Archive for category Professional development

Collection Development – know your users


I have been shocked recently with the trend of school librarians seeking opinions about books and regularly asking for others opinions on books they are thinking of buying for their libraries on listserv and on social media.  I have always thought that one of the joys of running a library, especially one where you are so connected with your users, such as in a school library, that buying books which specifically appeal to your students is easy.  Why ask someone who doesn’t know your users?  Why ask someone who doesn’t work in a school at the same level as you?  Why are you so scared of buying something which you could easily send back if it doesn’t fit?  Yes budgets are tight.  Yes, sometimes you make a mistake? I’ve just finished a book which I should not have bought, thank goodness I read it before it hit the hands of a Yr 9 boy – far too much graphic sex.   But you have to have some confidence in yourself.  Decide that you know your existing stock, that you know what you need in the library, that you have great selection tools and do some research yourself.  That is what librarians do.  Don’t think that by posting on the listserv that you will get opinions from people which will match yours, you might get me, and I might tell you to go to a bookshop and have a look for yourself.  I might tell you to look at the blogs or at Goodreads to see what other people are saying about the books you are considering.  I might tell you that it is your job to know what will work for your students and staff.

Why are you so unwilling to take a punt on books which have been nominated for awards? Which have been compared to a heap of others which fit the same category of reader – junior fiction (if you are an intermediate school you are going to want those right) Senior Fiction is much more tricky I admit.  There are always some I don’t buy because they don’t fit (too girly or ugly cover so nobody will borrow it, we already have 16 of this kind of book and don’t need any more there are plenty of reasons a book won’t work for me, but I can tell by looking.  So can you!) but New Zealand kids need to read NZ books, they need to read the best of the bunch.  And I’m happily going to say that one of the best NZ kids books I read last year wasn’t on the list of NZ Post Books and I was gutted about that, but I can push that book to my kids and not everyone can be a finalist.  Kids need to read a variety of books and they don’t only need to read your taste.  Maybe you are someone who likes ‘lovely’ books.  Old fashioned charmers.  Well you can’t just buy ‘old fashioned charmers’ for your school library.  Peter Rabbit is all very well and good but your kids don’t live in England in the 1960s they live in NZ in the 2000s.  They are not you when you were a kid.  Read some new books.  Read what is on the lists.  Learn to love the modern.  Or you should consider looking for another job.

School librarians are hip, they are down with the cool kids, they love new, they love cool and they love kids and they most of all get kids.  If you get kids then you know what to buy them.  Stop asking the world to do your job.  Get on the blogs, follow cool school librarians from all over the world, look up reading lists, follow Zac HardingLorraine Orman and Bob Docherty, join Goodreads and look for other school librarians and see what they love.  Look at what is hot all around the world, what is winning awards, what are people raving about.  It is the joy of finding gems that you didn’t know about before by hunting around that makes me happy.

Mostly though, you should be a librarian.  Good at choosing, good at researching and good at reading books for kids!

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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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What I did in the holidays

My summer break for 2012/2013 has come to an end, and it will be back to work as usual from Monday. I’ve had a lovely break away from school, spending time with family and friends, reading, getting things done around the house. For me, the school holidays over the last few years have also included doing a bunch of stuff for SLANZA, and this break is no different.

Soon we will be launching the next iteration of the SLANZA wiki – a new website that will stand alongside the recently redeveloped main site, so that’s been one of my holiday projects. Here’s a sneak preview of how it’s looking so far (click to embiggen):

SLANZA reading site

The other project that’s taking shape is a new Professional Development programme for SLANZA members, urged on by our survey last year that showed 80% of respondents want PD around the use of online tools in school libraries. It’s a big project, and one that the SLANZA PD team are keen to deliver ASAP. As part of the programme design, we’ve been investigating the use of OpenBadges as a method of recognising and displaying the skills that  participants will learn as they progress through the course. Here’s a diagram I’ve made (using Triptico’s ‘hexagonal thinking’ tool Think Link) to show my thoughts about how this PD might connect with ‘what school librarians do’.

What school librarians do

I’d love to get your feedback on this, so please leave a comment with any thoughts or suggestions that you think could be incorporated. I tend to get a bit tunnel-vision-y at times, so if there are glaringly obvious omissions please help me fill them in!


