Please share onwards.
Please share onwards.
Google versus the Internet Archive
(First seen on SLN).
From the Save Scotland’s School Libraries online petition.
Calling on the Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish Government to set out a new national strategy for school libraries which recognises the vital role of high quality school libraries in supporting pupils’ literacy and research skills.
We firmly believe that school libraries are unique in their ability to support teaching and learning and should be the central resource of every school, open every day and staffed by a professionally trained librarian. We believe that all learners should have equal access to a qualified school librarian.
Currently in Scotland this is not the case and the situation is deteriorating rapidly. We firmly believe that this needs to be addressed. Please show your support be signing this petition and if appropriate highlighting how your school library helped you.
The online petition to the Scottish Save Scotland’s School Libraries remains open until 16th October.
CILIP in Scotland has released the following statement:
We support the Government’s ambition for Scotland to be the best place to grow up and learn and contend that professional school librarians are integral to its realisation. High quality learning opportunities should include access for all school pupils to a professionally trained librarian and information expert with a knowledge of learning styles who is:
located within the school and available throughout and beyond the school day;
managing a safe, secure and supportive environment for formal and informal learning;
responsible for curating resources to support the curriculum;
partnering teachers in supporting delivery of the Curriculum for Excellence;
engaging pupils in information seeking and discussion;
promoting information literacy across the curriculum; and
developing critical thinkers, enthusiastic readers and ethical users of information.
CILIPS continues to advocate for the retention of school libraries and school librarians in every secondary school in Scotland.
Responses from political parties to CILIP questions on public libraries, school libraries and the digital divide.
“Education Scotland has also published the 3-18 Literacy and English Review, the latest in a series of Curriculum Reviews. This includes the following passage in a case study which looks at the role Liberton High School Library (Edinburgh) plays in promoting a reading culture:
“Where secondary schools have a librarian, s/he often plays a key role in the promotion of a reading culture and many run information literacy courses and support the development of research skills. Secondary schools could do more to develop an ethos where reading is valued beyond S3”.
The full report can be read here: http://www.educationscotland.gov.uk/Images/3to18LiteracyandEnglishReview_tcm4-856583.pdf
The Standing Literacy Commission (SLC) have published a new report that looks at the implementation of the Scottish Government’s Literacy Action Plan. It includes the following quote:
“…schools with school libraries and librarians achieved higher exam scores, leading to higher academic attainment; higher quality project work; successful curriculum and learning outcomes; more positive attitudes towards learning and increased motivation and self-esteem among pupils.”
The full report can be read here: http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0047/00475485.pdf
Alan Gibbons is launching an authors’ letter calling on the Department of Education to act urgently on the recommendations of the All Parliamentary Group on School Libraries.
Anyone interested in the promotion of libraries or education can sign, including librarians, teachers, artists, software engineers, lollipop personnel, parents, and absolutely anyone else!
The letter will be published in The Guardian on Thursday 17th July, and the greater the number of signatories the better.
If you would like to read the letter with a view to signing, email Alan at mygibbo @(removing the spaces) or check out his Facebook page.
1. Break wrist
2. Identify outstanding tasks that need taken care of immediately.
3. Identify which tasks can be done by other people without additional training.
4. Contact people to ask if they can take on one or more of your outstanding tasks.
5. Contact other people to apologise for other tasks not being done at present.
6. Try to relax.
7. Point out to yourself that, given the wrist, there really isn’t anything else that you can do.
8. Repeat until you return to work.
A class are in the Library along with their teacher, a student and myself. We explain the investigation to the class, and ask them to write down which topic they intend to investigate. Two periods are spent reading and taking notes from the assembled materials and then pupils decide whether they have enough information to start writing their first drafts, or whether to continue their research.
Collating and summarising aren’t easy and some are having problems translating their notes into what they want to say so I wander around checking their work, advising on their information, suggesting ideas and pointing out blatant plagiarism. And that’s when I discover three pupils who have got confused, mixed up, weren’t paying attention, call it what you will, whose notes are unrelated to any of the investigation questions.
