Hybrid synergy – the future of school libraries

The Resources Centre

School has been busy – and so have I. Not many blog posts – but nevertheless  I’ve been busy mulling over the future of school libraries and how they should best be integrated into the education setting that we call “schools”.

Those of us who have been in ‘schools’ for many years remember when schools had no libraries!  Now it seems that some forward thinking people prefer to return to elements of schooling that were regarded as outmoded.  Get rid of libraries? Forget the role of libraries and teacher librarians? We don’t try and go backwards in other areas of education – so what’s the deal with this myopic view?

I have been busy watching the twitter stream #iwbnet10 where three of my colleagues are listening to some of Australia’s brightest talk about schools, schooling and the digital revolution at the Seventh National Interactive Teaching and Learning Conference.

By all accounts the conference has been brim full of ideas. But what strikes me about this and other conferences, such as ISTE2010 (that I very much enjoyed in Denver earlier this year) is the decided lack of discussion of what I see as an urgent need for a ‘new’ hybrid synergy between learning and libraries.  According to Designing for the Future of Learning

the school library remains one of them most symbolic, protected, and expensive ’spaces’ on any campus. But will future designers of school libraries be recreating sacred book spaces of the past or will technology and the ‘consumer’ inspire new design strategies for the future? For many, the library is the literal information bridge to the future.

It is very discouraging indeed to have conference attendees excited by one-eyed presentations of future learning needs.  Focussing on the digital revolution and ignoring the pivotal role that a good school library can play is to achieve only a percentage of what is possible – regardless of how good it seems , it’s just not good enough!

When I focus on my role as a teacher librarian, I ask myself a few leading questions:

Should we be immersed in new media and technology in our hyperlinked library?  Definitely.

Should we be working tirelessly to identify what is needed to think in ‘future tense’ and embrace the challenge of keeping ahead?  Most certainly.

Should we be leading the  conversation about social networking and digital identities? And how!

Should we be discussing the assessment problem in these media environments?  But of course!

I have the joy (and tears) of managing a school library that is open each week day from 8 am – 10 pm.

It’s a central hub for collaboration, technology, reading and writing.  It’s a place for change and about change. But with all that, it still has a long way to go  to achieve a hybrid synergy in our school. No different from most – we are evolving and responding to change!

This is important because  in an era of fast facts and short cuts kids have to become VERY literate in multimodal forms.

There are NO short cuts to literacy, and there is no replacement for the love of reading! No amount of gaming, movie making, sport, social networking etc can replace the cognitive gains to be made by allowing our students to become deep readers and deep researchers.  Technology has so much to offer in this thirst for deep knowledge and engagement with the ebook [r]evolution! However, technology is not a replacement for reading, researching, and the value that school libraries and school librarians can bring to our multimodal digital century.

Can you read this?

So while you get excited about technology rich schools, and while you focus on immersive and multimodal technology, don’t forget to focus on reading, literacy, information fluency and deep understanding.  What we need is a hybrid synergy between teaching, learning, technology, pedagogy, and the services of a school library/information services centre of learning and innovation.

Everything is a matter of degree. We do need to redesign our learning environments to address, leverage and harness the new media technology environment of our schools. We need to start redesigning our school libraries and the work of teacher librarians for these learning environments. We need to adopt learner centred e-teaching. We need to share, co-operate and collaborate because we now have an information ecology that can be open, self-managed, fostered and conducive to knowledge flow between content and connections.

As Michael Wesch explains,

Students need to move from being knowledgeable to being knowledge-able

Please look for ways to create a hybrid synergy in your school or academic institution. In terms of modern information and media skills, our practice demonstrates small, uneven pockets of best practice. We have no textbook for what 21st-century school library practice looks like.

Today I found a school that has grasped the need for hybrid synergy!  Not only do they have a school library that is the centre of learning and innovation – they will have in 2011 the perfect vehicle for synergy in 21st century learning by formalising the lead structures within their school.

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, supported by several  Digital Learning Facilitators who will teach a subject, work with a faculty, as well as 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.

Oh, but we can’t afford that at our school!

Maybe not – but you cannot afford to do without a library, nor can you afford not to adopt a hybrid synergy that will allow your teacher librarian to take charge of the digital revolution -  that is in danger of disenfranchising our students.

Let your students become ‘knowledge-able’ through literacy, reading and information fluency driven by teacher librarian experts embedded in your multimodal learning environments.

School libraries: Designed for Learning

This video aims to contribute to the design and development of visually stunning, fit-for-purpose libraries with learning spaces that support 21st century learning in extended school settings. It shows the contribution an effective library can make to the educational, creative, emotional & reading development of children and young people, and the aspects of design that can enable this.

Where is the one place in the school, where people come together, to share and exchange and swap, but do so with an expectation of academic ambition? It’s the library!   Stephen Heppell

The school library is seen as the central space in the school for creativity, imagination and learning to be released.

Features Stephen Heppell with excellent contributions from schools around the UK.  A very comprehensive rationale and presentation funded by CILIP School Libraries Group and MLA (Museums Libraries and Archives Council).

Though this video/DVD is not new, it is very relevant as we visit and revisit our future directions.

Also at Designed for Learning: School Libraries

Learning Spaces and School Libraries

This time last year I was involved in a planning day with a large number of schools and their staff, on the matter of  21st Century School Libraries Learning Learning.  There is so much to think about in the design or re-design of such facilities no matter what the budget.

Here is another presentation that piqued my interest, with relevance to school libraries.

‘Impressive new buildings are, on their own, NO GUARANTEE that improved learning will be achieved; although they may be useful in marketing terms, by helping brand an institution’.

“teaching and learning should drive design, rather than vice-versa”

Take a look as there are  some good points to take away for your own deliberations…..

The Art of (old) Books – publishers’ bindings

Publishers Bindings Online, 1825 – 1930: The Art of Books is a wonderful gallery of decorative bindings with supporting essays.

The aim of this digital collection of decorative bindings, along with a comprehensive glossary and guide to the elements of these objects, is to strengthen the growing interest in and create broader awareness for the “common” object called the book.

The digital galleries of bindings  reflect distinct eras, geographic locations, and single authors and titles. They are useful for learning about aspects of 19th- and early 20th-c. American history, life, and culture.

You may just like to browse the Artistic Movements Galleries. Publishers bindings are an interesting way of exploring the advent of modern art and the impact on the artistic styles of the time on book design.

Also includes historical galleries; literary galleries; teaching tools and lesson plans; research tools and bibliography resources.

Worth a visit!

Mobile Medline Plus ~ shows us the way

So why haven’t more libraries adopted mobile tools? asks Eric Rumsey as he considers the advantages of mobile friendly design on iTouch/iPhone or like devices.

I agree -  we do need to get on the mobile wagon as quickly as we can. There are many popular mobile compatible sites these days, and blogs are well-optimised on the mobile too. WordPress is a great platform for achieving an integrated look in relation to this, and the mobile-based management tools for WordPress is also impressive.

So it was most interesting to read  Mobile Medline:Plus: A Great Example for Libraries. The mobile version of MedlinePlus that was released by the American National Library of Medicine last week is an elegant example of  libraries making their sites mobile-friendly. Eric gives a good run-down of  MedlinePlus on the mobile.

Eric is on Twitter @ericrumsey

photo910772

I confess – I access a lot of things via my iPhone instead of on a regular computer. The portability and immediacy of access is irresistibly convenient.  Whether this is a good thing or not is vaguely irrelevant – the mobile is embedded in youth behaviours.

Anyone got a good example of this kind of application in schools or school libraries?

Better get our blogs and information services mobile minded soon!

Espresso on demand – and that’s not coffee!

Xerox has entered the 21st Century publishing game, reaching a joint selling and marketing agreement with On Demand Books– the company that makes the amazing Espresso Book Machine that can churn out a book in a few minutes. There are only 21 stores and libraries that currently have the machines, but through this agreement, you can bet you’ll see more of them. On Demand hopes to get 80 machines in the world by the end of 2011.

(via GalleyCat and @creativepenn)

The Espresso Book Machine

2010 Horizon Report ~ read it!

2010-Horizon-Cover-320The annual Horizon Report has been released, and should be on the reading list of all teachers and librarians around the nation. The Horizon Report is a global effort ~ reflecting the essential global dimensions and impacts on learning of emerging technologies.

For those who are new to the Horizon Report, since March 2002, under the banner of the Horizon Project, the New Media Consortium has held an ongoing series of conversations and dialogs with hundreds of technology professionals, campus technologists, faculty leaders from colleges and universities, and representatives of leading corporations from more than two dozen countries. In each of the past six years, these conversations have resulted in the publication each January of a report focused on emerging technologies relevant to higher education.

Each time a report is undertaken, the NMC uses qualitative research methods to identify the technologies selected for inclusion in that report, beginning with a survey of the work of other organizations and a review of the literature with an eye to spotting interesting emerging technologies.

What’s on the Horizon?

Technologies to Watch
One Year or Less: Mobile Computing
One Year or Less: Open Content
Two to Three Years: Electronic Books
Two to Three Years: Simple Augmented Reality
Four to Five Years: Gesture-Based Computing
Four to Five Years: Visual Data Analysis Methodology

Download the 2010 Horizon Report (316k PDF)