I love the NEAISL conference. I love it even more when I’m not hosting, as I did in 2015 and 2016. For those who don’t know, it’s a 40-year-old conference that brings together independent school librarians in New England (and a few from NY). We meet and talk and learn together for one day and then disappear back to our respective schools until the next year. For some, it’s the only professional development during the year, so organizers take it seriously. This past year we went to Cheshire Academy.
Embedded Librarianship (panel discussion)
This is an idea I’ve been excited about for a few years now and sadly, because of changing jobs and changing staff, haven’t been able to really get into before but this year one of my goals is to create an action plan with the department and start to begin the work over AY18 and AY19. So here’s what we need to start thinking about as we move forward:
- ask questions of the department heads – what skills do you teach? how does the library fit in? (move from support to teaching)
- reinforce what’s being taught in classes, using ACRL/ISTE/AASL standards to support our involvement
- create a booking system for reference opportunities on the website, one that asks students to do some thinking rather than just posing a question
- work with a local academic library on a Day of Research
- try to get faculty to allow us to grade rough drafts for process, and be as tough as a college teacher would (it’s eye opening for teachers and students to see what’s really required) – one idea is to put all notes and bib in NoodleTools, but require a printed final draft so you can see the changes between the rough and final version
The big takeaway: teacher buy-in is critical, so we need to form a focus group with friendly – and unfriendly teachers!
Critical Media Literacy (Allison Butler)
What is it? It’s continued inquiry into the “behind the scenes” of ownership, production, audience and distribution of media – getting the broader picture because media does not occur in a vacuum.
One idea? Ask students to pull apart a fashion magazine to separate content from ads. Difficult, right? Thing is, we’re still consuming a lot of traditional media, just not in traditional ways: the audience is no longer well-known, so risk-taking is difficult (think: could Archie Bunker work today? maybe. audiences either were in on the joke or saw him as one of them, which might be the case again today).
It’s equally critical to look at what’s not there, which stories aren’t being told and why. What gets prioritized? who does that prioritization? Think: what’s on Fox vs MSNBC vs NPR vs Breitbart. Part of critical medial literacy is to critique power, not to be partisan.
Critical Media Literacy (panel discussion)
- We need to expand spaces for students to interact with the library
- Create “Calling BS” posters for all subjects, all topics (get all departments involved) – why stats, data, news, etc. are “BS”
- You probably will, at some point, retweet fake news – it’s ok. Learn from that failure how to better check sources and biases.
- Think about how we ask questions: if I can’t find get the information, is that my fault or is there deliberate obfuscation going on?
Critical media literacy isn’t bashing, it’s questioning.
The last panel was on Archives, which I’m sitting on for a while. That’s next summer’s Big Project, my third school archives reorganization. One of these years, I’ll get it right.
Can’t wait to learn with these people next year.