Archive for category 21st Century libraries

Working with your talents

Many Hands! Image: 'many hands …'  http://www.flickr.com/photos/11685418@N00/8268352781 Found on flickrcc.net

Many Hands!
Image: ‘many hands …’
http://www.flickr.com/photos/11685418@N00/8268352781
Found on flickrcc.net

Long time no write anything on this blog, but I have been doing a lot of reading of others blogs so here is a reblog of a post I really appreciated on Megan Ingle’s Audacious Fizz blog.

Why did this blogpost ring so true to me?  Well that is because, like any small organisation, the one I devote large amounts of my free time to is an organisation which thrives on people standing up and offering skills, vision and time, and sometimes those things seem a little thin on the ground.  Plenty of folk clamor for new things, new initiatives, new tools from our organisation but very few put their hands up to help make them happen.  I really liked what this blog post had to say about getting involved, that talent comes in many forms and that people’s strengths are often where new cool ideas are to be found.  Yes, the collective is stronger than the individual.

The collective is stronger than the individual.

We’ve all got something we can contribute to a shared outcome. If a stronger profession is what we want, then why don’t we all bring our strengths to the cause?

So, be bold, put your hand up.  Come up with a good idea and offer to drive it.  Mentor someone, what do you feel the burn for?  What would you love to see happen?  Together we can make awesome happen, alone it takes an age, is not as much fun and doesn’t offer you the opportunity to learn new skills and connect with others who share your skills and passion.  Say yes!  Say why not!  Say ‘hey I’ve got a good idea!’

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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?

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The future of libraries is in the hands of librarians

So says R. David Lankes in the opening moments of his presentation School Librarians as Facilitators for Learning embedded below.  We represent the fundamentals of the future of libraries.  Yes!  High Five Folks!  His Atlas of  New Librarianship is a bible, a book to take so much out of.

He says:  The mission of librarians is to improve society through facilitating knowledge creation in their communities.  And he is talking to you school librarians.

I’m quite a lot in love with his messages, pretty much all of them.  Watch this presentation and take on board what he is saying.  He is going to give you lots of examples of how you can think about why you do the things you do.  Not the what you do.  Yes, it takes an hour but yes it is an hour well spent.  Great PD.  Really great PD.

It comes from here.

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Tailored services – that’s how we roll

This fabulous cartoon came to me via Teacher Librarian Network on Facebook tonight.

Libraries of the future

What do you think?  Is this the future?  Swallow a pill and you’ve read a classic?  Have the characters in a book step out and become a projected holograph on the wall in front of you?  Robot library staff?  Will we reach a time when paper books are just a fond memory?

I personally think not – at least not for a while.  A quick pop quiz this week with a bunch of Year 10 classes as they passed through my booktalking clutches and quizzed them on their library usage – ours I know about, but I was interested in whether they used the public library.  Most did not, and it certainly depended on the kind of class they were.  Higher streams using it more than lower.  Students seem to have had a range of experiences when they’ve been mixing it up in the public libraries.  It seems staff there aren’t familiar with the kind of things they need, perhaps remembering from their school days what they required, or even more enthusiastically encouraging them to look at new things about which the particular librarian they approach is an expert.  I think there is some room for public librarians to get familiar with the kind of things our students study, to find out what topics are taught and to make contact with school librarians to talk curriculum matters.  What books work for subjects, what won’t work.  That at least is the feedback I got from my guys.  The quest for information to complete assignments often yields better results at school because we are working as a conduit between teaching staff and students, providing specific titles which match specific topics.  We know the level of the resources the students need, and we can tailor our advice to the right level.  (There is an exception to this though, one public library in our area is hugely popular with the students and has an ex school librarian manager, students report that they have loads of things that are useful and that they want to take home, that is awesome!)  However I know that often the experiences of students at public libraries when on a quest for information are often less successful than if they took their query to their school library.  The school library has purchased specifically for that curriculum area, we know the kind of information which will work for the student.

At school we are tailoring our stock specifically to our target audience, it is youth specific and responding to feedback from teachers and students.  No robots can do what we do!  In a school we are tailoring our services to our students, to the people we see in front of us every day.  Micro tailoring if you will.  This just isn’t possible when you are catering to a while town or city with a Public Library.  They have more buying power than we do, are able to stock more copies of popular items but are more general in their approach because they have to be but in terms of having a specific focus on youth and the curriculum then the school library is where it is at.  We should celebrate our specialness, and think about the students we have who are using the public library for homework and research and think about who is taking them there.  That would in most cases be a parent.  Do the parents think about the resources in the school library in the same way that they think about the public library?  I think that perhaps parents are assuming that information is information and that the public library has a youth section and therefore will be able to cater to the needs of their kids.  But that ain’t necessarily so bro!

