Pen’s TL Blog

Journey to the Centre of Teacher Librarianship

The beginning of the Pathfinder mission September 24, 2009

Filed under: Teacher Librarianship — penszen @ 9:27 pm

Today was the beginning of my pathfinder mission. Not the journey – that started earlier in the semester when I first discovered what a pathfinder was and checked some out on the web. A pathfinder is a guide for students (or any learner) on a particular topic, which covers key words and information literacy skills and suggests both print and digital resources. What a great concept! How have I never seen these before either in my role as a teacher or as a (fake) teacher librarian? James Herring writes more about pathfinders in his blog this week.

Anyway, as my understanding grew, I felt ready to tackle creating my own. I’ve signed up with PBworks and had a little look around. I think I’ll look at Wikispaces just in case, but I’m keeping in mind our lecturer’s advice to focus on the content, not the fanciness of the layout and design of the site.

So today I visited the library at the school where I used to work with a plan to “do” the print resources section of my pathfinder. I am interested in the Solar System topic undertaken by Year 4 at the school, and my own four year old is heavily into space, so we can all win here!

As the focus has been so heavily on the website part of the resource list, I was a bit blase about the print resources. Easy, I thought, good ol’ books, I can handle them. But after five minutes I recognised that of course they would take as much attention as the digital resources – the same evaluation as to their pertinence to the topic and suitability for the audience, the same reliability criteria to be met. And then, to write a five or six line annotation takes time and thought! It has to cover not just content but guide the student in their use of information literacy skills. Yikes, I think I need to block out some more time and get busy!


Focusing on the needs of library users September 19, 2009

Filed under: Libraries,Ramblings,Role of TL — penszen @ 1:46 pm

Topics 5 and 6 have been meaty and provocative, asking me to really define what I think a library does, how far its services extend and how best to offer them. The message that keeps popping up for me is that the focus must remain on the users and their needs. I remember in ETL401 being reminded that it is not “our” library, it is the users’ library, and as I had been nurturing a little fantasy about getting “my own” library one day, I had to take stock. I’m a community minded person by nature so I don’t think I would fall into the trap of making the library how I want it, regardless of the school community and its needs, but it is good to be reminded. Complacency is always a danger.

In Topic 5, Tyckason’s (2003) article reported how for library users, the personal interaction with a librarian was more memorable than the actual information being sought. I agree wholeheartedly that we must not dehumanise the library service too much. As a public library user and a teacher librarian, I know that libraries are spaces that provide more than just books and information. They provide community for lonely people, meeting spots for friends, refuge for outcasts, free entertainment for families and warm comfort on cold days. Our local library has been closed for renovation all year and as a stay-at-home mum, I am sorely missing it, not just because we can’t change our books as frequently as we would like, but because our visits there are a sanity-saving part of our weekly routine.

At our nearest toy library (which is part of a regular library), they just opened up their brand spanking new circulation desk, with two self-service machines for checking your own books out. This is a great idea, but the librarian was so keen to show me how it worked, she overlooked the fact that I was juggling my baby, the baby bag, eight books, a DVD and two toys as well as keeping an eye on my four year old. On that day, I really just wanted a nice librarian to check my stuff out for me. She was so focused on the new technology she ignored the needs of the user.