Venn Librarian

Reflections about the intersection of schools, libraries and technology.

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Minor Musings

Posted by lpearle on 28 July 2017

Summer is a great time to binge watch while digitally organizing/reorganizing/decluttering, isn’t it? So here’s what I’ve bookmarked and saved over the past few months.

Books, Reading, etc.

School Life

Tech Stuff

Miscellany

Posted in Books, Collection Development, Links, Privacy, School Libraries, Student stuff, Techno Geekiness, Work Stuff | Leave a Comment »

July…

Posted by lpearle on 27 July 2017

From PhD Comics:

 

Posted in Work Stuff | Leave a Comment »

The Very Overdue #AISLNO17 Post (part 3)

Posted by lpearle on 27 June 2017

My goal: to blog all the PD I’ve done this year before the academic year ends. In eight five four days. Get ready!

****

Day Two: E-Books

The best presentation advice: start on time, end early, feed participants.

This is an area we explored gently over the past few years (both at Milton and Porter’s) and haven’t gotten much buy-in for, so I was interested to see what other schools were/are doing.  There’s so much to think about, and as one person said, we need to suck it up: things are evolving (as they did from film to VHS to DVD to streaming).  Here’s my question/problem: my students, based on a survey I did at Porter’s that got a 33% response, prefer print for fiction.  Why?  Because it’s an escape from the screen, providing a more immersive/less interrupted experience.  So… there’s that.  I might do a survey of Milton’s students and faculty, particularly as Overdrive is pushing a consortium for the local independent schools.  The Massachusetts ebook program is difficult, particularly since it only allows for one book/reader!

We agreed that there are So.Many.Platforms. ABC-CLIO, Amazon (might need to circulate Kindles), Destiny Discover (which only works with Destiny, so that’s out), EBSCO, GVRL, OUP and Salem Press for NF; Overdrive, Axis360 are for Fic.  The big question is how do you support all of them, including train people in their use because it’s not “one size fits all” for platforms!  Promoting them is also an issue, because discovery isn’t as obvious as it is for print (you can’t easily browse a shelf) you need to add MARC records to the catalog.  Another way to promote is to put links everywhere, in all Resource Guides, on pamphlets, etc. You could also let students know that Snapchat reads QR codes and include those codes in book displays or on the inside cover of a reference book.

Day Two: Personal Librarian Program (CD McLean and Katie Archambault)

Another “we need to try this at MPOW” idea, which may or may not work given our size population.  But still… They got the idea after reading The Personal Librarian (there’s also this one), which further enhances the idea of library as “third space” (see a theme?  Doug and Claudette both talked about this!).  It’s important to get Admissions, Communications and the Dean of Students on board before starting, particularly since you can start talking about the program on revisit days.

Other ideas?  Create a “what is a personal librarian?” video and “get to know your librarian” videos… Tasty Tuesdays (send a surprise gift of treats to a random class)… send emails to all incoming students, detailing how the program works and connecting it to the work they’ll be doing.  CD sends a letter, a follow-up letter, is a presence during orientation retreats and promotes library tours by “their” librarian.  Make sure the program is seen as two-fold, promoting reading and research.  Asking teachers if you can embed is great – digital embedding means you can drop resources into the class page (be it WhippleHill, GClassroom, Schoology, Moodle, or whatever your school uses), pushing databases, print books and critical websites.  Encourage 1:1 consultations with both faculty and students, adding a link to your sig. file for setting up an appointment.  What about YouTube videos personalizing the experience?  New Book lunches?  Having students sign up for Reading Recommendation and then do video/email outreach.  Constantly promote services and resources.

We were reminded that it’s important to do an annual debrief, to collect statistics and to keep up with alumni.  Equally important is that we don’t have to do it all: the same program doesn’t need to exist for 9, 10, 11 and 12th grade!  You can push heavily into 9th, less in 10th and 11th, and they’ll still remember to come in in 12th.

Another way to be personal?  Get college matriculation information and create a presentation highlighting the college libraries to students (eg, “If you’re going to Bates, you’ll find….”).  Do outreach to those librarians so your students are known.  (kudos to Elizabeth Nelson for this!)