Now, I’m a fair person, and I don’t get annoyed when one pupil flings his pen – actually my pen – away in disgust and refuses point blank to do anything else: it’s not fair, how was he supposed to know etc etc etc. What does get my goat is when he tells me it’s my fault.
You told me to copy information out of those books!
Really? Well, I share your frustration, young man, because I specifically said NOT to copy, guess you missed that bit. Also where I discussed identifying useful material, using indexes and contents pages, scanning for keywords, using Ctrl-F, using advanced Google searches, lateral thinking, suggested ideas, showed examples of previous work and helped when you told me you couldn’t find any information on your topic. A topic which is still written at the top of your sheet. Guess you missed that too, eh?
Oh the temptation… and I do begin to say that but what good will it do? Will he listen? Will any of them?
So, tongue firmly bitten, we talk instead about what was meant to happen, why they wrote down the information that they did, identify any notes that could still be used and they’re persuaded to continue researching for the remainder of the period.
And the lesson is: research is inherently frustrating for everyone involved. Mechanisms for coping with those frustrations have to be learned.
Pupils want answers to be sitting waiting for them. They don’t mind looking for them, but they expect them to exist. That’s possible in a textbook, but not in the real world of information. And it’s frustrating when you can’t find the answers, especially if you feel that you’ll be in trouble for not working when what you’re looking for is just not there!
As a librarian, I work with teaching staff to create investigations that meet the demands of Curriuclum for Excellence, encourage independent thought and lateral thinking, but it’s assumed that I’ll be able to provide sufficient relevant information at a level suitable for the young people involved. More frustration, because unfortunately, information is limited: sometimes there isn’t enough, sometimes it doesn’t exist, and sometimes there’s loads of it, but it’s unintelligible. In good practice, that’s discovered before the class comes along, but too often there’s no advance warning. And no, the internet does not supply all the answers, and even when it does, (as my daughter reminds me) sometimes it’s filtered.
But Curriculum for Excellence isn’t just about subject information. Health and wellbeing experiences and outcomes demand that schools help pupils to
all talents that would have helped our trio. Rather than being frustrated at not being able to find the ‘right information’, they could have considered how the information could be used, or changed topics, or just looked in different places! All of which takes resilience, confidence and the knowledge that the fault wasn’t in them, but in the books and websites they were looking at.
Learning how to use what’s available to your advantage is just as much a part of an investigation as the reading and note-taking, but it takes time and practice. For pupils selecting their own investigations, it becomes increasingly important. I would argue that this is definitely a place where librarians are essential, not just in finding the information in the first place, but in learning to cope with the frustrations that follow.
An sln member drew attention to an article in the Summer edition of Independent School magazine called The new school library. The main gist of the article is that the internet is changing the nature of school libraries. It’s a point of view that I respectfully disagree with; to me, the last twenty years of my life as a school librarian has always been about creating
a mixed-use space for research, study, collaboration, global connection, and more
although modern technology has certainly made the attempt a lot easier 🙂
But that’s nit-picking. I think the article provides an excellent overview of the role of a school library in the 21st century and the choices its staff have to make.
At the end of the article was a section entitled
which listed twelve criteria for how a school library should be organised in the present, including technology, collaboration, equipment, information literacy and attitudes of librarian, teaching staff and management.
So how hot is my library using these criteria? (Lisa Simpson needing graded – that’s me). Well, I make it sunny with scattered showers. Some issues are not under the school’s control (staffing and network technology are decided at council level) and while most of the other criteria are in place, they would benefit from expansion.
Their list makes an interesting comparison with the infographic created by Robert Gordon University / SLIC regarding the impact of school libraries on learning.
The list from Independent School magazine is a fairly decent recipe for the perfect school library, but it’s interesting that it assumes a professionally qualified, well experienced, knowledgeable specialist librarian, (mentioned throughout the article).
It’s difficult to create the perfect recipe without a chef.
