Interesting reading this week:

Kardos_Interesting_Reading_1891

Interesting Reading by Gyula Kardos, shared on Wikimedia Commons as a public domain work of art

For the last time, Google is not our competition in libraries… I really enjoyed this smart, pithy piece. Of course Google is awesome at some stuff – and why would we try to compete with it? After all, I bet you use it all the time in your librarian life. But Google is not so good at other stuff, deeper stuff, the people-based stuff, so let’s show off our skills in that! (Shared by Carole Gardiner of Twitter.)

Words matter: Why I’m not ready to drop “digital” from the #DigCit conversation. Some interesting thoughts and provocative questions about digital citizenship and how it differs from citizenship. I like the idea of programmes focusing on the positive, as a lot of digital citizenship lessons seems to focus on plagiarism and cyberbullying aspects (and don’t get me wrong, these are aspects of #DigCit – they just shouldn’t be the whole focus).

Google to highlight fact-checking articles with new labels. This is a promising sign in our “post-truth” world. However, it would be great if some of the social media giants would look at doing something similar, with 44% of Americans getting their news from Facebook. Education surely plays a part as well, but it is a slow way to effect change. (Shared by Sally Pewhairangi on Twitter.)

Pre-university skills course boost students’ A-level success. This was shared on the NZ schoollib listserv as a kind of self-congratulation to those librarians involved in tertiary transition library programmes. And that’s okay. But I read it as a single cohort study, with anecdotal reporting, self-selected participants (who are more likely to apply themselves and do well), and no significant discussion of the data and what it means. It’s great if these types of programmes are having an effect on wider student learning and achievement. But let’s not all hang it on one study. We’re better than that, we’re information professionals.

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Interesting reading this week:

Kardos_Interesting_Reading_1891

Interesting Reading by Gyula Kardos, shared on Wikimedia Commons as a public domain work of art

Oh Greta! The library’s real role on campus. Why is it always people that don’t use libraries that feel the most compelled to comment on them? And why do they always have such a big audience? We need to get library users in all shapes and sizes to comment instead! Do any blue-ticked people use libraries?

What does your blog really say about learning? I really like this post. Calls into question those blogs / posts / tweets that are increasingly becoming like the “perfect lives” we see in our personal social media feeds. Learning is messy. Let’s keep it real and keep showing that too.

Voting: information is power. While the US has now elected their next president, this is still an important post. Information is power and maybe the dissemination of it shouldn’t simply be left to the media. We have a general election due in New Zealand next year and we will have some first time voters among our senior students at school. It would be handy to put together something like this for them too. Thanks for the inspiration, Joe!

Constantly surprised. I bet this is pretty common. I wonder how many of our students have successful endeavours outside of school that we know nothing about. Last year we had one of our Year 13 students making a five-figure sum each month from a game he created. Funnily enough, his interest in school showed a sharp decline! We need to harvest the power and creativity of these students. There is much that educators and other students alike could learn from them.

That moment when you realise…

you-are-part-of-the-problem

Recently I have been weeding our fiction section. And I have been quite brutal.

I began by carefully removing the books that had not been read for a while according to neatly printed borrowing statistics. Then I moved on to throwing out the items that looked like they were about to fall apart. Getting caught up in a weeding frenzy, I next began to remove the books that still had handwritten spine labels (because these began to be printed at least eight years ago). These were soon followed by books that just did not look that great anymore.

Soon I had a table covered in stacks of books and that is when it hit me. I am part of the problem.

While I can blame the large number of books sitting on that table that had never been read on the purchasing choices of previous librarians; after six years, I can no longer pretend that the choices that I make do not matter. Next year, some of the books that come off the shelves will be books I have bought. Tax payer dollars that I have spent, trying  to encourage the students at my school to read. So why is this a problem?

