MY THOUGHTS ON EVIDENCE GATHERING, BEING A PRO-ACTIVE RESEARCHER AND AN ADVOCATE.

Caveman-ResearchMy thoughts on evidence gathering and my role as a pro-active researcher and advocate –hmmmm?- first initial thought? – It sounds like lots of work! (I know that’s not the type of attitude to have, I think it’s stemming from the end of week 9 blues!).

According to Todd (2007) “The hallmark of a twenty first century school library will be actions that show that it makes a real difference to student learning” (p62). The reasoning behind evidence gathering is highlighted through the readings this week, and through other Masters students experiences shared on the forum also. Through this, it becomes clear that school teacher librarians are having to prove their worth in order to keep their jobs. Reading this, and thinking back to a school I previously taught in where the teacher librarian did lose her job due to cost cutting, it did concern me a little and to be honest, had me thinking whether I was doing the right thing by doing this course. I questioned whether I want to spend my future career trying to prove that my position should exist. It makes me question whether I should stick with my art teaching – at least then, my worth is there, physically, for all to see in the form of a student’s beautiful artwork!

In terms of research and advocating, the benefits are benefits for our students. All the research suggests links between student achievement and a well run library. However, how do we create a well run library? – with research on what works, why it works and considering why it should continue or why it should be changed.

Oberg (2002) states that collecting evidence to show school libraries make a difference is part of the Teacher Librarian’s professional role and that they need to be working on two areas – 1) knowing and communicating research that relates to the library role and, 2) generate their own research – as research closer to home may be more likely considered to be more trustworthy. This is really simple commonsense for if one is to show a professional awareness of the goings on of their line of work, it is only going to heighten the respect they have from others. Advocating is the next step – showing you truly believe in the role you are undertaking and the benefits you are having on the students may just rub off on others. However, you will always have more power with your advocacy, if you have the proof to back it up. This will be in the evidence and how the students are actually benefitting from the library and its services, and this evidence needs to be physically shown to others so that it is known about. This is vital – how to physically show the school community that the TL and the school library is vital to students learning. It is here that Evidence Based Practice and Oberg’s second point for a TL (generate own research) shows its importance.

On a closing note, I love Hay’s (2006) referral to the library as a ‘learning laboratory’; not only is it fantastic alliteration, but it does sum up the changes to the library environment, especially in regards to ICT! It draws me to consider whether we need to change what we call a library in order to change other’s perceptions regarding its role and its importance?

References

Oberg, D. (2002). Looking for the evidence: Do school libraries improve student achievement?, School Libraries in Canada, 22(2), 10-14.

Hay, L. (2006). School libraries as flexible and dynamic learning laboratories? That’s what Aussie kids want. Scan, 25(2), 18.27.

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, available through CSU Library eReserve

 

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The Role of the Teacher Librarian – reflection on Herring, Purcell, Lamb and Valenza

ASSESSMENT BLOG TASK 1
In terms of the role of the TL, and reading through the views of Herring, Purcell, Lamb and Valenza, it is obvious the role is indeed ‘multi-faceted’. A Teacher Librarian is a wearer of many hats!

I took note of the quote from Osler within the Purcell (2010) reading. Osler stated, over 100 years ago “The librarian of today, and it will be more of the librarian of tomorrow, are not fiery dragons interposed between the people and the books. They are useful public servants, who manage libraries in the interest of the public”(pg31). This quote appeals to me due to the mention of people and within the readings, whether referred to as patrons, students, teachers or the public, it is the people that dictate what our role should be.

Indeed the role of the librarian has changed, just as the library has changed from only a place filled with “people and books” as referred to by Osler. It is important for TL’s to teach people how to find information, assess it and use it appropriately in a safe environment. Information literacy is a term which continually comes up and a definite role for the TL is to provide tuition on how to understand the changing information environment. It is also obvious that the role of the TL is to keep up to date regarding information technology and ongoing professional development is paramount. Jenkins (2012), within his 30 second Are School Librarians an endangered Species clip, mentioned that young people require a mentor to help them navigate the online landscape. I think this is such an important role for TL’s in terms of the changing information environment.

Within the Youtube clip from the Michegan Media Centre, it was mentioned numerous times about the correlation between a strong library program and strong academic achievement. I believe in Herring’s statement about Teacher Librarians collaborating with teachers and principals an important one in terms of increasing student achievement. So the TL role should definitely include this type of collaboration for the benefit of the students, teachers and the school overall.

It is obvious from the readings that the views regarding the role of the TL is diverse. Purcell’s suggestion of creating time study observation sheets is a notable one. Just like teaching staff keep teaching plans regarding their day to day lessons, this idea allows the TL not only to reflect on what they are doing throughout the day, but would also be good evidence for any discrepancies with principals, regarding your role.

