Category Archives: School Libraries

Connected Learning: Project Information Literacy Interviews S. Craig Watkins

Project Information Literacy (PIL) has just shared the Information Literacy’s latest “Smart Talk” interview with Craig Watkins a leading thinker on social media, connected learning and youth.

In the interview, Craig says:

“While schools do not always suffer from a lack of technology, they
consistently suffer from a lack of vision in how the technology will be used. In high-poverty schools, technology is rarely used to promote the development of higher-order thinking skills, such as design, problem-solving, or coding. Schools must invest in highly-skilled instructors and curricula that cultivate the skills associated with innovation. This is not necessarily a technological barrier, but rather a social barrier. By expanding what we help students learn
to do with technology, we increase the likelihood that they can begin to more fully leverage the power and possibilities of social, digital, and mobile platforms.”

To read the entire interview :

Learning Everywhere: A Roadmap (Article from ACCESS, Australian School Library Association, 2012)

Learning Everywhere

Reprinted with permission from the Australian School Library Association Inc. (ASLA) ACCESS, Vol. 26, No. 4, November 2012.

A lot has changed in the years since I visited Australia and spoke at the ASLA conference in 2009. Rapid technological advances continue to change the way we communicate, share and learn. The landscape can be defined in these terms: participatory, connected, pervasive.

In A New culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change by Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown, the authors discuss the impact of technology on education and on society. The authors argue that the old adage “teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime” is limited because this assumes that there will always be unlimited fish and no changes to the concept and mechanisms of fishing. Change, however, is a constant and one of the things we struggle to adapt to in libraries while staying true to our mission.

Technology enhances that change exponentially. “Today’s networked technology,” write Thomas and Brown,  “is more than just a conduit to communicate information; it is a platform to share and network imaginations. Technology, like never before has become a tool to build worlds.” I propose that with the power of emerging technologies, the potential of the personal learning network, and the possibilities for newer methods of instruction, both teacher librarians and their students are on a positive path toward an emerging landscape of constant learning and growth. This article scans current research, the technology environment in LIS and recent trends to provide an overview and roadmap toward learning everywhere.

Transformative Learning 2.0

For the 2009 CAVAL project and now for a pilot study in the United States, I continue to explore and research the Learning 2.0 phenomenon, also known as “23 Things.” Created in 2006, by librarians at the public library of Charlotte Mecklenburg County, Learning 2.0 acquaints library staff with emerging technology via self-directed learning modules delivered via the Web. For CAVAL in 2009, we created a national survey of Australian library staff and conducted focus groups around the country. Three articles from the data, focus groups and case study site were published. Analyzing the data of the study offers a chance to understand the impact and effect of Learning 2.0. In Australia, these thematic statements were found to reflect the experience of those participating in the program:

  • It is a personal change more than an institutional change.
  • Staff are more confident, comfortable, and open to emerging technologies.
  • The library is using the tools to varying degrees of success.
  • Organizational blocks prevent use of the tools.

These four statements paint a picture of what is possible with Learning 2.0 as well as what some of the barriers might be. We discovered that it was a personal change for participants more than a sweeping organizational change. Words such as “confidence,” “comfort,” and “ongoing exploration” were used by those who described their experience.

Sadly, one underrepresented population in our national survey was that of the teacher librarian. The data gathered included only 10 respondents who identified as teacher librarians. Although a small amount of data, the responses from teacher librarians included statements that echo the above findings. These include: “I have enjoyed learning about new applications and have used them at work and personally – without being specifically encouraged other than given the opportunity to participate in 2.0” and “It was like a kick up the behind in getting me actively learning about this very important area, and helped me to get back into continuing education after a period of stagnation.” Blocks and barriers impact teacher librarians as well: “I have used applications when developing displays and I can see many other opportunities to use these tools if allowed to!”

This semester I am teaching a class I developed called Transformative Learning and Technology Literacies based on Mezirow’s concepts of transformative learning as a framework to study the impact of learning 2.0 on library staff. “Education that fosters critically reflective thought, imaginative problem posing, and discourse is learner-centered, participatory, and interactive, and it involves group deliberation and group problem solving” (1997, p. 10). In the Australian study, we discovered that program “champions,“ those designated as helpers for staff in each department were beneficial to the process as were group work on the modules.

