Friday, May 29, 2009

Reading Worldwide

reading worldwide
.
Reading Worldwide is about the actions, programs and campaigns carried out around the world to promote reading and is an overview of reading initiatives, projects and models.  Established in Germany (and with a version in English), it's a valuable online resource - here's the section about programs targeted at youth, for example.  I haven't finished hunting through it yet - do leave a comment about any of your good discoveries on this site.
.
Cheers, Ruth
.
Source: I learned about this from Read Alert, the blog of the Centre for Youth Literature in Victoria.  It's over there in the blogroll, and worth reading regularly.
.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

GIFSL*: 29. Bookcase displays

I've shown you our foyer bookcase before (it's in lots of photos on this blog too), and thought I'd show you a couple of its more recent versions.
.
ANZAC Day
.
bookcase anzac day
.
This, as you can see, involved larger books, one per space.  It wasn't so much about lending the books as promoting the spirit of ANZAC Day.  We had a lovely noticeboard display too, and someone who looks a LOT like me forgot to photograph it.  Maybe next year.  And we had ANZAC Day bookmarks.
.
After ANZAC Day, our next version was about promoting reading.  The ongoing library challenge for promoting reading is, of course, that you mostly only have one copy of a book, so once you've done a GREAT selling job on a title...you have to start again (whereas a bookshop can sell another and another and another...).  Selling the 'sizzle' of reading via a theme or idea is a work-around for this challenge.  We do it with holiday borrowing (as blogged before) and, in this promotion, with the umbrella term "Thrillers".  I'll blog more about this in the next week (can't give you all the bonbons at once, when a year represents over 200 blog entries....!) but for now, here's the bookcase.
.
Thrillers!
.
bookcase thrillers
.
Apart from the hard-to-browse bottom shelves, the others combine a face-out cover, and and some other choices of 'thrillers'.
.
This bookcase cost about $100 on special from Target, we assembled it ourselves, and it earns its keep every day.  Without a large budget (I wish!) it's good to have something like this that's smart, adaptable and not expensive, a 'blank canvas' for lots of different ideas in the foyer.  Greeting everyone who enters the library, there to catch the eye of everyone as they leave.
.
Yup, more about Thrillers soon...
.
Cheers, Ruth
.
*GIFSL: Good Ideas For School Libraries
.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

"5 things I didn't think I'd be working on when I decided to become a librarian"

This is the title of this entry on the Libraries Interact blog, in which the author, inspired by another blog entry, muses on the changes she's seen in her chosen profession.
.
So the inevitable question: what would my five things be?
.
And I get a little bit stuck, because I know that there are all sorts of new things - computers, and how everything I learned how to work in Educational Technology in the early 1980s is irrelevant now.  The internet is here, and hypertext.  Software that can do things I never imagined.  All sorts of things. 
.
And yet, hurrah and hurray for the things that are still here.  The utter delight of sharing books with kids.  Seeing that kid in the corner, curled up reading, lost to the world and caught by the words.  The chance to make a difference in the lives of kids, to give them opportunities, to help them learn, watch them learn, learn from them, whatever the information source or topic.  The opportunity to work with staff, in the library and in the wider work of the school, as part of that enterprise.  I never thought anything but that each year would bring new books to enjoy; and every year has done so (thank you, authors!).
.
And, to be even-handed, the other things that haven't changed in over twenty years, either.  No, there is no eating or drinking in the library.  Please put your rubbish in the bin.  Yes.  That bin.  Yes, it's there.  Red.  Quite easy to see.  Isn't it.  Thank you.  Quiet down please.  Yes, I'll see if I can solve that technical problem for you.  Yes, the book is still overdue.  Actually, you can check the due date.  We stamp it in every book.  See? There.  Yes.  OK.  Bring it back tomorrow.  Stop running, this isn't the Olympic stadium.  OK, both of you be silent and I'll listen to you one at a time so we can sort this out.  Where's your uniform note for those shoes?  Yes, I can lend you a pen/paper/eraser/pencil sharpener/etc.  Line up, please.  Bags on the rack, books out, get yourselves ready.  Sit down there, please.  There.  I'll speak with you in a moment.  Photocopier jammed?  Be with you in a tic.  What information were you hoping to find?  Ah, Mr/Ms/Mrs X, how can I make your life better?
.
Sound familiar?  (I borrowed the last one from Jerry Maguire - one has to be careful with tone, but it's a GREAT line, used properly.  People just shine when they know you care.... or grin when they know you care AND think you're tossing a line their way. (When I reread that italic section, I wonder if Joyce Grenfell's famous line just summed it all up: George, don't do that).
.
.
So five things?  Can't do it right now.  But the article's food for thought on where I am now, and where things might go, and all the stuff that doesn't change while kids are kids and growing up.  And I'm grateful that in the state and system in which I work, a teacher librarian is still found in every school and kids can benefit from what we uniquely offer.
.
Your thoughts, or your five things?
.
Cheers, Ruth
.
The YouTube is audio of Joyce Grenfell's nursery sketch including "George, don't do that".  If you haven't heard it before, or for a while, treat yourself.  Part of the joy is never precisely knowing WHAT George is doing...
.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

GIFSL*: 28. Catalogue drawer storage

Did you keep your catalogue drawers or shelf list drawers, when your library was computerised?  They were already gone when I arrived at my current library, but at Lisa's library, they were still there.  And she's done this:
.
cat drawer storage
.
Clever, eh?  (Thanks for letting me share, Lisa).  Every library has these little bits and pieces.  Wish I still had the drawers...
.
Cheers, Ruth
.

