Sunday, 28 February 2016

Photographic Tour of my Library

Yesterday my post was a "Photographic Tour of School Libraries" that I visited last year and today, as part of a photographic weekend bonanza, I'm going to show you my library!  This is actually the second 2016 EdBlogNZ Challenge, which is aimed at classroom teachers but I amend it to suit my profession.

This is the view from behind the circulation desk.  The desk is wide and long and if I could I would replace it with something more compact and accessible from both sides.  I managed to 'find' a second computer, which helps our senior classes get through the issues and returns process a lot faster.  Hidden from view in the far corner is a pile of cushions for students to use.  Teachers use the red chair to read books to their classes.  Picture books are on the right, fiction books, arranged by genre, are on the left.  Graphic novels, junior non-fiction and readers are on the far wall.

The best thing about the issues desk is that it has an overhang that a couple of small children can fit under.  This is not a small child, this is my tall 12-year-old son modelling for me before going to his school!

The 'Quick Picks' shelving on the right holds our early chapter books.  The bottom row and whole other side are organised by series, so students can quickly find their favourite books.  Behind this is our non-fiction area.  Currently some valuable shelving space on the far wall is covered by a TV that I use when I teach library skills.  In front of that is the OPAC, on another computer I managed to 'find' within the school.  Hopefully, if I have any money left over from our courtyard project, I will move the TV to a higher space above the shelving and use a couple of iPads for our OPACs. 

Tucked away in the far right of the non-fiction section is a cosy spot for students to sit.  In the far left is another pile of cushions and bean bags.

This is my outdoor courtyard area which has been enclosed with a plastic screen this month to weatherproof it.  The birds were also getting in and leaving their mark on the concrete, making it a less than appealing space to our students.  Given that the library is small for a school that by the end of the year has more than 800 students, I was keen to make full use of all the spaces available to me.  Fortunately I have a great Board of Trustees who approved funding to improve this area this year.

The tiered seating has been stained since this photo was taken and it will be covered in large cushions.  The other walls (in corrugated iron), and the glass doors, are in the process of being covered with a mural, which will extend round to the wood (it will have ivy painted on it).  Due to the painting in progress the area is currently out-of-bounds to students; I am so excited that we will soon have a new space to share with them.  I have lots of plans for it!

This is my office, which looks out into the library so I can keep an eye on what our classes are up to!  To be honest, this is the tidy version - I am usually fighting a losing battle with more paper that sits on my desk.

The other side of my office gets used by Esther, our awesome library assistant, for storage of books for processing.  I have put my library diploma and an award from SLANZA on the wall because people often don't believe that librarianship is a profession you can study for.  One way we can help change that attitude is to do little things like this.

I have read a number of studies showing that in any kind of library one of the most important things to patrons is seating.  I am pleased that we have such a big range of places for our students to sit.  At lunchtimes the library is usually full with students reading, using iPads and playing chess.  It is not the quiet libraries that I was brought up with but it does have a wonderful, vibrant buzz about it that makes students feel welcome.

Friday, 26 February 2016

Photographic Tour of School Libraries

Late last year I took part in a SLANZA Waikato/BOP tour of four amazing primary and intermediate school libraries in Auckland.  I'm going to share a few photos from each of the libraries with you.

First up was Fran Mes' library at Viscount School in Mangere.  Fran is the Director of Learning, Library and has been featured in an Excellence in Practice video by the National Library.  She teaches information literacy skills in the library and she shared this awesome House Hippo video as a way to show children that they can't believe everything they see on TV.  Fran is a strong believer in not having a library timetable. 

This is one of two pianos!

An amazing student-made mural

Train tracks, great for collaboration


Next up was Esther Casey's library at Stonefields School, one of two libraries she manages.  Stonefields opened in 2011 and has 'open modern learning environments'.  I love the way Esther encourages her student authors and uses her library's website as a way to share their work.  Esther's takeaway for us was to remember to link our library goals with the school charter.  

On my 'to do' list

A nice range of seating to choose from

Esther in front of her flag display

What a great way to build connections with parents

I love these little slices of history

After lunch we visited the Library/Makerspace at Sunnyhills Primary School.  We met Helen, the Teacher with Library Responsibility, who was based in the library.  Helen worked closely with classroom teachers and tied her 'making' activities, like Scratch, into the classroom programme.  Her Lego walls helped teach symmetry and spatial awareness.  She felt that using a 3D printer should be more about the process than the product.  She had students make their designs in Lego first, before going on to use the 3D printer.

Tote trays contain supplies and are also used to store partially completed student work

The table on the left was set up with MaKey MaKey

3D Printer (bought from Office Max)

Lego Walls

Our final visit was the spectacular Somerville Intermediate.  It was built in the days when they gave libraries a decent amount of floor space, there were a lot of jealous librarians!  I got a shock when I recognised Annemarie, the librarian, who went to the same college as me!  Annemarie has different activities on each day - Cozy Corners, Kids' Lit Quiz Team, School Newspaper, Book Club and Groovy Game Day.

Annemarie in front of a list of her library activities

Love this advertising

A foreign language collection

Plenty of games

An OPAC on an iPad

There were two TVs outside showing slideshows

One bonus photo just to show you the amazing "street" that the architects designed for Somerville Intermediate.  The classes and the library line up on each side of the street.

Saturday, 6 February 2016

The Pros and Cons of Moderating a Slow Twitter Chat

This week I moderated our first #LibChatNZ slow Twitter chat.  After reading this blog post I asked Craig Kemp for some more information.

We decided it was worth giving it a go, and here's what I thought about it:


  • The format allows for a considered response to be posted at the most convenient time for the participant.
  • The speed of the chat is more user-friendly for new Twitter users, as opposed to the high-speed one hour chat version.
  • There is enough time to consider all the responses and reply to most of them.  A conversation about a particular comment can take as long as required and not feel rushed by the fact that a new question has just been asked.
  • It allows for an extended consideration of one question.

  • It is hard for participants to remember to contribute every day for a week, but if you are constantly reminding people that it's on it feels like you're nagging!
  • You lose the momentum that comes from having everyone contributing at the same time.  People can post when no-one else is online so opportunities for conversation can be missed.
  • Moderating takes a whole week!
  • The questions used need to be meaty enough to generate a whole day's discussion.  This takes out the smaller, introductory questions that you might use to build up momentum with a traditional Twitter chat.

Our chat this week was also badly timed as it was the first week back to school for many of us.  That makes it hard to know whether it was the timing or the format that reduced the amount of participants...probably both!  

If you are moderating a smaller slow chat I would recommend using and adapting a recipe that allows you to get sent an email every time that someone uses your hashtag.  I hadn't used the site before but it was relatively easy to do.  And you can turn it off once you are finished.

I think that a slow chat might work nicely if you are trying to gather information and not necessarily needing to chat as much.  Or, if you have a large amount of participants who are going to be regularly contributing over the course of the week.  Otherwise, I prefer a traditional one hour chat where you can interact immediately with others and it feels more vibrant and energetic.

Have you taken part in a slow chat?  What did you think about it?