Interesting reading this week:

Kardos_Interesting_Reading_1891

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

Screw digital natives: Behaviour not age, is what matters. As an educator, I hate the term “digital natives” and this post pretty much sums up why. Lots of our students think they are really awesome online, but actually their skills are pretty limited or limiting. And maybe so are some of the tasks we set. (Shared by Sally Pewhairangi on Twitter.)

Millenials as digital natives: Myths and realities. Another interesting read on the “digital native” myth that appeared on my timeline. I particularly love the last two paragraphs in the section titled “How Being a Digital Native Does Influence Behavior” – which is certainly the behaviour that I observe at school! (Shared by Trish Webster, I can’t remember where!)

Literary fiction helps us ‘read’ others. Just in case you know someone who needs convincing that reading is good for us. Or who perhaps needs encouragement to read a “literary” novel in between all the crime fiction. It’s not being a book snob, it’s encouraging being a better human! (Shared by Rachel van Riel on Twitter.)

5 tips for helping a student find the right book. Some good reminders here about how we can help our students find “the” book. Time to find a book is one of my favourite strategies – and something I need to remind our busy teachers about! (Shared by Rebeca Zuniga on Twitter.)

Interesting reading this week:

Kardos_Interesting_Reading_1891

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

How I made my advertisement in keynote. Some good tricks in here for how to use presentation software to make more than simple slideshows. This post focuses on Apple’s Keynote, but you can probably find similar tools in the software that you use. Oh to have time to play! (Shared by Richard Wells on his blog.)

Always click the first Google result? You might want to stop doing that. As Alison Hewett pointed out when she shared this on Twitter, this is nothing new to librarians! However, this could be the thing to share in case your students or teachers need convincing about moving deeper into their search results and that the filter bubble is really a thing! (Shared by Alison Hewett on Twitter.)

What business are libraries in? I don’t have an elevator pitch. I know I need one, but I find it almost impossible to explain what I do and why it’s important. I agree that it is important to separate out the personnel from the building – but what are my eight words? (Shared by Sally Pewhairangi on Twitter.)

4 reasons gifted programs are irrelevant. I have quite a few problems with “gifted” programmes. One of the main ones is that generally “gifted” is used to mean smart. Certainly at the school I work at their is no programme for students who are gifted in areas such as the arts or physical education. Another big problem I have with it is that (again, generally speaking) it’s not about the students – it’s about the parents or for school marketing purposes. Why shouldn’t all students be given the care and attention that the “gifted” receive? (Shared by Mark Barnes on Twitter.)

Interesting reading this week:

Kardos_Interesting_Reading_1891

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

I can’t even with librarians that don’t read diversely. This. So much this. This to all those school librarians who say they don’t need to buy Pasifika books because there are no Pasifika students in their schools. This to all those school librarians who don’t even read. I. Just. Can’t. (Shared by Book Riot on Twitter.)

John  Dewey hate your digital citizenship curriculum. I’m part of my school’s ICT steering committee and we have been talking about how we don’t teach our students anything about digital citizenship. I think this post is full of important messages and questions we should be asking ourselves before we develop any sort of programme. I’m a big believer in just teaching our guys to be good citizens no matter what space they are in. But I love this idea of COMMUNITY as well. I’ll be sharing this with the rest of the committee. (Shared by Sally Pewhairangi on Twitter.)

Daniel Pennac, The Rights of the Reader. I love the way Austin Kleon writes about the books he’s read. I was a late discoverer of this book. And I’ll admit to having bought a copy that I haven’t yet read. This post has moved the book up to the top of my TBR pile. And I have no doubt that I will refer to it often as I think about devising a long-term literacy strategy for my school. (Shared by Austin Kleon on Tumblr.)

Libraries matter: 18 fantastic library infographics. Some great facts and figures here to help advocate for libraries. And while it’s heavily American-based, there’s also some really good dos and don’ts of design to be seen in the various infographs.  (Shared by Bridget Schaumann.)

Close reading X: The reader-centred library service

Open book

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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

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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

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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

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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.

Close reading VI: The reader-friendly library service

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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.

Close reading V: The reader-friendly library service

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Chapter five: Reader-centred promotions

Displays used to take up an inordinate amount of my time: thinking about them, resourcing them and then, finally, putting them all together. And then I watched this video and read this book. Putting the reader back at the centre of things sure makes putting displays together easier!

It’s not rocket science, but sometimes it is good to be reminded about what matters in a display – and what does not.

  • Offer manageable choices – tempt readers with a few titles (I’ve been averaging somewhere between 6 and 10), then users are not overwhelmed with choice.
  • Keep displays stocked up – keep a stack of suitable books nearby so that as books are taken others can be quickly put in their place; empty displays are not appealing and revolving book covers keep the display looking fresh.
  • Emphasis should be on the books – stop concentrating on the surrounding props, they’re taking up valuable book space!
  • Displays should be an integral part of the day-to-day routine – whether it’s checking main displays look fresh, turning books face-out on shelves, or planning a new display, by doing a little bit every day things are kept manageable and at the forefront of attention.
  • Look at displays from your users’ point of view – what will they connect too? what will engage them? what do they like? Start building displays from their perspective (eg, don’t tell students reading is good for them, tell them it’s bad for them!).
  • Open up reading choices – create displays that put together different authors, genres and formats. This provides opportunity to surprise and delight your users, and makes it easier to have plenty of books to keep your display fresh.
  • Learn from retail approaches to displays – while libraries don’t have multiple copies of titles, we can learn from bookstore merchandising techniques. Think colour ways (related or contrasting), placement, and simplicity.

Lastly, I think this quote from page 179 is a valuable one to remember – whether you are an expert at creating vibrant displays or not.

The user experience in any library will depend more on the staff who create it than on any other factor.

Actions arising from this chapter:

  • work on creating new reader-centred book displays every month
  • create a “bank” of reader-centred display themes

Reference:

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

Close reading IV: The reader-friendly library service

Open book

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Chapter four: Reader-centred stock management

This chapter raised some interesting points for me. The buying plan in my school library is fairly simple: BUY WHAT THE BOYS WILL READ. But there are other points to consider too.

One of the most important ideas to think about from this chapter is the reminder to consider the “invisible” borrowers as well. I have a lot of students who are comfortable telling me what they want me to buy, however, I also need to think about the boys who aren’t demanding and those that don’t even consider themselves readers.

Another significant point is to use “evidence-based stock management”. That is to base decisions on evidence derived from loan and collection data: what is being borrowed? what is not being borrowed? what is worn out? what is in the collection? what is not in the collection? what has big reserve lists?

Reader development is about opening up reading choices and helping people find books they didn’t know existed, not only about managing the most popular titles.

This (page 114) is why it is really important to know the book stock in your collection, and also to keep up with new releases. I know I need to have multiple copies of Muchamore’s perennially popular Cherub series, but I also need to know what other books and authors are similar. This way, when all the Cherub books are out, or a student has read the whole series, I can point them to other books that may keep them reading.

Does a library service have a responsibility to meet needs as well as wants? But who determines what those needs are?

These questions (page 132) are easier to answer in a school library because we are not solely focused on recreational reading, we are also concerned with the curriculum. These “needs” are mostly determined by teaching staff, so it is important to keep in regular contact with these stakeholders as well.

Actions arising from this chapter:

  • update collection management policy and buying plans
  • survey reluctant and non-readers to see if their wants and needs are being met

Reference:

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