Sunday, March 27, 2011

Beyond the Blackboard

Megan Johnston writes in Today's Sydney Morning Herald (Monday, March 28, 2011) about learning in the digital age. I am currently struggling through my resourcing the curriculum area assignment at the moment so it was a flag for me.

The main point of the article is to highlight that 21 century learners now have the opportunity to publish their work in a much more meaningful manner than just "publishing in the classroom". I have in the past organised a book launch for a year 7 class where the Principal was invited to view the latest releases of the class who were working on a series of fracture fairytale stories. But that was last century.

Now students can use wikis (which I have used with another class to publish and critique each others' short stories), blogs, podcasts, online games which allows anyone in the world to view and rate their work. Very exciting indeed.

Schools highlighted in the article were
  • Northern Beaches Chrisstian School where they use Real Audience Project ( to publish their work via the web and sell print book via Lulu (, Booralie FM broadcasts via podcasts in iTunes
  • Tara Anglican College year 7 technology students use the Scratch website from Massachusetts Institute of Technology ( to design their simple games and have the tested, commented upon and modified based on feedback.
  • Convenant Christian School in Belrose had a Year 12 student design an app for iPhone and iPod Touch for chess. Chess4 app is now available through the App Store for free.
  • Redlands in Cremorne use websites to build up a community of gamers to test games designed by student gaming company Chaos Theory Games (
  • Clancy Catholic College at West Hoxton have student media group which have created their online portal to keep the school community up to date. Articles are published, videos uploaded, scrolling Twitter posts all run by year 11 students and moderated by a teacher give it the real life media outlet experience.
  • St Monica's Catholic Parish Primary School in North Parramatta have launched a community radio station 92.5 FM which has a 5 km broadcast footprint
  • Southern Cross Vocational College in Burwood will open a cafe and restaurant to the public
  • Ballina High School runs a marine discovery and resource centre that welcomes tourists and the wider community to use the centre where students pass on information about the marine environment
The potential and variety of meaningful and new learning experiences that can be offered to students is huge. New technologies provided a set of wonderful tools in which students can now apply and see the curriculum content that they are learning as relevant. That can't be a bad thing.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Harmony Day

I suppose that part of a Teacher Librarian's lot is to do displays and use the library as a focal point for whole school celebrations - so this is my first attempt at one. Hopefully it will be a successful day.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Brave New World is already here

What is my alma mater doing??? I spent many hours in the UNSW library and loved walking through the stacks, browsing. The "serendipitous discovery" that Dr Golder talks about happened to me on countless occasions.

Whilst I do realise that there are changing needs and the wonderful possibilities that on-line resources provide, but I can't help but feel pangs of sadness and nostalgia. Perhaps a middle path can be struck, so that serendipity can still occur whilst the learning styles and needs for the newer generations of students can be catered for.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Purcell, and the provisional nature of the role of TL

After reading Purcell's article, think about
A) whether you agree with the roles Purcell identifies
B) whether you would change the order she identifies e.g. should teacher come first?

Yes - I do agree with the role Purcell identifies, but then I also agree with Herring with the eleven "possible" roles he identifies. I think that the main point that I have taken from all the reading that I have done on the role of the teacher librarian is that is it a huge, complex and not so easily definable role. It kind of reminds of the Barthes and Derrida in their post-structuralist musings on the world and meaning. The concept that comes to mind is that of meaning being "provisional". That it entirely depends on context. The context of the library and the school within which you work , the students and teaching staff you interact and the larger context of being a teacher/librarian in the 21st century. The role is constantly changing, being redefined and therefore it will never be boring (a criterion for any job I take on). But then when do you feel like you have mastered the role - probably never. Which is great for those of us that like a challenge.

And what about part B) of the question?

Some people might like to use the chicken and the egg analogy. Which comes first the teacher or the librarian? But for me the whole thing is too intertwined. At times it feels that trying clarify particular aspects of the role is like trying to unravel a ball of a mad woman's knitting - highly confused and a huge undertaking.
I actually disagree with putting any aspect of the role first, placing particular emphasis of one part of the job over the other. I realise that the whole job is a huge balancing act, one of prioritising identified needs, a large slab of excellent time management skills and people skills. It might seem a bit of a cop out to say that I wouldn't choose an aspect to put first - but at this point there isn't one that I feel passionate enough about to say - it is definitely this or that. That might change when I think about it more.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A Role , a Role, my kingdom for a clearly defined Role

At the end of a huge week in which I began to really miss being "just" a classroom teacher, thinking about the complex, varied and enormous scope that a T/L's job encompasses - it has given me a large headache. In fact a debilitating one. I think my melancholy about not being in the classroom with a class is that I feel inexpert at everything, pulled from pillar to post and thoroughly isolated. I miss the collegiality of the staffroom and the sense of completing something. I know that that is just ridiculous to think that I am not completing something – I am being inarticulate. I suppose that there are aspects of the job I just didn’t consider. So much that I didn’t consider.

I have been overwhelmed the vast amounts of writing on the T/L, both in academia and fellow students. The thoughtful postings on the forum have certainly provided a feast of food for thought. I suppose my biggest struggle with the concept is how to approach it. I swing between being able to see the role in a general sense - of a vital member of staff in a school in the learning hub, collaborating and teaching the vital skills of information literacy, managing access to all the resources and advocating the love of reading. And then get bogged down in the minutiae of the various aspects of the role - of which there seem to be many. The realities of being the one who has to fix the "blooming" photocopier that is jammed yet again isn't something that you really need to forget about - but it does chew up a large part of your day! Some days more than others - and there are also other mundane aspects which seem to be something that a classroom teacher does not really have to deal with. I suppose that what much of the literature suggests is that you need to be proactive, and be an advocate for your role. If you do that then the rest of the staff, students and community aren’t going to view you as someone who puts books back on a shelf and hosts events! The chair wrangling and being on “playground” duty for 1 hour and 45 minutes a day is not what I wanted. I am trying to change the culture and behaviour of the students in the library but it is going to be an uphill battle.

I suppose what I want is for people to have a clear understanding of the role that at Teacher librarian has within a school – but at present that isn’t even particularly clear in be befuddled head. I have to stop basing my idea of what the role is on instinct and traditional views and get with the 21st century program. So here is my attempt to enunciate what I feel the T/L is or should be

An educator that supports students in their learning journey – ensuring that there are equipped with the essential information literacy skills to successfully navigate the terabytes of information accessible in the world in order that they can use and create texts and ideas.

Think it needs work – a lot of work. It will be interesting to see how my view of this changes as the weeks of this session progresses.

message to principals and teachers

How very true! It seems that not only do I wrestle with the beast of the photocopier on a daily basis, I feel like I am a subdivision of Office Works, part printing shop and chair wrangler. It is all in the joy of being a librarian - I just didn't read it in the job description. It must have been in the fine print. But after doing all that we do - it is still a wonderful feeling to have helped - when a student has a question, is stressed about their assignment and needs guidance, or just is able to recommend a wonderful book to curl up with. Not bad, not too bad at all.

Mike Eisenberg Vodcast #4—The Role of the Teacher-Librarian and the Scho...

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Future of the Book

Finally catching up with my reading and perusing The Australian Literary Review over my eggs and toast this morning my eye was caught by Geordie Williamson's article on "Kindling for postmodern pagans" or essentially his musings on the future of the book.

As his most eloquently puts it "There is a revolution under way, the most dramatic change in the way we produce, read and disseminate texts since the invention of mechanical moveable type by Johannes Gutenberg in the 1430s. It seems this generation will preside over the decline of a technology that has played a central role in forming the modern mind. Our world has been built by books: the world of the future will be made out of bits." (page 8 ALR Volume 6, Issue 2, March 2011)

Williamson points out the impact this revolution is having on publishers, authors and bookstores (as evident in the collapse of the REDgroup recently). It has moved some writers such as Crikey's Guy Rundle to ask deep, more fundamental questions such as "The wider question ... is how we will sustain any form of public spatial life at all - as the last shared, necessary space dissovles. "

Williamson feels that there is " anxiety (about) the digital revolution's headlong rush: a sense that for every online gain in speed, efficiency and ease of access, some erosion of the human sphere occurs. Rundle is rightly concerned by the potential disappearance of bookshops, which have operated in Australia in much the same way that coffee houses did in Regency London - as a third place outside the home and work, where ideas may be freely exchanged - but this remains a broader cultural and political concern. The book as we know it faces other specific threat from what happens next." (page 8-9)

e-BOOKs is what happens next! Williamson write "digitisation of the written word in the future of books" Which of course has impacts for the librarian in schools! "What is undeniable, if only through an accumulation of anecdotal evidence, is that the way we read is altered by long exposure to the web. Its punch news items, embedded multimedia and promiscuous hyperlinks all play havoc with our attention spans."

Williamson quotes from Nicholas Carr's essay "Is Google Making Us Stupid?" in which Carr observes that he struggles now to immerse himself in reading as he once found easy. And as Nietzsche felt that "our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts" so too does David Malouf who often writes in long hand in order to keep the rhythm and flow of his thoughts. Williamson contends that "the corollary is equally true: our reading equipment shapes our reception of such thoughts." The medium in which we read will shape the forming of our thoughts - to immerse oneself into another world of contemplative philosophy, sublime poetry or prosaic literature or to analyse information - two different forms of reading - which possbily, Williamson believes lends themselves to different modes. The former to the books - single use and so much more conducive to the immersion and deep reading required; the latter perfectly suited to the ebook and online revolution.

Williamson is certainly no Luddite when it comes to ebooks. He points out that there is exciting and amazing potential for ebooks to really enhance the reading experience. "Google "enhanced ebooks" and you will discover expansions in the idea of the book so radical it is scarcely possible to draw a line between old (print/paper) technology and new.

He states that "we can assume, for example, the idea of pages and pagination will soon go, since that sequential system is tied to printed books alone." Pity - I am a fan of the sequential pages - being a methodical type. "In their place we will see sound an image increasingly tied to text, as well as collaborative annotation and commentary of the kind already being used for on-line music" which has enormous implication for teaching of English and literacy in the near future.

Essentially, Williamson's thesis is that "It is the infinite possibility contained in each e-reader (not single use devices but multi-modal and completely different to the printed book) that makes them destoryers of immersion" the type of reading which Williamson asserts is essential for certain types of texts.

Sven Birketts put forward the different between contemplative and analytical thought and that "I come to think that contemplation and analysis are not merely two kinds of thinking: they are opposed kinds of thinking. Then I realise that the internet and the novel are opposites as well."

Hence "Novels, poetry, short stories, writing on metaphysics: anything that demands contemplative immersion and is resistant to improvement by regular updating should, ideally, remain as it is" i.e. in printed book form.

An interesting footnote to the article was the Espresso Book Machine - which sounds brilliant - Costing under $100,00 and small enough to fit in a library office or a bookshop window. This machine can print, collate and bind a single book in minutes at the request of the consumer - so it can find through the digitisation of books - great to for out of print books or backlists - could have a wonderful application in libraries.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

EBSCO my new best friend.

I watched the tutorial for EBSCO - it made it so easy. It really shows you the possibilities for using tools for learning within your own library! AND yet the Informit tutorial was inferior. Perhaps it is the inherent difference between the two databases, but the tutorial was not easy to follow - I felt like I would have to take detail notes, it was too fast and confusing for my tiny mind. So the technology and the tools for achieving learning outcomes is highly dependent on its execution.

And I quote Ann Clough who is much more eloquent that I on this matter - I concur 100%

This was my first attempt at searching for journals in such a large library database as EBSCO and Informit. I was relieved that the EBSCO "How to" tutorial was simple, quick and easy to follow. On EBSCO, I was able to narrow the results with relative ease by refining my choice of key words. I discovered that SU (Subject Terms) does not always help. The search topics we were set allowed me to expand my knowledge of our key terms. For instance, I learnt that teacher librarian and media specialist are the same but different titles apply to different countries. . I have set up some folders in EBSCO and stored a few relevant resources in them already. Overall, I found the EBSCO database was the most user-friendly of the databases that I tried.

Informit was not easy to use. The tutorial was too fast and required too many steps. I got lost in no time. I learnt that Informit requires very specific search parameters. I struggled to narrow the results below 200 records! So I was not very successful using Informit. I feel like I have only scratched the surface of the possibilities on offer within these database sites. I clearly need to investigate library databases furthers. I am at least capable of performing a basic search now. Practise is definitely necessary....

A tip I need to remember: always tick the Full Text Records Only box!!!

Standards of Professional Excellence

Is this all too much to expect? How realistic is it to have standards which categorically state "professional excellence"?

Whilst it is a wonderful aim, something to which one "should aspire", is it not placing an undue burden on an individual to create the expectation that these are the standards they should achieve? Certain personality types (owners of which shall remain nameless) could be ready for a career long guilt trip of all the things they haven't achieved rather than focusing on the needs that they meet for the library users on a daily basis. I suppose that it is all a matter of perspective and a large dose of common sense, but when you have a document that your bosses can point at and measure you against, it can be somewhat daunting.

One thing that did strike me as unique for the teacher/librarian (T/L) is that it really is a balancing act - that unlike most professionals who just need to perfect and polish one set of professional skills - T/Ls are wearing two hats simultaneously. Not only are T/Ls expected to posses the "curriculum knowledge and pedagogy" that a teacher should but this is combined with "library and information management knowledge and skills". So it is a combination of two professions, with their own professional standards and skill sets mixed into one mega role. A big job and as the ASLA document acknowledge "complex" work. So you can understand why there might be the need to frame standards in terms of "excellence". However, I can't help wondering if the New South Wales model of Teacher accreditation might be a more workable solution.

For the "new scheme" teachers as they are sometimes called in New South Wales, there are a set of standards that they are expected to meet to be qualified and deemed "competent". As a T/L with big yellow L plates currently on my back, standards of excellence is something that I would love to achieve, but you need to crawl before you can walk. It it says in the ASLA document that the standards are for "excellent, highly-accomplished teacher librarians". Fantastic, but what about the human, feet of clay individuals amongst us, who are just starting out in the profession? The three levels that the NSW system has of "competent", "highly accomplished" and "leadership" gives a framework in which you can see the progression and skills acquisition that happens with anyone in a profession. I feel like I am staring at the top of Everest when I read some of the standards and wondering in which lifetime am I going to be able to achieve them and get everything else done. Or that my "professional palette" is monochromatic.

Now that I have had my meltdown and hissy fit - if I take the document in the spirit that it was intended - "primarliy intended for use by teacher librarians as a framework for ongoing professional learning", then it is a good guide or checklist to make sure that you are ensuring that you are developing your skills, knowledge and attributes so that your professional palette isn't monochromatic. I suppose it is just like the balancing act of the two professions, you need to balance the aspiration of achieving with the standards of excellence with the working towards and developing as a professional. Easier said than done!

What a Week!

Despite my best intentions of taking one day at a time - this week about three days seem to attack me at once and the study just didn't happen.

So then the big guilt trip ensued. Stress levels need to be managed and I am doing a bad job at that currently.

So despite feel slightly overwhelmed I do need to just take a big breath, grind the teeth and attack the problem one task at a time. And I am certain that I am not the only one feeling this way and that I am even more certain that I will feel like this again. Let's hope that it won't be as soon as tomorrow.

Monday, March 7, 2011


It is probable that Australian school libraries date almost from the establishment of the first schools, although books were a scarce commodity for many years in the new colony of New South Wales. School librarianship in the nineteenth century is documented by Clyde (1983) .

Clyde’s article outlines the organisation and aims of a variety of libraries in nineteenth century Australia. Libraries ran the gambit of those which were well funded and supported to those who relied on the patronage of a few and ad-hoc part-time work of perhaps the local teacher. By 1935 a report detailing the state of Australian school libraries, called the Munn-Pitt Report, was “highly critical of the services which those libraries offered.” (page 11) Despite there being evidence of school libraries in Australia from as early as the 1810s as part of private academies and also as a strong part of Sunday schools, there was little consistency or clear guidelines for the profession.
[See below James Herring’s summary of the historical progress in Australia.]
Generally, the trends evident in the late nineteenth century continued until the 1930s, with no major developments until the Munn-Pitt Report of 1935 prompted professional librarians and educators to take another look at their school libraries. Meanwhile, throughout this period, many secondary schools built rooms or separate buildings for their libraries. Many of these later proved to be inadequate. Modern school libraries, with qualified staffing and enhanced resource provision took off in the 1970s and 1980s, and the development of resource-based learning in schools from the 1980s onwards, played a major role in the development of school libraries. The 1990s saw the spread of the internet, especially the development of the web, and this allowed school libraries to move to being partly virtual libraries in the 21st century.

What doesn’t seem to have changed much as an issue for school libraries is FUNDING. Although one of the palpable changes from the Munn-Pitt report is the housing of libraries become a focus and the advent of purpose built libraries became the norm rather than the exception.

One of the main aims of libraries in the 19th century was encouraging children to develop “the reading habit”. Despite being in the 21st century, there still pervades the collective psyche the enduring appeal of the morally beneficial “reading habit” which continued from the 19th century throughout the 20th century right up to today. Many 21st century schools have implemented wide reading programs such as DEAR (drop everything and read) and many parents lament that their children and teenagers just don’t read enough. Perhaps this value-laden judgement of the formative benefits of reading “good literature” is perpetuated by those who fear the loss of knowledge, especially of “the classics”, and a common frame of reference that will be lost through the dominance of technology through gaming and social-networking sites.

The other main point from Clyde’s article is that there was not a huge emphasis in the 19th century on the academic library but rather a reading/recreational library.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Community Analysis of myschool!

Reading – Bishop, K (2007). Community Analysis and needs assessment in The Collection Program in Schools: Concepts, practices and information sources (4th edition) (pp. 19-24) Westport,Conn. : Libraries Unlimited.

Do you feel the areas of need stated are the appropriate ones school library collections should be developed to meet?

Although it was somewhat American-centric, the underlying principles for finding out information about your school and the community needs that you are serving are applicable anywhere. I do feel that they are appropriate – if somewhat exhaustive, but all factor examined will have some influence on the needs of the users and thus the demands placed upon the collection.

How thorough a knowledge do you have of the teaching and learning context and the teacher – learning characteristics present within your school or a school you are familiar with?

I realised reading through the article that I have a limited and superficial knowledge of the school. I have no understanding or comprehension of the South Western Sydney region or the aspirations for the student or the historical basis of the school. The knowledge will gradually come and there are plenty of places to access this required information so a detailed picture can be formed of the school, the wider community and how the collection needs to serve those using it.

How might data on these areas be effectively gathered?

Access public documents such as myschool website (it has got to have its uses), the school management plan and annual reports, naplan results as well as conducting teacher and student surveys, visiting local public and university libraries.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

A Rose by any other name

To what extent do you feel Lee is predicting the end of school libraries?

Mal Lee,
SCIS Connections Issue no. 72 Term 1 2010 ISSN1440 2076

I don’t feel that Lee is predicting the end of school libraries but that all of us within the education field need to view this role in a new way. Hence, his argument for a name change. Whilst being called the Director of Information Services in stead of teacher/librarian may seem to be a moot point, or a somewhat pedantic trifle that has no practical impact, Lee would argue that with a change in title comes a freeing up of possibilities for the Information Services Unit and its personnel to more effectively and efficiently meet the needs of their modern users in the modern setting which is rapidly and constantly changing. A change in title may bring a change in conceptual thinking about what the role of the “library” is in its current setting, rather than having a traditional concept of dusty, musty books, twin sets, pearls, sensible shoes and half-rimmed glasses leaping to one’s mind. Some would argue that a name change isn’t going to be make any difference, but then if a traditional name maintains the traditional 18th century views of what a library can provide and achieve, then libraries and librarians will go the way of the dodo.

Is he actually advising teacher librarians to be prepared to undertake radical change in what what is provided and how it is provided if the 'school library' and 'teacher librarians' are to survive? Yes, I think he is.

Is it important to adopt new names such as 'information services unit' and 'director of learning technology' as part of this process of change?

What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
I think the Bard said it best – and this concept has been pondering for millennia.

Juliet would say it doesn’t matter what you call a thing, as its essence will maintain its form regardless of what you call it. So those who feel resistant to the change in a name really need to take a leaf out of Ms Capulet’s book. Librarians would still be functionally librarians, having to deal with change as they always have. They will provide tailored services to their clients as they always have and they will be inclusive and helpful as is their imprimatur.

And I believe that in order to get others to realise that those residing in the learning hub of the school are keeping up with the times and do keep pace with the changes happening. That yes, we do more than read the paper, drinks cups of coffee and put books back on shelves, then a name change could be something that means they will think about the space and the people in it differently. I had a colleague ask me the other day if I was a teacher. As if between December and January my decade plus of classroom practice magically went ‘poof” because now I am just a ‘librarian’. Sorry if I sound that I am on my soapbox!

Being a TL in a PL world

Do you agree with Doug Johnson that students, and indeed younger teachers, are increasingly 'post-literate' in the manner that he defines and uses this term?

SCIS Connections Issue no. 72 Term 1 2010 ISSN1440 2076

I do feel at times that those not of Gen Y and younger do tend you express somewhat sepia toned nostalgia for the methods they used and resources they accessed when growing up. Perhaps it is the unsettling nature of the rapid change we are all experiencing in the modern world. That said, Johnson’s definition of post-literate individual rings true. Any student I imagine or encounter in public spaces in the recent past ticks all the boxes he presents.

So taking into consideration the multimedia formats which are preferred by the post-literate learner and library user are or can be very powerful learning tools to engage the post-literate student and move them towards deep learning and critical literacy. I find this to be quite an exciting and challenging prospect.

Are school libraries and their collections already adopting the critical attributes that Johnson is proposing?

Yes I do feel that most school libraries are trying to develop their collections to meet these needs as best they can. If you look at the checklist of those things Johnson feels PL libraries need to cater for – there are already things that my school library does that is hopefully catering for these PL users.

Ø stock without prejudice – well, this may be my delusion, but I hope that I am open to new formats – I have already looked to acquisitioning more graphic novels and manga to appeal to the visual readers

Ø support gaming for instruction and recreation – already doing this.

Ø allow the use of personal communication devices and provide wireless connection – wireless connection is there and with the DER most students have access to laptops above year 9. Many students bring their ipods to “help” them study

Ø teach the necessary skills for effective communication – obviously an ongoing process and needs to be supported by the whole staff and not just the TL

Podcast on Education for Library Professionals in the Digital Age

In this address, Dagmar Schmidmaier AM reflects on how we should be educating the librarians of the future, at the tertiary level.

This forum was held at the Victorian State Library on 6 February 2007.

It was a suggested text for ETL401.

Some interesting points raised by Dagmar was that:
  • libraries must be seen as integral part of education
  • as an essential contributor to those it serves within the educational field
  • That libraries and librarians supports the specific curriculum needs AND is a place for exploration of ideas and innovation.

The Challenge is that the vital role of libraries is understood. This is an ongoing process and we as professionals need to up to date with the needs of clients, be aware of the political and environmental situations.

A modern library is a place where technologies need to meld.

She posed an interesting questions - Do you want the catalogue (which isn't that engaging or user friendly in my library OR technologically up to date)to be the first thing that users see - either physically or on-line? Perhaps on the of the challenges is to rethink the manner in which you engage and brand your information services to your clients.

So Dagmar put forward that one of the key role that the technologies allow a 21st century library to do is to provide your clients with a simple, clear and compelling message about your library. Aim to have both on-line and physical aspects of the library to be


Identify the needs of your clients and being proactive about these needs.

And ultimately Dagmar makes a plea for the educational standards - training for the profession - to be maintained - thereby ensuring the future and status of the profession of Teacher/Librarians.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Technology and frustrations

Oh dear. It is not good when the source of your power dies. My power pack for my ancient MacBook has fried itself after many years of faithful service. So I go to a store to buy the expensive replacement and ask ernestly, several times is this the right waving the old one int their general direction. To be told yes and relieve me of significant amounts of money. And it IS NOT the correct one. Urghhhhh. Not happy.

So doing my online readings is going to be a little difficult. I am glad that I have may iPad and it seems that I am being forced to get better acquainted with my new tool/toy. I must admit that I have been much happier to use the old faithful laptop as I prefer the keyboard and everything is set up the way I like it. I just need to get over myself and get on with it.

So I am planing to do much more online via the iPad. There might have to be three minutes silence for the old clunker (no disrespect to those in Christchurch). Fingers crossed there will be no more obstacles, flu, admin glitches with the uni and now the power pack. On the bright side, it is the third thing, so it should be smooth sailing from now. Here's hoping.