Renovation is not the be-all

I have just read an interesting blog post by Laura Fleming which argues that if the library isn’t being used, just changing the space won’t make a difference. She says you should bring about a revolution in the culture of the library before trying to renovate. Laura is very emphatic on the importance of student input when considering changing space organisation, furnishings, technology and of course choosing resources. It is refreshing to see something which does not rely upon spending $$$ on the latest new furniture in the hopes that the ‘shiny’ will be attractive enough to bring in more users.

Key takeaways:

  • repurpose your existing fittings, furnishings and equipment
  • get student input
  • let students choose books
  • meet student needs

Things which might be a hard sell in my school? Food in the library, or games in the senior library. I believe that the school executive would like to improve the academic tone of the senior school, including in the library (statements at the start of the year about the library as a quiet study space), so I might not get a lot of support for radically changing that.

Spatial difficulties: we have an echo-y glass box for our SS library, which makes things like private study spaces difficult. What I would love to do is have diner-style bench + table seating along at least part of one wall which would give students places to work together but keep the noise of conversations down to a manageable level. Some more variety in the rest of the seating would also be welcome. An idea I heard from another TL recently is to apply an adhesive whiteboard surface to the top of existing tables – quick and relatively cheap way to provide write-on tables. (quick look puts a piece large enough to cover a 4-person table at about $90; new whiteboard desks start at $250+)


Food for thought…


Defining literacies

This statement from the US National Council of Teachers of English is interesting:

“Active, successful participants in this 21st century global society must be able to

    • Develop proficiency and fluency with the tools of technology;
    • Build intentional cross-cultural connections and relationships with others so to pose and solve problems collaboratively and strengthen independent thought;
    • Design and share information for global communities to meet a variety of purposes;
    • Manage, analyze, and synthesize multiple streams of simultaneous information;
    • Create, critique, analyze, and evaluate multimedia texts;
    • Attend to the ethical responsibilities required by these complex environments.”

Not much there is “traditional” literacy, but all are so important now!


It’s all about your attitude

I came across this blog post last week. The author Jeff is writing about someone else who inspired him with the suggestion that so much of the issues in our schools could be prevented or reduced if everyone started with The Golden Rule – treat others as you wish to be treated. So that student who you find incredibly irritating because they are forever asking the same question 5 minutes after you explained it to everyone else – if you were in their shoes, you would want to be treated with patience and respect, so rein in the growls of frustration and be your best self.

Jeff also notes that to grow beyond the most basic application is to recognise that we are not all the same – sometimes people would prefer a different approach than we ourselves like, so perhaps should we go that one step further and “twist the Golden Rule just a bit, moving from treating others as we would want to be treated to treating others as they would want to be treated”.

This is a thought-provoker for me – how do I treat my colleagues? My students? My family? Am I behaving they way I would want others to act towards me? Time for some self-reflection.

Justified censorship or overly sensitive?

There’s been a great discussion on the Tassie school library listserv this week regarding the book “Six White Boomers” and whether, in light of Rolf Harris’s recent incarceration for sexually abusing a number of young girls, this book should be removed from the shelves.

Wow, this is tricky. There is no excuse, ever, for abusing children. (Or adults for that matter).



Do we judge each book and resource in the Library by the personal lives of each person involved in its creation? At what point should external factors determine the inclusion or exclusion of an item? Secondary students studying the events of the 20th century read speeches by Hitler and other war criminals. I remember the furore when evidence was presented against Lance Armstrong, and some particularly clever responses reclassified his various biographies as fiction. Similarly the book “Three cups of tea” has since been proven to be more of an idealised parallel universe than a factual recount of Greg Mortenson’s charity work in Afghanistan.  In contemporary biographical works I find it difficult to locate titles concerning great sportsmen which are suitable for a primary school readership – many recent publications are too revealing of the warts-and-all details to be appropriate for younger readers. Thus the book content is the key factor in disqualifying these titles – give me some which skilfully skate past those more adult troubles and I will joyfully purchase them for my shelves!

It seems to me, then, that my key criteria is what is appropriate for my students to encounter first-hand. Our youngest readers, who most enjoy “Six White Boomers”, are not likely to have unrestricted or unsupervised access to the internet to search for and find distressing details of Rolf’s disgrace, therefore I see no harm in keeping one of the few fun, Australian Christmas songs that do not rely on out-dated outback imagery and Strine. If we were looking at a book for older readers, such as Year 6, and searching for the author were to result in a great deal of information/pictures that would be inappropriate and upsetting for that age group, then I would certainly think long and hard about whether that specific title should be purchased.

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