Libraries: I’m a believer! How do I make converts?

Library as a Kitchen

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!)

Occupational Invisibility

The workshop covered 10 key areas:

  1. Taking a look at the big picture
  2. Identifying our vision
  3. Acknowledging what we already do
  4. Planning
  5. Collaborative strategies
  6. Working with our whole community
  7. Telling our story
  8. Promotion and marketing
  9. How to gather evidence and what to do with it
  10. Tools of the trade

Ross Todd Quote

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:

Librarian BookAnd 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.

Visible Learning Hattie

 

 

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Why This Scottish Quine is Proud of her Mihi

Maori Proverb

I am an immigrant.  I came to New Zealand in the mid-sixties as a toddler with my parents, a young couple then in their early 20’s who arrived with £20 in their pocket and a huge dream for a new life.  After 50 years they acknowledge it was the best move they ever made!

This meant I started my schooling here at the beginning of the 1970s, and while at primary school I learned to make a poi* and to play tī rakau, the Māori stick game, (I can still sing the song!) I learned very little, if anything about Māori history or culture and have remembered even less.

*poi – a light ball on a string of varying length which is swung or twirled rhythmically to a sung accompaniment.

As an adult, and since beginning my career in education almost two decades ago, I have muddled my way through situations that required some understanding of Māori tikanga, feeling uncomfortable and somewhat out of my depth while also feeling it had no bearing on me or my heritage.

However, that is no longer true, and the catalyst for this change was the Mātauranga Māori within New Zealand Libraries workshop I attended just over two years ago. It was delivered by Anahera Morehu and her team through Te Rōpū Whakahau at the Murihiku marae in Invercargill and it was awesome.  I certainly came away from that day with more knowledge about tikanga, te reo & kaupapa Māori, but it was the epiphany about my relationship to these that was transformative.  If you get the opportunity to attend one of these workshops, please please please do it!  It is because of this very positive experience I began my journey towards understanding Māori ‘s connection with their whakapapa & their place in the world.

As a result of attending this workshop and listening to Victor Manawatu speak to our staff about local Māori history last year, I approached Leon Dunn, one of our wonderful staff members at Southland Boys’ High School about helping me to write my mihi*.  I came to realise that a large part of my reluctance to use Te Reo Māori was my insecurity regarding pronunciation and not wanting to offend Māori by speaking their language incorrectly.  Big thanks to Leon for helping me to face my fears and do it anyway!

*a Maori greeting, formal welcome speech, or expression of thanks

Then the rubber met the road when I was recently provided with the opportunity to use my mihi in public for the first time.  I had been invited to present to the senior students at Aurora College about successful learning and felt it was not only appropriate but necessary for me to begin with my mihi.  I admit to being more nervous about delivering a 30-second mihi than an hour-long presentation on information literacy skills!

Being courageous paid off when the Year 13 group applauded my mihi efforts! I was stunned and delighted, and when I shared with them that this was the first time I had been brave enough to do this in public they further encouraged me with a “well done, Miss! That was awesome!”

I now treasure a whole new appreciation gained about the power of mihi, mixed with the strong sense of pride and belonging it can bring, putting your own story together, sharing your lineage, your family roots in this way.

My regret is not embracing my fears earlier as it would have been very special to have been able to introduce myself in my country of birth using my adopted country’s native language when I presented at the LILAC Conference in Glasgow in 2012.  I will not miss another opportunity like that again!

dav
This is me with my parents, celebrating 50 years in New Zealand last year

Professional Reading Choices

Here are links to some of my favourite professional reading material.

Peer-reviewed journals

il_logo-trans.pngInformation Literacy Journal

Articles in the Information Literacy Journal are written by presenters from the Librarian Information Literacy Annual Conference held in the UK in March or April each year.  Excellent range of articles around all aspects of information literacy in an education context.  I attended the Glasgow conference as a presenter in 2012 and it remains a highlight of my professional experiences to date and marks my introduction to the rockstar Professor Tara Brabazon!

 

alberta2Evidence Based Library and Information Practice Journal

I discovered this Evidence Based Practice journal when exploring what gathering evidence in my own professional practice could look like following the 2012 SLANZA workshop on Evidence Based Practice with the redoubtable Dr Ross Todd.  Not all of the articles are pertinent to a school library setting, but they all demonstrate how and why we could collect evidence as an advocacy tool.

 

New Zealand based professional reading

SquareGreenLogo_400x400SLANZA Collected magazine 

Published two or three times a year, each issue of Collected tends to have themed feature articles along with a variety of shorter articles and regular features including book reviews.