For my class, we partner with library sites globally and groups of students act as champions themselves, developing and implementing a miniature learning 2.0 program. This semester, I’m excited that two of our site libraries are in Australia, as the CAVAL project comes full circle to influencing the learning of library staffs three years later. We also partnered with the American School in Japan to deliver an augmented version of Learning 2.0 for the staff of the school library there. This program will feature an exploration of emerging technologies with individual reflections posted to Twitter and group blogging activities to reflect on the impact of these technologies on teaching and learning.

Transformative learning “requires that new information be incorporated…into an already well developed…frame of reference, an active process involving thought, feelings, and disposition” (Mezirow, 1997, p. 10) with the potential to dramatically impact the learning process. With each new idea, affordance or thought, learners amend and expand their paradigm, reframing their view of the world.

I tell my students the class and the Learning 2.0 project will be fun, messy, chaotic and can seem rather daunting but I promise them they will learn.  I think we could say the same for learning in our own organizations and for learning in general. Space for learning should be safe and encourage play and exploration – along with those comes chaos and messiness. Creativity can be encouraged as well. Mobile devices and applications make this an even easier task.

Going Mobile

I look to the Horizon Report published by the New Media Consortium and EDUCAUSE each year for insights on what technologies are impacting teaching and learning this year is no exception and examining what the various reports say can be beneficial to understanding how our students learn. Although focused on higher education we can learn a lot from these reports. For example, the report focused on tertiary education in Australia points to some of the same technologies that will be impacting K-12. These include cloud computing, mobile devices/applications and tablets. All of these technologies share a common ground: portable, everywhere access.

The Horizon report for K-12 education describes the impact of mobile devices and applications and says “once banned from the classroom, mobile devices and apps have become such a compelling tools that schools are beginning to rethink standing policies, and some are even beginning to implement ‘bring your own device’ (BYOD) programs.” Students, they report, want to use their own technology in their learning.

Mobile devices and applications can also transform the process of discovery for ourselves and our students. Not only can access occur anywhere, but the possibilities for learning and sharing creative projects grows.  Have you created a digital story with photos snapped on a smartphone or other device? How about a video sharing a new idea or plan you are using in your practice? In the hands of youth, a mobile device can be a powerful tool for expression and discovery. Let them tell their own story via images, video or sound. Turn assignments upside down with the inclusion of a media-based component. Work with teachers to help them understand the potential.

Personal Learning Networks

Richardson and Mancabelli (2011) define learning networks as “the rich set of connections each of us can make to people in both our online and offline worlds who help us with our learning pursuits (p. 21).” Creating a model of a Personal Learning Network (PLN), Rajagopal et al describe it as such:

A personal learning network (PLN) is a network set up by an individual specifically in the context of her professional activities through online platforms to support her professional non–formal learning needs. Therefore, a professional who intentionally builds, maintains and activates her strong, weak and very weak ties with contacts within her personal network for the purpose of improving her learning — and uses technology to support this activity — is creating a personal learning network. (citation?)

The creation of a personal learning network (PLN) via current and emerging communication technologies may be one positive result of participation in Learning 2.0 programs, as evidenced by the Australian study. Survey respondents reported utilizing emerging technologies, specifically blogs and RSS feeds in many instances, as a means to keep up with library news and thought. In light of these responses and findings, I see a strong relation between the self-directed program as foundational for development of a learning network for library staff.

Time to Play

Jenkins (2006) argues that our emerging participatory culture brings a need for new skills: “The new literacies almost all involve social skills developed through collaboration and networking. These skills build on the foundation of traditional literacy, research skills, technical skills, and critical analysis skills taught in the classroom.” He defines play as “the capacity to experiment with one’s surroundings as a form of problem-solving.” He asserted that play is one of the emerging social literacies for education. The Learning 2.0 model combines transparency, play, and opportunities to explore new spaces into a unique approach to self-directed professional development.

