The Jean Arnot Memorial Fellowship

In April 2019, I received the exciting news that my paper Information literacy, young learners and the role of the teacher librarian was selected for the Jean Arnot Memorial Fellowship. The Jean Arnot Memorial Fellowship is funded by the National Council of Women of NSW and the Australian Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Associations to commemorate Miss Arnot a former librarian with a remarkable career of 47 years at the State Library of NSW. In May, I was honoured to attend the Jean Arnot Memorial Luncheon at NSW Parliament House with my mother.

In August 2019, the paper was published in the Journal of Australian Library and Information Association and published by Tayor & Francis Online https://doi.org/10.1080/24750158.2019.1649795

The link below is for a free eprint, there are only 50 available so if you are interested please click the link to receive your free copy.

https://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/RHUP7H7CEKRZNX6HACVE/full?target=10.1080/24750158.2019.1649795

The motivation in writing the paper was triggered by interest in the topic and awareness of limited literature available regarding information literacy in the early years of schooling. In addition, I was preparing for a conference based on showcasing information literacy teaching and learning experiences with students in Years 1-2. The conference presentation can be accessed via:

Staff training, Mitchell Building, photograph by Ivan Ives, Pix Magazine Collection A7417037h

Staff training lead by Jean Arnot. Mitchell Building, photograph by Ivan Ives, Pix Magazine Collection A7417037h https://www.flickr.com/photos/statelibraryofnsw/32331882277/

To follow is the speech I gave at the Jean Arnot Memorial Luncheon:


It is an honour to be here today to receive the Jean Arnot Memorial Fellowship. I wish to thank the National Council of Women of New South Wales, the Australian Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Associations, and the State Library of New South Wales for making possible such a prestigious award that acknowledges, recognises and commemorates female librarians. Learning of Jean Arnot’s dedication to librarianship and commitment to women is inspirational, and I am proud to be associated with this award.

In reflection, I realise 2019 marks for me twenty-five years of service to the library and information profession. However, libraries have played a role throughout my life. Libraries allowed me to borrow books beyond my abilities as a child, developed me as a teenager, informed me as a young adult, and allowed bag loads of books to be loaned to my own children. Libraries continue to educate me, deepen my knowledge, stimulate my curiosities, provide hope, and are always there for me. 

Back in 1994 when I worked as an information specialist at McKinsey and Company, our team had a dedicated computer where we had to plug the right coloured cable in to connect to the Internet. We had specialised training about URL’s and how to search the World Wide Web. Since 2002, my role as a teacher librarian has allowed me to be at a school library each day surrounded by young minds, literature, information and technology. The pace of change is astonishing, what I once taught to twelve-year-olds I now have adapted and teach to children in their first years of schooling. When I recently asked a Year 2 class with an information need ‘how can we find out?’ there was a pause, I was hoping to hear ‘look in a book,’ expecting to hear ‘Google,’ but was not prepared when one child quietly replied ‘Ask Siri.’ How far we have come from plugging a cable into a dedicated computer to using voice recognition to search for information.

Commitment to learning and near completion of the Master of Education Teacher Librarianship at Charles Sturt University has provided me with strength and direction to adapt, and allowed me to enhance my commitment as a teacher librarian. I look forward to what is ahead. 

Oh, what a Book Week!

Each year The Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) promotes and celebrates children’s books with the major event of Children’s Book Week during August. The CBCA short list books offer schools an abundance of opportunities to engage with reading, responding to, and celebrating literature. When responding to the theme for Book Week Reading is my Secret Power, children in grades K-2 suggested that reading helps you learn, builds knowledge, and gives you the power to relax and be in the book.

