Major new PEW report on libraries

The latest report PEW Report Library Services in the Digital Age has hit the scene and  provides important and critical information in the ongoing pursuit to provide wonderful and responsive libraries in our community.  Add this to your bookmarks now!

The respected Pew Internet & American Life Project is part of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation grant portfolio.  This report is  important because it surveys a wide range of US citizens – not just one age group, or local population, or one language group or just people who already use libraries.  Though based on US data, the findings have relevance around the globe providing important insights into the role of libraries in people’s lives and their communities.

Summary of Findings (Pew Report)

The internet has already had a major impact on how people find and access information, and now the rising popularity of e-books is helping transform Americans’ reading habits. In this changing landscape, public libraries are trying to adjust their services to these new realities while still serving the needs of patrons who rely on more traditional resources. In a new survey of Americans’ attitudes and expectations for public libraries, the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project finds that many library patrons are eager to see libraries’ digital services expand, yet also feel that print books remain important in the digital age.

The availability of free computers and internet access now rivals book lending and reference expertise as a vital service of libraries. In a national survey of Americans ages 16 and older:

  • 80% of Americans say borrowing books is a “very important” service libraries provide.
  • 80% say reference librarians are a “very important” service of libraries.
  • 77% say free access to computers and the internet is a “very important” service of libraries.

Moreover, a notable share of Americans say they would embrace even wider uses of technology at libraries such as:

  • Online research services allowing patrons to pose questions and get answers from librarians: 37% of Americans ages 16 and older would “very likely” use an “ask a librarian” type of service, and another 36% say they would be “somewhat likely” to do so.
  • Apps-based access to library materials and programs: 35% of Americans ages 16 and older would “very likely” use that service and another 28% say they would be “somewhat likely” to do so.
  • Access to technology “petting zoos” to try out new devices: 35% of Americans ages 16 and older would “very likely” use that service and another 34% say they would be “somewhat likely” to do so.
  • GPS-navigation apps to help patrons locate material inside library buildings: 34% of Americans ages 16 and older would “very likely” use that service and another 28% say they would be “somewhat likely” to do so.
  • “Redbox”-style lending machines or kiosks located throughout the community where people can check out books, movies or music without having to go to the library itself: 33% of Americans ages 16 and older would “very likely” use that service and another 30% say they would be “somewhat likely” to do so.
  • “Amazon”-style customized book/audio/video recommendation schemes that are based on patrons’ prior library behavior: 29% of Americans ages 16 and older would “very likely” use that service and another 35% say they would be “somewhat likely” to do so.

When Pew Internet asked the library staff members in an online panel about these services, the three that were most popular were classes on e-borrowing, classes on how to use handheld reading devices, and online “ask a librarian” research services. Many librarians said that their libraries were already offering these resources in various forms, due to demand from their communities.

These are some of the key findings from a new national survey of 2,252 Americans ages 16 and older by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project and underwritten by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The interviews were conducted on October 15-November 10, 2012 and done on cell phone and landlines and in English and Spanish.

Summary of Findings:

Part 1: The role of libraries in people’s lives and communities

Part 2: What people do at libraries and library websites

Part 3: Technology use at libraries

Part 4: What people want from their libraries

Part 5: The present and future of libraries



Report Materials

Photo: Welcome to the Library cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by Enokson

Leading the Learning Revolution

Last Friday I ventured down south to Melbourne to join a vibrant and amazing conference on Global e-Literacy: Learning the Re-invention of Learning put on by SLAV – The School Library Association of Victoria.

Great venue, great people, great program! These great Victorian innovators gave me a wonderful welcome, and allowed me the honour of kickstarting the day with a presentation on Leading the Learning Revolution.

The MCG Members Dining Room was a great place for a smaller sized group of a 100-200. No footballers or cricket players, but the size of the venue, and reminder of the many victories and losses at that ground was just the right kind of razzle for discussing the conference topic of Global e-literacy: leading the reinvention of learning.

The day included  my globe-trotting friend Jenny Luca discussing multimodal literacies, and drawing on her vast experience of working with students and leading a school in integration of technologies. The round-table workshops were a fantastic idea – moving from one curation tool to another. I had great fun showcasing Diigo with my cheeky friend and podcast hero Tony Richards from the EdTech Crew.

Short sharp presentations on LibGuides (Di Ruffles, Melbourne High School). Apps Swap Meet (John Pearce), Curation Tools (Cameron Hocking) and Library Design (David Feighan) topped off the day. We had a wrap from Cecilie Murray, who kept us on our toes with challenges to take away for tomorrow and the future.

Fab day!  Loved catching up with old friends, and making a few new ones.

Social media [at your library] starts with you

Thank you to Karen Bonanno for the opportunity to speak with teacher librarians about social media, social networking and school libraries,  as part of the School Library Management Professional Learning Webinar Series.

If you are interested in quality professional development delivered online and would like to receive email notices for future webinars and other professional learning events I recommend that you  sign up now.