Day Two: Booktalking

This is so easy to do with LS/MS students, but US?  Sigh.  So here are some great ideas we’re going to try in AY18 to try to get our overworked, overscheduled, overstressed students to read more fiction:

Whew!  One conference down… two (NEAISL and ACRLNE) to go…

 

Posted in Books, Collection Development, Conferences, School Libraries, Techno Geekiness | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

The Very Overdue #AISLNO17 Post (part 2)

Posted by lpearle on 26 June 2017

My goal: to blog all the PD I’ve done this year before the academic year ends.  In eight five days.  Get ready!

****

Day One: What Keeps Me Up At Night (Courtney Lewis)

Courtney started by talking about some of the things that keep us all up at night:

  • faculty still referring to their experiences doing research, ignoring changes that have taken place since (and insisting students do it the way they did research “back when”)
  • budgets
  • what is the mission of the library, and does it mesh with the school’s mission?

She’s started to also think about other things, like discovery (how do students and teachers find our resources), tools and what students really need, as opposed to what we think or are told they need.  To find out, she reached out to the First Year Experience librarians at the schools her students matriculated at most, using a personalized letter with a link to a survey; she also posted it on the ACRL list.  There were many responses and as of March, she was still getting data.  No surprise: selectivity in schools matters, particularly in this regard (“selectivity” as defined by US News & World Report and Barrons).

I’m not going to go into the nitty-gritty of her results, but it was interesting to see how we, at a relatively selective independent school, align already with some of the results at the lower, less selective level.  The question I have to ask myself (and my staff) is how high up we want to reach, and can we differentiate between what we do with our Middle Schools students, our 9/10 graders and 11/12 graders? One big complaint – or, perhaps more accurately, concern – was that students don’t always come with the level of ability that FYE librarians/teachers need for them to have, which (IMVHO) is a result of not being able to mandate specific learning and skills for all high school students, in all high schools.  We run into this challenge with our Upper School students entering from schools other than our Middle School, so why should college be any different?

The biggest thread was that students need better understandings of what resources are useful for what types of information retrieval, to be able to transfer skills from one thing to another.  The idea that you are part of a community of learners, sharing knowledge and resources, is more critical than knowing exactly how to use a specific citation generator or style.

She learned that students will be asked to create traditional research papers (number one response), visual presentations (number two) and DIY science experiments (number three). BUT: the traditional paper, while still the top response, was favored by older professors (see about re: referring back to your own experience) and younger professors were asking for more digital types of responses (blogs, videos, etc.).  There is a critical need to make these types of products part of our curriculum!  Again and again, she heard that the end goal of all research was to make students part of the global community of scholars.  What can we, in K-12, do to ensure our students start on that path?

The other things she learned?

  • format is invisible to students (the UVA Source Death exercise, for example)
  • students need to know what librarians do and how to ask (corollary: they need to know that not everyone working in an academy library is a librarian, or does reference!)
  • skilled searching
  • how to create a topic
  • what the community of scholars is
  • how do you pace yourself when writing a paper (5 pages is different than 20 pages)
  • oral presentation with visual aids skills (don’t silo things)

Next?  She’s looking at a larger sample size, plus cross-referencing with NSSE/BCSSE/FSSE data (they have great research questions), using the data to make smart budgetary choices.  Bigger challenge: changing faculty and students from a local to a global mindset.

As I sat there, I wondered how we can do similar work at Milton.  There are schools around the country wondering that as well.  Maybe we team up and tackle this as a group?  And how can I get local buy in on changing some of how we do research and teach research skills so we know our students are better prepared for their FYE than the average student?

Day Two: Building Community (Claudette Hovasse)

For the past few years I’ve been in awe of what Claudette’s built at Cheshire and tried to think of ways to replicate it at my school.  At Porter’s we were working on it, with some success; at Milton, we need a more concentrated effort.   So, what’s she doing that’s so great?  well…

Example one: she started with a station to create a card for Faculty Appreciation that has grown into cards for Valentines, Thank Yous, Mother’s Day, etc.

Example two: Zentangle (purposeful doodling), book folding, trivia nights, games, stamping, candy sushi, cupcake decorating, pumpkin decorating, vision boards, Lego Nights, coloring book table, comic book artist, bingo, Banned Books Scavenger Hunt.

How is she doing it?  By “starting with Yes“, which has led to program and space changes.  By starting with “what if…” – students felt ownership of the space and program? what are local libraries doing (take classes and crib)?  It stemmed from a desire to build bridges between day/boarding, American/International students and has grown!  Even non CA students come to some events.  She promotes them with signs, in the parent weekly email (and has found that parents push students to attend, which helps build community and leads to greater visibility for what the library is doing).