Parents, your kids should use the school library as well as the public library, most times instead of the public library when it comes to resources for homework.  This is our specialty area.  Our whole library is a youth section!  This again makes me wonder.  How many parents ever set foot in a school library?  Not many I’m thinking.  There is scope for a parents information blitz here I think.  Something to mull further on.

 

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Library Girl channels my thoughts – as usual

Regular readers will know that Library Girl is my guru (well one of many but a majorly significant one), and while this blog has been in a little bit of a slump recently due to exotic travel, lethargy and a lot of other things that needed doing, I can rely on her to get me thinking, get me over the hump and talk some sense.

So when she is writing about getting people to just start doing stuff on their own, learning some cool skills and getting generally with the programme she is singing my favorite song.  She is a believer in dropping folks in at the deep end and having them learn to swim on their own using tools that some of us have been using for what seems like ever!

The post is called Six Tips to Help Teachers Move From TechnoPHOBE to TechnoFAB!  But it could be also used to prod along any school staff who are stuck in the  back in the day and who are reluctant to upskill.  She just talks a lot of sense.  I love her idea of an “I Know Stuff” badge, I’m off to make one now!  But that is only one tiny part of this excellent post.  Go on over there and find more wisdom.

There are lots of other awesome postings on that blog at the moment, little embedded bunches of goodness that are well worth having a look at.  Go on, take on her evangelistic stance and get out there and show your stuff, the non-believers will thank you for it in the long run.

 

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Who sees what you do?

Reading this article in the School Library Journal reminded me of a recent conversation with some English teachers at a conference where I presented on the topic of How To Get a Kick Ass Librarian. Those teachers told me that they really didn’t understand what it was that their librarian did all day. They told me that mostly their librarians were in their workroom and mostly sitting at their computers, even when there were classes in the librarie, and that they wouldn’t think of asking them for help finding them or the students resources, they didn’t seem to think that their librarians would want that.  Frankly, I was shocked!

I asked the teachers what they thought the librarians were doing on their computers and they told me that they had no idea.  One even told me she had worked in the librarians office for a period of weeks in order to find out what the librarian did all day and at the end of that time was no wiser. They told me that the librarians very rarely came out of their workrooms and then only to tidy shelves and maintain the library.  They said they thought there was a complete lack of understanding of what librarians did.  I think there is a complete misunderstanding of what librarians can do!

This is a problem though.  I investigated further.  I spoke to English teachers at our school.  I asked them if they had experienced ‘the librarian is in the workroom and is staying there syndrome’  and there was an overwhelming yes response to that.  They suggested that it is not normal practice in schools for librarians to be out in the library assisting them and their students.  So, all the current talk in SLANZA circles about EBP and proving how what you do makes a difference to teaching and learning in your school is for naught if school librarians are not out in the library and making that difference, but instead are sitting in front of their computers doing …. something that is probably very useful to them, but not to the students and teachers they are supporting.  And we are support staff, we are supposed to be supporting those people.  Yes through resourcing the library (perhaps that is what some of that computer time is about) but also through working with the staff at your school, alongside them and therefore alongside the students – you know the ones whose learning you are supposed to be making a difference to.  You aren’t going to make any difference to them at all if you sit in your office all day.  Yes you have to do the cataloguing, the processing and all those other library business things, but you have to make a difference and the only way you’ll do that is to get out there and be with the people using the library.

Image: ‘Lego Blogger Picture’
http://www.flickr.com/photos/25969181@N00/375779781
Found on flickrcc.net

Now I’m not suggesting that you are a teacher, or even a teacher aide.  I am suggesting that you are the best resource in the library.  That you know heaps of stuff about what you have in there, where you can get more, that you are a key person with a distinct role in the school, come on folks, talk yourselves up, get out of the office and live up to the talk.  You know your school needs you, needs your skills, needs the resources you provide.  Get out, sell yourself, sell your services and get out of that workroom.  You can do the workroom stuff when classes are not in the library.

So who does see what you do?  Is it only you?  Who would notice if you didn’t do what you do?  How many of those things you’ve always done are vital to the students and teachers experience of the library?  Have a think about it.

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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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