A huge thank you and congratulations to the amazing team at LIANZA for their work in developing the superb briefings for each of the relevant incoming ministers in the new Labour-led government, outlining the current state libraries in New Zealand.
I was particularly thrilled to read the briefing for the new Minister of Education, Chris Hipkins, which is relevant and succinct in stating the case for the role of the school librarian.
In the briefing document, LIANZA makes the point that the Ministry of Education no longer captures data about the number of school libraries nor the staffing of them, so this makes the survey SLANZA announced in their communique in November last year even more important. This can provide the SLANZA National Executive team with vital statistical information to further inform Minister Hipkins about the state of school libraries across New Zealand. This will also present them with an opportunity to build on the case made by LIANZA for every school in New Zealand to have equitable access to quality library services.
I am heartened and hopeful after reading them. I know there is no quick fix or straight path ahead, but it would be exciting to be in genuine partnership with our government to ensure the best library services for every New Zealander.
I recently had the absolute pleasure and privilege of being invited to share with librarians in the SLANZA Waikato/BOP area around the weighty and timely topic of library advocacy.
After being affected by fog in Christchurch and three plane rides later, I finally arrived in Hamilton at 9 o’clock at night (original arrival time was scheduled at 3.30pm! There’s a potential separate blog post on my stressful, circuitous journey, but I digress) and drove across to Tauranga to meet with the SLANZA Waikato/BOP crew the following morning.
While the weather that Saturday morning may have kept more faint-hearted souls in their beds, that is certainly not the case for intrepid librarians! They are like the Pony Express riders of the historic Amerian West, “heroes for the much needed and dangerous service they provided for the nation” and cheerfully turned out in good numbers. (They were admirably rewarded with a stunning morning tea spread to keep their energy levels at high! Thanks, team!)
The workshop covered 10 key areas:
- Taking a look at the big picture
- Identifying our vision
- Acknowledging what we already do
- Collaborative strategies
- Working with our whole community
- Telling our story
- Promotion and marketing
- How to gather evidence and what to do with it
- Tools of the trade
Since coming across it several years ago, I have often reflected on Lauren Cohen’s Librarian 2.0 Manifesto, which is startlingly, now more than 10 years old, and it had inspired me to want to write my own, but it never got to the top of my “to do” pile.
So, while preparing for this workshop I revisited it, along with re-reading the UNESCO and IFLA School Library Manifesto and the School Library and Learning in the Information Landscape: Guidelines for New Zealand Schools, which is now more than 15 years old. It made me realise that there has been little of significance published about advocating for school libraries and learning in more than a decade and given the rate of change in education in those dozen or so years it certainly gives pause for thought.
It also made me revisit my goal of writing my own manifesto but chose a different path and instead I incorporated the UNESCO manifesto and the NZ guidelines with my own library world view and this is what I came up with:
If you’d like more details about the advocacy workshop you can access it here:
And if you are looking for even more inspiration then you should invest in a copy of This is What A Librarian Looks Like: A Celebration of Libraries, Communities, and Access to Information by Kyle Cassidy. It is awesome! Expect a blog post soon on this amazing book.
Thanks to the Waikato/BOP Committee for inviting me to come and share with them. They’re an awesome team, ably led by Glenys and Linda. And thank you guys for the most precious of gifts you can give a librarian, a newly published book!
Finally, I’ll leave you with what has become a bit of a catchphrase for me in recent months as I continue to explore the intersection between libraries and learning.
I have had my head down, slaving away on many different work fronts in recent weeks/months. Today I made time for a little bit of Professional Learning and I’m SO glad I did! I was reading a posting on website Resource Link about attribution of images with Creative Commons License through Flickr and decided to explore their site for other gems. Boy, did I find a nugget of gold!
You need to watch this TedX Talk by Pam Sandlian-Smith on What to Expect From Libraries in the 21st Century
This short 11 minute talk is completely inspiring and almost brought me to tears.
If you have been wondering “why on earth do I bother?” ….. watch this.
If you have been wondering “do I make a difference?” ….. watch this.
If you have been thinking “what can I do to make a difference?” ….. watch this.
If you are sick of fending questions along the lines of “why do we need libraries?” ….. watch this.
If you have been wondering how to inspire your staff ….. watch this.
Do you want to remember what it is you love about the possibilities of being in our profession? ….. watch this.
I challenge you to remain unmoved, unchallenged or uninspired!
Now, if you have read to the end of this posting and haven’t yet watched this clip ….. Watch it Now!
Last night I had the undivided attention of a small but appreciative group of parents who had come along to the monthly PTA meeting to listen to me talk about how our school libraries support their children’s learning and ways they, as parents could be doing that at home.
Reading, Research and Recreation: the three R’s of the School Library
So tonight was a first for me since becoming a librarian 12 years ago – I got up close and personal with about 60 other librarians from all over New Zealand – from Auckland to Invercargill – talking about one of my biggest passions: embedded information literacy skills and how that looks at James Hargest College, without seeing anyone.
Sally Pewhairangi and Megan Ingle, together they are Heroes Mingle – a fantastic name for their collaborative partnership – have developed the Reality Librarianship series as a virtual professional development opportunity to discuss areas of interest to all of us in library-land. They have discovered an easy, no-cost way for motivated library professionals to access topical, relevant CPD from the comfort of their own living rooms.
From the interviewee’s point of view it was relatively simple and stress-free and Megan and Sally made the whole experience straight-forward and enjoyable. Of course, I’m one of these people that once you get me started talking about something I’m passionate about it’s hard to shut me up! Megan did an admirable job in reigning me in and keeping me on track!
