Teacher librarians are important


Web 2.0 revolutionized the means at our disposal to filter and share information. Whether by managing information by social bookmarking or RSS reads and feeds, or communicating with our school community via blogs, wikis, podcasts, YouTube, or Facebook, students, teachers and school librarians have entered into digital conversations. Widgets, portals, Apps, Feeds and Aggregators and more now provide us with our ‘tools of trade’ for information curation.

The importance of the teacher librarian is intrinsically linked to effective and responsive information curation and dissemination in distributed environments within and beyond the school. Use of Web 2.0 tools has become embedded in good practice, and information curation has extended beyond the library catalogue to library and school information management systems for bibliographic and media resources, and various organizational tools that reside beyond the school in web environments, such as Libguides, Diigo, Live Binders, wiki, Delicious, Google tools, RSS, media tools, netvibes, iGoogle, and many more.

But when a technology focus subverts students’ conversation and development of critical thinking skills (and their ability to evaluate and analyze the information at hand), the mental processes that change knowledge from information to concept are not learned (Bomar, 2010). With the maturation of Web 2.0 tools the importance of nurturing information literacy skills and strategies has shifted to become a meta-literate approach to engagement with information.

This is exactly why teacher librarians are re-thinking what ‘collection’ of information means, thereby supporting personalized and collaborative information seeking and knowledge conversations. The new core information research tools available for students, teachers and school librarians adopting information literacy in a networked environment includes:

  • Microblogging tools for information sharing by teachers, students, classes and the school community in primary and secondary schools.e.g. Edmodo, yammer, Google+, or Twitter
  • Social Bookmarking and tagged collections e.g. Diigo, Delicious, PearlTrees, Flickr, Vodpod
  • Collaborative writing, editing, mindmapping and presentation tools e.g. Google docs, Exploratree, Voicethread, Mindmeister, Wikispaces
  • Research tools for online information management, writing and collaboration e.g. Zotero, Endnote, EasyBib, Bibme, Mendeley, Refworks,
  • Information capture in multiple platforms and on multiple devices .e.g. Evernote, Scrible
  • Library catalogues, databases, and open-access repositories – all used for information collection, RSS topic and journal alerts, and compatible with research organization tools
  • Aggregators, news readers, and start pages e.g. iGoogle, Netvibes, Symbaloo, Feedly
  • Online storage, file sharing and content management, across multiple platforms and computers e.g. Dropbox, Box.net, Skydrive

These tools have allowed us to re-frame information collection as highly flexible and collaborative information and knowledge conversations, while also facilitating information organization.

Technology and online integration can facilitate critical thinking and knowledgeable actions, rather than merely permitting the access and transformation of information as part of the information literacy skills set. The point is to engage our students in multiple conversations and research pathways that reflect the changing nature of scholarship in multimodal environments. As Lankes (2011) explains, at last we have a departure from information, access and artifacts as the focus.

In the lens of conversation, artifacts and digital access are only useful in that they are used to build knowledge through active learning.

Content exploration and learning demands a mix-and-match approach:

  • Search strategies
  • Evaluation strategies
  • Critical thinking & problem solving
  • Networked conversation & collaboration
  • Cloud computing environments
  • Ethical use and production of information
  • Information curation of personal and distributed knowledge.

Be sure you are understand online learning environments and the extra-ordinary potential of the social-media mind. Be sure you are involved with and present new ways and new information strategies to your teachers when  working within the curriculum and the full knowledge dimension of learning. Be sure you bring with you a full understanding of information literacy and information fluency as the underpinning of all that you do.

Bomar, S. (2010). A School-Wide Instructional Framework for Evaluating Sources.Knowledge Quest, 38(3), 72-75.
Lankes, D.R. (2011). The Atlas of New Librarianship. Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Image cc licensed ( BY NC ) flickr photoshared by mikefisher821

New content and better access = content curation

It seems that the latest buzzword around the web is ‘content curation’. There are literally millions of posts about this already, and new tools and new marketing strategies are being deployed to meet this new demand.  Even the kids are curating, and in so doing are learning that Curation is the new search tool.

