Wednesday, 28 November 2012


As this course draws to a close, I breathe a sigh of relief. I made it!  I had the mindset that the course would be dealing mainly with physical access to the library. I had never heard of MARC records along with a lot of the terminology. I have developed a newfound appreciation for those who create these records and am very thankful my district has full, centralized cataloguing.  
This course enabled me to have a better understanding of the role “behind the scenes so to speak” of the teacher-librarian.  It provided me with important questions to explore and challenged me to rethink how a school library should be organized both physical and virtual.
I must admit it was intimidating being one of the few non teacher-librarians in the course.   I think my participation was good as I posted in both the discussion forum and my blog each week, read every comment and contributed when I could.  I found it difficult making comments with no library experience.  Many seemed to draw on their experiences in their own school library.  However,  their comments helped me make sense of the lessons and confirm my understanding.  It was reassuring to know there were people online to help.  The online discussions also provided me with a glimpse of what is going on in other school libraries and I came away with insightful ideas to keep in mind for when I am in the position of teacher-librarian. 
I had never really considered digital access in terms of the school library before.  Through the lessons, I developed a better understanding of why this is important.
Looking back on my posts, I see how my views and vision have changed from someone who was skeptical about the need for digital access in the library to someone who recognizes that in this day and age, this is key in supporting information literacy and helping students access resources independently.  Creating a Library website doesn't seem such a daunting task,  too.
While I am still in the classroom, I believe I can better serve my students as I now have the knowledge to successfully navigate the school’s online catalogue.  I  feel more confident in exploring with the students the district’s online databases along with searching successfully and safely on the Internet.  Once in the position of teacher-librarian,  I can hopefully share my knowledge with the wider school community. 
In terms of the physical access to the library, having a more in-depth look at our school library has allowed me to see where improvements to access could be made. I have a deeper understanding of how things such as signage, displays, and shelving affect access to resources.
While there is still much to learn,  I am excited about the prospect of one day working in a school library and putting into practice the knowledge I have gained through this course. 

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Library Website

This week made me realize the benefits of having a library webpage. I came into this course as someone who would ask the teacher-librarian help finding resources on a particular topic or author, having no idea I could access the online catalogue.  I imagine a school library website with a wealth of information including access to the school's online catalogue.  Now, I am able to access so much more information on my own and I think my students have benefited from it.  Just this week, we were looking at World Book in French for info on the provinces and territories.
I enjoyed and found it informative viewing other school library websites.  I think the key to having a successful website,which is utilized by both staff and students, is to integrate it as much as possible into your daily work life.  By this I mean, having links to your school's OPAC, online databases your district subscribes to, grade level websites and webpages, etc... making it so most information you need for your lessons are at your fingertips.  Collaborating with teachers would be a good start so they can see first hand the benefits of the site and can help promote the site, too. Students need to interact with the site, too.  They need to be accessing better Internet sites and digital resources and what better way then starting in the library.  This really hit home for me last night when my sixteen year-old daughter said to me she didn't know why I had chosen to do a PREZI for my assignment.  She had looked at the PREZI site with a group for a class and they had decided it was too confusing.  I think she would have been far less intimidated with the site if she had been given some instruction and a chance to explore the site in class.  It took me a little work going through the tutorials, help feature and doing a practice PREZI first. Back to the website.  You need to get the word out as well. One of my run colleagues who is also a teacher didn't realize she could access the school's online catalogue from home.  It will take some time to set up but I do also see the school library website has something that can be a timesaving tool for the teacher-librarian.  Once the school community is familiar with the workings of the site and are able to access more resources on their own, this would hopefully free the teacher-librarian to concentrate on other areas.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Library Catalogue

I enjoyed exploring our District's online catalogue this week.  I realized there is so much to learn and discover with Destiny.  The posts this week help me with exploring different options available.
I thought the online catalogue was user friendly and with some guidance, even primary students can meet with success.  Of benefit, is the fact the online catalogue can be access from anywhere.  Presently, there are no computers in our library but this does not need to stop the students from accessing the catalogue in their classroom.  They can come to the library with printouts of books they would like to take out for instance.
As a mentioned in the discussion form, I was happy to see you could access the catalogue in French but it was more limiting than in English.  At times, English results appeared instead of the French.  This could be confusing and frustrating for students learning another language.  I imagine you could have a conversation with the district library helping teacher about this.  This shows another good example of the importance of networking with other teacher-librarians.
I did get the admin password from our teacher-librarian and did some exploring of the site.  I wasn't too sure of a few things so consulted the district's library manual for guidance.  I didn't find this particularly useful and recognized the importance of spending the time and asking questions about the system.  Perhaps getting the teacher-librarian to sit down with me and show the site as someone in the discussion forum had done.  My district does also offer training for TOC's on Destiny so I imagine this is available for new teacher-librarian,too?
Before this week, I really hadn't accessed the online catalogue much. I was excited to see some of the options it offers and how it could help me and my students in the classroom.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Cataloguing and Processing

