Inspiration, Innovation & Information for school libraries and learning.
By Linda F
You are literate. In fact you enjoy, even crave books and reading, but you don’t have an income to buy books or a home where you could read and shelve them. Perhaps you’d borrow them, but where could you go if you didn’t have an address with which to secure a library card or didn’t feel you belonged in a public library?
In Sydney the Benjamin Andrew Footpath Library is an inspirational example of libraries as a powerful vehicle for social justice. Founded by philanthropist Sarah Garnett in 2003 the Footpath Library provides new and high quality books and magazines for those who would not usually have ready access to books and reading. The library now also has branches in Melbourne and Brisbane and aims to be Australia-wide by 2014.
The library began on the footpaths of Sydney when Sarah noticed a homeless man regularly retrieving books from rubbish bins. Now, books are delivered by van to the footpaths of Sydney streets and libraries of books have also been set up in refuges, hostels, community centres and other places that look after homeless and marginalised citizens.
In addition, and perhaps because books warm the soul but not always the body, the Footpath Library also co-ordinates the donation of knitted goods like hats and scarves to keep their customers warm during winter.
For those who live on the streets or live on the fringes of ‘mainstream’ society deliveries from the mobile Footpath Library open up a whole world of new places to go, access to different ideas and learning, and a forum for book conversations. It also builds literacy and a community of readers. The Footpath Library is a continuously evolving and inspiring story about the difference reading makes to the lives of a diverse group of people who may not otherwise have access to books.
Listen to Sarah Garnett speaking about the establishment of the Footpath Library, how the library changes lives, and the kinds of books that are most popular:
Follow @Footpathlib on Twitter
image by edtechie99
Released this January, this fourth edition of the Kids & Family Reading Report™, biannual national survey is based in the US, but with some insights that could be paralleled here in New Zealand. Kids aged 6-17 and parents shared their views on reading in the increasingly digital landscape along with the influences impacting reading frequency and attitudes toward reading.
Some of the key findings around the increasing significance of eBooks are:
The report also notes the potential for eBooks to motivate boys to read more. EBooks may also be the key to transition moderately frequent readers (defined as kids who read one to four days a week) to frequent readers (those who read five to seven days a week).
Additional findings of note include:
Other findings included that a reading role-model parent or a large book collection at home has a greater impact on kids’ reading frequency than household income. Plus, building reading into kids’ daily schedules and regularly bringing home books for children positively impacts kids’ reading frequency.
One encouraging finding was that kids of all ages still love and use print books. Along with evidence of factors influencing children’s reading the report also tracks emerging trends and is well worth downloading from the Scholastic website and sharing amongst your colleagues
By Linda F
Can you remember the time before you learnt to read or, more vividly, the day you or your children or the students you teach began to learn to read?
On 6 March the LitWorld organisation led World Read Aloud Day.
World Read Aloud Day and its slogan Read It Forward was a celebration of reading aloud, but most of all it was a call to imagine and work towards a world where everyone can read.
Currently there are approximately 793 million people in the world who are illiterate and LitWorld’s work with children and their communities aims to build storytellers and leaders who are confident and literate. Their programmes include reading clubs for children and a big focus on empowering girls through literacy. Another strand of their work, the Lit! project, enables the use of solar powered lanterns to provide safe light for reading in places where there is no electricity.
By Peter M
I’d like to draw a picture of a teenage boy. He is active. He is social. He likes to do things with his friends.
He is creative. He likes to explore. He likes to takes risks. Test boundaries.
As a young boy he was an avid reader. Harry Potter. The Twilight series. Eragon. Lord of the Rings. Books were Devoured. Enjoyed. Treasured.
He doesn’t read many books nowadays. He says libraries are not cool places to hang out in. Be seen in.
He plays rugby. Has a longboard. Is always on the move. Catching up with his mates.
He loves games. So do his friends. They play together. Sharing strategies.
He has an ipod. Loaded with games, music and videos. He takes it with him everywhere.
He has a facebook page. So do all his friends. They have their own language.
