Tuesday, December 11, 2007

CTAP Region IV Council meeting

I attended the CTAP IV Council meeting last Thursday (Dec. 6).

CTAP Region IV is part of the state-wide California Technology Assistance Program and has a representative group of folks from the Bay Area counties to help devise and review plans for projects the Region is working on. I've been on the Council for three years and it's been fun see all that CTAP IV does for counties, districts and schools in the Bay Area.

One program which they have begun pursuing recently is providing support for mentor teachers who support new teachers in the schools. There has been a dearth of attention paid to technology which is one of the areas that new teachers are supposed to be competent in. In many cases it's because their mentors just don't have the experience themselves and are not able to help new teachers as well as they'd like to.

CTAP IV has been working with the New Teacher Center in Santa Cruz to provide training for lead mentors with the expectation that they will take what they've learned back to their site mentors and they in turn will make using technology an everyday experience for new teachers.

The librarians and library supporters who are were there (including Jackie Siminitus and Linda Guitron) suggested that a link to Classroom Learning 2.0, which CTAP co-sponsors, be prominently featured on the CTAP IV Web site.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

A Visit to Montgomery High in Santa Rosa

Yesterday a few of us from Redwood went to Montgomery High School in Santa Rosa to see the International Baccalaureate program in action. Redwood has decided to apply to become an IB school and Montgomery High is the closest IB school to Marin County. IB, as the name implies, is a curriculum of internationally-focused education for the last two years of high school.

Nancy Neu, our principal, and Steve Butler, the district's assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, lead this second group from Redwood to visit Montgomery, which has had an IB program for at least ten years. Our group consisted of three math teachers, two English teachers, a social studies teacher and myself.

After hearing about the program in general and some of the local experiences from the director of the program at MHS, we discussed one of the signature courses of the program, the Theory of Knowledge class, with the current teacher and then met and chatted with several of the students in the program. All the experiences they reported were very positive. Both the kids and the teacher were enthusiastic about their support of IB.

The second half of the morning was spent by teachers visiting IB classes. I chose go to the library and interview the library media teacher, who I had never met before. Kate Farrell has been librarian at Montgomery for five years. One day a week she also serves as the librarian at two(!) elementary schools in the district. Kate is nearing retirement from a varied life in librarianship and the world of children's literature. She developed a very successful story-telling program in her earlier years and even worked at the state level giving story-telling workshops around the state. She was a librarian in the SFUSD for several years and while with the district served as a liaison with the SF Public Library.

She mentioned a couple things which I think we will have to consider if we decided to become an IB school. One is that in IB there are two history courses, both with a more international focus than what we may be used to. The first course, for juniors, is the history of the Americas and it requires more materials than most school libraries have on Latin America. The senior course has a world-wide focus and so requires more materials which consider the international implications of history.
The other requirement is strong support for fairly high-level research resources of all kinds. This need is generally met these days with online subscription databases. Montgomery students are fortunate in that they have access to the SF Public Library databases which are very rich and diverse.

In all, I thought the trip was very useful and it was my first taste of what Redwood students and staff will need to be provided by the library in order to succeed in this intriguing and potentially wonderful new educational program.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Lots Happening, Part II: Class at Dominican U.

This actually happened Tuesday of last week so it's a little out of order with the previous post.

Martha Allen, a former English teacher-extraordinaire at Redwood, has invited me for a few years to come a talk to her secondary curriculum class at Dominican University. This was the third time I've visited and been able to share my insights with would-be teachers.

There were about 15-20 students present for the class which is a good number for sharing and discussion. I was with the class for just about an hour. About half of the time was taken by my explaining just what a library media teacher is in California, the sad state of our libraries in general and what a good librarian can do for them in promoting and teaching information literacy and helping their kids learn and hone skills they will need their entire lives.

Many of the students had had experiences with librarians, both good and bad, and as always I stressed that most librarians are eager to help in whatever way they can. I emphasized that they really like to be part of the planning process so that the opportunities and challenges of any assignment can be discussed before the kids begin their projects.

We talked a bit about what kids are reading these days and I reassured them that we have a wide range of materials to support various reading levels and interests. We also discussed the concept of free reading which many teachers put restrictions on. I explained, and Martha concurred, that the best kind of free reading is really free, ala Stephen Krashen. His theory and practice is that whether students (children or adults) are reading comic books, magazines or the most ancient classics, it's the act of reading which is essential, not the content.

I really like the opportunity to share with folks who may not be very comfortable around librarians the chance to interact in a free-flowing sort of way, bring up challenges they have faced and see what kinds of solutions we can reach. It's too bad we don't have the time to do something similar at our school sites often enough.

