Bec in the library

"I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library." — Jorge Luis Borges

Whoomp, there it is! October 19, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — becinthelibrary @ 4:21 pm

ETL507 Professional Portfolio

This is the basic, text only version of my portfolio.

You can find the WAY cooler version over at my new professional website, InfoGirl.

Happy reading 🙂


I’m InfoGirl (aka Bec) a Super with many guises – stay at home mum, small business owner, primary teacher and aspiring teacher librarian, scrapbooker, avid reader, amateur chef, wife and eternal optimist.

Mum to Master Builder (born August 2009) and Firecracker (born August 2012), I am the proud wife to uber-talented educator and app developer, GeekGuy. We live for much of the year in Beijing, China as GeekGuy works as a technology integrator in the primary section of a large and prestigious international school. Whilst we are proud Australians who adore and cherish our homeland, we relish this opportunity to raise our children as global nomads.

It is with great excitement and joy that upon graduation from my Masters of Education (Teacher Librarianship) in November 2014, I can begin recruiting for a TL job in Beijing.

As a teacher librarian (TL) I have the passion, enthusiasm, time and willingness to fight for what I believe is important in 21st century education: a library whose staff advocate for, and provide, relevant information services while encouraging and fostering a reading culture. I do this through embracing collaboration, harnessing and valuing the skills of others, creating welcoming reading spaces and managing a relevant, engaging and easy to access physical and online collection.


This website showcases my reflective learning throughout my Master of Education (Teacher Librarianship) degree and is the final assessment piece for my final subject.

A full list of references for the articles and books cited in this website is available.

Throughout this website you will find links to the blog I created whilst studying.  Each of these blog posts discusses my ideas and experiences about TL concepts – most are rambling, many are angst filled, some are boring but all show for better or worse my journey towards the start of a new career.

The many superpowers of a TL

Just what is a TL and what do they do?

Teacher Librarians (TLs) are many things to many people!

We help build a school culture that creates passionate readers who are information literate.

Joyce Valenza’s Manifesto (2010) completely transformed my understanding of the role of a TL, especially in terms of information literacy. Whilst her passion lit a fire within me, I was  also taken aback with the complexity of the role and what a long road of advocacy I have to tread. Purcell’s (2010) explanation of the multi-faceted role of a TL also taught me a very important lesson that has burned its place into my professional soul – TLs can only be used to their fullest extent if people know what we are able to offer.

Read my thoughts about creating passionate readers through successful collection management.

You can also delve into my stance on information literacy instruction and all things Library 2.0.

TLs who use quality collaboration, leadership and advocacy can make this school culture a reality.


“Collaboration is not easy. But collaboration is the single professional behavior of teacher-librarians that most affects student achievement.” (Haycock, 2007, p. 32)

This inspiring quote spurred me on to more closely interpret how I can successfully collaborate with the school community for the betterment of teaching and learning. With so many ‘hats’ to wear and so many people it is possible to collaborate with, there has been many times throughout this course that I have felt frustrated and hopeless at the task ahead of me.

Over time it became clear to me that successful collaboration in a library setting also involves setting priorities and finding champions of your program within the school. A wise TL acknowledges that they cannot achieve their clear vision and purpose alone. Therefore effective collaboration relies heavily on meeting people where they are: finding out what they want, giving it to them and then building on it. Based on it this, it makes sense that TLs can, and indeed, should be, the trailblazers of personal learning networks within schools. Donham’s (2005) belief that when we are visible in our own learning and PLNs, we more easily bring others along in their own journeys, really resonated with me. This modelling shows that it is our responsibility as TLs who lead from the middle (Donham, 2005) to help staff believe that PLNs are not just another thing to learn or do.

Two additional outstanding lessons about collaboration I learnt during this degree focused around mentoring and delegating to others based on skill set. Both these concepts were hammered home during my time as a library technician at an international school where the TL made a concerted effort to involved all members of his staff in the successful running of the library.


Before starting this course, the reality that a TL is a school leader, one of the few who clearly understands the broader learning context and needs of a school, was completely unknown to me. Learning about the complex nature of leadership during this course has given me many guiding tenants as I move forward into my career as a TL.

Meet people where they are. Reading Henri (1994) and Cheng’s (2002) belief that leadership is about influencing behaviour and helping people meet their own goals resonates strongly with me as a way that I can frame my ambitions for my library. Making sure I have a clearly communicated vision can help people feel important and valued as we go ahead on a shared project, or to increase buy in on a personally initiated project.