Recently, two Year 10 boys, who had been sent over to find something to read, made the comment that there are too many books in our library. I found this an interesting comment and one I could not ignore. Now these two boys have only been at our school for about 18 months, so they do not know that when I started there were actually about 4,000 more books in our collection – roughly a third bigger than it is now. Yet, in their eyes, it is still “too big”. There is too much choice for them and it makes it difficult for them to find the titles or authors that they are looking for.

While I have worked hard to reduce the number of physical items on our shelves, I am still part of the problem because I am responsible for what is being brought in. Part of why I chose to become a school librarian is that I love books. And the opportunity to buy them with someone else’s money? Well, that was just too good to ignore!

Unfortunately, I get a little too excited when faced with boxes of new titles. When our local bookseller comes to see me with a load of new books, I get carried away in the moment and don’t always make the best buying decisions. I am better with the national book reps I see, I am able to make cold, rational decisions about what will actually be used by the students. But when it is our local seller, we both get caught up in the excitement of talking books and soon I find myself cataloguing books, shaking my head, with thoughts of “What was I thinking?”. So, yeah, I am part of the problem.

To remedy this I have created a flow chart to help clarify what I should be bringing in to our fiction collection. I want to make sure that I am buying the books that will be read, enjoyed or found useful. I want to make sure that I am using the money I am given wisely. And I want to make sure that, in five years time, the books that are being weeded have at least been read once and do not represent money down the drain. I want it to be hard to see these books leave the collection – just as it was hard for them to get in.

should-i-buy-this-book

Now, let me at the non-fiction collection!

Interesting reading this week:

Kardos_Interesting_Reading_1891

Interesting Reading by Gyula Kardos, shared on Wikimedia Commons as a public domain work of art

You are not a digital native: Privacy in the age of the internet.  A really interesting post about how companies are getting away with invading privacy by saying “but the kids are digital natives so they know what they’re signing up for”. I love Doctorow’s definition of privacy, ‘[it] doesn’t mean that no one in the world knows about your business. It means that you get to choose who knows about your business.’ (Shared by Cory Doctorow on Tumblr.)

How to be mediocre and be happy with yourself. In praise of being average! Who knew that this was even a field of study?! The message here is learn to embrace your mediocrity. I’m entirely comfortable with mine! (Shared by a teacher, FF, at school and leading to another post by Mark Manson.)

4 creative PowerPoint uses you probably haven’t tried. Don’t hate on PowerPoint – use it more effectively! (Shared by Sally Pewhairangi on Twitter.)

Using PowerPoint as a design tool. And this post from Ned Potter shares some more PowerPoint goodness. Am now feeling the need to redo every slideshow I’ve ever made…(Shared by Sally Pewhairangi on Twitter.)

Close reading X: The reader-centred library service

Open book

Image shared on Pixabay with a Creative Commons public domain licence

Chapter ten: Reader-centred strategy

There is so much important stuff in this last chapter – stop reading this, get your hands on the book and just read it!

The strands of advocacy and services and procedures are all linked into a strategic plan; yet I wonder how many of us in New Zealand school libraries have actually put any recent thought into a vision or goal for our libraries? Time, resourcing and staffing mean we often lack the opportunity to just sit and think, however, a number of big problems that can arise would be solved if we did. Maybe it’s time we give ourselves permission, or ask it of our principals, to think about the big picture so that we can ensure what we are doing day-to-day is effective and moving us towards our larger goals.

Of course, a school library’s goals should always be linked to those of the school and reflect the community they serve, but they should also have a vision of their own. How do you want the school library to be seen? to be used? to contribute to the school and community? From this thinking, a strategy can then be mapped out. From page 315:

A strategy should articulate why you’re doing what you’re doing, why it matters and how you can get to where you want to be with the least effort and use of resources…A clear strategy will help set priorities for daily work.

A strategic plan will help you advocate for your library and yourself, you will have a clear understanding of what you want your library to achieve and how you are helping to do that. Strategic thinking will allow you to evaluate the services you offer, drop those that aren’t helping you move towards your goals and introduce new ones that will. Day-to-day practices should also be looked at through the lens of your strategic plan – if it’s not getting you where you want to go stop doing it and do something that will. (For example, is your overdue policy helping to grow the love of reading in your school?)