Lots Happening, Part I: The TV Taping

Wednesday of last week I, along with two other Marin County librarians were interviewed by Marin County Superintendent of Schools, Mary Jane Burke, at the Comcast studios. The interviews were part of the up-coming Education Matters TV program to be aired in December.

Also present for the interviews were Dane Lancaster, director of technology for the county office of education, Jane Ritter, district librarian for the Mill Valley school district, and Lori Deibel, library director at the Branson School in Ross.

Never having participated in such an experience it was fun to see how it all happens. Comcast had already been to Redwood as well as to Strawberry Point Elementary School to tape activities in their library media centers. Two short pieces will show their students and teachers in action in the library.

Taping started with the program introduction and closing by Mary Jane. The five minute segment with second graders at Strawberry Point was aired so we could all see it. Then Jane and Dane were asked a series of questions by the superintendent. The time, just under nine minutes, went very quickly with the two defining information literacy and talking about how technology has changed the way we look at and use information starting in the youngest grades.

Next it was the high school librarians' turn. The segment filmed at our library was shown and Lori and I were interviewed in our turn. Questions focused on how high schools students are finding and using information in ever more sophisticated ways. The time was way too short and in the end we assured Mary Jane that we'd love to come back for a follow-up some time.

Look for more information as soon as we find out when the program is available online and on the air.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

California at the AASL 2007

Here's a picture John McGinnis, photographer extraordinaire, took at the conference following the first keynote speaker on Thursday, Oct. 25, 2007.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Comcast taping

Last week Comcast cable came to the Bessie Chin Library to film students and teachers using technology and other resources to access information for reports and projects.
The film crew was here for over four hours. They filmed Mr. Hettleman's Academic Workshop students looking for information about how to do videotaping for a play they had written and Mr. Brown and Ms. Kemp's Government classes presenting their Mock Senate following weeks of research developing the bills they were to discuss and vote on.

This project grew out of something which the Marin County school librarians have been working on for quite a while. We had developed a scope-and-sequence of information literacy skills for grades K-12 based on the California School Library Association's Standards and Guidelines for Strong School Libraries. Just recently a link to the scope and sequence was added to MCOE's home page and the COE decided it was time to publicize the resource and the work that library media teachers throughout the county are doing to teach information skills to all students in the county.

LMTs are going to offer some staff development training sessions through the COE next semester but in the meantime we are going to be featured in an episode of EducationMatters, the locally-produced program about education in Marin County. Part of the program will be what they filmed here at Redwood last Tuesday.

This coming Wednesday I will be going to the Comcast studio on Anderson Drive to be interviewed along with a couple other librarians and Mary Jane Burke, County Superintendent of Schools. I'll be able to report about the whole experience afterwards and will also be able to let you know when the program will be aired. The program will also be available online through video streaming.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Digital Ethnography

This video was brought to my attention by American Libraries Digital edition.

The blog posting is "A Vision of Students Today" and was developed for an Introduction to Cultural Anthropology class at Kansas State University. The website says that it was the product of "a working group of Kansas State University students and faculty dedicated to exploring and extending the possibilities of digital ethnography."
The instructor, Professor Michael Wesch, told the students: "the basic idea is to create a 3 minute video highlighting the most important characteristics of students today - how they learn, what they need to learn, their goals, hopes, dreams, what their lives will be like, and what kinds of changes they will experience in their lifetime."
The neat thing is that the students developed the "script" using online tools and then did the actual filming in a 75-minute class period. Might be a model for something similar at any level. And it would be fun (and instructive) to see what kids say and show about their learning methods and styles.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

AASL Reno, Part II

After a fairly long morning the conference began with a surprise at the First Timers Orientation. The first two hundred in line were provided with a free box lunch. It came in handy because, although I had a fairly late breakfast, I knew it would be a late dinner as well. The session was sponsored by Abdo Press, a children's imprint, and included tips from various members of the AASL Board and committees. They were all very good ant timely but I think the best one was "Wear comfortable shoes." This proved to be very true when the Exploratorium opened after the lunch and later after the exhibit hall opening following the keynote speaker. The picture shows folks waiting (productively) for the general session to begin.