A focus on play, innovation and experimentation is needed for 21st Century learning success, argue Thomas and Brown. These concepts were foundational to the original Learning 2.0 program and continue to be emphasized when the program is utilized in libraries. Thomas and Brown also argue that the world is changing faster than ever and acquired skill sets have a much shorter life in this new landscape.

This is a concern for library staff as technologies change so quickly. New forms of learning – play and experimentation – can ameliorate this problem: “Much of what makes play powerful as a tool for learning is our ability to engage in experimentation…. Most critically, play reveals a structure of learning that is radically different from the one that most schools or other formal learning environments provide, and which is well suited to the notions of a world in constant flux. (Kindle Locations 1376-1379)”

Navigating Multiple Channels

As we become more adept at curating our own PLNs, we might find that we have moved beyond just reading blogs and news sites to other channels of interaction. What begins as a Twitter conversation may lead to Facebook, back to a blog and on to another site that’s new.

Jenkins writes that “Transmedia Navigation” is the “ability to follow the flow of stories and information across multiple modalities.” This is one approach to exploring emerging literacies centered around technology as well as how we might think about navigating the information in our PLNs. It’s also good to consider the impact of technology in relation to mindfulness – sometimes these multiple channels can seem overwhelming! When we understand how to participate in the ebb and flow of our information channels, the technology fades into the background and content comes to the forefront. Stories are powerful things for teaching and learning. The Center for Digital Storytelling notes on its “What We Do” page: “Technology is a powerful instrument of creativity” and “Sharing stories can lead to positive change.”

Roadmap to Everywhere

I would urge teacher librarians and others working with students in library media centers to consider the following based on this scan of the current technological environment above.

Launch an ASLA 23 Things Initiative: In my talk at ASLA, I detailed the initial findings of my research in Australia concerning Learning 2.0. After further analysis of the data and recent publications, I’d strongly urge the association to explore the program for the membership. Work together to discover the current technologies of the days as well as those on the horizon. Participants will understand not only how the tools work but how they might utilize to the tools for their own ongoing PLN. Share with your teachers and administrators what the program can do for building comfort and confidence with emerging tools.

Explore trans-media learning. Follow developing stories in your field across blogs, Twitter, Facebook and more. Delve into newer channels you haven’t yet discovered. Personal curating tools such as Scoop It or Pinterest allow even more sharing. Understand what it means to follow a story across a wide spectrum of modes and formats. Master it and then teach your students the same. This will be a factor in the world they grow into.

Incorporate mobile devices and apps into your learning. The original 23 Things style programs were Web-based. Now, we can also create modules and learning objects centered around mobile devices, tablets and the plethora of apps available. Use this to demonstrate to administrators and governing bodies that mobile devices offer enhancements to learning and creativity on a scale never before available.

Advocate to break down barriers. Use the above ideas and evidence cited in this article to demonstrate the usefulness of access to potentially blocked tools in your setting. Explore the possibilities of allowing students to bring their own devices into the classroom to utilize during lessons and collaborative searching.

Encourage creativity. Explore resources online devoted to digital storytelling of all kinds. Share with teachers and students and urge assignments to take on a medi-focused component. Writing a script, recording and editing the final product for sharing online with classmates and teachers hones multiple skill sets needed for a decidedly digital, technology-enhanced future.

Be the change. Be a model for all of the characteristics of a 21st Century information professional. Move effortlessly in the networks of your PLN, sharing, learning and growing. Pay it forward. Promote discovery, curiosity and creativity to your students and do everything in your power to give them the tools to do so.

Play. Everyday, find something to explore or experience. Puzzle out a solution to a problem. Imagine scenarios involving new services and disrupted version of convential ones.  “Where imaginations play, learning happens” write Thomas and Brown. Use this as a gude for your own learning and for the atmosphere you create in your library.



Center for Digital Storytelling:

Jenkins, H. 2006. Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture. Chicago: MacArthur Foundation. (PDF)

Mezirow, J. (1997) Transformative Learning: Theory to Practice

NMC Horizon Report, 2012 K-12 Edition

Rajagopal, K.(2012).  Understanding personal learning networks: Their structure, content and the networking skills needed to optimally use them. First Monday, Volume 17, Number 1 – 2 January 2012

Richardson, W., & Mancabelli, R. (2011). Personal learning networks: Using the power of connections to transform education. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press

Technology Outlook, Australian Tertiary Education 2012-2017

Thomas, D., & Brown, J. S. (2011). A new culture of learning: Cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change. Lexington, Ky: CreateSpace?. Kindle edition.

