Final Reflection on My Library Learning

This TEDx talk sums up what people need to know; a library is more than just a collection of books.  It is the distribution of ideas and information that is important, not the medium (Bennett, 2014).  In the beginning, when I told people that I had decided to study to become a teacher-librarian, they were surprised to find out I would have to take 10 courses to receive my Diploma.  As I admitted in my first blog post, that was my reaction too.  I didn’t realize how much I didn’t know.  A teacher-librarian does much more than build and maintain a collection of resources, and on this journey I have learned that it is important for a teacher-librarian to:

  • be a leader in the school community
  • advocate for the library program
  • create a space, both physical and virtual, that meets the needs of all its users
  • teach a wide range of literacies including information literacy, digital literacy, visual literacy, literacies across the content areas as well as reading and writing strategies
  • facilitate collaboration among the staff to provide more learning opportunities that will ensure student success

A library website can encompass all these ideals.  So, in reflecting on the creation of my final vision, I can’t help but reflect on the entire process of working toward my Diploma, as so much of what I put into my website I learned from other courses.  This course has allowed me to create a platform using digital technology to share that learning, as well as create something I can use professionally.  Even though I have made a “fake” website, I did visualize a real school when creating it; the one where I realized I had found my niche, and that started me on this new journey.  So, depending on what school I end up at, some information contained in my website will have to change, but much of what I have created I will be able to use anywhere.

Screen Shot 2015-03-31 at 8.17.18 PMThe challenges I faced were frustrating, but overcome as I took advantage of the expertise available online.  Of course my website will continue to be a work in progress.  Most pages are incomplete, but they do provide an idea of what I want to accomplish.  By providing professional development opportunities on the Teacher page for my staff, I can help develop my role as leader within the school community.  Using my website to showcase resources and services that are essential to the success of students will help me advocate for my library program.  By creating a blog that highlights school community events, as well as pages for students, teachers and parents, I can ensure that my library can meet the needs of all its users.  By providing lessons for both students (Research Tools page) and teachers (Teacher page), I can help improve multi-literacy competency for all learners.  Having a space for teachers on the Teacher page to highlight their library projects will help me facilitate collaboration.

Though it is a difficult time for teacher-librarians, it is also an exciting one as we reinvent ourselves for the digital generation.  Though our core values remain the same, and I am certainly not ready to give up books just yet, digital technology allows us to engage learners outside the physical space of the library.  It lets us share our ideas, knowledge, creativity and imagination with those outside our local community as well as receive others’ ideas and knowledge for use by us; helping us to create life-long learners within ourselves, our colleagues and our students.  So though I don’t think there is anything that will replace the joy I feel of turning the pages of a good book, I am ready to embrace this new medium as an added dimension to my role as teacher-librarian.

pinned by Barbara Schmid

 

 

 Works Consulted

Bennett, C. (2014). The library is not a collection of books: Charlie Bennett at TEDx Telfair street.  Retrieved at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tFGCB51xb6U

Image Citation:

Bradley, P. (2014). Flickr. Pinned by Ashley Louden at https://www.pinterest.com/pin/155233518380680576/

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My Library Website: Technology Used

As I update my own library website, I continue to review websites on the School Library Websites wiki.  In Screen Shot 2015-03-20 at 9.13.49 AMaddition to looking for their targeted audience, I also focussed on the platform used in creating the websites to see if I may want to change from WordPress.  Dr. Charles Best Secondary library uses a blog format
wAcadia Library typohich I quite liked. Instead of having separate pages, the sidebars contain links to the resources students need.  Many of the library websites, like the Acadia Library/Learning Commons, are wikis which allow collaboration and the addition Screen Shot 2015-03-20 at 10.58.05 AM
of as much information as you want.  However, I found that the format makes it unclear where to find specific information.  Horseheads High School’s Library Media Centre acts as an online catalogue for library resources, but I want my website to offer more than that.

For my own website, I decided to stick with WordPress, not only because it will save me from having to completely reinvent it, but I like the format.  I like having a blog to highlight things happening in the library, as well as pages for more permanent information.  I find pages make it easier to organize that information for easy retrieval.

Changes I have made to my website:

  • The theme – I switched from the Coralline theme to the Adventure Journal theme.  I find the new theme more visually appealing and complementary to my vision for my website.
  • Blog page – I figured out how to embed my Animoto video into the page instead of just having the link.  I added a Twitter feed, and Goodreads to showcase recommended books.
  • About Your Library page – I made an iMovie of the original pictures, created a Vimeo account to upload the movie and then embed it into WordPress.
  • Research Tools – I included links (with graphics) for the Works Consulted page, and Publishing Your Work page.  For Wikipedia 101 I learned how to create an instructional video using Quicktime Player, which I then uploaded to Vimeo and embedded it on the page.  I linked the Plagiarism page to an online tutorial.  I shortened the Five Ws (and one H) of Cyberspace and linked to some websites as a starting point for creating a lesson for students.
  • EAL Resources – I created a Parents and Students page with some useful links for resources outside the school community.
  • Teachers – I added a Visual Literacy page with a link to my Evernote notebook listing picture books that can be used to support content at the high school level.  This list was my final project for LLED 446.

I am happy with the changes I have made so far, and think I have a pretty good start on what I eventually want my library website to look like.

Technological Challenges

There have been many challenges the last couple of weeks as I have updated my website.  The first being just getting used to using WordPress again to create/edit a website.  Because I switched themes I had to reorganize a few things, and I figured out how to reorder my pages to create a menu I liked, not just the default, alphabetical one WordPress put them in.  Another challenge was embedding my Vimeo videos onto my pages.  The instructions on WordPress didn’t work for me, but looking online I found other instructions that helped.  However, I have to say my biggest challenge with technology was making my Wikipedia tutorial.

Creating the tutorial took me outside my comfort zone as I have never done one before and though I am comfortable teaching in front of a class, I have never really listened to myself speak.  Plus the information I originally had on the page from Media Smarts seemed outdated, so I spent some time on the Wikipedia site, searching different topics and creating my own lesson of how to evaluate one of its pages.  Once I figured out what I wanted to say, I searched the Internet for advice on making an instructional video and found a tutorial  describing how to make screen recordings using QuickTime Player.  As I have this on my computer I decided to try it first.  After many hours I finally had my tutorial completed to my satisfaction (not completely happy, but satisfied).  I lost track of how many screen recordings I attempted, though on the positive side I certainly got used to hearing my own voice.

The more I use technology, the more I realize that it is not as intimidating to use as I once thought.  Online platforms make it easy to create and share your work and ideas, and if there are challenges, there is a lot of online help available.  My own website will remain a work in progress, and I look forward to discovering new digital technologies to enhance the virtual space of my library.

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A School Library Website: Who’s it for?

2009_3962573662_card_catalogWithin a generation of users, libraries have changed a lot.  In order for school libraries to stay relevant to the digital natives of today, they require virtual spaces to go along with their physical ones.  Looking at the library websites of the schools in my district I noticed a lack of virtual spaces designed to meet the needs of their school communities.  I want to make sure that as a digital immigrant, I can create something I will be able to use for my own future library.  I believe a website is an important part of the library space, so that is why I chose to concentrate on improving the one I had previously created .  As I have been working on ideastorecreating more content for my website, I have been asking myself many questions.  Foremost in my mind is what do I want my website to accomplish and what technology do I want to use to add to my existing site?  As this blog post is about my reason for creating a website and who I am creating it for, I will start there.

My original vision when I first put together a library website was to create a virtual space that would complement the physical space of the library.  I wanted to allow students to have access to library services whenever they needed them as well as encouraging them to use the physical space.  This rationale is still part of my vision.  Students are used to getting the information they need whenever they choose, so for school libraries to remain useful to their primary users, they need to provide services outside the limited hours of a physical space.  However, I think the physical space of the library is still a very important part of the school community and a library website can be used to encourage students to utilize this space by highlighting new books, services available, or events happening there.  It is obvious that a library website needs to benefit students, but teachers, support staff, administration and parents are also an important part of the school community.  Should I be including content aimed at these members as well?

Besides students, teachers are usually the next biggest users of school libraries and I think a school library website should offer something for them as well.  The one I have created does have a page on which I want to provide resources for teachers.  I also think it would be beneficial to include resources for support staff, EAs, TAs, SEAs etc., but I am not sure what they would need.  Once I get my own library, I might try to find out their information needs and see if I could include content to support them.  A main goal of administration is to provide a school environment that ensures students’ success, so by providing a space that meets the needs of students and teachers I would help them meet this goal.  If I was creating a website for an elementary school I would probably include some resources for parents.  When children are young, parents are encouraged to support their child’s literacy and learning, and resources to help them do that would be helpful to them.  However, parents are usually not as involved in the school community at high school so I am not sure if it is as important to include resources for them on my website.  However, once I get my own library, like with the support staff, I may ask if there is anything they would like to see for themselves in the library.