 

LIANZALIANZA Library Life

Library Life has recently had a facelift. It is a regular monthly newsletter with plenty of topical issues across library sectors and provides New Zealand food for thought for informational professionals.

 

HMWEVE Magazine 

A yearly publication from the Heroes Mingle stable which takes a fresh approach to thinking about librarianship, what inspires us and how that inspiration can make a difference.  Watch out for their next offering in the latter part of this year.

 

What are your favourites?  Would love you to share them in the comments!

 

 

 

Libraries Are About People

This is my space.  It’s where I can talk, rant, vent, discuss and share things that inspire me, that will hopefully, in turn, inspire you.

My most recent inspiration has come from Glenys Bichan, Library Manager at Cambridge High School.  However, I couldn’t possibly do her story justice so I asked her if she would be prepared to share it with everyone here.  I’m thrilled to say she agreed, so here is the story of a fluffy giraffe called Jaimee eLula.

Jaimee is the culmination of my six years as a librarian at a co-ed secondary school.  How can this be? I have learnt some stuff……Jaimee Giraffe

Being a librarian is not about books, it’s not about information provision, it’s not about collection collation, it’s not about cataloguing, it is not about my blog or Facebook page, it is about people.

Our people here are predominantly 13-18 year olds. The seekers and finders of life.  Those in the midst of discovery about who they are, what the world is, where they fit in it, and this means they need Jaimees.

Jaimee the Giraffe is named after a young man who worked in our library, He suffered a brain tumour at a young age, attended our school as a differently abled student and then we had the honour of employing him in our library. Very sadly while I was attending a SLANZA conference Jaimee Moore passed away.  He left us his determination, his gentle heart and his courage. Our giraffe continues his story and his qualities. Jaimee touched people, and now he still will.

Jaimee readingA month ago I organised our Waikato/BOP SLANZA training day. I wanted to impart the concept that the power of a library is based on relationships, on people. All we do is based around this. We invited a school counselor and other panelists to talk about the needs of our students, what they face as Generation Z, the issues that they grapple with and how we as librarian practitioners can support them best. The counselor suggested all libraries need a big cuddly toy. I thought Yeah, but Nah, a great kiwi colloquialism meaning maybe a good idea for others, but not for us.

Two days later I had a student bowl into the office- 14 years old, top graded student, witty, sporty, a different thinker, and I like her a lot. She sat down, burst into tears and said “Miss I feel so empty”.

Jaimee TypingI listened, I empathised and then I got into my car raced down to The Warehouse and bought Jaimee. Yesterday she came into my office, hugged him and smiled “Thanks Miss for getting Jaimee. It is so good to just snuggle up to him.” Since then I have had students who have never before engaged with us ask for him.  They sit him on their knee, they get on a computer and they type like fury. Their teachers are blown away. They have never concentrated like that before.

Jaimee seems to have super powers.

Attending professional development, listening to the experts and doing what they say works. It’s no surprise, but maybe we should not be in such a rush to say Yeah-Nah. We participate in professional opportunities to learn, to be challenged, to glean. It’s not about the lunch, it’s about changing our mind-sets. Why? For our people! The challenge of professional development is to activate the gleanings and knowledge we acquire, otherwise our expert speakers become void, a hollow voice, a waste. What makes us tick? What is the driver behind our school library? It is to impact people.

Jaimee and friendsThe usage of libraries continues to evolve. It is no longer a place of quiet study and silent reading. Instead it is a thriving community, a place of learning by discussion, of people not being informed only by notes and pages, but by social engagement, online learning, open discussion – and fluffy giraffes called Jaimee.

In our library here at Cambridge we call it a HUB – Holistic, Ubiquitous and Bold. We deal with the whole person. Not only their learning but as members of our community. We challenge old preconceived ideas about librarianship and are moving into a new area where a “library’s mission is to improve society through facilitating knowledge creation in communities” as stated by David Lankes, author of The Atlas of New Librarianship. He goes onto say that one of the most vital parts of that knowledge creation is through conversation!  And, “By establishing a climate of participation, risk-taking, acceptance of “messy” learning and inquiry, we can create conversations that in turn create school libraries that are responsive and organic. A participatory approach to librarianship can ultimately lead to learning experiences that in the words of Steve Jobs “make a dent in someone’s universe”

Jaimee reading at deskAt Cambridge High School this looks like a lounge, a place you retreat to as a safe place. It is warm; it is filled with people you connect with; it is a place where meaningful discussion occurs; it is comfortable; it is a place where you read, a place you watch TV, a place you discuss what you read, what you watch and how you react to those ideas. It is place of debate; it is a place of security. It is a place where you eat; a place where you are most relaxed.

