Redesigning thinking in school libraries

notosh

As school libraries forge a new future, it’s clearly apparent that no two libraries are the same.  Whilst we can exchange ideas and hold discussions on ‘what works’ for us, defining the role of a school library is an exercise in knowing what is best for our own community.

Last week, at the SLAV workshop Redesigning thinking in Libraries, Hamish Curry of NoTosh guided library staff through a design thinking approach to exploring the future possibilities for their libraries and schools.  With an explicit focus on the areas of Mindset, Skillset, and Toolset, delegates were led through a critical and creative process learning to think deeply and constructively.  They thought through the current position of their school library and explored possibilities from different angles and through various lenses.

The room buzzed with energy as throughout the day they used words such as ‘and’, rather than ‘but’, to shake off the limitations we often place on our own thinking.  Delegates learnt about ‘ideation’ and ‘actions’ and the ‘7 spaces’ concept.  By the end of the day new ideas had been formed along with the conviction to put them into practice.

Hamish is an old friend of SLAV, having previously collaborated through his role in the Education Team at State Library of Victoria.  The new knowledge he brought from No Tosh is timely inspiration and guidance for school library staff charged with the responsibility of re-envisaging the traditional school library service.

This Storify captures some of the Twitter feed shared via #slavconf.  Thanks to delegates who tweeted from the workshop enabling the capture of this valuable record.

IFLA School Library Guidelines

IFLA-guidelines2

The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) is the leading international body representing the interests of library and information services and their users. It is the global voice of the library and information profession. To this end, it is important that school library professionals acquaint themselves with the recently published IFLA School Library Guidelines (2nd ed).

In recent years many school libraries have come under the spotlight as principals balance the budget of cost against return. In some instances qualified library trained personnel have been taken from the library and redeployed elsewhere in the school, while other school libraries have continued to expand and grow.  One of the keys to this change has been the ability of library staff to innovate and adapt to the changing nature of schooling, learning and resources.

In producing these guidelines, IFLA provides recommendations that can guide the discussion about your school library. As they state:

“These guidelines have been developed to assist school library professionals and educational decision-makers in their efforts to ensure that all students and teachers have access to effective school library programs and services, delivered by qualified school library personnel.”

IFLA make a number of recommendations that warrant close reading. Two of these resonate loudly as core programs and the collaborative partnerships required to achieve them, namely:

Recommendation 13. The core instructional activities of a school librarian should be focused on: literacy and reading promotion; media and information literacy instruction; inquiry-based teaching; technology integration; and professional development of teachers. [5.2-5.7]

Recommendation 14. The services and programs provided through the school library should be developed collaboratively by a professional school librarian working in concert with the principal, with curriculum leaders, with teaching colleagues, with members of other library groups, and with members of cultural, linguistic, indigenous, and other unique populations to contribute to the achievement of the academic, cultural, and social goals of the school. [3.5, 3.5.4, 5.1-5.8]

The positive impact of a well functioning school library on student achievement has been extensively studied over the years.  We need to be in a constant state of review and self-appraisal if our school libraries are to adapt to changing needs in schools.  It’s not easy, but these guideline are a useful tool to support that process.

Libraries reinvented: No.1 of the top 10 list

maker

Last week a headline in eSchool News caught my eye – Top 10 of 2014, No 1: Libraries reinvented.  I tend to ignore social media notifications citing the Top 5, 10, 20 or 120 of the best tips, tools and everything you can imagine, but this one was a pleasant surprise worth investigating as it said:

Each year, the eSchool News editors compile 10 of the most influential ed-tech developments and examine how those topics dominated K–12 ed-tech conversations.  No. 1 on our list for 2014 is the new role of school libraries.

School libraries have evolved from quiet places to read books into bustling centers [sic] of collaboration, learning, and research. School librarians are emerging as leaders as they help teachers learn valuable technology integration skills. They also teach students how to research and evaluate information.

