Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Forest Libraries in Korea

In the past few weeks I was on a cycling trip through Korea and within minutes of starting on our odyssey we came across a small library alongside the bicycle track in Busan. These are called Forest Libraries, and I did some investigating on what they were and how they worked.

These small libraries are unmanned and stocked mainly through donations from corporations and individuals, but also with some funding from the district council. The books are not catalogued. There is no requirement for a library card, and people can borrow for as long as they like and whenever they like.

One user was quoted in the Korea Herald as saying "“At first, I had doubts about how long and how well an unmanned library could be maintained,” continues Yang. “But every time I come, the shelves are fully stocked and well-organized. It’s great to see how the library is encouraging a culture of trust and consideration among users.” 

These libraries were opened as part of the 2014 Year of Reading in 2012 are across Korea in the major cities. For more information on these particular libraries see this link Books for loan at new forest libraries.

The forest of wisdom library - photo from Korea Herald

Korea has been quite innovative in creating new types of libraries one of which is called the Forest of Wisdom which is open 24 hours a day, again the books were not catalogued on opening (but this is underway apparently), nor are they organised using any specific system. Borrowing is not part of this library's culture and the library is manned by "Kwondoksa" who are volunteers who help find books for visitors and guide them. Only they can climb the ladders to fetch books from the high shelves.  
Library with no restrictions opens up in Paju

The Korean government has been committing quite a lot of money toward creating more public libraries for the Korean people - with over 968 libraries open throughout the country. The population of Korea is about 50 million people, with most of the population living in the northern region of the country. The ratio of people per public library is about 53,000:1. (In Australia the ratio is 15000:1, in the USA the ratio is about 19000:1, UK is about 15,000:1) For more information on the plans of the Korean government see this link No. of public libraries to rise to 968
Evolution of libraries highlights values of books

This was all very interesting to me as governments in other parts of the world are doing their best to remove public and school libraries from their agendas.

If you are interested in our bike adventure through Korea - see our blog Rambling Cyclists

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Values and disconnects

Image from Pixabay

In the past 12 months I have had the opportunity to work with many school librarians from many different countries - Pakistan, India, China, Korea, Japan, Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Taiwan, Singapore, Laos, Cambodia, New Zealand (and more) and it has become apparent that in many schools there is a disconnect between what the school librarians are wanting and expecting to be able to do and what the school leadership expectations are with regard to support of the library and its programs.

Much of this disconnect comes down to difference in priorities, expectations and values.

What are the priorities and values of the school librarian? 
What are the priorities and and values of the school principal?

Below is a wide range of values that may apply to school librarianship, it is not exhaustive, and I am sure it could be added to.... 

Select your top 10 values from this list and prioritise the most important to the least important for you, personally as a library professional. 
If you work with other library staff, ask them to do the same. 
Compare your lists, how close are they in the same choices and priorities? 
How does this impact on what happens in the workplace? 
How have these values developed?

Identify what you think the school and / or Principal values from your perspective.

If you have the opportunity, ask your Principal (or line manager) to do the same with these same values. Compare your list with the Principal's actual list and have a discussion with them about the differences and similarities between your values and priorities.

If nothing else, it may give you a greater insight into what the Principal values, and where you may be able to align some of your energy to work with them rather than against them.

This list may also be useful to be used in a survey across staff to see what they value in the library, and will give you an idea of where to direct some of your energy to win them over.

I have included the words below that you can copy and paste to use as you like and add your own if not included here.

Accountability   Advocacy    Collaboration   Communication     Community               Confidentiality   Creativity    Critical Thinking   Curation   Data    Democracy                     Diversity    Education    Equity    Ethics    Inclusion     Innovation   Inquiry                     Intellectual Freedom     Int’l Mindedness    Leadership     Learners     Lifelong Learning
Literacy    Preservation   Privacy    Professionalism    Provocation    Management
Order   Outreach    Reading     Relationships     Research     Responsibility    Safety
Service    Social     Systems     Teaching    The greater good    Transparency

Thursday, May 19, 2016

InSPIRing Conversations

Image from Pixabay

Prague : The City of 1000 spires will be the venue for the next School Librarian Connection conference themed "InSPIRing Conversations".  We will be replicating our format of having plenty of time for discussion and learning from each other during the presentations and adding a day to hold deep learning workshops with John Royce, Katie Day & Dianne McKenzie leading conversations on Academic Honesty & Information Literacy plus more to be revealed.

