US Study Trip – AASL Conference Day 2

I spent this session in 4 different sessions, and also met some really interesting people for coffee.  Here’s  what I found out, and what I’m hoping to use back at my library.   This is more for personal reference, so apologies if it’s not particularly readable or entertaining!

Session 1 – Collaboration; the cornerstone of a successful Library/Technology/Classroom partnership by Lisa McTaggert and Ladonna Littlejohn.

I chose this session because I thought having a teacher and a librarian co-presenting would make for a really meaningful commentary on collaboration.  I thought this session was great – it was the perfect balance of principles/wider concepts and specific ideas for where to start.  I left feeling much more motivated to get proactive about collaboration with information literacy teaching, and also accepting of the fact that I can best achieve change through a gradual process

Taken away

  • Come up with a 3 phase plan with specific goals for the first phase this year
  • Let SMT know what I have in mind and what I’m planning, but keep phase 1 very much at a grassroots level
  • Pick a few junior yeargroups/senior teachers to team teach with, and get Marivic (my assistant librarian) team teaching as well
  • Ensure I integrate tech (and if possible some ICT teachers) into this teaching, and generate impressive end products
  • Get hold of curriculum maps for yeargroups/departments, to see where we can offer something which will add to their work
  • Look at a range of info literacy approaches (eg. big 6) to see if any are appropriate
  • Come up with a menu of skills teaching for teachers to pick from – maybe a goal to use at least 1 in each half term period?

Session 2 – Reading as a window to the world by Chris Swerling and Patricia Karam

This was another great session.  I left it feeling that we’re already doing a lot of good stuff at our school, and with motivation and ideas to further improve.  The session involved theory, group discussion, and then specific ideas for how to promote these books to students and teachers.  I really like the Window and Mirrors analogy (originally created by Rudine Simms Bishop), and I’m already planning to use this in Senior Assembly during Fully Booked, our book week at school.

Taken away

  • Continue to prioritise Asian and Thai fiction / non-fiction
  • Prioritise these books in display
  • Another reason to expand Thai collection, as this is the only way to include South East asian characters in any bulk
  • Do staff training for the library team on why these titles are important, and how we can promote them further
  • Look through the activities mentioned and maybe use one in Reading Fun
  • Suggest the next Kid Lit book group meeting (Staff book group) takes Windows and Mirrors as their focus

Session 3 – Meet ASE, the Information Detective: Turning the Page on Information Literacy Instruction by Melissa Gross and Don Latham

This session was more lecture based, but I knew the presenters were both university faculty, so that was hardly surprising.  I found their ASE approach interesting, and liked its simplicity, but I also felt that it missed out a whole chunk of what we need to be teaching as librarians – it took students to where they had the information and had evaluated it, but it didn’t cover the process of putting that information into a report, or of referencing.  Whilst I don’t think I’d use this model of theirs, I did find the session overall very informative, and it was good to get the theory/research-based context for other more practical information about research skills

Taken away

  • Consider using this search term activity with students
  • Come up with an Advanced Google/truncation skills activity to offer to students

Session 4 – Breaking the barrier for ELL students, beginning a native language collection by Cathi Fuhrman

I was fairly familiar with most of the content that Cathi provided, but as this is something I’ve been working on independently in my school, it was reassuring to find out that I was doing most of what she was talking about, and therefore on the right path!  I thought that Cathi was possibly a little too complacent about using English titles in translation, rather than hunting for original titles – you cannot assume the quality of the book with either, andoriginal titles add far more to a library in terms of the multicultural settings and stories you have to offer.  In Thai, they are also more likely to be good quality, but I do not think thiat is necessarily the case in other languages.  I found Cathi’s advice on cataloguing these titles useful, and also took her recommendation on board about having non-fiction titles in native languages to support your school’s curriculum topics.

Taken away

  • Get up to date statistics on what languages are spoken by our school community, to find out if there are any other languages that we want to offer
  • Bring Thai authors up at next BLISS meeting, to find out favourite Thai authors at the different schools in the area so we have new ideas to develop this collection
  • Try and update cataloguing to include title in original language, and English title in Uniform Title field

 Coffee 1

I got to have lunch with Sydnye Cohen, who runs a Learning Commons at her school (Brookfield High School, Connecticut) with a high level of collaboration between teachers.  We talked about her approach to this at her school.  Sydnye talked about the importance of being a technology leader at your school, and also strong involvement in teacher training.   I’m going to try and get hold of David Lurcher’s book “The Learning Commons” to find out about the approach she’s taken in more detail.  I really liked Sydnye’s acronym CRAP to assess resources (Currency, Reliability, Authority, Perspective), and am looking forward to using this with our students.

Coffee 2

I met Laura Grigg during a session, and we went for a coffee afterwards.  Laura is one of the librarians at Lake Forest High School, a Grade 9-12 school in Chicago, and we talked about the different approaches and challenges of teaching information literacy.  Laura and her colleague do reading groups and other activities with teachers to strengthen relationships, and she said that really helps in encouraging teachers to come forward and collaborate in teaching.  Laura’s school also have Overdrive, so it was great to talk through how we’d each gone about promoting this.  Laura also provided a lot of information on her school website, and I’ll be going back to look at this in more detail.

