophecies, which both guide and confuse the seeker.
I eagerly await the publication of the third in the trilogy: Birthright (due in April 2013). In the meantime, I have been pondering what it was in a story about the royal lineage of Scotland, 10 centuries ago, that has held me so enthralled.
(image used with author’s permission)
My ponderings take me beyond the story and its setting and I delve into the question of why I choose to read? The themes of these books, like most enduring literature are universal and timeless. They are the themes of “humanness”.
The general themes of both of these books can be summarised as:
Maybe you recognise one or more of these themes from your own recent reading?
I am reminded of times in my life when I have been confronted by similar conflicts and choices. Maybe that is why I found these two books so captivating. Although I was reading, ostensibly, about the struggles and conflicts confronting Fleance (son of Banquo), I was also reading about myself. Set in a different time and place, his struggles and dilemmas were no different to those that have confronted me in varying degrees throughout my life. That is why I am so captivated by these stories. I can relate to the” humanness” of the characters.
So why do I read? Maybe I read to understand myself and my human foibles.
Much more interesting than self help books!
And I can’t wait for the sequel.
A group of educators from around New Zealand has worked to create a Digital Citizenship Course for New Zealand students. http://wikieducator.org/Digital_Citizenship
Recognising both the need for a programme and also the reality that many schools/ teachers haven’t the time or opportunity to create a digital citizenship programme for their students, the group used a collaborative online environment to “crowd source” the ideas and content for this great resource.
Last Wednesday evening at the National Library Centre in Auckland, the programme was launched as an Open Educational Resource on WikiEducator with an invitation for all educators to use the programme with their students and to continue to develop this rich resource.
There are ten modules divided into primary, intermediate and secondary levels including: basic skills, safety, privacy, copyright, plagiarism, research, integrity and more. The content has a Creative Commons (CC-BY-SA) licence.
Digital citizenship in New Zealand is based in the key competencies of the NZ Curriculum. It is built on a foundation of digital and print literacy, using technical and social skills to navigate, participate and deeply engage in the digital environment safely and ethically. Netsafe provides a detailed definition of digital citizenship for New Zealand students.
Take a look at this fabulous resource and consider how you might incorporate this course into your teaching. If there is not a digital citizenship programme already in place at your school, take the lead and use this Open Resource to start one, or share it with a colleague who can activate it.
“School libraries are pedagogical centres where digital citizenship is promoted through explicit modelling, facilitated teaching and supported exploration of new ideas.
The school library is a safe environment where expertise and access to technology and information of many kinds connects learners to global communities and ideas. The librarian has connections to all learners, learning formally and informally, and works closely with teachers to collaborate on integrated, authentic programmes that promote the ethical and sophisticated finding, using and creating of new knowledge. In many schools, the librarian is ideally placed to provide the energy and consistency required for a whole school digital citizenship programme.”
Mark Osborne, Claire Amos and Andrew Cowie (on twitter at: @mosborne01, @claireamos, @nealnz31) three of the team who worked on the project promoting the resource at the launch
image by sjcockell
By Lisa Allcott
Recently I had the chance to participate in two online courses – one at work on e-facilitation and one for personal interest on art in picture books. Offered by the American Library Association, this focused on the books that had won the Caldecott medal for illustration.
Both used Moodle as the learning platform and both were pleasantly easy to navigate – no technical issues with getting to the discussion forums, or accessing the pdfs of provided readings from either work or home.
The design and requirements of the two courses were quite different:
In both cases the courses were fairly fast paced and needed a decent time commitment to get the most out of them - at least five hours a week for the e-facilitation course. The Moodle platform for both courses is left open for a period of time after the course finishes. This gives participants the opportunity to go over older material and continue posting if they wish.
I found the online experience very interesting and learned a lot, both in terms of content and also from the experience of trying virtual learning - a great way to do some further professional development without being tied to a specific place or a time. At the personal level, it was fascinating to work co-operatively with learners from all around the world – we had participants from Malawi, Nigeria and Jamaica. Our Jamaican colleagues even helped my son with one of his homework questions – why can Jamaicans run so fast?
If you are looking to expand your personal learning network, I’d thoroughly encourage you to try an online course – I’m already looking for my next online learning experience.
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