Bec in the library

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

The ‘polished’ Part C May 22, 2011

As I write this synthesis, I am experiencing one of the most powerful emotional responses in my personal learning journey to date: one of such complete frustration and annoyance that I find it extremely difficult to analyse where I have come from and where I want and need to go from here.

Each week during this semester gave me impetus to try new things, ask questions, shift my centre of understanding and balance further towards a more wholistic and complete view of how I could be a positive, empowering, exciting TL.

However, my learning has been completely recursive; each time I make a leap forward in understanding, an a’ha! moment, it leads me down a path of negativity before pushing through onto the the next exciting discovery and possibility by posting on, or reading the forums or using the blog as a sounding board.

After receiving cognitive coaching (Costa & Garmston, 1999) from a colleague, I am finally able to order my thoughts into coherency, based around my a’ha! moments.

A’ha! moment #1

The concept of libraries for a post literate society kick-started my journey in a way I never expected. The reading came from a different CSU M.ETL subject but served to highlight the educational landscape I was about to enter as a TL.

A’ha! moment #2

The whole of 401 Topic 2! Purcell’s (2010) summary of our role scared, excited and empowered me. Up until this point, my initial impressions, admittedly, were centred around relief and excitement at being part of teaching and learning whilst never having to write another report. These complacent ideas were soon squashed as I began to read and understand the vast nature of the TL role. I began to feel extremely disheartened. My sense of injustice of how a TL was supposed to be everything to everyone was overpowering. I was also completely flabbergasted that teachers didn’t know how to best utilise the knowledge and expertise of our TL. This taught me a very important lesson in advocacy that has burned its place into my professional soul – if a TL wants to support, extend and complement the curriculum, don’t expect anyone else to know that you can do it!

Lamb & Johnson’s (2008) focus on teaching and learning and how it is what separates us from the clerical staff was exciting. However, the depth of knowledge about information and technological literacy needed for this job floored me. This showed my total and utter misunderstanding of what the role of TL actually is. As I explored the notion of information literacy further, I moved from a place of certainty and excitement to frustration.

A’ha! moment #3

Valenza’s (2010) manifesto and vodcast – the passion and the power! Her monologue about the possibilities of quality information literacy instruction, especially that which incorporated web 2.0 tools, was incredibly appealing. Even though I didn’t blog about this point of my learning journey, I felt energised and ready to take our well resourced but decidedly 20th century library steaming into the 21st century. I immediately started several projects utlising Valenza’s ideas and saw positive results from the beginning.

A’ha! moment #4

As someone who always wants to be in the thick of every decision, activity, meeting and experience, being involved in the process of benchmarking IL in our school was pivotal to my learning. I was in turns shocked, thrilled and disappointed in the journey being undertaken. It was such a massive project and one that could so easily get lost and shelved, as it actually did previously. As the process continued, and the roadblocks become more apparent, I realised what an uphill battle TLs face when stressing the importance of IL  – the absolute core of what we do and who we are. I felt distressed and completely deflated.

I saw the desperate need to put into practice the rhetoric but the reality is so far from that I lost hope.

However, through the process of writing this synthesis, I am beginning to look forward with positivity and hope. There are people in my school who care passionately about the pivotal role of the TL and they are in the positions of power to make it a reality. It will just be a slow and steady race, one that would involve all stakeholders, one that will be mandated by the administration.

I never claim to have all the answers or to be the one with the necessary experience or knowledge but what I do have is the passion, the enthusiasm, the time and the willingness to fight for what I believe is important in 21st century education. I am not burnt by repeated “no’s” from the administration, I embrace the challenge of collaboration. I will be responsible for advocacy through informed learning.


A library without books? March 5, 2011

Filed under: ETL 503: topic 1 — becinthelibrary @ 4:22 am
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To what extent do you feel Lee is predicting the end of school libraries?

Not at all actually! I feel that Lee is simply advising us (TLs and schools as a whole) to be prepared to undertake radical change in what what is provided and how it is provided if the ‘school library’ and ‘teacher librarians’ are to survive. Even as a young teacher with an innate love and relish for the digital world, reading this article really bought home the need to move away from our traditional library set up and move to fully integrate our ICT and library departments.

Is it important to adopt new names such as ‘information services unit’ and ‘director of learning technology’ as part of this process of change?

My current school is working towards this end which is encouraging and exciting. What makes me feel slightly uncomfortable is the realisation that both our departments need to expand their perception of their roles and the consequential personal and professional learning we will all have to undertake. As Lee pointed out, “the perception is the reality” – do we really see the library as the ‘paper” learning arena and the ICT labs and one-to-one laptops programme as the ‘digital’ learning arena? Given that the library and the ICT department are housed in different parts of the school and have different budgets, I’d say the answer is yes.

Will merging the two departments and calling it the “information services unit” headed by a “director or learning technology” mean the wider school community have their eyes opened and their perceptions of our role widened? It may take some time but I believe the answer is, again,  a definite yes.

Writing this post has really challenged my own deeply held beliefs about the role of TLs and libraries in general. Coming into this course, I was clinging to my love of books, reading and education as a whole. What  I didn’t realise was how narrow my view of the TL role was. And we’re only in week 1! Imagine how I’ll be feeling at the endd of the semester, let alone the course.


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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