Valenza’s Manifesto (2010) provides a good, practical list for librarians to work towards and I think it highlights the extent of a TL’s role as one that is broad and that an excellent librarian will not just appear overnight, but is a role that requires and individual to consistently work at, in order to achieve a myriad of goals. Purcell (2010) states that all the roles she mentions are interconnected and that one role cannot be performed without the support of the others.   Also, the environment in which one has been employed will greatly affect the role you have as a Teacher Librarian, for instance, how many staff you have to help you carry out the managerial and administration tasks will affect how many man hours you can dedicate to actual ‘teaching’.

Overall, however, the patrons of the library and their needs, need to be at the core of the role of the TL and the TL should work in any way they can to provide the best service possible in this regard.

References

Herring, J. (2007). Teacher librarians and the school library. In S. Ferguson (Ed.) Libraries in the twenty-first century: charting new directions in information (pp.27-42). Wagga Wagga, NSW: Centre for Information Studies, Charles Sturt University.

Lamb, A. (2011). Bursting with potential: Mixing a media specialist’s palette. Techtrends: Linking Research & Practice To Improve Learning, 55(4), 27-36. doi:10.1007/s11528-011-0509-3

Purcell, M. (2010). All Librarians Do Is Check Out Books, Right? A Look at the Roles of a School Library Media Specialist. Library Media Connection, 29(3), 30-33. Available from http://www.librarymediaconnection.com/lmc/

Valenza, J. (2010, December 3). A revised manifesto [Blog post]. In School Library Journal. Retrieved from: http://blogs.slj.com/neverendingsearch/2010/12/03/a-revised-manifesto/

The American Association of School Librarians (AASL) (2012, Jan/Feb) 30 Second Thought Leadership: Insights from Leaders in the School Library Community “Are school librarians an endangered species?”  Retrieved from:  http://www.ala.org/aasl/aaslpubsandjournals/knowledgequest/aboutkq/30second_JanFeb12

What could my role be? – mmmmmm

What sort of role do I see myself fulfilling in the school as a TL (Herring lamb, Purcell and Valenza)?

The role I see myself fulfilling in a school as a TL is based purely on the readings and what I would like to see myself doing within this type of role, as I am yet to have any experience in this area. I understand the role would be extremely diverse and dependent upon the type of school that I would be employed.  The role would encompass the management and teaching of much information (whether that information be in a written form, fiction or factual; whether it be digital sources). Haycock (2007) writes that Individuals must be knowledgeable about the curriculum, the library collection, and instructional design and delivery; be welcoming to classroom teachers and use good interpersonal skills; and be committed to information literacy instruction. I would like to be able to offer these skills to the school community. In particular (and probably due to my own childhood experiences with grumpy librarians) I would see my role as offering a welcoming and enjoyable environment to all members of the school community. A role that incorporates collaboration with all parties in order to achieve the learning objectives of the students within our care.

Within your experience, how do principals perceive the role of the TL?

I haven’t had any direct experiences relating to how principals perceive the role of the TL. From the readings it is obvious that principal support has a correlation to how successful the school library program will be. In the schools that I have worked within, the school librarian is always a member of staff with great importance, stature and is always well respected by the school community. The TL is often a member of the schools leadership team and I have only seen examples of support in terms of the principals of these schools and the TL. Haycock (2007) states that “principal support is vital” and I would have to agree with this statement. I do not know how a school would function if the TL did not have full support of the school’s principal. However, I can appreciate how this may occur. The research findings listed in Oberg (2006), page 13, suggest that many principals did not support teacher librarians due to a “lack of knowledge about the management and function of school libraries”. Oberg continues to discuss reasons for this which include TL stereotypes, TL’s low profile in educational literature and the limited exposure a principal has had with successful TLs when they were teachers or at school themselves.

What can you do? ie. suggest 2 strategies to change perceptions?

From the readings I have gathered that the ‘invisibility’ of the school’s TL can be problematic in regards to how the TL is viewed by the school community and in turn, how they are supported by the school’s principal. Therefore, I think one way of becoming ‘visible’ is as Oberg suggests “thinking about the library as being within the school, visible throughout the school, and integral to the mission and work of the school”(2007,pg i) – this may include being visibly seen as working towards the same objectives as the classroom teachers – eg. Linking displays, talks and resources to classroom teachers programs (& not just when asked to).

Another way to change perceptions that I have gathered from the readings is definitely collaboration. Collaboration has benefits for all members of the team – teachers, teacher-librarian, administration – as well as for the students (Haycock, 2007, pg25). Collaboration with the principal is needed to develop a strong school library program (Oberg, 2008, pg16).