ND: Written 5th November – published once I checked the quotes were correct
En route to work this morning, I was listening to Radio Scotland. One discussion featured The Robert Owen Centre for Educational Change which will be based at Glasgow University. The Centre is a thinktank specifically aimed at fixing the attainment gap between children from better off and poorer families as mentioned by the 2007 OECD report:
One major challenge facing Scottish schools is to reduce the achievement gap that opens up about Primary 5 and
continues to widen throughout the junior secondary years (S1 to S4). Children from poorer communities and low socio-economic status homes are more likely than others to under-achieve, while the gap associated with poverty and deprivation in local government areas appears to be very wide.
During the discussion I was struck by the Professor Christopher Chapman’s comments :
Now more than ever is a critical time for education policy. We need to develop new, collaborative ways of working within and between schools that will allow us to share and develop ideas and best practice. But this cannot be done in isolation. Schools must be linked to a whole range of other agencies and the Robert Owen Centre will encourage dialogue and a rethinking of roles, relationships and responsibilities within the system.
I wondered if ‘other agencies’ was going to include libraries, or if their role in education and attainment was going to be overlooked.
Five minutes later, there was a discussion about the proposed closure of libraries in Moray. The Leader of Moray Council, Councillor Allan Wright, spoke first, saying:
Let’s face the fact that we’re in the 21st century, and we have a whole range of modern technology. We have electronic readers, we have broadband, we have heaps of ways of getting that
Well, replied presenter, Louise White, broadband isn’t everywhere. Many people can only access the internet through the libraries. Not true, he said,
The Highlands and Islands are getting fast broadband rolled out across the area. In Moray it will cover 90% of Moray, and we as a council, are ready to help local groups outwith the map that gets the 90% to help them to do their own thing.
It’s not clear whether this broadband will be available to people’s houses, whether there will be assistance with computer purchases, maintenance or upgrading, or with broadband bills, or whether the community would have to stump up for that itself.
And will there will be someone on hand to train folks how to use the thing, like, er, a library would.
The juxtaposition of the two discussions was intriguing. On the one hand, we have a population of young people from poorer backgrounds that we know are failing to achieve and attain. On the other, we have evidence that young people who read for pleasure achieve more than those who don’t, and are healthier and even better at Maths as a result! Undeniably, libraries, whether public or school, have a role to play. Moray Council have bills to pay, but closing down the libraries is a knee-jerk reaction, and not looking at the role that libraries actually play.
Because e-readers are not the answer and neither is broadband. The expense, the lack of information and the lack of quality control are major issues.
Take just one of those issues. I can’t just buy whatever books I want. Like everyone else, I budget, and if I can’t afford something new, then I don’t buy it. That doesn’t mean I throw away every book that’s already there!
Meanwhile I can still buy books on a time-share basis, using the library as an intermediary. I pay taxes that employ trained people to select decent material for all tastes, and prepare it for my and everyone’s else’s use. In return for sharing with everyone else, I have access to a massive collection of information and stories, and professional advice that I wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford, or even be aware of.
And that’s just me. My family all read, but we have very different tastes. I prefer non-fiction nowadays (not much available on e-readers) but read a huge amount of teen fiction in a professional capacity. My daughter is just learning what she likes, and to do that, she needs access to a wide range of titles. My mother is an avid reader, or rather listener, since she prefers audio books these days. The librarians help her to access the titles she’s looking for.
I could go on, and on, but I won’t.
Perhaps the most telling point of the discussion was this:
Louise White: Libraries are different, aren’t they? They’re sacred. They’re part of our community.
Councillor Wright: They’re not sacred in my book.
Well, as any Librarian will tell you, you should really consult more than one book to confirm your information. Maybe the good Councillor should check out his library?
Seems obvious yes? If you’re interested, you’re more engaged. If you’re more engaged, you’re likely to learn more. This report suggests it’s more complicated than that, and that interest can actually help make learning more positive and more efficient, with deeper understanding and better connections to previous knowledge. There’s even evidence to indicate that learning difficulties can be overcome when the learner is engrossed.
