Bec in the library

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

Study visit: a truly international school October 12, 2014

Seriously people, you don’t get better than this.

You want to know what a highly functional, beautifully laid out, extremely useful library looks like? Visit this school.

The collection houses almost 100,000 (yes, really) resources in a variety of satellite libraries around the school (ECC, EAL/ESOL, counselling, parenting, guided reading, professional reading) as well as the usual sections in-library (NF, graphic novel, fiction, Chinese, other foreign languages reflective of the student body, magazines, early chapter books, Super Series, New Books, big books, AV and more!)

The library is always packed at break times and the parent body is extremely active, with “Friends of the Library” organising multiple highly successful events through the year, including a Pyjama Party, an international schools book club through Scholastic and lots of mother tongue reading sessions.

I challenge anyone to walk into this library and NOT want to pick up the nearest book and snuggle in for the duration 🙂

Yet!!

And this is a big one for an aspiring TL with 7/8 TL courses behind me and an indignant fire in my belly – the TL doesn’t actually do a whole lot of TLing. My word he runs a magnificent library programme in terms of borrowing, reader development and event management but take a look at the school’s teaching of information literacy and you will find a ginormous gaping black hole.

Why??

This is a question I have asked repeatedly with no satisfactory answer.

My thoughts are:

At the most simplistic level, the maths just doesn’t add up – the TL cannot see every class over the course of a week. There are more classes than there are periods to teach them so it’s a clear logistic issue. (There are a million solutions to this but at this point in time, most of them are not being used. The most obvious one – teaching on request – is used at least once during an inquiry unit and consistently at the beginning of each school year.)

Perhaps the TL has given up trying after years of unsuccessful advocacy for a useable IL scope and sequence as well as an additional TL. There is only so many times you can ask and be told no before you just stop asking.

It’s easier to focus on one thing and do it well rather than trying to be all things to all people. The collection management facet of TLship is extremely successful at this school because that is what is focused on.

 

 

 

Study visit: Melbourne Museum Discovery Centre (DC) August 6, 2014

Yet another Melbourne gem that lay hidden from my prying eyes during university and my first year of teaching!

The DC is an absolute treasure trove, full of exciting hands on learning based on and around the Museum’s main collection. My four year old and almost two year old were transfixed with all the choices on offer – animal skeletons, ancient coins, insects in amber that could be studied under the microscope and so much more!

Truthfully, so was I. The more I think about it, the more I want my own library to be very similar to the DC. I absolutely loved how interactive each of the mini exhibits were. Patrons could use all five senses to explore objects then within a handspan, they had a collection of books and a list of websites where they could find out more. All that was needed was an iPad at each exhibit so that patrons could search immediately and it would tick all the boxes for inquiry learning.

Couldn’t you just imagine pairs of kids side by side investigating an animal skull by rolling it around in their hands, using the microscope to examine it in minute detail. One of the kids would have a question so could just swipe the iPad on, head to a database (maybe PebbleGo or WorldBook Animals) and start searching for an answer using some keywords (that were helpfully posted within the exhibit). Oh, the possibilities give me goosebumps!

More about the Discovery Centre

The MVDC is run in conjunction with the Discovery Centre at the Immigration Museum.

The variety of information requests is incredible, from genealogy to random insect identification – the staff list this diversity as the highlight of their working day.

To aid in easy partnerships with other libraries such as State Library of Victoria, and to reduce cost, the DC use Voyager as their LMS.

Much of the artefacts in the DC are not catalogued in any way as they are not deemed of historical value.

The DC staff’s constant Tweeting and blogging provide additional promotion for existing patrons.

Will and Charlie examine the coin collection.

Will and Charlie examine the coin collection.

Will is mightily impressed with the old coins.

Will is mightily impressed with the old coins.

Will loved helping colour the replica Aztec calendar.

Will loved helping colour the replica Aztec calendar.

MVDC - more coins!

Will was fascinated by the 'station' where he could view the preserved insects under the microscope.

Will was fascinated by the ‘station’ where he could view the preserved insects under the microscope.

Will couldn't get enough of this artefact station.

Will couldn’t get enough of this artefact station.

This small book collection is  provided by the Museum to complement the artefact collection but is rarely used.

This small book collection is provided by the Museum to complement the artefact collection but is rarely used.

This is an example of what a typical artefact station looks like.

This is an example of what a typical artefact station looks like.

Patrons can use the internet and the MV website to find out more.

Patrons can use the internet and the MV website to find out more.

