Who Else is Going To Do It??!

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!

Reading, Research and Recreation: the three R’s of a school library

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

In this presentation I introduced parents to the school-wide information literacy programme that I have developed to date and described how it fits across year levels and curriculum areas.
To support parents in their endeavours to help their children with homework and enthuse them to read (or keep reading) I also created a Parent Resource Livebinder with some good links in it for author websites, book reviews, book trailers, research help and online safety.
I had several parents stay behind after the presentation to discuss various things that had occurred to them during my talk as well as to talk about their favourite books and how some of the strategies I mentioned had already worked for them or how they intended to try this or that one out.
There was definite interest in sessions for parents to up-skill in their use of the internet and searching strategies so I am adding that to my goals for the 2013 school year.
We have also invited parents to become members of our library for the first time, so it will be interesting to see how many take up that offer and how that aspect of community involvement develops.

Reality Librarianship – Up Close and Personal

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!!

Like something out of a Dystopian novel

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.

So, I’m excited!

Within the past few days the brand new free e-book from Kristin Fontichiaro and Buffy Hamilton has been released.

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.

Where are all the crazy ideas for libraries? Take 2

I’ve been thinking …… a lot …….

I came across this blog posting thanks to Sally Pewhairangi’s Twitter link today.  I’ve recently been introduced to the wonderfulness of  The Wikiman, Ned Potter. I really like what he has to say.  He’s thoughtful, insightful and most importantly inspiring.

No more so than in the posting he published almost a year ago entitled Where are all the crazy ideas for libraries? Take the time to read it …. and the responses to it.  The gist of it is really that the day before a break-through idea becomes a break-through idea is is just a crazy idea.  And that if it weren’t a crazy idea it would just be the next step in a measured plan.

I particularly appreciated the response posted by Andy Woodworth with two creativity quotes:

“If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you will never come up with anything original.” – Sir Ken Robinson

“The problem is that you can’t have good ideas unless you’re willing to generate a lot of bad ones.” – Seth Godin

He went on to say: “I think librarians are the caretakers of creativity. We are surrounded by acts of creativity in all forms of expression: books, music, movies, prose, journalism, websites, databases. All full of acts of creativity.

We shouldn’t be afraid to get a little creativity on ourselves. =D”

So ….. I put this thinking into a New Zealand school library context.  I find as Kiwis we’re a pretty inventive, risk-taking lot who are freely willing to share our good ideas.

The thread of responses to The Wikiman’s posting affirmed a number of projects currently in planning for our 2012  library school year here at Hargest.  I feel we are definitely on the right track.  We are a large secondary school, with a very busy library.  We get over 800 visitors a day, with a portion of these being students coming in during their interval and lunch breaks.  Lisa, my wonderful “librarian partner-in-crime” (often referred to by me as Batwoman) and I have been working on a series of activities we can offer these students to make their time in the library more meaningful.  We want them to want to keep coming back. So, we’re in the process of brainstorming some great competitions and weekly events in an endeavour to make this a reality for our students.

I also had another “crazy” idea around the marketing and promotion of libraries that just felt too big for Hargest alone, so I have begun a discussion with SLANZA National Executive to see where it might be able to lead.

What are your “crazy ideas” for our school libraries?  How can we promote our products and services in a new and fresh way? How can we market ourselves in a way that makes us more relevant to our communities? How can we get our message out beyond our library walls, our school gates, our professional boundaries to get the movers and shakers in education listening to what we have to say?

Many of you may already be very aware of the plight of school libraries in this country, in their fight for recognition of the great work done and the tenuous nature of budgets earmarked to enable this to happen.  If you don’t you can read about it in both the recent PPTA News article and the Sunday Star Times follow-up to it.

From PPTA News: Library manager at James Hargest College and former president of (SLANZA), Senga White, says forcing schools to fund their libraries out of the operational grant is failing. “Some schools value libraries but some simply aren’t aware of the benefits of putting their money into them,” she said. “Schools spend money as they see fit which means that there isn’t any continuity for service across the country.“ A lot of school librarians fear for their
jobs and are concerned they won’t get any budget at all,” she said.

And from Sunday Star Times: Library manager at Invercargill’s James Hargest College, Senga White said “forcing” schools to fund their libraries from operational grants isn’t working. “There will be a number of schools in New Zealand, for a variety of reasons, that may not have libraries at the moment,” White said. The former president of the School Library Association (SLANZA) said adequately resourced libraries can make a “significant difference” to the achievement levels for all students. “In the schools where they employ knowledgeable staff for their libraries, the curriculum underpins all planning.” White said in an “ideal world” schools would be given a little extra money – calculated on roll size and decile – set aside for the library. And library staff would also be paid out of the staffing fund – not the operations grants.

With the best will in the world, it seems that most of this sounds fairly doom and gloomish.  But what I really want to say is this: I have an enormous faith in our sector, in our people and in the library profession in general.  Yes, we have massive mountains to scale and although it may look impossible from where we stand, some of these crazy ideas of ours might just hold the key to that next major breakthrough, to ascending our Everest.

So ….. why not begin your ascent here, today. Share your crazy ideas with each other and see where that takes us!

Libraries belong at the hub of schools

Many of you may have already read the article published in the latest edition of the New Zealand PPTA News with this headline – Libraries Belong at the Hub of Schools.  As librarians, we all know this already. However, I’m getting ready to celebrate this idea with those colleagues outside of my library sphere.  I hope we all see this article as an opportunity to talk with our teaching colleagues, our principals, our senior leadership teams, our Board of Trustees about their views of school libraries in general and the one you share specifically.

The budget issue many schools are currently facing  is a symptom of our fight to be recognised, but what is the cause? Is there only one cause?  Undoubtedly not, but I believe the over-riding granddaddy of them all is the level of value placed on the work that can be done through an effective school library to support not only the teaching and learning in the school linked to the curriculum but foster and inspire a life-long love of reading.

So how do we get those in our schools who make the decisions to recognise and value the worth of their library?

Donna Watt in her presentation at 2011 SLANZA conference has already alluded to the need for strategic planning and advocacy within your schools.  Having a clear approach to where you want to be will help you plan the steps you need to take.  Every one of you will be starting from your own unique place.  Once you have gone through your own “needs assessment” you will have a clearer understanding of what that next first step will be.

Let’s use this forum as a way of collecting together to share what our own vision is for what makes a good school library.

Imagine you had 5 minutes of Anne Tolley’s undivided attention to talk to her about that makes libraries crucial in schools.  What is the one message you would want to leave her with?