He is almost immediately aware of the latest global sensation on Youtube. Gangnam style. Kony. Harlem shake. He discovers and engages with the world through social media. To understand why teenage boys don’t go to libraries - don’t read books – we need to try to understand their world. A world overwhelmed with possibilities for engagement. A world saturated with media. A world where they are trying to discover and assert themselves as young men.
In a recently updated edition of ‘To Be a Boy, To Be a Reader’, William Brozo argues that what it means to be literate is undergoing perpetual change in an ever evolving digital landscape and that adolescent boys are deeply immersed in these new literacies.
These new literacies include:
Brozo argues that we need to provide an alternative to traditionally formatted print texts in our libraries and embrace alternative texts including digital media, comics, graphic novels and games. We need to enable and value the development of a wide range of literacies and provide linkages between them.
But more than just the redefinition of the library collection to embrace digital media, the social web and gaming, we need to re-imagine our library places and spaces. They need to be Open. Connected. Social. Places where you can make stuff. Share stuff.
If we are to build a bridge between our libraries and teenage boys we need to understand their world. Speak their language. Share ownership of our libraries as place and virtual space. Allow them to shape them and make them places where they want to be. Where they want to be seen. Where their 21st century literacies are valued and supported.
image by help.paulo
image by Will Lion
by Paula E
Everyday we are offered an abundance of information, conveniently streamed directly to us and linking us with the wider world. Being a connected, current consumer AND contributor of the E-literate world is part of 21st Century Librarianship, but some days this information feed can feel almost overwhelmingly unmanageable.
Emailing, texting, updating, tweeting, posting, blogging, searching, downloading, streaming, some days it’s easy to wish for the old days of just chatting and reading. As a tweeter, blogger, poster, emailer and downloader I’ve come to the realisation that I need control over what I do with this information, at a time that suits me to deal with it.
The age of Information Overwhelm is the new normal.
Email can be a major stressor and distracter when there are so many others things demanding our attention.
Being connected to online library and information communities combined with our in-school communities, can sometimes make email can seem like more hassle than its worth when our students’ and teachers’ demands and needs come first.
Setting up rules, to divert emails away from your inbox and into named folders can be one way of managing what demands your attention right now, and what you can park to look over later, tomorrow or next week.
Most school IT managers can help with this, YouTube is a great self educator or an email to the online library communities would no doubt offer a flood of support and help (but more emails potentially too!).
Reading the subject line and only opening the email if there’s relevance to your library and your situation can help with the inbox cull too. Being librarians makes us personally interested in a lot of things, but professionally we need to be strong willed during those time starved days, about what we can honestly get through.
Categorizing (colour coding) those emails that we’d love to look at “on a quiet day” can be another way of prioritising what gets dealt with now, whilst being aware that those quiet days are few and far between!
Tools like Scoop.it give us the opportunity to read a topic thread, never miss out on a post, and access, follow or unfollow them when we choose.
Twitter’s use of #hashtags to follow news threads can sift out the should reads from the
could reads, and turning off the instant notification option of feeds like Twitter and Facebook delivered to smart phones can be a great way of clawing back control too. You can even turn off the little outlook notification that appears on the bottom of your screen when an email arrives.
I’m currently trialling following OZTLNet on Facebook and receiving their emails as a daily digest, instead of getting every post in real time, as the frequency of email delivery was too much for my current workload.
If we needed evidence of the increasing amount of information available to us this video from the 21st Century Fluency Project explains InfoWhelm and the need for Information Fluency as one of the key fluencies in the 21st Century.
As information and library professionals we need to know what’s happening, but it’s a bit like watching TV; we choose what’s best for us and fast forward through the ads and rubbish!
It’s important to find a way that works for YOU and remembering that just because we can have ubiquitous information feeds, sometimes this is not the best option. Your information stream may need to be tweaked to cope with the seasonal flurries that working in schools presents.
We teach and encourage our school communities to be discerning users of online information, but sometimes in our attempts to ensure the best experience and service for library users, we forget to regularly refill our own cup too.
A small and regular time investment in yourself professionally, has the potential to continue giving to your customers for a long time, as well as energising and invigorating your day-to-day school lives.
If in doubt remember what L’Oreal says; “Because you’re worth it!”