Further reading

Stephens, M., & Cheetham, W. (2011). The impact and effect of learning 2.0 programs in Australian academic libraries. New Review of Academic Librarianship, 17(1), 31-63.

Stephens, M. & Cheetham, W. (2012). Benefits and results of Learning 2.0: a case study of CityLibrariesLearning – discover*play*connect. Australian Library Journal, 61(1), 6-15.

Stephens, M. & Cheetham, W. (2012). The Impact and effect of Learning 2.0 Programs in Australian public libraries. Evidence Based Library and Information Practice, 7(1).

ACCESS, Vol. 26, No. 4, November 2012.


King Middle School Expedition Learning TV

click on this image to watch King TV

At the request of the students, our class embarked on a geography themed expedition this year to study the beauty and mystery of this huge country. All the students in our class are new to the US. After researching they have became experts on one of the US Census regions. In addition, they developed a practical understanding of how the world is categorized into the 5 themes of geography.  –Catherine Paul 

I wanted to share this awesome project some of the teens who use my library just did at their school.  They came into the library today and were really excited to show me.  Great job by Abdi, Ahmed, Anas, Hafs, Musa, Nasteh, Princie, and Roukia!

UPDATE: Click here for even more videos about what the teens are learning at King Middle School!

Post by Justin Hoenke, Tame the Web Contributor

TTW Mailbox: Pre-service Teacher Preparation

Hi Michael:

Please share this informal research inquiry with your readers:

What pre-service teacher preparation or supervisor preparation programs at the undergrad or masters level exist that include a component that at least introduces these educators to what school librarians can do for them? A more eloquent way of stating this is, “…[that] include a component that introduces the role of how school librarians support the school’s mission to produce literate and informed learners and how school librarians can help students graduate from high school college- and career ready.” [Thanks to Mary Moyer, Cumberland County Library Commission Member, Congressional Contact Chair, Gloucester County Education Association and Past President, New Jersey Association of School Librarians]  

I asked a few of the respected researchers in the field of school librarianship to offer some insight into current teacher/supervisor pre-service programs. What I’ve found so far is:

  • I have heard of several programs that have technology integration programs or required technology classes but not libraries. … I have concluded that the best time to teacher librarians to make a difference is if and when they grab student teachers who are working in their buildings. If they are collaborating on learning experiences regularly with supervising teachers, then the teacher librarian could slip right into that “normal” practice and make great headway. (David Loertscher)
  • About 15 years ago we wrote an implementation plan for Information Power and included a goal to pilot some projects. … Sadly… It seems to be based on relationships rather than formal partnerships. (Ken Haycock)
  • The New Jersey State Library did some searching for me, and they found a few articles on the topic; the most recent was from 2009.

If these types of pre-service programs or requirements for teacher and supervisor preparation exist, this is what I’d like to know:

  1. How extensive are they?
  2. Who spearheaded their inclusion?
  3. Under whose jurisdiction is their implementation?
  4. What librarianship information is (or isn’t) being disseminated?
  5. Are the efforts being assessed and how?
  6. Who provides the instruction?
  7. At what point in the preparation program is the instruction given? 

I’m not required to have a ‘platform,’ but as the newly elected Vice President of the New Jersey Association of School Librarians, this is my topic of passion. Thanks for allowing your readers to chime in.

Arlen Kimmelman, Ed. M., M. A., NBCT
School Librarian, NJ
Twitter: @pseudandry

Note from MS: Please respond to Arlen at

Petition for School Libraries

Please, TTW Readers, follow this link and sign the petition:!/petition/ensure-every-child-america-has-access-effective-school-library-program/tmlbRqfF?

Every child in America deserves access to an effective school library program. We ask that the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) provide dedicated funding to help support effective school library programs. Such action will ensure more students have access to the resources and tools that constitute a 21st century learning environment. Reductions in school library programs are creating an ‘access gap’ between schools in wealthier communities versus those where there are high levels of poverty. All students should have an equal opportunity to acquire the skills necessary to learn, to participate, and to compete in today’s world.

