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.