Bec in the library

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

Study visit: British school in China September 20, 2014

Filed under: Study Visits — becinthelibrary @ 3:36 pm
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Students in Grade 2 – 5 are the predominate users of this library however children aged 3 to 6 are also catered for with weekly lessons given by a visiting TL who is based on a separate campus.

Now that the library is staffed with a qualified TL who promotes the space as a learning hub, students are slowly becoming more frequent users of the library for services other than pleasure reading. Explicit information literacy teaching and hosting literature based events are new and developing facets of this library’s services. 

A more developed AV and database collection would be beneficial for this school.

It is a sad indictment on the previous librarian and the philosophy of the school that this library utilises almost no technology.

The library faces substantial challenges in internet access due to the Board’s refusal to pay to circumvent the government firewall.

Locally sourced resources are the responsibility of the already time-strapped TL and library aide which means piles of books litter the staff work area.

Literature based events are held weekly and library displays are now stretching into the corridors of the school, sending a clear inclusion message.

 

This small space started out as the TL's first teaching space but she has since migrated to where the large screen TV is situation so she can utilise the document camera into her lessons.

This small space started out as the TL’s first teaching space but she has since migrated to where the large screen TV is situation so she can utilise the document camera into her lessons.

 

The shelves are too tall for the young kids but they have a good collection of fiction resources. As the school uses a British curriculum, there is a heavy emphasis on British writers.

The shelves are too tall for the young kids but they have a good collection of fiction resources. As the school uses a British curriculum, there is a heavy emphasis on British writers.

The TL is working diligently training a core group of upper primary students as Junior Librarians. Learning to reshelve correctly is their number one job!

The TL is working diligently training a core group of upper primary students as Junior Librarians. Learning to reshelve correctly is their number one job!

One of the (many) things that drives the TL crazy is the complete and utter lack of storage space. This circulation desk area is a mess because there just isn't anywhere to put anything out of view!

One of the (many) things that drives the TL crazy is the complete and utter lack of storage space. This circulation desk area is a mess because there just isn’t anywhere to put anything out of view!

I squeezed my body into one of these and chilled out with a book. They don't really match the rest of the library decor but they are pretty cool.

I squeezed my body into one of these and chilled out with a book. They don’t really match the rest of the library decor but they are pretty cool.

As with most international schools in Beijing, there is a large Korean population whose information needs have to be met.

As with most international schools in Beijing, there is a large Korean population whose information needs have to be met.

The NF is in a mess! The only way the TL can cope with the disorder is to tackle a shelf at a time, knowing that soon, SOON, it will be right!

The NF is in a mess! The only way the TL can cope with the disorder is to tackle a shelf at a time, knowing that soon, SOON, it will be right!

Getting kids to be interested in the library is of top priority. Competitions seem to be working in this regard.

Getting kids to be interested in the library is of top priority. Competitions seem to be working in this regard.

The collection speaks volumes (!) about what clientele is served in the library.

The collection speaks volumes (!) about what clientele is served in the library.

 

Study visit: Regional combined public/high school library August 1, 2014

This really is quite an odd library. Even after being a patron for almost 10 years (very sporadically as I am only there a few times a year while visiting family members), I can’t say I find it a particularly dynamic or interesting library.

The staff are LOVELY, knowledgeable and passionate about their work, but the space is just drab and pretty darn uninviting. As a high school library, I am not sure how it even functions. It is tiny and not conducive to collaboration or even much leisure reading. It screams function only rather than any kind of form or, gasp, reflection.

I appreciated that the library focuses on providing services for the less mainstream patrons, with services to cater for adult literacy learners, the elderly and the print handicapped.

The staff were not willing to be drawn on aspects of their selection policy which was rather frustrating – I mean, why the secrecy? All they would say was that it was “a complex issue.”

It is surely with great relief that the library is seeking an alternative LMS to replace their current use of DYNIX. The frustration experienced by patrons using the library floor DOS catalogue is off-putting in the extreme. Even the more modern interface, accessible for both on and off-site use, is clunky.

The community benefit greatly from free access to special events focusing on children’s literature and local history.

There is a large scale renovation and even relocation on the cards sometime in the next 5 years and I can honestly say it cannot come soon enough.

Most of the furniture and shelving is old and much of the building is poorly lit and difficult to navigate, especially for mobility impaired users. It does not have a “school hub” feeling about it at all – there are only a handful of displays relating to information literacy or reading advocacy/development, none of which seem have any student input. There is a small collaborative space but it is doubtful that a group any larger than six high school students could fit in it at once.

Whilst the children’s story time and various local history events are well attended, the library still doesn’t seem like a vibrant, interesting place to spend time. It’s almost as if it’s well used by accident. It’s very difficult to define my feelings about this library because I would use it no matter what – it’s a library, it gives me free access to the things I love more than anything else in the world (family excepted) so I’d go there regardless.

Hmmm, seems terrible to give it such a shelacking and then not have any concrete ideas on how to fix it…

 

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.

 

Professional placement report: My experience May 20, 2014

Filed under: Teaching — becinthelibrary @ 10:12 pm
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Part C

Discuss the activities you were involved in while on placement and reflect upon what you have learnt and gained from these experiences.

I taught lessons for students from Pre-K3 (three years old) to Grade 5 using both a co-teaching model as well as the traditional teaching mode of librarian in charge. I most enjoyed the co-teaching lessons with either my mentor librarian or the class teacher as I felt we played off each other very well and provided the students with a visual, visceral reminder that teachers can learn and work together to provide interesting learning. It was interesting to see the difference between the teachers who viewed the library lesson as a ‘free period’ and those who valued the role of the library as a place where the teacher could be involved too.

