Strategic directions for school libraries

Perhaps one of the most challenging conversations to have in libraries and learning communities as we move towards 2013 is the arrival of RDA.  Yes, here is a new acronym that needs to be embedded in our thinking. 2013 will be a year of living dangerously when RDA arrives. Don’t know about RDA yet?  Then it’s time to get excited, and up-to-date!

As we  close off 2012  many school librarians are busy with their annual stocktake (at least those who haven’t adopted a rolling model of collection maintenance). These same librarians and their staff are perhaps oblivious of the exciting developments that are taking place that will impact on how we manage collections and how we support curriculum in the years to come.

For my money, this is where the rubber hits the ground.  Its where the need for proper professionals in schools becomes more important than ever.   Here we have innovation happening under our very (information professional) noses – yet we have staff in school library senior positions who have no qualifications in the field or who have not done any further academic training to keep up with the changes needed to manage collections in the digital world that is the 21st century.  The next few years are going to be very exciting and challenging making it doubly vital that school leadership understand the importance of having  well-qualified teacher librarians and school librarians leading information services in schools.

These very issues were highlighted at the recent SCIS ASKS Forum held in Melbourne recently. How will education libraries best serve their communities in 2015? Support for the new Australian curriculum makes it imperative that we include emerging technologies and global understanding of information organization in the knowledge matrix that we support. It’s no longer about organizing those container of information that’s important – it’s the connections and access pathways and interpersonal learning experiences that a good school library can facilitate.  It is a teacher librarian’s job to empower students and teachers information access needs, and to manage systems that support this.   We are very lucky in Australia that  Education Services Australia, and the Schools Catalogue Information Service have their eye on this for us.

School library systems, media systems, LMS systems etc need to become the 24/7 structured access point for meaning connections. Here we have the key issue in that our multiple systems need to draw on as well as contribute to a knowledge matrix – one that connects to the various information repositories beyond our schools as well.

Old Questions: New Answers

How can this be done? Is there a vision for this? Enter the search and access power that is driven by Web 3.0 developments and the semantic web.  What’s different about school libraries now is that collections are really no longer about Dewey, or silo catalogue systems. In a world of API and open data, libraries ( particularly school libraries) are faced with a significant conceptual challenge.  Tim Berners-Lee introduced linked data in 2006 and unleashed the future! In 2007 the joint steering committee for Resource Description and Access said that RDA

would be a new standard for resource description for the digital world.

The point of it all is to provide a consistent, flexible and extensible framework for both the technical and content description of all types of resources and all types of content – everywhere, anywhere, always!  When search engine collaboration in 2011 added schema.org, we knew that the future was here. Traditional library data has had its day – and this century we are all about linked data ontologies that facilitate computer communications and  interaction for the benefit of human knowledge.

There is so much to learn, and so much to deploy. Essentially we need to create a new roadmap of open access and interoperability, to allow RDA new standards in schools to take us out of the confines of traditional library services, and to engage with the Semantic web.

Metadata has been changing everything, and information professionals have been leading these developments, mindful of  the semantic web and linked data.  There is a lot to discover and learn about.  If you are a teacher librarian, please make this part of your professional learning agenda for 2013. We are on the web and of the web, and our opportunities to improve the information and knowledge matrix in schools is fantastic – if we know how!

Visit SCIS Asks Forum, and check out the information from the Forum -   even add to the discussion via the survey forms.

Thanks to SCIS for allowing me to kick-start the day with some provocative ideas about Strategic Directions for School Libraries.

Image: cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by Serge Melki

Hands on the future – spotting Web 3.0.

I recently returned from an outstanding conference in our region, hosted in Singapore by the International School Library Network. I have not had the opportunity to previously attend this conference, but with nearly 300 delegates  and 46 workshop presenters the Hands on Literacy  2012 conference was certainly a success. I was there to present the Keynote to round up the conference day, and I hope that Preparing our Students for Web 3.0 Learning did that in some small way.

But first we started with school library tours the day before, visiting all the various libraries at  Tanglin Trust School, the Singapore American School, and the United World College of South East Asia. What wonderful ideas and new design ideas were captured in each of these schools! Sofa seats with bookend designs, book-swap bowl,  painted designs on chairs, the most gorgeous story corners, the cleverest display and promotion ideas, and so much more. If you ever have the time to join a conference in the future, and take the tour you won’t regret it!

My favourite was the huge sign outside the entrance to SAS – asking for contributions to the annual year book.  Cool huh? Particularly since I hear that some students spend a lot of time on Instagram, even in preference to Facebook.

Learn and learn and then learn some more – I think that was perhaps the underlying message throughout the conference. Hands on literacy took many shapes and forms, and the challenges were equally met by enthusiasm and a willingness to share. Joyce Valenza set the day perfectly with a bucket-load of challenges, so even before anyone hit the workshops their heads were spinning.

My message is really that today’s novelty is tomorrows norm, whether we like it or not. And tomorrows norm is going to take a shape and direction that many have not even considered, even thought the shift is already taking place before our very eyes.

Our personal information age may well have been launched in 1993  when the Mosaic 1.0 browser made the World Wide Web available for contribution and participation by anyone with access to the Internet.  It was a revolution. The future possibilities are likely to be just as different to those initial experiences – so are we ready prepared? Now in the “Internet of Things” anything imaginable is capable of being connected to the network, be come intelligent offering almost endless possibilities in human/technology interaction. Information and learning are at another cross-roads, and I like to think that teachers and teacher librarians are going to meet these developments with their eyes wide open.

Today we are surrounded by interfaces for discovery.  What do we want from technology? How can we create better experiences?  Our new networked society is going to fundamentally change the way we innovate, collaborate, produce, govern and sustain. Come with me on the journey. Now!

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

Tagging my Technology and Teaching Practice

This week sees me concluding a year of academic activities by participating in graduation, and other professional events at Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga. It is always a pleasure to celebrate the big graduation day with a new batch of happy graduates!

Meanwhile, much of the discussions back in the ‘academic halls’  hinge around technology and teaching practice, one way or another. Much planning for 2012 as a result!

As educators we are always looking for yet another way to bend an online tool to our purpose. Thursday will see me contributing to the Technology and Teaching Practice Research Group 2011 Symposium. The focus is on the communicative affordances of online tools. My spin is really just a futuristic focus on the changing context of the web, and the deepening issues for educators around search strategies and information retrieval.

Just a 20 minute discussion starter – so what could I do that introduces something new?

You can see the presentation slidedeck for From Web 1.0 to Web 3.0: A wolf in sheep’s clothing or a new culture of learning. You’ll notice a QR code on the front slide. This QRcode created at TagMyDoc points to a supporting document – and this code will download that too directly from TagMyDoc to your e-device!

The presentations throughout the day will have a series of papers included in a print document,  to provide supporting information and material for the presentations.  While I thought that this was useful, I also thought it would be interesting to show how to provide access to the electronic file directly from within  that printed document – or from where it is attached to the front of the slideshare presentation (that I have embedded in this post).

Now, it’s available to all ~ either at the Symposium, or anywhere else on the planet!  I do like this way of enhancing a slideshare presentation, and the ease of being able to share an electronic file.

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

Metaweb adds Semantic search value!

Google has  acquired Metaweb, which indexes things or “entities” in the world.

In a video explaining what they do, Metaweb talks about how the internet is not just words and for search to be the most relevant, it should be able to determine the context of the search term.

Last year PC World authors even called Google’s approach to search “aging” and talked about the search giant’s strategic moves to revamp its algorithms using semantic search.

via Perfect Search