Monday, May 25, 2009

"The vulgar modernisation of our libraries"...

unleashed abc
...is the title of an article by Chris Saliba on the ABC's Unleashed.  While it deals almost entirely with public libraries (community and state), the discussion in the article and very much in the many comments is a window on how libraries are viewed and used in 2009 - from the charmed and the disgruntled and many shades in between.  Read it here.
.
Brave new world, or rosy wistfulness for what once was?
.
Cheers, Ruth
.
Found via Libraries Interact (keep an eye out for new entries over there on my blogroll).
.

Friday, May 22, 2009

The happy life of teacher librarians: the awesomer episode

A year 7 class came in earlier today for wide reading, to browse and borrow.  They happen to have two English periods today.

"Miss," said one boy to their English teacher, "are we coming to the library next period too?"

"We're going to read in class," she replied.

"Miss, can we come to the library?  It's awesomer.  Much better place to read in than our classroom."

"Sure," said the lovely English teacher, and I helpfully handed the boy the booking sheet to give his teacher so she could write them in (while trying not to grin too happily).

This period just finished, they came back.  We had two classes in for browsing/borrowing/reading.  The reading retreat (as previously blogged) was full of lounging teenagers reading, and the book-strewn tables upstairs in fiction look thoroughly ratted through (and quite a few of the books I put there are now borrowed), the clear acrylic book holders on the end of the shelves are gap-toothed empty....

...another episode in the happy life of teacher librarians. (Previous blog entries have shown you the book-strewn tables and acrylic book holders too - GIFSL/Good Ideas for School Libraries).
.
(And now I hope I can have lunch!) (Isn't awesomer a great word, when it's applied to something you're responsible for??!)
.
Cheers, Ruth
.
PS. I've just read a whole lot of recent comments - thank you so much to each one who's taken time to let me know what's useful to you, and for your kind responses.  Very much appreciated!
.

GIFSL*: 27. Newspaper Tubs

Like most school libraries, we end up with past copies of newspapers.  Staff or students may not collect the papers they've paid for, plus there are the papers the library receives, and which we don't stockpile forever.
.
These spare papers have a variety of uses around the school - the Visual Arts people use them for table protection, papier machĂ© etc, other subjects use them for content.  We've evolved a system to make it simple for the papers to find new homes, and simple for others to use.
.
Herewith, the newspaper tubs.
.
newspapers
.
They are located in the library foyer, for several good reasons.  Easy to find.  Clear to see.  Don't need to be pointed out by library staff (although we still do that, regularly).  It's not the most elegant feature of the foyer, but it's functional, and works for our clientele and us.
.
We separate out the two main papers, the broadsheet Herald and the tabloid Telegraph, because people sometimes want just one or the other, either because of size or content.  We got two different colour tubs (they came from Bunnings Hardware, at around $13 each, from memory) so it was easy to say, if you want the Tele, it's in the red tub.  It's worth buying reasonably durable tubs, as less durable ones tend to split/break.  The labels include the mastheads as another visual cue as to which paper is in which.
.
Sometimes the tubs get full, and we take papers to the paper recycling dumpster; but usually, we'll check with Art, and they'll want papers, getting another use out of them before they leave the school.  The tubs have been working well for us - it's so much easier, when someone comes in search of newspapers, to say, "See the red and blue tubs by the door?  You can take whatever you want from them." 
.
What you need:  durable tubs, and a place to put them.  Easy!
.
Cheers, Ruth
.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

GIFSL*: 26. Face-out Fiction

When you look at bookshops, it's all about the covers, books face-out to entice browsers to engage and then to buy.
.
For a school library, there may not be space to have lots of books face out.  But there are always opportunities.  The ends of shelves are one.  We can't afford slat-wall, or some of the other solutions, but I wanted to do something about the shelf ends in fiction, for starters.  Since a lot of our shelving is against the wall, we don't have as many 'ends' as some libraries. 
.
But take a look at fiction.  The picture books are in a face-out stand, and the free-standing spinner more than earns its keep - we are constantly refilling it. But on those tall shelf units, blank ends.  An opportunity for improvement. 
.
fiction shelves before
.
Then I found some perspex pockets at Office Max (they were cheaper than I found at Officeworks).  When you're searching for these, 'brochure' or 'brochure holder' seems to be useful keywords.  We bought enough for the top three shelves, plus some self-adhesive hook and loop tape.  And thus you have...
.
fiction shelves after
.
...enticing books at eye level, books rather than blank shelf ends.  We are going to improve the letter signs, and we may buy more perspex pockets for the bottom shelves - weren't sure if these would get bingled by kids or trolleys.  The A5 pockets hold most fiction books and were around $10 each.  Not cheap, but not impossibly expensive either - certainly cheaper than slat-wall.
.
What you need: some brochure holders (ours are wall-mounted rather than free-standing) and some self-adhesive hook and loop tape (when I priced brand-name Velcro, made in the US, versus hook and loop tape, made in China, at Bunnings Hardware, the same size - 2.5m x 25mm white self-adhesive - was over $25 for the Velcro vs $4.95 for the other).  We put a couple of vertical strips of the tape on the shelf/holder, and it's hidden when there's a book on display.
.
We have plans for downstairs in nonfiction, too.  Later...
.
Cheers, Ruth
.
* GIFSL = Good Ideas For School Libraries

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

My Place: the TV series

my place rawlins wheatley
.