If you know me, you know that I believe wholeheartedly in the three big C’s – Collaboration, Communication and Connection. It’s why I never turn down any opportunity to talk about my work at school and beyond as well as to listen to others share their passions and knowledge. It is only by communicating with one another that we find our common interests and areas of intersection. It’s by others being generous in sharing their ideas and knowledge that I have been able to grow as a professional and make the work I do meaningful for my school community.
None of these big C’s have ever been easier in our Web 2.0, online environment, as tonight’s session illustrates. I can just as easily work on a collaborative project with someone in the UK or Canada as I can with someone in Wellington or Auckland
My flock-mates (thanks CS and DW) indulge me when my gums flap like they’re trying to break the word speed record as they know some of my best ideas and learning comes from verbalising random thoughts and brainstorming with them. There is such power in shared light bulb moments. Identify your flock-mates and, if you aren’t already, start talking to them about whatever is brewing in your brain.
I am also an ardent advocate of the philosophy of reaping and sowing. Timing is everything, and sometimes the timing means that you spend the majority of your energy sowing into the areas that are important. But don’t be impatient and expect immediate results. Rather, take a more long-term view. If you plant enough seeds in the right places and continue to water and nurture them, eventually they will sprout and grow. My work at Hargest for the past six years has been all about sowing, watering and nurturing and now I am fortunate enough to be reaping the fruits of those particular labours. I now have teachers approaching me to work with them, whereas previously I would have been the initiator of our collaborations. If you want to know more about some of the collaborative strategies I’ve used then you can read more about them here.
Encourage others in their endeavours. Even the smallest move forward is a step in the right direction. And above all, celebrate your successes, no matter how insignificant you might think they are. All of those little, seemingly insignificant events or moments will weave together into something bigger. Take some satisfaction in them along the way.
Now, do yourself a favour. Go to the Finding Heroes site and register for Paul Hayton’s interview for next Thursday night. He’s going to be speaking on Powerhouse, Experiencing Great Ideas in Action. Go on, do it!!
I’ve got my dander up this morning.
Those of you who know me will testify to the fact that I can be garrulous and a bit feisty but I normally attempt to keep myself under control – just.
But I’ve just become incensed this morning after reading this article in the Guardian entitled: Kensal Rise library stripped in night of books and Twain plaque. (Thanks to Val McDermid for tweeting it and drawing it to mine and Twitterland’s attention).
So sneaking into a local public library and stripping it bare of books, artworks, furniture at 02.30 in the morning has now become standard practice? What has it come to in the democratic world when this sort of behaviour is considered acceptable!? Do our voices no longer count? Has the push to save money finally crashed over the public’s right to demonstrate and have a say in their local government issues?
I shall pause for a deep, cleansing breath ….
Nope, that didn’t help. It still seems totally ridiculous behaviour. Obviously the “they can’t put it back once we’ve destroyed it” premise is at play here. It’s these types of things that make you feel helpless in the face of the government “Big Brother” mentality. Heaven help us if this type of policy and it’s implementation was to ever reach NZ shores! It just doesn’t bear thinking about.
So I say, people everywhere, love your libraries, treasure them and at every opportunity tell the people who fund them (yes, you elect them!!) how much you want and value them! Don’t make the mistake of being passive about it, or assuming this could never happen here. It would seem this should never be taken for granted in case you end up like the library users at Kensal Rise – libraryless.
School Libraries: What’s now, what’s next, what’s next to come is made up of a series of essays by a wide range of librarians from several countries expressing their varied views of school libraries as they are now and how the could be in the future.
In the words of Dr. R. David Lankes, Professor and Dean’s Scholar for the New Librarianship, Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies, Syracuse, New York, who wrote the Foreward for this book:
“To evangelize is more than simply reciting the message. To advocate is to go beyond agreeing with a cause. To truly seek change is to live our own message. We, as librarians, must talk the talk and walk the walk. If you see yourself as a vital partner with teachers, you had better have teachers that say the same of you. If you seek to turn students into passionate learners, you must also learn – every day. You must become nothing less than a radical positive change agent. It is not enough to create a haven of true learning in your library — you must spread that environment throughout the school.”
And what do I say? HEAR, HEAR!! I love this message. It speaks so strongly of my own vision I wish I’d written it myself!
What’s even better is that I was able to be part of this truly global, collaborative e-book as one of three New Zealanders to respond to the call for submissions. I’m so proud to be in the company of my friend and colleague Donna Watt and the charismatic Rob Baigent from Any Questions
Some would say, rightly, that I have an awful lot to say for myself and in this instance I didn’t confine myself to just one essay. I got so fired up writing the first one on collaboration I couldn’t help myself and went on to write another one on networking and flock-mates. If you want to read them, you’ll find them here: in chapter 9 and 10 respectively. Pages 139 and 154.
And the last word comes, again from David Lankes :
In this book you will read others views on the future and what concerns school librarians. These are the voices of the brave and the concerned. You must add your voice. If you read these essays and disagree, then disagree and suggest another view. If you read these and agree, then voice your support. If you read these and learn, use your learning and teach others. If, on the other hand you read these essays and voices and remain mute, you abdicate the future. Don’t.
Please now do the following things:
- Download this book and read it
- Really think about the issues that get under your skin, or spin your wheels
- Respond with action – talk to someone about something you’re passionate about or do something to effect change – it doesn’t matter how small or insignificant you think it might be – just do it!
- Please give us your feedback. It’s how we grow, learn and change and it keeps these vital and important conversations going
And finally I just need to say – I love being a school librarian – that’s all.