Category Archives: School Library

Learning hub indeed-what would Steve say?

http://digitalis.nwp.org/site-blog/3pm-library-thoughts-media-technology-sp/5704

Interesting… A library not for books and information inquiry but socializing, technology and constructivism….? What?

‘Maker spaces’? Interesting notion but maybe just a fad? Like Mark Crompton recently blogged, ” “then we need to look at what kind of learning the library is the hub of” . My response? “I believe the kind of learning is driven by the school culture and the kind of hub is the proportional relationship of the library team and their assets and vision. The hub does not work in a vacuum nor does a strong learning school culture thrive without spirited and valued support services including the library program.”

Can KSS implement a ‘maker space’ model in the immediate future? No. Maybe…. Steve Jobs said during a Stanford commencement address, “Stay hungry, stay foolish.” He was provoking students to dream and innovate not with clinical business models but passion. Libraries as maker spaces? What role does a library play in any school- never mind the maker movement? So, what would Steve say?

20131028-235909.jpgThe wild notion of the maker movement may not impact us immediately. The learning commons model at KSS evolved organically not prescriptively. High school, like a teenager, has a hierarchy of needs. The role of the library is never an urgent or pressing one. Our library has successful served the needs of our school while adapting educational practice with solid tested pedagogy and some old fashioned trial and error luck. The teacher-librarians over the years have been competent advocates and leaders and faculty were very collaborative. We are the lucky ones. We have a great school. Now the very basis of sound pedagogy is in flux because with social change, now even role of schools is unclear. What’s a library to do? Some schools have no library or no librarian or neither. “They have the Internet, right?” “Kids these days, are computer savvy.” Ya, so? Public school, home school, if children no it all, why do we bother? Of course we know better. School is more than just 3Rs and learning is more than just a bunch of facts on a book or a – screen.

A quality school strives to serve everyone in progressive ways while staying committed to the mandate of curricular standards, exam expectations and graduation concerns. These factors and many more, can squeeze the creative and experimental capacity of educators and our library program is no different. We must firstly support our team while we may nurture innovation when and where we can. This takes time. That said, all our innovations evolve from some unique once crazy lonely idea. Change comes from need and inspiration. Learning and teaching is a complex process of experiences not just technology. Even the late Mr. Tech, Steve Jobs of Apple, said,
“Technology is nothing. What’s important is that you have a faith in people, that they’re basically good and smart, and if you give them tools, they’ll do wonderful things with them.”(Brainyquote)

I wish we would get over our obsession with device driven solutions for everything. It is faulty. Educational best practice is a series actions and relationships developed and enacted with intent. It’s about ideas, skills and the person. BYOD bring your own device should be- Bring Your Own Dialogue, Discourse or Dreams. Libraries are more than books. Libraries are more than spaces. Libraries are environments or biomes of ideas. So perhaps if some 3D printers, modelling clay or green screens were added to the book stacks and computers it wouldn’t really be so weird. I think the hangup is more about control than about having the gear.

With the reality of now having ubiquitous digital content, coming to the library to GET information is not the only role of the space. Information is everywhere. Kids grab raw data from their phone but they need help framing thoughtful questions and probing answers or more questions. Google queries don’t teach you how to read screens nor how to critically think. Finding quality appropriate information that challenges student thinking takes good teaching from the entire team not just access to the Internet. Sticking a laptop or a BYOD in front of a kid and assuming because of his age, the Internet will suffice as a lesson planning makes me ANGRY. It is negligence to not guide students through the reading of digital content and design mindful tasks that empower learning and not just plagiarized regurgitation. We owe them that much. My ideal ‘maker space’ would be a ‘make ‘em think’- first.

