Thinking About School Libraries at a National Level

Monday morning always starts with a trawl through the emails, and lots of tabs open as I check to see which links are worth saving. This morning there were two particular emails that were interesting enough individually, but putting them together has really got my brain worked up.

First, this article in the School Library Journal about three mothers from Spokane who decided that they could not ignore the slashing of funding for school libraries and did something about it. And note this paragraph:

“The trio’s timing was near perfect. The Washington state legislature had recently created a joint task force to identify key deficiencies in the state’s basic education program that might require new ways to fund them. Redefining basic education in the state was long overdue—the last time was in 1977, way before technology entered the educational landscape. So the moms put all their energies into persuading the task force to include library services under the new, expanded definition of basic education—a move that, if adopted by the legislature, would all but ensure permanent funding for media centers.”

The other email concerned the media release by the Hon Julia Gillard “COAG Agrees On New National Education Authority“, wherein we learn that:

“The Council of Australian Governments today agreed to establish a new national education authority that will bring together, for the first time, the functions of curriculum, assessment and reporting at the national level.”

It occurs to me that here is an opportunity for Australia to take a good hard look at what we expect of our education systems, to assess how society, economic issues, global environments and technology have changed and impacted upon education processes and practices, and to create a new approach that values and supports the teaching of a whole range of skills necessary for successful citizenship in our imminent future. School libraries should be a big part of this, although they too must be part of the new approach – the traditional stereotype of an exclusive, dusty place of shushing and fluttering paper pages must give way to the creation of vibrant, inclusive, connected spaces where books are but one of a variety of approaches to teaching and learning, seamlessly integrated according to the specific needs of the user.




It is amazing how much time can be spent on the admin details – I spent at least an hour yesterday checking through the new term timetables, sorting out period changes for some English classes and trying to work out how often I will be seeing my various classes this term, what with various camps, athletics carnivals, concerts and speech night preparations (I have been warned to expect the unexpected from late October onwards – apparently rehearsals fall from on high without warning or mercy).

Today’s important-but-fearsomely-monotonous task is stocktaking. There has not been a stocktake in at least six years (I am not enquiring too deeply into the history of this), and there are a lot of errors in the catalogue database. The bar of chocolate at the end of this will be a much more accurate set of records ready for the planned software changeover over the summer. I have decided to call it the Tour de Stocktake, because it will be accomplished over several weeks, in stages, some of which could be called sprints, while others are enormously challenging mountains of items. The first Stage (French accent please) was achieved on Monday, with the scanning of all fiction books present in the infants library. While about 35% were missing, I’m hoping that at least half of those will miraculously reappear when I work my way through the infants classrooms.

Time to unplug my laptop, grab the scanner, blue cable, stocktake folder and mug of tea, and head off to the wilderness – that is, the non-fiction section of the infants library room. If I don’t make it back for morning tea, send out a search party.



My apologies to the edublogiverse for taking so long to move from intorductory to post to actual content.

I have been thinking hard about what to blog next, so much so that I have been (metaphorically) oscillating in one place, bouncing around between ideas and thoughts and priorities like one of those virtual ball bearings in a MS Pinball game!! (Have to keep the ICT theme going)

For lack of ideas on how to tackle the deep philosophical issues, why don’t I start with a recent success?

This year I started work in a boys’ school, which is a new environment for me. I am learning about boys’ education, and what kind of fiction tastes boys have a different ages, and I’ve been reading things like Cherub (R. Muchamore) and Contest (M. Reilly) and so on. Promoting reading and a culture of reading is of course one of my goals as a Teacher Librarian, and I am always looking for new ways to do this.

My latest brainwave is to have the boys in Yrs 5 and 6 create Reader Profiles for themselves, using as many useful web2.0 gadgets as I can, and have them saved on the students’ personal intranet pages – this is going to be built up into favourite author lists, favourite books, and hopefully even the occasional book review ::gasp!::

This week’s task is to create a personalised Genre Wordle.

  • We do a fast reminder of what genre is, and then the class collaborate to create a genre list of about 20 headings. Every student saves their own copy of the list. (You could do this as a whole class activity if you can’t access enough computers at once)
  • On the big screen – or on a smartboard – I show the students how to find Wordle, and demonstrate coping and pasting the genre heading list into the text box, and tell them to click on ‘Go’.
  • I then show students how to play with the layout, font and colours, so that they know how to change the image.
  • Then we go back to our genre list, and I show the students what happens if I select my favourite genre and paste it into the genre list another 5 or 6 times, and make a new Wordle.
  • Students then have to try it for themselves, chooosing their favourite genre and putting it into their list multiple times, then choosing their second favourite and putting it in several times, etc. I emphasise that students need to save their Favourite Genres list before going any further.
  • Students now make a new Wordle out of their Favourite Genres list, ending up with a Wordle that puts their favourite genres in beautiful big letters!
  • I show students how to publish their Wordle, emphasising that they should not use their real names because these will be on the internet. We copy the URLs and paste them onto the end of the Favourite Genres Word documents.
  • Next lesson I will show the students how to take a screenshot of their Wordle and paste that into Paint or Word to use in their Reader Profiles.

So far this task is working well, and I hope to build on it by having students share their genre Wordles, and start thinking about why they enjoy particular genres – we may then take the favourite genres and make wordles describing their special characteristics…. the sky is the limit!!

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