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 title..you 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 Scoop.it (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 http://issuu.com/miriamtuohy/docs/may2012/1 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)

Stepping into school librarianship…



Back to base in Wagga Wagga, and the beginning of another academic year for me! While here at Charles Sturt University we have three sessions, rather than two semesters, and students may be starting off a graduate or post-graduate course at any one of these three sessions, there is still something ‘magical’ about starting a new program of study with a new year!

So for a whole bunch of students, around about now things are starting to get exciting. In my case, my subject outlines have gone ‘live’ – but the really juicy stuff is yet to come. Meanwhile, we have been spending a lot of time working on learning materials and beginning a process of renewal in assessment strategies. The scene above was taken from the balcony of the National Wine and Grape Industry Centre at CSU which was the venue for our ‘thinktank’. We had no wine (unfortunately!), but we did have a fabulous view for breaks…not to mention loads of fresh air (which I really notice each time I come from Sydney to visit the Wagga campus).

I’m looking forward to ‘meeting’ my newest group of students, who come from Australia and around the world. Those starting the MEdTL for the first time will find themselves engaged in a range of activities, some of which may well be new to their scholarly toolkit. But the very first thing is THE BLOG! When they start blogging they’ll discover that it’s as easy as ‘one, two, three’ once they’ve mastered the basics. It’s also an opportunity to be part of the global conversation, with other teacher librarians – and that is, perhaps, the most powerful thing of all!

I’ve been writing this blog since 2006, and along the way have learnt as much as I have shared. Our new students will ‘meet’ many excellent TL bloggers along the way, and will also discover how to develop or expand their own personal learning network.

A Personal Learning Network (PLN) is a group of people you count on to:

  • guide you in your learning
  • be your source of advice and resources
  • make you aware of learning opportunities
  • share their best practices
  • point you to answers and support

Blogging friend, Darcy Moore, explains why teacher librarians need to build a great personal learning network. Great words of advice from this innovative Deputy Principal!

Professional people must be the change that they want to see in others and model behaviour that assists students and colleagues to become powerfully multiliterate and critical thinkers!

Teacher-librarians have the important role of assisting students to become culturally literate citizens. They need to be digitally savvy and enthusiastic about the widest possible world around them…

Developing a Personal Learning Network (PLN) is essential for teacher-librarians to be engaged with professional learning and continually updating knowledge and skills.

Blogging is a great place to start. How else can you learn from your colleagues across the country and around the globe?