Engaging with the short list books builds students’ literacy skills through incorporating rich, objectively selected, and aesthetically valuable texts. Leading up to Children’s Book Week the six Early Childhood Books were shared with classes in Years K-2. In Year K, we discussed the main character of each book and will be creating a book character bunting based on the books. Year 1 focused on the thinking routine – Step Inside the Character and will respond to the books with drawing and writing. Year 2 discussed and wrote about story elements such as setting, messages, symbols and connections. They will be creating a diorama in small groups to represent the books. Students in Years 3-4 were introduced to the short list Picture Books which were selected for their artistic and literary unity of text and illustrations.

A highlight of Children’s Book Week was an exhilarating K-3 Book Week Assembly. The atmosphere was set with an outstanding opening performance of Pure Imagination by the Primary School Choir. We sat back and relaxed as we enjoyed viewing I am Jellyfish by Ruth Paul on Story Box Library, a captivating story set in the deep blue sea. Children in Years K-3 sang Oompa Loompa and bopped to the tune. The book character parade allowed each student to parade across the stage and display their stunning designs. It was truly magnificent to see such a wide variety of book characters appear from favourite books and show their true style.

This year we had three author’s visit us to share their stories and insight. Years K-2 met Lesley Gibbes who read her award-winning book Scary Night to Year K. Years 1 and 2 learnt behind the scenes information of the characters in the book series Fizz – a fluffy white dog who wants to join the police force. Lesley’s recently published book Searching for Cicadas was written from memories of searching for the Black Prince cicada in her garden. Lesley’s advice for writing great stories was to always think about ‘What if?’

Years 3-4 met Deborah Abela who informed us that for her ‘every week is book week.’ Deborah shared stories of her childhood and hinted how her own experiences and personality are imbedded in her stories. The Spelling Bee book series was inspired from her experience with spelling when she was in Year 4 where her teacher introduced a Spelling Olympics each Friday where the girls versed the boys. Deborah’s concern and passion for the environment inspired the book series Grimsdom, New City and the newly released book Final Storm – Deborah had us sitting on the edge of our seat as she read extracts from this action pack series. Deborah also provided advice on writing an exciting story – she highlighted that it is vital to always consider ‘I wonder what would happen if?’

Lian Tanner presented to Years 5-6 and shared stories from her life experiences and how she was able to take aspects of these and weave them into her books. Lian indicated that she enjoys writing exciting action scenes with characters getting into trouble. A wealth of ideas of writing inspiration are provided on her website. Lian’s advice for writing was to take notice of what is happening around you, use your senses to imagine what it might feel like, choose interesting words, and to allow time to daydream and stretch your imagination.

Thanks to The Children’s Bookshop Speakers’ Agency for the superb author visit recommendations. It is always encouraging to see the author’s books leave the library instantaneously as hot property after we have had the pleasure of meeting the author and having them read to us.

Primary Library Overview 2018

2018 has been a productive year for the Primary School Library with the update and introduction of new programs for Stages 1 – 2 and support to the newly implemented grade inquiry focus for Stage 3 – Years 5 & 6. The review is a snapshot of teaching and learning, special events, resource use and top books loaned by grade.

It is interesting to compare the overview to the previous year and reflect on areas of strength and those requiring improvement. Unfortunately, reports referred to for this overview highlighted a major reduction in borrowing for Years 5 and 6. Not only were borrowing statistics significantly reduced, the range and level of books being borrowed by Year 6 were also disappointing in comparison to the younger grades.

I believe a key factor that has caused such a change is the reduction of visits to the library and the fact that they became impromptu. The change to a grade inquiry block removed the weekly library lesson and borrowing time which included time to recommend books, browse and read. The result is of great concern and has prompted the need to provide a thorough report to the Executive team. In addition to statistics, I plan to revisit an article I wrote Creating A Community Of Readers and refer to current research by Margaret Merga  who has written extensively about reading promotion. It is critical to highlight the concern and suggest ways to encourage more reading and engagement with books.  In 2019 Stage 2, Years 3 & 4 will move to grade inquiry blocks which will affect the regularity of library visits. The best way forward is to consider practical ways to ensure students are exposed to books and encouraged to read. The change in support to inquiry units will require a tighter approach to information and digital literacy guidance and instruction to both teachers and students.

