Nov 29 2009
Applying what I have learned
Recently, I took part in the really brilliant online conference organised by Your School Library that I talked about in my previous posts. the theme was on school library design and also the wider issues of designing learning spaces. In some ways, the course was not timed very well for me – we had only just opened our new school library! But, it was interesting to see just how much the ideas shared on the course fitted in with what I had tried to achieve with the design of our new library.
Some of the libraries shared with us on the course were totally amazing to those of us who work in the UK. Here, we generally do not have spaces big enough to turn into “Learning Commons”, even if that idea were appropriate for our schools!
As I take part in the YSL courses I feel more and more that I am connecting with fantastic teacher-librarians from around the world who are working at a level far beyond most of us in the UK. This idea inspires me to try to achieve more – it feels like climbing up a steep mountain-side to reach the summit. On the way up, colleagues are reaching down to help us all get to the top together. As I learn more from these librarians, I realise just how much I don’t know. This is where my lack of teacher-training makes itself felt. Quite often, we are speaking different languages – and I don’t mean the fact that many of the participants come from a range of countries where English is not the first language. What I do mean is that my first language was Librarianship and theirs is Education. I have to travel towards the Education side and strive to understand a language that is sometimes not that comfortable – there are occasionally huge gaps in the translation! But I will keep trying as I feel that I somehow have to make up the deficiencies that my lack of teacher training gives me.
If that sounds negative, I don’t mean it to be. This striving for knowledge is an important part of any professional development – I have always said that when I stop learning or trying to learn, that will be the time for me to retire. Hopefully, this is a long time away!
So, what did I learn from the course this time? Well, that many of the things we had built into our tiny new library space were spot-on in terms of new ways of thinking about school libraries – particularly trying to make a flexible space, displaying books face-on as much as possible, using slatwall imaginatively, positioning of our desk, trying to build in good ICT facilities.
I also took away some more practical ideas that I immediately tried out. One library had the words “Ask, Think, Create” on the walls. This library also had a very large space which had been turned into a Learning Commons. Musical and other performances take place regularly and have been very well received. I thought about the words used on the walls and one night (when my creative thoughts tend to bounce around the most) I realised that I could extend the words to make a kind of logo for the library. The next day I played around on Publisher and made a logo with the words:
Think…Ask…Read…Imagine…Create… @ Your Library
I have used this on bookmarks, compliments slips, report covers, noticeboard frames – in fact on all library communications and stationery. The words could be put on the library walls and also fit an Information Literacy “framework”. I am going to play around with the idea some more and see where it leads.
As to the performance idea – I spoke to our Head of Music that week and suggested this to her – she was thrilled with the idea. So let’s see where that goes…