From this ABC-TV press release:
.
28/04/2009

.
MY PLACE, ABC TV’s new 13-part, half hour children’s drama series, started shooting yesterday in Sydney.
.
Joining the line up of child actors in MY PLACE is a stellar cast that includes: Susie Porter (East of Everything and Little Fish), Dan Wyllie (Love My Way and Underbelly), Sacha Horler (Love My Way and Grass Roots), Dan Spielman (Mary Bryant and Tom White), Russell Dykstra (Clubland and Romulus, My Father), Leon Ford (All Saints and Changi) and Hayley McElhinney (Blue Heelers and Young Lions.)
.
MY PLACE, based on the award-winning book by Nadia Wheatley and Donna Rawlins, is a captivating series telling the story of one house in South Sydney as told by the children who have lived there for over 130 years. The series is being produced by the award-winning Australian filmmaker, Penny Chapman (Blue Murder, The Track and Brides of Christ.)
.
Read more here, including info about the planned interactive website.
.
If you don't know the book, it's brilliant.  I've always had at least one copy in every high school library I've run.
.
Cheers, Ruth
.
Image source

Monday, May 18, 2009

GIFSL*: 25. Rearrange more furniture.

We've already done some furniture rearranging, and it's worked really well - is still working well, weeks later.  Read about that here.  So we started looking at other areas of the library, to see how else we could rearrange furniture to make the spaces work better for teachers and classes and library users.  Here's the fiction section before we started:
.
fiction before 2
.
And from the other end..
.
fiction before
.
It worked OK, had been in this separate-table configuration for years.  Having seen how the seminar-style rectangle downstairs worked, though, we wanted to try it.
.
There is a catch.  You need more tables, when you're only using one side of them.  We scrounged a couple of tables from around the school, did a bit of bait and switch with library tables so the nicest ones were up here and the scrounged ones covered up (making the best of what we had).  It's not yet finished - we need to get a couple more tables so it can seat a full class around the outside, and we're aiming for the rectangle-with-a-gap such as we have downstairs.  But it's different.
.
fiction after 1
.
We chuckled that it's kinda magnet-like, with those coloured ends (we couldn't do matchy-tables with the lot, so we made the best of it).
.
We have found, with this seminar-like table arrangement, that it has a positive effect both on class groups and on the use of the space during breaks.  For classes, as I discussed in the blog entry on downstairs, it breaks up little chatty groups and makes kids have their unguarded front to the world, so they are more visible and feel more visible.  The teachers find they can eyeball a class more easily, use the centre to move around the class, check work, do a Geoffrey Robertson if they choose, and so forth.  Classes are quieter, by and large. 
.
 During break times, this configuration actually allows more individual work - there are more spaces than with six separate tables, more chances for a kid to work individually (because all you need is one space either side of you - one kid at a table could easily get overtaken by a group choosing to sit there).  Group work is still possible, still workable, using ends and corners.
.
There is at least one room in the school where this configuration has also been adopted already, and teachers are expressing a preference for it because of the positive effect it has on their classes.
.
What you need: enough tables.  Try doing a bit of graph paper scale work before shifting tables around - measure up, see what's possible.  It does eat a tad more acreage than separate tables.  If you have the budget for new tables, perhaps investigate slightly narrower ones, if your space is tight.
.
Cheers, Ruth
.
* GIFSL = Good Ideas For School Libraries

Friday, May 15, 2009

GIFSL*: 24. World Time Clocks

A long time ago, when the world was young, somewhere I saw the idea for having some clocks in the library with world time on them.  So I bought some inexpensive clocks, and they went up on the wall - they've been there for several years.  When we painted the internal foyer, the clocks went back up on the wall.
.
clocks 1
.
The places underneath vary, we change them from time to time.  The basic plan is to have a place from North or South America, one from Europe, and one from Asia, to show the variation in time around the globe.  It's a bit geography, a bit world citizen, a bit, something to see in the library.  Opposite these is the library clock with OUR time on it.  We've had some interesting conversations about day/night and times in places, with the kids.
.
Recently, at Lisa's high school library, I saw her take on this.  She'd seen ours, and went back to her library with her own spin on the idea, including this:
.
clocks 2
.
Lisa added a map, and the time difference.  Clever!  It's great to watch an idea evolving, as people pick it up and make it their own.  Ian's done the clock thing too, in his primary school library - read more on his blog here.
.
What you need: three clocks (or more) - and they don't need to cost much, Ikea or two dollar shops or discount department stores have them for under $10 each.  Some idea of the places you're going to highlight.  Batteries.  Oh, and a memory, so you change the time when daylight saving starts/finishes, if you have daylight saving in your part of the world... There are plenty of easy world time websites to check for correct times.
.
Cheers, Ruth
,
GIFSL = Good Ideas For School Libraries
.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Environmental language

green.
.
Does the phrase 'energy efficiency' make you think of shivering in a poorly lit room?  Do other phrases from the environmental movement mitigate against its effectiveness?  Fascinating article in the New York Times: Seeking to save the planet: with a thesaurus by John M. Broder. 
.
Worth bringing to the attention of English teachers as well as those teaching environmental issues.
.
Cheers, Ruth
.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

