Inspiration, Innovation & Information for school libraries and learning.
Over the school holidays I took the time to watch a couple of TED talks. I highly recommend dipping into these talks every now and then. I find them totally inspirational. One in particular: The power of vulnerability by BrenéBrown set me thinking about the challenges confronting those who work in school libraries as so called “support” staff.
Brené purports that the basis of humanity is connection. That’s why we exist as human beings she says. To connect. Transposing this into the library environment, isn’t this why we exist in our professional lives also?
Making these connections sometimes necessitates leaving our comfort zone. We have to take our courage in our hand and get out there and “do it”. In doing so, we are often confronted by our own vulnerability… doing something with no guarantees. While this is not a comfortable space to be in, overcoming it is becoming more and more necessary, if we are to remain viable in a “socially connected” world.
Brené explores all the human behaviours we tend to develop to cover up our vulnerabilities. I must confess to recognising several of them. However, she does give some positive strategies for overcoming them. I will leave you to view and ponder these for yourself.
In the library and education environment, we are confronted by huge challenges. The most significant of these is that we have to be seen…seen as we really are, here and now, not as we may have been perceived in the distant past.
In our current environment we need to be seen:
Those whom we deal with may think they know what a librarian does. But do they really?
Who is going to inform them of all this, if not you? There is no choice but to dare to be seen. Confront your vulnerabilities and get out there and do it. All this takes courage, self compassion and a strong sense of self worthiness.
Do you have it?
cc image by rosswebsdale
By Gail C
In a workplace Productivity Pulse Survey, Ernst & Young surveyed 1220 public and private sector workers in New Zealand during March 2012. The findings revealed that about three in four people were motivated to do their job to the best of their ability and that 70% believe their work is valued.
Productivity levels of a worker’s average day:
The main time-wasters were:
Indeed, according to a UK study by Dr Thomas Jackson, it takes an average of 64 seconds to recover your train of thought each time you stop what you are doing when an email arrives. On that basis, if you check your email every five minutes, you are taking up to one working day a week recalling what you were doing moments before!
flickr image by Zanzibar
Parallels with our working lives in schools
The Productivity Pulse Survey findings gave pause for a moment of self-reflection. What parallels can we draw with our working lives in schools? Which of the following four groups, by which Ernst & Young categorised the Kiwi workforce, describes one’s own self?
The biggest drivers for increasing productivity were people management issues including:
These drivers are also relevant to help identify areas for improvement/intervention for delivering library services that support 21st Century student learning, underpinned by The Pedagogy of the Library
What is the mission of a library? Is it all about information and story (the content) or is it about books, databases and websites (the medium) or is it about something more fundamental than this?
As I ponder these questions, I am reminded of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. What do we need in order to become fully self actualized individuals and contributing members of society. As a human being, each of us has physical, emotional, mental and spiritual facets to our selves. What do we need to do to nurture all these facets and what therefore, we should value above all else?
What role does our library play in helping our community to satisfy those fundamental needs? Here is my attempt to play with these ideas:
Libraries have a great potential to fulfill these needs. All these components make us human, to understand ourselves, others and the world around us. It takes a shift in thinking about our practice from “how” to “why”. If you see your role as Librarian as an organiserof books, then you are selling both yourself and your clients short. You are focused on the medium, not the outcome. The medium (books, magazines, blogs, kindles, tweets, you tube clips, Facebook) is evolving and changing. The outcome (the” why”) is constant because it is deeply rooted in human needs.
The information and literacy environment is changing quickly. We are at a crossroads. For libraries to remain relevant and essential we may need to adapt our thinking and practice to accommodate these basic human needs for both personal and global truth and wisdom.
Does my library restrict, or enhance, conversations? Through conversations we make connections. We learn. We develop understandings and we share our wisdom. For library spaces, this requires a layout that accommodates both noise and quiet. We need to deliver services that accomodate different types of learning. We need to encourage group activities as well as individual spaces. For some people learning and creativity comes from conversations with ourselves, inside our heads requiring quiet space; for others it is collaborative problem solving that stimulates learning.
As you reflect on the many questions I have posed, consider the “why” of your library and reflect on how you can ensure that your services are both timeless and relevant.
image by Betterworks
by Jeannie S
"Reading is a foundational skill for 21st-century learners. Guiding learners to become engaged and effective users of ideas and information and to appreciate literature requires that they develop as strategic readers who can comprehend, analyze, and evaluate text in both print and digital formats. Learners must also have opportunities to read for enjoyment as well as for information. School librarians are in a critical and unique position to partner with other educators to elevate the reading development of our nation’s youth." - Excerpt from the School Librarian's Role in Reading Position Statement
Now, as we start the new school year, take a look at this position statement. It is a good time read through these resources and plan to purposefully implement some new strategies for reading in your school this year.
How will you measure your impact? Plan to capture the evidence of the library impact and add it to your arsenal of data for advocacy.
The theme of this year's conference was Passion, People and Power. The conference invited us to think critically about ourselves as professionals, our contributions to the library sector and the place libraries have in society. The conference included many speakers from New Zealand and overseas who reiterated that one of our greatest challenges is our ability, or not, to advocate effectively. For the full keynote and other sessions transcripts go to LIANZA.