Take a look at Content Curation, Social Media and Beyond. This is a quick showcase of a Scoop.It tool ( a tool I also use) on the topic of this post – using this newish aggregation tool to gather and share information in a way that is not social bookmarking, but is in keeping with a new wave of content curation developments.

Content Curation: Definition and Generation, raises a few essential points:

Finding the best content. Content Curation works only if the person who publishes the curated content knows extraordinary well his industry target too.

Adding value. It is imperative to provide comments and perspectives that add value to the curated content.

Crediting. It is critical to properly credit, providing clear links to additional sources that underlie the final content.

So in a way, a content curator is continually asked to assume stewardship responsibility for digital content in ever increasing number, size, and diversity of type.

Just as I rely on information discovery to push my own thinking, I also rely on content curators to add value and credibility to the information that they share with me.

I can only manage my information and my knowledge work online by accepting that information seeking means being involved in personalized and collaborative information aggregation and knowledge sharing.

Content curation is part of an overall strategy to tame information chaos. For me, it’s all about knowing, learning, sharing and teaching, all in one!   In addition, by providing a social infrastructure which facilitates sharing, the human aspects of the scholarly knowledge cycle may be accelerated and time-to-discovery reduced.

In a socially connected world, it’s amazing what a difference a few months can make. Joyce Valenza‘s post A few good scoops for us shows the transformation taking place in the world of ScoopIt. Grab yourself the links…they will help your own learning journey.

When I started up Digital Citizenship in Schools and Social Networking for Information Professionals this whole curation buzz was just emerging – and that was just a few months ago!

Authority will become the next sought-after currency for the App-Generation.

So I believe that  libraries and educational organisations should consider being involved in spreading their message far and wide, sharing best practice in standards and development, and offering advice for others.  Socially powered content curation is probably here to stay.

Image: cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by César Poyatos

Did you know about DSPACE and PANDORA?

A recent comment from one of my students reminded me that I wanted to share information about DSPACE, in particular for the educators amongst us who haven’t come across this digital repository tool yet. People are so busy writing about ‘curation’ – as if it is something new. Actually what’s new is the interpretation of what is possible in the world of curation –  and that’s a topic for another post!

But back to DSPACE.

DSpace is the software of choice for academic, non-profit, and commercial organizations building open digital repositories.  It is free and easy to install “out of the box” and completely customizable to fit the needs of any organization. DSpace preserves and enables easy and open access to all types of digital content including text, images, moving images, mpegs and data sets.  And with an ever-growing community of developers, committed  to continuously expanding and improving the software, each DSpace installation benefits from the next.

DSpace open source software is a turnkey institutional repository application.  For example, as explained by one of the participants in INF443:

The University of Technology, Sydney uses Dspace repository to archive different academic information including, journal articles, other scholarly works, conferences papers, books and theses. This allows for interoperability between different universities to share and exchange information. This also allows for ‘gray literature‘, eg unpublished conference papers and posters, datasets, pod and vodcasts, presentation slides and other forms of scholarship that don’t usually see formal publication which are usually peer reviewed. This repository allows different file formats to be ingested which provides flexibility for the uniqueness of the intitution’s needs.

Isn’t it interesting to learn more about  what is actually going on in the world of preservation and curation?  Preservation is key to cultural memory organisation. Curation is key to making sense of what is both transient and long-term expressions of our human activities.

Whether it is analog or digital materials that we think about, we certainly want some sort of security in how we want to  preserve and share resources and information. Our digital era is so expansive, and so much more vibrant than any of us could have imagined.

Visit the MetaArchive and learn about another initiaitive. In 2002, six libraries in the southeastern United States banded together to develop a digital preservation solution for their special collections materials. The outcome of that collaboration was MetaArchive, a community-owned, community-led initiative comprised of libraries, archives, and other digital memory organizations. Working cooperatively with the Library of Congress through the NDIIPP Program, they created a secure and cost-effective repository that provides for the long-term care of digital materials – not by outsourcing to other organizations, but by actively participating in the preservation of their own content.

cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by verbeeldingskr8

Of course we have  PANDORA  Australia’s Web Archive, which is a growing collection of Australian online publications, established initially by the National Library of Australia in 1996, and now built in collaboration with nine other Australian libraries and cultural collecting organisations. The name, PANDORA, is an acronym that encapsulates our mission: Preserving and Accessing Networked Documentary Resources of Australia.