GIFSL*: 23. Noticeboard

We have a noticeboard behind the borrowing desk.  It used to look like this:
.
noticeboard before
.
...which, as I realised after listening to Kevin Hennah's presentation last year, was all about us, the library staff.  Rosters, timetables, phone numbers, calendar (TWO calendars), the odd funny picture.  A couple of kid-related items - how many things you can borrow and how long for.  But, by and large, an opportunity wasted.
.
So we took pretty much all of that stuff off the noticeboard.  The rosters etc went into a folder we keep at the borrowing desk, easy to consult.
.
I didn't want just one thing on the board - our school name, or some such.  This, like our bookcase, is a chance to promote various things to the students through the year, sell sizzle, encourage borrowing/reading/library use and so forth.  Every few weeks, it changes, the refreshing of its contents a reflection of the fact that the library isn't a static place.
.
So here are a couple of more recent views of the noticeboard behind the borrowing desk:
.
noticeboard harmony day
.
This is fairly plain vanilla - I only had one Harmony Day poster.  But that, plus the local library's promotional posters for Youth Week, represent things relevant to our kids. 
.
We have left several items on the board as standard: on the left, our 'wish for the year' and just one calendar (checked each day as we turn over the date due stamps).  On the right, and on a standard proforma, standard teal coloured paper, the notices about how many books can be borrowed, and for how long, and our laminating rates.  And we did put our exterior paint colour chips up there, as we were dreaming...
.
noticeboard holiday borrowing
.
This is the noticeboard when holiday borrowing was on.  The pictures are from a recycled calendar, and the bookmarks and prizes (toothbrush/eggs) part of our prize draw.  Having them up there prompted questions and engaged the kids.  We plan to reuse the holiday borrowing poster (and the bookcase header I've blogged about before) when holiday borrowing comes around again.  For one, why reinvent a rather nice looking wheel, and for two, the return will be recognised as a signal of holiday borrowing by the kids.  Maximum effect for less effort!
.
There will be more pictures of the noticeboard here as time goes on, but for now, why not see what your library noticeboards say?  What they contain, and how else you could organise them?  Doesn't have to be costly, not at all.  It's more about thinking, and looking at what you have with fresh eyes.  Like it or not (as I realised when I looked at our noticeboard before changing it) it's one of the messages you're sending about the library and its priorities.
.
Cheers, Ruth
.
*GIFSL = Good Ideas For School Libraries

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The happy life of teacher librarians

They had asked me to get in the Warriors series, with cat heroes.  Two Year 7 girls, bright eyed and bushy tailed as is part of the fun of Year 7 kids.  Sure, I'd said, and bought the six in the first series (noting that I hadn't, by any means, exhausted what they might ask me to buy, if I had the budget for it...).  They were delighted when the books were ready for them, but worried about being able to read them all before anyone else borrowed them.  What, I said, if one of you borrows 1/3/5 and the other borrows 2/4/6, and then you can swap them and renew them till you're both all through?  Yes! they said, gleefully happy.
.
They came in today to do a renew/swap.  As is my habit, after stamping the book I reached for a bookmark from the pot on the borrowing desk.  As I've blogged about before, we always have bookmarks, and add one to each loan - usually made with Microsoft Publisher, printed on coloured cardboard, reflecting a variety of themes/seasons (holiday borrowing, ANZAC Day, Halloween - whatever we're using to promote reading at the time).  It's 'bookmark diplomacy', a small helpful gesture that represents our library philosophy, the help we offer freely.

"Oh no, Miss, I don't want a bookmark."
"Oh," I said, a tad disappointed.
"Because I already have one," she said.
"We've just put new ones out.."
"We know, Miss.  We came in this morning and got one of each of them."
"Really?"
"Oh yes, we love them, Miss.  We collect them.  We have one of EVERY one from the whole year so far, you know."
.
I didn't.  But wasn't that a lovely moment in the happy life of teacher librarians?
.
Cheers, Ruth
.

New Poet Laureate

The new Poet Laureate in the UK is Carol Ann Duffy - the first woman to hold the post in 341 years.  There's a New York Times article here.  (And read all the way to the end to chuckle about the sherry).  Interview from The Guardian here.   Blog entry from The Guardian here, arguing that her work is more important than her gender.
.
From an education point of view, if the name rings a bell, it might be because of the recent controversy over one of her poems.  Education for Leisure.  Read all about that, and read the poem, in an article from The Guardian, here.
.
Cheers, Ruth

Monday, May 11, 2009

If you build it...

Just as a snapshot of this blog in the middle of its second year... (if you click on the images you'll be able to see larger versions).
.
visit map 090511
.
People from everywhere!  Thank you!
.
stats 090511
.
Total counter: 24,721.  13 Bloglines subscribers, 8 Blogger followers.
.
319 blog entries. (Dunno how many words...!)
.
It's fascinating to see how an online presence is established - how people find this blog, how many, which posts have been most popular.  And then the challenge is to keep it fresh and engaging.  My first audience is me - I'm recording what catches my attention, for any of a number of reasons (amuses, intrigues, provokes...) as part of the terrific, fascinating, sometimes frustrating, always challenging and so often rewarding profession of being a teacher librarian in Australia in the early twentyfirst century. 
.
And then, if this blog is useful to others, especially teacher librarians, that's great too.
.
So thanks for dropping by - particularly if you're a regular - and see you again!
.
Cheers, Ruth
.