Many of us associated with school libraries have been focussing on the evolving role of school library personnel, and the function of the library within the school community for some time.  It’s interesting to note that eSchool News has made this selection because the ‘new role of school libraries’ has dominated K–12 ed-tech conversations during 2014.  This is good news. Mentioned in the post are two articles:

Here in Australia, potential and actual change in school libraries has been documented in School Library Assoc of Victoria (SLAV) publications, and those of other relevant organisations. Examples of articles in SLAV’s Synergy journal  (all but most recent edition is open source) which support the new model of school library and have guided the work of many of us in school libraries are:

I have to agree with Doug Johnson in his commentary of the eSchool news article however when he says, ‘Be warned – this phoenix will not be the same-old, same-old bird of the past, but a new creation, technology-infused, best practices-drive, with a new kind of librarian in the lead.’

School libraries are a vital resource in the life of a student – if they’ve moved into the 21st century.  They are exciting places of instruction, support and learning that students can call their own.   They are both physical and digital environments which are part of the life of the school through a range of learning and recreational activities.   Most importantly, they are lead by progressive, open minded individuals with a collaborative attitude and the courage to change.

What’s happening in your school library? Be a library leader today!  It may sound cliche but this truly is a time for school libraries to show a new face on the future but be warned…. it’s not the ‘same-old bird’.

Exploring Makerspace culture

kerbal

It’s twelve months since Kristen Fontichiaro presented Sharpening our toolkit: defining great work, exploring Makerspace culture and badging accomplishments at the SLAV Conference Transliteracy: whom do you ask and how can you participate? At that time Kristen spoke of the value of Makerspaces as positive learning opportunities based on her experience and research with the Michigan Makers group  and the University of Michigan, USA.

A number of schools have explored the idea and are implementing them in various ways.  As a ‘third space’ in a student’s life – a place that is neither home and nor the classroom, libraries and the concept of a Makerspace is an ideal fit.  Every school has a unique ‘maker’ identity according to the interests and resources available to that community. Some lean towards integration with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and concentrate on electronics and coding. Others, such as Mazenod College library that I presented to delegates at the recent ELH conference, feature Lego, MinecraftKerbal Space Program and Augmented Reality.


Makerspaces: creating an opportunity

Regardless of the focus, Makerspaces share a common definition:

  • A place where people can use tools and materials and can develop creative projects
  • Can be embedded in an existing organisation or stand alone e.g. Makerfaires
  • Are adaptive – can be shaped by educational goals or individuals’ creative interests Makerspace.com

Opportunities for innovation are emerging rapidly as schools purchase 3D printers and the notion of introducing computer coding as a primary school subject is being canvassed by education departments worldwide.  There is an opportunity here for school library staff to look at their spaces and investigate the possibility of working in collaboration with Technology and IT Departments combining ideas across the school.

Schools libraries have the benefit of a degree of flexibility to venture into providing activities with a Makerspace mindset as an opportunity for students to tinker, explore, relax and mix with peers around a shared interest. It doesn’t have to be a fully equipped, technical space.  Students simply need somewhere they can explore and learn in a voluntary yet constructive capacity.

Do you have a Makerspace story to share in relation to your school library?  Please use the ‘reply’ box below to share your story.

Some resources to assist your research:

SLAV’s FYI journal – Summer 2014 – Theme- Makerspaces – the changing nature of school libraries includes numerous articles and a list of further reading
What does the next generation of school libraries look like? – Mindshift article by Luba Vangelova
Linking for learning – Makerspaces – list of resources
Makerbridge – an online community for everyone interested in makerspaces and maker culture
Edutopia – Maker education – a range of resources and practitioner advice including an excellent article by Vicki Davis
Makers as innovators – a series of books produced by the Michigan Makers, plus a list of ideas to consider
Invent to Learn – Making, tinkering and engineering in the classroom by Sylvia Martinez and Gary Stager.

makerspace-Fontichiaro

 

School libraries as Learning Commons – physical & virtual

learningcommonsa

In recent years school libraries worldwide have undergone a period of re-evaluating their role and innovating into a new future.  The changing nature of both education and resources, accompanied by easy online access to information and 1:1 computing, have all been part of this change.

