How does your garden grow? Watering seeds! Why every interaction matters

Cottage Garden

I had a chance encounter with an ex-student at the Southland Nethui two weeks ago.

Our paths had crossed briefly 5 years ago when he was in his final year and I was in my first year at SBHS.  He professed to “not being much of a reader” at school.  He’s a fisherman, a regular “Kiwi bloke” who wanted to talk to me about books.  He reads!  He talks to the guys on the fishing boat about what he’s reading. He even sometimes, when he’s not at sea, attends the monthly public library book club.  And he wanted to share his reading journey with me!

He asked for a couple of book recommendations, which I gladly gave him, and I also gave him my card saying he was welcome to keep in touch.  Well, I received an email from him earlier this week.  He wanted to thank me for my recommendation (Fahrenheit 451) – he loved it – and did I have any other suggestions.  I quickly replied with my next recommendation, and he, in turn, replied he’ll let me know what he thinks – this time it’s The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell.  I think I have found a new kindred spirit!

Why am I sharing this story? As an encouragement for all my librarian and teaching colleagues. Sometimes we are fortunate enough to receive unexpected affirmative gifts like this, but more often than not, we never know our reach or influence.  Be very sure that these incidents are not just one-off anomalies, rather they’re just the tip of the iceberg. For every one student who seeks you out or you have a chance conversation with, there will be many others that you don’t cross paths with.

So, celebrate your awesomeness, continue to be approachable, kind and caring for ALL your students.

I shared my story with a teaching colleague, (he asked to be remembered to her cos she was his favourite teacher) and she was reminded of this whakatauki, which she felt encompasses the story’s essence.

Whakatauki #1.png
or, “even though it is not big, the important thing is the value “

I’m going to put this poster up in my library where I can see it to remind me, EVERY interaction sows seeds, and HOW we respond to that interaction will water those seeds.

Go be gardeners and waterers of seeds!

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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!

Thinking Leadership in Libraries

Leadership Arrow

As part of the work being done by LIANZA’s Emerging Leaders Working Group, Cath Sheard has been conducting a series of interviews over the past few months with librarians around the country on the subject of leadership in New Zealand libraries. It is interesting to read all five interviews and to see the diverse ways in which leadership is viewed and it has been fantastic to see two school librarians included in the series to date. Bridget Schaumann, current SLANZA President shared her views on leading a secondary school library,  in June, while in the current issue I looked at the bigger picture of identifying leadership potential.

I found the first question: “Who do you look up to as a leader, and why?” more difficult to answer than I had initially thought it would.  It compelled me to really think about the attributes of a great leader and clarified my thinking around why certain names came to mind first. My own personal list of people I look to in my professional life for inspiration, superb ideas and sound reasoning is extensive,  but I thought I would share just a few who have been consistently influential.

Suzette Boyd Head of Library and Information Services at Scotch College in Melbourne

A most generous and astute woman.  Her book, The Connected Library is a hands-on, roll your sleeves up, practical but inspirational manual for any school librarian.  A must-read, that I have gone back to repeatedly.  Also, the Scotch College Library website is one of the best school library websites I’ve come across.  A fantastic example of how it can be.

Dr Ross Todd Associate Professor at Rutgers University and Director of the Centre for International Scholarship in School Libraries

I’ve had the privilege of hearing Ross speak on a number of occasions over the past eight years and have continued to be inspired and validated each time.  His work on information literacy, inquiry-based research and evidence-based practice is without peer and he is a passionate world-wide advocate for school libraries.

Buffy Hamilton Teacher and Librarian in Georgia, USA – currently transitioning back from public to school libraries. Yes!

This woman is a total inspiration!  She is one of the best reflective practitioners I have come across and she is extremely generous at sharing her journey in libraries.  She has been the inspiration for me being brave enough to begin my own blog in an attempt emulate her example of reflecting and sharing.

Ned Potter – Academic Librarian at York University

I discovered “theRealwikiman” when planning for my Tertiary Prep Unit and I’ve been “following” him ever since, as much of what he does is developing and delivering programmes to staff and students in a tertiary environment.  He is another reflective practitioner who has brilliant ideas and is prepared to share them.  I was gutted when I discovered that the session on using Prezi that Ned was presenting at LILAC 2012 was scheduled at the same time as I was giving my presentation, as his was on the top of my list.  However, I was slightly appeased when, thanks to Sally Pewhairangi, we managed to touch base and meet each other at the conference anyway.  He is a much sought-after presenter and speaker and has written a book, The Library Marketing Toolkit, which is supported by his excellent website of the same name.

Tara BrabazonProfessor of Education and the Head of School of Teacher Education at Charles Sturt University

At the recent SLANZA Conference in Wellington I described Tara as the energiser bunny, and she’s all that and much, much more! I first met this wonderful, wonderful woman at LILAC 2012, where took me under her wing and has nurtured me ever since! She is truly the most vibrant, energetic, encouraging, unique, caring person I’ve ever come across.  I don’t believe the word “can’t” ever enters into Tara’s vocabulary.  What she achieves is truly remarkable and a total inspiration to strive for your best – always.

Barbara Fister – Tertiary Librarian at  Folke Bernadotte Memorial Library, Gustavus Adolphus College

Barbara writes a regular column for Inside Higher Ed. blog and I serendipitously discovered her writing due to a piece she wrote about the Information Literacy Project by Alison Head et.al. which I have been following with great interest for several years.  I liked her style and her perspective on matters to do with libraries and learning often makes me pause, reflect and consider.  I believe it’s good to find someone who challenges and/or confirms some of your own thinking as they open your eyes to fresh ideas and possibilities.  Erica McWilliam is another whose writing also has the same effect.

Donna Watt Digital and Communication Manager, Invercargill Public Library

She’s one of my flockmates – one of only two –  who has shared my journey, experiences, highs and lows spanning over a decade.  We have worked together professionally through local library circles, as part of the Otago/Southland Information Literacy Project, on SLANZA National Executive.  She backs me up when I need it, tells me straight when I need that too! Speaks the shorthand that only people who have gone through it with you can understand.  I value her opinion and advice immensely and treasure her friendship.

Judy O’Connell Course Director for the Teacher Librarianship degree, Charles Sturt University

Ever since the 2009 SLANZA Conference when Judy wowed us all with her opening keynote address, I have been a huge fan, groupie even! She is one of the most prolific curators and disseminators of relevant and useful information, especially regarding web 2.0 tools and her blog – Hey Jude, Learning in an Online World, is definitely one to subscribe to.  She is also very collaborative and enjoys discussing issues and ideas directly, which is fantastic and very generous of her.

So there’s my list.  Why don’t you consider who is on your own list. And then why not consider letting them know just what impact they’ve made in your professional practice.