Twilight's hidden market

Mother suckers: the hidden market devouring Twilight novels* is an article by Martha C. White on Slate.com.
.
It has some fascinating statistics.  One in seven books sold in the US in the first quarter of 2009 was a Twilight novel (one of the four from the series).  Yes, you read that correctly.  One in seven.  The number of best sellers featuring vampires has gone from seven in 2006 to 27 last year (Charlaine Harris, among others, is partly responsible for this - but it's not as suprising a statistic, as the visibility and variety of vampire novels has certainly increased).
.
And the hidden market?  Non-teenagers, particularly women, for whom the escapism of the Twilight saga has proved irresistible.  Naw, that didn't surprise you, did it?
.
And the article reports (in a correction) that Midnight Sun, the version of Twilight from Edward's perspective, is still on hold with no release date.  After its unauthorised leaking, Meyer posted as much of it as she had written on her website, where you can still read it.
.
And from last week's Sydney Morning Herald, the Heckler column had a mother's lament from Kate Wattus that begins:
.
I expected motherhood to challenge me physically. And emotionally. I suspected it would try my patience, test my courage and ruin my cleavage. But I never imagined it would affect my taste in literature.

.
At uni I was on a strict diet of Bronte and Baynton, Hardy and Huxley. I could proudly display the dust jacket of my chosen read, knowing that I looked the picture of literary sophistication.
.
That was until Edward Cullen entered my life.
.
Read it all, and chuckle, here. **
.
Cheers, Ruth (whose favourite vampire novel is still Robin McKinley's brilliant Sunshine.)
.
*Sourced via Nathan Bransford's blog.
**The SMH sometimes removes online content after a fortnight.  If the link doesn't work, try googling "It's bye-bye Bronte, hello bloodsucker" by Kate Wattus.  SMH May 6 2009.
.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Renovation: the entrance, part 3

Ah, school holidays.  If you believe the view of some, it's when teachers become lotus-eaters, lounging around on yet another long holiday.  No, and not this little black duck.  I am blessed with a lovely school assistant who offered to come in for a day too so we could get a start on the wall.
.
 
.
It takes longer than you might think to paint wall words.  Consistent with the rest of the library - the purple wall downstairs, the aqua walls of the foyer - this was our plan all along.  As I've probably said before, I like this idea, which I borrowed from a Robin Hood poverty-alleviating school library renovation in New York (I provided some links in this blog entry), because the text is meaningful.  Sure, we could paint a field of daisies or something, I guess (harder to do, I'd say as well).  But this is a secondary school, and words carry meaning and convey messages and ideas, so this is what we've been doing for the last eighteen months, gradually, as time and money permit.
.
We figured we'd get about six larger-scale words up and painted, over the seven or so hours we had available (we were working in with the general assistants' hours and when the school alarms are off/on, and so forth).  Maybe more, but we'd start with that goal.  We plan to paint more, as time permits.
.
I've been asked how we do this, where to buy the stencils.  You don't.  It's low-tech, with equipment to hand in a school: photocopied transparencies (from printouts you've prepared yourself, I use Microsoft Publisher), an overhead projector, chalk.  Like this.
.
.
Back at the start of our first wall, I chose a font to be our 'library' font, and it's the one we've used on all the walls.  I'd recommend a sans serif one (less fiddly bits).  I chose one that's modern, but with the odd vintage allusion in the shape of a few letters, because I like it.  I do all the library paperwork/signage in this font.
.
The choice of our words is something to which much thought has been given.  It's an important part of the process, to think about the messages you wish to convey about the library's purpose; and the choice of words so it's accessible and inspiring to the kids, too.
.
I'm unlikely to post our master list (an evolving beastie) on this blog, for a couple of reasons: I don't want it taken by a commercial enterprise, so they can do vinyl words or other signage based on it - we've thought about it  a great deal, as I'm sure you understand (so if you're a commercial enterprise, please don't).  Secondly, if you're a TL, that process of coming up with your words is an invaluable journey for you in your renovation process.  It's an expression of philosophy, intent, purpose, vision.
.
I had to decide on six words to paint in a large size, that would express my philosophy about the library.  What would your six words be for your library?
.
Time for another picture?
.
.
A tip, from my school assistant, who is a painter.  Make up a palette record, like this - it's just a bit of cardboard, with a decent coat of the background colour, and then a record of every paint colour you plan to use.  It helps you see the possibilities and shows you how the paint colours look against the background (they can come up quite differently, one purple pot looked green on the first purple wall).  We also record which colour we use for which word, so if we have to do a touch-up, we know the correct colour to use.
.
These are craft-shop folk art paints from Spotlight, some new colours plus the purples we have left from the first purple wall and the chartreuse-olives we have from the aqua foyer.  The chips were a terrific beginning, the idea of going with oranges and chartreuse-olive on the purple, but we didn't need big cans of paint (and couldn't afford them).  These pots and tubes are between four and about eight dollars each.
.
In terms of how to make each word fit, and where to put it, that's an individual decision.  We sketched out a rough idea, but then it's trial and error, moving the OHP around, printing up another size transparency, fiddling and looking till you get the size on the wall that pleases your eye.  We aren't signwriters or professional painters, (nor is the budget for that expertise available - this is done on a very small shoestring budget) (so that means we're not doing something you can't do, for lack of money - isn't that good?).
.
.
And then you paint.  This wall involved greater challenges than the earlier ones - the paint sat differently on the doors to the bricks, and we had to chalk around the in and out of door frames.  Once again, on the brick, we skipped over the grout: trying to paint in and out of this would be difficult and look pretty dicky/iffy, I think.  This does mean, however, that you're doing a lot of edges.  The foyer was mostly flat walls, so we had to get used to brick again.  We are happy with the handpainted look of it - here, we haven't yet touched up the edges or washed off the chalk, but that's to come.  Also, there is only one coat of purple around the red resource centre and we have not yet finished with that.
.
Enough of the explanations! Doesn't it look good?  Positive comments welcome!
.
Remember, this is what it looked like towards the end of term 1.
.
.
And now it looks better - more inviting, conveying a message about the library and its purpose, much more attractive.  We are creating a positive and engaging learning environment, not just doing pretty for pretty's sake - and first impressions count.
.
.
Another view of our progress so far.  This is where we got to by day's end.  We have more to do, and it may take some months to get it done, but when the kids arrived back at school, the transformation had started.  I'm so appreciative of my school assistant for giving up a day of her holidays.
.
One question people ask: what about when the kids graffiti on this?  Well, they haven't done any graffiti on the other wall words; this is likely to be a bit less supervised.  We'll paint over it, New York Police address the little before it gets big style.  But the potential graffiti of a few kids sure isn't enough reason to say we oughta do nuffin.
.
I'll blog about this again when we've made more progress.  But the library's easier to find, now.  Even if people get told to look out for the purple wall.  It's a start.
.
Cheers, Ruth
.
PS. Of course I brought in fudgy iced chocolate brownies, and invited the general assistants to join us for morning tea.  Why do you ask?!  I took home an empty, clean dish...
.
PPS: the airconditioner is for one room off the library: the main library areas are not airconditioned.  Just in case you wondered.
.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Renovation: the entrance, part 2

