Saturday, 17 January 2015

Reading and traditional school #libraries

What is more important, keeping a traditional school library or putting books into the hands of the children?

This is not as simple as it seems. Which librarian would want to keep a room full of unused books if they had the opportunity to give those books to children who do not have the opportunity to have access to books anywhere else? Why in this instance would you demand that the Dewey system was the best way forward?

I have read many articles including this one on " why I won't ditch Dewey" and I wholeheartedly agree with all of them. We should teach the children to use the library properly, but what if that is not possible now and getting the books into children's hands is? I have also read Successful school libraries which demonstrates good practice but what if all this is still not possible. 

We help support all school libraries in our area, and up till now they have all had traditional library spaces. We have one small primary school that is really focused on improving literacy in the school and has an infant and junior library. They are asking us to change the 'traditional' set up of infant library resources and this is my dilemma. 

The infant library is tiny and in a corridor and there is nowhere else to put it. It is not very accessible and cannot be used for class visits. We have discussed a redesign that would allow it to be more open but financially that is not possible. Last summer they asked us to split the library up and put bits of it into each infant classroom making the resources available to the children in the classrooms but we were not keen to encourage this as it would reduce the amount of access each child had to all the books. We also felt that a tiny library is better than no library at all!

As I have already said they have a wonderful reading scheme for the infants that is used heavily, children are given a colour banding and encouraged to swap books within that band, there are both fiction and non-fiction books in this scheme. These books are in the library and the children are used to going and choosing books from there. This is done before school, usually with their parents but they are never encouraged to choose from the library stock. There are several reasons for this but mainly they are difficult to access when a lot of children are in the small space and the parents know if their child had been given a red colour banding that if they choose it from that box they are doing the right thing and its easy. 

I have therefore suggested that we add the library books into the reading scheme so that the children get more selection and the library books are just not sitting on shelves. In order for this to work we need to ensure that any teacher who did use non-fiction books from the library as a resource within a topic is encouraged to issued these books to themselves and take them to the classroom. This will need to be monitored as it depends on how many there are as we still may have to store them in the library space. This is could be a better solution anyway as the children will see the teachers using the library too. 

I am not sure if I have agreed to do the right thing. On one level this seems right. By putting them into the reading scheme we are giving more choice and there will be a chance that the books are read. On the other hand this is not a 'traditional' library and it will be impossible to run library skills lessons, if we ever get the chance to do this, as nothing will be in traditional order therefore really difficult to find. Banding them will just mean that on the catalogue they will just be in the 'red' section. At this point in time we are a long way off from teaching basic library skills lessons to these infants. 

The positive of this is that the school has agreed to do transition library lessons from yr2 to yr3 so that in the juniors they will learn what a traditional library is like and have the skills taught then. This can be built on and feels very positive. 

I'm not sure if any of this makes sense but your comments would be appreciated. 

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Guernsey's Book Week: friendships, laughter and plans

Alex Scarrow
Ann Bryant
Kathryn Cave

Over the last 16 years Guernsey's Schools' Library Service (new website coming soon!) has hosted Book Week. Once a year we spend the week taking 3 authors around to our schools and every year they see nearly 5,000 children. I have met some really interesting, inspiring, sometimes unusual and extraordinary authors but all have brought something special to the children of Guernsey.

This is the first year that, although I did not arrange it from the beginning, as I took over from my predecessor half way through, that I had the opportunity to make some decisions. Now I was very lucky as the stage was set and all I had to do was follow the plan. The three authors that were booked this year, Kathryn Cave Alex Scarrow and Ann Bryant were a collective choice by my colleagues from SLS. We usually put some names forward and the Head of Services sees what she can book. I can't remember an unsuccessful week but we have had weeks where not all the authors got on with each other which was interesting and very funny looking back on it. Rather difficult at the time, though. There is always an element of the unknown bringing together three people that don't know each other and expecting them to spend a week with each other. The authors are busy during the day but are left to their own devices in the evenings.Luckily all three authors this year were lovely and got on really well with each other. 

Kathryn went to the infant schools, Ann to the Junior and Alex to the Secondary. All three are very different but equally entertaining in their own way. It is a full on week for them, 3 sessions a day for 5 days but they have access to a librarian who drives them from school to school and there is the occasional site seeing trip if there is time. We do it this way so that throughout the week all our librarians get to meet the authors and see them perform but also getting around Guernsey can be a little tricky so taking them from place to place allows them a relatively stress free week.

The extra that I added this year was asking the authors to come to the children's library at the Guille-Alles public Library to do a 'meet the author' session. They all did an hour at the end of the day and some children really benefited from getting up close to the authors. All were happy to give it a go but there was not a huge amount of interest. I will be prepared for it next time and my marketing strategy will be much better. I now realise that I needed to be more pro-active. Also the infant author was relying on the parents to come down after school when it was probably their teatime and it can be a bad time of day for little ones.  It was easier for the junior and secondary authors as they could encourage children who were listening to their talks to ask their parents to bring them to the library and being a little older it didn't matter. 