Shared leadership is shared responsibility for a shared purpose (Lambert, 1998) so the need for being a visible participant in helping to achieve personal and shared goals is essential. People need to see and clearly understand how the library’s purpose, goals and actions tie into their own. They can only do this if you are leading from the middle in classrooms, in meetings, on committees – constantly visible with a “this is how I can help” sign.

School leadership is not the sum of individual leaders, it is a system, a culture (Hargraves & Kink, 2003). Therefore, everyone has the capacity to lead and should be encouraged to do so.

Goleman (2000), helped me understand that all leaderships styles are useful when used at the right time, in the right situation. Leadership has, and continues to be, an area of growth for me as I recognise my own actions in many of the more negative leadership styles. Usually this is simply because my enthusiasm for a project can lead me to forget other people need more time to process, consider and reflect before making decisions and moving forward.


Advocacy relies on being visible and sharing your actions, successes and challenges (Davidson, 2002 and Gibbs, 2003).

A school community cannot support a library programme that they do not understand. It is my responsibility to proactively build positive  relationships based on meeting people where they are in their teaching and learning journey if I want to successfully support, extend and complement the curriculum.

How might this look?

Showing, rather than telling. I can do this by regularly sourcing, reading, modelling and sharing library best practice with key decision makers.

Making it easy for people to say yes to whatever I am asking them to do, whether it is team teaching, fulfilling funding requests or collaboratively ordering resources.

TLs sticking together. In an era of shrinking budgets and confusion as to what our role really is as TLs, I know it is vital that the TL profession band together to learn and advocate about how to best share our expertise.

Information literacy instruction

Effective information literacy (IL) instruction is the very core of our work as TLs, our area of expertise. It is what differentiates us from regular teachers and is basic tenant around which we structure our programme. You can therefore imagine the incredible shock I felt when I realised that I had never been exposed to explicit information literacy instruction in my own schooling or during my teaching career.

Reading Herring (2007) introduced me, via a synthesis of other author’s views, to what IL really was and that consistent, methodical application is what it takes to help students really be information literate.

Given that inquiry driven, constructivist learning is current best practice in schools, it is should not come as a surprise that research skills need to be taught explicitly. Additionally, effective research relies on extremely high quality IL instruction. My academic and social learning throughout this course has taught me, however that this is not the case in reality. This was made most evident to me through the exploration and creating of multiple pathfinders for a real school. Feedback from students and teachers who used my pathfinders mirrored the current educational theory: there is no point making a pathfinder full of pertinent resources if the students don’t know how to use those resources to their fullest extent. The information universe is massive yet very few teachers and students have the time or understanding of how to harness it effectively (Valenza, 2004). Being aware of such concepts as the hidden web, that there are search engines more powerful and specific than Google, and the different kind of reading skills needed to access the right kind of information at the point of need, is absolutely integral to effective access to accurate, current, reliable information (CSU, 2013; Kuiper, Volman & Terwel, 2008; Valenza, 2004).

I am ready to share my basket of tricks and tools to get students well on the path of info fluency but I acknowledge that is never as easy as it seems. The study visits, professional placement and personal work experiences all very clearly showed that enthusiasm and knowledge is nowhere near enough in terms of making quality IL instruction a reality in schools. I was continually frustrated at poor or no decision making in this area, especially when people forget about what is best for students in favour of hearing their own voice. Understanding how to move forward in light of these challenges is an area of growth but one I face with enthusiasm, knowing that persistence and advocacy through presentation of evidence can help win the battle.

Library 2.0

TLs must help students become web learners rather than web users (CSU, 2013) and we can do that by teaching them “info fluency” (Valenza, 2004).

This course has solidified my understanding that effective TLs use emerging and existing technology to better meet the information needs of their school, regardless of what other schools are doing (Farkas, 2008).

Library 2.0 and an online participatory library service is not about having the latest tool that does the coolest new thing, faster and with a better interface than ever before. If it is not relevant, if it does not get users excited and pushing for more, then no matter how ‘cool’ an online tool is, it will be a waste of time and effort. Knowing what your teachers need and when, then differentiating content and training for them based on those needs, is absolutely the best way to immerse schools into the concepts, theories and practices of Library 2.0 without instilling fear of change.