Content curation is the new black

Content curation crops up over and over again – so a whole issue on the topic from the wonderful school librarians in New Zealand is worth a read! Tossing ideas around, and finding ways to harness tools to our purpose is part of the daily challenge.

So here is the latest issue of their Collected Magazine, free for the taking! It’s all about content curation or “articles to help you add to your collection development bag of tricks!”I I was lucky to be invited to write a lead article guessed it..Content curation is the new black!

You will find articles about the following:

Curating content for creative reuse (Ester Casey)
Content curation as a marketing tool (Peter Murgatroyd)
Exploring (Hillary Greenebaum)
Using LiveBinders (Senga White)
and more…

By the way, what a great use of an online magazine publishing tool – your organisation, school or library can put out good digital publications for information, promotion, or sharing. Your students can get involved too.

Visit ISSUU at if you want to subscribe to their magazine on a regular basis or to learn more about the product.

The Librarian has left the building

I woke this morning to a grey sky, and many pieces of writing about teacher librarianship that my students have submitted as their first dip into a new profession. The grey sky seems to symbolise the mental consternation that is expressed by those entering the profession, and by those responding to the extraordinary changes and cutbacks discussed by  Buffy Hamilton and others at her post Do I Really have to Leave the Role of School Librarian to Work as a School Librarian?

Carolyn Foote and Judy O'Connell

I’m just recently back in Australia, after a number of visits in the USA related to libraries now and in the future. I was fortunate to attend the Computers in Libraries conference in Washington (CIL2012 – do access some of the presentations), and during the three days of the conference was delighted to spend time with Buffy Hamilton, Carolyn Foote, Sarah Ludwig, Polly Farrington and others involved in services to school libraries. I was struck by the extraordinary passion, the outstanding work happening every day  – and by common complications (in some schools) caused by the ignorance and lack of vision demonstrated by school leaders when it comes to libraries.

The reality is that teacher librarians  can be the best person to have in your school – but only if they have actually learnt how to fill that role well, and have understood and assimilated the principles of embedded librarianship.That’s what undertaking a Masters degree in Teacher Librarianship is all about! It’s an energising and complex profession that you just can’t learn on the job.

As Buffy rightly argues, we do not need to leave the role of librarian to become a better librarian.  What I sincerely believe is that we need school librarians to be recognised for their significant and vital role in the life of a school, and we need for their position to be better staffed and better supported within the school.

The School Library Journal allowed a provocative piece to inadvertantly lead a discussion that is vital to school library futures.  Linda W. Braun interviewed Sarah Ludwig, whose session I enjoyed at CIL2012,  and in showcasing how Sarah Ludwig left the library, became a tech coordinator, and forged a path to the future implied that perhaps this was a good thing.  It was not!

I believe that Next Year’s Model (term used by the school library journal)  is not the school librarian escapee – any more than the classroom escapee was ever the right person to be a school librarian!

I loved Sarah’s presentation at CIL2012, because she was engaging and clearly enjoys working hard to make a difference.  She is achieving some of what is possible as a teacher librarian.

Sarah Ludwig at CIL2012

So it was  nice – it was not innovative! The model adopted by her school was nice – it was not innovative. I’m guessing that Lorri Carroll
Director of Technology and Information Services Hamden Hall Country Day School is in fact not a qualified teacher librarian, though she certainly recongises what it is that makes Sarah’s work relevant to her school. The fact that Sarah said in the interview piece, and at the conference,  now it’s easier to get people to trust my opinion on technology, which enables me to do more than I could as a librarian is a reflection of the challenges in the teacher librarian profession.

It’s so important to look past technology, and to stay with the model that Buffy and other leading teacher librarians espouse in their work  (under circumstances that almost few Australian teacher librarians need to contend with) and to continue to shape a responce to change in the profession. This theme is not unique to school libraries – it is the same tune throughout the LIS sector.

We have had  better solutions taking shape in many Australian schools. In Hybrid Synergy – the Future of School Libraries you can read about a model that would suit Lorri and Sarah to a tee! Check out St Ignatius College, Riverview here in Sydney. They have realigned their library services to create a new hybrid synergy under the direction of the  Head of Digital Learning and Information Services (who IS a teacher librarian), supported by several  Digital Learning Facilitators who teach a subject as a classroom teacher, work with a faculty, and also support students reading, learning, and research needs in the library.  Of course, with such a commitment to empowering student learning, there are other important roles such as a Library Manager, and library and media technicians.

In other words – poor school, rich school, country or city school – we need a great teacher librarian at the helm to lead learning and innovation with and beyond technology!

Good luck to any teacher librarian of quality who becomes a curriculum leader, technology leader, Principal, or who takes on any number of other significant roles in the education sector.  Education is all the richer for it – but don’t leave for the wrong reasons!

Has the librarian left the building?

Ask yourself ~ Who is better off now? What stupid cutbacks by senior administrators has resulted in a move that will impact future generations of kids?  What is it that needs to change in our understanding of Teacher Librarianship so that we can make more of a difference? In times of economic constraint, why are school libraries under threat?  Are teacher librarians committed to keeping up-to-date? What do we need to change to improve?