As a TTOC I have had the advantage of working in many different school libraries and I have observed that their content and services are generally geared toward students and teachers.  Therefore, before updating my own website I decided to take a look at some other school library websites to see if they reflect this.  The School Library Websites wiki provides many examples of websites created by teacher-librarians. I focussed on the high school examples, as that is the level of my website.  For the purpose of this assignment I concentrated on the websites’ intended audience.

Not surprisingly, the primary audience of all of the websites I looked at was students.  They usually had an area for teacher resources as well, though this was often not immediately apparent.

The Big House Library has a section for teacher resources within the Resources tab.  It is easy to get to, but it is not obvious from the homepage that there are teacher resources on this site.

 

 

 

Dr. Charles Best Secondary, a local Coquitlam high school, has a variety of resources for both students and teachers.  However, I did have to search for the ones for teachers.  The New section has lots of website links (for students and teachers) and lesson plans (for teachers).  The Stakeholders page has a lesson plan for teachers though it is on a sidebar with other resources meant for students.

 

The ABC Learning Resource Centre from El Salvador, does have a page on its wiki that contains resources for students and teachers, though again I had to search for it.  The page is simply listed as Useful Resources.

 

 

Not including the ones that were simply links to online catalogues, all of the websites I looked at were similar in terms of what resources they provided as well as their intended audience.  For my own website, it makes sense to focus on highlighting resources and services for students, while still providing resources for teachers.  However, unlike many of the websites I looked at, I want to make it clear from my homepage where the teacher resources are.  I also want to make sure that my library’s virtual space is not separate from the physical space but instead complements what is provided there.  I am looking forward to creating some content that will be useful for the future users of my library.

 

Image citations:

Caie, S. (2009) Card catalogue. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:2009_3962573662_card_catalog.jpg

The Idea Store (2013) Sally and Edith in Europe. https://sallyandedithineurope.wordpress.com/tag/idea-store/

 

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My Future Vision

299665_10151332165023844_1830350541_nWhat can I create to highlight the vision I have of my future as a teacher-librarian?  The question comes at an appropriate time as this will be my last project for my last course for my Teacher-Librarian Diploma.   Reflecting back on this course, as well as the others I have taken, I have learned a lot about what it means to be a teacher-librarian in the 21st century.  I think the main thing I have learned is that leadership is a big part of a teacher-librarian’s role; leadership in literacy, professional development, advocacy, information literacy, digital literacy skills and the ability to create a welcoming place for all within the school community.

As a TTOC my future is uncertain.  I don’t know where or when I will have my own library.  On deciding what platform to use to showcase my vision I need to think about my goals as a new teacher-librarian.  Initially I would want to create a welcoming space for staff and students, highlighting the library services my program can offer them.  In terms of digital technology, to me this means creating a library website.  A website gives library users access to library services 24/7, while highlighting what the library has to offer both virtually and physically.  However, for one of my courses last year, LIBE 465, I created a library website as my final project, but I took a look at it this week and realized that there is a lot I could do with it for this course.  When I created it, the goal of the assignment was to focus on information architecture not content.  Consequently, it is pretty bare bones with little digital content I created myself.

Screen Shot 2015-03-11 at 1.31.43 PM

It’s Your Library Website @https://itsyourlibrarywebsite.wordpress.com

There are some pages listed as “under construction” with ideas about what I would like to do with the space.  Others are pretty text heavy, but I wasn’t sure at the time how I wanted to convey the information.  You can read about my reflections on the process I went through on my blog.

 

 

I can now think of a number of ways I would like to update the content using digital technology, creating an artifact that I could use once I get my own library.

  • About Your Library page: my purpose for this page was “to link the physical and virtual spaces of the library.”  Instead of static pictures I think it would be more effective as a slideshow or movie to highlight what users can expect from the physical space.
  • Research tools page: these pages are text heavy and offer a good opportunity for me to create an instructional video which I have never done before.
  • Teachers page: as this page states, I plan on having resources for teachers concentrated here.  I could maybe start with something about visual literacy (the topic for my reading review).  Perhaps creating something to showcase ideas for using picture books in the classroom.
  • Homepage: I would like to keep this page as a blog to highlight events happening in the school and wider community.  I don’t really like the set up as it is, and it seems like a good space to add more social media components.

I don’t know if I will be able to accomplish all these changes for this project, but I am looking forward to doing what I can.  Even though this is a “fake” library website, I am confident I can create content that I will be able to transfer and use once I am running my own library program.

1386147945_digital_banner

 

 

Image Citations:

Springer LibraryZone’s Photos (2013). Facebook. Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151332165023844=pb.59229643843.-2207520000.1359667560=3

Vaidyaratnam (2013). Digital Library. Retrieved from http://www.vaidyaratnammooss.com/pages.php?menu_id=6

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