Next month School Library Assoc of Victoria will welcome to Melbourne two renowned library professionals who have played a significant role in leading the change worldwide, Dr David V Loertscher and Carol Koechlin.  David and Carol are library educators well known for information literacy skills development and for providing practical support for rethinking and re-imagining school libraries.

Their work on developing the model of school libraries as Learning Commons, can be seen on The School Learning Commons Knowledge Building Center website.  It is discussed in their article Climbing to Excellence: Defining characteristics of successful learning commons. This article is also available in the latest edition of SLAV’s online professional journal Synergy.

To quote David and Carol:

The focus of the transformed traditional library should be on learning in its many manifestations, whether formal or informal, and the word “commons” could reflect a shift from a top-down organisational structure to the flat networked world where the clients, both teachers and students, consider themselves to be in command of knowledge building.

We have proposed that the learning commons serve a unique purpose in the school as a bridge between educational philosophy being practiced and the real world.  As such, the learning commons serves school curriculum but also is known as a place for experimenting, playing, making, doing, thinking, collaborating, and growing.  A series of Learning Commons books have been produced to support this journey.

Recently they’ve been involved in the development of Leading Learning: Standards of Practice for School Library Learning Commons in Canada, 2014 which presents a model for the development and implementation of the school library as a library learning commons, providing educators with a common set of standards of practice for moving forward.

Teacher librarians will be familiar with some of their practical and popular information literacy books published in collaboration with Sandi Swaan:

David and Carol will teach and inspire Australian library professionals at the SLAV Conference, Friday 8 August with a follow-up full day workshop early the next week. See the SLAV website for full details and registration.

eCOGSS – a collaborative ebook project

Rachel Fidock reports on an innovative ebook service developed by four secondary schools in the Goulburn Valley, Victoria.

Many school libraries across Australia are choosing to create ebook libraries – online libraries where students are able to borrow and read ebooks on their own devices. But how easy is it to create an ebook library, and would our students prefer physical books?

In the Goulburn Valley of Victoria, teacher librarian Helen Taylor, formerly of Shepparton High School, took up the challenge of creating an ebook library with a difference. The result is eCOGSS (eBooks City Of Greater Shepparton Schools) ebook lending facility, an online service that caters to not one, but four secondary schools in the region. Of the six secondary schools approached to be involved, Goulburn Valley Grammar SchoolMooroopna Secondary College, Shepparton High School and Wanganui Park Secondary College chose to take part (one non-government and three government schools).

Accommodating the needs of four schools in one service may seem like a daunting task, but as a consortium, the combined experience and ideas of the group proved to be a great advantage.

In the development stage, according to Helen Taylor, Library Managers from each school took the idea back to their administrators and IT departments as the project’s success depended on these groups. The project group chose Wheelers to provide the ebook lending platform due to their competitive pricing and willingness to accommodate their needs. Meetings on Skype with representatives from Wheelers, Library Managers and school administrators gave everyone the chance to discuss ideas and refine the group’s requirements.

Taylor believes that the model they developed – where each school has their own account, chooses their own books and pays for them – made the process of sharing a common elibrary highly successful. And by sharing resources, the schools were able to create a service where all ebooks are now available to all students, regardless of the school that paid for them – improving access and value for money. In March 2013, the eCOGSS ebook lending facility opened for business, with 8% of enrolled patrons borrowing more then one ebook.

Given the success of the project in terms of the schools involved, what do the students think of eCOGSS?

In early December 2013, Bright Ideas conducted a survey of 24 students ranging from years seven to nine, from Shepparton High and Mooroopna Secondary College, to determine if the students were using eCOGSS, if they preferred ebooks to physical books and what they thought the future of school libraries might be.

The survey results show that 54% of the students borrow from the eCOGSS ebook lending facility, while 13% prefer to get their ebooks elsewhere (Wattpad is a popular choice, especially given the amount of self-publishing which occurs on this platform).