The keynote speakers outlined a range of advocacy ideas and suggested that we should be advocating in the good times, not just the bad. There seem to be some important questions to ask. How do we promote ourselves and our industry? Who should we align ourselves with and what message do we want to send? Libraries are always facing threats, obstacles or challenges; the question is: how do we respond? Do we continue to just respond? At what stage do we become proactive? Advocate during the good times, advocacy as par for the course – Imbed it into our behaviour.
Research is another area that is crucial to developing a strong advocacy base. Molly Raphael, 2011 -2012 President, American Library Association mentioned several research papers that are particularly compelling. These include The Importance of School Libraries compiled by Keith Curry Lance, Ph.D. Director; Library Research Service; Colorado State Library. Looking at research ensures we are always seeking evidence around best practice.
Andrew Booth is Reader in Evidence Based Information Practice at the School of Health and Related Research at the University of Sheffield. He spoke about evidence based library and information practice. Stating that we need to be sure of the decisions we are making and use evidence, research and stats to support our decisions. Use the 5 A’s of Evidence Based Library Information Practice:
Karen Coyle has over 30 years library experience and currently is investigating the possibilities offered by the semantic web and linked data technology. Are library catalogues holding us back? Restricting our clients and ultimately boring? Linked data may be the answer. In this brave world information links to information, even the link is information. You don’t just look up an author or a title, but an entire web page of information. See Open Library Here you get a range of information – imagine the possibilities. At The Virtual International Authority File you can search across a range of National Libraries that are linked by authority files, making the information available on the web. The update at conference is that the Library of Congress is to replace Marc with the Symantec web! Check out Karen’s blog at Coyle’s Information and here.
Jenica Rogers is the Director of Libraries at the State University of New York at Potsdam. This was the last keynote session of the conference. The theme was Reality based librarianship for passionate librarians. Jenica was challenging, inspiring and realistic in her view of librarians and libraries. Jenica believes that there is an issue in fostering leadership within libraries and more needs to be done to identify and mentor current and future leaders. Jenica also stated that budget cuts, stereotypical views of librarians and libraries is par for the course and “we should just get over it”. We should spend time moving forward, not concerned with where we are now.
Jenica spoke about being passionate, how in the pursuit of goals and objectives one big question determines if it is all worth it “is this a hill you are willing to die on?” If you ask yourself that question, then you will gain clarity on the things that count, and the things you can maybe let go of.
Some engaging workshops included Sally Pewhairangi – Finding Heroes The ideas factory: what is the biggest challenge you will face next year? This was a very practical, thought provoking session where we worked as individuals and teams to decide upon our greatest challenge. Interestingly many of the same issues concerned the groups. These included funding, professional development, staff training and development, customer outreach and growing our client base. Each group analysed a range of issues and came up with responses that prioritised their level of importance. The information gathered can be viewed and discussed at NZ Libraries in 2025: Ideas.
The LIANZA workshop was on Building a stronger profession – is the library and information service profession dying or a profession which remains relevant and is worth strengthening? In this session 4 groups each examined a question set by LIANZA hoping for member feedback. 1. How do we keep the best and brightest in the profession – how do we get them? 2. We are in silos and fragmented – how to unite? 3. How do we articulate our value 4. Our skills have changed, how does LIANZA help this? A fun, stimulating and practical idea may be to ask your colleagues, staff or users these questions. They may form the basis for an introspective look at our own services, and skills. The questions could be altered to accommodate a variety of environments.
Before you think:
“Assessment is not my responsibility”
“My job is getting kids excited about reading and helping them with their research”
“My goal is to produce lifelong learners. That is a long-term goal. It happens in the future and you can’t asses these skills now”
“I don’t have time to give them tests so I can’t really assess their work…”
Take a look at the work being done in Hawaii by Violet Harada and Joan Yoshina. In today’s schools, assessment for student learning is every school professional's business – and every student’s. As well as the benefits to students, there is a real need for librarians to report the library contribution to student progress in a way that communicates the results to school staff, students and parents.
Violet and Joan are interested in the tools and processes in the library that provide students with accurate, descriptive feedback and which involve students in the process.
For librarians to have a recognised part in learning in schools, Violet and Joan suggest the following 21st century understandings are important:
Tools for assessment include the use of checklists, rubrics, portfolios graphic organisers and logs.
It’s a big topic and a very important one.
Harada, V. H.(2010). Self-assessment: Challenging students to take charge of learning. School Library Monthly, 26(10), 13-15
In a recent blog post, Wil Wheaton (US) articulates a tribute to the school librarian who turned him from a “nerdy shy kid” into a reader.
To Wil as a 3rd or 4th grade kid, the library was a scary place. It took a sensitive and helpful librarian to transform it “from a confusing and intimidating collection of books into a thousand different portals through time and space to fantastic worlds for me to explore.“
To all those school librarians starting out in NZ schools in 2011, this story just shows the transformational impact on a student’s life when you help them connect to the right book and the tools to find more books on their own. This eloquent ‘thank-you’ was written years later – but no doubt the perceptive librarian had already observed the change.
By Lisa O
The concept of literacy has evolved from a fairly universal one: the ability to read and understand printed text, to a rather complex one: the ability to absorb and understand many types of information in an ever-growing list of formats. The range of literacies includes, but is not limited to: digital literacy, information literacy, visual literacy, media literacy, health literacy, financial literacy, and news literacy.
We need to grow and maintain our own knowledge and understanding of the many literacies, how they are interrelated, and why they are important for students. We need to identify ways of effectively facilitating understanding in our students. Basic literacy, critical analysis skills and competence with ICT are key to developing all other literacies.
How do school libraries fit?
One of the major concerns about multiple literacies or transliteracy voiced here and overseas, is about the divide between those who do and those who don’t have these skills.
The school and its library are a good place to address that divide, to give access to the tools and teach the competencies, especially for those students who come from a home that has limited access to a computer or to broadband Internet.
It is in fact critical, that all students learn multifaceted literacy competencies at school if they are to be effective adult participants in our democracy and our society generally.
The pace of change from an analogue to a digital environment is accelerating. The ability to navigate effectively through the future landscape of data and information to find and utilise valid information for any purpose is a basic skill that will underpin others.
School libraries therefore are well placed to provide access to and learning opportunities for students to become skilled users of text, data, and other information that will form the foundations of other learning.
Lane Wilkinson writes: “Transliteracy comes into play as a pedagogical method, a way to break down the barrier between the student and the library. It encompasses established methods like transfer of learning and analogical reasoning in the library classroom. It’s using Wikipedia to find keywords for a search in CINAHL. It’s reading an academic journal article and then looking up the author’s personal blog for more contexts. It’s comparing hash tags to subject headings and Amazon reviews to abstracts.”
“ Linking up traditional notions of authority with the realities of how people obtain information today”
Recently the Unquiet Librarian wrote a thought provoking post about transliteracy and what it means for libraries.
She writes: “I would like to further explore how libraries can be sites of literate communities. …Where people are engaging in many kinds of literate practices to consume and create content in thoughtful, meaningful, and new ways that meld traditional and new literacies.I also will continue to explore how participatory culture and librarianship dovetail with transliteracy.”
Image by Unquiet Librarian
by Lisa O
Open content is a philosophical shift that educators are making. As the learning process takes precedence over information content and as educators face the challenges of making best use of the exponential growth of information, sharing and open content become more important. “ Research and Innovative Thinking .
Schools in New Zealand are shifting to an open content model. How are school libraries positioned to support this new model?
Many schools in New Zealand are taking a decision not to buy textbooks to support their teaching and learning, but rather to find , develop and share their own materials to support their teaching. Instead of buying textbooks to underpin their lessons, the teachers are thinking about their pedagogy and the important skills their students need to be active participants as global citizens. To stimulate deep learning and critical thinking processes in their students, teachers are thinking in new ways about transforming their teaching practice: creating, sharing, re-mixing digital resources to support their objectives.
Given libraries’ mission of providing access to information – the shift to an open content environment is a great opportunity for the school library to provide pivotal services to enable the successful transformation of their schools.
By working with administration, ICT support, and teachers, librarians are perfectly positioned to create systems for storage and retrieval of this locally created material. In this central role, the librarian can then easily take on a knowledge manager role helping teachers to connect to each other as they develop, share and re-use their locally created materials. Librarians are also well positioned to help the teachers to understand and use standards as they are developed so that content can be shared amongst schools as well as within schools.
Apart from the benefits of custom made resources to support learning, there is also a monetary savings in ceasing to purchase proprietary content.
Further Reading –
by Lisa O
When you work in a school library, especially if you are in a sole charge position, your professional learning needs will differ from those of the classroom teaching staff. In fact, as we think about personalised learning for our students, so too may we think about our own personalised learning. Librarians have always taken an active role in our own professional development.In the past this meant, subscribing to print journals such as Magpies and School Library Journal, joining professional associations, attending library network meetings, going on short courses and reading monographs relevant to our professional interests.
Today however, our opportunities for professional learning are much greater and are easier than ever to access. Broadband, social media tools and web applications make it incredibly easy to develop, maintain and grow your own Personal Learning Network. While the concepts of a Personal Learning Network and Personal Learning Environment are well established in the education sector having evolved, in some cases, to proprietary or open source programmes that schools use to manage students learning and work portfolios.
But at a more basic level a Personal Learning Network is simply the conceptualisation of the web of connections to other people and information that an individual creates to satisfy their own information/learning needs. In our fields of information and education, the pace of change and the continual creation of new knowledge that affects our daily work are great. We need to continually scan and read in our own and related fields to ensure that we are delivering the best services to our schools in the most efficacious way. A Personal Learning Network is a great way we can obtain the information we need.
Here is an example of a Personal Learning Network organised by channel.
0800 LIB LINE
0800 542 5463
Get help from our advisers using this free phone line