Theme One- Policies and procedures
Policies and procedures were heavily focused on in the subject ETL503 Resourcing the curriculum (Fitzgerald, 2019). Collection development policies were explored with focus placed on selection and deselection criteria, management practices, contested books and general vision of the library. The need to create published, authoritative documents guiding how to achieve these areas of library management was something I had not considered as part of the librarian’s role (Meoli, 2018, November 11).
One of the biggest changes to my understanding was exploring and valuing the role of selection and deselection criteria in resource management for libraries (Meoli, 2019, January 23). Selection and deselection criteria determine the types of resources purchased and removed from the library based on the overall goals of the service. Building these criteria highlights the need for library collection management to be future focused and balanced to support both the recreational and academic needs of students (Meoli, 2018, November 19).
Using this newfound knowledge, I am working towards finalising manageable selection and deselection criteria which will focus on balancing our collection to provide students with greater opportunities to enjoy resources for recreational reading alongside providing access to academic resources. To ensure that students are authentically involved in the library collection development there will be consistent opportunities for students to nominate books that they would like to find in the collection as well as involving students in the deselection process. My library collection has undergone minimal weeding prior to my employment as the teacher librarian, meaning resources are outdated and increases the difficulty for students to locate relevant books they desire. Having developed my understanding that resources are often underused due to difficult access, I aim to involve students in the process of deselecting books. To authentically involve students in weeding, a display has been created with books labelled ‘S.O.S – Save Our Stories’. Books on this display have not been borrowed within the last five years and students are able to save them from weeding by borrowing them from the library once they are placed on the display. This display will be changed every two to three weeks with books that have not been ‘saved’ during that time being removed from the collection. Using this method to support deselection will benefit students by highlighting the need for removing unused resources and reveal the resources students are interested in reading.
Alongside selection and deselection procedures the need for an explicit vision for the library was something that made me consider the role of teacher librarian deeply. Defining the role of the library through a vision statement in the collection development policy enables library staff – those working together or working in succession of each other – to work towards a shared goal and belief for the library’s purpose. Creating a vision for the library ensures that everything done within and for the library focuses on ensuring those goals are met. Without this explicit set of goals the library has no clear direction moving forward and is not supporting the school to its full ability.
Working in a school library which has been without an active teacher librarian for an extended period demonstrates the lack of vision previously held for the library. It also enhances the lack of value and understanding of how libraries can work with teachers to create programs and identify resources to support teaching and learning. Many of my colleagues lack a view of how they would like the library to support them and their students in teaching and learning. Having viewed various vision statements it has become apparent for the need to involve teachers in all aspects of the library, going beyond providing the allocated release from face-to-face teaching to ensure that the vision is a collective one that promotes the whole school to use the library effectively.
Having created a vision statement for use in the assignment for ETL503 I plan to meet with the principal and executive team to determine if this is the same vision they have for the library. During this time I hope to include options to supplement my views and encourage a vision of the library which can be held across the school and implemented not just through the collection but including how students time in the library is utilised. As this reflects two very different roles of the library there may in time be two different vision statements for the library- one reflecting the collection and another reflecting teaching within the library.
Theme two – Information literacy
The skills of information literacy are required to become a lifelong learner. ETL401 Introduction to teacher librarianship introduced the concept of information literacy as a process of skills to be developed and steps to be worked through. This altered both my thoughts on how to research effectively and the role of teacher librarians (Meoli, 2018, October 2). Exploring different scaffolds of information literacy including the Big 6 model (The big 6, 2018) allowed myself to become familiarised with the individual skills required to become literate in finding information.
The process used through information literacy models is not dissimilar to the teaching method of inquiry-based learning in that they both require students to engage with the topic and form their own ideas, questions and discover answers (The big 6, 2018; Bessinger & Carofa, 2014). The main difference I noted was where inquiry-based learning focuses on students building agency over their learning, information literacy highlights the skills required at each stage for students to develop their understanding across levels of engagement. Exploring information literacy ignited my interest in trying to implement this into library lessons. However, my enthusiasm resulted in a program which was not thoroughly planned and offered a steep learning curve in how to best develop units that authentically combined information literacy and inquiry-based learning. As the unit progressed, I began to notice that the students lacked basic research skills I had assumed they already possessed and coupling this with unreliable resources amounted in an incomplete unit married to a decline in my engagement to produce another information literacy based unit. Not my best lifelong learning moment!
With this failure in mind I became aware of other resources covered across the course which could support me in future attempts at building information literacy. The introduction and required use of the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) learning continuums (Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, n.d.) enabled me to analyse why my previous attempts at including information literacy had been generally unsuccessful. Looking through the continuum for critical and creative thinking (Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, n.d) I observed that many of my students had yet to achieve the lower skill levels which inhibited their ability to meet my admittedly high standards. This has changed my approach of including information literacy within the library as I have chosen to focus on the skills students have a build them up to meet the levels of the continuum and curriculum requirements. I have yet to authentically implement this into library lessons as all students require different levels of support and I had been looking for the best way to enable students to have autonomy over their learning whilst still providing structure for those who require it. ETL501 The Dynamic Information Environment answered this question for me as we explored pathfinders as a resource developed to support student learning (Croft, 2019). Through reading about and developing a pathfinder I discovered that these are much more than webquests which dictate the tasks students are to complete at each level, instead providing students with a guide of how to find their information to answer their questions. Using these two techniques together enable students to build their own skills whilst also enabling authentic research and student agency in learning.