Some final thoughts:

  • work with what you have – staffing, furnishings, facilities/maintenance, etc.  It doesn’t have to be fancy!
  • puzzles on casual tables have led to new friendships
  • when I started saying “yes” it changed how I saw myself and how the students see [the librarians]

Day One: Design Thinking (many, including yours truly!)

This was an opportunity to report and reflect on the AISL Summer Institute I attended, so here are a few bullet points:

  • Design Thinking is not a magic bullet, it really needs thought and planning (ie. it’s just another tool in the toolbox) – it is a way to give and get better feedback that is more constructive and is very collaborative
  • You don’t need to use DT language, you can create language that works for your school and your population
  • Empathy is the end product, woven throughout the project.  It is not a step.
  • What you’re really asking is not “what do you need” but “what’s missing”

I’m currently taking a Space Planning class that is using DT methodology.  Not because I need it, but as an attempt to get my staff to learn more about DT as we plan for the future of our space and program.  More on that when it’s all over.

Posted in Conferences, School Libraries, Student stuff | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

The Very Overdue #AISLNO17 Post (part 1)

Posted by lpearle on 23 June 2017

My goal: to blog all the PD I’ve done this year before the academic year ends.  In eight days.  Get ready!

****

I haven’t attended AISL in 16 years, since their 2001 Library Space Odyssey for a variety of reasons (schedule conflicted with school research season, sessions didn’t really apply, etc.) but 2017 in New Orleans during Spring Break (link goes to the conference guide and many speaker handouts/presentations)?  Ok, that works!

Keynote: Doug Johnson (handouts)

Doug spoke about facilities and changes, a topic near and dear to me.  After all, last summer and this we made/are making minor changes to the library and bigger things are in store.  He started with a video of the Songtext song. And then posed the following question: what does my library offer that gets patrons out of their robes/recliner? In other words, in an era when information and books can be obtained by simply looking at a screen, why go to the library?  why get dressed and go out, rather than Google?  What if instead of having a circ desk, we had a genius bar (at Milton, that would mean bringing IT and ATS into our space, at our desk – not a bad idea at all!).  Learning corners might allow tutors to work with students better.  In other words: make the space a one-stop shop with zones.

We’ve been talking a lot about the library as “third space”, where social learning takes place in space that is comfortable and relaxed.  When students are asked what they want, they want casual groupings, zones (quiet, social, etc.) and tables vs. chairs/carrels.  But for so many, the layout makes things difficult to effectively zone.  So what if we “zoned” by time?  During the academic day, silent or very quiet, then noisier after hours? What if we allowed students to move tables and chairs around, to create their own groupings?  It’s critical to remember that one style does not fit all, physically or culturally.   (aside: NCSU’s Hunt library redesign offers many different spaces and furnishings for students to chose from)

He also reminded us that rules should be friendly, more Do than Don’t.  Example?  DO use your cell to read, work on an assignment, play a game, etc. DON’T use your cell to have a conversation.

So, what’s stopping us?  What more?  Here’s a partial list to think about:

  • more adults in a space are better (aka passive supervision)
  • rebrand as an “one space” area
  • computer lab spaces are now obsolete thanks to 1:1 programs but we still need high-end spaces for editing, podcasting, etc.
  • consider a “make it” space not just a “maker” space (not all high-tech – knitting, cards, origami, etc.)
  • consider a presentation space, where students can practice their skills before presenting to a class

Having said all that, we are still a teaching space.  Perhaps provide tech tools for teachers to use and practice with before working with a class.

It’s critical to remember that the internet is not a librarian!  It doesn’t have the expertise, skills and knowledge we do, but students and teachers don’t always know that.  Solution?  Get rid of the Library Office (and Ft. Reference Desk) and be where the students are, at point of need.   It’s far less important to worry about things like DDC and overdues/fines, inventory, etc.  The focus must be on the kids.

Posted in Conferences, School Libraries | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

No Fire This Time

Posted by lpearle on 14 June 2017

It’s been a long, grueling semester (made worse by my ongoing eye issues – don’t ask) and now that we’re nearly done I can finally take time to think about past PD and look forward to next year’s opportunities.