We will be hosted by The International School of Prague from 15 - 17 September, conversations will revolve around Maker Spaces, developing policies, involving students in leaderships roles, collection development and genrification, the Extended Essay processes, doing more with not much or nothing, reading initiatives, collaborative planning plus much more!

We are also planning to arrange a group visit and tour to the  Baroque Library Hall in Clementinum on the Friday evening.

Image from Pixabay

Are you interested? Please go to the survey to indicate your interest, and let us know if you would like to lead a conversation. You will be kept up to day on developments and when registration opens. We will be limiting registrations to 65 people.

The conference website can be found here  and just as a taster - the scenery of the City of Prague ...

Images from Pixabay

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Discussion starters

Some time ago I developed a board game for a full day of ethics education for years 9 and 10. This board game explored copyright and academic honesty issues through scenarios printed on cards using a South Park avatar generator, which had a license to create for non commercial purposes. I have used the cards in IB workshops to start discussions on Academic Honesty and Copyright issues. They were well received and I had many requests for the cards.

The cards took many hours to develop, however, I was not able to share them using the images I had originally used so they needed to be redeveloped with new images and professionally printed the size of Taro cards (70mm x 121mm, 2.75" x 4.75") and shrink wrapped

As part of the redevelopment, I have updated and included more scenarios and included two new categories - Digital Citizenship and General ethics.

There are 70 cards in total comprised of the following ...
Copyright : 13 cards
Digital Citizenship : 19 cards
General Ethics : 15 cards
Academic Honesty : 23 cards

They are colour coded and numbered for each of the different topics.

Ways they can be used :

  • Ask the students to identify what they think is the worst behaviour of the scenarios to stimulate conversation about values, the unspoken rules of society (which societal rules? where do they come from?) and doing the right thing even if no one is looking. 
  • Students are to place the Academic Honesty scenarios in order from the least breach to the worst breach of academic honesty.
  • Used with a board game like trivial pursuit (with 4 categories instead of 6) where they need to speak to the scenario and make a judgement with something like a moral compass, in the case of academic honesty or copyright with the actual 'rules'.
  • Used as a conversation starter in a short pastoral care programme like peer support, like a card-a-day.
  • Have the students create a game with the cards where the discussion is the important part of the game.
  • Be a starter activity for teacher professional development on any of these topics.
  • Any way that you think would be useful.

They would be ideal to be used for Theory of Knowledge, Pastoral care, Citizenship classes and teaching about Academic Honesty and Copyright from 10 year olds through to adults.

If you would like a set of these cards, they are $25USD (this works out to be 35 cents a card) and includes postage to anywhere in the world. You can purchase them online from this page where there are also free resources to download.  

Some examples of the cards can be found below (the actual cards do not have the watermark).


Saturday, April 30, 2016

Conferencing in Beijing

Last week Katie Day, Babs Albury and I had the opportunity to organise a 2 day conference of School Librarians at Keystone Academy, Beijing, China. We had 43 school librarians attend from Beijing, Shanghai, Nanjing, Dongguan, Guangdong, Changshu, Suzhou, Jiangsu, Zhuhai, Guangzhou, Yokohama (Japan), Hong Kong, Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam), with our furthest attendee coming all the way from Moka, Mauritius.

It was two days of sharing our contexts and conversations about best practise. 

We heard from people who had little or no budget to work with and the creative ways they make things happen in their library. 

