NMC Horizon Report: 2015 Library Edition

2015-nmc-horizon-report-library-EN_pdfWhat is on the five-year horizon for academic and research libraries?  Always provocative, and worthwhile reading arrives again with the publication of the NMC Horizon Report: 2015 Library Edition examines key trends, significant challenges, and important developments in technology for their impact on academic and research libraries worldwide. This publication was produced by the NMC in collaboration with University of Applied Sciences (HTW) Chur, Technische Informationsbibliothek (TIB) Hannover, and ETH-Bibliothek Zurich. To create the report, an international body of experts from library management, education, technology, and other fields was convened as a panel. Over the course of three months, the 2015 NMC Horizon Project Library Expert Panel came to a consensus about the topics that would appear here. View the work that produced the report on the project wiki.

>Download the NMC Horizon Report > 2015 Library Edition (PDF)

International School Library Guidelines

The International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) has produced another significant international milestone for school libraries in the publication of the new IFLA School Library Guidelines. This achievement is thanks to the hard work of a team led by Barbara Schulz-Jones and Dianne Oberg, and has involved collaboration with many colleagues around the world through numerous workshops and meetings, substantive discussion and ongoing feedback. The editors are indebted to the contributions of members of the Standing Committee of the IFLA Section of School Libraries and the executive board of the International Association of School Librarianship (IASL), as well as the other members of the international school library community who shared their expertise and their passion for the project.

These guidelines constitute the second edition of the IFLA ‘School Library Guidelines’. The first edition of the school library guidelines was developed in 2002 by the School Libraries Section, then called the School Libraries and Resource Centers Section. These guidelines have been developed to assist school library professionals and educational decision-makers in their efforts to ensure that all students and teachers have access to effective school library programs and services, delivered by qualified school library personnel.

This will provide a strong and flexible up-to-date framework for the ongoing development of school libraries across the world although it will require revision again in the future.

In the words of Ross Todd this document:

  • provides a strong philosophical and empirical basis for the development of school libraries worldwide;
  • articulates a strong coordinated and international voice, something that is so critical in the diverse educational contexts around the world;
  • unifies, because it gives voice to transnational values that we hold very dear – a strong voice that can resonate across diverse cultural contexts and educational frameworks;
  • provides wonderful flexibility for individual countries, regions, local contexts to establish their own vision, mission and strategic development plans that recognize where countries and regions are at, and the complexities that they face; and
  • is such a strong foundation for the continuous development of libraries world wide.


To cite this document please use the following:
International Federation of Library Associations. 2015. IFLA School Library Guidelines.

IFLA and School Libraries

I am happy to be gaining back some mobility – and as a result I have been able to attend and provide two presentations at the IFLA Information Literacy/School Libraries Section Satellite conference in Capetown, South Africa.

It has been an honour indeed to meet up with old friends, and meet new colleagues here in Capetown. It is humbling to learn of the challenges faced by my South African colleagues, and the passion they have for school library activism – a term I would now like to adopt!

I shared a number of documents, which can be accessed via dropbox here. I am including the two presentations below, as a summary of the theme and flavour of our conversations. Thank you Capetown!

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

Just another bag lady

I have been finding it particularly difficult to keep up with a lot of work and professional matters in 2015. The image of ‘just another bag lady’ came up at a physiotherapy session and the discussion about  how many bags it can take to keep things dry!  I am just another bag lady!  I’ve been putting my foot in plastic bags since about August last year!

I never thought I would learn to detest plastic bags so much, or tape, or the tangle that I could get myself into.  Big white plastic bags – and foot cast. Urgh! Since mid 2014 an old foot injury just kept getting worse, and after much orthopedic tape, moon boot weirdness, crutches and whatever else, I finally scored myself some surgery.

Long stobonesry short – Flexor Digitorum Longus (FDL) tendon transfer to posterior Tibial tendon (that’s a toe tendon transferred to my tibial tendon); a calcaneal osteotomy (cutting the heel bone and shifting it toward the inside of the foot); percutaneous Achilles tendon lengthening; and all tidied up with a nice screw, and titanium spacer. My new tendon is only 1/8th the strength of the posterior tibialis tendon it replaced (well it was totally ruptured, so wasn’t any good to me), so it takes 12 months to regain normal capacity.

Short story long – disrupted life (can’t walk for months yet).  Hence the particularly lackadaisical approach to this blog. It’s enough to keep up with work, and online commitments to students. It’s my goal to catch up eventually. In the meantime, everything ordinary is now a calculated challenge to get done.

Here’s a ghosty image of me hiding behind my  XRay  which I am holding up to the light in order to see my metal ‘additions’. Now my friends keep cracking jokes about metal detectors and airport security. Sigh.  But the good thing is I’m no longer tangled up with plastic bags.  Goodbye bag lady. Something positive at last🙂.