That is where a learning commons model comes in. Students get coaching all day even when outside of their classroom bell schedule. If faculty and teacher-librarian collaborate and share goals, methods and outcomes, a sophisticated learning hub can exist all day. Older teens CAN function at very high levels of inquiry and creative learning CAN occur in pockets or niches of activity. Quality designed lessons encourage students to reach beyond the teacher and the classroom and challenge the basic information. Investigate deeper for evidence. Students should be guided to create personal thesis statements and document reflections. Perhaps this is where the evolution of classroom, library, digital library, learning commons and maker space is revealed? Outcomes of evidence of learning are expressed beyond the quiz or written answer but in annotated and even constructed 3D models of data and the inquiry process. (Ekdahl)

At the the senior level, the redefining of ‘library’ space is coming whether we design it or fight it. I’m seeing it already- kids want service/access for digital content AND social flexible space. The KSS LIBRARY has organically been a learning commons before experts started calling modern library programs thus. Why? Because we provided multitasking, multipurpose, client focus service with learning, reading and scholarship as the core. If I was to teach another 5 years, I think I could see us implementing ‘maker stations’ rather like we do now with printers, scanners, AppleTV or paper cutters or iPads… IF we have the room? We would need to remove more stacks of useful books and renovate …but it won’t be me… ;-)

20131028-211117.jpg(mixed media by Hanna, narrative,topography,mathematics)

A warp in the commons universe I’ve noticed is the incongruence of opinion as to what the library should be. What is it? To a teen who only knows the library as a place to hang out and stay warm, being expected to demonstrate academic rigour or creative initiative now is a shock. To a student who only knows a middle school library as place to quietly read books, a senior high school learning commons is a busy, demanding and yes, sometimes noisy place. Today, I get asked a dozen times an hour, “May I borrow a laptop” or “why can’t I sit here?” Some students now see, a pre-reserved English 11 class, trumping their right to a chair or computer as an injustice! “What do you mean, I have to move or leave? WT? It’s my spare! It’s the library! ” The vast majority of our students though are fabulou, cooperative gems of youth but diverse expectations exist and I’m occasionally seen as the chair or laptop nazi.

When we don’t get feeder students until Grade 10, adopting cultural traditions or sharing community expectations of 2000 people is a huge challenge. If I simply MANDATE unilateral rules across the board, that doesn’t evolve into a healthy community of learning hub. I straddle priorities to serve teacher initiatives and open access for student centered projects like reading, homework or yes, creative endeavours. etc. Some exciting initiatives like ‘maker spaces’ tax space, people, inventory even further. With more kids working on personalized projects or streams, in an an open campus school, the learning commons model is a natural fit-but… It takes a welcoming well-equipped facility, supervision, support expertise and maintenance to keep the facility and clients all happy and productive. An effective learning hub for large schools is a challenge. Not unlike a classroom, on a grand scale, orchestrating all the elements and moving parts in a diverse collection of people and needs is as much art as science and a whole lot of faith.

It’s exciting. It’s busy. Both Sharon (and her temp Jeff) and I have been run off our feet but we really wouldn’t want it another way. Positive change needs energy. Nothing moves without inertia. The KSS Library currently is a healthy learning hub because the KSS admin, community and student culture supports it. Ultimately, success of any program is not about spaces but about people and relationships. Somehow it all just works. Like Steve a Jobs said, ” Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”

It’s a nice problem to have- a competition for space and services. It is nice to be challenged by the competing needs of your services. It means the library is valued yet I also feel we(KSS) needs to re-evaluate the role of the school library and the teacher-librarian and design our own road map forward. It takes constant passionate coaching, encouragement and participation by teachers and administrators that THEIR LIBRARY is always focused on learning- a value added hub, as it were. Our Principal, Mrs. Kintzinger, has a goal for our school to be a ‘collaborative learning community’ where ‘ ‘Where All are Valued’. These are organic and people centered visions I would say. I’d say it sounds very much like a healthy library. What would Steve say? Is it hungry or crazy enough?
Again, Jobs was quoted, “Older people sit down and ask, ‘What is it?’ but the boy asks, ‘What can I do with it?’….So what can we do with it?

Works Cited

Crompton, Marc. “Bloom, Makerspaces and the Learning Commons.” Adventures in
Libraryland. N.p., 27 Oct. 2013. Web. 28 Oct. 2013.
.
Ekdahl, M., M. Farquharson, J. Robinson, L. Turner. 2010. The Points of Inquiry:
A Framework for In- formation Literacy and the 21st Century Learner.
Vancouver, BC: British Columbia Teacher- Librarians’ Association.

Jobs, Steve. Brainyquote.com Oct 28, 2013.

Jobs, Steve RIP. MacRumours. MacRumours, 11 Oct. 2011. Web. 28 Oct. 2013.
.

