The staff of Barkly College Libraries have created a wonderful blog, Barkly College Libraries, to connect the Barkly District, the College, and the Libraries, and to foster a love of reading and learning. Shelagh Walsh, Library Technician at Barkly College Secondary, has been kind enough to write a guest post about the creation of the blog, and how it is being used to encourage learning in the community.
Barkly College Libraries have been asked to write a guest article for this amazing blog and we feel very privileged to do so.
To put us into perspective – we are situated in the middle of the Northern Territory – about 500kms north of Alice Springs and 1000kms south of Darwin. We are classed as a remote location, and because of this, we have many challenges that other suburban schools may not have. Our student base is majority indigenous with over half of these students being ESL (English as a Second Language) students. As you could appreciate, libraries and reading are not high on their agendas.
We wanted something that, we hoped, would catch their attention – and, it should be said, that of the staff as well. Something to make it easy to keep people updated with anything that was happening in the library – an easier way to promote books and to bring new books to everyone’s attention – something we could use to promote our college and the Libraries. Another aspect of the creation of our blog was the fact that we, ourselves, were interested in learning and using the Web 2.0 tools. This seemed a way of combining both wants or needs into one – so to speak. Having tossed the idea around for a while, we sought approval from the Director of the College to go ahead.
After that, came the fun part. We started by researching a number of Library Blogs to get an idea of what others had done and what hosting site they were using. It appeared that Blogspot seemed to be the most commonly used, and was an attractive layout as well.
To give you an idea of the ease of setting up the blog – we did it in an afternoon at home with a laptop – while bathing my dogs. It was a snap. The hardest part was the first post – blank looks at each other – now we are here what do we want to say?
Our aims are simple – we want our students and staff to know what is happening in the Library world – and importantly, to feel a part of it. We are campaigning for book reviews by students – whether by themselves or as part of a class. Our kids love trivia and all that sort of thing, and so the Worthless Wisdom post was conceived. We have asked them for suggestions as well – if they feel an ownership, then hopefully they will use it. Currently there is an article posted from one of the year 7 classes after we spent a lesson showing them how a library works and how to find things. More lessons will involve research skills and evaluating websites. We have developed various ‘games’ and activities to get the message across without lots of talking and writing as we are an Indigenous ESL school and this seems to work well.
We are fairly passionate about reading and books and, I believe, have been reasonably successful in getting kids and books together, especially the senior students. So somewhere to review books, to be able to comment and discuss the books they had read seemed to be worth a try. Get them reading, we are halfway to getting them into learning as well was our thought – and if they don’t realise it is a sneaky attack on the flank, so much the better!
It is early days yet and we know that it is going to take a lot of effort and promotion to get this running the way we envisage. Setting up the blog is the easy part – it is getting everyone on board and using it, along with keeping it continually up to date with interesting posts that will keep us on our toes. But we are optimistic that it will become an important part of our schools – and meanwhile we, ourselves are learning lots and having fun. Who could ask for more than that?
I really didn’t realize that librarians were, you know, such a dangerous group … They are subversive. You think they’re just sitting at the desk, all quiet and everything. They’re like plotting the revolution, man. I wouldn’t mess with them.”
Thankyou, Shelagh, for this wonderful look at how you are using a web 2.0 tool to foster learning, and well done to you and the Barkly College Libraries team on your great blog.