Part A: Philosophy
The diversity of a TL’s roles. Copied from Facebook post by CBCA, South Australia. (Levin, n.d.).
An effective teacher librarian (TL) fully engages with students and staff as both teacher and librarian. The TL supports teaching and learning experiences by: resourcing the curriculum in a manner that considers the local context; providing access to and implementing current research in best teaching and learning practices; developing the information literacy and fluency capacity of students and staff; and inspiring a love of literature and ethical information use. The TL also develops themselves and their library by keeping up to date with best practices in the information services industry and responsibly managing its resources.
Part B: Thematic Reflections
I have focused my reflections on the themes of leadership, technology and literature. These themes are ones that recur throughout most, if not all, subjects in the course and are areas where I could see growth in my understanding and application to my practice throughout the course.
At the outset of ETL504: Teacher librarian as leader I was sceptical about the claim that leadership is part of the role of the teacher librarian. As I detailed in my initial blog post for the subject, my experience with school leadership structures did not resonate with the idea of the TL being recognised as a school leader. Through reading the discussion forum and blog posts of other students on this topic, I realised that perhaps it was my understanding of leadership that needed to change. I therefore engaged in the subject with a mind open to entertaining such a paradigm shift.
Section 1: About the organisation
Sydney Uni Fisher Library (c) 2019 Marika Simon
The University of Sydney Library is an academic library supporting one of the leading universities in Australia. Their mission is to “inspire a love of learning in order to advance the potential in everyone” (University of Sydney Library, n.d., p. 1). The library seeks to fulfil this mission in a way that expresses its values of inspiration, collaboration, integrity, respect and curiosity (University of Sydney Library, n.d., p. 2). While their chief users are the 77,000 university students, faculty, and other staff, they also serve the wider community.
The library provides users with access to information sources both physical and digital (University of Sydney Library, n.d., p.1), without which their scholarship would be impossible. In 2019, this resource provision included enabling access to 19 million ebooks and journals and the loan of 471,000 physical items. If the library did not exist, the university would lack the resources necessary for research and for teaching and learning at the tertiary level.
The library also provides safe space in which users can interact with the information resources accessed through the library and other sources. The changing nature of university study, with more emphasis on independent online learning and less on lecture theatre experiences may create a greater need for students to find learning spaces outside of traditional classrooms (University of Sydney staff, October 3, 2019, personal communication). The library provides twelve facilities, seven of which are staffed, all of which provide study space. Facilitating this role is one of the main tasks for the Learning Spaces division where I did my professional placement. Continue reading
The time has flown by and here I am at my last day of my professional placement. It was time to wrap up the different activities I had done over the course of ten days and bid farewell to Sydney Uni Libraries.
My fellow placement student, Julie, and I finished our curriculum collection shelving improvements project and presented it to my supervisor and the other staff who had forwarded information from prior efforts to us. They gave some suggested tweaks but said it sounded like it was on target. We finished up the report and submitted it to our supervisors, who will take the proposal to the director.
I passed the affinity diagram themes that I had recorded from our map to my supervisor. He will merge that with the work he has done over the past week and call that phase of the project finished.
I also got to see some of the furniture that my supervisor had ordered for the Law Library and Fisher Library in situ and being used by students.
My supervisor gave me positive feedback and signed off on my evaluation and it was time to call things a wrap! Who knows? Maybe I’ll be back sometime!
A full week at Sydney Uni!
Highlights from the week 28 October – 1 November:
Research on vinyl cutter
One of the initiatives my supervisor was currently working on was to purchase a vinyl cutter for the Library. For the Learning Spaces area, this would be useful for creating signage decals. A proposal had been put forward to the Director to combine staff and student use for the vinyl cutter by purchasing it to be housed in the Library makerspace, Thinkspace, and therefore provide value to library users as well as the administrative staff. Five models had been included as potential recommendations in the proposal. I was tasked with doing some further research on these models and meeting with my supervisor and the manager for Thinkspace to present my findings. I was pleased to have my recommended cutter requested, with some of my arguments used to support the suggestion, and ordered.
Research on persona templates
The initial plan for the user experience (UX) research for the Conservatorium of Music (the Con) Library was to get information from students representing different courses, subject streams, years, and so forth and create personas to inform renovation plans. To that end, I was asked to look into potential persona templates to use in the project. Creating personas is frequently used in marketing and commercial UX projects. Many of the persona creation and template sites had a high amount of demographic and “buying habits” information that was not useful for our context. I found a simple, straightforward and easily customisable template at Xtensio. I created an example for our project on that platform. Continue reading
Another 2-day week on placement.
The plan for the day was to do more user experience (UX) interviews at the Conservatorium Library (the Con). However, the morning provided an
A beautiful spot for a bit of work – “The Con” (c) 2019 Marika Simon
interesting insight on the unpredictability of the Learning Spaces coordinator role. A delivery of tables came for two library sites at 7:30 in the morning, with the email notifying the coordinator of the timing coming overnight. On arrival at 9 am, we went running around sorting out various issues and providing a liaison between the delivery worker, the staff at the various sites and the installer (who was meant to show up at 7:30 with the delivery, but did not arrive until around midday) to ensure that everything was in a reasonable space.