54% of students preferred not to get their books online (17% were undecided). Some of their comments included:

  • I like paper books because you can find more out about them before you borrow.
  • I prefer books to technology.
  • The books in the library I can take home but the books online I can’t access at home.
  •  I find it really annoying having to set up your laptop and etc. just to read a book. I hate reading off a computer. It can’t be good for your eyes. And I like reading a paper book that you can take anywhere and is easy.

For those students who did prefer getting books online in the form of ebooks, some reasons were:

  • There is a wider range of books
  • It’s easier than going to a public library
  • It’s easier then carrying [books] around the school
  • You don’t have to carry them around and there are books here that are not in the library

Students were asked what they thought about the future of libraries and school libraries. Some of their comments are featured below:

  • There will be fancy scrolls that when you open them you can flick through pages like an ipad and everything will be stored on them (every thing!!!). [Student doesn’t use eCOGSS but reads Google Books]
  • I think libraries will be using technology and ebooks more than they do now. [Student doesn’t use eCOGSS but prefers to get books online
  • I think libraries will die out because of the internet and online reading. [Student doesn’t borrow from eCOGSS. Reads ebooks from Wattpad]
  • In all honesty I don’t think that libraries will change that much because there will always be people who like paper books.
  • I think they should stay the same. Maybe you can put in an order on-line to borrow it but then go pick it up and read a book not a text on a screen.
  • They won’t have libraries if people always use online.
  • Please continue helping us, finding books. Thank you. [Student doesn’t borrow ebooks]
  • I think it’s a great opportunities for readers to get a chance to do what they like. [Student doesn’t borrow ebooks]
  • Have a library and ebooks. [Student borrows ebooks from eCOGSS]
  • While it’s a good idea that books are easily obtained and read, nothing really beats a good old book. Though I do enjoy ebooks very much. [Student borrows ebooks from eCOGSS]

While it’s interesting to see the opinions of this group of students, only a small number were surveyed, so it would be interesting to see whether students in the broader community use their school elibraries in the same way. It’s also important to note that students’ like or dislike of elibraries ebooks often depends on their exposure to and abililty to access them. The evidence from this survey suggests that there are students using eCOGSS and some students prefer reading ebooks. However, the results also suggest many students prefer to read physical books.

It’s clear to see that eCOGSS ebook lending facility is a great example of how collaboration and partnership between schools and teacher librarians can lead to better library services across school communities and large geographical areas.

Finding time to build influence

In the final post in her series on advocacy in libraries, Catherine Hainstock discusses the eternal question – how do we find time to build influence when we already feel time poor.

In my last post I explored some basic strategies teacher librarians can use to build influence; behaviours and practices that can open doors, rebuild and strengthen our place at the heart of the school. But building influence requires more than being likable, reliable, knowledgeable, and competent. We know that even wonderful TL’s and school libraries can be overlooked when it comes to school planning. Not only can we be overlooked – we often have to deal with people’s outdated perceptions of our role. But with so much to do, we feel we have no time to change perceptions or raise awareness. The harsh truth is that the worst thing we can do is wait for someone else to fight for us.  If we do nothing, there is an increasing risk of downsizing or closure. Let’s not kid ourselves, the change we want will only begin through our actions. We are, after all, leaders and owe it to our customers and profession to:

  • provide and maintain a vibrant, enchanting and relevant service and,
  • make sure everyone is aware of it and engaging with it and invested in it.

Building influence requires time, and our time is scarce.  The only way to make time is to re-examine what we already do and make some changes. In 2010, Lyn Hay and Ross Todd published  A School Libraries Futures Project: School Libraries 21C, a report on the status and future of school libraries in New South Wales. The report’s focus is evidence-based practice (EBP) as a tool for building influence (you can find out more about EBP here):

In my experience one of the things preventing library development …  is the difficulties that many school librarians have in thinking and acting strategically rather than operationally. (Discussion participant)

How much time do we spend on strategic thinking compared to operational activities? General management duties like shelving, covering, cataloguing, creating displays, purchasing, resourcing (need I go on) often fill up our days. While these jobs need to be done, arguably they are not a teacher librarian’s core work.