There are many more examples. What I love about this is that it shows the quintessential role of libraries in our global society. Whether it’s Library of Congress archiving Tweets, or your own organisation preserving, curating and making relevant materials accessible, the need for expansive funding and support for libraries is core to our human endeavours in the 21st century.

Social content curation – a shift from the traditional

The notion of content curation is one that has traditionally been associated with libraries, archivies, galleries, or organisations working with objects or data in some way. For example, in the DCC Curation Lifecycle (UK) you will see a complex flow of the “appraise and select” activities which  requires data managers to “evaluate data and select for long-term curation and preservation”.

So ‘selection’ or ‘acquisition’ is then closely linked to a repository or institutional policy on collection development.

Now the extraordinary thing is that the term ‘curation’ has become one of the latest buzz-words in the social online sphere, which  has been transformed into an activity that is both about marketing and about organisation of the vast information flow that is delivered via social media.

Social networking has definitely provided us with main channels for information flow. But in Curation: Understanding the the social firehose we are introduced to the fact that mainstream news reporting not only contributes to or makes use of this social news firehose, but is now also getting involved in curation – because someone has to make sense of the flow of citizen reporting of events.

millions of tweets spewing out – different languages, mostly personal, some from people actually there, authorities, governments, media outlets, fake media outlets…you name it. And then someone has to make sense of it all – but if they do, the reward is possibly the most accurate, unbiased real-time account of an event you’re ever likely to get.

So in the social media sense, content curation is  the organizing, filtering and “making sense of” information on the web and sharing the very best pieces of content with your network that you’ve cherry picked for them .It comes down to organizing your sources, knowing which of them are trust worthy, and seeing patterns.

So for teachers and librarians it comes down to  keeping up the pace in adopting these strategies and using tools to publish curated content in the sense of ‘reporting’ what’s happening. So as a teacher and librarian I see myself doing these things:

  • curating my own content for myself (my own ‘go-to’ repository with tools like Diigo, Delicious, Evernote, Pinboard, Vodpod, Flickr, RSS readers etc.
  • sharing this first level curation because my online tools are socially connected
  • curating content for others via targetted tweets or Google+ circles, Facebook pages, Facebook groups, wikis, livebinders,  etc. (Does Paper.li fit in here seeing as it is automated?)
  • sharing this second level curation as a direct extension of the first level of personal curation.

Now I can see a reason for educators to move into  third level curation as a form of info-media publishing.  Think of this as dynamic content curation that’s about helping keep up with the news.   The flow of information through social media is changing:

While we’re dismantling traditional structures of distribution, we’re also building new forms of information dissemination. Content is no longer being hocked, but links are. People throughout the network are using the attention they receive to traffic in pointers to other content, serving as content mediators. Numerous people have become experts as information networkers.

Now I can use all my social networking resources and return information back to my social community at the third level of curation. I saw Howard Rheingold’s use of Scoop.it, for a number of topics, including Infotention – which got popular. I watched with interest as  Robin Good’s Real time News Curation grew and grew.

Social content curation is about collecting, organising and sharing information – in a new package. I’m no archivist. But I am a digital curator of information for myself, and perhaps for others. I’m interested to see how (what I call) the third level curation evolves. I like the idea of socially connected ways of publishing ‘what’s new’ and ‘what’s newsworthy’ as an ‘aside’ to my ‘go-to’ information repository such as my social bookmarks.

Check out my test run in this new area with

My target audience are my past and present students in my subjects. I see my target audience being anyone interested in these areas?  Or perhaps this is a waste of my time?

I recommend watching this interview of Robin Good by Howard Rheingold , where they discuss Content Curation and the future of search.