Image: flickr photo shared by Pulpolux !!! under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC ) license

If you don’t do it, it doesn’t exist!

I admit, I’m a little late to the party, and my recipes  are simple to say the least. But you know, one of the very best things about learning and working with students and fellow educators is always being fortunate enough to find more to learn! There is no shortage of ideas that can be done.

My main work is with professionals – teachers in schools and post school settings.  So we are not talking new learners!  Now I don’t buy the digital native argument for a minute, but I do wring my hands in despair at educators who don’t keep their minds and hearts open to exploration, innovation, and learning in whatever way is needed to ensure that the role we play as an educator is guaranteed to be useful – even if only in a very small way.

Yet I understand things not always coming easily. If you can’t ‘find the URL’ to a item, I’ll help you learn (yes, I still get asked that question). But I’d much rather you asked me a complex question about professional practice, information curation, or ways or managing information flow. Why?  Because these are some of the key challenges for educators.

So back to that basic recipe I mentioned – yes, I finally faced up to the fact that I NEED to be using IFTTT for more effective information gathering as part of my subject delivery processes. I have my colleague Dean Groom to thank for the final push. We’re playing in INF541 Game Based Learning, a subject which Dean is teaching after heading the writing team of Groom and O’Connell again. Wow, the years have flown since we got into online environments and virtual worlds with our small books back in 2010.

But nothing has changed since then. Still learning. Dean showed me how to set up IFTT to gather a running record of what’s happening in our subjects, and how to push that information back out as part of our participatory learning experience.

What is IFTTT?

IFTTT empowers you with creative control over the products and apps you love. Recipes are simple connections between products and apps.  I knew this, and until now the only recipe I had running was an email of a new recipe to me each week. But I never did anything else.  Dreadful.

The amazing thing is that IF Recipes run automatically in the background. Create powerful connections with one simple statement — if this then that.

For example:

So now I am using three recipes, taken from shared recipes available at the site, and also one customized by Dean.

Now we are both doing the following:

  • Collecting all the tweets with the subject #hastag in a Google spreadsheet.
  • Collecting all the blog posts that relate to the subject from my Feedly category to a Google spreadsheet
  • Sending back to twitter the new posts that turn up in the Google spreadsheet.

This is all automatic.  What does this allow?

Participatory sharing ||| Data collection ||| Subject tracking |||

Now we have the opportunity to quickly confirm (or otherwise) the extent of a students actual participation in the back-channel as part of the course experience – a vital part of monitoring student engagement and program effectiveness. There are many other formal channels, of course, but the social media aspect was one that I was never quite happy about.

I’m embarrassed I didn’t do this sooner! But of course, that’s why I am still learning from my peers.🙂
Image: creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-ND ) flickr photo shared by venspired

Enhancing the student digital experience

The challenges of learning and teaching in online environments are ones that all educators face today – or at least should! So in this context, I was pleased to see the latest @JISC report for the university context:- Enhancing the Student Digital Experience: a strategic report.

The report seeks to provide answers to key questions:

  • How are you responding to the changing digital needs and expectations of your students and staff?
  • Do the experiences and the digital environment you offer to your students adequately prepare them to flourish in a society that relies heavily on digital technologies?
  • What are you doing to engage students in dialogue about digital issues and to work collaboratively with them to enhance their digital learning experience?
  • How well is the digital vision for your establishment embedded in institutional policies and strategies?

A must read and addition to your professional collection.

However, from my experience in  Higher Education what we do is probably far more complex and less likely to come to a happy resolution than in schools. This is not because we are any less competent, but rather that many in tertiary see ‘teaching’ as of secondary importance to everything else, whether that is research, writing or administration – because of the pressures put on them.

This ‘dilemma’ leaves me somewhat unhappy with the trajectory and resolution of competing interests in my own small ‘realm’, particularly when as Courses/Program Director part of my brief is to nurture good quality learning opportunities for students.  It puzzles me  when I see a messages come into my mail about  “strategies for assessment design that reduces marking time”, or “designing subject content and/or assessment to increase alignment with your research interests and why this is justifiable.” Both could (in my mind) run counter to overall course design, and/or quality engagement with students if taken in the wrong way. .

So the real problem of course is not commitment of lecturers, but the priorities, that often make teaching the thing that you have to do rather than the thing you want to do. I would love to know how many folks in HE love their teaching, and work tirelessly with students to achieve the best outcome possible.  I’ll leave it to you (from your personal experiences) to think of an answer.

Conversely, of course, students come in many shapes, and dispositions, so the overall learning experience is still a dual experience.  We can’t always meet everyone’s needs in online learning environments – after all, the learners themselves have to take a lead role/responsibility in the process.