 

Study visit: Melbourne City Library July 31, 2014

Tucked away in a little laneway, the City Library personifies city living.

Tucked away in a little laneway, the City Library personifies city living.

I love the aesthetics of this returns section.

I love the aesthetics of this returns section.

OK, so not really pretty but functional and the concept  of zones is great. This photo shows the "Melbourne", "Travel" and part of the "Food and Cooking" sections.

OK, so not really pretty but functional and the concept of zones is great. This photo shows the “Melbourne”, “Travel” and part of the “Food and Cooking” sections.

One of the children's librarians from another MLS branch was responsible for setting this up as there is no dedicated Children's Librarian at the City branch.

One of the children’s librarians from another MLS branch was responsible for setting this up as there is no dedicated Children’s Librarian at the City branch.

Next to the lift that enables equal access for all is a beautiful display of new and/or popular resources.

Next to the lift that enables equal access for all is a beautiful display of new and/or popular resources.

This is such a wonderful gift to the community - a large range of leveled readers for those members of the community (special learning needs, adult literacy learners, ESOL/EAL learners etc) for whom the rest of the collection is too challenging.

This is such a wonderful gift to the community – a large range of leveled readers for those members of the community (special learning needs, adult literacy learners, ESOL/EAL learners etc) for whom the rest of the collection is too challenging.

Browsing shelves

Books just fly off these shelves! Titles that have just been returned (or that need a bit of circulation and are lost on the shelves) get put here so that they are more visible to the general public. Love this promotion of great (or just popular) literature!

Books just fly off these shelves! Titles that have just been returned (or that need a bit of circulation and are lost on the shelves) get put here so that they are more visible to the general public. Love this promotion of great (or just popular) literature!

Cool.

You only need one word to describe this place.

It’s so many things to so many people! Yes, it’s tiny, poky even. But somehow that doesn’t make the charm rub off. The City Library is crammed to the roof with all sorts of library delights, a place where people of all shapes and sizes, interests and desires congregate to share, learn, relax and study. I stood in the entrance for about 10 minutes waiting for my guide to arrive and in that brief time, I had made eye contact with so many people as they came in the doors that I lost count.

For the first time, I saw what a (partially) zoned library looks like as City Library has a “Travel”, “Melbourne” and a “Food and Cooking” zone where resources, fiction and non-fiction are housed together, shelved by Dewey. I have to say that I’m a convert, especially in a public library context. As a tight-fisted browser-only of “all things foodie” , I love that there was a very clearly defined area apart from the general non-fiction section where I could rest my bones and surround myself with deliciousness.

I’m really interested to see how an entire library is set out in zones, as the newly opened MLS branch, Library at the Dock. According to my host, each zone is completely interactive with art installations, fiction, non-fiction and even performance spaces related to the zone. Wow, what a concept!

Specialist librarians are responsible for their respective collection development and management across all branches, using preselected suppliers.

The City Library’s online collection, shared with the other MLS branches is so large that the staff dub it their “sixth library branch”.

Their social media presence is growing in response to research showing community preference for online interaction.

 

Study visit: State Library of Victoria July 30, 2014

Shamefaced, I hang my head and admit that even though I lived Melbourne for 5 years, I never once visited this gem of an institution!

I had a few snafus with this visit which lead me to collecting my information in a variety of ways – through a woman in HR who met with me for an hour, various librarians on the library floor and yet more and different librarians online who helped me find answers to my many questions using the extremely handy “Ask a Librarian” chat feature!

Wow, what a place!

It makes my heart sing to know that people of all races, colours, ethnicities and languages can visit this wonderful space and learn, study, connect, dream, inspire and relax for free.

This is not only a conventional library, servicing standard information requirements but is also a place to immerse yourself in local and national cultural events, mostly for free.

SLV’s values of collaboration and innovation are mirrored by their vast collection housing resources of almost every kind.

Roving and stationary Librarians on the floor of the SLV are able to answer questions at the direct point of need to physical visitors. The online “chat” and “ask a librarian” features are both efficient and fast ways of getting information. It’s also a useful feature for users who have English as their second language or have a disability which impairs their ability to speak or hear or even physically access the library.

It is obvious from how detailed, organised and comprehensive the SLV’s website is, as well as reading research undertaken by the library, that they understand most of their patrons are wishing to access the SLV collection online.  This is an area of continued growth for the SLV, as outlined in their 2013-16 Corporate Plan.

SLV is extremely active on social media as their market research has shown that online marketing and promotional campaigns were more effective in increasing foot- and virtual-traffic.