This, from page 353, really highlighted for me why I need to have a plan for what I’m doing:

Wherever you are in the power hierarchy, you will have more effect if you are able to show clearly why what you want to do matters, who it will benefit and how you will make it happen.

Actions arising from this chapter:

  • update policies and procedures manuals – include vision / strategic goal
  • survey staff and students about what they want from the library – use this to inform strategic planning
  • collect evidence for why reading matters to act as bedrock for strategy / services / procedures and budget negotiations

Reference:

Riel, R. V., Fowler, O., & Downes, A. (2008). The reader-friendly library service. Newcastle upon Tyne: Society of Chief Librarians.

Close reading IX: The reader-friendly library service

Open book

Image shared on Pixabay with a Creative Commons public domain licence

Chapter nine: Evaluating reader-centred work

There is a lot of useful information in this chapter about evaluating programmes in general. Points that particularly resonated are:

  • if something isn’t working, we need to understand why not in order to plan a different course of action
  • be clear from the start who the evaluation is for (users / staff / managers / stakeholders)
  • to learn immediate lessons, evaluate straight away; to evaluate long-term impact, wait six months
  • questionnaires will be filled in by a self-selected group, those who feel strongly and more likely to respond
  • encourage participants to reflect on their own experience for a more useful evaluation (what was most useful? was the content pitched right? is there more you want to learn as a result?)

And perhaps the most important point (from page 309):

Whatever the tools you use, there will be no point to the evaluation unless you summarise what you have learned and plan to take action. Not acting on the results of evaluation is the single biggest cause of the cynicism which an evaluation process often generates.

Actions arising from this chapter:

  • summarise the feedback from our last Central region PD day!

Reference:

Riel, R. V., Fowler, O., & Downes, A. (2008). The reader-friendly library service. Newcastle upon Tyne: Society of Chief Librarians.

Close reading VIII: The reader-friendly library service

Open book

Image shared on Pixabay with a Creative Commons public domain licence

Chapter eight: Readers online

I’ve been slow to get a library website up and running – and after reading this chapter I’m kind of glad! I think I would have fallen into all the online traps that are mentioned here, and probably wouldn’t have put the user-experience at the centre of the website design.

I definitely do want to create an online space for my library users (because I know that a lot of them leave their schoolwork to the last minute – when the library is often closed) but I want it to be a useful space. Not something to impress the senior management team or Board of Trustees, but something that the students will actually use.

Things I will need to think about before creating the library’s online space:

  • organise information so that students can find what they want by a direct route (minimise the number of clicks!)
  • don’t simply reproduce what the library offers offline – what is suitable for a web audience
  • the web thrives on users sharing information they discover – allow space for students to do this
  • think about who needs what online and why – don’t rush into writing web content that nobody will ever visit
  • interactivity is one of the biggest advantages of online spaces – use it

There is a lot of thought that needs to go into online services and these also need to be maintained once they are up and running. Limited staffing and resources are what have slowed me down at this point. Maybe it is time now to start putting aside time to do this and prioritising it the same way that offline services are?

 

Actions arising from this chapter:

  • start designing a library website
  • make a plan to get LMS opened up anytime / anywhere
  • make a plan for catalogued websites to be accessed through the LMS – it’s 2016, people!

Reference:

Riel, R. V., Fowler, O., & Downes, A. (2008). The reader-friendly library service. Newcastle upon Tyne: Society of Chief Librarians.

Close reading VII: The reader-friendly library service

Open book

Image shared on Pixabay with a Creative Commons public domain licence

Chapter seven: Reading groups

For reasons too inexplicable and frustrating to share here, I am unable to run a reading group in our school library. However, that doesn’t stop me from dreaming about one, or reading enviously about groups that other school librarians are running. It also probably explains why I decided to start my own out-of-school-hours group with other children’s and young people librarians in our local area.