The time for libraries is now!  .

Image: cc licensed ( BY SD ) flickr photo shared by heyjudegallery

Libraries and social media X

Wednesday was just the kind of day we need more of in our libraries!  Wollongong City Libraries (WCC) are taking charge of their future in a very positive way. Having decided that social media is now an essential part of the future of library services, WCC took the initiative to schedule a Staff Development Day for all the staff.

No easy thing to do – but Wollongong City and Branch Libraries closed ALL their doors on Wednesday 7 March to focus on their e-initiatives and Social Networking strategy.

The Social Networking Team has already laid the foundations for this important initiative, but the message on Wednesday was that everyone was now part of the conversation.  Their Facebook page is just the beginning of their future!

Guest speakers provided wonderful ideas to stimulate thinking to help the group discussions. I personally enjoyed the contributions from  Leanne Perry (State Library of NSW) and Kimberly Williams (University of Wollongong).

Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery OAM dropped in to catch the vibe @ the Library Staff Development day. His words of encouragement were the best I have heard in a long time from a public figure. He was delighted with the energy of the social media shift!

Libraries represent our values, expand our minds, help in the construction of our realities and test them.  Libraries provide opportunities for the expansion of personal horizons, no matter what life circumstances have been.

One of our own CSU students, who was a keen leader in my Social Networking for Information Professionals Facebook group in 2011 was right there in the thick of it all! Fantastic work Clara!  The energy and buzz generated throughout the day was outstanding, and I know that I was the luckiest person on the planet to be there, and to have been chosen to provide the Keynote presentation for the day! Thank you Wollongong City Libraries.

cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by *MarS

Rat cunning and Library 2.0

Tonight I am in reflective mode while also being in frantic planning mode. Like anyone involved with education in Australia, we are very busy getting into a new academic year. In my case, I am working with a raft of new teachers who are learning about the challenges of being a teacher librarian.

Last week I worked with around 40 friendly folks as part of a program with the Department of Education here in NSW. These people came from a range of schools, and brought with them a range of experiences. One thing in common was enthusiasm. It reminded me of my days of training to be a TL. In one of my placements I was lucky to be mentored by a vibrant TL, whose forte was ‘rat cunning’. Looking for opportunities to work smarter, and influence your staff as often as possible was part of her overall approach to efficient management and advocacy, and underpinned her philosophy which in every way saw her and her school library address the Australian School Library Standards of Professional Excellence.

As I watch another batch of experienced teachers become students once again, I see and feel the nervousness, difficulty, confusion, and amazement that epitomizes a teacher’s discovery of what a teacher librarian actually can know and can contribute to a school. So many come into this thinking it is going to be a ‘walk in the park’. After all, they may well have seen or been in a school with library that has no teacher librarian – so in that context all they has seen is perhaps 5% of what is possible. It’s why I know that experienced Teacher Librarians are extraordinary, and that every single school and every single student deserves to have a TL leader in their school to make sense of 21st century multi-literacies.

On the other hand, there are also students who have come into the course who have a passion to be a Teacher Librarian. They already know some of the features of the job, and perhaps sense the power and magic of the possibilities. These people are looking for a life-changing transition which they want to be wonderful, colourful, and inspirational.

This week I’m also revisiting other aspects of my own TL journey. I am working with a small central school in mid-west NSW. Recently this town experienced dreadful flooding, and the school library was one of those spaces that was affected.I have worked in a variety of settings and operated with a shoestring budget. I still recall how the Principal and I re-organised the library layout with wire – literally re-shaping and re-organising the ancient library shelves to create useful and exciting spaces. I then raided the bargain bins at iKEA and the reject shops, and made that library a hub of activity. In a primary school of 400 students we ended up having a lunchtime rule – after the first 100 students got into the library, we had to shut the doors. They queued outside..waiting for their turn. And no, we had no air-conditioning!

So here I am consulting to a recently flooded central school – saved books, destroyed library. What next? Once again it’s the same issues – what exactly should a school library in a central school provide for its students? How is this achieved with budget and staffing constraints. Surprisingly the answers are the same here as they are in any school, and what the Principal is discovering is the complexity of what’s required in just the same way as my new students are surprised.

But of course the facility is only half the story. As we all know, it is what happens in the curriculum that is also critical. If you are a teacher librarian you already know the answer. My new students are barely even aware of the questions they are going to be asking themselves in a few weeks! But through all that turmoil, what is exciting is that they will make the journey. I recall last year the absolutely glorious and inspiring thoughts and ideas that some students were able to write about by mid-year.

If you are new in ETL401, and reading this – courage. You have taken the first step in the journey of transformation. Teacher librarianship is not just something extra. It’s a brainstorming, mindshifting, electrifying opportunity to meet 21st century learning needs in all its dimensions head on. Nothing can stop you after that!

cc licensed ( BY NC ) flickr photo shared by Trois Têtes (TT)