References

Haycock, K. (2007). Collaboration: Critical success factors for student learning. School Libraries Worldwide, 13(1), 25-35.

Oberg, D. (2007).Taking the library out of the library into the school. School Libraries Worldwide, 13(2), i-ii.

Oberg, D. (2006). Developing the respect and support of school administrators. Teacher Librarian, 33(3), 13-18.

 

The Take Home Message

The American Association of School Librarians (AASL) has recently introduced 30 Second Thought Leadership: Insights from Leaders in the School Library Community, a new video podcast series delivering brief and practical advice from respected school library leaders on important questions about school libraries today and in the future. Questions are based on the themes of Knowledge Quest issues.

For the Jan/Feb 2012 issue, five leaders were asked to present their 30 second thought on the question: “Are school librarians an endangered species?”

View each of these 5 leaders and summarise in 100 words what you see as the ‘take home message’ with regard to answering this question.

The ‘Take Home message’ in regards to the question “Are School Librarians an endangered species?” is a very strong – NO!

All 5 of these individuals made strong arguments regarding the fact that the school librarian is not extinct but that this role is needed more than ever within our schools. Each individual made links to the changing information environment and the need for a trained individual to provide guidance on how to access information, in particular digital information. The majority of these leaders made reference to how the input from the Teacher Librarian will prepare students for success in the 21st Century.

 

 

Selection Criteria for E-Resources

I found three publications dealing with the selection of e-resources for libraries.

An interesting article, Evaluating E resources by Bleiler and Livingston (2010) provided details acquired from a survey of 73 institutions regarding the criteria used for selection of these resources. The most highly rated criteria was uniqueness and completeness of content, followed by usage rate, user friendliness and relevance.

The criteria of content is also an important one for Johnson (2012) who states that the content of an e-resource should be of a “certain quality” and “compliment or add depth to the current collection”.

Content is also important according to McGeachin (1998) who suggests that the e-resources quality should be at a ‘proper intellectual level’ and be ‘accurate and presented in an easily accessible manner’.

The content of an e-resource should be of high concern in terms of selection. The content needs to be evaluated according to how it will add depth and further support the other resources within the collection, the e-resource needs to be a reliable source and the content needs to be presented in a way that it is accessible and user friendly.

References:

Bleiler, R & Livingston, J. (2010) Evaluating E resources, Association of Research Libraries

Retrieved from: http://www.arl.org/bm~doc/spec-316-web.pdf

Johnson, S. (2012) Key Issues for e-resource collection development: A guide for libraries, pp 6-12

Retrieved from: http://www.ifla.org/files/assets/acquisition-collection-development/

McGeachin, R.B (1998) Selection Criteria Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship, 18, Spring

Retrieved from: http://www.istl.org/11-fall/15-osorio.html

The British Library uses Pinterest

I found the British Library using Pinterest as a curation tool. The blurb for the top of the British Library’s Pinterest page states: “Follow us to discover the visual side of the British Library, with images ranging from medieval manuscripts and maps, to gallery treasures and gift ideas from our shop”.

The British library has 21 separate boards that they pin to. The range in these boards are diverse and I suppose, is doing just as their blurb suggests, giving a wide range of visual images that relate to the wide range of experiences offered by the British Library.

The board, 2013 Reading Resolutions, provides followers (at the present 1996 pinners are following this board) with 31 visuals, which are mostly the book cover art, of 31 books chosen by the library as must reads for 2013. The selection is varied in subject and also provides a range of newer and older books. In terms of a negative aspect of the board, I believe the blurbs given are quite minimal and that further written information about the book could be given regarding why the book should be part of our own personal reading resolutions for the year ahead.

As an avid pinner on Pinterest, I love the simplicity of the site, however the aesthetics in this simplicity is very effective. There is something very beautiful about seeing collections, such as this collection of book covers, all together on your screen and the books chosen here do grab your interest as ones to add to your own personal ‘to read’ list (or board). Overall, I have the opinion that online curation tools, such as Pinterest, could be very powerful advertisements for all organisations, including libraries.

 http://pinterest.com/britishlibrary/2013-reading-resolutions/

 

Searching the Library Databases (Sweeping away the cobwebs)

My first blog post is to share my experiences on searching the CSU Library databases. For me there were many ‘aaa-ha’ moments as I began to recall skills that I had acquired during my prior university experiences. I found this module gave me a step by step method to explore the databases and it was all very user friendly.

One option I found very helpful and I can see being extremely helpful for my studies over the next two years, is how one can save articles for later use in personal folders. I did not know about this and its definitely going to be a time saver as I complete the course.

The other point I took note of was that there is always help available, if (probably, more like when) I get lost, with the help services provided by the library staff.