Monday, 26 January 2015
Monday, 13 October 2014
When I began this course, I assumed that this would be one of the first topics I would learn about, believing it to be crucial knowledge for a school librarian. Given its complexity and difficulty, I am thankful it was one of the last! I’ve also altered my beliefs- whilst school librarians do need to understand how the Dewey Decimal System works and how Resource Description Access (RDA) works, they do not need to be experts as they will likely never be responsible for assigning the descriptive information of resources. However, the importance of the data models, Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR) (IFLA, 1998) and Functional Requirements for Authority Data (FRAD) (IFLA, 2009) and the content standard RDA, as frameworks for organising bibliographic information was highlighted as they promote consistency across information agencies, allowing librarians a shared language and therefore a shared understanding. Thus, information can be exchanged expediently.
Through these frameworks and the standardisation of metadata (such as controlled vocabularies), users are able to increase their access to information resources. Prior to this subject, I had never really given much thought to the actual organisation of information. I knew it was organised and that particular systems were used, I just didn’t think about the how, or the why. The assessment tasks and workbooks have been practical and challenging, yet very valuable in developing my understanding of these processes. ETL505 also highlighted the fact that although resources can be catalogued and standard vocabularies and descriptions used, there is still room for interpretation, and with this interpretation, sometimes human error.
This interpretation of a resource’s metadata allows Teacher Librarians flexibility in the organisation of their school libraries. Resources can be organised more traditionally, by subject, using the Dewey Decimal System (DDC), and subject headings assigned by SCIS (Schools Cataloguing Information Service). These tools allow easy access to resources, however, Teacher Librarians must also know their students and staff and the keyword approach means that TLs can add their own subject access points to some records in the school library through creating additional controlled vocabulary terms or adding more pertinent notes that can be retrieved through keyword searching. This can assist with an item’s accessibility.
With resources becoming increasingly digitised, this presents many challenges for the future of resource description and organisation. Social tagging, whereby the users (or authors, or contributors) index the information, can be useful when a controlled vocabulary is not viable. The vocabulary afforded through social tagging can be more authentic to its users, and can cover more search terms, however, significant control over the information must be forfeited and this can reduce access to the resource as precision in its description is reduced. I’d like to think that there can be a balance struck between controlling the integrity of metadata, and increasing access points, and therefore accessibility of resources.
Thursday, 15 November 2012
I wasn't happy with my final product, but it's gone to the EASTS Gods now and I'll await its return with a not-so-keen anticipation.
I think, on reflection, what frustrated me most about it was that it was such a slow and protracted process. I'm not working in a school presently (as I'm on mat. leave), and therefore I have very limited access to common selection aids or tools. This meant that I had to search, and search and search for a tool that I could access free of charge and without a registered-school login, and then, once I found an appropriate selection tool, I then had to search it to find appropriate resources (which was also difficult- my fault, as I chose a not-so-school-age-friendly topic- Schizophrenia).
Is this the process that TLs really use? I know that Kennedy (2006), states that it is the responsibility of the TL to become familiar with the available selection aids, and I know that this assignment was about the process rather than the actual chosen resources, but I think the tools need to be made available for students in this course who aren't in a school otherwise it becomes an invalid exercise.
I found searching for website collections also really time consuming and with little reward. I think, and TLs, please correct me if I'm wrong, but the most logical thing to do is use a search engine to find appropriate resources yourself- it is much faster and given the knowledge I've now developed on website evaluation (from ETL 501), this seems to be the most logical process. I understand the usefulness of compiling a list of reviewed sites that from publications such as "Connect", but I can't imagine many TLs, when trying to find useful websites, would go back to a past issue of such a publication, find the right page, read the review and then type in the URL and preview the website themselves- it seems like there's a lot of unnecessary steps there.