The obvious example that springs to mind is young children obsessed with dinosaurs, rhyming off multisyllabic scientific names, theoretically far above their reading age.
There’s lots of good advice in the article about how educators can spark, harness and maintain interest, but this was the sentence that grabbed my attention.
In a world too full of information, interests usefully narrow our choices: they lead us to pay attention to this and not to that.
Makes sense. You scan through articles and linger over those that catch your eye. But what happens when you’re not especially interested in the first place, but still have to research a particular topic? What do you do when nothing is stimulating, when nothing catches your eye. If interest makes it easier to learn, surely that presupposes lack of interest makes it more difficult to learn.
Imagine looking through a load of books, or at search engine results, or perhaps you’re trying to gather information from a particular website. And nothing is jumping out at you. As an adult, you’d hopefully have the confidence to move onto something else, but what if you’re sitting in a class gazing at the materials your teacher or librarian has provided and there’s nothing, and I mean nothing, to captivate you.
What are the chances that you’re going to understand it, learn it, remember it? What are the chances that you’ll give up, start mucking about, not paying attention? What are the chances that your brain starts to associate being bored with the process of research, and not just the specific topics?
The article continues,
… one reason that growing knowledge leads to growing interest is that new information increases the likelihood of conflict – of coming across a fact or idea that doesn’t fit with what we know already. We feel motivated to resolve this conflict, and we do so by learning more … A virtuous cycle is thus initiated: more learning leads to more questions, which in turn leads to more learning.
And I agree, so long as you’re already interested enough in the first place, and not disheartened by the research process.
To me, this is precisely why professionally qualified school librarians are an absolute essential in schools. The pupils are entitled to benefit from the advice and support of a person who understands the research process from start to finish, can seek out appropriate resources that can spark those questions, and work across the curriculum identifying connections.
Above all a person to collaborate with the other educators in the school to provide a collection of material that will fascinate and intrigue, to teach pupils and staff how to seek out reliable information for themselves, how to use it appropriately, and how to create their own, to demonstrate technologies that can achieve their aims in ways they find appealing, and to grab opportunities to maintain that support and advice whether the school is open or not.
Throughout, the article recommends making sure that students
have sufficient background knowledge to stimulate interest and avoid confusion … to cultivate interests that provide us with lasting intellectual stimulation and fulfillment
And a professionally run library is a pretty good place to cultivate those intellectually stimulating interests, and provide the background knowledge, through fiction, non-fiction, websites and DVDs, weekly clubs and annual events, detailed discussions and daft blethering. It saddens me that more people don’t know that, but it’s also part of my job to make sure that more people do.
And incidentally, The Brilliant Report is well named. I thoroughly recommend signing up to the newsletter.
Developing a model for school libraries in Scotland: recent PhD research
Highlight of an inspiring day for me. Cristina is aiming to create a model for an ideal school library in Scotland, by identifying the elements that would enable the library to meet a high professional standard.
The case studies involved three schools in the USA and two high schools in Scotland, and compared the same elements in each location:
Naturally, a lot of Cristina’s model focused on that from the US, and described a culture where managers view librarians as having an area of expertise within the education system, integral to the education of pupils; a curriculum supported by teachers and librarians collaborating on shared objectives; with clerical support that allows the librarian to work strategically with pupils and teaching staff, rather than be stuck at their desk (which brings us neatly back to the SLIC research from the morning).
Most importantly though, Cristina’s model reviewed the disposition of a school librarian, characterised as
one who persistently seeks, sees and seizes opportunities to work with teachers
as well as being welcoming to all students, keeping up with current developments in curriculum, technology, literature and best practice, and determined to promote and develop the library to support the goals of the school and pupil/staff requirements.
She also recommended a strong local peer support network working to share knowledge and solve problems, which led neatly on to the five minute shout-outs: presentations from school librarians in Grangemouth, Glasgow and Edinburgh, discussing initiatives they’d been a part of. This was an outstanding opportunity to be reminded that each school is different, and each librarian is responding to the needs of their school, with celebrations of local minority cultures, getting involved with local competitions, promotion of books in all shapes and sizes, and the Patron of Readng programme.
