A loud librarian's take on libraries and all things books.

Modem death – an obituary August 24, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — liane23 @ 9:43 am

Alas poor modem… I knew him well. In fact, there’s a possibility I wore him out completely.


He served me through a time when dial-up and CD-roms were cutting edge. He lived well past his prime forging ahead to broadband and unlimited downloads, terabytes and wi-fi without complaint or fault. Until, of course, I had two assignments due in one week.


It is here, though, I must pay respect where it is due as dear old modey (as we now affectionately refer to him) goes the way of floppy disks and iPod shuffles. He was a worker. I could say he will never be replaced but that would not be entirely true as his brand-spankers superceded model arrived in the post this week which is lucky for my neighbours who can lock me back out of their wi-fi.


Modey is a dinosaur, a relic and a reminder of days long gone. He was loved for his ability to run up to 5 devices at once on a super-cheap plan with never a call to IT support. Thanks modey, you were a gem and this week I realised just how hard it is to live without you. RIP.


Influencing curriculum development August 6, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — liane23 @ 1:45 am

The teacher librarian is uniquely situated to have a strong influence upon curriculum development. As part of the school leadership team they are able to keep others abreast of developments in technology useful in school education. I think it would be remiss to not collaborate with the TL, both as staff and principal, as their access to resources and use of inquiry based learning has been proven to improve student learning. You can’t ignore the evidence.

Although I’ve come across the Habits of Mind in my teaching I found the HOM paper fascinating and read it all. In schools we are so often squeezed into pockets of time to teach and then governed by assessment and NAPLAN results that the fun stuff – the real learning – gets lost. The ‘why’s’ of our daily business are consumed in the ‘just get it done’ because we have so much to cover. I always find myself fighting against wanting to take my students on that intellectual journey instead of racing off to maths groups (and have done sometimes to my own detriment). Hopefully somewhere amongst this technology can help us make that easier. Using a constructivist approach is the only way but it comes with its challenges.

These are some of the challenges facing TLs that I can see:
• Lack of cooperation from staff who are behaviourist, basic skills of student collaboration not present, keeping teachers up to date with skill set required to use technology – professional development an ongoing focus, restructure of assessment criteria and philosophy.

How do the dimensions of quality teaching relate to inquiry learning and project-based learning approaches?
• The creation of knowledge is where students really learn, therefore the intellectual quality of the lesson/ subject will be increased when project based and inquiry learning styles are employed.
• The quality classroom environment caters for different styles of learning and ways to display intelligence (Habits Of Mind). Inquiry based learning allows students to present their knowledge in relevant ways, increasingly with the use of technology.
• Creating a quality classroom environment shows that teachers recognise that learning is a process, not an end point with a goal. The purpose is to develop skills (inquiry) and use them to formulate new knowledge through thinking, questioning, clarifying, reasoning and researching.
• Significance relates to the connection the student has with the knowledge. The habits of mind required to construct the knowledge are important here in developing inquiry skills. The ability to persist in finding suitable answers through a web search for example, are directly related to the students motivation in finding answers to their questions.


First star to the right… August 3, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — liane23 @ 12:05 am

I have to confess – I love the Olympics – so I got out of bed at sparrows to watch the opening ceremony from London last weekend. In true British style, understated yet with class, what did they choose to celebrate? Books! Peter Pan, a childhood favourite of mine.

It was quite amazing to see JK Rowling, author of Harry Potter and Time Berners-Lee, ‘author’ of the internet and consider the massive impact each has had on our lives.


The role of the teacher librarian with regard to principal support July 29, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — liane23 @ 11:47 pm

The role of the teacher librarian in the 21st century digital age must undergo change for libraries to continue to be effective places for learning and not go the way of the dinosaurs. Principal support is fundamental to this development requiring the role of the teacher librarian to be a qualified collaborator, an effective communicator within the school leadership, an advocate of their school’s vision and a participant in community networks.


Teacher librarians, as part of the school leadership team, need to have credibility. In order to be credible, teacher-librarians must be highly skilled in collaboration (Haycock, 2007). The skill of collaboration is vital as it has been demonstrated as the single professional behavior of teacher-librarians that most affects student achievement (Haycock, 2007). Oberg outlines that one of the three key ways to gain respect and therefore support of the principal teacher librarians must build credibility through qualifications such as a Masters degree, in both education and librarianship.