FREE ebook: School Libraries: What’s Now, What’s Next, What’s Yet to Come

Head on over to

A crowdsourced collection of over 100 essays from around the world about trends in school libraries written by librarians, teachers, publishers, and library vendors. Edited by Kristin Fontichiaro and Buffy Hamilton. Foreword by R. David Lankes. Photographs by Diane Cordell. CONTRIBUTORS: Kelly Ahlfeld, Diane Erica Aretz-Kernahan, Emilia Askari, Kathleen Atkin, Robert Baigent, Susan D. Ballard, Angela Washington-Blair, Dan Bowen, Holli Buchter, Jennifer Branch, Len Bryan, Jennifer Colby, Diane Cordell, William Cross, Meg Donhauser, Joanne de Groot, Stacy Dillon, Andrea Dolloff, Laura Fleming, Lorna Flynn, Elizabeth Friese, Rachel Goldberg, Beth Gourley, Dorcas Hand, Alida Hanson, Violet H. Harada, Heather Hersey, Valerie Hill, Kimberly Hirsh, Shannon Hyman, Pamela Jackson, Melissa P. Johnston, Jesse Karp, Sara Kelley-Mudie, Tricia Kuon, Neil Krasnoff, Jennifer LaGarde, Teri S. Lesesne, Margaret Lincoln, Kate MacMillan, Adrienne Matteson, Kathleen McBroom, Walter McKenzie, David Meyer, Ben Mondloch, Leslie L. Morgan, Cathy Jo Nelson, Beverley Rannow, Howard Rheingold, Nikki D. Robertson, Daniella Smith, Evan St. Lifer, Jennifer Stanbro, Caitlin Stansell, Jeff Stanzler, Carolyn Jo Starkey, Wendy Steadman Stephens, Michael Stephens, Linda Straube, Cathy Stutzman, Mega Subramaniam, Margaret Sullivan, Joyce Kasman Valenza, Karen Villegas, Jeanna Walker, Donna Watt, Holly Weimar, Senga White, Erin Drankwalter Wyatt, Amanda Yaklin, Alice Yucht, Marci Zane

My contribution is entitled “FILLED WITH HEART”: CHARACTERISTICS OF 21st-century SCHOOL LIBRARIANS. Here’s a snippet:

As budgets tighten and public perception of the importance of school libraries falters in some places, they persevere. A few characteristics come to mind when I consider what makes these folks who have chosen to become teacher librarians so successful. These are also the things I want my students to learn to be as they graduate and become school media professionals:

Barrier Breakers: These librarians work within the school’s structure to educate teachers and administrators about the value of bringing emerging technologies into the school. They’ve performed a “kindness audit” of library space to see what students see. Posted rules made up of “No” statements are not encouraging to the young learner’s heart.

Curious. These librarians look up from their desks and wonder what’s changing in the world around their schools.And they wonder what it means for them and their students? How do shifts in technology impact the process of education? And how should the school media center play a role?

Big Thinking. It’s easy to get caught up in the day to day routines of the school and not think much beyond what’s happening inside the four walls. Big thinking school librarians balance the important day to day stuff with big picture thought for the future. Change comes rapidly – thinking bigger helps them prepare. 

I’m honored to be included in this work with so many incredible contributors!

Happy Birthday Mr. Schu!

From  First Book

This Sunday is a very special day. It is the birthday of a friend of First Book and of mine, an inspired educator, blogger and children’s books advocate: John Schumacher, the man we all know as Mr. Schu.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Schu!I knew of Mr. Schu long before we actually met. My already-high opinion of him (School Library Journal Mover-and-Shaker andcover boy that he is) went through the roof this summer as I received photos, videos, emails and tweets about his Adventures Out West, a kidlit roadtrip he took with many of his favorite new books in tow.

