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).

But.

Puzzle

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.

Refreshing Library Services

I spent some time this morning catching up on my professional reading, and I am mulling over two posts in particular.

8 ways to rescue public school libraries from becoming obsolete

This article discusses environment, services, programs, resources and outreach as methods for engaging young people and remaining relevant.
Library of the future: 8 technologies we would love to see
By contrast this article is about imagining possibilities – digital interfaces that work on your printed page, drone book delivery, geolocation on your library card that takes you to the book you want… and an augmented reality app that guides you through the library.

Old books
With our JS library having a makeover at the end of this year, the idea of reinvention is uppermost in my mind. What kinds of spaces should we have? Should we be changing how we shelve, display and promote resources? Is it time to introduce a makerspace program?

At the same time as looking forwards, I am looking back: scanning the shelves, looking at the state of our non-fiction collection, it is time for a serious re-evaluation of our physical resources in terms of relevance to the curriculum, readability for the students most likely to need them, currency of materials on topics like digital technologies, political issues and modern day heroes. Where do I need to cut back? Where do I need to increase physical resources? Where do I need to develop more comprehensive pathfinders for digital resources?

This is a somewhat daunting prospect for a drizzly Monday morning, but once I plot out a plan of attack, I will feel more confident.

 

Reflection and Feedback

what stuck with you-

I just came across a blog post by Dani Raskin where she talked about a reflection technique called “What Stuck With You?“. Basically, towards the end of the lesson, students are asked to write a post-it note on what they got out of the lesson – or even what questions/problems they have been left with. Students share their thoughts before sticking the note onto a display wall. This lets everyone have a voice, gives the teacher immediate feedback on students’ understanding of the key points of the lesson, and will form the basis for review later on.

I’m keen to try this with some of my classes, but probably more at the end of a unit of work than at the end of a class, just because I am working with primary students, 25 or 50 min lessons, and I don’t think I will get the full power of the activity after just reading a story and talking about it with Preps….

 

The second thing was mentioned later in the same blog post: using the “Start, Stop, Continue” feedback model. In this activity, you ask the students for feedback on your lesson/unit/teaching, specifically ways to improve the classroom experience:

* What would they like you ( the teacher) to START doing?

* What would they like you to STOP doing?

* What would they like you to CONTINUE doing?

A bit of a search and I found this very clear explanation of the model as it applies to primary/high school teaching. I have been changing some of the ways I teach ICT skills to my primary classes, so this would be a good time for me to seek some feedback from them on how helpful these changes have been for them.

 

ALIA day 3 – experiences reviewing the library

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The question for today was:

  • What has been your experience with reviewing your school library?

I found this to be more thought-provoking than expected, because my first response – thinking of the document – was ‘none’! But then I realised that reviewing services happens all the time, sometimes purposefully and sometimes on an ad hoc basis.

My first review activities would have been completed as part of my masters degree in Teacher Librarianship, awaaaay back between 2002 and 2007. I remember completing various assignments on reviewing and creating policy and procedure documents, collection mapping and reviewing online services.

Having moved to Tasmania and taken up this position at Hutchins,there have been different kinds of reviews: position descriptions, staff roles within a team, collaborative curriculum planning…

When I worked in Hong Kong I helped with a redesign of the school library, so that involved a lot of consideration of use of floorspace, flexible shelving and furniture options, placement of immovable IWBs to avoid glare, traffic flow…

In the last two years our school underwent a minutely detailed, comprehensive self-evaluation as part of gaining accreditation as an international school, included in which was of course analysis of library services and curriculum. That analysis was more about perception and use of the school library by the wider school community, so there are areas in these self-reflection and evaluation guidelines that were not touched upon in that process.

So now that I have thought about this a bit more deeply, I would say that I am involved in review processes of different aspects of library management at different points throughout the year, sometimes in response to external factors and sometimes as part of our internal annual cycles.Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Perhaps what I should be aiming for is a combination:

  • regular/term reviews of things such as library program and collection development to support the curriculum
  • small annual reports (Dianne Mackenzie is eloquent in her explanations here)
  • 3 to 5 yearly major reviews, which would provide support for a 3-5 year strategic plan for the library

Looking just at the third point is too daunting, but if divided into term-by-term and year-by-year activities, I think I can see it becoming more a process of analysing data that has been collected all along, plus updating documentation, and then from there creating goals for the future.

I foresee some quality time being spent with my calendar….

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