Effective Library 2.0 TLs engage in collaboration, conversation, community and content creation (or co-creation) and encourage others to do so too. If teachers are creators, users who collaborate and converse in virtual and real life communities, then they are far more likely to use online tools critically and for authentic purposes in their teaching and learning (Bernoff & Li, 2010; Haesler, 2011).

During this course, I have been frequently frustrated by how few examples there are of primary students utilising the digital environment and the possible positive and negative implications of this use. It is my belief that showing is better than telling when it comes to making new ideas a reality. Therefore, I have created an ongoing list of best practice resources in this area that I can show to interested teachers.

A pivotal learning moment in my journey towards understanding how to be an effective facilitator of information literacy in the Library 2.0 context came during a conversation with a TL with whom I worked closely. In a school where technology integrators (TI) are responsible for all things technology, I struggled to understand the relevance of a TL in a digital world. His response was that TIs teach students to use tools, we teach them what to do with the information they find using the tools: tool literate vs information literate. TLs who do not have the luxury of sharing the Library 2.0 workload with TIs are indeed busy people!

What is reader development?

For me, reading is akin to breathing. This passion infuses everything I do as an educator, parent and lifelong learner and I wholeheartedly and unashamedly embrace the possibility of helping others also become voracious consumers of print.

Throughout the process of writing this portfolio, I thought that reader development/ advocacy was not explicitly explored during my Masters course. Indeed, it was only during a study visit to an urban library that I even heard the phrase. I thought that perhaps I just completely missed that part of the course! Or maybe because this more stereotypical facet of the TL role is already widely known and accepted as important, it was not deemed as crucial course content.

However, upon reflection, I now see that successful reader development centres around successful collection management which requires a keen understanding of patron needs. Knowing your clientele and helping them understand your role in building and maintaining a reading culture is essential. Positivity and enthusiasm often make all the difference, especially when you combine it with active listening and a genuine interest in people and their needs.

One of the most important lessons I have learnt during this course was the amount of concerted effort it takes to successfully manage the library collection, in both the physical and online realms.

What does a great library look like?

A large part of getting and keeping patrons in the library is making it a beautiful, welcoming place to relax, connect, create and discover. My study visits and professional work experiences in two libraries that meet these criteria have shown me that achieving this comes down to the inclusivity of vision and skills of others.

How do you keep patrons in your interesting, welcoming library?

Ensure that information is organised and accessed effectively so that they can find what they need quickly. I have learnt that this means thoughtful planning is monumentally important. Strategies such as collaborating with teachers to align resourcing with curriculum goals, pre-screening resources before sharing them, catering for multiple intelligences and utilising and sharing shortcuts to help with time management and referencing are all examples of planning that could work in the school context (Pardoe, 2009). Hider (2012) and Coombes in CSU (2012) were instrumental in shaping my understanding of how to support better use of the catalogue by both the TL and patrons. These strategies are even more important when working with online tools and content that are not as comprehensively vetted as printed resources.

So, what should be in a library collection?

Lee (2010), Hider (2012) and Johnson’s (2009) work expanded my view of what is important in collection content and how the collection can, and is, used and perceived by the school community. I now see how valuable it is to gain wide input from patrons and experts into collection management to attain balance and provide the online and physical content whilst taking into account the selection restrictions relevant to my school. The CSU course material that focused on website evaluation (2012) was invaluable learning in pushing me towards a strong understanding of how important my role is in guiding teachers and students to worthwhile, relevant content.

Great in theory but what about the money?

Lamb and Johnson’s (2008) article crystallised my view that people are at the heart of the budgeting, purchasing and overall funding battle. The way to successful acquisition and use of funding is to show evidence of student achievement based on the services and resources the library provides. It all circles back to advocacy – the community can only support what they value. They can only value what they see working.

I can’t do it alone!

As an intensely interpersonal learner, I have found the support, wisdom and collective genius of TL networks to be pivotal. Over the tenure of this MEd course, my involvement in listservs, Facebook groups and forums has helped me understand how best to serve the reader development needs of my current and future students through collection management.

Future career/future challenges

My personal challenges as a lifelong learner

I have never been, and doubt I ever will be, an academic. Throughout this course I have felt frustrated, hopeless and helpless in my inability to write critically and succinctly. However, the need for concise, analytical, evaluative writing as a TL is undeniable. It enables me to clearly express the worth of a concept, idea, opinion or request to the people charged with making it a reality. I will continue to seek mentoring in this area so as to best serve the community with which I work.