I would like to acknowledge and thank the support and commitment of Michelle the Primary School Library Assistant. Michelle has worked meticulously in managing circulation, processing resources, library upkeep and assisted in book selection and library displays. Michelle and I have both taken time to deepen our familiarisation with our cataloguing system Oliver by Softlink and we are about to embark on a Stocktake – thanks to Michelle’s recent training!

In 2019, I look forward to presenting at the 2019 Oliver v5 User Conference on information literacy for Stage 1 and running a Webinar for the Australian School Library Association (ASLA) in regard to visual grammar / visual literacy using picture books. Oh, I also have two subjects to go with my Master of Education – Teacher Librarianship at Charles Sturt University.

One final note, the overview was created using InDesign. Recently I attended a professional learning course for InDesign provided by Design Workshop Sydney. I was determined to create the summary using InDesign as my first project and it was the perfect opportunity to try out the program and execute my learning.

CBCA NSW Branch Inc Eastern Suburbs Sub-branch: Launch night!

At the end of last year, I attended a meeting about an idea of forming a sub-branch of the Children’s Book Council – NSW Branch to provide for the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney. During that meeting, we decided to make it a reality and formally started the creation of the CBCA NSW Branch Inc Eastern Suburbs Sub-branch. During the initial meeting I was voted in as the Secretary, we have had three Committee meetings and next month we are holding a launch night.

So far it has is a very positive experience, we have been very busy making plans for the launch and a children’s event that will be held in October this year. I am very proud of our invite flyer designed by Cate James. It would be wonderful if you could make it to the event!

 

K-6 Library Review 2017

As the final days of the school year wrap up it is great to look back and reflect.  It has been a busy but productive year, and we have worked tirelessly in the past weeks revamping the library collection, reorganising shelving and running a stocktake of the fiction books – it will be a fresh start next year!

I would like to acknowledge and thank the support and commitment of the library team and teacher librarian who taught the Year 6 classes.

The review is a snapshot of teaching and learning, special events, loans, resource use and top books loaned. What worked well, what requires change and improvement is in mind, but rest first is required.

Click the link to open the full review K-6 library review 2017

PS I used www.canva.com to create the Infographic.

The day the Internet went down – what we learnt!

All was going well on Friday morning as Year 5 had just started their task evaluating a webpage using the 5W’s evaluation guide. However, we quickly realised that the Internet was very slow – then it was down. It happens from time to time for a few minutes so we decided to move onto reading – perfect we were in the library! Then the announcement came ‘the Internet will be down for the next 5-6 hours’ well that was it for the rest of the school day!

Year 5 had just settled with browsing and reading when a group of Year 3 students burst through the library doors full of excitement. They needed books for their animal migration research – they excitedly repeated ‘the Internet is down.’ The library assistant and I jumped into action and we were guiding the students to books about the range of animals of interest when another Year 3 class appeared also needing similar books. It was not long before the 500’s were pulled apart and we felt the limitations of relevant information for a large number of students at once. As recess approached we felt relieved that the students would move on and we could get back to normal.

The experience although somewhat annoying was highly valuable, it became evident that this was a huge learning experience and caused instant reflection on the difficulties encountered. Although it was fantastic that the students were keen to get their hands on books, the limited skills they showed in locating books for their needs caused concern.

Issues of concern:

  1. Library books are underutilised for research purposes
  2. The students had not visited the library to locate books early in their research task
  3. Students lacked skills in locating books for their needs
  4. Students rely on the Internet for a significant amount of information for school research tasks
  5. The library provides a selection of resources for a year group that gets placed in a box and left in the classroom

A fresh start:

Learning from this situation is vital, some ideas follow on how we will approach the new year to increase the use of the library, upskill the students book locating skills, and allow for successful spontaneous library use.