Kroski, Ellyssa. “A Librarian’s Guide to Makerspaces: 16 Resources.”
iLibrarian Blog. OEDB, 12 Mar. 2013. Web. 28 Oct. 2013.
.
Rebora, Anthony. “Latest Curriculum Craze: Making Stuff.” Teaching Now.
EDweek.org, 4 Jan. 2013. Web. 28 Oct. 2013. .

******************************************************
literateowl.com @literateowl
_______________________
*******************Al Smith*************************

1 Comment

Filed under Professional Development, Reflective Learning, School Library, Teacher Professional

Action and Reflection: Aligning and Mapping the Work of a Library to Its Community of Learning

Action and Reflection: Aligning and Mapping the Work of a Library to Its Community of Learning.

Thanks to BuffyJHamilton again…:-)

Leave a comment

Filed under Personal Learning Network, Professional Development, School Library, Teacher Professional

a commons- is as rich as it’s people

I’m more convinced than ever about the power of libraries; school libraries in my case, IF, they are allowed to be nurtured like a garden.  Like a vegetable garden, the produce needs a dedicated farmer, great soil, and a staff of field workers. It needs nutrients, tending, and lucky weather conditions.  A school library needs all these elements too. In fact, I believe a great classroom has the same dynamic but a cross-curricular, openly public place like a library has some unique horticultural challenges.

IMG_1735It’s been a vacation break and another rotation of students has enrolled in our school since I’ve blogged about a school ‘ learning commons’ here or on the BCTLA NING. I’ve not just thought about the topics( I never stop thinking about our blessed library  (I’m getting therapy ;-) honest ) but I’ve also experienced some changes in this short time. Our students and staff evolve. The body politic changes. The leadership and curricula changes. New initiatives and new people pop into our realm. Some bad, sad and some exciting and fresh. This current class of kids at Kelowna Secondary School is blowing my mind. Just this Friday at 4:30! A young lady was challenging me to find a new book for the weekend- her last read was Ann Rand, the Fountainhead!  Quite the brief chat we had. Despite some very sad news ( my beloved TL partner Sharon is off fighting cancer ) the kids are pushing me into service points I’ve only dreamed of for years.  Just when you think you hit a wall, something blooms.

Students are demanding to know more about authors like Sherman Alexi, Atwood, Marquez! I think it is a combination of things,  including some great new teaching but there is an appetite for intellectual content and not just fluff. Smart kids are tired of pop BS. They are inquisitive more than ever and they are seeing their library as a destination and opportunity. That is unbelievable for this old goat who was getting a tad cynical. They are also overwhelming asking for books and not ebooks.  They are however increasing keen to learn how to reach our resources via their devices.  Seniors ( and their parents even) are now responding to our message about databases and citation tools and empowering inquiry. I’m in shock really. The transition has not been gradual but feels abrupt. I’m sure our constant grinding away has some role but there now is ripe ground for a learning commons model that preaches rigour with creativity. Don’t get bogged down about furniture or coffee or labels. Assess what your influential message is. How do your staff and students see you?

I’ve tried to make a few changes that could strengthen our model of delivery? Not sure, but here is a few. I acquired some new furniture. Why? to add serice.  A cafe tablke and stolls in the hall outside the library. Kids loving it so far. I’ve renamed and labelled our working areas by Canadian authors. I was sick of teaching people where north was- so enter Margaret Atwood, Farley Mowat, Joseph Boyden, Richard Wagamese, Marshall McLuhan, W.O. Mitchell. Maybe next year, I”l change names? Don’t know? So far so good. It’s created some eyes brows but conversations, if nothing else. :-) I’ve added stools around a round table with desktop computers and removed my OPAC computers to increase more student workstation space. I’ve added more desks and chairs( as study carrels ) on the end of my stacks. I’ve added two round tables behind two new teacher desk in each commons area to squish four more free seats for working students even if a class is booked in.  We have eliminated (weeded and reintegrated ) our REF section to make more shelf space for displays. Many are now digital anyway.  I’ve added 2 new book displays rather than a list. My own picks- fiction and non-fiction because students now ask me about the titles and it generates discussions and a visual target. I’ve added a couple small white boards for kids to write on- book recommendations… I’ve started to email and TXT new book covers to my blog and teachers directly as they arrive with a brief abstract or note.