After a brief lunch break, we headed out to the Con and I scribed a couple of interviews led by my supervisor and then continued on my own until around 4:30. I tried to catch people either as they entered or were about to settle in to a study spot or to catch them when they were up and moving around. I attempted to get users from each of the study areas on the level we were targeting, hoping that I could also get a reasonable cross-section of student types. The plan is to start pulling out themes and creating an affinity diagram next Monday.
Today was a “find out more about the library in general” day. I got an intro to frontline services with one of the access services managers and access to the online training for the ALMA library management system (LMS). I also got a chance to shadow staff at the main information desk and in the returns room, along with a TAFE placement student. The final learning experience for the day was touring the non-traditional library spaces – where the collection is not books and traditional information material formats, but rather human resources, technological devices, and study space. Highlights from the various experiences follow: Continue reading
What role does technology play in the relationship information agencies develop with their users?
Technology was a common theme in the presentations of information agencies across a broad spectrum in the Sydney 2 study visit session. The uses of technology within the information agencies was integral to the relationship each agency had with its users. Though different uses of technology developed different aspects of the relationship between agency and user, one of the key roles played by technology was that of “connecting”. Technology used by information agencies connects users: to information; to personalised expert help; to the selection process; and to community. These connections create, change and develop various relationships between agency and user.
Technology connects users to information held by information agencies. Furthermore, technology has enabled the location for information exchange to no longer be confined to the library’s physical location, but rather freed in a new virtual mode of relationship between agency and user. Many of the information agencies on the Sydney 2 itinerary had online public access catalogues (OPACs) and e-Resource collections and had digitised selected items from their collections. Providing round-the-clock access to information and resources online extended the reach of these agencies, both geographically and temporally. This enabled them to forge relationships with users that they would not have had contact with otherwise due to distance or time constraints on users’ ability to physically access the library during opening hours. Continue reading
I am doing my placement in Sydney Uni Library’s Learning Spaces division. This comes under Site Services/Facilities Management for the library. My understanding of the mission is to improve the various spaces under library management to optimise the user experience.
Sydney Uni Fisher Library (c) 2019 M Simon
Here are some rough-and-ready thoughts from my first week:
Corporate culture and leadership
I find it much easier to see the value of the material on leadership styles, corporate culture and change management in this large, established organisation. My usual small primary school context is set within the larger Department of Education corporate culture, but the relevance of that is harder to see on a daily basis. In my placement, I can see more value in viewing events and interactions through a leadership theory lens. Being able to understand where attitudes and procedures come from and how to deal with initiating and overcoming resistance to change has daily practical value in this environment. Learning Spaces is all about change management. The remit is to observe and analyse what is in place, then collect evidence, and propose changes to improve the space (and then implement those changes.) Issues such as giving time for staff ownership of change and the need for an iterative process were evident. For example, in the SciTech library the reference and circulation service points have been changed from a large circulation desk to smaller height-adjustable pods. The intention of these pods is to be standing-height service “touchpoints” where staff have one to two hour shifts providing front-line service to users. When touring the libraries, these pods were set at seat-height and the staff I observed were sitting and working on the computers on their pods and did not even look up to take notice of users, such as myself, entering the library. This seems to be an example of a change that has been implemented but that has not been “owned” by the staff and will need to be re-visited to optimise the service. Continue reading
Oh no! It is clickbait! I put my study visit report on my external blog, so you will have to click this link to read it! How rude!
In all seriousness, though, study visits were very cool (though I do regret that between the visits and the two assessments due the following week I did not really get much of a break on the school holidays!) If you haven’t done them yet, I think they are something to look forward to (unless perhaps you are coming from an extensive, varied librarianship background and are just ticking the requirements box with this course…)
Anyway, I hope you checked out my report on my “new” blog… Bye for now!
Having just submitted my final assessment that will actually be marked on the Fail to High Distinction scale, I feel my course drawing to a close. I have decided to take the plunge and export my student blog posts out into the wider web. Hopefully having a populated blog will encourage me to move my blogging practice into my regular work life and not just keep it confined to Uni.
If you are interested in keeping up with me, you can now find me on http://marikasimon.edublogs.org/– I hope to see some familiar names! I will probably mirror my posts between the two blogs for a bit if I can keep track of that ;).
See you out in the wide, wide Web!
My view on the case study group work moved from initial dread (Simon, 2019, 23 July) through to hope for a positive experience (Simon, 2019, August 9). In the end I feel this component has contributed to my developing practice of leadership and understanding how it relates to the role of the teacher librarian (TL).
In our first group effort, members stepped up as initiators, contributors, opinion seekers, elaborators, orienters and encouragers (Roberts, 2012; Simon, 2019, August 18, ). Donna Thurling (2019, September 22) suggested that perhaps groups should have been seeded with some dominators, blockers or aggresors (Roberts, 2012). I disagree because I think the value of the experience is the authentic nature of the situation. Negotiating with real people rather than just roles or scenarios gave insight for my practice of leadership as a TL. Evaluating real-life reactions to my initiation (Simon, 2019, August 18) or hanging back (Simon, 2019, September 9) developed my understanding of how to effectively manage teams when leadership is distributed to me as TL. Continue reading