Friday, December 21, 2012

Myth #9 Post Survey - Library Time Should Be Part of the Rotation

I have been accused of being biased in the survey with which I opened this Mythbusting blogpost.  To some degree that is true, and it was done by design.  We are on a mission to prove or debunk a specific "myth" or mindset about library practices, so I did approach library scheduling from the angle of "Flexible Scheduling is Best".  Each time a myth is presented, I languish over the questions to put in the survey, and there has not been a single survey yet that I didn't think of additional or "better" questions after it was released.  Your answers never fail to lead me to a broader perspective, which is the general purpose of our Mythbusting.  All of our surveys seek to shed light on what is happening in the trenches and aim to open dialogs that enable us to learn from each other as we operate in less-than-ideal library settings.

That said, let's ponder the reality of Rotations and Flexible Scheduling...

Flexible Scheduling is the ideal.  This is the ideal I was taught to strive for since I first read Information Power and decided to enroll in library  school.  
"The library media program requires flexible and equitable access to information, ideas, and resources for learning." (American Association of School Librarians, 1998, 89).
Flexible Scheduling is the idea I was taught while working on my MLiS.  

Flexible Scheduling is the ideal within the Standards and Guidelines that I used to measure my libraries' success for the past 12 years. 
Library is flexibly scheduled and adequately staffed, and librarian provides at least 90% of point-of-need training for staff and students.  (School Library Programs: Standards and Guidelines for Texas, Standard 1, Principle 3C)

Flexible Scheduling is the ideal that National Board upholds.  

Specialists regularly involve others in discussing optimal facility use, and they understand the advantages of flexible scheduling, extended hours, and remote access to the library’s resources. 
They advocate for flexible scheduling and open access to resources and information to meet students’ learning needs as they arise. (Library Media Standards, 2012, 36, 47)

Flexible Scheduling is the ideal that International Bacalaureate promotes for its schools, stating in their standards and practices that libraries play a central part in the implementation of the programmes

Flexible Scheduling is the ideal.  And few of us are working in ideal settings.  

Perhaps you are held back from the ideal by staffing, space, administrative mindsets, student populations, or other factors.  Some of you replied it is difficult to advocate for flexible scheduling when providing conference time for teachers is what is saving your job.  It is difficult to provide flexible access when your library is barely large enough for one class... how can you accomodate independent users at the same time?  Or if you are the only staff member, how can you teach a class and assist other patrons simultaneously?  In many cases you can't.  But you can be flexible in your thinking.

Perhaps instead of Flexible Scheduling  it should be promoted as Flexible Access.  If you must be part of the rotation, is there any time beyond their regularly scheduled lesson that students can access the library to trade books?  It doesn't have to be all day everyday, but is there a time (before school, advisory, homeroom, lunch, after school) when the library is open to students?  

Perhaps, rather than Flexible Scheduling, we should think in terms of Flexible Teaching or Flexible Planning.  There is no law that states you must teach random lessons out of context just because you cannot attend planning meetings.  A few emails can clue you in to what is currently being taught in classrooms.  Start with one teacher.  Make the effort to build upon classroom curriculum even if it is only a one-way street right now.  Some teachers will recognize what you are doing and begin to make requests.  This is a good foundation.

What you said....

The last question asked for YOUR advice...

Be patient.  
These words were a good reminder for me.  In moving to a new school, I want to see change instantly and forget it takes time.  It takes time to establish trust.  It takes time to build relationships.  In my case, the primary teachers still prefer to come at regular times.  Fine.  I am meeting them where they are at right now, but I am also planting seeds for the future.  I have been able to open the flexible schedule door through informal conversations and "small-scale" flexibilities, inviting teachers to send their students in small groups if they need new books, canceling or rescheduling their library time without hard feelings when another classroom task demands that time, letting them know they can stay longer when the next period is free and students are happily reading, suggesting to primary students they send their students up to change books between weekly visits.  

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Power of Twitter

Do you tweet regularly? If so, is it for professional or personal use? I was amazed at the following site that literally shows you how quickly ONE MILLION TWEETS happen world wide.  In a world where time is of the essence, twitter makes it easy to learn and take notice.   Take a look at the POWER OF TWITTER.   Follow my partner and I at @annvega and @cindycrogers.

How long does it take to get to ONE MILLION TWEETS

And what exactly are people tweeting about?

What are good twitter practices?

5 1/2 Best Twitter Practices

Friday, December 7, 2012

App of the Week: YALSA's Teen Book Finder

This app has been on my list of must-share's for a few weeks... 

YALSA, the American Library Association's young adult division, 
has developed a book finder app just for teens.  

 Each day three titles are highlighted on the homescreen.

Books can be searched in the traditional means of Title and Author, 
as well as by Award, Genre, Booklist, and award/booklist Year.

And when teens find something they like, they can locate it at a nearby library by touching the Find It! button (powered by OCLC's World Cat Search). 

Add titles to a personal favorites list or share via Twitter and Facebook.

Available for iOS right now, the Android app is due out soon.