cropped-photo-2librarychair-1On that note I don’t care if we have a learning commons or a library or a resource centre or just ROOM 255: I’m relevant for now anyway.  Hang tough. Work hard. Follow your passions and your skills. Have a great year fellow teacher-librarians- you all deserve more credit than you get. Your role is in BC education is huge. You plant the seed of universal access to lifelong learning through free and open access to content.  Libraries are more than just a room in a school.  They have been a cornerstone of a democratic ideal and tradition since Alexandria. Hang in there.  I say this because I believe you need to build a program and a place that is specific to your culture and gifts not just follow the popular norms of the education winds. Assess your needs. Build a delivery model. Develop friends. Do your best. :-)

The bottom line note here is that all the furniture, and nice shelving and display space if fabulous. I exploit it because I believe one’s visual environment is critical to learning but … it is the ever changing dynamic of adults and students that make things hum. We need constantly be re-assessing the human landscape not just the chairs because a learning commons is only as rich as its people.

- Al Smith

  music attribution.  Prine, John, McLauglin, Pat. Crazy As a Loon. Four Square, 2005. CD.

Leave a comment

by | 2013/09/29 · 6:20 pm

Congratulations Dayna Hart, Central Okanagan,

From:
Subject: Congratulations Dayna Hart

The 2013 winners of 2013 Gale/Library Media Connection TEAMS Award are Draper Elementary School in Eden, North Carolina; Constable Neil Bruce Middle School in West Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada; and Branford High School in Branford, Connecticut.

The TEAMS Award was created to recognize the critical collaboration between teachers and media specialists in promoting learning and increasing student achievement

Congratulations to Dayna Hart and Jenn Craig! They were named the winners of 2013 Gale/Library Media Connection TEAMS Award for the middle school category. They submitted a collaborative project called “Create a Civilization (Our Foray into PBL)”….and won the award.

They are the recipients of numerous prizes including a trip to the American Association of School Librarians conference in Hartford, Connecticut in November.

Please check out this link to read more about this prestigious award:
http://green.tmcnet.com/news/2013/09/10/7399664.htm

Leave a comment

Filed under COTLA, Library Events, Personal Learning Network, Professional Development, School Library, Teacher Professional

the KSS Library- the road to a collaborative learning community

ajNEWsmall

Our mission is to contribute resources and professional services to the broad learning community at Kelowna Secondary School.  Our committment to supporting achievement through instruction and collaboration is as proud as the traditions that deep throughout our school culture.  Whether through enriching the reading culture or implementing various connected learning strategies, the staff at the KSS Library wants to showcase some the aspects of our program but also the larger collaborative learning community.  The Learning Commons ( see a few pics )   provides students an environment for researching, reflecting, creating.  The Library program integrates instruction and resources services in a collaborative teaching model.  Our services reach out to the school community through direct face to face collaboration all day, five days a week. It extends with assets and service points on the public web, school portal, an extensive virtual library, blogs, and social media.

finditFB  TWitter_ad-2ASK_ad-2 the KSS Library >>>>

Leave a comment

Filed under Announcements, Library Update, School Library

A school library is many things…

We have many academically inspired moments or literary events that occupy our school day at the KSS Library. Our Learning Commons is often a hub of intensity for faculty, classes and always packed with teens intently completely projects, seeking materials or cramming for some exam. Our Commons is designed to tackle these scholarly pursuits but it also keenly functions as a safe social space. Occasionally, we just get teens seeking solitude or quiet reading. Our staff tries to protect this role, despite the bustling pace as a technology and creation hub. Example being our sunny reading lounge. Yes. And comfy chairs. :-)

Comfy

Leave a comment

Filed under KSS Student Body, Library Events, Library Update, Photos, School Library

SI mag exploits swimsuits and villagers…?

It is SPorts Illustrated magazine swimsuit edition season. The magazine that launches model’s careers and often finds itself in hot water because of stereotyping is in the pot again. Should primitive villagers be in shots with supermodels, half-naked or not? What has a NY fashion model have to do with hunting in the desert anyway? Nothing? What is your thought? Exploitation? Or just silly fun? Read more at Huffingtonpost>

The second controversial shot, featuring Emily DiDonato in an African desert, also include a tribal-looking, half-naked man carrying a spear:

20130218-005324.jpg
These shots tap into the West’s past obsession/fetishization with so-called savages, jungle comics and the like. Again: In a visit to seven continents, this image is what Sports Illustrated is using to represent the continent of Africa.

