Monthly Archives: March 2010

Our Duties and Responsibilities as Librarians

Reading through the Library Bill of Rights, I’m struck by how vague and righteous the language it is, I think its the use of all the shoulds that gives the impression of moral rightness. Also its interesting that the language focus is on things that should not be denied and not be proscribed. The implication is that this will insure that things will be provided, but the use of should so much is kind of worrying, it comes off with a sense of we know what’s right for you even as we’re saying that we’ll provide things for everyone.

Interpretations
Minors and Internet Interactivity: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights
I found this particular interpretation quite powerful as it balanced the times when its important to listen to an individual child, their parents and when to trust your own judgment. The line especially about how inappropriate use shouldn’t be a reason to completely stop using online references but instead be looked as as behavior issues, this sounds as if a teacher pointed it out. Also I find the focus on parents teaching their children to use social tools slightly odd since that seems like something that can be combined with online learning and needs a balance between the school and the home education. My worry would be that many parents don’t know enough to teach their children about social skills yet it could also work as a chance to teach both parents and children if a workshop could be put together. This entire interpretation seems based around the AASL standards for making sure that online tools and technology are used to enhance education and inquiry.

Importance of Education to Intellectual Freedom: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights
I found this interpretation greatly reflects that the idea that libraries are powerful bastions of intellectual freedom and should be a safe place to create. Combining this with the idea that education is also a right puts libraries in a important part of society and what I find interesting about this interpretation is how it doesn’t speak to the complications of the US public education system. It seems like school libraries especially have an important part of this discussion and yet aren’t mentioned instead the focus is on education and libraries in more general terms. It would be nice to have some more detail in there since that seems like it would make the interpretation more effective.

Challenged Materials: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights
I think the thing I find most interesting about this interpretation is the line about how challenged materials must stay in the library, that seems like very clearly a librarians’ way of thinking. It allows people who haven’t read the book that’s being challenged to seek it out and understand things better and keeps the process fairly open. I wonder though how often this happens during the reality of a challenge. The two key parts of there needing to be a hearing and that if the book has been put through a selection process, it has a measure of protection, this moves again to the idea of just how much responsibility a librarian holds to make sure that the materials they choose and appropriate for their community. That seems to be the theme that runs through the Bills of Rights and the interpretations.

Empowering Learners does a good job of interpreting the Library Bill of Rights into powerful methods of putting them into use and moves them out of the language of ethics into reality. I like how much of the focus is on paying attention to your colleagues and community to make sure that what’s in the library is appropriate for them. I think this is the trickiest and most important part because while it can be easy to say, I think this is right, what counts more and is harder is going, this isn’t the right thing to do for this community. The hard part is figuring out when this becomes I’m doing to protect as opposed to I don’t think you’re ready for this yet.

In the Woolls’ reading, I quite liked her balance for filters of creating an agreement between parent and child for use of internet access. Since this is something that can be adjusted and discussed as the child grows older so there isn’t one person in control and parents are aware of what their children are doing and can continue the conversation of what’s safe to do online and what isn’t at home. The section on ILS makes me think about Chris Harris and how he created his own system because the ones that were out there didn’t do what he felt was important. I was curious just how many types of ILSes are out there and how much choice does a librarian have in terms of what they have since putting in a new one must be as great an undertaking as redesigning the library. A selection policy seems to be a powerful document to have, because it creates a form of defense against challenges for a librarian along with a clear understanding of their thinking. The rest of the chapter seems like a reflection of what we talked about in 624 in terms of thinking about what’s truly appropriate in terms of materials and technology, that so much of what counts is what’s appropriate for the community.

In the article, one of the first things that strikes me is the phrase “religion of practice”, that captures so much of what ethics can do, because they’re not always followed to the letter but they define how a profession presents itself. I think the idea of competing ethics must be something that school librarians are constantly dealing with because they work within so many spheres and are required to be part of many professions. I was wondering how this plays out in the reality of the library and what are the common sorts of questions that school librarians come across.

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Professional Development-the trick of how much

During our discussion I was struck by how professional development is something that a librarian can choose to take on and if they wish really focus on yet if they don’t pay attention to it, it won’t be as obvious to anyone else. Since if a school doesn’t have a culture of professional development, there’s no one who will prompt a new librarian or teacher or administrator to continue it. Yet if you’re willing to take up the work then bringing professional development into a school or district can do a huge amount to change for the better and others will be encouraged.