Top 100 blogs for school librarians – musings on culling and adding

Yes, it is best of the blogs season.  Here comes another list of the best and brightest.  This one from  This list is well respected, and has been updated from this older list which was published in 2009, there are still some good ones to check out on there.

Why are these things worth looking at?  Because they are chock full of juicy ideas worth looking at and which you can use in your libraries to enhance the way you do your thing and connect with your students.  I also thing that you should cull your lists of blogs you follow.  People move on, change jobs, retire, their interests change and they stop updating their blogs.  To keep fresh I think you should update your reader – or however you follow the blogs in  your life – and cull the stagnant and add new exciting voices to your library life.  The way it works for me is that if I don’t see new blog posts on the blogs I’m following I tend to delete them after three months.  There have been some tragic losses in my blog life, Skerricks is a blog have I loved and admired for a long time, but it’s owner is on a leave of absence, and while I hope she comes back soon I’m putting it in a holding pattern until she does.

I think it is worthwhile going through and having a cull – just like you do with your irritating Facebook friends and their oversharingness (some people may have done that to me to be fair) and have a revisit of what is still good and what you’ve moved on from.

New to me in the update of the list is:

Hi Miss Julie – primary school librarian with lots to say!  I like very much.  Especially this post!

Archipelago – if you are into iPads you find much to see here.

K-M the librarian – you want relentless optimism?  See this blog first!  Awesome.


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Lighting the Future (presentations)


In early June, the weekend course “Lighting the future – Libraries, learning, reading:  Access and opportunity for children and young people” was held in the UK, a joint venture put together by the School Library Association, with CILIP’s Youth Library Group and School Library SIGs.

Many of the presentations from the weekend are now available online. Lots of great material there – definitely worth a look.

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The best blogs

Every year Salem Press names it’s top library blogs of the year for all the fields above.  This year the fabulous In the Library with the Lead Pipe is the overall winner.  I’m a little in love with this blog and yep, I’m going to all it a deserving winner!  In other highlights (actually every one of the nominated blogs is a highlight to be fair) one of my absolute fave is School Librarian Blog of the year.  Jennifer LaGarde is all kinds of awesome.  Her musings on school librarianship give me much to mull over, process and then try to put into action in my daily library life.  I am a huge admirer.  Here she is delivering a keynote recently.  I’m also delighted to note that Cathy Nelson and her professional thoughts was the highly commended blog in this category.  If you are looking for awesomeness in school library blogging these guys are the bomb!  Add them to your RSS feeds and get inspired.

Here is the full list of award winners.  The blog centre will take you to lists of blogs of many types where you find find lots of inspiration.


School Libraries and Diverse Student Needs

Dr Ross Todd discusses school libraries and diverse student needs.


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Raising Maori Achievement

The elusive BOK11 Indigenous Knowledge Paradigms, so difficult to get meaningful PD for a price your average school librarian can afford and yet to vital to your registration.  Thank goodness for online PD I say!  This might just be something you can use.  Yet another gift from Core.  This is one to share with your SMT, with your Maori Dean, with all your staff.   In this video, two key elements for raising Māori achievement: forming relationships with students and whanau; and being culturally located are discussed.

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Stephen Abram – Sharing the foundation of social institutions

I’ve never heard Stephen Abram in the flesh giving a keynote, Stephen’s Lighthouse is one of my favourite blogs, for wise, insightful and sometimes pointy commentary on matters library.  The next best thing to bring at a conference where he is presenting is to watch him give a keynote on a video.  Here is your chance.  You’ll need 44 minutes of uninterrupted peace to enjoy, but worth every minute.


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The Horizon Report 2012

It’s out.  One of the reports worth paying attention to.

The New Media Consortium (NMC) and EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI) jointly released the NMC Horizon Report: 2012 Higher Education Edition. This ninth edition describes annual findings from the NMC Horizon Project, a decade-long research project designed to identify and describe emerging technologies likely to have an impact on learning, teaching, and creative inquiry in higher education. Six emerging technologies are identified across three adoption horizons over the next one to five years, as well as key trends and challenges expected to continue over the same period, giving campus leaders and practitioners a valuable guide for strategic technology planning.

This one, and the Core Trends in Education would be great to share with your staff and SMTs. Even if your school isn’t adopting mobile technology or Game Based Learning yet, you can bet that at least some of your staff will be paying attention.  Link to the report here.

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