Bec in the library

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

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!


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: Meeting the needs of users May 20, 2014

Part B

How effectively do you feel the library meets the needs of its users?

The extremely high circulation rate of the ES library – over 100,000 – each school year clearly shows how well this library is functioning. There is barely a moment in any given school day when the library is not filled with classes, groups of parents, students bearing library passes or various volunteers reshelving or repairing books. At every break time the library is swarming with children devouring literature or exploring one of the many databases available on the catalogue.

However, this thriving hub of the school was not always this way. The two current TLs, with direction and input from the wider school community, have taken great strides in creating a positive, welcoming atmosphere where the collection is easy to access and patrons are ‘met where they are’ in their library services use. I believe this has been achieved through ongoing, dynamic and flexible collection development and management, the rearrangement of the physical areas of the library and the frequent employment of the co-teaching model of library instruction.

Collection development and management

As this library acts as a public library as well – English language texts are not very easily accessible or affordable in Beijing – it is essential that parents have open access to the collection. Families are now entitled to borrow up to 10 titles at a time, additional to their children’s borrowing limits.

Materials are selected via patron input. Additional to curriculum based ordering, the TLs always have a running Follett cart, where titles are immediately added at the point of inquiry by a library patron, whether it is an adult or student. The continually growing mother tongue collection reflects the value the school places on literacy learning (for academics and pleasure) in multiple languages.

Physical spaces

Over the past two years, additional instructional and recreational spaces have been incorporated into the library in order to make the atmosphere more conducive to teaching, learning and leisure for all members of the school community. One major, positive change has been the introduction of an Early Years teaching space with low shelving, dramatic play materials, and smart board and data projector. It is likely that the regular use of this space by classroom teachers and the TL has helped raise the circulation rates of the Early Years targeted resources. The incorporation of more non-fiction resources into the EY teaching space could help raise awareness of this facet of the wider collection.


In the recent past, teacher surveys on library usage and the role of the TL were conducted. The main take away from the results was the emphasis teachers wanted placed on increasing student research skills. The TLs felt that teachers also needed instruction in this area so both women have worked diligently on adopting the co-teaching model with the classroom teachers in the area of research skills. Uptake on this initiative is growing as individual teachers see the immense benefit that can come from learning from experts in the research process!

Due in large part to the constant ‘sell’ of library services from both TLs  – weekly scheduled library lessons, attendance at Grade level planning meetings, proactive communication about services and new resources, total flexibility in re-scheduling or adding library times, and library based Teacher Teaching Teacher professional development sessions – teachers are increasingly using the library as a scheduled and impromptu teaching and learning space.


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.




Why kids suck at REALLY using the web (and what we can do about it). September 17, 2013

Topic 6: Improving students’ web use

“One of the tasks of the TL is to persuade both students and teachers that students need to be not just web users but web learners. Improving students’ web use is not a simple task, as it requires that students are taught how to improve their web searching AND this teaching is embedded into curriculum programs across the school.” Module 6

Helpful ways to improve students’ web use:

  • Planning for web use through:
    • Mindmapping, concept mapping, brainstorming before online searching

    • Questioning  – what are they looking for, where might they find it, why that page/enginge, what criteria are they going to look for, what are their key words (based on their concept mapping)
  • Effective search strategies
    • concept mapping what constitutes good searching using
    • give groups of kids different search engines but same key words, compare top ten results
  • Reading for information

How do we teach students to be critical readers not just consumers of the information they find online?

    • Surely this will be taught in tandem with the website evaluation criteria – is the information reliable, current, educationally sound?
    • Teacher modeling of website deconstruction with pre-prepared website and notes!
    • Note taking, skim and scan, referring to list of pre-made questions
  • Reflecting on web use:

Students could ask themselves:

    • Were they effective in locating the information they needed?
    • Was the information useful for their purpose?
    • Did they plan the search well and did they use the correct search engine?
    • Were the keywords correct or did the student need to revise the search terms?


Important other notes gathered from the readings:

Kuiper, E., Volman, M. and Terwel, J. (2008) Students’ use of Web literacy skills and strategies: searching, reading and evaluating Web information. Information Research, 13(3).

Three major components of Web literacy skills:

  • Web searching skills (find the right information)
  • Web reading skills (understanding how text online differs from static text – hyperlinks, multi-modal information etc – and therefore being able to understand the content; most of the content on the web is aimed far too high for our elementary aged students therefore a high level of reading and comprehension is expected and needed; when students do not know how to use the Web in a critical way, knowledge cannot be obtained.
  • Web evaluating skills (able to critically assess the reliability and authority of the author/website)

Tendencies in student web use (why they often suck at it):

  • inflexibility – they stick to one search strategy and one search engine, regardless of how terrible the results
  • impulsiveness/impatience – hopping from one site to another, randomly clicking on “interesting” links, not checking spelling
  • focusing on finding the “one right” answer – making their focus too narrow, omiting good websites because of careless or too broad reading; forgetting that just because the “answer” is there, doesn’t mean the website is reliable or has authority.
  • lack of reflection – no point in having the 3 web literacy skills if you don’t reflect on your web experience

“It is not enough to look at the Web as merely a replacement of print information resources.”