Luckily, in our school district we have centralized cataloguing.  Honestly, I don't know how teacher-librarians would cope without it as they provide prep time to students from K to 4.  Our library is busy. Where would they find the time?  As our teacher-librarian would say, we are in the business of teaching. I got a little sidetracked this week, thinking of how to easily acquire French books without paying a fortune.  I do think if I were to give up teaching I could perhaps become a library book jobber specializing in French books!
I am in a school that seems to have a wealth of money for the library so it never crossed my mind about lending out books even if they were not processed.  I did interview another teacher-librarian for another course who had limited funds and I could see myself hesitating lending books out as I wouldn't have the funds to replace them should they not return.
Our teacher-librarian always seems one step ahead with ordering books.  She has books put aside in June for the following year just waiting for the fall budget to come in.  She knows some of the district's library technicians and rarely waits more than two weeks for books.  This week, I got a more in-depth glimpse into the ins and outs of ordering books and will take these insights with me when I do get a teacher-librarian job of my own.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Dewey or don't we classify?

I do believe the DDC system is necessary in the school library.  A lot of work and thought has gone into the system with numerous revisions.  I think, if taught probably, students can navigate the school library collection with success.  As mentioned in this week's article, "Dewey or don't we classify?", good signage is key along with instruction of how the use the system.  At our school, the teacher- librarian places the books out on the carpet for the Kindergarten students to select and therefore do not actually browse the books on the shelves. As they get older, they independently search for books, asking the teacher-librarian for assistance when needed.  
As there is only one computer in the library that is located behind the circulation desk, it is common for teachers to ask the teacher-librarian where a book is located in the library and not search for the book themselves.  It seems to not be problematic, as the teacher-librarian is full time at the school and available to help in your search for books.  I could see this as being an issue if the teacher-librarian is part-time or not available and the teacher is wanting to find a book in the library on their own.  Providing opportunities for them (teachers and students alike) to learn the Dewey Decimal Classification system, I believe will serve students well as they progress through the educational system and make them feel more comfortable using the library.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012


Since we went on a field trip geocaching today and as this is a relatively new topic for me, I decided to begin by searching this topic on Delicious.  The tags I found were geocaching, gps, maps, gis, travel, tools, map and outdoors.  All of the tags seemed appropriate and when I clicked on the links,  they were active and relevant.  I do think Delicious is quite similar to Pinterest where one could spend hours looking up info and run the rest of getting sidetracked.  I did appreciate the fact that one can narrow down their search using the tags.
The second topic I looked up was constellations as this is a topic I will be starting shortly with my students.  The top tags were space, science, stars, astronomy.  These were all tags I would expect to find under constellations.  However, I did find it strange that the second link for Constellations on th first page was Odd Christmas gifts.  Not sure about that one?  I am not too clear how the public tags and links are chosen on Delicious but it doesn't seem selective enough and at times not appropriate for a school setting.  It seems to me it could be better organized?  For instance, I also looked up Wayne Gretzky as I often have students wanting to choose a hockey player for their annual speech and found some tags that were really not suitable for the school setting.  Maybe there is some way of avoiding/filtering these tags?  Having said this, I do see Delicious as a useful timesaving tool for storing bookmarks and could see myself using this professionally but not with my students.

Sunday, 21 October 2012


It was interesting to see how much the CIP has evolved over the years with so much more information being added, in general.  I also was surprised with the detail that was added to the Dr. Seuss book(1957) I looked at.  Thank goodness, we now have pictures you can add to records that help patrons recognize the book.   I can not imagine adding such detail to each book and ever book.
I am also still wondering about subject headings and how to add them to a record for added accessibility.  Something I will need to investigate.
The second book I chose  was O Canada by Ted Harrison.  While the book offers descriptions of each province/territory, the book was written before Nunavut was a territory.  While I, as a classroom teacher, use this book for its art, I was thinking it might be an idea to perhaps have the students make their own page featuring Nunavut.  As a teacher-librarian, I do wonder about weeding out these types of material as the information is outdated.
As for the third book, I looked at was the Giving Tree, I was surprised under the subject  headings that only trees was featured.  It made me realize the importance subject headings play in making a book more accessible.  I was speaking with our teacher-librarian and as far as she knows we are only allowed to add to the notes section.  I guess this will be something I will have to investigate when I do have a teacher-librarian job should the need arise.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

MARC records

"The Marc record is frightening at first, seeming complicated, written in a different language." 
I can attest to feeling all of the above!  At the beginning of the week, I did think to myself, what have I gotten myself into!  I can't do this.   Taking a deep breath, diving in and trying to create a few records on my own and checking them with the VPL was not as difficult as I had originally thought.  With practice, I wasn't doing too badly.
I do appreciate and think this week's lesson was beneficial and will be helpful should I ever want to add information to a MARC record in our school library. We have central cataloging in our district.  I am by far an expert but now have an understanding of how a MARC record works.
We have talked a lot about access in  class and I think the on-line catalogue could be a useful tool in providing access to students and teachers to resources.  Being able to create our own MARC records, allows us to add important details to our on-line catalogues which might have otherwise been missed by central cataloging.  The more details we add, the more likely a student or teacher will take out or look at a resource.  In these times, it is important teacher-librarians do all the can to keep circulation numbers up and the school library busy.


