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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Top 5 Decals for your Library Learning Spaces

There are some beautiful motivational decals out there that would look great on the walls of your Library, Learning Commons or Resource Centre.

The Holstee Manifesto is a lovely script reminding readers of what is important in life.

The point of difference between a good school library and a great school library is the quality of the Teacher Librarians that work within it. Comparing them to google, is fraught with danger. I pinned this poster and then couldn't find the source. The text for this decal can be found on Phil Bradley's blog.

Walls that talk do a variety of decals and you can choose which colour you would like.

Syba Signs have a lovely word cloud listing key terms used when talking about inquiry research.

Etsy is a great place to go for decals as well. I love this Dr. Seuss quote to encouraging reading.

Being a crafter, I would coat them in some spray varnish (Matt) to stop those malicious students from peeling it off.

Of course, if none of these suit you, you can get your own made with your own mission or vision statement plastered across your walls to remind you, your staff and your teachers what your intent is.

Do you have any favourite decals for your library?

Friday, October 31, 2014

If Google was a BBS ...

When I started teaching the internet looked like this ...

Digital Trends posted an article on the videos that SquirrelMonkey have produced. Just have to work out a way to integrate some of these into my teaching!

Using blogger to engage in reflective practice

It was important for my reflective portfolio for ETL507 to set up a space where I could continue to learn and grow as my career progressed. And so was born.  

Choosing a platform for reflection

After playing around with Weebly I chose not to use it for my portfolio, as I liked the widgets and the category sorting that Blogger offered. I also intend on continuing to use this blog after I have my degree, I didn't want the blog to become cyber trash like so many other portfolios I have stumbled across. My blog needs to grow and be dynamic, it needs to embed itself into the web.

A Day in the Life of a Librarian

I love parodies but this one couldn't be further from the truth!

We have a long way to go to shatter this image!

Critical Reflection of ETL505

ETL505 was a challenging subject. Not just because of the rules that accompany cataloguing, but because I am naturally not a “detailed” thinker. My default setting is “big picture” thinker. Up until this subject, I had been dealing with mostly the "front of house" issues in the school library. I had used the catalogue as a searcher, but had never gone into the back end.

When I did my reading about Cataloguing systems, I couldn’t help but think of Information Systems and the organising that occurs within them. Within schools there seems to be a separation of library and ICT, but really they are so very similar. The Schema's that the ICT faculty deal with are very similar to the schema for working out a RDA description or using Web Dewey to ensure that a catalogue call number is accurate.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

What does it mean to resource the curriculum?

Resourcing the curriculum is all about identifying what your user needs. Be it a teacher who is preparing a lesson or a course. Throughout the degree, it has become obvious to me that a Teacher Librarian is a curriculum leader. A good understanding of the National Curriculum General Capabilities are needed in order to clearly define what your clients needs are.

I was excited by the prospect of this subject as it covered some of the “tasks” that I always knew a teacher librarian was doing. But it was evident that many libraries had no real policies to oversee the management of the collection, and no inclination to develop policies that they saw as “time consuming”.  There was no evidence (Lawson 2012).

But once I started to quiz the teacher librarian’s and library technician’s on what they actually did, a policy was present, just not documented. Purcell(2010) would argue that they need to be less transparent in the way that they go about their tasks.

During the process of gathering data for the evaluation, a lot of time was spent playing with the library database in hope that I could retrieve a report that would assist me in mapping the collection or metrics on student and staff borrowings.  Kennedy(2006) certainly highlights this as one reason why collection management policies are not developed. Data on how the collection is being used (or not used) can be used to justify applications for more staff or resources to support the school library.

Promoting the library and the operational happenings within the library (new purchases and weeding) should be seen as an opportunity to alter the school communities’ views of the school library. There is no such thing a lack of resources, but lack of resourcefulness!

At present, the collection is not seen a whole school responsibility. Heads of faculties are not asked to give specific feedback on the collection and it’s function within their curriculum and I find that this is a lost opportunity for the library. In addition to gathering data and reinforcing “whole school” responsibility (Debowski, 2001) it gives staff member’s ownership over the collection.


Debowski, S. (2001). Collection Management Policies. In K Dillon, J.Henri& J. McGregor (Eds). Providing more with less: collection management for school libraries(2nd ed.)n(pp. 126-136). Wagga Wagga, NSW: Centre for Information Studies, Charles Sturt Univeristy.

Kennedy, J (2006). Collection management : a concise introduction. Centre for Information Studies, Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga, N.S.W.

Lawson, M. (2012). Searching Label ETL503 [Blog] Retrieved from:

Purcell, M. (2010). All Librarians Do Is Check Out Books, Right? A Look at the Roles of a School Library Media Specialist. Library Media Specialist. November/December (p. 30 – 33).