As a learner, teacher and leader I crave and desperately need interaction and collaboration in order to be successful. Therefore, it is not surprising that my best learning (measured by lecturer grades or self-assessment) has come when I have had the opportunity to work with others. I intend to take this understanding forward into my professional life by finding and nurturing my PLN and mentoring relationships.

Professional areas of growth

As a brand spanking new TL, I am the first to admit that I certainly do not have all the answers or expertise. I will continue to be on a sharp learning curve for as long as I work in libraries as by their very nature they are complex, evolving entities. There are two areas of growth that are markedly obvious to me however.

The first is effective collaboration. I see that I still have many lessons to learn about how to put collaboration theory into practice. For example, the very important concept of waiting for others to be comfortable with change is such a challenge for me. Knowing where people are and where they are going, knowing what works for them and for me is a way for me to achieve this goal.

The area of copyright was, and continues to be, full of unanswered questions for me, especially as I live and work in China. I was excited and relieved to learn about Creative Commons but the entire issue of copyright is so complex, and so often ignored, that I worry about our school communities’ level of honesty around both our students’ use of copyrighted material and the use of our students’ work by others.


Getting my feet wet January 21, 2014

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Post 2 – Making my mark

(Post 1 – school overview)

During my time in the school – acting as a substitiue teacher for both the lower elementary TL and the upper elementary TL (yes, they have TWO FULL TIME teacher librarians!!) – I  participated in the following teaching and learning opportunities:

  • teaching every grade from EC3 through Grade 5 (EC3, 4 & K were simply reading and helping to navigate the library itself; G1-2 were fractured fairytales; G3 was non-fiction text features (table of contents and index), G4 was fractured fairytales ; G5 was trickster tales).
  • sitting in on a school wide department meeting.
  • reshelving books, AV, teacher resources
  • circulation for students and teachers
  • creation of teacher resource pack on the use of Bonnie Campbell Hill’s reading continuum
  • weeding a part of the non-fiction collection (right from taking from the shelves to deleting from the catalogue to boxing them up for shipping to the Philipines)
  • placing an order for next year’s books on Follett’s online ordering website
  • creating and then pulling titles for resource lists (winter festivals, Chinese New Year)

Keeping Follett honest (a study in ordering)

Filed under: Uncategorized — becinthelibrary @ 2:28 pm

OK, so it’s not quite that dramatic but I was taught a few great tips on making sure your library order through Follett goes smoothly and all your money is wisely spent!

Step 1 – Create a wishlist (offline) of needed titles

  • Revisit your curriculum documents to see if there are any new units that need resourcing
  • Ask teachers and students for requested titles
  • Run a Titlewave Collection Analysis to see if there are any holes or replacements that need to added
  • Ensure plenty of Panda Book (etc) titles copies
  • Refer to list of repaired/broken titles

Step 2 – Shop, shop, shop and fill your cart with goodies! Make separate carts for the individual areas of the library (ECB, SPB, NF, EY etc)

Step 3 – Cross check Follett’s “Books you already own/may already have” list to make sure you really do need additional copies of the titles.

Step 4 – Run a “duplicates” check across your list/s

Step 5 – Check for “bindings” – limit/filter out non-intentional paperbacks, spirals, board books, toys, ebooks

Step 6 – Filter by “interest level” to ensure that the books are appropriate for each list/collection



Searching, searching, searching… August 22, 2013

ETL505 Module 2 – tools and systems

Search engines

Regardless of how effective other forms of information organisation and retrieval are, kids still rely on google, first and foremost.

Never mind the fact that our library has outstanding databases that have been thoroughly researched and written to be appropriate, kids still go to what is easiest and what they really do believe is going to be easiest. Grrr!

To be honest, I also blame the teachers! I see how little emphasis they put on our collection of databases and how easily they let kids rely on Mr Google, even without teaching them how to search EFFECTIVELY. We have a long way to go before our students are web learners instead of just web searchers.


Wowsers, spam tagging! I had never heard of that phrase before but it certainly explains some of the very dodgy hits I get occasionally when I use search engines!

Search by image?! Oh. how. cool. is. that?!

Screen shot of my "search by image" in Google

Screen shot of my “search by image” in Google

While my search didn’t bring up anything as cool as the Google intro video, I still love the concept. It would be extremely handy if you wanted to help someone identify a place or animal.

Music search engines

What rock have I been hiding under that I haven’t been utilising Pandora?! Created a “station” using the search tag of U2 and that came up in the playlist caused me to squeal with delight! Maybe I was doing it wrong but I couldn’t see the search box for a specific song, just an artist/genre/composer.