The keynoter, as I mentioned in my previous post was Dan Pink, and even though I had listened to him on a DVD I purchased for the library, he was even better in person. Dan believes, and backs it up with evidence, that the world of work is changing and the best metaphor to explain the change is the right-brain/left-brain model. Because we are losing routine tasks to outsourcing and off-shoring (Asia), our ever-expanding need for novel consumer goods (Abundance), and the growth of automated processes (Automation) the skills and processes of the right-brain are becoming more important than the skills and processes mediated by the left-brain. Our educational institutions have traditionally emphasized left-brain (logical, analytical, sequential) skills to the neglect of right-brain (empathetic, integral, holistic) skills. Dan believes that since those skills tend to be ones which cannot be outsourced, provide the designs needed to continue producing novel and interesting goods and processes, and are not susceptible to automation, those are the skills which we should be developing in our students. He quoted approvingly an administrator from a school district in New Jersey who said: "We should be educating students for their future, and not our past."

Following the keynote address the attendees got the first copies of the new "Standards for the 21st Century Learner" which will replace the current Information Power standards adopted almost ten years ago. These new standards, which provide a framework for library media teaching and learning, will be discussed and implemented over the next months and years.

The exhibit hall opening was at 5:30 following the general session and Dan Pink was available to sign his book so I had him sign the copy I brought to the students and staff of Redwood High School. I visited the exhibits until almost 7:30 talking to folks who might be willing to exhibit next summer at the IASL Conference in Berkeley and I also talked with the vendor of a library automation program I had not heard of called Atriuum.

Tomorrow should also prove to be a long and productive day of concurrent sessions and exhibit visits.

AASL Conference in Reno, Part I

I'm sitting in my room at the Silver Legacy after breakfast as I type this post.
I arrived yesterday on the California Zephyr from Martinez. It was a very pleasant trip across California and I found I could actually enjoy the scenery as we headed up and across the Sierra Nevada which is a lot harder to do when you're driving.
On the train were two colleagues from San Mateo, Kris Cannon, the retired LMT from Mills High School and Judy Moomaugh, the county library coordinator. We had a great time sharing recent experiences and ideas which made the trip go all the more quickly.
The Conference officially starts today with a First Timers Orientation at 12:30 which I'll attend. There is a shuttle to the Convention Center which is about 3.5 miles south of downtown where we're staying. Later today I'll hear the conference keynoter, Dan Pink, the author of A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future. That is also the book which all conference attendees are supposed to have read. I actually cheated by watching a video presentation which Pink recorded last year just to get his basic ideas down. But I do have the book with me and will take notes and report back in a future post.
Also this afternoon I plan on checking in on the Exploratorium, an exhibit of "learning stations that exemplify best practices in school librarianship." And the exhibit hall will open this evening. It's the location where I'll be spending a lot of time over the next few days talking to vendors and picking free goodies.
I'm heading off now and will probably sign on again this evening with and update.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Ebooks: How to Get to Them, How to Use Them

As the information world becomes more and more digitized, having the right tools to access the rich resources out there in cyberspace becomes more and more important.

One of the more exciting trends for libraries is the digitization of books, which is proceeding, thanks to Google and other vendors and libraries, at a tremendous pace. Many of those which are available up to now are books which are out of copyright and are available as pdf or html versions online. But many more newer books which are in copyright are becoming accessible now as well--usually for a fee for individual titles or through a subscription database.

How has the Bessie Chin Library kept pace with this trend in publishing? The library has access to thousands of electronic books (ebooks) via its subscription databases. These include Gale’s Virtual Reference Library (28 titles like West’s Encyclopedia of American Law), the Oxford Reference Online Premium collection (236 titles like The Oxford Companion to the Photograph and The Oxford Companion to Italian Literature), QuestiaSchool (more than 30,000 books on all subjects, as well as journal and magazine articles).

Many more individual books have been cataloged and are accessible through the library OPAC (online catalog). When you see a link to ELEC. ACCESS in the catalog record you can click on the link to retrieve the electronic version of that title. You and your family can use these resources by going to the library’s home page <http://rhsweb.org/library> and logging in to the appropriate database or clicking on the “Catalog Home Access” link.

More ebooks are available to Marin County residents through MARINet, which makes ebooks available through its online catalog. A list of ebook collections available from MARINet is found on their Reference Databases page. <http://marinet.lib.ca.us/screens/ref_dbs.html>

These are full-text, full-image books in different formats, including pdf and MP3, without a limit on how much you can read, annotate, etc. Usually there is a limited time period during which you can access the books (14 days is typical). MARINet has subscriptions to books from the Digital Library Consortium, NetLibrary, Safari Tech Books and the Virtual Reference Library.

Outside of library portals finding full-text books online can be challenging. A recent posting on the Resource Shelf suggests knowing about and using more than one online book service. A person looking for full-text books has plenty to choose from. Just as you wouldn’t rely on only one web search engine for every search (would you?), try some different tools for finding books online.

Here are some examples.