Time spent shelving or cataloguing doesn’t improve our influence or position us as leaders in the school but it keeps things running smoothly. (It’s like housework – it’s important but no one appreciates or notices the effort!)

As we start to look for time, we need to think laterally about other resources available to us. Perhaps the book club might enjoy creating displays or a group of parents or students could learn to shelve and cover books. People are often happy to help but we need to invite them into the library and give them the opportunity to participate.

It might not be as simple as that, but it’s a good place to start. By prioritising some duties over others we can begin to ‘create’ time. Steven Covey’s  Time Management Matrix from  The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People  is a wonderfully simple and effective tool. You can use the matrix to quickly identify low priority tasks and feel better about giving them less time. It also reinforces the idea that it’s essential to focus on planning and relationship-building if we want to be leaders. Lifehacker’s article Why You Shouldn’t Check Your Email First Thing in the Morning might provide another simple yet powerful solution to time management.

And what do we do with this hard won time? The NSW School Libraries Futures Project reports that:

Operational actions without the visioning, strategic thinking and long term planning were not seen as particularly effective. Strategic actions start with teacher librarians thinking through key actions which contribute to raising their profile in the school, being proactive within the school, and showing leadership, and being proactive in their leadership role, in order to facilitate change, library improvement and capacity building.

Simply put, use any time you can find to lay plans and build influence. Time can be a barrier, but there are ways to improve our situation if we’re willing to look for opportunities and change the way we operate. No matter what the obstacles, we must try to stay positive and be active in our advocacy efforts. We need to maintain our respected role at the heart of the school and work to build relationships with others as we chip away at the things that are holding us back.

Other posts in this series:

Image Credit: (ca. 1930), Arnold De Biere’s crystal clock and crystal bell act , State Library of Victoria Pictures Collection.

Opportunities for Building Influence

In the second post in our series on advocacy in school libraries, regular Bright Ideas contributor Catherine Hainstock shares strategies for building influence with colleagues.

The degree of influence a Teacher Librarian feels they have will depend on individual circumstances, but I believe we all have more than we think.

Take a minute to make a list of all the people you have affected today through your actions and words and how you interacted. It could be as simple as the smile you gave someone in the corridor, the great link you found and sent to a teacher, or the students who are now looking forward to attending the Book Club meeting you just promoted in the newsletter (oh, and you need to include any negative influences you may have had on people too). Now make a list of the people who have influenced you today and how they did it. These lists are not just to make you feel good or bad about your day but to demonstrate the capacity and the opportunities available to influence others in the school community. Every time we come into contact with someone, we can influence them. The trick is to harness those opportunities and make them work for us and for the good of our service.

John Kotter suggests that within any organisation, it’s helpful to understand which people are important to you. These are the people we want to influence. Try drawing an Influence Map as suggested by Gary Hartzell in Building Influence for the School Librarian. It can be very enlightening!

Here’s how:

  • Draw a central circle and label it with your title (Teacher Librarian)
  • Place people/positions around your service and indicate how important their support is to you and your service’s success. You might want to think of them as Important, Very important, and Critical eg. the Principal would rank as Critical to Teacher Librarians – our success and existence as a service depends on their support. Think about Heads of Departments, admin staff, parents etc. and people who may not hold formal positions of power but are influential in other ways. (I’ve colour coded the diagram below)
  • Now review the strength of the connection you have with each person on the map and indicate whether there is a close connection, medium, or loose connection. (I’ve used the thickness of the line to indicate the strength of connection in the diagram below).

Partially completed Influence Map
Red = Critical, Green = Very Important, Blue = Important

 

This mapping exercise gives some sense of where to work on relationships. It’s important to focus on those people identified as critical or very important to your success but with only a weak connection.