In terms of the example of Michigan and how easy it is to be isolated when there’s not the money for the professional development, I was thinking of how if that kept happening slowly, an administrator might not even be aware of how bad things are. It just creeps up on you as there’s no money for conferences but if there’s nothing to replace them than the school ends up paying heavily. I found it hopeful just how much is now available online so that there are ways to keep learning without the great cost. Also the MAME conference was a good example of bringing the change and development where it needs to be and finding ways to cut the cost but not cut the knowledge that’s brought in. Since it seems like one of the most powerful parts of professional development is being aware of the outside world and how the simple act of interacting with other people who do the same thing in a different place can shift and change how someone might approach a topic.

The other fact I found fascinating is all the various avenues of development that a librarian can choose to focus on from politics, literacy to curriculum and all the various ways that they intersect. It seems like one of the most beneficial things that a librarian could do is find out what they enjoy and what is lacking in their community and work on how best to improve those two things. Since there’s no reason that the development work can’t be enjoyable, because one of the reasons that we choose to become librarians is a desire to keep learning.

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Helping Teachers Learn

The article on Lesson Study seems to present an interesting idea of use the tools to teach teachers with the same ideas that you want them to use in their classrooms, which seems quite powerful. Since its one thing to read about a good idea like using prior knowledge but when you can say oh, its like this exercise we did than its easier to incorporate that into your teaching. Though I wonder as I’m reading through this, how many of the teachers bought into the process and how many had to be pushed along to really contribute. Also I find it very telling that the last line of the article speaks about validating what librarians due along with collaboration, which seems connected to this idea of how librarians see themselves as superheroes at times. This is a fine line and balance to work out and I think must be one of the great challenges with working on professional development, how to be seen as an ally.

I’m struck by the idea for the workshop article of sending out surveys and asking around your school to get ideas of what teachers are curious about. This seems like an effective way to make sure that what’s being taught is what everyone cares about and that there will be an immediate benefit. Also I like that the focus is on saying get someone who is an expert and that it doesn’t have to be the librarian, which seems like an important balance of not having workshops be too much, this is what the librarian thinks we need to know. All the considerations for how the make the workshop work seem to be common sense in terms of being aware of your audience and their needs and what they know already along with considerations for time and place. The most difficult part really seems to be getting people to show up, but if you run a good workshop than teachers will be more willing to come to other ones.

The article on technological pedagogical content is fascinating in terms of how it uses a far more academic language to talk about helping teachers learn the best way to use technology. I particularly like how they state at the beginning that teaching is a highly complex skill and so should be treated as something that needs to be approached from many dimensions to understand how to improve it. The blending of content and pedagogy also makes a lot of sense, but I can see how they could get divided in terms of teacher education since few people are going to have the in depth knowledge to teach all subjects. So instead you have experts in methods of teaching and then experts in certain domains. Then technology becomes its own separate domain that holds it off from everything else and can make it seem something that only an expert truly understands instead of just one more tool. The focus on context in terms of teaching is a powerful way to frame just how tricky it can be to teach technology since its so dictated by how its being used and what it was created to do and what it might be used for. Learning by design thus ends up making the most sense as a way to teach technology since it works on helping teachers learn as they’re doing so that they can feel like they control and truly understand the technology. I found the examples they presented quite compelling in terms of how the framework can be used in practice though I do wish there had been a bit more how to mixed in with the why.

In Empowering Learners, the focus is again on technology and on making sure that teachers truly know how to use things while as the librarian keeping truly ahead of everything. The two pages truly seem to sum up quite well all the important points from the previous articles.

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Leading with Technology

One of the things that struck me the most about Christopher Harris’ talk was the choice of language that he used, the Seth Rubin things that to me felt slightly corporate. I thought they were quite effective, but it was interesting to me that he seemed to be choosing not to use the language of librarians. In terms of what he said, the idea of really looking at how and who is using the technology that you have in your library seems so key, because what counts is what you’re getting from the tech. The idea of making sure that you see the tech as a tool to make a part of lessons when it makes sense and to make sure that the daily technology that’s in use in your library is the best. I thought that the way he restructured his library’s catalog made a lot of sense like having all of the versions of a book appear in one entry instead of being scattered about and the focus on what is the user getting out of it. Yet I did wonder about the use of search and he seemed at times to be working quite hard to make clear that this isn’t how librarians do things, which was an unexpected angle. I know that he’s an outsider so I found myself curious how much some of the language and choices came from this isn’t the best thing and this is how we’ve always done it and wishing to change that.

