Monday, June 1, 2009

Ross Todd

What a privilege to be here, seeing and hearing some of the top people in our field. I used Dr. Todd's paper “Evidence-Based Practice: Difference, Intervention and Transformation” to support one of my masters papers. I remember moving from confusion/overwhelm to clarity as a result of that reading. Now I am in the presence, and he's not only clear and bright, he's hysterically funny, too! (How did librarians get that serious, controlling rap? Joe Janes was hilarious also.)

His session was titled, "How to be Constructive with Web 2.0: Powering up Minds, not just Machines." Web 2.0 is sometimes referred to as the interactive web, but Russ' point is that it is not just about participation, it's about generation - creating new understandings in community.

He took issue with Joe Jane's notion that libraries are about place, stuff, support, interaction and values. The school library is the school's physical and virtual learning commons where inquiry, thinking, imagination, discovery and creativity are central to the information-to-knowledge journey, and to the personal, social and cultural growth of students.

He challenged teacher-librarians to move past helping kids to find stuff, and to get them to engage with the stuff they find in order to create deep learning. To do so, we need to keep our focus on a set of intellectual competencies:
  1. Thinking - creative, critical, metacognitive processes. Learning happens in the head, not on the web.
  2. Using language, symbols and text. Making meaning with the codes
  3. Relating to others - listening, recognizing and respecting points of view, negotiating, sharing ideas
  4. Participating and contributing
  5. Technical mastery
  6. Self management - self-motivation, developing a can-do attitude, ethics, safety.
The central message was that regardless of the tools you use, be they stone tables or net books, the important thing is not the technology, it's what we do with it. Make sure you create tasks that require critical, analytical and/or synthetical responses.
Here are some of Todd's Faves:
  • Teach students how to set up RSS feeds, then have them gather information on a topical theme from a variety of sources and analyze the information for variance and bias.
  • Wordle can be used to help students discover the key concepts in a piece of text. Here are two word clouds made by dumping the text of two speeches into Wordle. Guess which one belongs to Obama and which to Cheney.

My favourite quote of the conference came from this session. "Do not be an accomplice to mediocrity!"

CASL Awards

There were only about 15 members at tonight's CASL awards, but just before we started, Jocelyne Dion's family arrived, including her 94-year-old mother, and doubled our numbers. Michele spoke beautifully and looked even better.

Ask Michele to tell you the "four character password" story the next time you see her!

I managed not to embarrass us when I got up to the mic, even though I hadn't been aware that I needed to give an acceptance speech for the Angela Thacker Memorial Award. The words came, and people seemed satisfied.

Rick Winterbottom of Follett presented Michele with the Teacher-librarian of the Year Award after having made a beautiful and personal speech about the value of school libraries.

We were both very proud to be from BC, the province that won two of the
three awards.

Afterward, Michele and I went out to a fun Mexican restaurant for dinner with Linsey Hammond, Judith Saltman of UBC's SLAIC faculty and a Calgary public librarian named Jean something. A good time was had by all.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

CASL Meeting

Oh God. Why are they meeting so early? Between the four-hour time change and over-stimulating days, I've been having trouble sleeping.

Here are the CASL-PAC reports

John Tooth on Copyright – conversations are going on with various ministers. Nothing terribly solid. Bill C61 died when the election was called. The next will probably not be high on the priorities of the new government.

Access Copyright wanted a tariff to be arrived at by the Copyright Board. Schools are well represented. A copying study was done. The new number is $2.43 per fte will be paid by Ministries/Boards to allow copying for educational purposes. Fair dealing is next on the agenda.

In Alberta, Calgary has hired 5 new t-ls. The are having problems getting trained t-ls. Can’t get into courses fast enough to be up to speed for September.

Saskatchewan is doing all right economically. Has gone to an online journal. There are problems with t-ls in rural areas. (There aren’t any). Wants CASL-PAC to help to avoid replication of effort.

Manitoba got their website up and developed a forum. Wants to remove the necessity of a password. In ordre to open things up a bit, “like BC”. Still does a print journal. Printed a brochure for advocacy. Has a presence on the provincial body regarding literacy with ICT. (There are 214 t-ls in the province, most of them in Winnipeg, but in that board there will be a t-l in every school at least half time in River East/Transcona.)75% of schools have that.

Liz Kerr spoke from the Education Institute with Carol Koechlin (what a thrill to meet her in person!)

The Education Institute is a continuing education program for all library workers. They provide audio, virtual, web conferences, etc on, for example RDA.

Alison Zmuda of The Competent Classroom and High Stakes High School fame will be keynote at the OSLA Super Conference February 24, 2010. She will do a Treasure Mountain session - whatever that is.

The CASL executive encouraged Liz and Carol to bring Ms. Zmuda to the CLA 2010 Conference in Edmonton. They will consider it.


Second study came out this year – Exemplary School Libraries in Ontario

Resources – second rollout, this time $10 mil.

Knowledge Ontario continues and now has some resources in French

Together for Learning will be out in time for the annual conference.

Spoke to the complexity of spending these monies effectively. For example, the original deadline was September 8!

Quebec doesn’t really have t-ls. They have techniciens en documentation.

High schools are staffed by anything from an MLIS to a technician to a clerk to a security officer. There was once even a nurse! Libraries are complementary services, and complementary services don’t require pedagogy.

They have money for books through the Plan d’action sur la lecture, they have spaces, but they have no staffing.