We also learned how to :
  • be creative when the accounts department do not let you dispose of books from the school premises. 
  • organise an effective author visit, 
  • make a library centred school. 
  • create the role we play in creating a culture of academic honesty and fairness 
  • make meaningful connections between school and public librarians
  • create a family reading program
  • transform a library into a libratory
  • go through the process of action research
  • analyse our contexts and needs then create a strategic plan
  • make our virtual resources visible
  • support students with personalised learning plans
  • use concepts in our planning and teaching
  • evaluate and create reading programs
  • plan for change in the library environment
  • evaluate the perception of the school librarian in Asian society
Overall, it was a diverse programme that had something for everyone with opportunity for questions and conversation in each session. We are very thankful for the presenters for sharing their experiences and expertise and the time they took to prepare fabulous learning for the participants.

We also had the opportunity to tour the libraries at Keystone which was followed up with an information social.

Follett and Gale Cengage were our sponsors who also had the opportunity to share their current products and talk to participants.

We shared resources, presentations and a museum of spaces using Padlet (this works well in China).

Keystone Academy is a new custom built bilingual, boarding school that opened for students in August 2014, it offers the International Primary Curriculum, Middle Years Programme (IB) and Diploma Programme (IB) curriculums catering to Chinese and International students.

The three keystones of Keystone Academy are :
  • bilingual immersion in Chinese and English; 
  • building character and community in a residential setting; 
  • promoting Chinese culture and identity in a world context. 
It is a beautiful campus, catering for the arts and physical wellbeing as well as the traditional subjects. It has lovely on campus housing for the staff who wish to live on campus.

You can view photos of the conference, campus and libraries at this link, the full programme with links to the presentations can be found here.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Visible thinking for adults

One of the techniques I use in the workshops I facilitate is a visible thinking routine.

At the beginning of a workshop I pose three questions to which participants need to respond ...

What do you know about (topic)?
What are your concerns about (topic)?
What do you think are your biggest challenges regarding (topic)?

The questions are placed on paper to hang on the wall, participants write their responses on post it notes and place on the appropriate paper.

The papers at the beginning of the workshop

I use the responses as a diagnostic tool to see how the participants understandings are and how they are feeling about the topic. It identifies the issues that need to be addressed over the workshop to ensure I am meeting the needs of the participants.

At the end of each session, I request that the participants go back to their responses and see if the challenges and concerns have now become understandings. If this is the case, they move their post-it note to the understanding paper.  By the end of the workshop, most of the notes have been moved. Some challenges cannot be solved at a workshop level as it is at an individual school level and context.

The papers at the end of the conference

It is a simple reflection tool for the participants to see how their learning is developing over the workshop, and it is good for me to see how successful I am in addressing their concerns.

Although my workshops last from one to three days, this routine could be used through a unit of work at any age level maybe change the language of the questions to make them more age appropriate.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Moving out of the comfort zone

Katie Day & I are organising a small conference in Beijing to be held in April at Keystone Academy. We have done something similar in Hong Kong in 2014, however this location being China definitely has its challenges as many digital apps are not able to be accessed there without a VPN - VPN's are currently illegal to be used in China.

Some of the apps we tend to use and take for granted including the Google Suite - Google forms, sites, blogger, youtube, gmail are all closed off in China, as is Facebook, Slideshare, Trello and a few others. This has become a challenge as we needed to have a website, a booking platform and place to collaboratively host presentations along with survey software.

We worked around the Google site issues by using Weebly to create our website, for our surveys we used Typeform. Our booking platform is Eventbrite. The one place we had trouble finding was the collaborative sharing of files, Google drive does this so good we knew it was going to be a tough one.

After identifying someone with knowledge on the subject who is an Ed tech educator living in Nanjing. (@brianlockwood How, What, Why?)  I contacted him via twitter and we bounced off a quick conversation about apps that might be used for collaborative sharing. He suggested we used Microsoft's OneDrive as that will probably fit our needs. So I am now working on learning how to use this platform so I can help others.

So you see, just when you think you have it all figured out ... along comes another curveball to challenge and move you out of your comfort zone. The upside is that I have been able to learn about some new applications and platforms I may never have got to learn about.

If you are interested in the conference, visit the website School Librarian Connection. We will be tweeting and hopefully streaming some of the conversations through Meerkat or Periscope, (whichever works) follow @schlibcon on twitter for updates closer to April 22-23.