· Amazon’s “Search Inside the Book” and MSN’s Live Book Search are two to consider. Often the a preview (the ability to “search inside”) is available on one service but not the other. Like other services, books that offer 100% of their content online (primarily titles where the copyright has expired, e.g. Baseball Notes for Coaches and Players, published in 1916) can often be downloaded as PDF files at no charge. <http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/browse/-/10197021/>

· <http://search.live.com/results.aspx?q=&scope=books>

· The Online Books Page is the place to begin for freely accessible full-text books online. There is a new listings page with hundreds of books listed weekly (including Gutenberg and Google Library Program titles) which you can subscribe to by RSS feed. <http://onlinebooks.library.upenn.edu/>

· Ebrary offers over 20,000 NEW full text books for free (pay only to print or copy, about twenty-five cents). <http://shop.ebrary.com/>

· The World Public Library offers more than 500,000 full text titles. <http://www.netlibrary.net/>

· The International Children’s Digital Library is a great site to find titles from across the globe written for children of all ages. <http://www.childrenslibrary.org/>

· The British Library provides a service called Turning the Pages which has digitized versions of interesting historical texts and uses the most recent technology to make them fun to read. <http://www.bl.uk/onlinegallery/ttp/ttpbooks.html>

· A number of full text collections are available from The Internet Archive.

· NetLibrary is a service that many public libraries offer at no charge, without having to visit the library. <http://netlibrary.com/Gateway.aspx>

· Finally, the Digital Book Index lists over 137,000 online books with nearly 100,000 available free. <http://www.digitalbookindex.org/about.htm>

As we continue with the project of completely digitizing the world I hope we won’t lose contact with the printed word. Printed books do have their advantages. And the printed book is still one of the greatest inventions of all time. For an interesting comparison of the two formats check out a blog entry by the digital book publisher, Phil Davis.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Banned Books Week, Sept. 29-Oct. 6

Banned Books Week is always fun and celebrates books which have been challenged or banned through history. Believe me, the list is long and includes such titles as the Bible, the Harry Potter books, and most of the major philosophers. The most challenged book of 2006 was a children's book called Tango Makes Three about two male penguins who parent an egg from a mixed-sex penguin couple (based on a true incident).

The library recently acquired a series called "Banned Books." It consists of four volumes titled Literature Suppressed on Religious Grounds, Literature Suppressed on Sexual Grounds, Literature Suppressed on Political Grounds, and Literature Suppressed on Social Grounds. It provides a comprehensive history of books which have for many different reasons been suppressed by the churches and society through the centuries.

There will be a display of challenged and banned books in the library during BBW. Come on by and take a look.

In the meantime to see a list of the most-challenged books of 2006 go to the ALA's BBW Web page. Or go to a page on how BBW is being celebrated at such online sites as Facebook, Teen Second Life, or MySpace.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

9th Grade Orientations Complete

After fifteen sessions of more than an hour each over the last three weeks, all the 9th graders (and a few non-9th graders) have been introduced to the library and it's resources. This the earliest we have been able to complete the orientations and I will admit it feels great.

The last class to be introduced to the library was Mr. McDaniel's Alpha class (World Cultures & Geography) and I have to give them a lot of credit because they were very attentive during the presentation which took place right after lunch. All the classes were very attentive and responsive which is important because there is, despite my having to talk a lot, a good deal of give and take during the presentation.

The presentation uses SpongeBob SquarePants and the denizens of Bikini Bottom to help get its points across. (My favorite is Gary, SpongeBob's loyal, meowing snail pet, who wants to be a librarian as revealed in "Sleepy Time" an episode in which SpongeBob enters various critter's dreams). It starts with basic library policies and rules, talks about physical resources of the library including books (fiction and non-fiction, circulating and reference), pamphlet file materials, audio book, textbooks, videos, maps, and periodicals. We discuss how to access those resources using Sequoyah, the library's catalog. I then demonstrate the library's web site with it's myriad of online resources. Particular attention is paid to two databases, Student Research Center, provided by EBSCOhost and CountryWatch, a geographical database. Both of these are subscription databases which require a user ID and password so we explore how to find those passwords online using the Redwood website. We also take a look at MARINet, the catalog for the Marin County libraries. We introduce the library staff as well.

I really enjoy doing the presentations each year and want to thank the World Cultures & Geography teachers, Claire Ernst, Nicolle Plescia, Jon Hirsch, Eric Berridge, and Jim McDaniel for getting their classes scheduled in so promptly and helping with the presentation and follow-up assignments. All the teachers gave credit to their students for their participation.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Welcome to All Redwood Parents

Welcome new parents and welcome back veteran parents.