Qualifications are not enough, it is up to the teacher librarian to get principals on board and develop a shared vision. As curriculum leaders, teacher librarians are expected to ‘work with school principals and senior staff to ensure information literacy outcomes are a major school focus’. (Herring, 2007). They must be advocates for their vision and of their profession to work to advance school library goals. For this to happen they must know and promote the principal’s goals, be an ally, form a team for the shared vision and be patient in its implementation. Teacher librarians suffer from occupational invisibility (Oberg, 2006) and research shows that principal rarely focus on teacher librarians or libraries unless they actively promote their role. Valenza states unreservedly that teacher librarians represent our brand (who the teacher-librarian is) as a 21st century information professional. What does the information professional look like today? Ten years from today? If you do not develop strong vision, your vision will be usurped by the visions of others. (Valenza, 2010)

It is clear that Principals have a critical role in the implementation of change in schools (Oberg, 2007). Broulee Public School provides insight into how this can be done. The teacher librarian and the library program have become core to part of the school’s operation, Broulee PS no longer has a traditional school library or teacher librarian. It has an iCentre, and an iCentre Coordinator, who is playing a leading role in developing a networked schoolcommunity. It is most assuredly not a matter of semantics, but a fundamental role change.(Lee, 2011).


Not only do teacher librarians need to be good communicators they need to be dynamic, interesting, innovators and a vital member of the school team in order to effect these changes. Hartzell (in Oberg, 2007) states the only way to change Principal perceptions is to assault them directly, repeatedly and from a multiplicity of directions. Suffering from physical isolation and stereotypical ideas of librarians is not acceptable behaviour for a 21st century teacher librarian. You enjoy what you do and let others know it. (Valenza, 2010).


Teacher librarians need to be active participants in community networks. Including stakeholders in their shared vision and being part of a professional network allows the teacher librarian to tap into all the resources available for success. We need to ensure our communities know the difference we make to learning outcomes, especially the school principal (Weaver, 2010). Broulee PS has taken this concept to the limit in using community resources, Broulee PS provides a succinct insight into what is possible in an everyday state school: a vital insight into … how a school, by pooling its resources with those of its community,can significantly enhance its offerings.


The idea of the library is being challenged and to preserve it teacher librarians need to become its advocates by educating our principals through effective, ongoing communication. A redefining process, the evolution of school media library programs is in their hands and teacher librarians need to be qualified to exist as leaders in our schools. In the words of Purcell, teacher librarians assist teachers and students in functioning in an increasingly complex world. It is imperative to ensure teacher librarians play an active role in promoting their worth.



Haycock, K. (2007). Collaboration: Critical success factors for student learning. School Libraries Worldwide, 13(1), (pp25-35).

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).

 Lamb, A. (2011). Bursting with potential: Mixing a media specialist’s palette. Techtrends: Linking Research & Practice To Improve Learning, 55(4), (pp27-36).

Lee, M, (2011), The networked school community and Broulee Public School, Scan, 30 (3).

Oberg, D. (2006). Developing the respect and support of school administrators. Teacher Librarian, 33(3), (pp13-18).

Purcell, M. (2010). All librarians do is check out books right? A look at the roles of the school library media specialist. Library Media Connection 29(3), (pp30-33).

Valenza, Joyce (2010) Manifesto for 21st Century School Librarians, School library journal blog.

Weaver, A. (2010) Teacher librarians: polymaths or dinosaurs? Access (March), ASLA, (pp18-19)






Sherpas and good reading

Filed under: Uncategorized — liane23 @ 3:46 am

For many years I’ve subscribed to the Good Reading magazine, a publication which has itself evolved throughout the digital age. It is my bible for books of all genres and itself a commentary on the evolution of reading.

I was heartened to read an article in it which reviewed a book called ‘The Library Book’, a collection of 23 short pieces by “some of the world’s most intriguing writers and thinkers” including Stephen Fry, Lionel Shriver (author of We Need to talk about Kevin), and Seth Godin about “how much public libraries mean to them.

Seth Godin writes in defense of librarians and in understanding of the diversity of their role The librarian isn’t a clerk who happens to work at a library. A librarian is a data hound, a guide, a sherpa and a teacher. The librarian is the interface between the reams of data and the untrained but motivated user. I quite like the idea of being a sherpa – someone wise and contained within the knowledge of ages, quietly knowing the way and willing to show those who want to go, vital, engaging and brave enough to exist on the edge.

Godin acknowledges the wonder and beauty of the library in the pre-electronic media age which was all great, until now. As a warehouse for books the library is obsolete and he says Just in time for the information economy, the library ought to be the nerve centre for information (Please don’t say I’m anti-book!). He articulates the changing role of the librarian in encouraging a new kind of librarian: This librarian takes responsibility/ blame for any kid who manages to graduate from school without being a first-rate data shark. I accept your challenge!

As one of many heartfelt, funny and moving essays on behalf of the institution of libraries, Godin concludes, We need librarians more than we ever did. What we don’t need are more clerks who guard dead paper. Librarians are too important to be a dwindling voice in our culture. For the right librarian, this is the chance of a lifetime.

I agree, and I hope I’m up to the challenge!


Good Reading, June 2012


Where’s my dictionary?

Filed under: Uncategorized — liane23 @ 3:24 am

The idea of reference material needs to evolve as I’m sure it did when books began to be categorised. There was surely a time when Religion and Philosophy didn’t provide all of the answers and information literature had to be identified in print. Historically we may be at that point again.

  • We need to identify and utilise web resources which can be categorized as “reference material” which were in the past “encyclopedias, dictionaries, atlases, biographical works, directories and bibliographies” (Coombes, 2012)
  • It seems reference is the exact opposite of what we have with the web’s plethora of information, neither concise or reliable at times. How do we get to that point again? As teacher librarians we can create a practice of investigating reliable resources.
  • We need to redefine the term “reference” and identify appropriate material. As Barbara says we may label web resources as ‘general sources’ and ‘quick reference’ and steer our students away from Wikipedia as their reference library.
  • How many times when your students search do they end up on Wikipedia? I think this is why. When I was at school it was Encyclopaedia Britannica and World Book. The beauty and also the danger of Wikipedia is in its succinct nature. It usually provides exactly what we are after – a quick definition with examples, links and simple explanations. Yet, students need to be taught the premise behind the site (what a wiki is – collaborative, public) and given cross-referencing websites to be sure the information there is reliable. Maybe this is why Wikipedia is so popular and useful. It continues to fulfil that need for reference material. In the giant scope of the web we are all after somewhere to begin and it successfully provides that.
  • I would not encourage the use of Wikipedia as a stand alone source because it does not have academic merit, but… maybe it is paving the way. Should academics in their field utilise Wikipedia, take it over and make it their own? Rather than seeing it as the enemy, embrace it and let it fulfill the need it is so obviously being used for.
  • As TLs we should habitually make the place to begin in our topic searches somewhere to find reliable definitions, key terms, glossaries, maps etc in order to provide a reference point to continue the learning. In a constructivist classroom this is where we find the knowledge before we can apply, synthesise and evaluate it in other ways. Some students in our classes will only ever be able to cope with the knowledge part of higher order thinking skills so we need to ensure this is correct and accessible to all our students.
  • Maybe we need to value expertise more than we do as culturally the internet has provided a forum for anyone to sound like an expert. Teach our children to be discerning.

Web search, online atlas, dictionary, biographical guide:

Fact Monster– dictionary and encyclopedia – easy to search; Upper Stage 2 or above – language more difficult, only competent readers

Word Smyth – Children’s option, I like the audio feature for each word (American accent – watch with ES1), Need to turn off top ad bar

Yahoo Kids –  Looks good visually; Language difficult for infants, primary only; World Factbook feature about countries of the world I liked

Word Net – Simple, fast, no fuss, a good starting point

Print based dictionaries:

Pros – comprehensive or concise, clearly structured and alphabetised, quick find
Cons– expensive to update and purchase, not relevant to increasing digital terminology

I’m not leaning either way with this and I’m not sure if it’s because I grew up with dictionaries as essential reference tools. In saying that I haven’t seen an online one that has fully captured my attention, although that could be from my lack of use of online dictionaries. What do others think?


ETL501 modules – Topic 2: Print and electronic information resources


Roller coasters July 20, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — liane23 @ 2:28 am

It’s been a bit like jumping on a roller coaster and knowing that you’ll never get off, all this new information about the world of the internet and digital media. To top it all off our staff meeting this week was conducted by a representative from the Australian Communications and Media Authority about cyber-safety and using technology in schools. They have a great site. I think someone’s trying to tell me something.

With my head swimming with all of this new information there are a few thoughts to consider:

In the provision of resources the TL needs to consider –

  • The importance of the use of Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences framework to cater for different learning styles (Pritchard, 2009). Web resources and digital media make this easier as not all students want to write their findings down. They can – create a blog on environmental issues in their local area, produce a short 1 min persuasive video for saving ecosystems… and on it goes. Therefore we are creating a quality environment for learning (Herring, 2011).
  • The need to include Aboriginal perspectives. There are many excellent resources on the internet. My local library has a section where they keep resources aimed at preserving the local language which can be used in schools. It’s also linked to a website.
  • The use of different search engines in something which I have continued to think about with relation to providing information that my students can read and comprehend. Many staff at my school were unaware of Google’s Advanced search mode and of search engines which defined the reading age of particular sites. As the TL we need to make the teachers aware of the resources to assist them in providing quality educational material, not wasting time.


Herring, J. (2011) Improving students’ web use and information literacy: A guide for teachers and teacher librarians. London: Facet Publishing.

Pritchard, A. (2009). Ways of learning: Learning theories and learning styles in the classroom. 2nd ed., Abingdon, Routledge. (Ebook in CSU Library)


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