I loved being welcomed into classes as the resident ‘expert’ on research and information literacy when acting as ‘push in’ librarian. The feeling of empowerment and excitement that I saw on students’ faces, as well as the teachers’, made me even more intent on advocating for the role of both flexible and scheduled library lessons – the library can come to you! Being in classrooms helping teachers showed me very clearly how little they know about effective research. Very few teachers even understood how databases work, despite having professional development on it at the beginning of the school year. That clearly shows me that constantly providing opportunities to model information literacy fluency to students and teachers is critical.

The amount of meetings the TLs go to over the course of a week was staggering – over nine hours worth! However, I learnt that if you want your library to be used and your skills, expertise and programme to be valued, you have to put in the face time with teachers at their planning meetings.

For someone who is not the least bit detail orientated, I was shocked at how much I enjoyed my sojourn into weeding. It was a huge task that involved all members of the library staff as there had not been a proper weeding in more than five years. I relished studying the stats provided by Follett, finding the out of date and tatty books, whipping the unloved and unborrowed off the shelves and deleting them from the system. All of us in the library had a bit of a giggle when some teachers came in and got excited about ‘all the new books’! It is very clear to me now how important it is to regularly spot weed or at least once a year so that it does not become a behemoth to be tackled during my personal holidays.

One of the more glamorous and exciting activities I participated in was helping with next year’s resource ordering. Both TLs had already filled the bulk of their Follett carts but I was still able to add any titles I felt could complement the collection based on my experience as a teacher, an Australian, a mother to two young children and as a trainee TL. Physically going through the process of purchasing from Follett was a very valuable learning experience which I blogged about in detail so I can refer to it when I finally get my hands on a library of my own.

 

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

 

Finding my way: a reflection on pathfinder creation October 5, 2013

This is Part B of my final assignment for ETL501: The Information Environment, critically analysing the process of creating a pathfinder.

 

This pathfinder was created to assist Grade 4 students inquire into how environmental changes are connected to human consumption. Whilst students will choose their own personal inquiries into this central idea, expected broad topics under this umbrella, which are covered by this pathfinder, include global warming, climate change, waste management and conservation.

This unit is one of six taught throughout the year, however the only one under the transdisciplinary theme of “Sharing the Planet”. It has a strong social studies component but there are also science and literacy links. The key concepts are connection and responsibility with related concepts of consumption and sustainability. The learning outcomes the students will be working towards when using the pathfinder are:

  •  LAA.CT.4.7 comprehend, respond to and analyze literary non-literary texts.
  •  HUM.GU.4.3 Learners will gather, evaluate and use information.

Throughout the pathfinder creation process, I took myself through the steps I would expect of a student when searching for resources. Based on Kuiper, Volman & Terwel’s (2008) and Valenza’s (2004) observations of effective student searching, as well as the readings from Module 6 (CSU, 2013), I planned my search using a concept map consisting of key words from the unit vocabulary list and a list of questions taken from the unit planner.

Keeping Herring’s (2011) website criteria in mind, I used the librarian created, student-specific search engines, KidsClick and ipl2. I knew it was highly likely I was going to find sites that were technically and educationally sound as well as reliable in terms of authorship and content.

I was absolutely shocked by how high the sites I had chosen had come out on readability tests, there was not a single site that came out lower than Grade 5, even those targeted to K-3! These results certainly rammed home Kuiper, Volman & Terwel’s (2008) assertions about how important it is to scaffold internet use for elementary aged children.

As information about the environment can change rapidly, using the school’s OPAC proved extremely helpful, enabling me to find the most recently acquired resources. A basic search on Google and Bing led me to a Follett comparison tool for texts by the various publishing houses. This clarified the reading and interest age of the resources I had chosen, leading to the discarding and replacement of several choices.

Understanding how to create a pathfinder that would enhance my students’ use of information literacy skills was challenging. Based on my knowledge of how my school’s students are taught interactively through the online world of blogs (heavily embedding files and links), I was creating online curriculum instead of a pathfinder embedded with ILS. The difference between giving instructions and directions baffled me for some time and I was mired in indecision and frustration about how I could make my pathfinder’s emphasis on ILS simple yet effective. This was especially important as our students have had very little explicit instruction in, or practice with, ILS.

Discussing my problem with the school’s two Technology Integrators and re-reading Abilock’s (2004) and Eisenberg’s (2003) ILS work helped guide me in a new direction. I decided adding one or two key skills as dot points to each resource could help students learn and assimilate ILS into their research toolkit in small increments.

The biggest lesson constructing this pathfinder has taught me is that effective research relies on extremely high quality ILS instruction. 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, 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 can now see how pathfinders can help TLs to explicitly and patiently give teachers and students the help they need to understand these concepts.

 

A clever TL could utilise the hard work of others in order to cut down the time it takes to create pathfinders. This could be done by using the existing unit planners and OPAC Resource Lists as a base for pathfinders. The school’s two Library Technicians (who already routinely create Resource Lists) could be taught how to make pathfinders. Additionally, as part of the reflection process, each grade level could complete a skeleton pathfinder of the most useful resources used during that unit. In the case of the latter strategies, it would be prudent for the TL to edit and flesh out the pathfinder with appropriate annotations and citations. The final step of publishing them on the Grade Level blog home page as well as the Library website would help ensure the pathfinders are used again.

 

Pathfinders can be a simple and powerful way to provide students with both relevant information and important ILS. I have learnt that regularly creating and updating pathfinders that are used in conjunction with explicit, in person, and frequent ILS instruction by the school TL can contribute to highly effective student research.

 

 

 

 
loving the learning

continuing tales of a teacher librarian

PE to TL - The Journey Begins!

Reflections and thoughts on ETL401.

ETL507 PROFESSIONAL REFLECTIVE PORTFOLIO

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