Quebec just announced the hiring of 20 teacher-librarians, but they will NOT be in schools, they’ll be co-ordinators.

New Brunswick

The representative knows that there are two t-ls in New Brunswick, but doesn’t know who or where they are.

Library Assistant time has been cut by 50%.

School libraries get $9/fte plus a clerical allocation (library assistants.) from the Ministry

NB is big on technology, but not on staffing.

P.E.I. is doing very well. They have a department of resource-based instruction in the ministry, a t-l is on every curriculum writing committee. Most schools have t-ls. They do not have clerical support.

Incoming president of the teachers’ federation is a t-l.

UPEI just graduated its first cohort in its Masters’ program.

They get $10/fte from the Ministry.

Eight school closures of schools fewer than 100, but no teacher cutbacks.

Nova Scotia and Newfoundland were not represented at the meeting.

Outgoing president Richard Baudry asked the Association to pay attention to succession issues. There are not enough SLAIS and MLIS graduates coming up to replace retirements in the public library sector. The prediction is that they will begin accepting combined degrees such as the MEd in teacher-librarianship offered by U of A and UPEI and even headhunt at schools. I said I doubted that teacher-librarians would be tempted by it since the compensation is so low. I suggested we focus instead on our own succession issues, and encourage all teacher-librarians to guide a few colleagues toward courses.

Exemplary School Libraries - a case study

This is Queen's University Associate Professors Elizabeth Lee and Don Klinger, and Gay Stephenson of People for Education.

Did you know there are no elementary t-ls in Eastern Ontario? Yikes!

This is a new Ontario case study (2009) that came out of the first Ontario quantitative study (2007).


  • Library staffing is linked to student achievement and literacy attitudes
  • There is a decline in library staffing


They did two detailed and six smaller case studies – interviews, observation, document analyses and student surveys.

Requirements for Success

  • Principal support
  • Effective partnerships with teachers
  • Teacher-librarians taking leadership roles, keeping the library central to learning and teaching
The researchers developed a four-level continuum of school library programs in several areas, such as:
  • Library’s role in school
  • T-ls role in school
  • Instruction

Limiting factors

  • Part time positions
  • Fixed scheduling
  • Prep coverage and basic library functions rather than instruction
  • Limited understanding of principal and teachers as to the role
  • Teacher resistance to change
  • Perception of collaboration increasing work load by classroom teachers

Qualities of a Good T-L

  • Determination
  • Perseverance
  • Agents of change
  • Seizing opportunities – seeing challenges as opportunities

No Level 4 programs could be found because they require an exemplary teacher-librarian and consistent systematic support. (Guaranteed funding and staffing.) That simply does not exist in Ontario.

Bottom line?

  • Strong teacher-librarians make a measurable difference
  • School libraries can only flourish and thrive with support from principals, boards and the Ministry of Education.

People for Education

  • Believe that public education is a fundamental good and is therefore something that we need to take care of.
  • They conduct and fund research. With the right information, people can affect policy
  • They provide parent support. Tip sheets on parent-teacher interviews etc
  • Communication
  • People for Education brings a parent voice to Ministry working tables to make sure every child has an equitable chance of success regardless of language, colour, culture or income.

Want to read the summary? Go to Exemplary School Libraries in Ontario at Follow the “Hot Links” button.

Don Klinger

Elizabeth Lee

Gay Stephenson

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Palais des Congrès

The Palais des Congrès is an absolutely beautiful place. This is most especially true when the sun shines. Take a look.

This is a shot of the floor catching light. I couldn't get my camera out fast enough, so I went right back up the escalator and back down again to get this shot.

School Library Information Portal

Linsey Hammond, editor of SLIP, did an overview of the portal. It was amazing to watch what she was able to accomplish, given that she had learned less than a week before her presentation that she would not have Internet access. Somehow she made it all work with dozens of screen shots. For those of you who are unfamiliar with SLIP, It is a goldmine of information on exemplary practices in Canadian school libraries.

Val does such a great job blogging, and I do not. Forgot my camera at the hotel this morning, so I didn't even get any shots to add to the blog once I get home - where, as you'll remember, I left my patch cord. Why to people keep telling me they think I'm "so organized"? I think I actually suffer from photo resistance - a hold-over from the old film is expensive days. This is the image of the new Seattle Central Library just used by our keynote speaker. Fabulous, no?

The keynote by Joseph Janes was really good. He spoke with humour and insight on what constitutes a library today. Nothing earth-shatteringly new, but here are some ideas I gleaned.

  1. When libraries create their own blogs, they are not often "hit". Librarians do better when they seek out other blogs - such as to the local parents' groups, community services, etc. - get familiar with their needs, and post to them when the library could be useful to them. (Did you know that if you have a school-aged child you have free at-home access to a bundle of databases? The Consumer Health database has lots of information that addresses your needs. See your child's teacher-librarian for access information."
  2. People generally like librarians and libraries. However, because it is an effort both to get there, and to leave, they tend to stay until they are satisfied that their task has been completed. This is not the case when they are looking for information online. If they can't find what they need from our online presence very quickly, Google or Amazon or Wikipedia are half a second away. Click. This means that our online presence needs to be even better than our physical presence.
  3. "Right now, someone is figuring out how to do what you do better, faster and cheaper." So what are you doing about that? (I believe we already see the end of school as we know it on the horizon. The factory model of buildings and timetables is giving way to distributed learning. Is your school library program adapting to that?)
Gotta run. Lunch is on in the exhibitors' hall!