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.
Alinda Sheerman, Head of Information Services, Broughton Anglican College overviewed the success of Guided Inquiry Design (GID) and collaboration with staff. An outline of GID was provided as well as an overview of five kinds of learning integration that is incorporated in GID.
- Learning how to learn
- Boosted literacy
- Social skills – working together, collaboration with staff
- Curriculum content with greater choice for students
- Information literacy – wondering, asking questions, finding information.
Lyn Hay, Head of Professional Learning, Syba Academy, Director, Leading Learning Institute, Adjunct Lecturer, Charles Sturt University, presented on designing future-focused school libraries. Lyn discussed rethinking the functionality and design of your school library and shared her vision and capacity building framework of Function, Form and Brand. Form was defined as what the library will look like, how it will work for the school. The need to be forward thinking, allowing for flexible space, and awareness that space is real estate in a school were emphasised. Function included the need to evaluate the purpose of the library, how the space will be used, library staffing, resources and access, and ensuring allowance for flexibility and dynamic learning. Brand was promoted as what your library what you stand for, the look of website and perceptions of the library are affected by the brand. Lyn mentioned in changing times of education a school library is more than a school library.
“Oculus what? Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), and School Libraries that Move with the Times” Chelsea Wright, Library & Learning Resources Leader, Salesian College Sunbury. Chelsea was very inspiring and realistic about the need for school libraries to link into VR where one is immersed into a reality and AR where the world is altered. It was stated both VR and AR are learning resources that belong in the library where access is provided to all subjects. Best advice was to start small, to try things out and learn, invest, test, integrate, prepare and promote. Chelsea did emphasise that although AR can be distracting and contain abstract topics it increases motivation, collaboration and deeper content understanding. We had a brief look at VR uisng Google Earth and the inspiration for virtually visiting countries was amazing and links in so clearly with Geography. This is an area I am very keen to explore and introduce.
Anne Mirtschin, ICT Teacher, Hawkesdale P12 College and leader in Global Education enthusiastically introduced us to a wide range of global connections made available at Hawkesdale College. There were boundless ideas, and the connections the students have made are amazing. Anne shared Connected Classrooms: Global Classrooms which has a wealth of information to make a start and connect globally. A visit to Anne’s blog https://murcha.wordpress.com/ clearly shows Anne’s commitment to making a difference in education and her expert experience in this field.
Panel discussion: What makes a great library?
Kate Reid, Head of Library, The Hutchins School; Jane Viner, Head of Library Resource Services, Kilvington Grammar School; Stacey Taylor, Acting Director of Global Connections, Kambala.
Survey library users, find out what they want is what Kate Reid did, she found out that their school library users wanted books displayed facing out, good lighting, and comfortable places to sit. Additionally it is important for libraries to feel welcoming, have books and flexible spaces. Jane Viner shared her views on school libraries needing to be open to everyone, a place that moves with change, however the core business is literacy. Her 5C’s were change, connection, collaboration, care and community. Jane shared how she encouraged students to choose books for the library and placed a name tag in the book that it was selected by a student – this simple act aroused reading excitement and connection with the students. Stacey Taylor highlighted the library needs to be service oriented and flexible, open, and offer space to allow for differing user needs. Stacey added that leading a library requires a lot of effort and it is important to share your vision with school executives.
The final presentation was by Roxanne Ciddor, Head of 2:10, Maker Movement at Bialik College. My time at EduTECH started with the Maker Movement Masterclass so it was significant that it end with Maker Movement. Roxanne was an inspirational presenter and shared with us what to do (and not do) to get the Maker Movement started at our schools.
Roxanne clearly introduced the Maker Movement as a space for creativity allowing students to gain an interest in how things work. The Maker Movement encourages responsibility, is community building, allows for reflection, builds resilience, encourages persistence, and requires risk taking. Roxanne shared her school libraries commitment to the Maker Movement throughout the week – Maker Monday, Techie Tuesday, Low-tech Wednesday, 3D Thursday, allowing for many options for student choice and involvement – I am just not sure how long it took to get to this stage!
Rozanne stressed opening the library space for the Maker Movement was essential as it allowed for a mix of disciplines. Starting small was once again a key suggestion, Roxanne started with one box of LEGO Snap Circuits and has since built an impressive collection of activities to engage students. To manage a Maker Movement during lunchtime (and sometimes before school) Roxanne suggested keeping track of members (simple Survey to log in with name and class) which helps with planning and budgets. As work is often on-going having a space to leave work in progress with student names is vital. Having a few students as monitors is also helpful (Roxanne provided them with fluro vests). Just giving students time to play was also encouraged. To fully engage the students and make meaning from their work students completed a reflection journal which contained photos of progress and reflection of their creations.
Reflecting on Sandra Moore’s advice:
Three things learnt
- There is a Movement out there that I need to join – small steps forward with the Maker Movement
- In order to try the new technology tools I need to have a Growth Mindset and it is alright to FAIL (First Attempt in Learning)
- The concept of the Third Space and why library space is so important
Two things confirmed
- Be a teacher librarian – we have a vital and dynamic role in the school
- Literacy and Information literacy are the core business of school libraries
I feel my greatest challenge is time management. Small steps forward, prioritise, take out what I can, collaborate, try, promote, engage with those keen to be involved and celebrate accomplishment and change are my initial thoughts on over coming this challenge.
What I have done since the conference:
- Connected with teacher librarians who presented – new Twitter contacts, visited different Blogs
- Added my own work to TES community – work in progress https://www.tes.com/teaching-resource/referencing-guide-11643442
- Joined the School Box users group and plan to share and interact with TLs using School Box as their LMS
- Talked non-stop at home to anyone who would listen about the amazing experience
- Reflected and summarised key learning
- Briefly go through my bag of goodies from the Trade Fair – TBC
- Decided to do a QR Treasure Hunt for the CBCA Shortlist books (inspired by the EduTECH Treasure Hunt)
- In process of selecting low-tech Maker ideas to run next term at lunch for students to create and make things leading up to Children’s Book Week
I am looking forward to catching up at school with the other teachers and school members who attended the conference, finding out their highlights and planning together.