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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

What should I read next?

During the non-teaching time, I try to get through as many Young Adult novels as I can. Having just read Fault in our Stars, I endeavoured to read another of John Green's books to see what his writing was like. I quickly finished reading John Green's Paper Towns and loved it, but what should I read next?

If I use the site What should I read next? It gives me an interesting list of books that I might not have considered.

But as a librarian, what is more interesting is the categories that this book is catalogued under and it raises some interesting issues with the state of outsourcing of processing services in our libraries.

Libraries Australia catalogue entry for his book list the following subject headings:
  1. Missing persons -- Fiction.
  2. Revenge -- Fiction.
  3. United States -- Fiction.
  4. Detective and mystery stories
  5. Young adult fiction
Where as "what should I read next?" lists the following subject headings for the same book:

If this book were to be bought "shelf ready" would the descriptors on it be accurate enough?
  1. Missing Persons
  2. Florida *more than libraries australia*
  3. Coming of Age *more than libraries australia*
  4. Detective and Mystery Stories
  5. Revenge
  6. United States
  7. Young Adult Fiction *more than libraries australia*
  8. High School Students *more than libraries australia*
From what I have observed on my professional placement, shelf ready materials do not replace the full process of book processing by a Librarian.

As most libraries service their clientele and in a number of instances their clientele is unique, it pays to ensure that the descriptors in the MARC records are accurate. If I was updating the MARC record in my school library database, I would also add Geography and Puzzles to the descriptors.

Do you agree?

Further reading

Monday, October 13, 2014

Zeta Book Scanner

This morning I got to play around on the Zeta Book Scanner. A document scanning solution for libraries that do a lot of digitising of resources.

[via instagram]

My first gut reaction was, why not the photocopier/scanner. But once I had a play with it and I saw the resolution and the ease in which you could use it for a lot of scanning, I was sold. The university of course does a lot of scanning for lecturers needing to put online readings on their intranet.

Scanning on a photocopier often involves breaking the back of a book or damaging it to get the copy done properly and photocopiers are often prone to sshadowingin the quality of their scan. Great for a page or handout, but not for a book. With more and more libraries digitising their out of copyright resources for general use, a tool like this would most likely be an expensive purchase.


For the School Library

A device like this would not be affordable for your average school library, but if you were in the process of archiving old magazines or documents as part of an anniversary project, then this would certainly make it easier.

Teacher Librarians are often asked to scan and catalogue articles for Senior School students. The process for this would be to scan, refine, copyright log, then catalogue.

Adobe Acrobat Pro can be used to clean up the images to ensure that you don't have those "black marks around the outside of the page images.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Atlas of Living Australia

I picked this up from a link on Facebook

The Atlas of Living Australia is a wonderful resource that can be used in science, humanities, maths and IT. And if you are not a student you can just have fun clicking through it like I did!


But most of all it allows students to use big sexy datasets in the classroom. Working with real data makes the experience authentic and they can add to what the Atlas has already documented.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Spiral of Silence

I came across this interesting sociology term when I was checking out if there was anything new on the Pew Research site.

Social Media and the ‘Spiral of Silence’

My eyes lit up, my mouth went dry, as I read papers on this phenomenon. It was time to get my thoughts down on paper ......

The 'Spiral of Silence' refers to the artificial limiting of public discussion and discourse due to the perceived polarisation of opinions. Community will change their opinions and views of an issue due to what they are reading and listening to in the mass media.


The example given by Pew was the Snowdon affair and people commenting on Facebook and Social Media.

An excellent example in the Australian media at the moment is the 'shiny new' war in Iraq. If you speak out about the issue, you support terrorists. The polarisation of opinions creates an artificial 'spiral of silence' and shuts down valuable discourse about the issue for fear of isolation.

But what if we apply this to education and in particular school libraries. Can we be mindful of this phenomenon as we teach and learn in this environment. Some ideas ....

Impact on Learning
  • In order to encourage discourse in the classroom, an acknowledgement that all points of view need to be valued. Activities should provide a voice to both sides of the argument.
  • Use of the 'six thinking hats' to encourage students to think differently about topics and issues.
  • Use of socratic circles to provide students the opportunity to voice different opinions.
  • Encourage ideas and discussions, turn negative comments into opportunities to engage the student and encourage them to critically think about the topic or issue they are studying.
  • Creating confronting debating topics encourage students to pick apart topics and critically analyse the impact of them.
Impact on Employee Culture
  • If opposing opinions are drowned out by constant communication which projects a wholly positive image of an organisation, then are people who have contrary opinions drowned out by this 'spiral of silence'? 
  • Marketing outside the organisation can project a certain view, but inside the organisation, is discourse and critical thinking encouraged? 
  • Are employees encouraged to challenge the norm? Different from voicing negative opinions, but expressing their concerns and framing them with problem solving intent rather than malicious intent.
  • Do organisations in the way they work create their own 'spiral of silence' because if you speak out you are automatically seen as negative?
Impact on School Libraries
  • What messages are you sending your students through your displays? Are they static or do they encourage active conversation? Have you ever found yourself in a 'Spiral of Silence'?
  • Do they include socratic questioning and challenge accepted beliefs on an issue?
  • Do they encourage socratic rigour around a topic or issue?
  • Are you encouraging a wide range of discourse through your communication
 Have you ever found yourself in a 'Spiral of Silence'?

Friday, October 10, 2014

The countdown to graduation begins

Yesterday I electronically signed the form to register for graduation on December 18th. It has been a long and arduous road and I still have about 10,000 words to write. The next three weeks are going to be incredibly busy and stressful to meet my deadlines.

I love the process of learning and within me I have this thirst for knowledge that I hope shines through when I talk to both teachers and students in the Library.

I was however, secretly excited by the fact that I get a new set of colours and a Mortarboard hat! I've been a bit bored by my Bachelor of Education (Arts) colours ... these new swishy ones will look just fabulous!


At our school we have four occasions throughout the year where the teaching staff need to wear their gowns. It is a great opportunity for students to ask you what you have studied and you can have a chat to them about your learning journey. Teachers need to be proud of their academic achievements and students need to see that celebration quite clearly. When you talk to students in the library and mention that you are studying, they have a real appreciation for the authenticity of the advice that you are giving them in regards to writing an essay or doing a test. It isn't something that you did 20 years ago and have forgotten about. It is something that you have experienced recently.

I'll be glad when I finish and I can look back and see my accomplishments from the top of the mountain, but more importantly I will be qualified to pursue this next stage of my career, ALIA Qualified, with a Higher Education degree behind me.

Then I can start to think of my next degree!