So there we were with permission, paint and by a stroke of luck, the main general assistant had a little bit of time and manpower up his sleeve.  I smiled very sweetly, fed the lovely general assistants good coffee and cupcakes (cupcake diplomacy, remember? gingerbread diplomacy works too, and indeed all sorts of diplomacy of similar kind - even if they weren't charming blokes, we'd still be nice to the general assistants!)  and said, do you think the background painting could be done by, oh, the school holidays, so we can do our fussy next bits, which we wouldn't DREAM of asking you to do?  Pretty please?
.
They ain't stupid.  They saw right through that.  But they're also good blokes.  And there was a little flexibility.
.
.
Well, that looks better already!
.
.
Yup, the old paintwork on the doors had certainly lost its mojo.  The kids liked the purple, as we had hoped, and we did too.  We'd picked it to sorta tone with the library doors, and with the purple/chartreuse net curtains.
.
.
It wasn't a one-day job, and we had to juggle where kids put their bags and how they lined up to come into the library, but that was no trouble.  Not when you're seeing change like this.
.
Remember that view from the quadrangle?  Reckon you could work out that there's SOMETHING going on over there now?
.
.
Ah, chartreuse.  A favourite colour.  The paint colours used here are both Dulux ones, but were used in bases from other paint companies, so they might look a tad different to the chips.  The purple is Regalia, and the chartreuse, Golden Passionfruit.
.
.
We like.  So did the kids.  And the holidays were one day away.  Hurrah for the general assistants!
.
What do you think?  Bit of a transformation already?  Comments welcome!
.
Come back tomorrow for what happened in the holidays.
.
Cheers, Ruth.
.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Renovation: the entrance, part 1

If you're a regular reader of this blog, you may have been wondering what it would be like to visit my school and come to the library.
.
Sad to say, you may find yourself with the problem others have told me about.
.
Where is it?
.
.
This is the view from the quadrangle.
.
.
OK, getting a bit closer, but this could be any block, any faculty (well, unless you've spotted the purple/chartreuse net curtains, which sure ain't standard issue!).
.
.
Ah, right.  Resource centre.  Must have been built in the seventies (yup).  Now to you, dear teacher librarian blogreader, resource centre, school library, schmibrary, you're not fazed.  But to the mug punter, is a resource centre a library? 
.
Bzzzzzzzzzzzt. Not sure.  And it does get referred to around the school, and by me, as the school library, because that is a beautiful lovely term, as is 'teacher librarian'; and also resource centre can be used as an umbrella term for 'can we give you lots more not necessarily relevant things to look after/do, because they're resources', which you can instantly see may lack appeal.  But I've had parents who couldn't find it, new students who couldn't find it, tradespeople who couldn't find it...
.
.
Yup.  It's still a resource centre from this angle too.  The lettering is the signwriting standard used around the school to identify buildings.  Also very seventies, that font.
.
So recently (I do like to tell stories, don't I?  But you are enjoying it, and this is illustrated....) I had some teacher librarian friends to visit one afternoon, and I towed them outside and said, what CAN be done here?  And they offered various suggestions and ideas.
.
Take-away message? Don't just do your own thinking.  Get your TL pals to offer their ideas.  Remember, you don't have to do ANYTHING they suggest.  If they think that painting it all pink with orange spots and black stripes would be just the ticket, you can nod and smile as gratefully as you do when they offer suggestions that don't make you shudder.   My pals didn't make me shudder.  (Also they read this blog, so of course none of the above refers in any way to their exquisite taste and helpful suggestions).  Paint was on my mind, and on theirs, and we talked about where it might go.  I then took these ideas to my school assistants, and we looked at the entrance area, and talked some more.
.
In the education system within which I work, some things are possible, and some are not; and that's the same for everyone.  The budget for this area is small, very small, but there are also other constraints (no horizontal surfaces can be painted, so the beautiful concrete ceiling will remain a beautiful concrete ceiling).
.
I got permission from the Principal for some painting.  Then my staff and I played with paint chips.
.
Remember these?
.
.
Don't you love showing paint chips that thrill your soul to men who roll their eyes?  It's a beautiful moment.  But the school general assistants are obliging and charming (they don't read this blog, but it's still true) and so they went and bought paint.
.
Having whetted your appetite, or so I hope, more tomorrow. Come and visit, and see what happens next.
.
ANYTHING we do has to look better than what you see above, doesn't it?  And surely we should be looking at ways to create a better first impression from outside than is the case right now?  Oh yes.
.
More tomorrow!  Cheers, Ruth
.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