Both Cristina’s model and the SLIC impact model are reliant on support from management, which, of course, requires more advocacy from us to ensure such a level of support.
It’s also important to recognise that the majority of school librarians I know of who left their posts, did so for more money, or for a role with greater recognition, making such support absolutely essential.
Hopefully, some of the work discussed here at the Autumn Gathering will be valuable tools in the fight for librarians from all sectors.
Back to the main hall for Liz McGettigan who spoke about the infinite possibilities of libraries and librarians in the digital age, with particular refernce to her work with City of Edinburgh Libraries.
With a quick overview of how digital technology had changed the world, Liz quoted Charles Darwin,
It’s not the strongest that survive, it’s the one that’s most adaptable to change
pointing out that innovation means adjustments to libraries to meet both revised customer expectations and modified government agenda.
Some highlghts from Edinburgh include:
In addition, Edinburgh invested in the physical appearance of their libraries to facilitate the impact of the technological changes, all of which has led to measurable improvements in both the satisfaction and the number of visits of customers.
So what happens next? Liz faced the audience with a collection of characteristics of the new type of Library Leader required, and challenged us: is this you? If not, get out there, get reading, find a mentor, take risks! If it is: say you can do it, and make it happen!
Also work checking out: Freak Out, Geek Out, Seek Out: Trends, Transformations, Change in Libraries by David King
From the general to the specific: advocating for school libraries. Some of this information had been shared at SLF13, but as already stated, with advocacy, you’ve got to share and keep on sharing.
Much of this session focused on what’s been happening of late:
This last point was especially interesting, providing the information that there are still nine central School Library Services in Scotland (including one established in 2012!); that the majority of school librarians are professionally qualified; that it is difficult to analyse remuneration because every authority is different; that budgets are generally holding up; and that two authorities did not reply at all and will be followed up. Very useful to have stark data from which to build your arguments.
Cleo Jones explained how Edinburgh librarians had advocated with impact statements, DVDs, support from colleagues, and lobbied to parent councils, school management and councillors. Despite a policy of retaining full-time qualified librarians in every school, their posts were again under threat, underlining the earlier point made by Barbara Band – YOU CAN’T STOP ADVOCATING – YOU’VE GOT TO KEEP TALKING.
In this instance, school librarians now have an additional tool in the RGU report on the impact of school librarians, complete with its funky graphic.
The challenges: could your school management explain to a third party what the librarian does? ; do parents know the role school librarians play in school? ; do we let people know what we do?
The last of my carefully collected CD-ROMs were binned at the summer. No computer in the school can play them. Video disk players, audio tapes, CD players – all used in my time as a school librarian, all gone.
And of course since the digital age means ‘everything’ is online, there’s no need for hard copy resources, therefore no need for libraries, the place that hoards such antiques (because of course, the technology having got this far will stop now, right?!?)
As Audrey Sutton pointed out right at the start of the Autumn Gathering, change in resources is nothing new: from Sumerian tablets to digital tablets, libraries are still here.
However, it was striking how often advocacy cropped up in this year’s Autumn Gathering; striking but not surprising, because libraries are undoubtedly under threat, usually from people who don’t know what we do, and probably don’t care.
The need for advocacy is embedded in all the media reports of our demise: too many people do not know what it is that libraries do, or have an outdated or simplistic idea. The best folks to explain is us, and we’ve got to keep on explaining, over and over again.
Barbara quoted Steve Bowman of the University of Chichester:
“30% of our success is due to skills and experience but 70% is due to visibility”
Worth considering. But as Barbara also pointed out when you’re good at something, you make it look easy. And if it looks simple, then anyone can do it – right?
Um, naw. But Barbara provided some guidance:
The challenge: we need to make ourselves into a tribe, make ourselves visible, share with each other, share with our bosses, then share with everyone – what do we do, and what impact are we having? And who’s going to lose out without us?