David Leonard, Ph.D., Associate Professor in the Department of Critical Culture, Gender, and Race Studies at Washington State University, told Yahoo! Shine he understands why some might find the pictures offensive.

“These photos depict people of color as exotic backdrops,” Leonard said. “Beyond functioning as props, as scenery to authenticate their third world adventures, people of color are imagined as servants, as the loyal helpers, as existing for white western pleasure, amusement, and enjoyment.”(Huffingtonpost)

Leave a comment

Filed under Global Informed, Media Literacy, MultiMedia, Periodicals, Reading, School Library

Word Wednesday

Welcome to

Word Wednesday

(WordWed) …

our KSS LIBRARY weekly sharing post dedicated to the creative use of language. I’m receiving staff submissions and collecting recommendations. Creative writers will be eligible for a modest draw prize and bragging rights. This weeks post is a reblog from an online course ETMOOC where the five card story was introduced. Cards(photos) from Flickr.com are generated and act as story starters. Text of the story that compliment the 5 images are at the bottom. – Al Smith

5 Card Flickr 1.5 is released! It has been heavily recoded, simplified, and now uses flickr API to fetch photos- see it in action athttp://5card.cogdogblog.com/

It is modeled, or even conceptually copied, from Five Card Nancy game (http://www.scottmccloud.com/inventions/nancy/nancy.html) devised by comics guru Scott McCloud and the nifty web version at 741.5 Comics (http://www.7415comics.com/nancy).

In the Nancy game players are dealt cards made from separate panels from the Ernie Bushmiller cartoon strip, and must try and create a coherent story from randomly drawn panels. It is a fabulous exercise in visual storytelling.

I wrote this web site to provide the same functionality, but with images drawn from a particular set of images in the photo sharing site flickr.com given a particular tag.

So, in 5 Card Flickr, in 5 rounds you are dealt 5 random photo from public shared photos in flickr, and the player picks the best one to create a story. At the end of the round, they can save their story and annotate with comments that are saved on the Gallery portion of the web site.

In this implementation, you can set up multiple versions, e.g. a different flickr tag for a set of photos and stories (e.g. a part that does stories on all glickr photos tagged “dogs” and another one for all flickr stories tagged “cats”)

The site works by using the flickr API to poll for new photos with a given tag, and storying basic data for that photo locally so we can construct a a link to the thumbnail on flickr and a link to the original.

Also, version 1.5 features a “Tweet” button so users can send a twitter announcement for their own story, or one they have read on the site, a cut and paste HTML version of a story, and a new admin interface.(CogDog)

http://5card.cogdogblog.com/show.php

REBLOG: CogDog
Images from Flickr Creative Commons


Five Card Story: Willpower

a #etmooc story created by mssanderson_ITS


flickr photo by ncaramanico


flickr photo by Henriksent


flickr photo by cogdogblog


flickr photo by mrsdkrebs


flickr photo by cogdogblog

Mmmmmmm… yum.

Can’t I just have one? Or twenty?

I’ll need to wear out my sneakers to work that off.

“Blahhh…Go ahead, we eat anything and we’re fine!”

Fruit substitute: the healthier choice.

 


Leave a comment

Filed under LIBGuides, Library Events, Personal Learning Network, School Library

LC design is more than Arborite and chrome- it’s acoustics too.

I recently had an online discussion with fellow teacher-librarians about building a learning commons.  Ideas. Problems. Design.  The topic of noise- acoustic control- was raised.  As always, Karen Lindsay, raised the issue in relation to a renovation project.  Sometimes we must teach in conditions that deny us optimal surroundings.  I’ve been pondering and worrying about changes in a learning commons model that are more cultural and long term.  I am acutely aware of the increase in noise level.  The drone of a commons and all the assorted activities is now outweighing the conditions that optimize learning. Forget the chairs.  Forget about the fancy new shelving or furniture. Those items can be moved, acquired, replaced…. what about the environment?

