Inspiration, Innovation & Information for school libraries and learning.
Next week, the OER Foundation will be running another course to support educators in understanding copyright and creative commons. You could be learning about the global issues of ownership and the sharing of resources with educators from around the world through this self-paced workshop.
The course starts on Monday the 3 of December and runs until the 14 and takes a total of about five hours.
By Peter Murgatroyd
In his recent white paper ‘Think like a start-up’, Brian Mathews has sought to galvanise the library community into action, to awaken us from our slumber and embrace an entrepreneurial mindset. “We don’t just need change”, he argues, “we need breakthrough, paradigm-shifting, transformative, disruptive ideas”.
In recent times Google, Facebook, twitter have changed the way that we live and work, shrinking the world to the size of a mobile device. The knowledge and information sector is the hottest show in town - where fortunes can be made overnight and governments toppled through the power of social media.
It is ironic that, in the knowledge generation, libraries are an institution in search of relevance and librarians urgently needing to reinvent themselves to survive.
How much can we learn from the Start-ups?
Some start-ups crash and burn. Others explode into life. Some blaze brightly and then seemingly disappear almost overnight
flickr image by freeasinfreedom
What start-ups have in common is that they are fuelled by the vision and inspiration of entrepreneurs who have the hunger and the courage to try to turn their vision into a reality - often in the face of uncertainty and with few guarantees of success. What they have in common is that they seek to create something new - not just a new solution to an old problem but a new way of doing things.
There IS much we can learn. We need to have a clear vision and the courage to turn that vision into a reality.
We need to think less about the innovation and more about creating a culture of innovation. Be receptive to and foster new ideas. Embrace blue sky thinking. Think less about coming up with the right answer and more about asking the right questions. Dream big!
We need to think less about developing a strategic plan and more about developing a strategic culture.
We need to think less about marking out our territory and more about our sphere of influence.
An entrepreneurial mindset however implies that we are looking for a new start, to create something new where previously there was nothing. To launch a new brand. To define a new identity.
Yet for many of us in the profession we are not seeking to abandon the core values and vision of what a library stands for but to redefine, to reconceptualise how we can deliver that core vision in a way that is meaningful and relevant to current and future generations.
The challenge is not so much embracing entrepreneurship as a mindset but embracing the culture and the competencies off intrapreneurship – changing our institutions from within. In some ways this is more challenging and more difficult: shedding the baggage of the past, changing perceptions, rebooting our ideas and our passion for our work. Dismantling structures and deconstructing processes that no longer serve a purpose.
There is, I believe, much to be gained in reflecting on the values and passion that drove the establishment of the first libraries and that have inspired generations of librarians.
Equity of access to information, and the critical importance of preserving and making accessible the accumulated knowledge of our time
As much as we need to embrace the entrepreneurial zeal of the start-up we must also seek to re-connect with the core values and passions of our profession.
The technology, via the explosion of new gadgets, widgets, platforms and apps, should not define our role. They are merely tools – a means to an end – an end that remains largely similar to the one that inspired the first librarians: Discovery and curiosity. Life long learning, Equity, Empowerment, Communication, Connection, Community.
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
Late in 2011 I was asked to give a short presentation on the proposition: Every interaction is an opportunity for transformation. Transformation, along with re-imagining, repositioning and reinterpreting our libraries and our roles are the new black for librarians everywhere. The only constant in our professional lives is indeed change.
However, as much as it is vital that our work IS relevant and HAS impact, it is equally critical that it is SEEN to be so by colleagues within our communities and institutions and particularly so by the decision makers in our organisations; Boards, Executives, Councils and government.
So how do we get noticed and ensure our voices are heard? It is not enough to lobby from the periphery. We need to be permanently engaged in the decision making dialogue as an equal partner whose experience, expertise, and opinions are valued and listened to.
These are precarious times for libraries and for librarians and as much as we embrace new visions and understandings of our work and our role, there is an urgent need to better communicate these new models beyond the echo chambers of library professional silos and e-ghettos.
Firstly, we must lay the groundwork for transformation with our key stakeholders. Seek to understand rather than to be understood. Listen more – talk less. Understand the culture of your school and the challenges and barriers to change. Understand how the library and librarian are perceived in your school. Understand how you are perceived. Don’t assume anything.
Have a clear vision – know it, believe it, live and breathe it. Start with the end in mind. Focus on the why and how not the what. Think learner outcomes, collaboration and integration.
Be patient. Be strategic. Be proactive and constructive.
Make the most of any opportunity and identify where the ground is most fertile and plant a seed. Ensure that your rhetoric resonates with your audience.
Relationship building is critical. Show respect. Build trust. Demonstrate expertise. Demonstrate authority. Present yourself as credible and professional.
We can learn a lot from business models. Make strategic use of ‘The elevator pitch’ and make the most of every opportunity to engage, no matter how briefly, with the movers and shakers in your organisation. Practice, practice, and practicesome more the key messages that you want to get across. Focus on impact and how you want to be perceived. Ditch the cultural baggageand eliminate “library speak”. Present your ideas simply and focus on the how not just the what, highlighting the positive impact on learner outcomes.
Know your core story and articulate it. What do you do that others don’t? What problem can you solve that others can’t? What is your point of difference?
Transformation is a two-way process. In seeking to truly listen and acquire a deep understanding of your stakeholders needs, visions, constraints and opportunities – particularly within both your own school environment and culture and within the wider education and political landscape, you must be open to the possibility that your own views and understandings will be transformed.
It is no longer appropriate to think of single solutions. Our professional world is now permanently in beta. We need to be engaged in ongoing conversations with key stakeholders, defining challenges and exploring opportunities. We need to realise that every interaction is an opportunity for transformation.
To be the “go to” person we need to be up to date, not just in the library world, but also in the wider educational context.
One of the most useful tools for staying abreast of developments in the New Zealand educational arena is the New Zealand Education Gazette: Tuku Tuku Korerō.
There is a wealth of information between the covers of this fortnightly publication – feature articles, regular columns, information about new learning resources, professional development opportunities (including National Library of New Zealand’s courses) and an enormously useful ‘Notices’ section.
In the current issue, I found two important new resources for working with Māori learners :
The Leadership section highlights two other resources relating to Māori student achievement soon to be available on the Ministry of Education’s Educational Leaders website.
Each edition features a different educational focus. Be the person that brings this information to the attention of your colleagues – they’ll love you for it!
Explore the use of personal learning environments both for inquiry in K-12 education and for your own professional development in a free online webinar facilitated by Buffy Hamilton - the Unquiet Librarian, and Dr. Wendy Drexler from the University of Florida.
Read more about this ongoing series of webinars and this weeks session in particular here.
Sign up here
Just make sure that you sort out the time difference!
Twitter as a professional learning tool.
As a professional, you want to keep up to date with the latest news and issues. You want to contribute to discussions and learn from other people’s experiences. Twitter is a great place to do this.
If you haven’t used Twitter before, sign up, follow a few people (suggestions below for people interested in school libraries) and just watch for a while. Make it a habit to have a look every day. Then, if you feel like it, join in.
We’re using Twitter here at Services to Schools. We intend to help you to keep up to date with the latest in libraries and learning and invite you to follow us. Our username is L2_S2S.
Here are some other suggestions of people to follow:
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.
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