What are some of your favorite book apps?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Holiday Gift & Collaboration Idea

One of our middle school English teachers uses a teacher-designed reading program that encourages recreational reading in a variety of genres throughout the year.  Reporting is minimal and requirements are flexible to give students as much ownership as possible.  This teacher is new here this year, and although he has inherited the program from the existing teachers, he is taking it in exciting new directions that incorporate more library collaboration.

Once a month he brings his students to the library for book selection and silent reading time.  These visits have included library orientation and book talks, while future plans include book trailers. Students typically spend more than half of their time draped over the library furniture reading quietly.... just what we love to see!

For the reporting assignment in October, the teacher worked with me to ensure all students had and knew how to access their Destiny Quest accounts.  He then had them write online reviews, which I printed out in report form for his assessment purposes.

For the December library visit, he is collaborating with me to make it a holiday party.  He wanted to distribute awards and asked for my input, as he was looking for award ideas beyond just the "top" readers.  I suggested we tie them into the IB Learner Profile to reward a broader range of attitudes and attributes, an idea he embraced heartily and shared with his department.  

Snacks (normally taboo) are going to be allowed at this meeting in the Media Centre to add to the festive feel.  But what I am most excited about is the "gift exchange" he organized.  This English class will be giving "Secret Santa" gifts, but no purchasing is required.  As a parent I am thrilled I will not need to make a last minute run for some random item, nor will I be disposing of a useless trinket in a couple of weeks.  Instead of favorite foods, colors, and music, the Secret Santa slips this class filled out were about authors, titles, and genres.  Slips were exchanged and now students must SELECT A LIBRARY BOOK for their Secret Santa!
While collaborating, one of his concerns (and mine) was to whom should the book be checked out???  We could check it out to the giver... but what if the recipient loses it?  And if we check it out to the recipient, what happens if the giver forgets to bring it?  My contribution was to provide a gift wrap station in the library.  Once a book is selected, the giver may wrap and tag it, then leave it in the library until the party.  If the recipient decides to read it, they may check it out before they leave the library.

There are so many win-win's with this event.  In addition to all those mentioned above, I am having more one-on-one conversations with students, some of them are with those who may go all year without talking directly to library staff.  While they are confident and independent in their own reading selections, they are seeking advice for their gifts. Asking for help in a library sometimes takes practice!

I am eagerly awaiting next Friday.... feeling much like I did as a small child waiting for Santa!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

MYTH #9 - Library Time Should Be Part of the Rotation

Fixed, flex, or hybrid... this is constantly a hot topic.  

Point-of-need access battles against the need for conference time...

What is preventing you from having a flexible schedule?  You, your teachers, or the administration?

Please tell us a little about what is happening in your library.  The results will be posted next week, along with what the experts are saying.

Please feel free to leave additional comments below.  

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Apps of the Season

I have been absent for a while, which shall soon be explained, but I couldn't resist resuming my posts with an App of the Week, or in this case, Apps of the Season.

After having issues with syncing my work calendar and my iPad, I found myself browsing Calendar Apps, only to be amazed at offerings.... 
There are over 1,500 calendar apps to choose from...  
And you can track things I never would have dreamt to search....

You can track the moon, remember to pray, choose your baby's gender, clean your house, view a new photo each day, clean your house....

There are calendar apps for hunting and fishing

For tracking holidays and birthdays

For planting your veggies or counting down to baby

And (I can't believe my timing), 
a great number of Advent Calendars.... for young and old.

The two I selected to share are   
 Advent 2012 (for you)
Advent 2012 is giving away a free app a day for the next 25 days.  
I cannot advise on what you will receive, but I can note that I think it is a fun way to try a few new apps. has done this for few years, and reviews indicate you will find something worthwhile in the countdown.

The Christmas Card Advent Calendar (for children)
Story Mouse allows young learners to make and email cards 
featuring favorite storybook chracters.

Whether you are counting down to Christmas, or simply counting down to the next vacation, 
I wish you a very, Merry December.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Accessing your eBooks and Catalist Books through your Destiny Catalog

Follett Destiny is making it so easy to access your eBook content and audiobook content right through the catalog. You can easily set up accounts that allow students to bypass the confusing usernames and passwords. Watch how easy this all is.....

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Myth #8 - Libraries are Quiet Places

Libraries are activity centers,

collaborative work spaces,

technology centers.

Which is a beautiful thing.  
But teenagers often come with one volume: On

 What about those students who want a QUIET place to read or study, 
away from the collaborators, away from the shushing?  

At my new library we solved the dilemma by creating a silent zone. 
The former locker-room turned yearbook-room turned storage-room turned 
mini-computer-lab has been repurposed again...
The Literature Lounge, named by students through a contest, 
is a cozy place, just off the main library floor, to absorb a good book.  
Teachers have been seen in here, laptops on laps, hard at work.  
We have even had one parent, while waiting for her child, doze off.  

It works like a charm.  No shushing needed.

How do you approach noise in your library?
Have you repurposed a space this year?

Please share your ideas and/or links to photos.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Future of Librarians...

Watching this video made me wonder....