Building connections involves connecting and communicating with those people you would like to influence. It doesn’t hurt to have a plan but even small efforts can begin to strengthen relationships:

  • use a different entrance to school so you can run into those people
  • pass through the staff room on the way to the library
  • bump into people in car park
  • go for a short walk, stop in on a class (you heard they were presenting projects!)
  • attend different meetings (even if you are not invited) – tell them you’d like to know more about their department/subject/group of students. You are looking for ways to support them with resources etc.
  • plan to feature different classes’ work in library or promote subjects in the library (eg. Numeracy Week, Geography Week)
  • invite different departments or cohorts for morning tea in the library. Our Head of Library does this and we enjoy connecting with teachers who don’t normally get time in the library and helping us to support them better.
  • keep a book to write down any resource wishes you may overhear and provide them where possible

These informal strategies are all about building connections but they also invoke the Reciprocity Principle; the belief that people should be paid back for their kind actions. Hartzell thinks reciprocity is one of our strongest tools and recommends we actively cultivate it.  He offers suggestions to immediately get it working for TLs:

  • offer what people need before they think to ask (eg. resources for a new assignment, PD or demonstration about some resource/tool/concept with which you are familiar, library orientation sessions for new staff)
  • involve yourself in tasks critical to the success of others (and make your contributions clearly visible)
  • search for problems to fix (carry out user surveys, identify emerging trends in education, become knowledgeable about them and promote)
  • do the unexpected (create new traditions, draw on your individualism, be a role innovator)
  • work to increase the amount of resources over which you have control so you have more to offer (eBooks, authors, volunteer readers, pathfinders)

Ultimately the more we can build our influence as Teacher Librarians, the more we embed our services into school culture and planning.

Other posts in this series:

Influence and Enchantment

As part of a new series on advocacy in school libraries, regular Bright Ideas contributor Catherine Hainstock shares her reflections on how school librarians can assert their place at the heart of the school.

The School Library Association of Queensland in partnership with the Queensland University of Technology has recently published research on the important contribution that school libraries and teacher librarians make to literacy development. This excellent report reinforces the findings of decades of research on the positive influence a well-resourced library with a qualified teacher librarian has on student achievement.

I read this report in tandem with Guy Kawasaki’s book, “Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds and Actions”. His book is about promotion and customer service and even though a school library is not a business, I believe it’s a useful model to explore. At the end of the day, as a teacher librarian I feel I am here to help others. The better our service, the better the result. I am also interested in how we promote what we do because no matter how much research is released, how well supported a school library is, how well it is resourced, or how qualified the teacher librarians are, there is no immunity from decisions to down-size or side-line a library service.

We must make our contribution to school life and student outcomes evident and our influence felt by everyone who comes into the library. Kawasaki’s book helped me understand that my ultimate goal is not about improving customer service, it’s about enchanting people with our service.

[Enchantment] is more than manipulating people to help you get your way. Enchantment transforms situations and relationships. It converts hostility into civility. It reshapes civility into affinity. It changes skeptics and cynics into believers.

— Guy Kawasaki

Kawasaki’s book goes right back to basics (and that’s not a bad thing). He reveals the foundation of enchantment as ‘Likeability’. You can’t enchant people if they don’t like you or your service. (I still haven’t forgot the tyrannical librarian in the public library when I was a child!) Those lady-dragons in pearls may be extinct now, but we want students and teachers not just using our services, but raving about them. Here’s a short list of points from the book that I found relevant to school Library/Information Services (and check out this infographic for more):

  • smile (and be polite)
  • accept others (and sometimes give them a break)
  • get close (get out of the library and make contact)
  • project your passions/find shared passions
  • create win-win situations
  • adopt a Yes attitude

Kawasaki also points out that likeability only goes so far – people need to be able to trust you and your service. In a chapter on the importance of trustworthiness there’s some excellent food for thought about:

  • focussing on  goodwill
  • living up to and fulfilling promises
  • giving people the benefit of the doubt
  • the importance of expertise and competence  (like keeping abreast of basic ICT skills for us)
  • showing up (physically and virtually interacting with our clientele)

Reading these two publications at the same time brought into focus the influence we have (or can have) as teacher librarians and how important it is that we recognise and actively cultivate opportunities no matter how big or small.

