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Monday, December 31, 2012

How different leaders can impact on the School Library

School libraries are undergoing a transformation and the teacher librarians that work in them need to be client focused and not resource or operations focused, to meet the needs of both the students and teachers that use their services (Winzenried, 2012; Welch, 2006).

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Google impacts the way students think

Facinating article from teach thought, "How google impacts the way that students think", which reinforces the many theories that Nicholas Carr talks about in his book "The Shallow". That the technology is effecting the way in which our brains develop and change.

In particular, this article  talks about how there are better search engines out there to meet the needs of kids and as educators we need to be strategic in the way we teach and reinforce research skills. We also need to evaluate the tools that the kids use in class. Try looking through this list before you set a research task for your students; 20 best search engines for students.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Talk like a Pirate Day

It is the 10th Anniversary of Talk like a Pirate Day and Tori's Kinder are celebrating with a dress-up day.

Even though she has not seen Pirates of the Caribbean, she has a pirate costume from it. Hubby made a cardboard sword for her and she is so excited! Agrr!!!

What is going to be interesting is when it comes to singing "what can we do with a drunken sailor". She knows every verse courtesy of her Opa!

Have a great Talk like a Pirate Day!

Monday, September 17, 2012

How would you design your new Library space?

I came across this wonderful link with pictures of a Learning Commons in Perth, Wesley College 
Trenaman Library. A few of the images got me a bit excited given the school that I am working at is in the throws of re-designing a new library/learning space.

Source via Flickr

I love this little reading space that Wesley College has. Coincidentally, I was at Endeavour Hills Library tonight for a talk and they had a nice little space smack bang in the middle of the fiction setting. The Librarian was saying that "teens" normally like this space. It was a nice surprise when I moved through the Fiction space to see a nice casual space that invited you to sit down and grab a book.

Many researchers, including Winzenried (2010), talk about Libraries as being all about the relationship between the learner and the resources. Creating environments where the learner, teacher and resources interact seamlessly seems to be a commonality between many new library environments.

Source via Flickr

These study booths are wonderful! Very 1950's, I can imagine my students packing into these booths to either play computer games or work on a project. I can imagine students bringing their own devices and lunch and eating in this space.

Eating in the Library/Learning Commons is quite a contentious issue! Winzenried (p223, 2010) states that "rules such as the 'No food' oldie must be reassessed, and quite possibly consigned to the dustbin of history". Talk to our Librarians and they will tell you that when kids bring food into the Library, they feel like cleaners. They spend most of their time chasing food waste. So if you were to allow food, would you need some bus boys like cafe's have? ie. people to purely clean throughout the day.

Source via Flickr

Here is another booth at the Bill Robertson Library, Dunedin via their Flickr page. The colours and textures look fabulous and the dividing wall all the way up to the roof would be good for sound control. The idea of a TV or even a touch screen in each space could work wonderfully. There is a virtual tour of the library space including lovely quiet study spaces surrounding the Atrium. Everywhere I look I can see power points acknowledging the BYOD environment that the University has. Bill Robertson Library has a "student lounge" with access to vending machines, hot and cold drinks.

Source via Flickr

Back to Wesley College, and I love the aesthetics of these "thinkers" at the end of each row of books. Conversation starters for teachers and students and perhaps even the opportunity to think about how these people contributed to society. There is something to be said for clean lines.

There is a lot of great articles and research papers on the lessons learnt when designing a library space. Designing Libraries UK has some great links to architectural firms who have designed libraries. Library as Place has some good articles on the evolution of the space.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Leadership Styles

Goleman(2002) in his book "The New Leaders" talks about six fundamentally different leaders. Four of them are positive (visionary, affiliative, democratic and coaching) and two others which can be harmful to an organisation.

I found the reading to be fascinating. Having worked in a variety of independent schools (co-ed and single sex) over the breadth of my career it was interesting to read a description of a leader and think "I know someone like that".