If this is what teachers are being charged to do, will ALL teachers soon be librarians?  

We have been teaching like this for years (or at least we should have been)...

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Twitter Tutorial

I am enrolled in an online Professional Development course... and as part of the course I have had to revisit Twitter.

Thankfully, they provided a link to this video on Twitter basics... And a link to frequently used Educational Hash Tags.   There is hope for me yet!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Twitter... Still not flying

It's been more than four months since I admitted I need remedial Twitter classes... and I still need them.

I recently found this graphic and find that I am stuck at Stage 2...

I am stuck at Stage 2 not because I ramble about the weather, lunch, and my favorite quotes, but because the tweets I receive are still gibberish to me.  Does Berlitz have an audio course for speaking Twitter?

I follow some great people:  Joyce Valenza, Maribel Castro, Karen Bonnano, Jennifer LaGarde, Teri Lesesne.  I respect what they have to say... I just prefer to read it somewhere else.

Anyone else out there prefer to learn from their PLN's via RSS blog feeds?
Any Twitter language shortcuts you can teach me?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Myth #7: Library Skills Take 15 Minutes to Master

When school resumes each year, one common request I receive is for an overview of the resources in the library.... "Maybe for the first or last 15 minutes of class."  These requests are not asking for a library orientation, rather a crash course in subscription databases.

Well, sure, I can do that.  Just like you can teach me World History in 15 minutes...  Explain calculus in 15 minutes...  Give me an overview of plant DNA in 15 minutes...  Unless your students are already proficient library users, familiar with when and how to use subscription databases, it will be a wasted 15 minutes.

I do my best to accomodate any and all teacher requests - even the 15 minute overview.  But, naturally, I do a little educating along the way.  I begin by asking questions... what is the teacher's objectives and goals?  Which resources would they like spotlighted?  With which resources are students already familiar?  Are students currently doing research?  About what?  If not, when will they begin their next project?  The best time to introducing resources is when the learning will be applied.

I much prefer to introduce one resource at a time when they are relevant to instruction.  Then provide time for students to use them, practice, ask questions, make mistakes, and get comfortable.

My goal is to communicate that a more effective approach is a frequent 15 minutes (or full class period) several times throughout the year, introducing individual resources that apply to and enhance what is currently being taught in the classroom.  It takes collaboration to make library resources an integral part of the classroom curriculum, not something you find some spare time to do.

Think of the last inservice you sat through where information you might need "someday" was thrown at you (i.e. staff handbook).  Do you remember where to find that information?  Do you even remember what was covered?  Probably not.  But if you ever have had an on-the-job injury or a possible situation involving harassment, I bet you can quote page numbers and paragraphs in the handbook.

Please, if you want to use library resources, give them the time that is due.  You can't even read a newspaper in 15 minutes.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

SURVEY RESULTS Myth #6 - Information Skills Can Wait 'til College

This follow up post has been a long time coming.  Since the query went out in June, I have had a number of personal circumstances that kept me from the blog... not to mention it was summer vacation!

Over the past two months, I did sit down to post the results, but I felt the data was slanted with most responses from those of us in the field.  I decided to wait until school resumed to seek additional input.

I am not back at school, begging students to take the survey, and the numbers have not jumped significantly.  College students would probably be the best target, but it is time to lay this myth to rest and move on.

Here is a summary of the responses I received:

What is your age?
What is your sex?
Please indicate your highest level of education
K-12 Student00%
High School/GED22%
Some College76%
Associate Degree43%
Bachelor Degree1614%
Master's Degree8471%
Doctoral Degree22%
Professional Degree33%
What is your field of work?
Education - paraprofessional1311%
Education - professional8673%
Education - administration22%
Health Care00%
How comfortable do you feel searching for a book in the library catalog and then finding it on the shelves without assistance?
Not comfortable - somebody please help
Piece of cake!
How comfortable do you feel searching for and finding an appropriate online source of information?
I take the top item returned... or just guess
I know how to evaluate websites for reliability

How comfortable do you feel when looking for a periodical or journal article using a full-reference database?
A what???
No problem!
1 -
A what???
9 -
No problem!
At what age were you first taught to navigate a library?
Early Elementary School (K-2)4236%
Upper Elementary School (3-5)3530%
Middle School/Jr. High (6-8)108%
High School (9-12)108%
College Freshmen54%
College - after first year00%
Graduate school11%
I was never formally taught - I figured it out myself1513%
At what age were you taught to use online resources (web evaulation, databases, etc.)?
Early Elementary (K-2)33%
Upper Elementary (3-5)33%
Middle School/Jr. High (6-8)54%
High School (9-12)43%
College Freshman43%
College - after first year108%
Graduate school4034%
I was never formally taught. I figured it out myself.4942%
Do you think you learned at the optimal, appropriate age?
No, I wish I had been taught earlier5849%
No, I think it could have waited until I was older00%
At what age do you think students should be taught to use a library and its resources (print & online)?

Who should teach a student how/where to locate and evaluate information?

People may select more than one checkbox, so percentages may add up to more than 100%.