GIFSL*: 22. Cupcake diplomacy

.
At the end of last term, I scooted around the school staffrooms one recess, and gave every teacher who wore a Holiday Borrowing badge a special thankyou bookmark (for their holiday reading) and an Easter cupcake.  Not that I'm being mean to the colleagues who didn't wear a badge, and I'm sure there are lots of reasons why they didn't get their info to me, but hey, teachers like being fed a free cupcake, don't they? So maybe fingers crossed I'll have even more takers next time I solicit participation in holiday borrowing, or another library program?
.
Now stop saying you can't cook, or you don't have time.  Took an hour or two to make and ice them, tops, and this is easy easy cookery.
.
What you need: Green's Really Good Chocolate Cake mix (this is fast work, OK, but this mix doesn't taste 'packet') and the ingredients it asks you to add. ECONOSECRET: I make them using little muffin tins and little muffin/cupcake paper cases, so there's a nice mouthful in each one and I get lots of cupcakes made: this time, with this mix, it made around 50.  The icing mix is in the packet too, and I added the eggs on top from an Aldi baglet.  I cooked them for 10-15 min (depends on your oven) - the mix is for one big two-layer cake, but fifty cupcakes served my purposes nicely.  And my colleagues liked them (you made them?!), and felt appreciated, and it cost me under $10 (maybe 15c per thankyou).  Cheap as cupcakes! (well, not if you buy them commercially).
.
Cupcake diplomacy.  I had a few left over which were deployed in other useful thankyou ways.
.
Cheers, Ruth
.

*GIFSL = Good ideas for school libraries

Monday, May 4, 2009

Twilight: New Moon: posters (fan made) & musings on the teaching life

.
There.  Won't your students love you for showing them this?  Libraries (and teacher librarians). Are.  Cool.
.
Found it here and here.
.
That sound you hear is the Twilightery hyperventilating.  And it's only May...
.
Apparently these posters are fan made.  Here are a few more, from links found here.
.
.
.
.
Apart from anything else, my middle-aged mind boggles a tad at what 'fan-made' can mean with today's technology.  Maybe these are by adult Twilight fans, but maybe they're by high school age kids.  Nowadays, they could be.  Back when I was at high school, there was no way known we could have done anything of this kind.  No internet.  There was one computer at the school, I think; in a maths storeroom.  I gave up 'computer studies' in Year 11 because all it seemed to be about was binary code, and that palled very quickly for me.. The only source of current pictures to even attempt something like this would have been magazines.  I don't remember any colour photocopiers.  Lettering was something you did by hand, using the guidance of a lettering book or copying something you'd seen printed; or else using a sheet of rub-on transfers that you'd bought.  Photography involved film (and finishing the film), and developing, and enlargements weren't an especially cheap prospect.
.
And yet, here's part of the challenge: now, we as teachers, who maybe are old enough to remember those days in the seventies, have the challenge and responsibility of teaching kids using technology they've been familiar with 'as long as they remember' and which we come to differently.  It's part the way our role is changing - if my teachers at school were experts, we now cannot in the same way be experts, for so many reasons.  Not in the same way, but that doesn't mean we aren't necessary, or important, or that we teachers don't still bring to the classroom things which our students do or cannot know. 
.
All of us in the classroom today, have much to learn.  We are all learners, lifelong learners.  When I was at teachers' college (some young teacher colleagues spontaneously grinned the other day when I instantly dated myself by referring to 'teachers' college') Education Technology for my GradDipEd meant slide projectors, film projectors, film cameras, fordigraphs. (I think those colleagues may have been in their infancy when I was mastering Education Technology at teachers' college...).  And now I blog, and you read, and the world changes, all the time.
.
And those posters will still make the Twilightery swoon, just as their equivalent did back then.  The more things change - the more some things stay the same!
.
Cheers, Ruth.
.
PS.  Another bonbon: here's a recent interview with Robert Pattinson from The Guardian.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Free e-book of Temeraire



If you'd like a free e-book of Naomi Novik's novel, Temeraire (aka His Majesty's Dragon)- or one of several other first-in-a-popular-series books, take a look here.  Legal, too. (That's the US cover).
.
Here's the publisher's description:
.
Aerial combat brings a thrilling new dimension to the Napoleonic Wars as valiant warriors rise to Britain's defense by taking to the skies . . . not aboard aircraft but atop the mighty backs of fighting dragons. When HMS Reliant captures a French frigate and seizes its precious cargo, an unhatched dragon egg, fate sweeps Capt. Will Laurence from his seafaring life into an uncertain future-and an unexpected kinship with a most extraordinary creature. Thrust into the rarified world of the Aerial Corps as master of the dragon Temeraire, he will face a crash course in the daring tactics of airborne battle. For as France's own dragon-borne forces rally to breach British soil in Bonaparte's boldest gambit, Laurence and Temeraire must soar into their own baptism of fire.