I’ve kickstarted another great year in my favourite education degree http://www.csu.edu.au/digital where we encourage students (amongst other things) to share their experiences in the Twitter back-channel.  You have to have fun with learning too!  Two subjects that I am involved with are underway #INF530 Concepts and Practices for a Digital Age, and #INF541 Game Based Learning. I encourage students to joke around about the challenges, as that helps to lighten to pressure on us all.   (Of course, if they are using the back channel already, they are usually doing very well! Good on you Amanda and Simon!)

 Image: creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by giulia.forsythe

Our connections and the flow of knowledge

Learning is the process of acquiring knowledge, which is an active process and operates at both individual and social levels. When it comes to information behaviour within this context there are a wide range of theories and models which represent thinking and research investigations in this field. Existing models have elements in common, though most models in library and information science focus on information seeking and the information user, while those from the field of communications focus on the communicator and the communication process.  It is certainly worth stopping and revisiting these models, to better understand the ‘cognitive actors’ or other influences at play (Robsons & Robinson, 2013)

What I’m particularly interested in are the Information seeking behaviours and places of information seeking which are constantly changing, and of course growing in possibilities all the time. While we can study models in depth, as academic or professional pursuits,  when we consider how we think in the digital age, Bradbury hits the nail on the head for some of our common issues:

Our modern-day information processing is both careless in how it is consumed and how it is related back to others: rarely do we intentionally seek out an article, comb through it, and then selectively disperse it to an appropriate recipient. Rather, we come across it online, skim the headline or sound bites, and blast it indiscriminately via social media.

The complexities of information behaviour are so important to understand and be responsive to.   What can we hope to do about this, or what is being done? After all, you could say that digital technologies tend to outsource much of what could potentially be reflective thinking to an external device that provides a quick, pre-formed answer!

I was quite taken by a reflection on the Fourth Age of Libraries, and will share an example here from author Sean McMullen:

Recently,  for a story that I was writing, I researched intelligence in crows. So my first stop was to type ‘intelligence and crows’ into Google. I was instantly offered 8,180,000 links. At 5 seconds per hit, working 12 hours per day, it would take about two and a half years to check them all. Everyone can surf the Internet, but librarians can do it effectively. Since I am more interested in using information than finding it, I will continue asking librarians for help.

Yes! Information seeking, and good information behaviours will continue to involve quality curation and equally open information dissemination processes.

Two reports

Two reports I picked up this week add to my pool of readings to help with my thinking about the information era dilemmas.

We  have to nurture the ability to read – and read well!  Measuring the impact of thousands of libraries across multiple countries is quite a formidable undertaking, but with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation,  an external research team examined from Room to Read examined  libraries in Laos, Nepal, India, Sri Lanka, Zambia, and South Africa. To establish a baseline, they began evaluations at the schools before a Room to Read library was established and tracked progress in reading habits over the course of two years.

The most exciting takeaway from the study is that they have been able to confirm empirically that  libraries are helping children become independent readers.
Read the full report summary.

The second useful report to examine comes from the Knowledge Exchange, and the report Sowing the seed: Incentives and Motivations for Sharing Research Data, a researcher’s perspective. A qualitative study, commissioned by Knowledge Exchange, has gathered evidence, examples and opinions on current and future incentives for research data sharing from the researchers’ point of view, in order to provide recommendations for policy and practice development on how best to incentivize data access and re-use. Researchers’ experiences, data sharing practices and motivations are shown to be heterogeneous across the studied research groups and disciplines. Incentives and motivations ask for development of a data infrastructure with rich context where research data, papers and other outputs or resources are jointly available within a single data resource. Different types of data sharing and research disciplines need to be acknowledged. This  report that shows what a long journey is yet ahead of us, to beat the general google-grabbing of low-level information, because better quality material is hidden. Download the study ‘Sowing the seed: Incentives and Motivations for Sharing Research Data, a researcher’s perspective’

Moving forward

So let’s focus on technology and supporting services.  Libraries are a significant focus point in our communities, and technology is the other. As we invent more technology and forms of media, we also need to reinvent our community interactions as virtual and physical spaces of exchange for cultural and knowledge development. Libraries can continue to lead the way in this – from the national services to the quality services in your small local school library.  Building reading along with development and refinement of information seeking strategies and long term information behaviours,  educators and organisations need to remain open and responsive  – skipping the fads that are not supported by research and proven to stand the test of rigorous investigation.

The good news is that libraries are morphing. Read the Near and Far Future of Libraries .As archives become digital and machines become smarter, what function will libraries serve ten years and ten thousand years from now? See what some interesting experts had to say!

Our priority has to be our connections, and creating a flow of knowledge for all ages, across communities, nations and people. Our connections and the flow of knowledge is vital through building on critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity.

If you love something – set it free!


Andrew Robson, & Lyn Robinson. (2013). Building on models of information behaviour: linking information seeking and communication. Journal of Documentation, 69(2), 169–193. doi:10.1108/00220411311300039

Image: creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by whatmattdoes