What other strategies do you use to manage your information streams?
Our children’s future is at stake, so have your say!
What do you think are the biggest science challenges facing New Zealand? Is it climate change, water quality, protecting our biodiversity, or green technologies?
You may have seen the advertisement on TV (that scientist with red hair!) but The Great New Zealand Science Project represents a very real and valid way for New Zealanders young and old to express their views by linking our top scientific minds with a few of the best open-minded, free-thinkers we know, (our kids)!.
In fact, the project particularly wants to hear the views of young New Zealanders, and importantly to encourage more young people to consider science-based careers. They and everyone else can visit The Great New Zealand Science Project to explore these challenges and build their own science project around what they think future science issues could be.
Along the way students can also learn about the challenges through a series of interactive slides and video on the site
In fact its the public’s input that will help the Government focus its investment on solving these challenges for the benefit of future generations. Currently there are eight illustrative challenges to get people thinking and talking. They include: marine resources; natural hazards; fighting disease; advanced materials and manufacturing, and foods for health.
The $60 million of new funding announced in last year’s Budget will be used to support the first new challenge projects, and to extend existing research if that is required.
So visit the site and lets all have our say - its important that we shape a New Zealand our future generations can be proud of.
by Linda M
I attended a course some time ago where we discussed the boundaries we need to understand in our personal and professional lives. Depending on our relative place in a “pecking order”, we have greater or lesser control over what affects us. Our ability to influence others allows us greater or lesser control over outcomes. I’ve found this conceptual structure helpful, particularly in terms of advocacy
The first of these four boundaries is: “The Mandatory boundary 100:00”. This includes all our laws, government requirements, where the ratio of our influence is zero. Yes, we can influence the government via our vote and through consultation, but once the laws are passed, we are obliged to comply, with sanctions – the legal system – if we do not. In schools and school libraries, the mandatory might be: school opening hours, censorship restrictions, labour regulations, health and safety requirements.
There is a 75:25 ratio; “the Consults boundary”. In schools/ school libraries this is when the Principal consults with stakeholders, who might try to influence the outcome, though the ultimate decision rests with the principal. In a library example, you might wish to increase your budget, but the Principal may have other priorities and may decide even to decrease the budget. This is when you need to ensure you have been collecting evidence to illustrate how the library is supporting the school’s educational and literacy goals. Use your 25% influence to present evidence that increasing the library budget will result in enhanced student outcomes: What? How? Why? Persuasion, with supporting evidence, is the name of the game! Remember the L2 blog post on the ‘Elevator speech’? Have your evidence at your fingertips; you never know when you might need to use it!
The 50:50 ratio is about agreements. It is called the “Negotiates boundary”. This is about two parties of equal influence. Each party must consider how their position/lobby affects the other party. Both must come to a resolution which is acceptable to both. In schools and school libraries, It might be an agreement on teaching and learning objectives, perhaps an inquiry sequence agreed on between the librarian and a teacher, who each benefit from the others’ areas of expertise. Or it could be an operational negotiation. “OK, if you do the cataloguing, I’ll do the reference desk?”
The 00:100 ratio is for us to decide: “The Self-Manage boundary”. We know what we need to do and prioritise our own work as effectively as possible to suit. For schools and school libraries, this might be operational. “Today, I’ll put up a library display to support a syndicate’s topic” Maybe it is a decision related to our personal ethics – ‘I am a friendly, approachable information professional-here to support my school community’s learning goals’
I guess the message is: Understand what your limits are, but always challenge yourself always to improve what you can. Remember that ‘your’ students need you to be as pro-active as possible on their behalf.
by Peter Murgatroyd
A 2011 research report designed to explore the experiences of children aged 9-13 in using Auckland’s public libraries and to identify which library services and spaces they valued most, underlines the value of listening to children’s perceptions of library space and design.
The Auckland study showed that children were very conscious of the aesthetics of the library spaces, recommending more comfortable and colourful furniture in a range of styles, shapes and configurations, larger more visible and more descriptive signage, and vibrant colour schemes.
They wanted library spaces that were comfortable, organised, large enough but not too large, functional, and visually interesting.
