Inspiration, Innovation & Information for school libraries and learning.
By Linda Mc
image used with permission
I used the phrase ‘the suspension of disbelief’ with one of the younger members of my family recently. She was absolutely entranced (not least by the big words), and immediately thought of a hundred books we had read together which needed us to suspend our disbelief to enjoy the story. Every time we read a book which has animals doing human things (Lilly’s purple plastic purse); every time we believe in inanimate objects coming alive (The Indian in the cupboard); every time we watch children performing superhuman feats (How to train your dragon); every time we are scared by witches or monsters, or enchanted by impossibly handsome princes engaged in impossibly chivalrous feats – we are ‘suspending disbelief’ and allowing the power of the story to absorb and entertain us.
Many people tell me they only read non-fiction. There are certainly some non-fiction stories that are both amazing and unbelievable. Readers who limit themselves to one type of genre miss out on a level of imagination, which is readily accessible to the fiction lovers amongst us. Suspending disbelief feeds, nurtures and develops the mind’s eye, encouraging readers to think outside the square. It allows them to explore possibilities and impossibilities, and helps build the cognitive links that encourage creative thinking.
Try the ‘suspension of disbelief’ phrase out on a young readers – it won’t take them long to come up with a list of books, which fit the bill.
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.
Stumble is a brilliant personalised browsing tool that injects a whole new level of fun and interest into surfing the net. During the sign-up process, the user (or Stumbler) can nominate areas of interest from a possible 500 subjects which are grouped by category for ease of use. A Stumble button is installed on your browser, which, when clicked, will randomly pick a site based on your stated preferences. The sites are voted on by other users, so like YouTube, popular sites rise to the top while less popular sites drop off - ensuring a steady stream of engaging, appealing sites that can sometimes take your breath away. This is a fantastic tool for busy school librarians, who can construct searches based on literature, technology or a range of other high interest topics. Share this with subject teachers too as it is a great source of ideas to interest and engage students. A word of warning though, stumbling can be very addictive! http://www.stumbleupon.com/ Anne
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