Chairs I think we are now at a point where our foot traffic and bookings is disabling learning.  It’s in my wheelhouse because apparently no one in my building wants to ‘hear’ my concern.  Susan Cain’s book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking articulated what was bugging me for some time.  All the excitement and activity is delightful but we owe it to guide the environment somewhat.  Who will be steward to quality control?  When admin sends 30 kids from a class, without a TOC, to the Library; which is already booked at capacity and kids must sit on the floor, when does learning become a nuisance?

Quiet opportunities does not mean we go back to empty silence in the Library but I think noise, however, well intended begins to pollute learning.  In my case, there is literally no other public space (except closed classroom doors) where you can find any quiet area to sit, read, reflect or study.  Our learning commons has been an evolution. Teens creating and working, however studiously, generates noise.  I have carpeted floors in a large open space.  The noise still travels. My lab has concrete floor. I bought special chair wheels to quiet down the screeching.  I have a MFP copier, which is the sole networked printer for hundreds of student’s laptops. Faculty still copy despite my being a copier student access Nazi! This all adds considerable noise. The other day, a faculty member was doing a lesson with a guest Skype speaker and the collateral noise was so bad I literally kicked out 70 drop-in students to finish. Does a learning commons exclusively act as a drop-in collective maker space or does it also act as a classroom?  My concern with eliminating or discouraging classroom functions, the learning commons is becoming a multi purpose room with books. Sadly, I have very little support with admin and staff to discuss these issues because access and the need to provide a safe space for kids has become more important than any quality control or learning model.

Sometimes it seems like education is not the focus but rather to have a supervisor (me) house and manage an assortment of teenage spirit that has nowhere else to go?  Secondly, I have also noticed a change in tone.  Students seem to now think the Library (no one calls it the Commons) is THEIR space for anything.  IT IS NO LONGER MY CLASSROOM OR ANYONE ELSES.  Some kids get quite snarky when I have to ask they move their card game outside so I can have room for a poetry class setup.  If first come-first serve is the new attitude, how are we different than any Starbucks, Public Library or Rec Center? Who asks the ‘homeless’ people to please exit the Library? Is it appropriate for a librarian to persuade one activity over another? Who sets policy?  Who enforces it? What is the teacher-librarians role as gatekeeper of spaces, resources, and quality learning activity? Noise? A LC is more than chairs or acoustic control. It should be the most sophisticated, energetic, high functioning scholarly classroom in the building- shouldn’t it? Shouldn’t a teacher-librarian, mandated as a teacher, to manage the resources, have more than one simple vote? Where do principles like classroom management or the virtues of Socratic circles have a place in a Commons that becomes an asylum. To manage our school Learning Commons AND maintain an instructional Library program, with any integrity and mindfulness to all patrons (members of the school) is demanding more of my wit and skill than any time in my career.

Most educators, including a few administrators, do not automatically think of the collective. They are conditioned to think of the class and course. It is in the DNA of a teacher-librarian to focus on the bigger community and evaluate what resources and strategies might render the greatest good.  Our KSS Learning Commons evolved over many years with the support of the staff and interests of the students.  My future replacement will need to find a new consensus- a new mission.  We have enjoyed a tradition.  The KSS Library was a learning commons by collective evolution long before anyone thought we should change the name or buy new furniture.  New school libraries across BC are rethinking how to re-design their form and function.  That is a healthy thing.  People who do not understand the soul of a Learning Commons and hijack the term disturb me. A room full of iPads does not make a high tech classroom.  It takes logistics, instructional skills and vision for these tools to promote real learning.  Wonderful new furniture does not make a great library.  Not every school can be renovated and a new building project is rare. What do we advocate for them?  Like my parents generation, who through out huge beautiful oak dinning tables to make room for shiny chrome and Arborite suites.  Progress? I’m just worried we will throw out the baby with the bath water- as we make a loud and shiny splash into a new age.

 

On Thu, Feb 14, 2013 at 7:29 AM, Jeff Yasinchuk <jyasinchuk@sd8.bc.ca> wrote:

According to Carol Koechlin (Learning Commons guru), it’s important to recognize that without a recognizable program to support inquiry, sharing, and collaboration (for both students and faculty) bringing in new furniture doesn’t necessarily turn a ‘library’ into a ‘learning commons’.

From: bctla-forum@googlegroups.com [mailto:bctla-forum@googlegroups.comOn Behalf Of Mary Whyte
Sent: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 4:38 PM
To: bctla-forum@googlegroups.comSubject: [BCTLA Forum] Island TL Question re Learning Commons

________________________________________

 “The medicine chest of the soul.” ~Library at Thebes.  |  

“A car is not merely a faster horse. And email is not a faster fax. Play a new game, not the older game but faster.”-S.Godin

7 Comments

Filed under Library Events, Personal Learning Network, School Library, Teacher Professional

Mission creep, hi-tech , another year to re-evaluate

Mission Creep? Libraries and 3D Printers? What?

In response to a recent blog post I read by Hugh Rundle .(http://hughrundle.net/2013/01/02/mission-creep-a-3d-printer-will-not-save-your-library/ )

I get the urge to provide modern powerful tools that help our patrons/students to learn. Emphasizing the phase of creation/production to the information inquiry cycle makes sense in 2013. Developing a learning commons in a high school makes sense but like embracing 3D printers, iPads or other high tech innovations the risk is we lose our fundamental core virtues.  A new Learning Commons without a trained teacher-librarian is like the open pool without an instructor or life guard.

nerioxman____01Hugh Rundle’s thesis of mission creep;the frenzy to embrace technologies as the savior for library programs, may be a valid concern. Public, academic or school libraries all have unique missions and contexts as they strive to adapt and improve in this information age, but they all have a common obstacle- leadership that fails to discover and focus the decisions that hold sustainable purpose. The recent BC Libraries Summit ( http://commons.bclibraries.ca/inspiringlibraries2012/ )explored these issues.

Embracing technologies for its own trendy value is indeed a distraction, if not a major barrier.  Rundle calls it ‘technolust’!  Although my emphasis is a high school library, we do tend to model, lead and/or persuade our community with technology innovation. It has been a natural evolution of digital information realities; however, one truth is users/patrons have always come to the library as a reliable station for content, resources and advice whether it be a rare book, thesis support or 16mm film. The computing reality has been a natural progression of this service and is part of our culture. Our ‘technolust’, although present, is abated because of budgetary realities and policies but education in general suffers the same malady.

Change in libraries and in schools in general has occurred by two means. There is the determined targeted practice of leaders and practitioners who build programs and initiatives on the ground floor and there is just the inevitable absorption from wider social technological change.  I believe strong library programs must seek out option one.  A team of leaders who can collaborate and assess many views, options, and virtues of technologies that match sound program purpose.  An inspiring colleague of mine, Nicola at RSS, once encouraged me to embrace change with my site teammates to evaluate our mission.  It may sound cliche but it is necessary to avoid the creep Rundle argues against.

Grasping state of the art trends, like 3D printing is rather absurd when we may not be doing the fundamental needs effectively. I saw the one-to-one computing initiative come and go with very little advantage and certainly debatable sustaining education value.  There is notable benefits- always  is – but the cost/benefit ratio, training practivalities, pedagogical goals, cultural values and sustainability need to all be part of change.  I offer colour printing to my students, by request, yet the demand has been far less than I originally anticipated.  It’s convenience, no harm no foul, but the investment may not always match your aspirations. 3D printing output can illustrate concepts in very creative and informative ways.  It’s mazing stuff but… soon Staples or Costco will do it for our kids- dare I say from their phones?! . ( Engadget ) Watching Neri Oxman of MIT can give you the inspiration and rationale for 3D printing projects (YouTube ) but there are institutions and agents whose function it is to deliver more appropriate than a library. She synthesized iconic designs of mythology, story telling and architecture at the MIT MediaLab to produce ‘Mythologies of the Not Yet’ showcasing the potential of 3D printing from a design perspective.  I see the library’s role in her process as nurturing capacity of all three elements. The story.  The image. The technology. We should bring the climber to the mountain. Librarians should be the sherpa and assist the inspiration and the means not bring the mountain to the climber.

Re-assessing your mission is required before you thoughtfully decide which tools and practice you need to strengthen your program for the long term.

Leave a comment

Filed under Library Update, Professional Development, Public Libraries, School Library, Teacher Professional