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 🙂


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.


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: 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.


We’re multi-modal: Thanks Mr Piven! May 8, 2014

One of my recent success stories with my group of EC4 students was an activity based on the fabulous series of books by Hanoch Piven.

We read “My dog is as smelly as dirty socks” and then used collections of household junk to create our own faces on cardboard rectangles.

The idea for the activity came from a similar literature based activity the EC4 art teacher taught the group two weeks prior. Some of the students made connections between the two activities which was a wonderful nod to teacher collaboration and team planning!


ISB Faces I Make 034 ISB Faces I Make 035 ISB Faces I Make 036 ISB Faces I Make 037 ISB Faces I Make 039 ISB Faces I Make 041 ISB Faces I Make 043 ISB Faces I Make 044


Information literacy – the definitions April 18, 2011

Filed under: ETL 401: Topic 4 — becinthelibrary @ 2:36 am
Tags: , ,

So much to read, so much to process!

My colleagues on the forum have helped me crystallize my views so I will quote them here:

Irene Lu: Thu 14-Apr-11 11:03 pm – her definition:

Information literacy involves the combination of information skills, (i.e identify, formulate, locate, access, communicate, reflect) cognitive processes (i.e critIcal thinking, higher order thinking, metacognition) and attitudes (i.e lifelong learning, valuing knowledge).

Mary-Louise McInerney: Mon 18-Apr-11 09:55 am – her definition based on keywords:
1. critical thinking process;
2. problem solving behaviours;
3. independent lifelong learning


Information literacy

Why have not the understandings and skills that inform information literacy become embedded into the classroom practices of teachers and educational systems? Is it because information literacy is understood as something that is teacher librarian-oriented and not part of the general curriculum?

I feel this is really a key question for me. As a teacher I took it upon myself to teach what I now know as info literacy skills because they needed them to inquire. However, if there was a TL at our school who actually had the time to do this, I would have happily palmed over these lessons to her. As it was, she was far too busy with the secondary students and didn’t seem particularly interested in teaching my little tackers the skills they needed. While that seems harsh, it was the reality – she had the whole school of 600 students to serve and the primary kids just didn’t get a look in when the Diploma kids held sway over the entire school.

I think that teachers somehow believe info literacy skills just appear in our students by osmosis – based on my practice, I admit that I must have! It wasn’t until I was teaching the PYP that I realised how much structure and scaffolding my students needed information literacy to be independent inquirers. I didn’t think of it as IL though, just ‘good research skills’ – critical literacy combined with a knowledge of different modes of information (books, net, human, etc).

What’s our role as TLs, working as teaching collaborators in our school? I believe we are to be used as a starting point, a reference point, a source of PD for our teachers as they embark on the journey as teachers of IL. Much like ALL teachers are teachers of language, I believe ALL teachers are teachers of information literacy. As information is an integral part of all learning, all teachers must take part in equiping our students with these skills. However, teachers can’t just pull these skills out of thin air if they themselves have never explicitly been taught them. That’s where we as TLs come in. We know it, we share it.


Needs analysis: school library collection March 5, 2011

Do you feel the areas of need stated are the appropriate ones school library collections should be developed to meet?

Absolutely. A library and it’s collection are only going to be valued and utilised to their greatest extent when they completely cater for the needs and desires of the community as a whole. Who wants to spend time in a place where nothing holds your interest?

I think the most pressing of these needs is that of mother tongue resources. As an international school, we educate children from all over the globe with many different mother tongues. As educators we know that children always think, analyse and synthesise mostly deeply in their mother tongue so it makes perfect sense to give those students resources that enables that learning. They can then move from internalising their knowledge to sharing and furthering it with others through the medium of English.

How thorough a knowledge do you have of the teaching and learning context and the teacher – learning characteristics present within your school or a school you are familiar with?

As a LT with a teaching background, I have the skills necessary to read and understand planners crafted by our teaching staff. I then transfer this knowledge by creating resources lists to match each planner which include differentiated resources. At all times in my job, I have access to, and knowledge of, our wider curriculum and the framework in which it sits. This allows me to both preempt and further the ways the library can help classroom and specialist teachers help each child develop to their highest potential.

How might data on these areas be effectively gathered?

I think the idea of student, teacher and parent surveys are a great idea. Our school is particularly collaborative and open to new ideas so I believe any requests we have for others to help us create a better and more tailored library would be welcomed.

