In an attempt to blog more regularly, I’ve signed up for a challenge – so these posts will be in amongst all the other stuff I may be blogging.

#FutureReadyLibs 10-Week #BlogChallenge Challenge #1: How did you get involved in the Future Ready Schools/Future Ready Librarians initiative? Are you involved in the district strategic planning process? What is your vision for a future ready school? What makes you a Future Ready Librarian?

How I got involved

Well I guess it was just a result of being added or adding myself to a Facebook group that looked interesting. Sometimes things just happen that way.  Also since I’ve just finished my MIS and M Ed degrees I’m still vaguely interested in this type of thing, in order to keep my learning up to date.

frlblogchallenge1I think our school, as an IB PYP school is pretty future-ready in many aspects, in fact sometimes I think the cost of being “future ready” is that you occasionally need to go “back to basics” and check up on the 3 R’s and make sure you stay sober and self-critical.

Am I future ready as a librarian? Looking at the little graphic on the left, I can tick most of those boxes, or slices, inasmuch as things are in my power at least. And where not, I’m constantly nudging for change.

I’m not entirely sure if I’m on the right topic for this week – I’d note “digital resources” so I’ll write a little about that.

Curates digital resources and tools:

When I started my job at my current school I’d come from working part time in a secondary library where a large part of my time was spent creating library guides for the Middle & High School (including the IB).  I was lucky to have Katie Day as my mentor, and we had many many discussions on how to curate resources so that students had easy access to them from their laptops (they’re a one-on-one macbook school in secondary). The idea was to have digital resources in the form of videos, curated Flipboard articles and database access, but at the same time make our physical resources digitally visual and “clickable” for later borrowing as necessary.

Screen Shot 2017-03-28 at 4.55.31 PMSo, a few weeks into my new job I discovered we had an unused library guide subscription, and I immediately put it to work. Of course curating for primary is a somewhat different proposition. Immense more thought and care needs to be put into ensuring things are age appropriate – in content, in level and in access.  And I was a newbie … so it was a case of building things and hoping they would come. It’s taken a while. After the first year, a couple of teachers were on board, and now more and more are coming to expect and use the resources. My main objective is to move away from letting kids “just google it” to an idea of just like we don’t throw a bookshelf full of books into their UOI (unit of inquiry) boxes, but make sure they’re appropriate for the grade level, for the central idea, for the lines of inquiry, and may even evolve as they go through a unit, so too we can have digital resources that are similarly curated.

A few things have been a huge boon in this respect.  In the first instance I cannot express my admiration for Epic books enough. They are an absolute game changer.  In terms of depth and breadth of their books they far surpass the incumbents such as Tumblebooks. I do have some librarian type quibbles with a few of their set-up methodologies, but that’s small fish compared to what they’re achieving.

Secondly, Springshare – the owners of Libguides are just phenomenal in their ability to constantly evolve and develop their platform. I love the fact that the libguide community are so amazing in their ability to creatively curate, to combine physical and digital and particularly the fact that they demonstrate CREATION and SHARING, which is absolutely what a future ready community should be about.  Also, my desire to make good looking guides has pushed me to learning some (very basic) HTML which never ceases to impress the fine young gentlemen and ladies in my library who then realise I’m not just an old library lady!

Thirdly LibraryThings for Libraries through their book display widgets they bridge the gap between a lovely visual interface (libguides) and an old stodgy very unfriendly catalog (Follett Destiny).

As far as tools are concerned. I try to keep introducing appropriate tools to my students and to fellow teachers – but only if they are meaningful. It’s a balance. Our students are “over tech-ed” and we’re getting a lot of pushback from both parents AND students about the amount of time they spend in front of a screen. So where it saves time, hassle, helps make things neat and well spelt, sure. Otherwise it’s back to the physical.

Empowering Students as creators

I’m very fortunate to be in a school environment where there is an EdTech coach and a STEAM coach. So wild ideas for physical or digital creation can be co-shared with them. We’ve had students create book trailers, book recommendations, book spine poetry, book covers, their own books, display work pieces in the library etc.  I don’t think any of that is particularly special though – most librarians do that kind of thing in conjunction with their students and teachers – it sure makes displays easier!

Builds instructional partnerships

That part is definitely a work in progress. It’s tricky. I could blame a whole host of things – fitting in 35 classes a week on a fixed schedule, a yet to be approved information literacy scope and sequence that’s embedded in the curriculum, running, managing and keeping up to date (and renovating) a facility, curating digital resources in library guides … but instructional partnerships is a ball I’ve dropped. Or actually never really properly had in the air. It works piecemeal, depending more on relationships and invitations than being structural. I’m working on it with my fellow librarians from our other campus, the head of curriculum etc. It takes time is all I can say. And I don’t think I’m the only one saying it judging from the comments of my fellow teacher-librarians.  I beat myself up about it a LOT in my first year. To the point of tears. This year I’ve been distracted a bit by the renovation and staff medical issues. But we’re inching there.  Watch this space.

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