The Bessie Chin Library would like especially to welcome parents new to the school community to take a close look at the library's Web site (http://rhsweb.org/library) which provides 24/7 access to many resources for you and your children. Even though you may not be able to come to the library during the school day, the online resources are always available. Starting with the library catalog (click on "Catalog Home Access") you will be able to peruse the rich resources of the Redwood library. The library has over 35,000 cataloged items, including books, magazines, websites, pamphlet files, videos, and audio books.

The library also subscribes to a rich collection of online resources which are accessed from the home page. Click on the link which says DATABASE PASSWORDS and enter the password when prompted. (Obtain the password from library staff or your kids). That will bring you to a page which has all of the user IDs and passwords listed.

The library's main magazine and newspaper database is provided by EBSCO, which also provides access to NoveList, Advanced Placement Source, TopicSearch, and professional educational journals. We subscribe to two online encyclopedias, Encyclopaedia Britannica Online Academic Edition and World Book Online Reference Center, and many other reference e-books through Oxford Reference Online Premium and the Gale Virtual Reference Library (through InfoTrac).

The library subscribes to the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and several magazines which have online editions. The access information is listed on the library's Periodicals Page.
Another very rich database for students is Questia, "the first online library that provides … access to the world's largest online collection of books and journal articles in the humanities and social sciences, plus magazine and newspaper articles." This year each student will have individual access to Questia via a personal ID and password. Students will be informed of their login information as soon as it’s available from Questia. Take the time to check out all the databases available from the library's Web site.

This Web log will provide the latest in library news.
This summer I went to an international school library conference in Taipei, Taiwan and posted several articles with photos about the conference, school libraries in Taiwan and other interesting experiences. Come back often.

We encourage parents who have time to volunteer in the library. Last year we had about fifteen parent volunteers who were able to give a couple hours every week or so. Volunteers perform a variety of tasks and we couldn't run the excellent program we do here at Redwood without their help. We have parents who help with book processing (covering, stamping, typing labels, etc.), filing books and other materials, looking up web pages and adding them to our online catalog, clipping articles from newspapers, magazines and the internet, and more. To see the variety of tasks our volunteers performed last year go to the library Volunteer Page. We'd love to have you join them and look forward to seeing all of you on Back-to-School Night.

Friday, August 31, 2007

End of the First Month

September is Library Card Sign Up Month so get those library cards if you don't have one. The public libraries in Marin are very good and with a library account you have access to the resources of the entire county (and beyond).

As the first month of school winds down we have had four 9th grade Cultures and Geography classes go through orientation in the library.
The orientations went very well thanks to attention from students and active participation by their teacher (Thanks, Ms. Ernst!)
Seven classes will be in next week and the final five the following week. I'd like to thank all the 9th grade social studies teachers for promptly signing up their classes this year. It is essential that new students have an orientation to the library as soon as possible since they will be using the library regularly from the first weeks of school.

One addition to orientation this year is an assignment which gives students the opportunity to explore at least a couple search engines they may not have used before. When asked, students say that their most popular search engine is Google, but there are several other which have features students may find helpful including Ask and Clusty. The nice thing about both of these is that they allow the user to narrow the focus of the search by providing suggested topics which Google does not do. I'd also like students to take a look at Yahoo's Directory (Google has one as well) and a metasearch engine, too. The directory sites can teach kids how things can be arranged hierarchically, and how that can help focus their search, and a metasearch engine (like Vivisimo) allows them to search across several search engines at the same time.
I will keep working on improving the orientation to make it as fun and useful as I can for students and teachers alike.

Open House will be next Thursday and the library will be open for visiting. Come on by if you get the chance.

Friday, August 24, 2007

End of the First Week

My meeting with the Social Studies dept. on Monday has paid off. I've got three of the Cultures and Geography teachers signed up bring their 9th graders into the library for orientation (a total of 10 classes so far). There a still a couple teachers who need to sign up but this is great for the first week of school. This year I'm working with teachers to do a follow-up assignment on the differences between various search engines. Nicolle Plescia had done the assignment with her Transitions students this summer and thought it was useful and valuable and I certainly agree. This is the first time a teacher has come with an assignment specifically related to information literacy and it's great. We will be refining the assignment as we work with various classes over the next few weeks and should have something worth sharing before the end of the month.

The library is looking for a few good students who are willing to be library assistants in the IWE program this semester. If you have a good mind, are reliable and have a good attendance record, and want to work in an interesting and highly valued school resource please see Mr. Kaun in the library.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Welcome to the 2007-2008 School Year and the Bessie Chin Library Leaves Blog

Welcome back to those who are returning and welcome to the newcomers.