Redefining the meaning of Teacher Librarian

When I started to critically look at what a Teacher Librarian was, I discovered that it is more than just someone to check books in and out of the catalogue. A Teacher Librarian walks beside you as a fellow educator, collaborates and communicates. I had always had a great relationship with the library staff and had worked well with them.  But as a Head of Faculty the interactions that I had had with Library staff had been “reactive” rather than “proactive.

When I started my study I was fortunate to work with a 21st century Teacher Librarian (Georgiou, 2014). Natasha's enthusiasm and ability to problem solve inspired me during my first year of the degree. I had read the Manifesto for Teacher Librarians (Valenza, 2010), but Natasha was the embodiment of this Manifesto in the way that she went about inspiring and enabling teachers to embrace information literacy in all it's forms.

It was in ETL 401 that I first met Eisenberg (2008) and learnt about the importance of teaching information literacy. I had been teaching problem based learnings for years in the classroom, but now I had a solid understanding of the scaffolding that the Teacher Librarian uses is Big 6, Guided Inquiry, Problem Based Learning and a multitude of other strategies. But what struck me was that not many schools were taking a whole school approach to reinforcing these skills.

This subject encouraged me to clearly define what information literacy was in my mind (Lawson 2011a) and to also start to document it clearly for my school.  Out of this subject came some of the initial ideas for my school’s Information Literacy Enhancement document. But of course in order for a document like this to be taken seriously, you need to be able to gain whole school support. The work that I did in ETL 504 about the Teacher Librarian as Leader skilled me up with strategies to take our plan to the next level.

The work of Todd (2003) also made quite an impact on the way that I perceived the role of Teacher Librarian. The idea of an Evidence Based Practice excited me and I have continued to do informal research on this topic and ask the question "where is the evidence". On the blog is a Critical Reflection (Lawson 2011b) and additional posts on the same topic (Lawson 2011c).


Eisenberg, MB. (2008). 'Information Literacy: Essential Skills for the Information Age', DESIDOC Journal of Library & Information Technology, 28, 2, pp. 39-47, Library, Information Science & Technology Abstracts with Full Text, EBSCOhost, viewed 30 September 2011.

Georgiou, N. (2014) Back to the Library [blog] Retrieved from

Lawson, M. (2011a). What is Information Literacy [Blog] Retrieved from

Lawson, M (2011b). Critical Reflection of ETL401 [Blog] Retrieved from

Lawson, M (2011c). Searching Label ETL401[Blog] Retrieved from

Todd, R.J. (2003). Irrefutable evidence: How to prove you boost student achievement, School Library Journal.

Valenza, J. (2010).  Manifesto for 21st Century School Librarians. Retrieved from:

Why educational research is important for Teacher Librarians

EER 500 was indeed the hardest of all the subjects, but it was very satisfying at the end. I like to be working on ideas that are concrete and grounding, but most of the work in this subject was theoretical. I found opportunity in this subject to talk to some friends (Lawson, 2013) about research and to define what it means to me and in turn start conversations with students.

Research is more than just covering the Big 6. It is about building curiosity, encouraging students to be inquisitive and supporting them as they nut out an idea using socratic strategies. It is about is about improving practice and putting evaluative opportunities into the curriculum (Doolittle, 2008). Backing up our strategies with proven research can add weight to what it is that we are doing with teachers and students.

Research has enabled me to embrace the unknown and to also develop the skill in interrogating curriculum and teaching and learning strategies. Having the dialogue to be able to be a curriculum expert without being a subject expert is very powerful. Completing an assignment for EER 500 lead me to the Japanese concept of Kaizen (Wiser, 2005) which advocates continuous improvement. When as Teacher Librarians, we implement an idea, we should know how we are going to prove that it has made a difference (Lawson, 2014).

Libraries can be the centre of research within schools. The critical theory in how to construct a research question is important to develop and share with our colleagues. Pushing the bar, encouraging greater rigour when planning curriculum and skilling up teachers on how to create more challenging research tasks that encourage higher order thinking.

When I visited Santa Sabina College (Lawson 2014a) we had an opportunity to look at their Information Literacy strategy which engaged students in research through the application of innovative teaching and learning strategies. The new Australian Curriculum is well placed to leverage the guided inquiry, but the process of researching and planning a piece of work to engage and improve students skill levels takes a lot of effort. The library staff at Santa Sabina College, spend a lot of time planning and then after the task is done, evaluating both students and teachers to see where they can improve.


Doolittle, G. P. (2008). Creating Professional Learning Communities: The Work of Professional Development Schools. Theory Into Practice, 47(4), 303-310.