I’m a fan of the type of reading group that is encouraged in this chapter. A group where members read what they want to read and share their thoughts and feelings with others. Nothing prescriptive, snobby or on a theme; and all about the reading experience – no need for deep analysis!

The benefits of reading groups to a library service are outlined in this chapter, and there are many.

  • Reading group members are library advocates.
  • They provide a ready-made audience for consultation.
  • They are an excellent resource for reader-to-reader recommendations and promotions.
  • They can take charge of a ‘reading group choice’ display area.
  • They can take on the role of event hosts.
  • They can help make stock decisions in areas of weakness.

I particularly liked this message from page 220:

Understanding a little about group dynamics, appreciating that people read primarily for pleasure, and are coming because they want to share that pleasure with others, and simply putting the kettle on are more important skills for the reading group facilitator than a degree in literature or, indeed, librarianship!

Another interesting point to note is that some libraries have found that teen groups are more successful if they are “for a limited time”; open-ended groups did not generate the same interest as groups that were run for a set number of weeks. I can see how this would probably be the same in school settings.

Most importantly, remember that a reader-centred approach to reading groups will ensure (page 212)

that everyone in the group will have something to say, confident in the fact that they are the expert in their own reading experience.

Actions arising from this chapter:

  • I can still get most of the benefits of reading groups without actually having one
  • consult my known readers more
  • ensure my student librarians are readers – get those suckers to work for me!

Reference:

Riel, R. V., Fowler, O., & Downes, A. (2008). The reader-friendly library service. Newcastle upon Tyne: Society of Chief Librarians.

Interesting reading this week:

Kardos_Interesting_Reading_1891

Interesting Reading by Gyula Kardos, shared on Wikimedia Commons as a public domain work of art

What I learned about library marketing from an amusement park. While not all of this blog is relevant to my school library, it is certainly a reminder about putting user experience at the centre of things and about how we can learn from other unrelated organisations. (Shared by Jane Cowell on Twitter.)

How great school libraries can inspire. A blog post about a boys’ school library’s refurbishment. I so wanted more photos. (Shared by Stefanie Gaspari on Twitter.)

Pokemon Go brings augmented reality to the mainstream. Lots of #ThinkyThoughts after reading this about ways to make the Year 9 library orientation more interesting. Maybe I could offer to help one of the social sciences teachers make their “Our School” unit more interactive too… (Shared by Kay Oddone on Twitter.)

8 digital skills we must teach our children. A useful overview of the skills we should be teaching people to be good digital citizens. Definitely something to be referred to when creating any school policies or programmes. (Shared by Digital Citizenship in Schools on Facebook.)

Close reading VI: The reader-friendly library service

Open book

Image shared on Pixabay with a Creative Commons public domain licence

Chapter six: Staff training in working with readers

This chapter was not particularly relevant to the New Zealand school library setting – most of us have a very small staff (read one or less), so workplace staff training is not a big issue. I also think most of us pride ourselves on knowing our book stock, which is a large part of creating a reader-centred service.

One quote did resonate with me, however, from page 195:

Library staff in front line roles in the UK have always been expected to learn about the process more than the product.

I think that as under-resourced staff, school librarians often get caught up in the processes of their libraries rather than focus on their users. This was a good reminder to keep putting my community at the centre of what I do – not the stuff and how the stuff is organised. It’s also good to question the exisiting processes you have – why are you doing it? is it necessary? does it make a difference to your users? is it for your user or is it “secret library business”?

Let’s focus less on the back room of librarianship and spend more time connecting with our communities.

Actions arising from this chapter:

  • keep reading new acquisitions!
  • encourage student librarians to read new stock and report back / review
  • update policy and procedures manual – ensure all processes are streamlined and necessary

Reference:

Riel, R. V., Fowler, O., & Downes, A. (2008). The reader-friendly library service. Newcastle upon Tyne: Society of Chief Librarians.