Over the summer I attended a wonderful school librarians' conference in
Taiwan. I was trying to figure out a way to share some of what I
experienced and eventually decided to set up a Web log to make that
possible. I realized that I could use this blog as the library newsletter as
well so I started this blog version of Bessie Chin Library Leaves. I'll be adding postings to it on a regular basis as the school year progresses and will send reminders every so often to take a look at the blog. One of the things I will be posting to the blog is my regular article in the parent newsletter so you'll be able to find that here as well. I will also add a widget so you can quickly get to the list of new materials on LibraryThing.

While in Taiwan I visited two exemplary high school libraries and made some connections to the staffs there. This might be especially handy for our kids learning Mandarin but other classes (Cultures and Geography comes to mind) might want to take advantage of the connection as well.
I've got a lot of stuff I collected there, which, with Irene's help, we might be able to translate and use, including CDs with presentations about the schools. Come on by to chat if you think any of this might be useful.

We also installed (with the help of Becky and Rose) AquaBrowser this summer. AquaBrowser is an online catalog (OPAC) interface which will take some experimenting with to use to best advantage. Our internal AB URL is, external URL (from home) is I will try to get some time at a staff meeting to introduce AquaBrowser and its' benefits. I have also put links to it on the library home page. It's kind of fun--take a look.

This year we will have a school-wide subscription to Questia, a huge database of full-text books and articles. Up to now our Questia subscription has been a single-user version but Questia is now making this multi-user version available to schools. Topics covered by the database include Art and Architecture, Communication, Economics and Business, Education, History, Law, Literature, Music and Performing Arts, Philosophy, Politics and Government, Psychology, Religion, Science and Technology, and Sociology and Anthropology. You will notice that it is much stronger in humanities topics than science but there are some interesting titles in health science and technology and civilization areas.
With this version of Questia teachers will be able to set up reading lists and other resource lists and students will be able to keep track of materials they are using for a specific project with individual accounts. As soon as I have the log-in information I will be sharing it with all of you. Staff development will also be available at some point for Questia. In the meantime if you go to Questia and log in using "redwood94939" as the User ID and "giants" as the password you can take a look at some info about use of the database by teachers and students. (Click on Classroom and then Flash Demo for an overview of some of the features).

Hope you had a great reading summer. If you've read any great books (I read the three Gormenghast novels by Mervyn Peake) and you want the library to add them to our collections let me know and I'll order them. Of course, if you just want to donate any books you're finished with we happily take donations as well.

I'll be sending a packet out to new teachers and staff with info about how to best take advantage of library resource, staff and programs. Come on down when get the chance to either take a personalized tour or re-acquaint yourselves with the Bessie Chin Library (named for the librarian here at Redwood from 1968 to 1993).
The library extensions are: 3662 (Tom Kaun--Library Media Teacher); 3664 (Karen Barrett--Library Specialist); and 3663 (Cythea Harrison--Clerk I).

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Librarian-Classroom Teacher Collaboration

Well I'm back in town after a wonderful time in Bali and visiting my sister in Java. I'll be posting some pictures on my Web Album in the next few days.
In the meantime, I'm catching up with email, including American Libraries Direct, the online newsletter of the American Library Association. I'm always finding good stuff in this newsletter which comes weekly to ALA members.
One of the more recent ones has a fun video about teacher-librarian collaboration. The video is short on content but humorous in a library media teacher sort of way!
Here it is:

Find more videos like this on TeacherLibrarianNetwork

I'll be showing this to new teachers when school starts next week and maybe even show it to the entire staff sometime in the next few weeks. I look at it as a conversation starter and I'm always trying to find ways to get that collaborative discussion going!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Keynoters (and others)