Building my cumulative knowledge of information literacy and how it works within education to support lifelong learners has been pivotal in developing my vision of how libraries and teacher librarians support education. Having broadened my understanding of not only what it is but how to authentically implement information literacy in learning has created many changes in how I view my role as well as how I would like the library role to be altered within my school to enable students to get the most out of the knowledge I have acquired across the course. The biggest change I will be making in my programs is to ensure that students are being challenged to develop as lifelong learners from the beginning of their school experience. This will include starting early in building their critical thinking as well as ensuring that older students have opportunities to enhance and develop their skills according to the learning continuums outlined by ACARA (n.d). Within library lessons I will be helping students develop each skill on an individual level prior to incorporating these into a research project – something I should have considered when implementing my first unit. Once I feel students have developed an understanding of the sequence required, I will be looking into creating programs with classroom teachers that are interested in working together to build student lead approaches to gathering information. As discussed through ETL504 I will then share these programs with the remaining teaching staff to raise awareness and participation in student centered learning focusing on the use of information literacy to enable this. I look to build these programs with a heavy focus on the ACARA (n.d) continuums as a guide and tie in the NSW syllabus as a secondary focus.
Theme 3 – Library Organisation
Making libraries accessible for student and staff use is essential in maintaining libraries as an integral resource for schools. It is not good enough in modern libraries to have books and other resources without designing ways that they can be easily obtained by users. Through organising the library space in ways which simplify finding books alongside spaces designed to enjoy reading and encourage learning we can ensure students and teachers are inclined to use the library space for both recreation and education purposes.
Genrefication is the method of organising books to be grouped by genre followed by author (Wall, 2019). The purpose of doing this is to make it easier for users to locate books that they may enjoy based on similar features found across genres. Many students in primary school settings generally enjoy reading a series of books but once that series is finished, they are unsure of where to turn to next. This leaves them in a position where they either ask for advice on what to read next or simply do not read anything else. Organising the library so that fiction books are placed in genres enables students to recognise books that are similar to those they have previously enjoyed and easily select a new book to read.
Being relatively new to teaching and teacher librarianship this idea of having a system for organising books which would make them easier to recommend to students is fantastic. I often spend a large portion of my library time fielding questions on book recommendations for students once they have completed their most recent series, the idea that there is an organisation system that can help this is revolutionary to my library life. Beyond increasing usage of books organising the library using genrefication provides opportunities to see the percentage of the collection within each genre and develop the areas that need resources to be updated or increased. The process of reorganising the books will also make me more familiar with the resources held in our collection.
Undertaking genrefication requires significant planning and time allocations which are often lacking in the school library. However, I feel that undergoing this process would be beneficial for my students and is something that I aim to implement in the coming year. Trialing ways to make the collection widely used and effective is an important role of the teacher librarian. Although changing the location of books is often a stressful task that requires moving resources and retraining people to use the library, it is necessary to ensure that resources are placed where students and teachers will be most likely to use them. It may require trial and error, but librarians are all about learning. This concept is an effective way to ensure that the collection is being used!
The collection is generally considered the largest significant part of the library, however, the spaces available to use in a library are just as important to ensure the successful use of libraries in schools. As learning moves to include hands on and technological approaches the library space is one of the best areas to create inclusive and varied experiences allowing students to immerse themselves in their learning. Doing this is only possible if the library is designed to include areas that students can best work in varied ways.
The layout of a classroom often reflects the teaching style of a teacher and how they prefer students to interact with one another, the same can be said of library design. School libraries should be areas designed to be at the forefront of innovative and current learning trends. In order to do this the library space needs to be flexible and encourage students to engage with information regardless of how they choose to access it.
Current trends in library include makerspaces as an area that students can explore creating, building and coding (Bowler & Champagne, 2016, p117). These spaces are additional to the traditional use of library environments as a space for quiet study; and encourage students to explore using opportunities to work collaboratively to reach their end goal and investigate concepts within hands on experiences. I aim to include makerspaces in the library environment in the future to support and encourage this type of learning. The idea of differentiated spaces where students can work on ongoing projects would be ideal for my situation with library as release from face-to-face as it would allow students to pick up where they left off with minimal teacher instruction. Providing the freedom for students to explore set challenges at their own pace, with guidance from peers as well as teachers would allow students to take ownership of their learning and reach individual learning goals in a variety of ways.
Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority. (N.d.). General Capabilities. Retrieved from https://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/f-10-curriculum/general-capabilities/
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Bowler, L. & Champagne, R. (2016). Mindful makers: Question prompts to help guide young peoples’ critical technical practices in maker spaces in libraries, museums, and community-based youth organizations. Library & Information Science Research (38), p.117-124. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1016/j.lisr.2016.04.006
Croft, T. (2019). 5.2 Creating resources [Learning modules]. In ETL501 The dynamic information environment. Retrieved from Charles Sturt University, School of Education, Interact 2 website: https://interact2.csu.edu.au/webapps/blackboard/content/listContent.jsp?course_id=_42382_1&content_id=_2851388_1
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Wall, J. (2019). Genrefication in NSW public school libraries: A discussion paper. Scan, 38(10). Retrieved from https://education.nsw.gov.au/teaching-and-learning/professional-learning/scan/past-issues/vol-38,-2019/genrefication-in-nsw-public-school-libraries
The Big 6. (2018). What is the big 6? Retrieved from https://thebig6.org/