“…when students do not know how to use the Web in a critical way, knowledge cannot be obtained.”

Regardless of being taught other strategies and directed to multiple search engines, students in the study STILL went to Google first and foremost. (As do most of us, c’mon, admit it!)

“the school needs to deal with Web use in earlier school years, when students have not yet fully developed their own Web using habits.”

“At home, students do not learn critical reading and reflective skills naturally. They need others to show them the need for such skills and to learn their specific use. At school, these skills are already part of the literacy curriculum but mostly with respect to conventional reading resources only. In fact, most students learn such skills from print-based methods and do not apply them when using the Web as a matter of course.”


Valenza, J. (2004). Thinking and behaving info-fluently. Learning & Leading With Technology, 32(3), 38-43.

This is a really useful article, giving many helpful “how to’s” and “why should’s” for teaching info-fluency. A great read for teachers too, if you wanted to give them the short version of why and how to get kids better at using the net.

Aimed at G5-12, which is too high for my audience but still useful for understanding the basics. Collaborating with grade level teams to translate this into elementary sized appropriate pieces would be great.

Key points

  • the info-fluent student
  • smart students are not always the best searchers
  • teachers aren’t very good searchers either
  • good searchers have common abilities and behaviours
    • prior knowledge, search choices, research holes, strategies, the process, advances searches, three types of searches, thinking about queries, quality, a sense of inquiry, a plan, mind tools, persistence and fussiness, consulting a professional
  • teachers can encourage better searching
    • create research challenges, evaluate students’ works-cited list, scaffold, create pathfinders with your librarian, create an appropriate search tool page for general student research, ask students to annotate their works-cited lists, use formative assessment to check student progress.

Other readings for Topic 6

Chung, J. and Neuman, D. (2007) High school students’ information seeking and use for class projects. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 58(10), 1503-1517. Available CSU Library.

Herring, J. (2010) School students, question formulation and issues of transfer: a constructivist grounded analysis. Libri, 60(3) 218-229. Available CSU Library.




The hidden web

ETL505 Module 3 – tools and systems

Periodical databases

I’ve really enjoyed using the CSU databases for my assignments. I just love the “all in one place” nature of them. It takes away all that “is it worthwhile?” factor of using a random internet search – all the credibility has pretty much been done for you. Truth be told, I also REALLY love that the referencing is also done in-site. Well, the database and BibMe… Hate referencing!

Required reading

‘Periodical databases’ and ‘citation databases’ on page 46 of Hider, P. (2012). Information resource description. London: Facet.


Federated search systems

Do a search on Primo or Trove to see the wide range of sources that are brought together by these federated search engines. 

Hey, WOW, how cool is Trove?! I did a search for Father Bob McGuire as I just love him. I used VERY loose parameters just to see what would get thrown up and, as expected, i did have to do A LOT of trawling but it was fantastic to see all the different hits in different places – lots of varying sources. So interesting. Definitely a place I would recommend for students to use (upper school, not my age group) for research.

Required reading

‘Federated search systems’ on pp. 46-48 of Hider, P. (2012). Information resource description. London: Facet.


Digital libraries

“A challenge for teacher librarians is how to integrate, and provide access to, selected external digital collections through the library to best serve the needs of their school community.”

This is absolutely true at our school. We have subscribed to so many amazing databases and digital libraries but because the teachers don’t have enough knowledge about how to use them, the kids rarely access them. The reall key to utilizing these amazing resources is teacher PD. Hider also makes the interesting point in his section on library catalogues and how they could/should incorporate results from databases and digital libraries when searched. I wonder how this could be possible when the databases are subscription based?



‘Digital collections’, pp. 51-52, of Hider, P. (2012). Information resource description. London: Facet.

Explore ‘The scope of digital libraries’, pp. 7-9 and ‘Metadata: Elements of organisation’ pp. 285-286 of Witten, I. H., Bainbridge, D., & Nichols, D. M. (2010)

. How to build a digital library. Burlington, MA: Morgan Kaufmann. Available from CSU eBooks.

Scootle is an example of an Australian educational digital library for schools.


loving the learning

continuing tales of a teacher librarian

PE to TL - The Journey Begins!

Reflections and thoughts on ETL401.


This site is the bee's knees