Friday, 5 October 2012


Access point is "a unit of information in a bibliographic record under which a person may search for and identify items listed in a library catalog or bibliographic database."(ODLIS)

As I was browsing our school's library on-line catalogue this week, I came to realize how much this tool could help in the selection of books for primary students by parents.  I teach French Immersion in an area where there is high parent involvement and I often have parents asking about suitable French books for them to read at home with their children.  We have a wealth of French books at the school that parents and students alike could easily access.  I think circulation rates would increase,  too by making the parents aware of the school library's on-line catalogue and promoting it at such events as Meet the Teacher.
I could see some parents looking up books on-line with their children and discussing which books they would like to take out.  On a side note, I realized you need to spell the title, author or subject correctly when using the school library's on-line catalogue.  This could be challenging and frustrating for primary students.  It would be a great feature if like Google the search said "do you mean this?".  I'm sure this must be coming with time.
I also noticed some of the catalogue records needed more information such as summaries written in English for parents as well as identifying the target audience(this is especially important with French material as most often the parent is unaware what is suitable).  I know with my French Scholastic order, the parents appreciate that each of the books is numbered for an appropriate grade level making it easier for selection.  Having said this, I am not sure how this would play out in my district as the processing of books is done at the district level?  I am not clear either whether the teacher-librarian can add to the record herself/himself?   It could be a worthwhile endeavour though, if parents would access it.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Search Engines

I felt a little overwhelmed this week with my lack of computer knowledge. I spent the better part of the week just trying to figure out the technology terms before trying to formulate a response.  I have always used google as my search engine without giving it much thought.  I needed to find a recipe, a lesson idea, etc.. and I would google away.
This week I came away realizing that I need to make more of an effort to explore different search engines as this can provide me with hits that I would not necessarily have seen previously. I also realized I need to make better use of my school district's online resources which I was unaware existed until recently.  It has been a huge learning curve this week but well-worth it.

Sunday, 16 September 2012


This week's lesson made me really think about my personal beliefs around access in the library.  I found this difficult to answer/formulate as I am not a teacher-librarian yet.  I am however, glad and see the benefits as to why we visited this subject of access.  It took me many years to have a firm set of beliefs as a classroom teacher and if we are discussing this now, I feel I will be better prepared when I do eventually get my own library.
The reading I particularly enjoyed this week was David Loertscher's article:  School Libraries need a Revolution as I was keenly interested in his vision as to where libraries should be heading.  While he shares many different and exciting possibilities, many involving technology, I wonder how this could work in schools that are struggling to keep up with technology, such as our school and are lacking in technology support?  If I were in the library, I think a good start would be in establishing a library website.  I could see a site that is interactive and where, for instance students are able to participate in book clubs on-line.
One last thing.  There was much talk about ereaders this week.  I wonder- do students use them?  I have yet to see a student with one (I do teach elementary school, though).  I have tried to encourage my two teenagers to download books they want on my Kobo but no luck, they want to hold the book.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Teacher-Librarian's Role

This first week, after reading Student's Information Information Literacy Needs in the 21st Century: Competencies for Teacher Librarians, it became apparent to me, as someone who is not yet a teacher-librarian, the importance in having a clear understanding of our role as teacher-librarian as this helps shape our organization of the library.  Looking at 1.8 on digital access, I realized as there is limited access to computers in our school library, my role as teacher-librarian, in the short term, would be to provide access to the library outside the four walls, starting with a library webpage and building from there.

I also particularly enjoyed the bio about Melvil Dewey.  I found it quite interesting and beneficial having this background information when introducing the Dewey Decimal system to students.  I must admit though I find it a little overwhelming learning and teaching about the Dewey system and look forward to acquiring more knowledge about the system in Lesson 8.  
I do wonder how to maintain a balance between keeping the library organized and running an effective program.   Networking with others and taking the time to reflect on the decisions I make come to mind as being important considerations.  I do feel fortunate to be teaching in Surrey where there seems to be the support needed for someone like myself who will hopefully be starting out as a teacher-librarian in the future.  

"As the biggest library, if it is in disorder is not as useful as a small but well-arranged one, so you may accumulate a vast amount of knowledge but it will be of far less value to you than a much smaller amount if you have not thought it over for yourself."
-- Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860), German philosopher