Whether at the Grand Canyon or Las Vegas or Standing-On-A-Corner-In-Winslow-Arizona, Mr. Schu is always a fine sight to see (I dubbed him Johnny Orangeseed because one of the books he carried cross-country proudly was my When Life Gives You O.J.). He always has a book in his hand, a smile on his face and something positive to say about authors, bookstores, libraries, and children’s books he loves. Returning home from these adventures, did he kick back and put his feet up? Noooo! It was back to school time and he wasdetermined to bring fabulous books to kids not just his library but the whole school (bathrooms included!). Books to kids, the motto of First Book, is what Mr. Schu eats, sleeps, and breathes.

That’s why some of Mr. Schu’s friends proposed the idea of donating to First Book in his name as a birthday gift. We discussed the fact that Mr. Schu has a LOT of friends and fans, all of whom love him and everything he stands for. So we decided to open this up to everyone who wants to provide books to kids in need (for all sorts of good reasons, and especially in honor of Mr. Schu’s birthday). If you’d like to participate – and, for extra fun, have First Book send Mr. Schu an e-card to let him know that you did — just click here and give whatever feels appropriate. By the way, Mr. Schu’s email address is mrschureads at gmail dot com (you need this for the e-card part at the bottom of the donation page). You can also go visit a local Title I school in your area and help them register (easy! online!) with First Book, if you’d like!

Follow @firstbook and help spread the word by sharing and retweeting this blog post and using the hashtag #happybdaymrschu all weekend and beyond to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MR. SCHU!

See also: Coverage at SLJ:

I was lucky enough to have Mr. Schu in 3 classes during my time at Dominican. His work was some of the best I’ve ever had and I have high hopes for the future of school libraries with leaders like him. Happy Birthday!!!!

QR Codes Connect Students to Books

I used this as an example yesterday for the Michigan school librarians:

“I realized how often I see them in public and I wanted to give [students] an awareness of them,” says Brook Forest’s school librarian, John Schumacher, referring to QR codes, two-dimensional barcodes that can be read using a camera on a smartphone. “They were coming up with lots of ideas of what they could make: business cards, links to their online accounts, and creating further designs.”

But first, Schumacher had the students write mini book lists and reviews, and then QR code their suggestions so other students could see what they liked. The popular school librarian—who posts online the number of books he reads each year along with authors he’s met—is big on getting books into kids’ hands. He even papers lockers and bathrooms at Brook Forest with posters marketing the latest title that’s arrived in the library. When the poster goes up in the bathroom, students know they can start reserving a new book.

“And I know they’re reading in the bathrooms,” Schumacher says. “Because they come in and tell me something I’ve only posted in there. I’ve pretty much taken over the school.”

Disclaimer: John is a Dominican GSLIS grad and I had the privilege to have him in three classes.

School Libraries in Australia – Without Librarians – A TTW Guest Post by Vivienne Taylor

Thought you may be interested in this article in The Age newspaper today – Melbourne’s main newspaper.

The Australian government’s response to the Global Financial Crisis included a massive infrastructure rebuilding program for government and non-government schools, with particular emphasis on creating new school halls, community spaces and YES – school libraries! Many of these libraries are about to open or have already opened – my school library is a couple of months away from completion!  Whilst there has been some criticism of budget mismanagement for some of these libraries, the one that I have visited so far was fabulous! The Building the Education Revolution program has had a big impact helping keep down the unmployment rate in Australia to its current 5.1% (Australian Bureau of Statistics – August figures).  Australia is one of the few developed nations that did not go into recession during the GFC.

Whilst the Federal Government has held recently an inquiry into school libraries with interested parties being given the opportunity to make submissions – it was all done with a very short time frame and has now been forgotten in the current election campaign.

I am listening to the sounds of the builders working on our new Library/tech lab as I write this and will be looking forward to mid-October when we hope to “move in”. Every school in my area (and probably around the whole country) is in a similar position.  The libraries, particularly in the non-government school system where schools have a lot more input into design, are being progressively opened – much to the delight of the school communities.

The rebuilding program has also provoked a great discussion about staffing these new facilities.  In the primary school sector where I work many libraries no longer have qualified teacher librarians.  I am a library technician, working with no teacher at all in the library and despite the best efforts of classroom teachers I have seen to my great disappointment  the decline in information literacy skills of students.

Vivienne Taylor

Vivienne Taylor is a library Technician in a small Catholic primary school library in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne.