Iterations of my School Library Vision

My first iteration

“The library will empower students and staff to be active learners who contribute positively to the school and the world around them. By the time they graduate, students will grasp what it means to be a responsible digital citizen, ready to collaborate with others to create knowledge and ideas.”

I feel this is too long.

“The library will be a hub to build a learning community flowing with ideas, inspiration, innovation and collaboration. ”

Does this imply that the school isn’t a learning community?

Third iteration

“Our library will be the centre of our learning community; flowing with ideas, inspiration, innovation and collaboration. Staff and students alike will be welcomed as active learners who create knowledge and ideas.”

This is a good number of words and communicates most of what I want to say.

Fourth

“Our library will be the centre of our learning community; flowing with ideas, inspiration, innovation and collaboration. Staff and students alike will be welcomed as active learners who responsibly create knowledge and ideas in both analogue and digital environments.”

It’s 39 words so basically right on the upper limit of where I think the statement length should be.

“Our library will be the centre of our learning community; flowing with ideas, inspiration, innovation and collaboration. Every student and staff member will be welcomed as an active learner, empowered to responsibly create knowledge and ideas in both analogue and digital environments.”

Tipping just over where I wanted it, at 42 words, I feel like this communicates all I wanted to say.

Blogs I recommend

During this session I have come across the blogs of two teacher-librarians (neither of whom are in Australia) – Nadine of Informative Flights and Elizabeth of Elizabeth Hutchinson.

In particular, there are two posts that have helped me get through this subject and come out the other end believing that teacher-librarians can be leaders.

The first, from Informative Flights, was about scheduling.  In it, Nadine talks about how she works at a school where the teacher librarian takes classes for RFF, but she makes it work for her as best she can.  It helped me to realise that even if this was a part of the school that I worked at (and wasn’t possible to change) there were still ways to make the best of the situation and be a leader.

The second, from Elizabeth Hutchinson, was about working with teachers. This post really encouraged me that it’s ok to be a beginner, even at the things that are your areas of ‘expertise’.

Elizabeth Hutchinson is well worth following if you are on Twitter.  She blogs pretty regularly and brings a lot of experience and wisdom to the profession.

Leadership and the case study groups

I went into the case study groups wanting to be a bit of a leader but also not wanting to take over the group – I didn’t want to be controlling and I didn’t want to prevent others from having a chance at leading.  I would say we had two people that were co-leaders of the group, although this was definitely an informal arrangement.  I was one of the people that co-lead the group.  This sentiment of mine was reinforced by fellow student and case study group member Jennifer Greensill (whose permission I have to repost this).

Jenn said:

I think your contributions in here have been great! Your feedback and the ideas you present have all been valid and valuable. You have been a leader in here, especially initiating conversations and stepping up to do our group’s first response post. Initiating conversations and building relationships are vital in our leadership role as a TL and what you have demonstrated in here are definitely transferable skills and attributes you can apply to your real world context and also mention in your reflection. (Greensill, J., 2019, personal communication).

Another group member also commented on a blog post of mine, which reiterated Jenn’s thoughts. This was encouraging for me to know that I had achieved what I had set out to do – be a leader, although not an overbearing one.  I took the lead in volunteering to compile the first group post, I helped to organise everyone and contributed to the discussion regularly. Not everyone contributed as much to the group; not everyone was able.  We worked together well, got our posts in on time and developed stronger professional connections.

 

Out of the Fire Swamp…

The Fire Swamp
By Samstokes80, licenced under CC-BY-SA from https://princessbride.fandom.com/wiki/FireSwamp

So, metaphorically I have been feeling like I’m in the Fire Swamp.  It’s not a great place to be.  The expectations upon teacher librarians (at least from our subject coordinators) seem insurmountable.  We are expected to be all things to all people.  We are expected to be excellent and outstanding leaders right from the word go.  We are expected to maintain a wonderful collection, in a welcoming environment, while helping teachers, collaboratively teaching and having every single class in the school for an RFF lesson.  It’s just not possible.

I also had (particularly last year) serious misgivings about Guided Inquiry.  The demands of that specific model and they way it is being promoted are inaccessible for most schools, certainly the ones I have contact with.

Between these two issues, I really felt like uni was driving me away from the profession I was training for.

And then…

Assessment Two.

Believe it or not, this assignment has restored my faith in the profession.

Firstly, in the process of writing a vision for the school library in my assessment, I was inspired to think about what libraries could truly be like.  Secondly, in the process of researching one of my strategic focuses, I was led to this article which gave me a lightbulb moment! We can have inquiry learning without guided inquiry and we can most definitely have inquiry learning without Guided Inquiry Design! I don’t need to avoid inquiry learning just because I don’t like (and have serious issues with) one particular model.

Types of student inquiry
(Courtesy Trevor MacKenzie and Rebecca Bathurst-Hunt)

Crisis of confidence averted! On with the show (and that final assignment!)

A serendipitous moment!

Maybe it’s been there the whole time and I’ve never paid attention, or maybe it’s new.  But today, I stumbled across a really useful feature of the primo library interface CSU uses.

The Primo interface with "related titles" to the right

When searching for an article (actually I had the article open, I was looking for the journal website because “Access” is a great title for a journal unless you’re trying to Google the website…) for my assignment I noticed the “related reading” column on the side of the screen.  This pointed me to another related article (that’s the point!) that I had read last year and forgotten about, but as soon as I saw it in the list I knew it would be perfect for what I wanted to say! This little column helped me so much and I have no idea if it’s been there the whole time – if it has, I have obviously ignored it!

Sydney Study Visits 1 – Study Visit Report

Part A: Attendance

I attended all the relevant sessions and signed in at each session.

Part B: Essay and Reflection

Essay: A well-resourced information agency is a successful information agency. Discuss.

A library cannot be a successful library if it is not a well-resourced library.  However, what well-resourced looks like depends on many factors, including the community the library serves and the remit of the library.  Library resources also extend beyond the metres of shelving or numbers of tomes on the shelves, to not only include e-resources, but also intangible resources such as programs, services, staff and knowledge. 

Each library has its own unique community and remit and a successful library has a collection that is responsive to community needs. (Pearlmutter & Nelson 2011). It builds the collection around the profile of the community it serves and responds effectively to the requests and changing needs of the community. 

The Sydney Mechanics School of Arts library is a small, subscription based library in the inner city of Sydney.  Its 1500 members are mostly in the 60+ year old age bracket and over 50% of the library’s collection of approximately 35,000 books consists of mystery and crime novels, some dating back to the 1940s.  While efforts have been made to expand on the tastes and reading habits of the library members, the library has responded to member feedback and requests by continuing to support their desire for mystery and crime novels.  The library purchases approximately 90% of all materials suggested by members, and adds approximately 100-120 new books to the collection each month.