Category Archives: Teacher librarians

Is marketing a dirty word for school libraries?

La lectura es el viaje de los q no pueden tomar el tren

I’m writing an article about marketing the school library for the publication FYI.

Marketing. I used to think that it had nothing to do with education. Marketing school libraries? Bad taste. Things of value should stand on their own merits.

But here we are living in libraries within schools – part of the school, not quite part of the school. I have to admit that much of what I do is a form of marketing – the benign kind, the sincere kind, but marketing nonetheless. No, we are not selling our souls but we do need to reach out and make connections with the teachers who have charge of the students. We need them all so that we can make a difference.

Still, I have many questions about this marketing thing. I would love to have a full-on discussion with other teacher librarians about this, and with teachers, to see what they think. To see what you think.

So I’m going to offer a few of my thoughts in the hope that you will leave a comment. What do you think about this as a teacher librarian, as a teacher? The following is selected from my article:

Library promotion and the forging of relationships with staff is what we do every day.I don’t claim to be an expert and there is no ‘one size fits all’, but what I’d like to do is share my personal experience and my story.

Marketing your school library is not optional, as far as I’m concerned.

Why?

Marketing the library is a most important job, not only to make the library visible but also to make it shine, to show its vibrancy, so that teachers and students will take a break from their relentless busyness and take notice; so that they will want to come in to see what’s going on.

Sadly, libraries are sometimes invisible – despite bright and shiny new furniture, despite the brilliant displays, despite the extensive collections, despite the well meaning efforts of librarians. What I mean by that is that the library and library staff are not an intrinsic part of the essential teaching and learning activity of our schools – they don’t show up on teachers’ or students’ radar –  unless we make them so. And we have to keep making them so on a daily basis.

The library used to be THE PLACE people came for information but it’s simply not the case any more. Surely you’ve noticed how often student assignments are set and completed without anyone stepping into the library. We all know how indispensable we can be and should be when research assignments are created so we need to educate students and teachers that we have the experience to support them in navigating the flood of information they now have at their fingertips. We all know our area of expertise: we can show them how to find what they need when it seems like finding a needle in a haystack – how to locate, evaluate, sort through and select, organise, interact with and synthesize information so they can create what is required. But often teachers and students will have no idea that they are playing in a sinkhole when they trust Google to find what they need. There is no doubt that we need to seriously promote ourselves as playing an essential part in everyday teaching and learning.

How?

Granted, that is easier said than done. There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution. I would say, trust your instincts. create connections, nurture authentic and meaningful relationships with teachers, faculty heads, leading teachers, assistant principals and principals.

Be yourself, be real. Don’t put on your teacher librarian persona and go out door knocking like a missionary. There is no script. You will know what to say.

Be patient. It won’t happen overnight. It might not happen the way you envisage but something will happen. Connect with other teacher librarians, blog and tweet about it, and share your experiences, reflections, evaluations. Be honest, be deep. It’s not all about what can be seen from the outside, it’s also about creating cultural shifts, shifts in understanding. All of this takes time. Look for and celebrate small successes.

Be awesome, surprising, and indispensable. Find and share what teachers want and need, but also make it amazing and wrap it up in gorgeous colours with metres of ribbon and exotic feathers.

Think about the library as a space; it’s prime real estate. The library can be a Wunderkammer, and when people come in, they should feel happy and intrigued, and wish they could stay a while. It should be a refuge for teachers from their relentless running from class to class. And you should become indispensable because you have offered to create something they have little time to do.

Where?

Everywhere – in library spaces, in classrooms, during chats in the corridor or quick catch-ups after a staff meeting, during sports days, music days, and PD days.

Don’t forget the power of promotion online – to your staff, students and school community but also to those outside the school walls. Let’s promote ourselves and what we do in our schools to the outside world, creating a reputation for being awesome, inspiring others, and being inspired by them.

It’s essential that we are seen in places other than the library. Let’s unleash ourselves from that ancient library institution – the desk. If we are stamping books and dealing with delinquent photocopiers for too much of our time, let’s think about what we can do to change that.

How to develop good relationships with teachers

My personal approach is working from the ground up with individual teachers I feel are responsive to collaboration and to my crazy ideas. I recommend you spend a lot of time in that relationship, trying to make solid, deep things happen, and that you blog the whole process with photos and repost everywhere. This way one documented collaborative project can be used as an example for many more such projects. The blog post will capture examples, reflection and evaluation, for teachers who want to see how the project worked, as well as evidence of good things happening.

Integrate, integrate, integrate

Become integrated with classes and the curriculum. Avoid feeling happy enough with isolated ‘library program’ -type lessons. As long as teachers view what we do as library programs, they will view what we do as separate, and not take it seriously. This goes for  students too. We need to be there throughout the whole project, either in the classroom or through our interaction with teachers. 

Should we speak up about what we’re doing and how we can help teachers in staff meetings? I’m in two minds about this. Staff meetings are usually after school and staff are tired and want to go home. On the occasion that I did stand up and promote what teacher librarians could do to support staff and students, I tried to be as entertaining as possible, and hoped that laughter would keep them focused. I would be reluctant to do that too often so that staff do not start to switch off. In my opinion, working on deeper relationships with individual teachers is more effective.

So these selections are a small part of the article which will soon be published in FYI. The article includes a lot more practical examples which I hope will be useful to other teacher librarians.

It would be so good to hear from you all. I open to changing my mind about approaches. Leave me a comment, okay?

But seriously, can we afford not to be marketing our libraries?

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Libraries, Teacher librarians, Uncategorized

No more razzamatazz – Libguides go light

After an initial leap into Libguides a couple of years ago (inspired by Joyce Valenza’s passion and inspirational examples) when we crammed our guides as tightly as we could with fantastic content, images and videos, I’ve decided to go the other way and start stripping my pages down in favour of user-friendliness. Of course, in the teacher librarian world, we delight in our bounty of wonderful websites, infographics, and the such, and we want the world to see and marvel. But we must eventually admit that the world is not always marvelling because they are running away in fear – isn’t it overkill? and doesn’t it stop people from doing what we really want them to do – FIND stuff?

My friend and (now distance-) colleague, Dawn, helped me see the light but not without some time passing, during which I remained in denial, and stubbornly held on to my bursting boxes in our libguides, my pages which had to be scrolled and scrolled and scrolled. Oh, and how could I forget my tabs – crowded clusters of them, but wait! under these tabs I also had more pages.

Enough!

At some point I have had to accept the unpleasant truth – that I’ve been carried away with sharing with the world my resplendent array of finds (every day – from Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Diigo, Feedly, and similar places). I’ve had to admit with a heavy heart that it’s been more about ME (look what I can do!) and less about my readers – students, teachers, others. Sigh.

So, it’s going to be a long, hard slog, but I will get there, and my online resources will be easy to find, logically organised, selected with restraint.

I promise.

See, the library webpage is much neater and more inviting.

libraryfrontpage

Currently I’m working on English. Got rid of 5 tabs today; moved the pages into the body of the guide as hyperlinks.

englishlibguide

What do you think?

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What’s been happening – term 3 has been a busy one

I’m not the only one remarking on the lapses between blog posts. The blog is no longer the main platform for sharing and communicating – there is a long, long list of online places which need to be fed and looked after – for me that includes other blogs, Twitter, Pinterest, Scoop.it, Diigo, Slideshare, Vimeo, Libguides, Facebook and all its groups, and more. So I thought I’d drop in and do a quick update on what may be worth checking out in case it’s helpful or even interesting.

My school library blog has been keeping up with reading ambassadors for the National Year of Reading (#nyor12). These short and informal interviews are a pleasure to read, and reveal thoughtful responses to reading preferences. We’ve also recently celebrated 2012 Book Week with a hugely enjoyable ‘party’ in the library. I’ve included photos I think you’ll enjoy of our costume and cake competitions so that’s definitely worth checking out. This is the first Book Week celebration I’ve attended at Melbourne High School since I started a year ago, and it was fantastic. I was so impressed by the willingness of staff and students to dress up and play the part. The creativity displayed in our book-themed cake competition added a gastronomical dimension – who can resist cake? Yes, we did go on a bit about the cakes looking too good to eat but it didn’t last long.

I’ve been having such a good time resourcing the art curriculum in the last few months. My art blog churns out a diverse selection of inspiration to art students and teachers (I hope). This includes images, photography, design and animation.

Our students explored links to websites with antiquated encyclopedia images to create their ‘transformations’ which I combined in a slide show. The reduced image size doesn’t do justice to the details in the students’ work, so have a look at larger ones in Mihaela’s new art blog.

Yes! Our head of art now has a blog, and so do her students. This term our year 9s and 10s were lucky enough to get iPads, so we decided to get them to create Posterous blogs which we linked to Mihaela’s ‘mother blog’ and encouraged them to start snapping away with their iPad cameras so that they could develop a store of visual inspiration for their work. The beauty of a mobile device is the opportunity to capture photos as you go about your everyday activities. I’ve found the best images are the unexpected ones. I was inspired to get the art students blogging when I saw my dear friend, Marie Salinger’s, student blogs. Marie’s students have realised the rich potential of blogs in terms of journalling, reflecting, evaluating and just plain sharing. A blog is visual, it’s sequential, easy to access online and share with others; it invites responses and conversation. In her Visual Arts blog, Marie has reflected about the way in which iPads have enriched learning for her girls. The way Marie’s students used their blog to experiment with and evaluate iPad apps for drawing, then share with others, inspired me to talk to Mihaela about doing the same. Consequently I went into obsessive mode and lived and breathed art and apps for a couple of weeks, adding an Art Apps page in our LibGuides, my art blog, Pinterest, Flickr and Diigo.

Robot I am Apps used: Blender Pixeltwist                 (iphoneart.com)

Recently a dedicated team of students from the co-curricular group, Writing Competition, successfully wrote a book in a day. They had to collaboratively write at least 8,000 words and illustrate their story. The whole thing had to be done within 12 hours. I was very proud of the way they managed to work together and fuse their ideas and talents to produce a fantasy story for the Children’s Hospital. I hope to be able to share their book once I check the copyright.

Well, that’s it for now. Hope some of this has been useful to you.

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Filed under Teacher librarians, teaching

Libguides, Pinterest and other online stuff

Well, I have to write a post mainly because the vibrating gif is driving me crazy and I feel the need to push it down. What’s happening that I don’t use the blog to reflect any more? Perhaps this is not my reflective phase. Yes, that’s it. I’ve been quite satisfied creating resources and getting to know staff members at my relatively new school. And I have to admit to an obsession – pictures! I can’t stop looking at and saving gorgeous pictures from Flickr and other parts of the web (my groaning Google Reader). Just this week I finally decided to give Pinterest a go. The account has been sitting there for a while – can’t remember exactly how long – and I suppose I’ve been frantically trying to keep up with other things, not least Scoop.it which has taken off in a big way. Also because so many Pinteresters are dominating the place with food and wedding photos. Lovely. But not for me at the moment thanks. Just to give it a go, I created a couple of boards and threw in my YA book trailers as well as some books covers. Yes, not bad, looks great and neatly organised at a glance without having to scroll down too much. Well, woah! Now I have too many boards and possibly Pinterest OCD. Please help me.

Libguides have still got me burning the candle at both ends. Some of my colleagues tell me a don’t have a life. Hmm… (I have a life *she says weakly*) Some of you may understand the obsessive finding/saving/sharing/creating cycle and I blame my PLN for giving me so much of the good stuff. I love my job (have I said that before?) I love finding the good stuff for teachers and students. It’s  like being a conjurer – pulling wonderful and unexpected things from a hat. Reader, if you’re a teacher librarian, please support me here. Don’t you feel the same way?

So, to finish off the post (so that I can keep playing with pictures – it’s a bit like swap cards from my youth), I will share the things I’ve been doing. Some of these you already know but, hang on, I’ve been adding…

Pinterest first:

Book trailers board 

Art Inspiration board (from my Art Does Matter blog)

There are more but I’ve only just started them. The illuminated manuscripts have got me salivating and I will be continuing my obsession until I have a full board.

LibGuides:

Even though it’s called Competition Writing, this resource supports any kind of writing and so is useful to students and teachers of English.

I am responsible for the weekly weblink of interest for the school newsletter, and this week I shared the link to my Digital Citizenship pages (4) into which I added two excellent articles by well-known and respected Australian educators, Chris Betcher (Have you googled yourself lately?) and Jenny Luca (5 reasons why our students are writing blogs and creating e-portfolios). These are under ‘Your digital footprint’ tab which is my favourite section of the resource because it explains the importance of helping students create a positive and responsible digital identity. Don’t go on about the dangers of the internet without balancing this out with a clear and positive direction for digital citizenship. Teachers are still telling me they prefer the things of their time to what kids are using today. Not even kids, what about businesses. Mobile technologies and social media have been taken up by businesses but sadly schools are still pulling back. And I say, that’s all very well but it’s not about you. It’s not about me either, it’s about preparing our students for their future.

I’ve also added things to the Debating LibGuide. This is good for persuasive writing and orals. Take a look.

Of course it’s not secret that I have a particular interest in visual arts. Here’s the link to these guides and don’t forget to look for drop-down arrows.

The French language guides have been growing too.

At the moment we are all taking the wider reading classes for the year 9s. I developed a couple of guides for this. My aim is to help students find different ways of finding what to read by using libraries and social media such as Good Reads – to mention a couple. I threw a whole bunch of book trailers into this page; I hope you find it useful. Please let me know what’s missing.

Well, it’s getting late so I won’t go on. For a change.

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Filed under Curation, Digital citizenship, Teacher librarians

Watch this if you work in a library

It’s been a busy start to the year. My posts have been few and far between but I’ve been more active in sharing things on Twitter and Scoop.it as well as our new LibGuides online resources. Oh well, here’s a video I think you might enjoy. I found it here.

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What exactly does a 21st century teacher librarian do? A list of curated topics in Scoop.it

This has been reposted from my school library blog.

On the topic of the teacher librarians’ role and exactly what it is we TLs do in our jobs, I wanted to share this article in The Guardian: Beyond books: what it takes to be a 21st century librarian.  We all know that there’s more to being a librarian than stamping books, as the subtitle of the article states. How bothered are we by the fact that a large proportion of our school communities have little idea what we do?

If we stopped the next person walking by on the street and asked them what our jobs as librarians involve, we’d be willing to bet that their first answer would be stamping books. This is because many people’s experience of librarians is of the frontline, customer service staff.

I think the same can be said of school libraries although it varies greatly depending on the interaction between teacher librarians and teaching staff. What the article says about librarians is surely relevant to teacher librarians, librarians and technicians -

If anyone ever thought they’d become a librarian because they liked books or reading, they would be sorely disappointed if they did not also like people too.

Of course, in the digital age, in fact, in the global digital culture in particular, teacher librarians play a vital role in schools. What exactly is the role of a 21st teacher librarian?

It’s not something which can be answered in a simple sentence. For this reason, I want to share links to curated websites on this topic. I am including a list of Scoop.its which have been curated by various people (including me) on the topic of the 21st century teacher librarian. I hope you find this list useful; it includes all things relevant to the 21st century librarian in the broadest sense.

My Scoop.it – What is a teacher librarian?

Curation and libraries and learning – Joyce Valenza

e-Books – Carmel Galvin

Create the web and learn to live - @pipcleaves

21st century libraries – Dr Steve Matthews

Educational technology and libraries – Kim Tairi

Embedded Librarianship – Buffy Hamilton

Graphic Novels in the classroom – @dilaycock

Information coping skills – Beth Kanter

Information science and library studies –  Joao Brogueira

Information fluency, transliteracy, research tools – Joyce Valenza

Inquiry and digital literacy – Shawn Hinger

Internet Search – Phil Bradley

Learning – Darren Kuropatwa

Libraries and ethnography - Buffy Hamilton

Libraries and Tumblr – Buffy Hamilton

Libraries as sites of enchantment, participatory culture and learning (what a title!) – Buffy again

Livebinders – Peggy George

Multiliteracies – Vance Stevens

New librarianship – Karen Burns

Personal learning networks for librarians – Donna Watt

QR codes – libraries – NairarbilUCA

Readers’ advisory for secondary schools – Marita Thomson

School libraries – Nickki Robinson

Social media content curation- Guiseppe Mauriello

Social networking for information professionals – Judy O’Connell

The library technician – Dawn Jimenez

Student learning through school libraries – Lyn Hay

Weird and wonderful - for librarians and booklovers – Jean Anning

This selection is only a small fraction of what’s being curated by people passionate about their topic on Scoop.it. It’s overwhelming but also a fantastic way of keeping track of evolving scoops on searchable topics. The fact that the list relevant to teacher librarians is so broad indicates the breadth of the teacher librarians’ focus and involvement. Of course, we can’t do everything but it’s a good idea to see potential involvement, and having seen the bigger picture, delegate to team members (assuming you have a team) the most pressing areas according to their interest.

By the way, Scoop.its are very easy to make and make reading enjoyable in their magazine-scoop-style presentation. It’s easy to follow, to search, to share and to recommend Scoop.its and articles. It’s also a brilliant way to build your Personal Learning Network by investigating the curators, checking out their bio, looking at what else they’ve curated or what they themselves follow.

You’ve got to start somewhere! Happy scooping!

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I’m a teacher librarian. Put up your hand if you know what that means.

I was reading Jennifer LaGarde’s excellent post and nodding. So much I agree with about the school’s perception of teacher librarians, and reasons why teachers aren’t leaping to collaborate with us. Jennifer summarises it like this -
  • Teacher Isolation:  As a classroom teacher, I was deeply entrenched in my own world.  I spent so much time worrying about what was happening inside my classroom, I sometimes forgot there was a world spinning outside of it.
  • Teacher Education #Fail:  If my own teacher education program emphasized instructional partnerships of any kind, I forgot to sign up for that class.  Collaborating with other professionals was not a skill that I was taught in teacher school.
  • Librarian #Fail: This message was not being sent by the school librarians I worked with.  Or if it was, not very effectively.
I was a also ‘classroom’ teacher long before I decided to mutate into a teacher librarian. Teacher librarians and librarians belonged in the library and looked after books. They weren’t intrinsic to my day to day functioning. Since that time, the role and skillset of TLs has exploded, but who knows that apart from TLs themselves? We sigh, we complain to each other, we throw our hands up into the air, but we’re wasting our time  if we’re not collaborating for active advocacy. This point was made very clear to me during my Master of Education (Teacher Librarianship) studies at Charles Sturt University. I soon realised that it is one of the most important things to keep foremost in your mind, otherwise you are spending many, many hours creating resources no teacher uses; your offers of collaboration and support fall on deaf ears.
Thanks,Jennifer, for creating this flyer. Maybe we should screen this daily and hope that it gets through subliminally. Frankly, I think that TLs will not be accepted inVictoria, Australia, unless the focus of education changes from the content-driven, mark-based VCE to a focus on teaching and learning skills which are badly needed and which would equip young people for work and life.  Don’t get me started.
Of course, ‘selling yourself’ must always be accompanied by a sincere and consistent effort at developing real relationships. Don’t be a door-to-door salesperson. That’s just horrible.

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