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….

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.