This is our library.  It is all of those things; secure, open, real, and it has a fluffy giraffe. It is not the family room of chaos, it is a lounge of being and learning. If our lounge is the umbrella, the spokes are the HUB.

Holistic – deals with the whole person. We provide information, knowledge and support to all our stakeholders in a way that adds to them as people and as members of our community. People leave our space feeling valued and respected.

Ubiquitous – impacts on and is accessible to our users 24/7. Not just with information and knowledge but because we have had conversations that have challenged and affirmed our users. We build confidence, value, character and resilience.

Bold – our library has an open vision which is imaginative and we think outside the box – what box? We embrace the big picture of a 21st century information provider. We scan the landscape and shift accordingly. The outcomes of being bold is that our students will flourish, not just academically but socially within our community.

Jaimee MooreSo Jaimee eLula Giraffe is now a staff member. He is being told secrets, read picture books to, held while his friends type like fury. He is carted around the school on grand tours; he is there, and he can be whatever our people need him to be in their often confused, shaken, broken and scary worlds. Jaimee is an identity when they struggle to have one, and he is soft and gentle when their world can be hard and harsh.

Jaimee, according to my people, will soon have his own blog. He will tell their stories, and this will be amazing to read. Maybe the story of Jaimee will become its own story within the stories of our people!

They will be determined, gentle and courageous – just like Jaimee Moore.

Evidence Based Library and Information Practice

AASL Fall Forum

EBLIP, The Evidence Based Library and Information Practice Journal is a rich source of articles and research findings, the purpose of which is to contribute to the decision making of information professionals and their professional practice.

The latest edition has just been released and as explained by editor Alison Brettle in her editorial, while the journal is hosted by the University of Alberta in Canada, it has a global perspective and influence with contributors and editorial members in the US and the UK as well as Canada.

I have found it to be a important source of quality articles related to research in the field of librarianship, which I have tapped into regularly in the four years since I discovered it.

I have downloaded two articles from Vol. 8 No. 3 to read: Developing and Applying an Information Literacy Rubric to Student Annotated Bibliographies and What Five Minutes in the Classroom Can Do to Uncover the Basic Information Literacy Skills of Your College Students: A Multiyear Assessment Study.

The first one will be particularly useful as I have been focussing on using senior students’ bibliographies as a way of collecting evidence on range and depth of resources chosen for assignments and have been investigating the use of annotated bibliographies at either Year 12 or 13.  The second one will be useful in the continuing work I’m doing in the field of transitioning students from secondary to tertiary study.

I also downloaded an evidence summary of the seven distinct roles children display when searching online at home and a brief commentary on the librarian as a practitioner/researcher.

As well as being a very useful source of relevant articles for your professional practice, some could also serve as entries for your revalidation journal if you are a RLIANZA, professionally registered librarian.

Why not consider using an article that you have found particularly pertinent or relevant as a way of promoting discussion with other library professionals. If you share it with colleagues in your local area, why not suggest either a coffee or dinner meeting where you can get together and discuss it or brainstorm ways of implementing ideas shared into our schools or our daily practice.

Making a Lasting Connection with your School Community

It was my absolute pleasure to be one of the participants at the SLANZA Winds of Change 2013 Conference held in Wellington last week, not least of all due to the beyond-conference excitement of landing in Wellington last Sunday (one of the last flights to get in for the day!) and encountering the first swarm of earthquakes this past weekend, though fortunately I arrived home mid afternoon yesterday so missed the severe one just after 5pm.

As promised to the wonderful group who attended my workshop on Wednesday morning, here is my presentation Making a Lasting Connection with your School Community, complete with all the links in it for you to go back to and use as and when you want.  I would be particularly interested in hearing from you about:

  • what you found most useful
  • whether there’s anything you would add to the strategies introduced in this presentation
  • what strategy you would consider trying first at your school or with your team
  • if you weren’t at the workshop, does the presentation make any sense?

Also as promised, I have included information about the Library Marketing Toolkit website by Ned Potter.

I welcome any constructive feedback, as that’s the best way to know whether the message is useful to those of you kind enough to take the time and make the choice to come.  There were so many wonderful speakers at this year’s conference and I intend to expand on my own conference highlights and take homes in another post in the not too distant future.

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!!