Our TL already sits in with some planning meetings and is a great networker within the staff. He is very well liked and respected and has an open door policy that makes staff (and students and parents!) feel comfortable offering ideas and suggestions. However, as in most schools, we are all time-poor and making our needs survey a concrete task, perhaps undertaken at a staff meeting, would mean we are more likely to get the information we require in a timely manner.

Points to consider for my school

Even though we have a great (yet developing) teacher reference section, I don’t believe we have branched out to include specific personal teacher education (Masters etc) materials. The school gives individual grade levels professional development money and the autonomy to spend it on what works best for them. To the best of my knowledge, buying materials for personal higher education has never been high on the agenda. Can we perhaps step in and fill that void for teachers?

Our online database subscription library is growing rapidly but I don’t believe it is well utilised by the teachers or students, unless a particular area of a database is highly and personally recommended by myself or the TL. A future challenge for our library is to remedy that. Adding foreign language databases could also be another direction we could try, in order to ‘hit’ those kids whose first language is not English. Strong parental support would be vital here, as to assess the quality and quantity of these databases.

Living in a foreign country with strong censorship and importation tax laws, our school community suffers from a lack of English language text availability – we are a major source of resources for the whole community. (Add all the other languages in our community and the problem is compounded 100%). We have a growing parenting library for our community which is well utilised. Our lending allowances are also quite generous, allowing families to borrow up to 10 books at any given time. We have over 1000 books in language others than English (not including our host language section) which is a great support to many of our families. This is another area in which we can develop, especially


Libraries for a post literate society March 4, 2011

Do you agree with Johnson that students, and indeed younger teachers, are increasingly ‘post-literate’ in the manner that he defines and uses this term?


My passionate and indignant thoughts after reading the first couple of paragraphs: What a load of bollocks! “People don’t read anymore” (Jobs); “the ability to read written words, is no longer necessary”. The initial example was totally incorrect – people on spreadsheets, on laptops, on gaming consoles – they are all reading WORDS! Just because people  aren’t reading a hard copy book, magazine or paper, doesn’t mean they aren’t reading/accessing the written word.

I soon calmed down and was immediately intrigued with the concept of linking back to natural forms of multi-sensory communication (storytelling, speaking, debate); much like our pre-reading learners in the lower end of our schools.

I believe that students and younger teacher are as post-literate as we (fellow educators, parents, administrators of schools) allow them to be. In their personal lives, students ARE showing strong post-literate (as per Johnson’s description) tendencies and this is only worrisome if the way in which they ASSESS and THINK ABOUT the information they access this way is shallow. The possible strengths of acquiring information in this post-literate may benefit all learners, especially ESOL and SN students for whom large chunks of text is actually a barrier to learning.

There is no need to stop resourcing the curriculum as it stands, the written word on actual paper is still intensely and intrinsically valuable to all learners. We use need to ADD IN these new ways and means of accessing meaning.


Are school libraries and their collections already adopting the critical attributes that Johnson is proposing?

Wow, Johnson’s list of attributes reads like a teacher-dinosaur panic attack. As a youngish teacher who is hovering somewhere between a “digital native” and a “digital immigrant“, I admit I found the list a little daunting – it really does require a total mindshift when it comes to cracking open those ordering catalogues!

In my role as a LT, I am charged with the responsibilty of gathering resources for upcoming units of inquiry across the primary school. As a teacher, I look at these resources lists through a slighty different lens – I can make sense of a unit planner and see how the resources can be used in multiple ways in order to differentiate for all learners in the classroom. I try to add relevant websites and links to databases we have subscriptions to, as well as the more usual additions of DVDs, audio books, kits and print resources of all kinds including graphic novels. The idea of accessing concepts and content through gaming, and helping teachers find such resources, was an interesting and a little confronting point. Is this just because I am thinking Nintendo rather than Woodlands Maths? What other options are there? Please share!


Other thoughts after reading this article

“Culture determines library programmes; libraries transmit culture” – what does this mean for us as TLs, as humans? Whose culture? As an educator in an international school, does this mean the home culture of China, or does it mean celebrating and resourcing ALL cultures within the community? Or on a slightly different angle, does it mean the culture of LEARNING within the school – the curriculum itself or the framework the curriculum is within (the PYP for example)?

“Our greatest fears can become our greatest blessings”: Another key point for me was Johnson’s take on attitude – it’s up to us as TLs to lead from the front when it comes to becoming PL – show creativity, be a risk-taker, become knowledgeable -hey! It’s the learner profile!!




loving the learning

continuing tales of a teacher librarian

PE to TL - The Journey Begins!

Reflections and thoughts on ETL401.


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