Doesn't it feel like you're in the middle of Matthew Reilley's "Contest"?!

Doesn’t it feel like you’re in the middle of Matthew Reilley’s “Contest”?!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So many of my favourite characters in this sculpture! (Grandma Poss and Hush in particular!)

So many of my favourite characters in this sculpture! (Grandma Poss and Hush in particular!)

 

The only sad thing about this sculpture is that it was kind of tucked away and I wanted it to be more centre stage.

The only sad thing about this sculpture is that it was kind of tucked away and I wanted it to be more centre stage.

 

Study visit: Regional private secondary school July 27, 2014

Ohhhh, big kids, scary!

I have always found secondary kids really quite intimidating. It’s why I teach elementary kids! However, after spending a couple of hours in this lovely library in regional Victoria, PERHAPS I could see myself branching out towards older students.

The introduction of a small Japanese language collection is beneficial for the students participating in the programs run between the Grammar and it’s sister school in Japan.

The library’s strategic plan, approved by the school’s Executive, has made it possible for the staff to have a strong sense of autonomy over all areas of the collection.

One of the biggest things that struck me when spending time with the staff at the library was their willingness to learn and give of themselves to the students. As an example, ongoing professional development and the willingness for self-initiated learning for, and by, the staff, has meant that the recent introduction of the LMS Infiniti has been relatively painless.

Additionally, the senior librarian’s hard work at creating an incredible library intranet, in line with the library’s five year, Executive approved, strategic plan, should help achieve the vision of a dynamic online learning environment commensurate with the realities of the digital world.

Occasionally the library receives a grant from the parent body for special, extra curricular events and services such as artists in residence which helps make the library programme more diverse and interesting.

Observation and circulation data reveal that displays of student work and new or highlighted literature are highly successful in promoting reader development and advocacy.

The banks of computers are conveniently positioned near to the non-fiction section as well as the collaborative work spaces.

Part of the NF section.

Part of the NF section.

Information literacy signage

Information literacy signage

Fiction section - love the outward facing titles at the end of each row.

Fiction section – love the outward facing titles at the end of each row.

Word cloud decal helps remind students of the library's purpose.

Word cloud decal helps remind students of the library’s purpose.

A beautiful entryway to the library.

A beautiful entryway to the library.

This lovely display cabinet is one of the many ways the library helps celebrate the culture of their Japanese sister school.

This lovely display cabinet is one of the many ways the library helps celebrate the culture of their Japanese sister school.

This student made invention was a place winner in a state-wide competition, now proudly on display in the middle of the library. Some signage would be helpful.

This student made invention was a place winner in a state-wide competition, now proudly on display in the middle of the library. Some signage would be helpful.

Students can relax here with a variety of magazines and journals.

Students can relax here with a variety of magazines and journals.

The main circulation desk.

The main circulation desk.

The main computer bank.

The main computer bank.

More magazines for student and teacher borrowing.

More magazines for student and teacher borrowing.

Students in the local, regional and state news!

Students in the local, regional and state news!

Displays of current state reading challenges are on dotted around the library. This gorgeous one is in the main entranceway.

Displays of current state reading challenges are on dotted around the library. This gorgeous one is in the main entranceway.

 

Professional placement report: Overview of the library May 20, 2014

Filed under: Teaching — becinthelibrary @ 10:05 pm
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Part A – Overview the library or information agency

This placement was undertaken at a Pre-K3 – Grade 12 international school in Beijing, China.

Users

The School has a diverse, multi-lingual population of almost 2000 students, catering for families from over 50 countries, speaking over 60 languages. English is the medium of instruction but the mother tongue of few. Most of the clientele are Asian in culture, if not in passport nationality. The Elementary Library services about 800 students aged three to 12, with parents also being regular and vocal users of the library. The Library is a meeting place for the wider School community, as well as students and teachers, as evidenced by the noise level and constant stream of people in the library at any given time.

The community as a whole is extremely well educated and the parent body hold education in high regard. Reading widely is valued and expected by teachers and parents alike. As a result, most students, even ESOL ones, are voracious readers with strong opinions. Middle and high school students often use the Elementary library, especially those with special learning needs or English as an additional language.

Staffing

The Library Media Centre has two full time teacher librarians (TLs), two full time Technology Integrators (TIs), one full time library assistant (LA), one full time library technician (LT) and two part time LAs.

The TLs take responsibility for half of the ES each – one teaches Pre-K3 through Grade 2 (Lower Elementary School, LES), the other teaches Grades 3-5 (Upper Elementary School, UES). The LES TL has a teaching workload of 19 classes and five grade level meetings, the UES TL 21 classes and three grade level meetings.

The TIs, split across the School in the same manner as the TLs, tend to view themselves as their own department and are housed in an office above the library. That physical delineation makes it pretty clear to the rest of the staff that the roles of the TIs and TLs are separate, even though the four teachers make every effort to work collaboratively to deliver a great information literacy programme.

The LAs take responsibility for all areas of circulation: borrowing, checkouts, reshelving, and general resource maintenance. They also execute the TLs ideas for displays in and outside the library because one of the LAs is a graphic designer by trade.

The LT works primarily in the TRC and therefore technically comes under the jurisdiction of the ES Curriculum Leader rather than the TLs. This has caused some friction and mismanagement. The TLs believe that this situation could be resolved if they became the line manager for the LT in the new school year.

Additional to the paid staff, there is also a rotating roster of over 20 parent volunteers who reshelve and repair books. Their help is especially invaluable with the Mother Tongue section of the collection.

Collections

The library’s collection is divided into two sub-collections – the Elementary School (ES) library and the Teacher Resource Centre (TRC). Both are catalogued independently of each other using Destiny (Follett). Each sub-collection holds approximately 24,000 titles.

The TRC consists of guided reading sets, professional resources across all curriculum areas, and Big Books. The ES collection, both online and in print, is diverse and large, reflecting the multilingual, wide user range. The TLs use a wide variety of professional collection devices such as magazines like Book List, worldwide awards and Follett suggested lists to build the collection. Due to Chinese government regulation, developing the collection is subject to many challenges. This is especially evident with online content such as eBooks and digital magazine subscriptions.

The separation of the two library collections makes navigation of the library catalogues much easier for users in multiple ways. Primarily, it is easier for students to navigate the catalogue if there is only resources that are applicable to them. Secondly,  as the TRC is accessed by, and solely intended for, teachers, teaching assistants and administrators, it makes sense for it to be a separate collection. Lastly, the separation of the collections allows for a very clear workload allocation for the Library Technician – she is solely responsible for the TRC.

The ES collection is very heavily weighted towards North American literature for several reasons. One, there has always and only ever been North American TLs employed who have therefore naturally relied upon their cultural bias when ordering resources. Secondly, the highest nationality of students is North American so building a collection around them seems logical. Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, Follett is based in the US and their outstanding ordering and cataloguing services make adding to the library’s collection an almost seamless process.

Use of technology

Whilst the bulk of classroom technology instruction is the responsibility of the two Technology Integrators, the library has much exciting technology at its disposal. There are data projectors, smart boards and document cameras at each teaching station in the library, all used in some way every lesson. The School pays thousands of dollars a year to have their internet routed through Hong Kong so that the community can have full access to the online world, without being hampered by the government’s ‘Great Firewall of China’. While this may seem odd to educators in Australia, the relief a teacher can feel knowing that they can access anything they want online is actually extremely important.

Having said that, there are still areas of technology for which the School has not found a workaround. For example, around 80% of downloadable ebooks are blocked. The School is trialling Overdrive with mixed results.

Students are explicitly taught to use the OPAC, with the UES students utilising Follett’s Destiny Quest regularly to interact with one another as well for the more traditional book searching role. All students from Kindergarten are exposed to, or regularly use, a variety of databases on either the bank of eight library OPACs or their personal laptops (the School is 1:1 laptops from Grade 2). All students in the ES use the trolley of 25 iPads in their library lessons at least once every three weeks.

Despite this incredible exposure to the latest and greatest educational technology, students and teachers still need a tremendous amount of support in using it effectively. This is especially true in the case of using the OPAC. Part of this issue comes from the lack of intuitiveness on behalf of the catalogue itself. There is no “did you mean…” guides like in some of the student friendly search engines.

 

Evaluation of the collection May 28, 2011

Real life story: The TL at my school is yet to do a full collection evaluation, even after being here 4 years.

He has done some selective collection analysis utilising Titlewave but as it is American, only about 45% of our collection comes up in their programme (as many of our resourced from Australia, UK and NZ, the ISBNs are different).

My TL focuses more on teacher and student feedback to evaluate the collection. When pressed, he said that as he had such a healthy budget and lots of great staff, he didn’t feel the need to conduct regular evaluations.

He did however, concede that evaluations are invaluable and completely necessary if you are having to fight for funds and/or building a new library (or rebuilding a badly managed library): proving that getting what you need based on the stats you gain from an evaluation is critical.

 

 
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