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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:

Saturday, October 25, 2014

DIY Quote Posters for your Library

When you work in a school library you need to be a knowledge professional, library technician and also marketing expert. A jack-of-all trades.

I came across this great article on ebookfriendly that listed best quotes about libraries and librarians and then I found myself using BeHappy to create some library quotes

Within our school libraries we need to provoke, to inspire and to get kids thinking even when they think they are not. Quotes positioned in corners of the library or as part of a vignette should be designed to catch the student off guard and challenge them.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Kaizen in Schools

Kaizen is Japanese for Good Change and advocates a philosophy of continuous improvement in everything that you do.  I first came across Kaizen when my husband introduced me to it, he had heard about it from a friend who works at Toyota.  The philosophy of Kaizen is to properly evaluate innovation so as it may continue to evolve and improve.

Some of the positive things of Kaizen are that can be applied to a School Library are:

  • Employees are more satisfied – through the evaluative process they feel that they have a direct impact on the way things are done and the direction of the Library
  • Improved commitment – team members have more of a stake in their job and are more inclined to commit to doing a good job as they know they will be evaluated regularly.
  • Improved retention – satisfied and engaged people are more likely to stay at an organisation.
  • Improved consumer satisfaction – Kaizen can be used to prove an increase in service levels and a strategy for problem solving. 
  • Improved problem solving – looking at Library processes from a solutions perspective allows employees to solve problems continuously. There is an expectation that a bad process will be refined out of the organization.
  • Improved teams – working together to solve problems helps build and strengthen existing teams.

Often within organisations we can implement an idea but never evaluate it to see whether it has actually worked. Kaizen advocates that when you plan the event, you also plan to evaluate (Vocoli, 2014). I like this idea.


Muhammad Asif , Henk J. de Vries & Niaz Ahmad (2013) Knowledge creation
through quality management, Total Quality Management & Business Excellence, 24:5-6, 664-677,
DOI: 10.1080/14783363.2013.791097

Vocoli (2014). How to Start a Culture of Continuous Improvement [website] Retrieved from:

Wiljeana J. Glover, Wen‐Hsing Liu, Jennifer A. Farris, Eileen M. Van Aken, (2013) "Characteristics of established kaizen event programs: an empirical study", International Journal of Operations & Production Management, Vol. 33 Iss: 9, pp.1166 - 1201 

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

The changing role of the University Library

The role of the Library is changing, especially at a University Level.

Many are undergoing a lot of re-structuring to focus more on academic research rather than just information provision. New buildings are being built, research institutions are being created and consequently the role of the library and librarians are changing. It is a pivotal time in the growth of many universities.

If we look at the ACU Library in Melbourne, the Raheen Library is an academic lending library which gives access to 80,000 physical items, 470,000 physical items Australia wide via it’s Inter Campus Loan (ICL) system and access to over 300,000 online resources.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

What does a Liason Librarian do?

Today I have been following a Liason Librarian as part of my work placement. So time to document a few ideas, points of interest and observations for future reference:

Liason Librarian's job focus is to service the needs of the academic areas within the University Library:
  • Liase with lecturers and faculties to ensure that the collection meets their teaching needs. This involves reviewing curriculum outlines and making sure that students can find the information that they need on the system. Assisting with sourcing updated resources. Scanning in documents for lecturers.
  • Primary contact and ourreach for a designated faculty. They are the go-to person and responsible for servicing that department.
  • Librarian has an education focus but not necessarily from an education background.
  • If needed, teaching undergraduates information literacy and library orientation with staff.
  • Goal is a fair and equitable service for all students, given that a Liason Librarian might be servicing a faculty with 900 students the relationship that they have is mainly with the teaching staff, not the students.
  • High degree of networking and building the relationship between the Liason Librarian and the faculty.
  • Librarian drop-in session for academic teaching staff, makes the Liason Librarian more visible.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Professional Placement reflection: Resource Services

I spent my first day for professional placement observing the Technical Services division of this Library.  My mind was blown by the complexity of the department but also the challenges that they face both operationally but also organisationally.

Picture of one of the processing shelves, older resources
get bookmarks rather than stamped covered and barcoded.

I kept on referring back to a conversation with a colleague last year, where he said "why do we need the library, the kids can get everything on the internet".  The internet is the mechanism by which students get access to information, but essentially it is databases that are being accessed to find information. 

Yes, but who brings it all together for students to access easily? The Resource Services Department.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Engaging students with reading

I love this video, engaging younger readers.

As students move through High School we forget that they are still kids, and that sometimes it is still good to do this. Our Year 7 wider reading classes get read to periodically. A skilled reader can make a book come alive.

What if we could search 5 million books?

An interesting TED presentation on Google Labs 'NGram Viewer.  The tools allows you to search for words and ideas in a google database of 5 million books. 

If you were to put these 500 billion words into a computer, what can we learn?

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Building influence in your school library

Social capital is a broad term which references the way that people engage in relationships, often they are created informally and often are seen as a little cliques within an organization. But a professional can capitalize on these informal relationships to get their job done efficiently by using their contacts. 

Doing some quick research, it sounds a bit like Nemawashi, the Japanese business strategy for quietly laying the ground work for a project. This involves, networking, seeking feedback and ensuring that when you put a proposal is put forward, that you will have a consensus about what it is you are trying to achieve. This process is easier if you are effective at building social capital within your own networks.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Professional Placement: Australian Catholic University

Getting very excited about starting my professional placement next week.  I have managed to secure 10 days at ACU in Melbourne. They have been wonderful in accommodating Nicholas and some of his needs. It will however be a touch 10 days with my hubby pulling extra shifts and me having to use public transport in each day.

I also had the opportunity to go to Holmesglen TAFE learning Commons, but I desperately want to graduate in December and they could only place me in November. Both stellar organisations with dynamic and changing library environments.

So next Wednesday I start at ACU. There will be reflections on the blog, which link what it is that I am observing with what I am studying.