Spotify required me to sign up and while I could access most of the site, my computer lacked some kind of plug in or player to use the site to it’s fullest.

To be honest, if I’m looking up a song, I really like Shazam. Granted, you have to HEAR the song to use the app but at least the result is instantaneous.


‘Search engines’, pp. 53-54, of Hider, P. (2012). Information resource description. London: Facet.


The interweb said what?! August 18, 2013

ETL501 Module 3: Critical evaluation of print and e-resources

‘…TLs will be evaluating websites which, as far as possible, match the learning needs of their students – and obviously, these needs will be different for students in Year 7 or Year 12. Website evaluation, therefore, starts with student needs, and not with websites.”

Barbara Coombes, (2013) module 3


Surely this area is one of the most important jobs we have as TLs – getting the right info to the right kids at the right time.

How best to ensure the quality of the e-resources we guide them towards? Run all e-resources through criteria based on three key areas:

  • educational quality/relevancy,
  • reliability
  • technical aspects

The following questions can help crystalize the criteria:

  • Does the site meet the TL’s or teacher’s purpose?
  • What is the range of reading levels of the student group for whom the website is being considered?
  • Does the site contain activities for students?
  • Does the site allow for differentiation?
  • Will the site extend the learning of the student group?

Useful links – provides very comprehensive criteria to evaluate websites. Not kid friendly but good for TL/teacher use in planning stages. – very comprehensive “think abouts” for website evaluation for teachers/TLs, not helpful for kids.


Readings for website evaluation

Barcalow, T. (2003). CARS: Evaluating websites.

Ferguson, J. (2005). Why evaluate information found on the Web?

Harris, R. (2010). Evaluating Internet research resources.

Johnson, D. and Lamb, A. (2007). Evaluating internet resources

McGraw-Hill. (2001). How to judge the reliability of Internet information.

Porter, J. (2003). Testing the three click rule

Rogers, T. (2013). Eight ways to tell if a website is reliable. 

Schrock, K. (1996 – 2009). Critical evaluation surveys

Schrock, K. (2009). The 5 Ws of website evaluation: For students


Kill the reference section?

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ETL501 module 2: Print and electronic information resources

Reference materials: an outdated concept?

Given the above definitions and the above discussion, should we abandon the idea of reference material altogether? Or should the term be kept only for non-borrowable print resources in the library?

The “reference section” as a whole is not dead, just in need of tweaking.

From my experience in a primary library, the kids LOVE atlases and dictionaries but skip over the encyclopedias unless given a specific task to use them.

The problem with many of the resources in the reference section is that they are so quickly outdated in comparison to much of the information found on the web. The bonus of static reference material is that it can easily be veted, it’s quality information aimed at children and very easy to access. These factors are not to be underestimated when a student just needs a basic understanding of a topic. They can then be guided to more relevant and up to date information online.



ETL505 Module 1 readings/references July 25, 2013

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Module 1: The need for information resource description

ANDS (2011). ANDS and Data Storage. Retrieved from
Cunningham, A. (2007). Digital curation/digital archiving: a view from the National Archives of Australia. Paper presented at the DigCCurr 2007 conference, Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Retrieved from

Guercio, M. (2010). Innovation and curricula: an archival perspective on education of “digital curators”. Comma: International journal on archives, 2010-1, 151-167.

Hank, C., & ; Davidson, J. (2009). International Data curation Education Action (IDEA) Working Group: A Report from the Second Workshop of the IDEA. D-Lib Magazine, 15(3/4). Retrieved from doi:doi:10.1045/march2009-hank

Harvey, R. (2010). Digital curation: A how to do it manual. New York. Neal Shuman Publishers Inc.

Higgins, S. (2008). The DCC Curation Lifecycle Model. International Journal of Digital Curation, 3(1), 134-139. Retrieved from

Higgins, S. (2011). Digital curation: The emergence of a new discipline. International Journal of Digital Curation, 6(2), 78-88. Retrieved from

John, J. L., Rowlands, I., Williams, P., & Dean, K. (2010). Digital lives: Personal digital archives for the 21st century>> an initial synthesis. Retrieved from

Ray, J. (2009). Sharks, digital curation, and the education of information professionals. Museum Management and Curatorship, 24, 357-368.

Walters, T., & Skinner, K. (2011). New roles for new times: Digital curation for preservation. Retrieved from


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