Lawson, M. (2013) Welcome to 2013 [blog]

Lawson, M. (2014) Kaizen in Schools [blog] Retrieved from:

Lawson, M. (2014a) Santa Sabina College [blog] Retrieved from

Wiser, J. (2005) Kaizen Meets Dewey: Applying the Principles of the Toyota Way in Your Library. Toronto Conference. Special Libraries Association.

Teacher Librarians: Leading the charge for change in our schools

In ETL 504, we looked at the Teacher Librarian as Leader. Leader within the school, a curriculum leader,  a management leader, a role model. As I read more and more about the positive influences that a Teacher Librarian could have on a school, the more excited I became.

Part of the toolkit for a Teacher Librarian as Leader is data and Todd's (2007) work on evidence based practice struck a cord with me. "Where is the evidence?" has been my catch cry ever since.

The reading for ETL 504 was fascinating and as part of the subject, I got to interview my school Principal his perceptions of Leadership (Lawson, 2013) (I would highly recommend this approach). This subject gave me an opportunity to spend some time once again reading Daniel Goleman (2002), after coming across his work for the first time 10 years ago at a professional development seminar. But this time I was looking at his work with a Teacher Librarian critical eye. Understanding the type of leaders that you need to work with is important, as it can guide your approach and strategies used when presenting ideas or trying to solve a problem (Goleman, 2002). Being a Teacher Librarian is all about communicating effectively and actively listening. When I did my Professional Placement, I had a wonderful discussion with my supervisor about leadership using some of the key questions that I used in the interview with my Principal.

It is important to acknowledge that being a leader doesn't mean being Head of Library. At the start of this year I asked my manager to clarify my role within the school library. So rather than just being a teacher librarian on 0.4 (2 days) allowance, I became a Teacher Librarian, but with the responsibility of being a Wider Reading Coordinator. Giving me something to focus my efforts on throughout the year. Using Ross Todd's (2007) ideas on evidence based learning, I have data to support that my initiatives are working.

For a teacher librarian as a leader, the starting point is to acknowledge what you are good at and passionate about. The course of study emphasised that teacher librarians should be proactive ‘can-do’ people who aim to make programs great and inspire others to join in.  One of the ideas that I developed and executed as a result of this subject, was creating some business cards for me to use at school (Lawson, 2014) in my role as teacher librarian. I will probably revisit these again at the end of this year and make them a bit more colourful, include the blog address, twitter account, pinterest board and any other Web 2.0 social networking platforms that I use.


Fullan, M. (2004). Leading in a culture of change. Jossey-Bass Publishing.

Fullan, M. (2011). Change leader: Learning to do what matters most [Kindle version]. Jossey-Bass Publishing.Hartzell, Gary. (2000). The Principal's Perceptions of School Libraries and Teacher –Librarians. School Libraries Worldwide 8, no. I (January) 92-110.

Goleman, D., Boyatzis, R. E., & McKee, A. (2002). The new leaders: Transforming the art of leadership into the science of results. London: Little, Brown. [Personal copy]

Hartzell, G. (2003). The Power of Audience: Effective Communication with Your Principal. Library Media Connection, 22(2), 20.

Lawson, M. (2013). How Different Leaders impact on School Library [blog] Retrieved from:

Lawson, M. (2014) Branding myself as a Teacher Librarian [blog] Retrieved from

Todd, R. J. (2007). Evidence-based practice and school libraries. In S. Hughes-Hassell & V. H. Harada (Eds.), School reform and the school library media specialist (pp. 57-78). Westport, Conn: Libraries Unlimited.

Winzenried, A. (2010). Visionary leaders for Information. Wagga Wagga: Centre for information studies. [Personal Copy]

If you can google it, why should we organise it?

It is important for Teacher Librarians to promote information organisation.

The ease in which students can just "google it" and the frequency with which teachers encourage them to use this search engine is frightening. The efficiency and speed of the search engine lulls us into a false sense of security that we have found the answers we are looking for. Upon greater inspection, often the answers are shallow and they don't encourage rigorous research habits.

I was dreading the Bibliographic Standards subject ETL 505, but I found that learning how call numbers are constructed and the technical challenges surrounding cataloguing gave me a greater understanding of how I can make the library experience better for my students. By the time I got to the end of the subject, I was sorry that I hadn't done it earlier (Lawson, 2014). It could have had far greater application for my Study Visit and Professional Placement. In fact asking lots of questions on my professional placement helped me to understand the work that I was completing!

Another reason why information is important is because within out schools the intranet is taking over as the portal for information. And yet, most of the resources stored within this environment are disorganised and don't adhere to any bibliographic standards. ETL505 has allowed me to build the vocabulary needed to challenge those people who dismiss the library as an old fashioned way to research.


Lawson, M. (2014) Critical Reflection of ETL505 [blog] Retrieved from: