Saturday, 24 October 2015

Partnerships with Public Librarians

At the end of July the Future of Libraries Summit was held in Wellington, and I scrolled through their Twitter feed a few days later.  One tweet that caught my attention was by @SarahLibrarina, a librarian in Dunedin, and it mentioned a job swap.  It got me thinking about our public library and whether it would be possible to spend some time with my local public librarians to talk together and share knowledge (but not actually swap jobs).  

I already have a good relationship with the Children's and Teen's librarians at Hamilton City Libraries. We run their summer reading programme from our library over the holidays and I had the pleasure of having them come in and teach some of our students, and myself, stop motion animation.

I emailed Su and told her about the summit and asked whether I would be able to talk to some of the staff to learn more about what they do, and then share a bit about what I do.  She agreed and eventually we found a time and day that suited, the morning of the last Tuesday of Term 3.

First up was a chat with Simone, one of the Collections Librarians, about what was popular in junior fiction. I shared our statistics and I got to see their top titles and authors - Geronimo Stilton took out top honours in both our libraries!  

Simone and I also talked about Hamilton City Libraries' Kit Collection.  I've been exploring this idea for a while for our own library, inspired by a couple of blogs about circulating maker kits.  I was able to find out more about whether they were popular (yes, very) and whether they had problems with kits getting damaged (not really).  She gave me the names of some local suppliers for items like sewing machines and telescopes.

Then I spoke to Su and Aaron, two of the Children's and Teen's librarians.  We had a great discussion about ideas for Maori Language week, Star Wars Reads day, display ideas, competitions, Twitter, blogs,

Minion rubbish bins, and


There is a lot of common ground between school and public libraries and I feel that we can learn a lot from sharing with each other.  We often move in different circles and we need to make an effort to reach out and break down those barriers (Twitter is great for this).  A big thanks to Simone, Su and Aaron for making the time to talk with me.

Friday, 9 October 2015

Permission to Play

On Tuesday I attended the uLearn Permission to Play conference.  I was really excited about the opportunity to "explore how playful-learning leads to deeper learning for students".  Given my interest in Makerspaces in the library I chose to attend Mark Osborne's workshop on The Maker Movement in Schools and Tara Fagan's workshop on Future of Learning: Programming, robotics and missions of code.  An Ignite opening was first up with Jane Gilbert and Tim Carr.

I took all my notes via tweets so here they are:

It was great to have an opportunity to play with a variety of electronics, robotics and maker materials.  One thing that struck me was that, without a purpose, after working out what everything did I lost interest.  While it is important to give our students the opportunity to be creative and innovative, for some of them, like me, they will need a reason, a challenge or an objective in order to take the learning to the next step.

I have a wishlist to take back to school now and am starting to formulate a plan for a Makerspace.  I also bought myself an mBot, for research purposes!  

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Talking like Pirates, Minion Bookmarks, Book Fridges and More!

Now that my presentation at the SLANZA conference is done and dusted I thought I'd go over our very busy last couple of weeks of Term 3.  

On 15 September we celebrated International Dot Day in the library.  This is based on the lovely book The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds.  We had the iPads out and asked anyone in the library if they wanted to make a dot using a drawing app.  I deliberately didn't publicise it as I knew we'd get too many students then.  As it was, as a random pop-up art activity at lunchtime, we had just the right amount of students.  

A student from my Clever Minions advisory group read the book and then several helped younger students learn how to use the app.  Here's our Facebook album of the event.  I sent the completed dots through to to go on their gallery but they haven't appeared there yet.  It was an enjoyable lunch time, it is amazing how creative students can be when making a dot!

On Friday 18 September we had the launch of a coffee cart outside our library.  This was an initiative from the PTA, but they involved me as thought they might be able to help us increase the number of parents who use the library when it opens on Friday mornings before school.  As the coffee cart was going to be up and running by 8am we decided to open the library earlier to coincide with that (it used to open at 8.30am).  Friday the 18th just happened to be the last school day before Talk Like a Pirate Day (officially on the 19th).  I've been meaning to celebrate this day for a while so it felt like a good idea to combine the launch of the coffee cart with a little pirate celebration in the library!  Esther and I dressed up like pirates and I bought some eyepatches for our student librarians to wear that day.  I found an app that transformed our students into pirates, we played some pirate music and had all our pirate books on display.  And of course we all said "Arrgghhh!" and "Shiver Me Timbers!" a lot.

At morning tea on that Friday I taught the Exploding Minions book club how to make minion bookmarks.  These are so cute!  

It was a great way to road test the activity before running it over a lunchtime.  We discovered that we needed a lot more glue sticks and that it would be easier to have some of the paper pre-cut.  Then on the last Monday of term we gave lunchtime library visitors the opportunity to make their own minions.  We had some of our Clever Minions group available to help but even our youngest students were able to make most of this by themselves.  We had students turning up later who we had to turn down as the activity takes a while to do.  I told them to get their parents to look on Facebook as I posted the video on there for those who missed out.  Here is the Facebook album for this, it had a reach of 548 people, which is very big by our standards.

Also on the last Monday of term we reminded our school staff about using the Book Freezer.  I took a photo of the current books in there and put it up in the staffroom.  I wrote about our Book Fridge back in February, before we launched it.  Jeannie, a friend from the National Library, rang me up and asked me for an update on it as part of a post she was writing.  She's covered everything I would have said there, but I will add a current photo for you:

Oh, and I will mention the name of one of the books on the fridge, "written" by our principal - Mr Sheedy's Guide to Ballet - and how to look good in a tutu. Hehe!

On the last Tuesday of term I visited our public library to talk with their librarians and swap ideas.  I got so much out of that visit I'll do a separate post on that.

And on the last Thursday of the term we had new signage put up, arranged by our visual arts team (although I chose the words, with help from Google Images):

We finished the term with another coffee cart visit, we've had six more parents sign up to borrow books so far, so that has been successful.

I headed off at lunchtime on Friday so I could catch my flight to Christchurch.  I was flying down to the SLANZA conference early so I could visit a friend.  I hadn't visited Christchurch since the big quake in 2011 and was dismayed that so much of it was still so barren.  I do love the ingenuity of using shipping containers for shops while the rebuild goes on,

 and I love the way there is art, sculpture, and... 

a book fridge! in some of the empty spaces.  

I made sure to get my copy of Canterbury Quake signed by Desna Wallace while I was at the conference.  If you haven't read this, it really does give you an insider's experience of the quakes, I highly recommend it.

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Good-bye Cherry Blossoms: A Review of Day Three, SLANZA 2015 Conference

Here's what I get up to on the final day of the conference:
  • Our first keynote is with Kay Oddone - "Beyond the Buzzword".  I am enthralled because she is talking about Makerspaces and that is what I have just started exploring.
    • Kay is from Australia and for some reason didn't want to have a suitcase full of timers, switches and wires when she entered the country so we don't have any physical props to look at!
    • Her essential Makerspace resources are "Invent to Learn" and the "Makerspace Playbook".  She also has her own, very useful website.
    • She discusses the future of work, and uses this Australian report which has some really interesting infographics in it.
    • Kay mentions how Makerspaces have links to the curriculum, in particular STEAM subjects.  They also encourage lots of talking and explaining.
    • Kay shows a continuum of digital users and introduces me to the awesome term "digital muggle"
    • She says that a Makerspace is a mindset.  It is about solving problems with raw materials.  And a library is a natural fit for a Makerspace.
    • But she also reminds us that just because it's hands on doesn't mean it's mind on, there should be an educational purpose.
    • She shows some examples of soft circuit bracelets, Lego We-do, Squishy Circuits, Rolobox, Makedo, Makey Makey and Scratch.  I want to try them all!
  • The last workshop for me is with my Twitter friend Alison Hewett - "Everything eBook".
    • First off, Alison clearly knows eBooks inside and out.  I am impressed with how much she knows about suppliers and licensing models and all things eBook.
    • She says students love to increase the size of the font on eBooks, to make them easier to read.  
    • Only 29% of her budget is spent on print books, this helps free up physical space in the library.  She doesn't use dummy physical eBooks for promotion as she feels this negates the benefits of extra space.  Instead, among other things, she uses stickers on the physical books to promote the audio/eBook versions.
    • She says you need to spend the same amount of time on your digital collection as you would on print.  I immediately resolve to give my own eBook collection some more love!
    • Alison says popular authors, titles and series work well digitally because they are already known.
    • She recommends keeping your eBook collection fresh by regularly adding new titles for interest.
    • She book talks in all formats and doesn't view digital and print as separate collections.
    • She believes the crux to eBook success is to have enough books.  Students need a proper choice, for her school that means at least 500 books.
  • The final keynote is from Helen Stower & Kathryn Schravemade - "Moving from a Traditional Library to a Contemporary iCentre.
    • An iCentre flattens walls and takes the library to the people.
    • Helen & Kathryn make sure that they push traffic to their website with social media.
    • They say the key to Twitter is following the right people.
    • Kathryn says you need to connect, join in the conversation and don't worry about being perfect in a world that changes so often.  You don't have time to be perfect!
    • They get students to use FaceYourManga to make themselves a personalised avatar.
  • The conference finishes at 12.45pm.  I have had the most amazing three days (see my summaries of Day One and Day Two).  My brain is pretty full but I have so many ideas and I am so buzzed by the energy and passion of everyone at the conference.  See you next time!
The Cherry Blossoms were well-photographed!

Intro to Power Walking: A Review of Day Two, SLANZA 2015 Conference

Day two of the SLANZA 2015 conference starts with me getting up so early that I end up being late.  You know how that happens?  You have so much time that you do some other things that don't really need to be done and the next thing you know you're power walking along Papanui Road trying to get to St Andrew's College on time!  I had arranged to meet with one of the conference team who would be in the room I was presenting in, so I could set up and be confident that the technology was working.  I see her as I arrive and she explains that the lights aren't working in the Science Block so I can't set up anyway.

Here's a summary of the rest of my day:
  • Before the first keynote Cathy, our wonderful conference spokesperson, gives a great promotion of Twitter and #libchatnz.  Yay for Cathy!  She suggests a Twitter training session over the second half of lunch that she, Clare (one of my fellow #libchatnz moderators) and I can facilitate.
  • The first keynote is "Modern Maori Learning" with Janelle Riki.
    • Janelle encourages us to think about whether Maori children who come into our libraries and hear, see and feel that we value their culture.
    • She says we are moving from learn-assess to learn-create-share.
    • She talks about encouraging the "c" words - creative, confident, capable, collaborative, connected, competitive, culturally responsive.
    • She says relationships with students are important.  We need to know them so we can figure out what they're good at, celebrate it and leverage off it.
    • She says the library should be a place for everyone to come home to.
  • The next workshop is mine - "Raising the profile of your library by having fun".
    • The technology works!
    • I promise to share my slides, so they are embedded below.
    • I get great feedback from the participants. One does the wrapped up library books idea around Christmas, but uses them like an advent calendar and unwraps one every day.  Another talks about how you can get dogs for your students to read to in the library and a librarian from Australia actually has an exercise bike in her library (she says she was sick of using her one to hang her clothes on!)

  • Workshop 5 is "Libraries in Aotearoa" with Joanna Matthew.  
    • Joanna is the Executive Director of LIANZA and she goes over the new branding of libraries in New Zealand.
    • Libraries Aotearoa represents ALL libraries in New Zealand.
    • They want to ensure libraries and librarians have a relevant place in the future of NZ society.  They want to shift attitudes, to make sure our communities understand the changing roles of libraries.
    • Joanna describes the values of Libraries Aotearoa, which are set out on their website.
    • At the LIANZA conference in November they will be launching Community Engagement packs which will help libraries advocate and spread our message to our communities.
  • During lunch we see some librarians interested in Twitter. Cathy shows several people how to use TweetDeck to watch a Twitter chat and Clare and I show some others the basics of Twitter.  We run out of time all too quickly, I think it might be worth running some hands-on PD about this in our regions.  It is heartening to see people showing interest.
  • My next workshop is with Anne Williams, the Teacher Librarian at Ashburton College - "Promoting reading at Ashcoll".
    • Anne is using those plastic clip-on name tags as a way to attach a book recommendation to the book.  She also shows book trailers and does book talks.
    • They have set up groups with the older students (reading mentors) reading to juniors.  The juniors all follow along with the same book.
    • When students have permission to come to the library they bring a flyswatter with their teacher's initials on it!
    • Anne runs a competition where teachers take a photo of themselves reading something they like to read and doing something they like to do, with their faces covered, and students have to guess who it is.
    • To split us into groups Anne hands us random pictures of characters from stories.  We have the characters names but have to work out what story they are from and find others who have characters from the same story.  When she does it at school she has the book covers on different tables so the groups know where to sit and can see the cover of the book their characters are from.
  • The last session of the day is a Primary School Library Tour.  We visit Fendalton Open Air School and Halswell School.  
    • Fendalton Open Air School is the school my book club Skyped with a few weeks earlier, and coincidentally they have a library signpost similar to the one I have been in the process of arranging.  I brought Dave, our bookclub mascot, down with me so that I can take some photos of him at Fendalton's library.  I mentioned that in my presentation in the hope that people wouldn't think I was too weird when I starting doing it!
    • I am very impressed with their library.  It is small like mine but it has lots of interesting things in it and I get a sense that the students love to visit it.
    • Desna, the librarian, had a great relationship with her very creative caretaker.  She asks for things like signposts and trees and tridents and he builds them for her.

    • Halswell School has a library that was rebuilt after the earthquake.  It is a MLE school (Modern Learning Environment), and it is interesting to learn that they considered whether they needed a library and what the role of their librarian would be.  We get to look around their classrooms too.
  • We get dropped off back at St Andrews so by the time I power walk (again!) back to my motel it is almost time to be picked up for the conference dinner and I end up not having time to get changed.  And I did bring a dress to wear!  Then we wait for twenty minutes for the bus so I would have had time after all.  But never mind, we have a lovely dinner, great company and a very funny entertainer so it is an excellent night.

Friday, 2 October 2015

#Awesome: A Review of Day One, SLANZA 2015 Conference

Earlier this week I attended the SLANZA (School Library Association of New Zealand Aotearoa) 2015 Conference.  I had such a wonderful time learning new things but the best bit was meeting people I only knew from Twitter, catching up with librarians I only see at conferences, and being surrounded by people who love what I love.

Here's a review of day one of my experiences at the conference (and here is day two and day three):
  • The first keynote is from Roger Dennis - "Digital Acceleration - the world's changing faster than you think".  
    • Roger talks about paradigm shifts and how easy it is to miss them if you are focussing on what you do and not noticing what is going on in the world around you.  It is important to notice what is happening in other industries as it might impact on what you do.
    • He prints a 3D bolt while speaking, and I'm impressed when he says they're 3D printing houses in China!
    • He talks about future jobs and how anything based on rules will be taken over by computers.
    • He suggests subscribing to Wired magazine to keep up with how people relate to technology. I've followed them on Twitter - @wired.
  • Workshop 1 for me is "Selfies in the library: using social media in school libraries" with Lorna Smith and Julia de Ruiter.  
    • They remind us that we need to be aware of what platforms our users are using, share their excellent blog and a video that has certain people "hashtagging" throughout the rest of the conference #hashtagsrule!
    • Somebody in the session mentions they have a library cat that has it's own Twitter account.  How cool is that?!  Perhaps our bookclub minion mascot could have one....
    • They mention book "shelfies" and posts where they "ask the librarian" unusual questions about their lives (e.g. would you rather fight 100 duck-sized horses or one horse-sized duck?!).
    • They give permission for us to e-stalk if we're not ready to contribute yet.  But when we do start, have a strategy and make consistent and regular posts.
    • And "always default to cat videos" is great social media advice, complete with a good example!