  1. Library books are underutilised for research purposes:
    • Closely monitor all student and teacher learning needs – scan all programs, meet with teachers to update on requirements
    • Revamp the collection, deselect, update, ensure Dewey labels and signage is clear
  2. The students had not visited the library to locate books early in their research tasks:
    • Students require learning experiences to include structured and spontaneous visits to the library to locate books for their research needs – early in the school year provide instruction and hands-on opportunities for students to search and locate books
    • Encourage and support teachers to make time to visit the library with their class as part of their research task
  3. Students lacked skills in locating books for their needs:
    • Ensure students have opportunities to explore, browse and learn how to search the library catalogue and locate books on the shelf – this opens up additional learning opportunities for younger (and some older) students such as how nonfiction books are structured, using the contents and index and so on
    • As pointed out above the library set up needs to be refined to assist and encourage students to feel confident in locating books
  4. Students rely on the Internet for a significant amount of information for school research tasks:
    • Design a library homepage that links to key research websites such as Britannica School, World Book Online and DK Findout! More about these resources can be found at Ignite wide reading with diverse resources at your school library
    • Invest in some nonfiction eBooks such as those from the Macmillan Digital Library
    • Ensure that all students can access the library homepage and provide training on using online resources
    • Train and remind teachers to instruct students to use the library online resources before they search the Internet
    • Provide instruction to students to upskill their Internet search skills and website evaluation
  5. The library provides a selection of resources for a year group that gets placed in a box and left in the classroom:
    • Seek opportunities for students to search for books on their research topics – if the books are located by some students and placed in a purposeful location for classes to share at least the students are having a go and some may be able to suggest to others great books they have found
    • Consider options to display books for a class topic face out in a combined area that classes have access

Such ideas are obvious and easy to fix, however as we rely more and more on the Internet we are limiting students exposure to the pleasure of finding just the right book for research needs and another book of interest by chance. The library shelves may be scoured and knocked about and in need of mending but at least the books are being used.

EduTECH – Future Library Congress, 8-9 June 2017

The Future Library Congress explored how libraries are progressing in the changing nature of education. Librarians and industry leaders shared expert advice from school, university, museum, and government libraries. Insight into the changing times of libraries, passion for information literacy and literature, the important link to technology through the Maker Movement and tools such as Virtual and Augmented Reality were key features of the presentations.

This post highlights key learning specific to school libraries and the role of the teacher librarian.

The Congress sessions were opened by Sandra Moore, President, Australian School Library Association (ASLA) who encouraged us to walk away from the Congress with three things learnt, two things confirmed, and one challenge. Sandra reminded us that teacher librarians require curiosity, kindness, stamina and a willingness to look stupid. It was also advised in order to be creative we need to steal ideas from others by way of honouring others work; study; taking ideas from many; crediting; transforming; and remixing.

Vickie McDonald, State Librarian and CEO, State Library of Queensland (SLQ), shared her journey through the changing nature of libraries and in particular stories of change at her former position at the State Library of NSW, as well as current change within SLQ. Vickie focused our attention to leading change and the importance of libraries meeting the strategic direction of their organisation. It was noted that key factors of successful leadership of a library include trust, predictability, honesty and fairness, being able to listen and communicate effectively. Vickie stressed the need to be highly visible, update staff and the library community regularly, share highlights, attend as many meetings as possible, meet with small groups to assist connections and engage staff with change. 5C’s of library leadership were highlighted: clarity, communication, clients, collaboration and collections. Vickie’s presentation was inspiring and showcased a selection of engaging images from the SLQ.

Jenny Kemp, Leader of Learning, St Andrew’s Cathedral School challenged us to think about what we are offering at our school library, and why does our school need a teacher librarian. Jenny reminded us that a teacher librarian is a complex position and requires a high set of skills. A major strength of the teacher librarian as promoted by Jenny was to teach and guide students with information literacy. Collaborating and knowledge of teaching programs to find opportunities to tie in information literacy skills was also emphasised, as well as going to classrooms rather than only being seen in the library.

I was very pleased to hear Jenny say ‘be the teacher librarian’ a factor that can get mixed up when we are all aiming to do so much. Furthermore, Jenny suggested that ‘explicit teaching has got lost with all the exciting other learning’ a statement I agree with and one that is challenging when there are so many exciting other things to incorporate – particularly when astonished with all the tech at EduTECH. Similar to Vickie McDonald, Jenny promoted understanding the school structure, being involved with faculty planning, promote skills – don’t wait to be invited, ensure you promote a clear vision of what a you can offer, and to reflect on how the library staff are using their time. To finalise her presentation Jenny promoted library space as the third space a place that is very important for a school.

The third space was also encouragingly promoted by Andrew Stark, Head of Libraries, The Southport School QLD, he referred to libraries as important meeting points, that library space should be embraced, it is not just space – it is how you fill it. Andrew also stated that a child’s feelings with their school library is something they will take with them in their learning journey. Continue reading →

EduTECH Australia – Maker Movement Masterclass

I was fortunate to have attended EduTECH Australia 7-9 June. It was an exciting three day conference and I have come away with so many new ideas and stimulation for the school library. Key aspects introduce new hands-on activities with the Maker Movement, consider and act forward in regard to the changing nature of education and how school libraries are relevant, reflect on information literacy learning, and immerse more deeply into the school. This post focuses on the The Maker Movement.

The Maker Movement 

Presenters – Amber Chase @ChaseyA29  and Lisa O’Callaghan @kallicani from Calrossy Anglican School, Tamworth NSW.

Their STEM Blog https://stematcalrossy.wordpress.com/

The day kicked off with creative activity – light up your name! It allowed me to fiddle with little bits, I admit I needed some assistance by helpful teachers but it did work in the end and I was proud to light up my name.

Background

The presentation focused on STEM and the Maker Movement – ideas to get Maker happening at your school and participate in Maker Culture. The Maker Movement is creative and promotes confidence in trying new things, it is a mindset that applies various skills, connects all disciplines, encourages innovation, is engaging, hands-on and fun. It aligns technology, arts and craft.

A segment of The Four Corners program Future Proof was previewed to put the Maker Movement in context of changes in school and work.

The masterclass promoted many areas to get ideas from but for big picture information it was advised to visit: NMC Horizon Reports for K-12 Education and Libraries  and the Royal Institute of Australia RiAus.

How to start

Best advice is to start small. Continue reading →

Missing Rabbit inspiration for Book Week

Earlier this week a Year 4 class entered the library extra quietly with a new class member – a rabbit. The gorgeous rabbit had been found on the road outside the school, lucky for him he was promptly adopted by Year 4 and spent the day at school. During his library visit he was very inquisitive and wondered around the library checking out each nook and cranny. The next few days this delightful rabbit spent his time resting at the teacher’s home.

This morning while walking my dog I stopped to read a missing rabbit sign, well it seemed to me this must be the lost rabbit at school – it does have white and caramel patches, it ate fruit and vegetables but I am not sure if banana was on the menu. Shame the lesson did not involve Latin and Jazz music – it would have been something extra special. I forwarded the information to the teacher who is taking care of the rabbit.

Besides all that excitement of a rabbit in the school library, this superb missing poster has provided me with the inspiration to run a competition for Children’s Book Week. The Book Week theme is ‘Escape to Everywhere’ the task will be to create a missing poster for a book character that has escaped from their book. A few days ago I was lost for ideas, after a visit to Tristan Bancks Book Week 2017 ideas post and this crafty poster I am starting to set the scene for another exciting Children’s Book Week in 2017.

It turns out the school rabbit is male and now lives with the Year 4 teacher who has informed me Mrs Lettuce was found – the Vet knew Mrs Lettuce was lost and assured her that she was found and safe back home.