A large number of participants in the study considered how the library might be better integrated within the wider environment and recommended having plenty of windows with areas of indoor-outdoor flow, outside reading areas, and access to food and drink.
Consideration of space for functional use rather than for age specific use should be the guiding principle including quiet and non quiet spaces, homework spaces and computer and technology spaces.
A dominant theme that emerged from the research was the importance of improving accessibility and ease of finding the books the children want to read. Most children confirmed that they don’t search on the computer for books but merely browse through the shelves, often choosing a book because they like its cover. Libraries should resemble great book stores in the way that titles are arranged, promoted and displayed.
Although a number of common themes emerged there were also creative, innovative and different design ideas that would help in both creating the “wow” factor and to aid usability.
More recently, Stonefields, a new Learning Hub environment school in East Auckland, has been asking its students for their input in preparation for the school’s second build. Children were encouraged to share their ideas, take photos of existing spaces they liked – or didn’t like, draw pictures, both individually and collaboratively, and to make models to illustrate their preferences. Some students used Minecraft to create three-dimensional representations of learning spaces.
The students demonstrated a high level of understanding about the relationship between the space and their learning and a growing level of self-awareness of their own use of space.
A number of common themes emerged:
The children were able to make connections between the space and their experience as learners, contributing enormously to the thinking behind the next stage of the building process.
Moreover the whole process of engaging with the students is a rich learning experience for both students and teachers and gives the children a strong sense of ownership of their environment and of their learning.
It is important that our thinking about the design of our libraries is learner focussed and is part of a whole of school approach to space planning. Listening to student voices and incorporating them into our thinking and planning is critical if we are to be responsive and relevant to their needs.
To quote Luke Nola of Let’s get inventin’ :
“New Zealand’s got some great brains out there and most of them are kids”.
We need to engage with our students. Listen to their ideas. Design spaces and places with them and not merely for them.
Are you curious about discovering quality independent authors but not sure where to start? StoryBundle can help. They choose a “bundle” of indie titles (usually five or six) and offer them for sale for a limited time. You check out the bundle and choose how much you want to pay (minimum price is one US dollar). If you meet the bonus threshold (a set price or the average price paid for the bundle) then they throw in a couple more titles.
You decide how much of your money goes to the authors and how much goes to keep StoryBundle in business. You can also opt to give part of the purchase price to charity. The books have no DRM and can be read on just about any device and the site offers detailed instructions to make downloading quick and easy.
There are many things about this model to like. The incredible volume of books being independently published means that collections like this, which have been “pre-screened” for quality, can save readers a lot of time and lead them toward some great new titles and authors that might otherwise be lost in the flotsam and jetsam of the great e-book ocean.
The idea of supporting indie authors (“the little guy or gal,” according to StoryBundle) is also important, especially as the path to publication is no longer as straightforward as it used to be. Past StoryBundle authors include a 2012 Best Indie Book finalist and a Pulitzer Prize winner. These are talented writers, and platforms like StoryBundle can help them continue to produce, which can only be good news for readers like us!
Curating “bundles” of indie titles like this for specific audiences feels like a natural step for librarians as well. Who better to choose and promote great books? We should all watch this space carefully to see what develops.
This new curation tool, still in beta development, allows you to collect, curate, and present resources on topics in a visual, systematic way.
Using Learnist you can select resources and then present them in a numbered progressive way that leads the learner through a step by step process. Added value comes with the commentary you can add to each resource step and also with the social media aspect allowing comments and replies along the way. This provides the opportunity for further discussion and sharing of additional resources that others may have found on the same topic.
For an overview of how it might work for you take a look at this video
Categories range from Science, Technology and Political through to Education. See this example about Flipped Learning which includes instructor’s notes throughout guiding and commenting on the chosen resources included in the 4 step Learnist board. This highlights the ongoing nature of Learnist with the creators note to the right hand side explaining this project is ‘under construction’ and outlining his intentions for this curation and what it will cover.
There are great possibilities here for teachers and students to collaborate, curate, and learn. Why not join the early adopters of Learnist and request an invite today.
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