David Loader was the Visionary Leader. I worked at MLC for three years towards the end of "The Loader Years" and it was great. There was a lot of talk about where the school was going, there was a culture of learning and he was confident enough to be able to say "yes" to an initiative that he felt was worthwhile. I suspect that other leaders might have been too democratic and demanded a committee to evaluate proposals, but David would approve something on the spot. This has a positive effect on staff and the wave of enthusiasm, that often encompasses innovation, would continue. I still make reference to many of the documents that I contribute to during my time at MLC.

Susan Danckert, former Principal at Academy of Mary Immaculate, was a Democratic Leader. She was skilled in involving her staff in decision making, even if the reality was that she made the decision earlier. She had a system where she would lunch in the staff workroom once a week. She wouldn't say much, just listen to the issues at hand. This informal way of gaining feedback often resulted in things being done differently or processes being improved.

Dr Timothy Hawkes, former Principal of St. Leonard's College was an excellent example of a coaching Leader.  In my second year of teaching I had a short term contract at St. Leonard's. Dr. Hawkes was all about improvement. Every morning was a staff briefing. He didn't regurgitate what was on the briefing sheet but he talked about how we could improve student learning, whether it was for a student who was having difficulty or a year level that we had to focus on. Dr. Hawkes taught Year 8 RE, and this gave him operational knowledge to make changes. He was all about developing others and reading through his newsletters gave you this sense of "coaching".

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The importance of Evaluation

I'm a systems kind of gal and it struck me while reading through the Beare, Caldwell and Millikan (1989) [1] readings for Uni is that many schools that I have worked in have completely overlooked the importance of evaluation.

The perception is that once a program is delivered, that it is successful by default. The students turned up, the teachers taught, ergo it was successful. The ability to set key criteria and then evaluate them is completely overlooked by management. What if every teacher had to distribute an evaluation sheet at the end of each of their classes? What impact would that make?

At the end of last Semester, I got my Year 7 class to write me a report. Overall I was pleased with their feedback. More chocolate, less brainstorming(or thinking skills) activities. Feedback from the kids ranged from a blank page, and a few scribbled things through to full blown reports explaining my strengths and weaknesses. The kids were surprised when I asked them, but even more surprised when I chatted to them about the areas for improvement the first day back.

How does this relate to TL's? What if a TL could do a quick survey (the technology exists) of a year level after a research project was submitted, but before the marks came back? As Beare, Caldwell and Millikan state "Evaluation is the gathering of information for the purpose of making a judgement". It shouldn't be a discrete activity, or carried out in isolation. They make the statement that every aspect of the organisation should be evaluated at one state. I would propose that an individual classroom teacher should at least to one evaluation each subject cycle, ie. Semester. At the senior levels, evaluation at the end of each outcome or major assessment task would be useful.

I have worked in schools that had an appraisal system in place and the presentation of such evaluations would hold you in good stead with the Principal each year. It would show that you were open to the opportunity of continual improvement.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


While reading through Donham’s Chapter on Leadership [1], the part that spoke about luck and serendipity reminded me of a phrase that a former colleague told me a few years back, “there is no such thing as a lack of resources, only a lack of resourcefulness” .. luckily Pinterest has given us this (

The topic up for discussion with this reading is:

"The Donham article refers to journalling and how useful it can be. The idea of journalling can be translated as blogging in our web 2.0 world. "

I would argue that the comment on journaling as a method of reflection, doesn’t necessarily translate into “blogging” per say. I would hesitate to reflect to the depth suggested by Donham in my blog, it is far too “open” and accessible to others within my school community. Blogging with such detail would be in breech of my school’s social networking policy. However, I would choose to reflect at that level using more closed systems such as Livejournal, where I could closely manage who is reading my thoughts.

The use of a blog for reflection in a professional sense has to be closely managed. Blog entries should be singular in focus, link to articles, sites or people that enrich what you are doing. The use of web sites such as Pinterest, Instagram, Youtube and Flickr can be used to reflect, challenge or inspire in an open blogging environment without compromising professional integrity.