Also I wanted to speak to the idea of gamers and organization and experience since in another class we’re talking about online communities and gaming. As I read more literature about how games are studied, its clear to me that most of the games that people look at really aren’t what I do. I’ve played Dungeons and Dragons and in Larps and with other games systems and I currently roleplay on livejournal yet a great focus in studying is on World of Warcraft and video games. It worries me, because I think that researchers are restricting themselves and actually missing out on another world of games just one that’s not as obvious because its not so clear that look lots of money is being generated here. For example, most of the people that I roleplay with online are women and I ran a gaming group in college yet these studies seem to focus on male gamers. I worry that this idea that this focus on not seeing earned experience comes far more from perceptions of gamers from one type of gaming. Looking over this, I think this is something that I need to examine in more detail elsewhere.

I found Chris Harris quite useful in terms of ideas of how to evaluate technology and use it to your best advantage along with being willing to take the lead in terms of bringing tech to those who might be afraid of it. Its so important to be ahead of the curve and aware of what’s out there and balance it with also being willing to say, this tech isn’t the right choice.

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Making Management Work

My first thoughts on reading through the Sub notes is just how thoughtful and detailed they are and if I were starting out as a volunteer or just spending some time in the library that I would have a clear idea of what I need to do. It must have been a combination of easy for some things such as putting down already stated policies to difficult for trying to cover any issue that may arise but which is normal for your day to day so that the sub is prepared. I think this would be one of the hardest parts of hiring and training a new person or working with someone who already has an idea of what they do, figuring out responsibilities and what information and access they need to have. Since I’m sure there are things that are so routine that its easy to forget that someone else doesn’t know them.

The volunteer brochure is even clearer, I think having the examples for shelving is quite useful, because it seems like the way a spine is read and where it goes can vary quite a lot. Though I find the tone of the two documents an interesting contrast because the volunteer one feels slightly more relaxed while the substitute one is more focused on policy and this is how we do things. Was this done on purpose or was it just an organic part of the two different audiences? Also I was curious how these documents interact wit the school’s policies and how much control is possible within your own library since it seems like that’s something that depends so much on the culture of your school and district.

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Making Technology Work

The free tech blog is fascinating, its wonderfully seeing all the different programs that teachers have found and are using and how they’re using them. I like that every post has the Applications for Education so that its easy to see exactly how to use a program and whether it will work for you or not.

On the other hand the NETS-T uses five clearly statements to help teachers figure out how to use technology the most effectively. I was most impressed by how the guidelines are clearly about using technology as a tool and not the end result in and of itself. So that good tech is useful, but for it to truly be useful within the school environment that it has to be within a thoughtful course that shows a student how to understand and think about how to best use technology. I can easily see how a teacher could take these and consider them as they were putting together a program since they provide useful guidelines and ideas within them.

I’ve found that the balance of using technology in my courses is made up of many different things and that I keep finding out that what I expect to be hard isn’t always. Since I’m comfortable using some forms of technology yet other forms seem to trip me up when I least expect it. One of the unusual challenges of the School of Information is that the range of expected techs and experiences is great and so what’s easy for one person isn’t simple to another. It seems like one of the trickiest and yet most critical things that someone who teaches using technology is understanding how best to evaluate student skills.

On the other hand the standards from the International Society for Technology in Education seem focused on maximizing every aspect of digital resources. The language that’s used seems to slightly obfuscate what they’re talking about and makes it a little trickier to understand exactly what they mean. Overall these standards actually seem like they would be quite effective as they speak to innovating and doing as much as possible with digital resources but they don’t seem to say how to accomplish this simply that it should be.

The challenge of how best to monitor and use digital resources seems like a highly important one in this day and age yet one with a great amount of challenges since its not always easy to know how best to make sure students really understand. Since the difference between knowing how to use tech and truly understanding how it works can be rather large. I know for myself personally this is where I seem to fall, because I can understand how to use some tech but not others. Thus I find myself thinking I know what I’m doing but when it comes time to adapt and try something else, I realize that I don’t know as much as I think. I think a lot of this is on me, because the best way to study and understand tech is to play around with it for things that there’s a feeling that you can mess around and be safe. I haven’t yet found the best way to do this for myself.

My thoughts on these readings ending up being more about myself than I quite meant to happen. I think taking a tech based foundation course and the various small projects that I’ve been doing have been showing me how much I really don’t know.

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The Problem with Boys’ Education-Beyond the Backlash-Book Review

Wordle: Boys' Education Issues
Boy’s Education

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