Three keynote presentations were made to the IASL Conference on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
The first was made by Jay Jordan of OCLC, the Online Computer Library Center. As mentioned in a previous post Mr. Jordan talked about the changes Web 2.0 tools and services are making to libraries and their catalogs. Later in the conference Barbara Combes of Australia took Mr. Jordan to task w his assumption that all "web natives," those born post-1985 are savvy and experimental users of the Internet. Indeed, the preliminary results of her recent study of 17-22-year-old university students in Australia seem to show that they not so likely to have used many of the kinds of things we associate with Web 2.0. These finding confirm earlier studies. In other words, while we must be aware of how the Internet is changing we cannot assume all students either use or are comfortable will all forms of technology.
On Wednesday the conferees heard from Ken Haycock, the director of the School f Library and Information Science at San Jose State University, California. Ken's presentation was about his personal experience as a school librarian, administrator and educator. I think that essentially what he was saying was that "the more things change, the more they stay the same." We have not made much progress as teacher-librarians in convincing those with power that we are essential to the teaching and learning of students despite the plethora of studies showing the effectiveness of good school library programs. Ken presented the evidence which has been collected about school library staffing, programs, collections, and funding. In the end not much has changed in terms of what we know about the effectiveness of such programs. "The foundations for teacher-librarianship have not changed, only the environment and the specific tools with which we work."
One point which Ken made and which I will certainly take to heart is that of finding ways of connecting our agendas with those of higher-level decision makers, which would seem to be much more effective than continually fighting for our own agendas despite what others are striving for. We may, in other words, get more using honey than vinegar!
The final keynoter was Mei-Mei Wu, professor at the Graduate Institute of Library and Information Studies, NTNU. (pictured) Dr. Wu talked about the discovery and management of "global digital learning objects." She showed example of many different online resources and discussed ways in which teachers access and use such resources. We, as teacher-librarians are encouraged to help classroom teacher find and archive all kinds of digital resources. Of course, I think our OPACs are the ideal way to access such resources. But consortia, which gather such resources, catalog them, and make them available for general use are the best way to ensure we are not "reinventing the wheel" and most efficiently providing such resources to our classroom colleagues. Resources like California's CLRN are the kinds of databases which model this important work.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

National San Chung Senior High School

Today's school visit was to National San Chung Senior High School. A school with three grades (10-12) and 2000 students. Once again the school was quite large and multi-storied. The library overlooks the central garden and comprises 3 floors. Total area is over 32000 sq. ft. As you might imagine there a was a lot of open space. Three staff members (two certificated and one clerical) run the library along with student volunteers. There were an number students present so we could get a better idea of students' use of the library. The school is just ten years old and is considered one of the top schools in Taiwan. 30-some computer stations on the main floor which also housed the circulation desk, various offices, the periodical collection and a couple audiovisual viewing rooms. Upstairs was a large open study area, the open stacks, an art gallery, an area for staff use and a meeting room called "Socrates Sky" in Chinese. The library's name translates to "Perfumed Ink Library." Though the signs were all in Chinese and English we were told that the Chinese names were much more poetical than the rather mundane English versions. Above the study hall area there was a very large "lounge" with tables arranged beside a long curving bank of windows overlooking the schools playing fields.
A slide presentation was given to all of the visitors and we were presented with numerous gifts. I didn't have to represent the group this time!
Present were the principal the library director, the person in charge of information and media, the building's architect and several student volunteers serving as guides.
San Chung was all in all a very impressive display of what a library media center can be.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The first (official) day

The Conference started off with a bang when during the Opening Ceremony there was an overture by the brass quintet band of National Taiwan Normal University, the conference venue. A short video which was shown last year in Lisbon to promote the conference was then shown again introducing Taiwan and it's resources and people.
After speeches by several dignitaries, including the president of the Library Association of the Republic of China, the president of NTNU, a ministers from the Department of Education and the Council of Cultural Affairs of Taiwan, a welcome by IASL President Peter Genco, we were entertained by a group of students from various Taiwanese aboriginal tribes who live in Taipei and are part of a folk dance company.
Pictures of some of the opening events can be see on the IASL Taiwan web album.
The first keynote speaker was Jay Jordan, President of OCLC. For those who don't know OCLC is the Online Computer Library Center. Among other things OCLC owns the Dewey Decimal System, maintains WorldCat, and for many years has been a clearinghouse for catalog records especially for academic and public libraries.
Mr. Jordan talked about the history and future of OCLC and I think the main thrust of his talk was that an organization like OCLC must continue to build an international presence and must continue to interact with and use new web tools to help make libraries a vital part of the Internet.
More on the first day later.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