I think, if I'm armed with a myriad of selection tools with which I'm familiar, then they would be useful, particularly if they are send regularly via email or snail mail as catalogues
Thursday, 20 October 2011
In doing so, I've had to think about why I have kept so many. Why am I holding on to these possessions that are mostly collecting dust? There's many reasons. Some I truly love, some are sentimental, some are the holders of my good intentions (one day I'll push past your first 100 dull pages and finish you!), and some I don't feel I've owned long enough to get rid of yet (consumer guilt I think). And some, well, some I have because I think I should.
I've had to establish some rules. Here they are:
Rule 1: If it is sentimental, then it stays. This includes books from my late maternal grandmother, (herself an avid reader), school texts with my teenage scrawl in the margins, and books that have been given as gifts or that I wish to pass down to my son.
Rule 2: If I truly, truly loved it, then it stays (going through them all, this actually doesn't apply to many)
Rule 3: If I haven't read it yet, then it stays (surprisingly applies to many many more than I thought possible!)
Rule 4: If I've read it, and none of the other above rules apply, then it goes.
I began writing this post a while ago, and the sorting is now done and dusted. I've given boxes of books to an op shop and have given dozens away to friends and family (share the love, I say).
But, my reading hasn't been hampered by this culling, and indeed, it has even increased.
Yes, that's right. I've bought a Kindle. And I think it's true love.
Monday, 10 October 2011
Although I knew this course would challenge my preconceptions about the role of a TL, what I didn’t expect was the potential enormity of their role. Herring (2007), identifies 11 roles of a TL, whilst Purcell (2008), identifies five roles. This seems really discrepant given that TLs are so often undervalued by the executive staff and the teaching staff who see them as the equivalent of a “chimney sweep”! (Braxton, 2003). Evidence suggests that the school Principal plays a vital role in determining how effective the school library is (Hartzell, 2003) and evidence suggests that the school library plays a pivotal role in the learning outcomes of its students (2-9% of student achievement can be attributed to the school library) (Lance, 2001 in Oberg, 2002). I knew that a good TL- like any good professional, is proactive (Oberg, 2006), but I was surprised at the lack of Principal support that many TLs seem to receive as I would have liked to believe that all Principals value all members of their staff and that the library (or media centre, or information resource centre) is a valued school resource.
What I didn’t expect (perhaps somewhat naively) in undertaking this course and the discussions about information literacy, was the role of the TL as information literacy teacher. (Herring, 2007; Purcell, 2008, Eisenberg, 2006). Braxton (2008), states that “literacy through literature was the prime responsibility of the teacher-librarian”. Indeed, it was this literature role that I was most familiar with. Although my first blog post spoke about my passion for information literacy, it also, as many other students’ did, spoke about my love of books (Warner, 2011). Now, however, the role of TL as literacy teacher is much broader as the concept of literacy has expanded to include all types of information. Prior to this course, I thought that it was primarily the role of the subject-teacher to teach their students to think critically about information and how best to use it. Ideally, they would be doing this as they were the ones to set the inquiry based projects. Walker, however, states that the school library media specialist must “understand those skills that students need to read and, most importantly, to read for understanding, [they have] . . . the special expertise necessary to bridge the technical skills of reading with the experiential side of reading” (in Cart, 2007). With this information then, it is necessary that the TL be proactive and work collaboratively with classroom teachers across all aspects of the curriculum to ensure that these technical skills are being brought to light. One way to do this, is to “envision the ideal and then work backwards” (Higginbottom, 2010).
The role of a TL entails so much more than reading and processing books. TLs today are dynamic collaborators who, with their passion for information and technology in all forms are able to help students become critical, literate and engaged. My perception of the TL has expanded and will continue to do so as the roles and responsibilities afforded them adapt to the changing information environment.
Braxton, B. (2003). Raising your profile- again. Teacher Librarian. 31 (1). Pp 41-42.