About a month ago, I got an email from the Head of Upper School asking for a meeting.  He’d email me with a topic later.  You all know what that means, right?  G.U.L.P.  We’re being downsized… the letter of agreement for next year was a mistake and I wasn’t being invited back… someone had filed a complaint against me… G.U.L.P.  And, even better, it took 10 days before we actually met.  Best yet, when I got to the meeting, our Chief Financial and Operations Officer was in the room.  G.U.L.P.

Over the past two decades (give or take) and in four schools I’ve accomplished the re-envisioning of library collections and programs.  At one, we migrated from DDC to LC.  At another, I automated our catalog and determined that many copies included in the shelf list were, in fact, repurchases of older materials.  I’ve weeded literally tens of thousands of books, upgrading the resources to more up-to-date ones that tied into current curricula rather than supporting classes and areas of study that were taught long ago.

At Milton, that’s one of the reasons I was hired: an in-depth departmental review encouraged just such a weed/update.  The message was clear, the facility and the collection (not to mention our program) needed to be brought into the 21st century.

With the help of my staff, that’s what we’ve focused on over the past two years.  And, despite some grumbles, it’s worked.

So, why this meeting?  G.U.L.P.

For the past month, I’ve carried this secret with me and now I can reveal it publicly: given the departmental review and the school’s master plan, we’re moving the library.  It won’t be now, it won’t be for a few years, but starting next year we’re going to plan, fundraise and build a new library facility in an older building.  One that wasn’t built to essentially be the end of campus (currently this is the only building perpendicular to the road, with an entry on one side – built that way because it was where campus ended and who needed to have access on the other side?  since then, two buildings have been built beyond that point!).  One that isn’t a dressed concrete and plate glass, open plan space that encourages sound to travel up and down three stories and has no climate control.  One that meets the needs of the early 21st century school library and has the flexibility to continue to meet the school’s needs as “best practices” evolve due to changes in technology and pedagogy.

That’s what the meeting was about.  Not a reprimand, not bad news.  Instead, the school is reaffirming and strengthening its commitment to the library, its resources, staff and programming.  We’ll be in the middle of campus, close to the History and English Departments.  We’ll be a showcase and destination, not an afterthought.  And all this without a fire to force the issue.

Excuse me while I happy dance.

Posted in School Libraries | 1 Comment »

Semi-obligatory #AISLNO17 food post

Posted by lpearle on 25 March 2017

(note: some of the below was eaten by others, and unfortunately not all food photos got saved)

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Why is AASL going back to a middle school mindset?

Posted by lpearle on 24 March 2017

Ok, to be fair, it might have been a high school mindset when the Social Media Recognition Task Force came up with the Social Media Superstar program.

When I started seeing tweets and comments about it my first thoughts were that it was interesting that AASL, which has (IMVHO) spectacularly failed to use social media well, was recognizing “superstars” in the profession.  Who were these “superstars”?  So I followed the link to see the list.  Go ahead.  I’ll wait.

See how many familiar faces are on it?  Ok, so that’s one question answered: for the most part, “superstar” equals people we’ve known and have followed for years.

Then see how we’re supposed to get from “finalist” to “winner”?  Yes, it’s a popularity contest.  Like in middle school, how many Valentines will each finalist get?  Or maybe it’s more like the high school so-called superlatives – which of them has the Best Hair or is part of the Cutest Couple?  Seriously?????  THIS is how we recognize excellence: by asking which contestant gets the most/best “endorsements” from their peers?  I’m…. remarkably unsurprised and at the same time incredibly disappointed.

Instead, what if AASL had sought out newbies?  People 1-5 years (do tiers: 1-3, 3-7, 8-10 years) into their library professional lives who aren’t commonly known names?  People who are doing really interesting things that may have originally been suggested or modeled by others, but with a fresh twist?  People who are deserving of recognition by being potential new leaders in school librarianship.  And what if AASL didn’t make it a contest, but sought out private nominations and then the task force evaluated them, announcing “We recommend you follow/friend/pin/whatever” these people because we see great things here and you need to see them, too?  What if they weren’t names we already knew, but were exciting new discoveries?  Not the over-hype of being a Mover & Shaker, but the recognition of being a fresh new voice?

I write this as someone who knows and counts as friends several of the contestants.  And as someone who got the semi-embarassed email saying, “As some of you know I have been nominated for this aasl recognition. Apparently the way it works is folks leave comments in this post. If any of you are so inclined to leave some comments regarding my use of social media in the realm of librarianship, I’d certainly appreciate it!” I love this person’s work and would happily comment away, but the idea that people have to beg to get AASL’s imprimatur?  Oh hell no.  I just can’t.

Far be it from me to recommend a course of action, but perhaps a few “aren’t we all grown-ups here?  why make this a beauty/popularity contest?” comments – which will get stopped by their moderator queue but they’ll still have to read – will convince the task force to rethink their tactics for 2018.  Or even (a gal can dream) stop this year’s and declare it an amazing tie.

Posted in Professional organizations | Leave a Comment »

Minor Musings

Posted by lpearle on 20 March 2017

Winter hit.  More accurately, a winter cold hit.  And wouldn’t let go.  But luckily things are back to normal and I’m able to enjoy our Spring Break (two+ weeks in March, unlike public schools nearby that get a week in February and a week in April).  There’s the AISL conference in NOLA later this week and a Faculty Forum when we return – stay tuned for things learned from the amazing people at AISL as well as the library department’s Fake News presentation for my colleagues.  Until then…

Books, Reading, etc.

School Life

Tech Stuff

Miscellany

Posted in Books, Links, Privacy, School Libraries, Student stuff, Techno Geekiness, Work Stuff | Leave a Comment »

Bubble Bursting

Posted by lpearle on 16 February 2017

I could swear that I’ve blogged before about bubbles and how excited one of my graduate school professors was about how in the then-near future, we could drive across country listening to “our” radio station, rather than continually trying to find a station that played music we enjoyed.  It worried me then, this bubble, and it continues to worry me today.

A few weeks ago, one of my cousins and I were speaking and she was expressing sorrow and confusion that a friend of hers had said that they couldn’t be friends because my cousin had voted for Trump.  (perhaps I should mention that most of my family are Republicans, adhering to those oft-forgotten New England Republican ideas)  This past weekend I had dinner with another group of cousins and one of them said “[your father] is one of the smartest people I’ve ever met – how can he be a Democrat?”  Of course, my father would ask the same, in reverse, about this cousin.  Most of my cousins are appalled at what’s currently going on in Washington, and while they may have voted Republican in November, they are not fans – or supporters – of the current president.

My point being, not every Republican supported the presidential candidate.  Just as many Democrats didn’t support that party’s presidential candidate.  But… do we really know that?  understand that?  My first cousin’s friend feels – as so many others feel, and have expressed on Facebook/Twitter – that simply being Republican and voting that way means that you are evil and responsible for all the proposals being mooted now (eg., rolling back environmental protections, changing or repealing LGBTQ legislation and so much, much more)  Why would otherwise intelligent, nice people vote that way?

screenshot_2017-02-14-06-35-55.

It’s not a new observation, but the problem is that we live in increasingly narrow bubbles and echo chambers, relying on confirmation bias only rather than exploring the subject and making up our own minds.  With that in mind, I was interested to read Joyce Valenza’s column about Allsides.com. While I don’t pretend to understand their crowd-sourcing of “left”, “right” and “center” or agree with all their rankings, I do think that it’s interesting as a source of different viewpoints on a topic.  David Wee then started an email conversation about the use of this site (he’s doing great work teaching about “fake news”), and Tasha Bergson-Michelson recommended Burst Your Bubble.  The problem with the Guardian site is that it presupposes you’re liberal – where’s a similar site for conservatives?

At my school, there’s a definitely hostile attitude towards conservatives.  Some are upset that the school hasn’t officially come out against recent executive orders and policies, much less against the president.  What if, instead, we tried to understand why people voted the way they do, or the why they have the opinions they do about issues that don’t conform to our opinions?  I’ve read many articles recently trying to understand why people voted for Trump (here’s one) because I understand what was appealing about Clinton and Sanders.  Have you?  Do you assume that everyone you know feels the same way you do about issues and candidates?  Or do you know that there are some who don’t share those opinions, and do you try to understand what they’re thinking?

We have another year, perhaps, before the midterm election campaigns start up.  Trump 2020 is actually a thing.  What is your commitment to getting out of your bubble before then?

Posted in Musings, School Libraries, Uncategorized | 1 Comment »