Julia Smith

Qualified high school librarian, enjoys teaching information literacy thereby enhancing critical thinking, and empowering and informing students with stories. Co-president of SLANZA - School Library Association of New Zealand Aotearoa

Homepage: http://juliavegan.wordpress.com

Dame Judy Dench on the Power of Language

What’s not to love about this incredible woman?

Judy Dench

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Lego Librarians

Image: Lego bios

I’ve been quietly seething for the last few days and as my opinion hasn’t diminished I’m hoping a wee rant and public posting will allow me to move on.

Have you seen the new Lego Librarian in Lego’s mini-figures Bio series?

I guess we need to celebrate that Lego has acknowledged our profession and immortalised it in Lego. That is pretty cool. And honestly, I don’t mind the cardigan, I mean, well, aren’t they kinda chic this season?

No, it’s the mug that I take exception to. The mug with its “Shhh!” message! What is with that antiquated librarian image? Surely, the Shushing Lego Librarian isn’t a stereotype that we are happy to identify with?

Mr Library Dude

Thank goodness for Mr Library Dude’s humour.  Joe Hardenbrook (aka Mr Library Dude) wrote a thoughtful piece on Image, Public Perception, and Lego Librarians and went on to digitally redesign twenty-eight Lego Librarians – a brilliant assortment of librarian personalities, examples of how the public may perceive us, including satirical captions.

Regardless, the “shushing” mug has got to go. How about a “search engine” or “knowledge creator” coffee mug instead? Would these slogans be as immediately identifiable as a librarian? Sadly, I think not. Enhancing our professional image is certainly worth fighting for.

Any other suggestions for librarian coffee mug slogans?


A Well-Read Woman . . .

oh yes we are!

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The Role of Science Fiction by Gareth Powell

Science Fiction author Gareth L Powell presented this marvellous speech three years ago, The Role of Science Fiction in our Understanding of the Future, yet it is just as relevant today.

Powell refutes the role of the science fiction writer as a predictor of the future, rather suggesting that their aim is to dream up plausible futures, to model a vast range of possible outlooks. By assessing the sociological and technological trends, they show us what may happen  if man continues on their current path.

Good science fiction looks at the world we know and asks, “What happens if?”
  • What happens if the ice caps melt and sea levels rise by fifty feet?
  • What happens if we discover a way to halt the ageing process and everyone lives for 1000 years?
  • What happens if the government puts a CCTV camera on every street corner?

“This is my job as a science fiction writer: to speculate and imagine, and tell stories. The future is truly an undiscovered country. Futurology and philosophy can give us a map of the terrain. But if we want to know what it’s going to feel like to live and work and love there, one of the best tools we have is science fiction.”

He says that futurologists and philosophers can tell us the possible outcomes but that the science fiction writers make the future human by creating characters that must adapt and survive in, generally, these dystopian worlds. The author must take the reader on a journey to really understand what living through such a scenario would be like, to experience such an event, and so the reader asks themselves, “What would I do?”

Gareth Powell’s speech is well worth reading – it puts a clear voice to what science fiction is all about.

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School Libraries and Diverse Student Needs

Dr Ross Todd discusses school libraries and diverse student needs.


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LeBron James on Reading

Nathaniel S. Butler /NBAE/Getty Images

LeBron James, possibly the best basketball player in the world today, averaged about 18 points per game in the NBA Finals last season. This year he is averaging 29 points per game! What’s his secret?


In his commentary for ESPN, LeBron James, Open BookMichael Wilbon discusses the media speculation over LeBrons very public reading habits over the last couple of months. Whether he was being sponsored by authors or publishers . . .

However, LeBron says he sought to simply find a calm place before each game from which to operate:

“It just slows my mind down. It gives me another outlet. Throughout the playoffs, all you think about is basketball. All you want to do is play basketball. But at the same time it can become a lot. It can [get] to a point where it’s overloading to the mind, and you think about it too much. It’s hard to get away from it because you’re playing every other day, you talk about it every single day, you prepare every single day. So the reading has given me an opportunity to, just for those couple hours of the day or those 20 minutes, 25 minutes before the game, an opportunity just to read and think about something else and get a sense of what else is going on besides the game of basketball. It’s made me comfortable. I’m not saying it’s the trick. It’s just something that I decided to do at the beginning of the postseason, and it’s worked for me.”

Two days ago LeBron James and his team Maimi Heat won the 2012 NBA Finals.

If LeBron is reading, then reading is cool. What a wonderful message from one of the world’s top sports people.

Source: Michael Wilbon, ESPN



Non-Fiction Books – Are They Still Relevant in a High School Library?

Bev Novak recently posted this video Joe’s Non-Netbook illustrating students’ views on using books for research. Simple, clever, funny and enlightening.

Here’s how I see it.

Our youngest students, Year Levels 7 & 8, irregularly use our non-fiction collection. Older students occasionally utilise the books when their assignment stipulates a number of print-based resources. Why is it necessary to set this criteria? In New Zealand we are fortunate to have the EPIC Databases provided free to all schools by the Ministry of Education – 25 databases containing thousands of international and New Zealand newspapers, magazines and journals, biographies, reference material, images, audio and video on a wide range of topics. These databases quell any argument on quality of online information.

Digital resources allow students to expand images, define words, drag and drop, cut and paste, highlight and comment, to explore links to develop wider understanding, to watch videos or listen to sources that support the learning. Not surprising our students prefer digital resources to the inflexibility of print books.

It comes down to engagement doesn’t it – the learning happens from the engagement. In the 21st Century, the majority of our learners are choosing digital resources over print-based resources. As school librarians we need to reflect on the value and relevance of our non-fiction collections in response to our students’ learning needs.

Source: Bev Novak, BevsBookBlog

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Reasons to Read Fiction by Colleen Dilenschneider

Books - bookcase top shelf by ~ Phil Moore

a photo by ~ Phil Moore on Flickr

Colleen Dilenschneider has written an interesting post entitled How to Lead with Empathy: Read Fiction where she suggests that reading fiction has positively impacted on all the great change-makers and business leaders, saying

readers make better leaders

Here are her five reasons to read fiction and improve your leadership skills:

  1. fiction helps you understand other people’s emotions – readers of fiction score highly on tests of empathy and social reasoning, abilities which enable connections and engagement between people on an emotional level
  2. fiction increases social ability in that readers of fiction gain an ability to relate to people and groups in differing social situations by providing information on how and why people react, and it challenges the readers’ own perspectives
  3. fiction enriches brain functioning – we need to keep the brain nourished and stimulated as it a life-long learning organ, and reading is an active brain-enricher, rather than, for example, watching tv or a movie
  4. fiction makes you more creative in that the unexpected stimuli we encounter when reading fiction teaches our minds to think and act creatively, enhancing our problem-solving skills
  5. fiction makes you smarter – reading increases vocabulary and exposes the reader to different cultures and time periods

Source: Know Your Own Bone


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Alternative Use For An iPad

Cannot resist sharing this 30 second video – so, so funny.

Something to think about when increasing numbers of schools around the world now require students to BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). Perhaps we’re not all quite ready yet . . .

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It’s Called Reading – Cartoon by Glasbergen

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