What about Day 1?

(Incidentally, you might notice that there was no entry for Day 1.  That was because I didn’t really feel I had much to write about, so I’m glad that today has been much more positive!  I found the firsttimers session didn’t give me any useful information that I didn’t already know – and also, it would have been much nicer to not be sat down but to have spent the session moving around and talking to the other newbies!  Lastly, and I’m really sad to say this, but I found the opening session to be quite an anticlimax.  Given the whole 1 book 1 conference drive (which I think is a really great idea, with a good book choice – connected to our work but not library-focused) – surely Mr Carr should not be using this opening session to give a précis of the book that most of us had already read?  I appreciate that the session needed to be accessible to people who hadn’t read the book, but I feel like I didn’t learn anything new from it all.

Admittedly, I did find some useful stuff at the trade show, and the jet lag probably didn’t help with all this, but on the whole I’d found this day somewhat unfulfilling.  So I was really glad that I got so much more out of Day 2 J  )

So, in conclusion, I found my sessions (and my coffee) today really interesting and productive, met some fun new people, and have lots of ideas to take away.  Let’s see what I find out about tomorrow!

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US Study Trip “Meeting” 8 – Patricia Skelly, ONEIDA in Utica

This was different to the other meetings, as Patricia and I discussed ebooks over a phone call, rather than my going to visit her library.  This was because I’d realised shortly before that it would have been a 4 hour train ride to get there – NY is a bit bigger than I’d thought!

Patricia introduced Overdrive to her school district earlier in the year and has found it successful so far.  They are mainly prioritising it for 6th-12th grade students, and as they’re buying in a consortium they’ve been able to purchase about 1,000 books.  They have a few audiobooks, but find ebooks much more popular.  Whilst there are many languages spoken in the district, so far they’ve only bought English language books.  Patricia said that she found the limitations of the single-user model frustrating, and was tempted because of this to move to Follett or Marshall Cavendish subscriptions (though these are only to view in a browser window, and are mainly non-fiction).

In terms of marketing, Patricia said that staff had mainly gone to promoting it to teachers, and making sure the English department knew how it worked – she commented that students didn’t generally need any help with it, that they were happy to just go off and explore.

It was very useful to talk to another librarian using Overdrive, and these are the next steps for us to ensure as many of our students as possible know about it and are using it;

  • Continue to add stock, making sure age ranges, genres, etc. all catered to
  • Do a quick survey on studywiz to find out if there would be interest in Spanish or Mandarin ebooks
  • Arrange to go to an English department meeting and have a handful of ipads so that teachers can download an ebook and see how it works
  • Email Overdrive to get the Gutenberg books available on maximum access
  • Promote Overdrive through both print and online opportunities
I also made a quick visit to one of the main Barnes & Noble stores, to look at both their stock selection and layout.  I was reassured to see their stock – I recognised most of the titles so I seem to be staying up to date with newly published fiction.  I really liked how open and attractive the entrance space was, and then how there were far more titles provided upstairs.  I think this is a good example for us to follow – we need to make sure our entrances are super clean, friendly and eye-catching.


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USA Study Trip Meeting 7 – Rachel Payne, Brooklyn Public Libraries

Meeting 7 – 26.10.11, 1pm

Rachel Payne, Coordinator of children’s and family services at Brooklyn Public Libraries

Reasons for Meeting

  • Brooklyn Public Libraries do a lot of sessions for children and parents, including a bilingual Para los Niños/For the Children session


  • Rachel took me through the different family sessions they do.  These are for a variety of age levels, and the main goal is to get children into the library, and get parents into the habit of sharing books.  We talked about the Para los Niños session in more detail, as this had a different focus each week such as healthy living, etc, and including information for the parents as well as the children
  • We talked about ebooks.  Rachel thinks there’s a benefit from convenience, but children don’t really care about format, content is more important to them.  Rachel recommended looking at Bookflix and Trueflix, as something similar to Tumblebooks but for older children.  I also discussed ebooks with Rachel’s colleague, who said that a lot of teens had become enthusiastic users of Overdrive through seeing a librarian demonstrate it during a reading group session
  • Rachel’s colleague told me that Overdrive will add links to the Gutenberg ebooks for free if you ask them!
  • Research skills – Rachel used to be a teacher, and commented that children are not as net-savvy as we think, and credibility and ethical use of sources should be priorities in research skills teaching
  • We discussed different ways of getting parents involved in library services, either through sessions, groups such as “friends of the library”, or volunteering

Josie to take away

  • Have a look at Bookflix and Netflix, to see if worth starting a subscription
  • Start including some quick messages to parents during Storytimes – did you know that you can…. this book is really great to share with children because…. , etc, and suggest Koog does the same in Thai
  • Arrange to speak to SPA to see what they could do to promote the library – we don’t need money from them, but they could be great at raising awareness
  • Ask Catrin if I could do a quick Overdrive demonstration during Senior Reading Group one day
  • Email Ben at Overdrive to ask to get Gutenberg Ebooks added to our collection ASAP!
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