A lot of interesting conversations were had this year about what to do next and I really hope that some of it comes to fruition. Knowing the characters involved I see that none if us are going to let our plans slide if we can help it.

I really look forward to working with these three amazing authors again soon.

Here are some photo's taken on the Thursday evening event Thanks Rachel!

This is me and Laura Milligan who is Chief Librarian of the Guille-Alles Library

Jodie, Tiffany Library Assistants for SLS  and Alpha from the Press Book Shop

Alex Scarrow doing his thing!

Kathryn Cave with one of her many fans!

Alex with his fans too :)

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Why I want to get back to blogging

I have spent a lot of time thinking why I like blogging, so here is my #1 reason for liking it.:-
  1. I can write how I talk and it does not have to be formal
But why don't I do it more? Time!

I read a post yesterday on the reasons for stopping blogging, well when I say read I skimmed to see if I could fine Time and yes it was number 2 on the list. When I read it I should have saved it so I could share the link, but I was busy and forgot to save it and now can't find it again (I am always telling my students to save what they find and write the reference so they can find it again! Some example I am!).  The main message was that if you enjoy something you find time. Now I'm sorry that I did not save it but it has got me started again thinking about what I feel about blogging. 

Why did I do it and what was in it for me?

  • I enjoyed writing my thoughts down. 
  • It makes things easier to process. 
  • I liked to see what kind of response a blog post got. 
Did I stop because I was not getting much response?
  • No, not really, though there are some blogs that get a huge response and I did wonder why mine didn't.
Maybe I was not saying anything that anyone wanted to read. Did that matter? Yes, what is the point of writing your thoughts on a blog if no-one reads it, I might as well write in a diary. 

So why bother?
  • I can see that since I started that quite a few people have visited my blog and I have 4 follower...thanks guys :) 
  • I have had the odd comment.
  • I have also had someone tell me they enjoyed reading my blog, so people are reading it but not commenting. 
  • I read a lot of blogs myself and how often do I comment myself, not often!
But ultimately does it matter if no-one comments? NO. Why not?

I enjoy it and that is all that matters.


Monday, 26 May 2014

Plagiarism warning

I was at a dinner party this weekend and I sat next to a man whom I had never met before. After talking for a while about the usual stuff like holidays we got round to talking about what we did for a living. I'm a librarian and he it turned out was a lecturer at Birkbeck university. We did digress to talking about the perils of plagiarism and he told me something that I want to share.

A student of his wrote an essay that was put through Turnitin. A standard procedure for the majority of universities these days. This essay came back as 62% plagiarised. When my dinner party acquaintance checked it out it turned out that in reality the student had only plagiarised one source. Why was the statistic so high then? It turned out that the source that the student had chosen to steal from had itself plagiarised from someone else who had also plagiarised from its original source. The chosen source had been plagiarised itself 3 times!

I love this story as it is a perfect reason to tell your students why it is really important to understand where your information is coming from.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Training ideas for library services - Social Media for Marketing

In our office we have decided to run in house training sessions once every half term. This started last half term where we shared our information literacy programme CWICER that we have adapted from New York  Department of Education. We have had a amazing response from the teachers to this framework as it has allowed us to talk to the teachers in their own language at last. The staff enjoyed the training and sharing ideas so we decided to run another session this morning on social media.

This months DIY training is on Social Media for Marketing

We have decided to start using social media to promote our service but you can't do that properly unless you understand what the social media can do. I talked through twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and as tools that I use on a regular basis.  There is still a lot of misunderstanding about what these resources are used for. Many of the staff still believe that twitter is about famous people or people telling you what they had for dinner. I tried to explain that my twitter page is purely for work. I follow librarians, authors, IT experts and anyone else that I think will make my life easier at work. My reasons for using twitter were:-
  • My own CPD
  • Gaining information to use in teaching
  • Ask questions from those that know more than me
  • Finding great articles for my MLIS
Why do all the hard work when someone else has already done it. Sharing is amazing and it has worked for me. Here is my twitter link @Elizabethutch and Pinterest are great sources of information that I curate. I explained that I don't spend ages looking through the internet to find useful article but use these tools to do it for me. I use resources that others have shared and scoop them or pin them to my own pages so others can benefit from what I have found. I find that saving suggested links from twitter to my page is a better   way of keeping what is useful and makes it easier to search. Have a look at my page see what you think. Here is my link to my Pinterest page I really enjoy keeping these pages full of information that is useful to me but find it fascinating that you can make connections with others who are interested in the same things as me.

I also use these tools to help me with my own study research for my MLIS. I enjoy using this as it not only is very useful to me but I can also demonstrate it's potential to the students I teach. I have always believed that in order to understand something you must use it. When Facebook first came out I was worried about my children using it as I did not understand how it worked I decided that using it was the only way to learn

Finally I do believe that you should have some social life on social media so I have a personal Facebook page that I keep private for friends and family. I do have a couple of  library groups that I am linked to but it is generally a fun tool.

I have challenged my colleagues to start using these resources before September so that we can consider using them as marketing tools for work in future. My worry at the moment is that if we were to start now I would have to organised it all myself as no one else really understands it's potential. I look forward to seeing where this will all lead.

I was just about to post this blog when my email pinged. I have set up Google alerts for 'social media' and amazingly this blog popped up David is saying, much better than me what we should be doing as librarians. The wonder of the internet! Having read his post I feel much better that I write as if I am talking as that seems to be the way to do this. What I have learnt from his post is that I need to spend time on my pictures. Will do that next time.

Finally, a colleague asked how I managed my time on social media. I had to be honest and say that I was addicted instantly and at first it was very difficult to not keep checking to see if anyone had read what I had written or commented on it. I still struggle to switch off between home and work life but I really enjoy it so does that matter so much? I will never be that person who can look for 30mins a day as it does not seem to work that way for me. I choose what I respond to when I am at home. What I have more of a problem with it allowing myself time to look when I am at work when it is for work purposes and not feel guilty about it.

I wonder what others have done to encourage others to use social media within the work place.

Next term we are looking at promoting reading for pleasure. 

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

4 challenges I will face this year.

I thought it was about time I posted again. I have now finished my management module and am starting a research and evaluation module next. Not very inspired at the moment though so I thought I would have a night off studying. It turns out that there is football on the TV so I might as well catch up with my blog.

I have such a lot going on at work I thought it might be a good to list the ideas that I have to promote the use of the schools' library service and at the same time if anyone is reading this they will understand the kind of things that we do.

  1. Introducing a framework for information literacy to teachers to encourage independent learning in the classroom. We ran a course last night and 18 teachers came along to listen to what we had to say. We explained the framework, gave demonstrations on using the school library catalogue and also showed them Britannica. We gave them examples of how they could use this within their curriculum and asked them how they could see it being used. Not everyone will but there was a definite buzz about the place and I am sure that it will lead to interesting conversations in the future. 
  2. Flipped learning is something that I am going to get my head around this year. I have done lots of reading about it but as yet have not been brave enough to do anything. I would really love to work with someone on it but it looks like I will just have to decide what I am going to flip and like this blog just go for it. 
  3. I am going to present at my first teachmeet next month, it really scares me but if that is where the teachers are then I need to be too. 
  4. Finally I will make an effort to use my social media work for marketing the school's library service this year. I will set up a Facebook and twitter account as that is where we need to be.
If that isn't enough I will also be involved in transition literacy, encouraging reading with Tom Palmer and my usual Carnegie and Greenaway groups, teach information literacy classes, support the school libraries and so much more. I love my job and am very lucky to have such challenges every day. Who would not want to be a librarian...

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Framework for Information Literacy with our schools

It must be time for another post. I have just posted my first assignment for my MLIS course so have a little time on my hands before I head into the next assignment.

I feel that an update on our plan for Island domination with a Framework for Information Literacy might be on the cards. So the latest is this:-

  • The Education Department have agreed to advertise our course to explain the Framework for Information literacy to teachers. 

  • A school has agreed to host the training event.

  • We have teachers showing an interest in hearing what we have to say.

Our plan for the next few weeks are going to be interesting as all of this is on top of our normal work loads. We need to  make sure that everything is in place for the middle of January, which I am sure it will be. 

It has also been interesting that it was suggested that a teacher would be involved in our course by showing other teachers how this framework can be used in the classroom. It was lovely that this offer was made and it was a great idea as it gave us the opportunity to collaborate. Unfortunately this plan has been changed and the offer of help has been removed for now, it was felt that teachers need time to trial it first and become happy with it before talking to others about it. I can understand this concern and I am sure once teachers have had the chance to use the framework within the classroom they will be able to help with that part of the course in the future.

It was also suggested that we wait until the one school had finished their trial. We have decided against this as all schools deserve the opportunity to see how it can improve independent learning in their classrooms. It could also be that the trial school decides against using it and every school should be able to make their own decision. Finally, SLS were able to get the first school interested without the help of the teachers so we can definitely do it again. 

We need to be in a position to advise and support by passing on our knowledge and allow the teachers to use it as they see fit.  

Where this will all lead I have no idea but we must push forward as this opportunity to make the Education Department aware of the importance of qualified librarians to support schools and teachers will not come along very often.