1. Donham, J. (2005). Leadership. In Enhancing teaching and learning : a leadership guide for school library media specialists (2nd ed.) (pp. 295-305). New York : Neal-Schuman Publishers.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Critical Reflection of ETL503: Resourcing the Collection

Evaluating the collection at the School X Library was a frustrating task. It was evident that the library had no real policies to oversee the management of the collection, and no inclination to develop policies that they saw as “time consuming”. 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. Most of what they did was second nature to them and quite invisible to the teaching and learning community at the school. 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. The Head Librarian seemed uninterested in gathering data “as he knew what the results were” and he implied that the task itself was a waste of time.

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. 

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).

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Resourcing a Curriculum Area (Processes)

Since the incorporation of the Internet into schools in the 1990s the nature of the library resource collection has changed, as has the process of resourcing the curriculum. The encyclopaedia is no longer judged as the ultimate resource in a learning environment where the teacher continually competes with “the full Internet for attention” (Loertscher 2002) and the breath of resources that can be found in environment.

Current Process in School X

The current policy document outlines a Collection Centred Model as defined by Hughes-Hassell and Mancall (2005 p. 6) for selecting books and journals, but it does not take account into the wide range of digital resources now accessible to students and the devices that they might view those resources on.

Teacher Librarians assume the position research expert however there is no quality selection criterion outlined in the School X Library Policy. Teachers and Heads of Faculty are required to inform the Library of a resource that might be useful for purchasing therefore focusing on bought resources rather than ones freely available.

The resource evaluation procedure outlined in School X collection policy is stated as being “a continuous process” rather than a methodology that might be engaged at the planning or evaluation stage of a unit of work. This is a weakness of the current system as there is no clear understanding between the teachers and library staff as to when resource selection and acquisition is occurs in relation to the budget process because it is a “continuous process”. Often selection of resources occurs incidentally rather than intentionally and when resources are needed they are often put on hold due to budget constraints.

Meeting Learner Needs

As there is no formal process for evaluating the appropriateness of the collection in meeting curriculum needs, informal questioning and observation was conducted with several Year 9 Humanities classes when they were working in the School X Library. It was identified that while students had access to rich print based resources located exclusively in the Library, the online web sites that they were locating were simplistic and often created for an assignment in another school with no quality management over authority or content (Latham & Poe 2008). Student information literacy skills proved to be quite weak when they were questioned over why they chose certain resources to use. Observed Google searches highlighted the need to strengthen their online searching skills and often more authentic and reliable online resources were overlooked because they were perceived as difficult to locate.

In line with the Australian National Curriculum, resources sought needed to support formation of historical inquiry skills and provide information that could be used in an historical argument (ACARA 2011a). Resources need to be both primary and secondary sourced and allow for students to develop a depth of understanding and knowledge about the topic with resources that are authoritative (Latham & Poe 2008, Johnson 2002) not incidental.

Procurement Process

The process undertaken to obtain the resources for Year 9 Humanities involved a search of what was available, but not identified in the course outline, through the school’s subscription services and then the use of external subject specific web sites. These included; Informit: TV News, Britannica Encyclopaedia, Australian History Mysteries and BrainPop.

In addition to current school based resources the following web sites were engaged in the search for appropriate resources: Digital Book Archive (, National Digital Learning Resources Network ( and National Archive’s of Australia (

The concept of an elastic library collection takes advantage of the flexibility nature of e-resources Loertscher (2002 p. 4). The way in which an eBook is used is often very different to print media. Digital Natives with highly developed information literacy skills can extract the information they need from an eBook efficiently. Sites such as Burrowes Educational ( provide the opportunity to purchase eBooks with Audiobook components, which might be well suited to some learners. Unfortunately School X currently has no function within their library to accommodate the storage or borrowing of eBooks or eResources.


Ideally the selection and acquisition process in the school should be embedded into the learning culture of the school. Taking advantage of the cycle of curriculum development to evaluate the usefulness of resources at the end of each unit and involving the Teacher Librarians in the identification of new resources when curriculum planning every season. Hughes-Hassell and Mancall’s (2005 p 8) ‘Collaborative Access Environment’ model of collection management would provide the library with a framework to establish a systematic and strategic process for managing a collection and resource database for teachers and students.