More from IASL Taiwan

I just got back from my first school visit, a hallowed tradition of IASL conferences. We visited Taipei County Chin-shui High School, a junior-senior high school with 5,000 students!
(I tried to find the school's website but my Chinese is not so good so someone is going to have to post a comment about where it may be found. I know it exists since it's mentioned in the school's brochure.)
As you might imagine the campus is massive--not so much in area as in height. There are several multi story buildings and the library itself comprises six stories. The top two are not yet developed fully but will be eventually. We were given a beautiful, slick brochure about the library as we arrived. The brochure describes the services and history of the library illustrated with pictures of various library happenings. The library opens to a traditional circ desk, reading area with current periodicals, and various offices. There is also a "Wisdom Tree" which blooms with the fruits of the students reading accomplishments. The principal, who, along with the president of the parents' association, greeted us thought it would be a great idea to encourage kids to read by rewarding them with such a display. Several other reading promotion initiatives were also mentioned.
I must say that I didn't see a lot of books but I assume they are available when needed! The only bank of computers in evidence were for the OPAC.
The library is not only a place for the school students but also aspires to be a community cultural center as well. On the second floor there was a large open room with picture books along the walls where parents could come with children to read or hear stories.
One the third floor there were teaching areas with projectors and screens and we watched a presentation about the history and services of the library. Following the presentation I was asked accept a gift on behalf of everyone of a small banner with the school's logo and pottery item from a local famous pottery. At the end of the visit everyone got a gift bag containing a set of illustrated playing cards(!), a brochure describing the school, and a hand-painted tea cup.
The fourth floor, which was a large open space was set up most spectacularly for our visit. The first thing we saw was a famous local artist painting a waterlily scene on a large glass window and the adjacent wall. The music teacher was strumming a 20-string zither, another teacher was demonstrating Chinese calligraphy, an older gentleman was declaiming poetry, a tea ceremony was being conducted at two different tables and coffee was available from a full coffee bar, as well as various finger foods. All in all, it was quite a demonstration of local hospitality.
The fourth floor also serves as a gallery for student art work from the primary through college level with changing exhibits of drawings and paintings on the walls.
More later about Tuesday and Wednesday morning. I will also upload more pictures to the web album when I get the chance. This afternoon I will be attending the Association General Meeting where we will vote on new officers for the Association, Regional meetings, and later this evening the gala dinner at the Grand Hotel.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Blogging from Taiwan

It seems hard to believe I've been in Taiwan for four days but I have. I arrived early Friday morning and checked into my hotel. After settling in I decided not to waste a day and did a short walk from the hotel to what was formerly known as the Chang Kai-shek Memorial but has more recently been renamed the National Democracy Memorial. Taipei is a huge sprawling city. The view from my hotel room window looks like a midtown Manhattan scene. Later that day I decided to take a half-day trip up to the northeast coast of Taiwan and visited an old gold rush town which has become a tourist attraction.
Over the weekend I went on a prearranged tour to the center of the island visiting several tourist attractions on the way there and back including a rice winery, a paper-making factory and an aboriginal culture village. Our destination was Sun Moon Lake, the largest in Taiwan. It reminded me of the lakes in northern Italy--lots of fog and mist and even a little rain while we were there. The surface of the lake is 750 m. so it was a bit cooller than in the lowlands. Taipei has been in the 90s and very humid.
The conference pre-sessions were today and I went a morning session on digital resources in school libraries lead by California's own Lesley Farmer and two professors from Hong Kong University. One of them came up to me afterwards and said he would add my name as a session presenter because I can't resist commenting and contributed quite a bit to the discussion. I always like the kind of presentation where the attendees can contribute especially when there are academics doing the presenting and "practitioners" in the audience!
This afternoon I took the MRT (rapid transit) to the end of the line and a small town almost on the sea for lunch and a little sightseeing. Tomorrow the conference officially opens and I will be doing my presentation on the future of the online catalog.
Here's a link to my Web Album of Taiwan pictures.
More news later.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Almost on my way

It is late afternoon on Wednesday and I am almost packed and ready. I am suddenly having a problem with diacritical marks. That is why this seems so stilted as I write it.
No matter how many times I have traveled it always seems like each trip is the first! Just trying to make sure I have all I need but not too much is a challenge. I am taking brochures for the IASL conference to be held here in the Bay Area next year as well as some items for the annual IASL conference which raises money for scholarships to attend the conference. This year I am bringing two shirts and some pins which the LM_NET logo on them and a set of soaps I bought on 4th Street in Berkeley of different with designs representing the different neighborhoods of San Francisco. They should be well sought after and therefore bring in a good chunk of change for IASL.
I hope to be posting pictures as I go along on this little sojourn so look for images of me and various others at sites in Taiwan and Indonesia.
I have already posted some of the photos from my trip last summer to Lisbon for the IASL conference on flickr so you can look for them there.
Take care until tomorrow (probably Friday in Taiwan)

Monday, July 9, 2007

Off to Taiwan and IASL

Thursday (very early--1:30 a.m.!) I'm off to Taipei, Taiwan to attend the 37th annual conference of the International Association of School Librarianship. It will be the fifth IASL conference I've attended. Starting with my first conference in Auckland, New Zealand in 2001, I've been to Durban, S.A. (2003), Dublin, Ire. (2004) and Lisbon, Port. (2006). I'm going to give a presentation this year on online catalogs and how they are changing with the changes to the Internet (Web 2.0 technologies). I'll keep posting as I attend the conference so keep watching this space for news and commentary on IASL and Taiwan.