  • Workshop 2 is "Don't Panic! The Hitch-hikers Guide to....Book Week! with the lovely Cathy Kennedy, one of the organising team for the conference.
    • About a year earlier Cathy decides on a theme and then gathers resources and books that fit it.
    • Cathy is a teacher and I am impressed with her approach to Book Week that takes into account the teachers' workloads and ways to keep them manageable.
    • She schedules Book Week so that it doesn't clash with busy school activities, rather than coinciding it with national or international book/library celebrations.
    • She provides teachers with a Teachers' Resource Booklet to get buy in for Book Week.  It outlines events and competitions, has lesson plans and summaries of books that fit the theme.
    • She uses Graphic Leftovers Stock Images on her posters and I may just have been persuaded to shell out a few dollars for images because her promotional material is so classy!
    • She takes the opportunity to introduce students and teachers to new technology by incorporating it into her Book Week competitions - clever!
    • She does a Battle of the Books book quiz using a Livebinder.
    • She invites performers to attend as she has had great success with them.  She tells them her theme and often they tailor their performances for her.
    • She does bookmarks, photo booths, scavenger hunts, staff competitions (so they don't feel left out), and ads to promote Book Week using Animoto.
    • To decorate the library she uses party decorations, and she always decorates her doors (they look amazing!).

  • The second keynote speaker is Mark Osborne - "Innovative Library Environments". 
    • Like Roger Dennis he touches on jobs changing in the future and the fact that any job that can be routined is rapidly being off-shored or automated.
    • He says that knowledge is a commodity that's free like air or water so it's not what you know but what you can do with what you know.
    • He says an important skill will be the ability to solve real world, authentic, challenging problems together.
    • He sees the library as moving away from being a storehouse of books and towards being a service centre, community space, gallery and storehouse of specialist equipment.
    • He asks what we think the modern school library should be.  Here are the results.
  • My final workshop for the day is "Building reading warriors: Engaging boys in reading" with David Riley.
    • David starts by saying how much he enjoyed "The Magic Faraway Tree" as a child, and then describes his enthusiasm for Barry Crump's books, which had characters he could relate to.
    • He describes the inspirational story of Dr Ben Carson, an African American living in poverty who was struggling at school before his mother made him read.  He tells his class "There was a doctor in that guy, the least guy you would have thought of".  And they all clamour to get a book.
    • David talks about why boys aren't reading:
      • Lack of connections to the library and library staff
      • Reading not seen as connected to aspirations and real life
      • Insufficient guidance in choosing what to read and reading strategies
      • Discouraging certain kinds of literature: graphic novels/manga, magazines, Guinness Book of Records.
    • He suggests giving boys a choice about what books to buy and then having a box opening celebration - making a big deal that the books have arrived.
    • He talks about tapping into pop culture trends, using students' interests, planning father and son events and giving students competitions e.g. Rugby League Reads.
    • David approaches well-known male achievers who read and asks them to come to his school, to make reading look cool and connect it to real life.
    • I have David Riley's books and they are great. He wrote them because he couldn't find any sports books at the right level for his students.  I am so impressed with David as a reading mentor and would highly recommend getting him in to speak to your boys (David is a drama teacher based in Otara, Auckland).
  • Next the SLANZA awards are given out to some very deserving librarians and then it is time for our Twitter dinner. We are a mixed bunch - primary, secondary, co-ed, single sex, public, librarians and a teacher. And yet there is no shortage of conversation and it is great to get to know people that I have connected with on Twitter.
    • I text my husband with a photo of my food.  I've never done this before but have recently received a bunch of photos from when he was away and feel he needs payback.  This is what I get in return!

  • I get back to my room and go through my presentation one last time. I am pleased it is on before morning tea the next day so that I can get it over and done with and relax again!