ACARA. (2011a), Foundation to Year 10 Curriculum: History, Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority. Online Resource: Accessed on 31 March, 2012

Hughes-Hassell, S. and Mancall, J. (2005). Collection Management for Youth: Responding to the Needs of Learners [eBook]. ALA Editions.  Accessed on 9 March 2012

Latham, B., & Poe, J. (2008). Evaluation and selection of new format materials : electronic resources. In J. R. Kennedy, L. Vardaman & G. B. McCabe (Eds.), Our new public, a changing clientele : bewildering issues or new challenges for managing libraries (pp. 257-265). Westport, Conn. : Libraries Unlimited.

Loertscher, D.V. (2002). Digital and elastic collections in school libraries: A challenge for school library media centres. School libraries in Canada, 21(4), 3.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Resourcing the Curriculm Reflection

One thing that I enjoy the most is "the hunt". Give me an impossible task of finding something, be it a piece of information or a distributor of some obscure craft bit and I will find it.

So the prospect of finding resources to meet a curriculum need got me all excited .. really!

I have enjoyed this piece of writing because in order to effectively resource the curriculum you need systems, and I like systems. I also like the idea of evaluating so I am looking forward to the next essay which is on collection management strategy within a library.

So cross fingers that the lecturer liked it as well ..

Friday, March 16, 2012

Where is the evidence - Assignment 1

For Assignment 1 we are meant to choose a section of the curriculum that needs resourcing in the school and then go through the motions of choosing resources and justifying the process that we went through.

My first point of call was the Head Librarian at my school. He gave me some guidance on the areas that he felt was lacking. But my IT head on my shoulders asks the question "Where is the evidence?".

If I had more time with this Assignement I would develop a tool that I could use with the Heads of Faculties regularly within a school environment to evaluate whether the collection is meeting the needs of the teachers. A simple survey that you could use regularly at the end of a unit perhaps, as part of the evaluation process (thinking this through for Assignment 2).

But so far I am loving this area of Library Studies. Not only from the logistical point of view, but it is all about systems, and I love systems! The aspect that I am finding the most interesting is the inclusion of technology into the mix. How does that affect both the acquisition and use of resoures?

Saturday, February 25, 2012


Wouldn't it be great if we lived in a world where the importance of Libraries was given? Where school Libraries didn't have to fight for funding or their importance within a school?

I came across this recently on Cathy Nelson's blog, and thought it was worthwhile to re-post.

Now more than ever it is important for School Librarians to understand marketing in the same way that the school registrar understands marketing. What are the numbers telling you about borrowing patterns? Have you surveyed your students to find out what they like or do not like?

School Librarians need to work smarter using technology and tools to be proactive within their school and not reactive.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

“Our new school won’t need a library” (Johnson 2002)

I was quietly grinning while reading through Johnson's articles on the promise of research gold with the permeation of internet resources in school.

picture via

When I taught at MLC many moons ago, there was a lot of discussion about “classrooms without walls” and how learning would be seamless as students moved from home to school. There would be no classrooms, just learning pods ...

Johnson makes the point of the powerful blend that both “print and electronic resources” can make within a school library (2002 p 5). He talks about the serendipitous nature in which students can use both print and electronic resources to find and discover information for themselves when they are not all hell bent on “using Google” but when they have been exposed to the power of online databases and quality paperback resources.


Johnson, D. (2002). Print and electronic library resources. School libraries in Canada, 21(4), 5.
Johnson, D. (2007). Managing the intangible: Digital resources in school libraries. Library Media Connection, 26(1), 46-49.

Saturday, January 28, 2012


This year I have a part time Teacher Librarian load and I am so excited. It is like someone has put a shot of something in my arm. I have so many ideas and thoughts running around in my head and I hope that I can make a positive contribution to the school Library.

I will also start my third CSU subject, "Resourcing the Curriculum". So keep an eye out for posts on the readings.

I've been sprucing up the blog and associated social networking tools, preparing for the start of another school year.

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