Braxton, B. (2008). The teacher-librarian as literacy leader. Teacher Librarian. Retrieved from: www.redorbit.com/news/education/1324258/the_teacherlibrarian_as_literacy_leader
Cart, M. (2007). Teacher librarian as literacy leader. Teacher Librarian. 34 (3). Pp 8-12. Retrieved October 5, 2011.
Eisenberg, M. (2006). Three roles for the 21st-century teacher-librarian. CSLA Journal. 29(2). Pp 21-23.
Hartzell, G. (2003). Why should Principals support school libraries? Connections. 43.
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.
Higginbottom, J. (2010). What is a literacy leader? Literacy Leader (blog). Retrieved from: http://newteacherlibrarians.pbworks.com/w/page/23157211/Literacy%20Leader October 7, 2011.
Oberg, D. (2002). Looking for the evidence: Do school libraries improve student achievement? School Libraries in Canada. 22(2). Pp 10-13.
Oberg, D. (2006). Developing the respect and support of school administrators. Teacher Librarian. 33 (3). Pp 13-18.
Purcell, M. (2008). All librarians do is check out books, right? A look at the rols of a school library media specialist. Library Media Connection. 29 (3). Pp 30-33.
Warner, J. (2011). Welcoming myself to blogger (again). Unshelved. Retrieved from http://tlunshelved.blogspot.com October 5, 2011.
Tuesday, 2 August 2011
Collaboration between any group or individuals requires the factors of trust, shared vision and communication (Mattesich et. al., 2001 in Haycock, 2007). This is especially necessary for school professionals (academic and non-academic staff). Trust is important (to gain and maintain the trust of both students and colleagues). School staff need to have a shared vision (this should be guided by the school’s mission statement or ethos and should be used as a yardstick of sorts for self- reflection and as a guiding tool when it comes to planning and collaborating. Communication, to be effective, needs to be timely, clear and honest and should involve all parties.
I agree with Hancock that TLs, to be credible, need to be highly skilled in collaboration, although I would argue (and I don’t necessarily think that this is the point that he is making), that all staff working in a school, or indeed, in any professional environment, should be highly skilled in collaboration. When collaboration doesn’t happen between classroom teachers and TLs it can perhaps be attributed to the following reasons: (This is just my personal opinion and is based on my experience and anecdotal evidence).
- Time poor teachers (teachers may simply “run out of time” to organise to involve the TL in their lesson planning)
- Some teachers are protective of their work (either they don’t want to share because they don’t want their ideas used by others, or they feel that their teaching style or method is being judged or criticised. This may be why some teachers are hesitant to use the skills of the TL- (as was the case in one article I read – although I can’t find it now) as they feel they should have those skills themselves.
- Some teachers don’t value the TL
- Some teachers do not have time in the packed curriculum to teach effective research skills
The role of the Principal.
What I can take away from the readings is that the relationship between the TL and the Principal needs to be collaborative. What is also clear is that, if the Principal isn’t initially supportive of the role the school library plays within the school, then it is up to the TL to highlight the important role it plays.
The TL can do this in many ways- they need to be extroverted enough and proactive enough to actually engage the Principal in the discussion (Haycock). They should be prepared to present the Principal with research-based evidence on the contribution school libraries make to student learning (either their own or an analysis of the available literature), (Oberg, 2002). They need to be prepared to highlight the important role they play in the management of the school library (perhaps through having conducted a time study as suggested by Purcell). They then need to have a Principal who is forward thinking and open-minded, and who has the physical means (access to finances and the support of the school board) in order to maintain the resources of the library to the high standard needed to support student learning. TLs may find this difficult if they are introverted, unmotivated, do not have a good working relationship with their Principal, are prevented from collaboration due to time-table clashes and the physical isolation of the library, have a Principal who has a stereotypical view of TLs or have academic staff who do not value the role of the TL or are ignorant of their skill set.
What is the most important aspect do you think? What is the biggest hurdle that a TL will face with their Principal? What is the best way for a TL to overcome the mindset that librarians just check out books and mind the desk?