.
It's a terrific read.  There are several formats offered as well as pdf.
.
The next question is, how will you let your kids know? Library blog? Signs? Bookmarks? Library newsletter? Parental newsletter?  What avenues do you have to publicise the library, books and reading? How do you use them? How more might you use them?
.
Cheers, Ruth

ADDED LATER
.
I innocently posted to a couple of Australian teacher librarian lists, to let people know about this.
.
It started off a fascinating discussion about whether or not kids like ebooks (do they know what they are? have they read any?), whether or not we should be pushing yet more electronic stuff at kids (aren't they galloping into the e-world without any pushing from us?) and that oft-repeated and never-solved debate about print books vs ebooks, paper vs screen.
.
Below is an email I sent in reply to these concerns and ideas.  I will freely admit to having composed it in between answering kids' questions, finding books, working out why we suddenly had half a class appearing at the library minus note or a teacher, answering the phone, and other such minutiae and amusements of a teacher librarian's day.  Oh, and bites of my lunch, better late than never.  So if this isn't the most polished prose you've ever read - it's got immediacy.  Can't have everything!
.
I don't think for and against e-books is for or against paper books. Me, I love books and reading, in all sorts and ways. Some more than others - as yet, I haven't found a graphic novel that stirs my soul. But I know plenty of my students have - they love their manga/war stories in graphic novel form/and so on, and so I buy these for the library. (And when Diana Gabaldon's Outlander graphic novel comes out this year or next, it may be the one that converts me personally to graphic novels.)

.
One of the acknowledged impacts of the internet/social networking/sms and texting/ is that reading and writing are a part of these (even if it involves sms-language, a strange and wonderful beast on which my eyes still tend to stumble). In some respects, our students are reading and writing more, interacting in these social contexts. And are kids being forced to drown in electronica, or are they cheerfully immersing themselves in this brave new world? And aren't they, in so many ways, finding stories in this brave new world? Social narratives in Facebook entries. Adventures in video games. Snapshots in songs on their iPods. Stories of so many kinds in DVDs and movies. All sorts of narratives on websites - comics in serial form, fanfic, blogged lives, and so on. Human beings are hungry for stories, fascinated by them, and we find them in all sorts of ways, from the oral sagas of centuries ago through to today, and tomorrow, whatever it may offer.
.
I have an immense loyalty to print, but I also have an immense responsibility to encourage my kids to read, and provide lots of opportunities for this.
.
In this country, e-readers are pricey - even the Kindle in the US isn't dirt cheap, but the Amazon setup enabling instantaneous download of any of thousands of books via their mobile phone network offers an option that we don't have here, yet. But I've read a lot of discussion about it, including many people who love love love their print books and who have, to their surprise, found themselves converted to Kindle reading.
.
Part of what's happening with the design of e-readers is the aim of making them 'invisible' as books are 'invisible' - text easy on the eyes, pages turn readily, a size and shape that lets you curl up and read with this as you would with a paper book, so you are engaged by the narrative rather than distracted by the format.
.
In every such discussion that I've read, the commentary splits between the Kindleconverts (who cannot imagine going back), the diehard paperbookreaders (who cannot imagine changing), and those who range between the two, liking some reading more on their ereaders, preferring other reading from print (fiction or text nonfiction works better than illustrated nonfiction on the ereaders, is my impression). Each to their own. But we aren't just talking about what we like, but what we can do for our kids.
.
Surely, and I know the boundaries vary between primary and secondary kids, we have a responsibility to offer choices. I don't expect every kid will love graphic novels/e books/print books, for that matter. But a choice lets them find their own way. Whether we, as older readers, read or like ebooks isn't really relevant. And how many kids have tried ebooks? Know they exist? Aren't we preparing them, to the best of our ability, to the world into which they will travel, rather than limiting them by the world in which we've been travelling. Our experiences of course inform our teaching, but we have a responsibility to be open to change, and to offer our students choices.
.
It's the same reason for having books covering a range of reading abilities - I'd rather have a kid reading Twilight or an Aussie Chomp, than say, if you ain't reading Dickens, you ain't reading. Read something, anything, get engaged with this, and then some will move on to read more. Some may stick with Twilight, or quick reads, or Warhammer (it's the ONLY thing I read, miss). But they'll have been reading.
.
It seemed, and seems to me, that one of the advantages of alerting kids to an e-book freebie like Temeraire is the fact that it's a good read, a terrific story, and it's free. A sample. No obligation. Something maybe new, and so you can see if it suits you or not. Kids can see if it suits them or not.
.
But I have a problem with the idea that if I don't like the concept, or don't approve of it for reasons to which I may have given much thought, then I won't tell my kids about it. We undoubtedly have a role as gatekeepers, but with great power, comes great responsibility (thanks, Spiderman). An e-book isn't the end of the world, or the last straw, or anything like it. It's a story in a different format. A chance to read. A fishing opportunity to catch another reader, to share a story.
.
I'm for that.
.
Cheers, Ruth
.
PS GREAT article on e-books from the Wall St Journal: How the e-book will change the way we read and write, by Steven Johnson.
.