We used to say the library was the heart of the school; a place for students to learn, inquire, read and enjoy. But with all the technological changes occurring in education, school libraries are no longer contained within four walls. Perhaps the focus can finally shift from the physical space to the real heart of the library – teacher librarians and the services they provide. Over the next few posts, I hope to explore the idea of teacher librarians at the heart of the school. I’d like to reflect on what that can mean for us and how we can continue to grow our influence.

Other posts in this series:

Image Credit: (ca. 1910),  Interior of The Queen’s Hall, showing a member of staff sitting at the Enquiries window, State Library of Victoria Pictures Collection.

Be in control: participate in the new age of school libraries

On May 24th, SLAV hosted ‘Be in control: participate in the new age of school libraries’, a conference for library teams. In this post Cindy Tschernitz, SLAV Executive Officer, reflects on the day. The Bright Ideas team also interviewed delegates at the conference and you can listen to the recording here.

What a fantastic day for all delegates. We embraced the year’s theme of ‘Participate, engage, shine – you, me, us’ with a great level of engagement, interaction and enthusiasm. Delegates don’t want to be passive receptors of information and we need to engage, challenge and involve which we did at this conference. It was particularly heartening to see and hear from library team members who learnt from each other and spread the word beyond Melbourne Park through Twitter.

You can see a Camilla Elliott’s Storify of tweets from the day here.

Speakers were outstanding. James Laussen Principal of Overnewton Anglican Community College and Joy Whiteside, Head of Library (a very active SLAV member and John Ward Award winner) did an excellent job setting the scene for the day. Jim gave us an overview of where education is going and Joy followed with her well researched paper on where school libraries are going. She told it as it is, no holds barred and really allowed all to reflect on their role in the school library and greater school community. We had a solid basis for the rest of the day.

Michael Jongen discussed the issues around how we can best provide access to all types of digital content. What struck me was the complexity of improving access and the more Michael spoke, the more issues were raised. As many of the delegates were involved in technical aspects of school libraries, like cataloguing, there were many many questions raised. To some degree it appears that the new cataloguing rules, RDA (Resource Description and Access) will need ongoing revision and adaptation to keep pace with digital content.

From the feedback we received, the concurrent sessions were very engaging. Thank you to Joyce, Michael and Renate and the one I attended, Management 101 presented by Janet Blackwell. Janet spoke with experience, wisdom and honesty. Telling it like it is should have been the theme for the day. Janet led us through her toolbox, showed us the tactics that she has used to ensure that the school library she is responsible for gets the credit and dollars that it  deserves by making it an indispensable part of the school community. Jane gave us some fantastic quotes which I would encourage all to look at via the days Twitter hashtag #SLAVconf.

The partnership between SLAV and the State Library of Victoria was highlighted by the afternoon’s session led by Kelly Gardiner and Cameron Hocking. The panel discussion of PLN participants and stakeholders gave some insight into the value of the PLN. It was great for those of us who are PLN dropouts to know we’re not alone and even more importantly that there are ways we can improve our time management strategies to help complete the course next time. The hands-on demonstrations exploring search strategies, curation, social media and workflow were also excellent. Next conference we will make sure that we have more time so people can attend more than one practical session.

To finish the day and highlight the importance of SLAV’s partnerships with both ALIA and other state school library associations in the Australian arena, Sue McKerracher spoke about a number of initiatives particularly the The Future of the Profession project and the 13 Project. These projects bring together government, school library associations and other agencies in an initiative that will support the school community but will also provide an important platform for advocacy for school libraries.

If I had only one word to describe the conference it would be ‘invigorating’. I am looking forward to the next one on August 15 Transliteracy: who do you ask and how can you participate? which features Professor Kristin Fontichiaro, University of Michigan, School of Information in her first Australian visit. Hope to see you there.