Reinvention – stage one

I feel like I’ve hardly been here of late. There have been plenty of things to write about, but, quite honestly, no time to write about any of them. I’ve been pretty time poor because we’ve been in the process of relocating our school library to temporary accommodation in preparation for the construction of a new library in 2010. It’s all very exciting, but any new development means that you need to evaluate what you need and what you can do without.

We’ve had a bit of time to think about this, hence our decision to do something like delete the VHS collection. Knowing we were moving and were going to be constrained in terms of space, we figured it was time to make tough decisions like this one. We also deleted quite a bit of non-fiction, but truthfully, the collection is still quite large and needs further deleting. Our fiction collection is quite large but it does get significant usage; it’s the only print collection we intend on growing. Next year we intend to explore ebooks and see how to integrate more of these into our collection.

So, where are we now? We’ve moved from a substantial building with offices and space to house a collection and class spaces, to a double classroom and one other large room. First up, I’d like to thank ABR Relocations for doing a stellar job of moving our book collection and shelving. In two days, they moved the whole lot and set it up so that it looked even better than it did in its original location! Yes, we paid them, but a move like this is intense, back breaking work, and they did it in a very professional manner. Graeme and crew, thanks very much.

And here’s what girls will resort to when they think they can find a bargain, even if it is an old cushion discarded from your school library!

I thought you might like to see how we’ve set up the double classroom space. This is going to act as our main centre, housing fiction, some desktop computers (we’re a laptop school so don’t need huge banks of computers), and comfy, relaxed spaces encouraging our students to come in, take a look around, relax and read. It’s also housing our desks, and although it’s nice to be with the kids, some away space for planning etc is going to have to be factored in to help us maintain sanity!


In this picture, you can see Catalogue, our Library cat, taking a nap on our new rug!

I took these photos today, our first day back in operation.

The students have found us and are pretty happy with the new surrounds. There have been lots of comments about how much they like the space and how they think it’s better than the old library!

We were only closed for a week during this relocation. I am very grateful for all of the hard work undertaken by the library staff and maintenance staff at my school. It’s a trying process, but everyone contributed with good grace. I’m not sure how long we’re going to be here, but we’re going to do all we can to offer as good a library service as we possibly can given the space constraints we have.

Adapt or die

BBC_sign_Broadband_is_killing_TV

The above picture was taken in the foyer of the BBC three years ago. It was put there to coincide with their Creative Futures Project, their attempt to keep themselves relevant in the Digital Age. The BBC’s Director General  asserted that;

if the corporation is to prosper in years to come, it must connect with the audiences of the future as well as those it already serves.

Hmmm…..think I’ve heard that same thing mentioned in relation to education in recent times.

Tom Coates wrote a great post in reaction to this picture (and the BBC announcement) called, ‘Is the pace of change really such a shock?In it he asserted that media organisations (and we, the public) really shouldn’t be surprised at the pace of change, because it’s been creeping up on us for years now;

There’s nothing rapid about this transition at all. It’s been happening in the background for fifteen years. So let me rephrase it in ways that I understand. Shock revelation! A new set of technologies has started to displace older technologies and will continue to do so at a fairly slow rate over the next ten to thirty years! I’m completely bored of this rhetoric of endless insane change at a ludicrous rate, and cannot actually believe that people are taking it seriously. We’ve had iPods and digital media players for what – five years now? We’ve had Tivo for a similar amount of time, computers that can play DVDs for longer, music and video held in digital form since the eighties, an internet that members of the public have been building and creating upon for almost fifteen years. TV only got colour forty odd years ago, but somehow we’re expected to think that it’s built up a tradition and way of operating that’s unable to deal with technological shifts that happen over decades!? This is too fast for TV!? That’s ridiculous! This isn’t traditional media versus a rebellious newcomer, this is a fairly reasonable and incremental technology change that anyone involved in it could have seen coming from miles away.

I’ve been liberal with my lifting of content from his post, but it’s because I think Tom made some good points (three years ago!!).  It reminds me of the post I wrote recently about deleting the VHS collection. A comment on that post remarked how brave that was. Brave?  Maybe. In my mind, it is common sense to move us forward, even it it does bring with it a level of discomfort.

There is so much in Tom’s post that is relevant to both media organsations and the work we do in education today. Hard to believe it was written three years ago. It could have been written yesterday. He made a salient point we can all take heed of;

These changes are happening, they’re definitely happening, but they’re happening at a reasonable, comprehendible pace. There are opportunities, of course, and you have to be fast to be the first mover, but you don’t die if you’re not the first mover – you only die if you don’t adapt.

“You only die if you don’t adapt”. In my mind, technology will never replace a good teacher, but good teachers need to understand how to use technology well to support good teaching.  For many, it’s time to start the process of adaptation.

Yes, we deleted the VHS collection.

Discussion in my office last week.

“Jenny, did I hear you correctly when you said that you had deleted the entire VHS collection? ”

“Yes, you did.”

“Does this mean that the Maria Callas version of Medea isn’t there?”

“Yep, that’s right. It’s gone.”

“Oh dear. You know it’s just what I need for the students……….”

“How about we take a look at YouTube and see what’s there?”

“I’ve never used YouTube. Do you think it might be there?”

So we took a look. And guess what? It’s there. Uploaded in 10 minute parts. Perfect for this teacher who only needed a 10 minute segment that spanned part one and two. Even though YouTube streams really fast at my school I downloaded these parts to ensure that the teacher would have no trouble when using it in class this week.  Result: Happy teacher who now can see the positive use of YouTube for instructional purposes. 

Deleting the VHS collection has been the cause of some angst for members of staff, but the final nail in the VHS coffin had to be hammered in. You can’t sustain a dead technology. VHS players aren’t available anymore and we can’t keep pretending we can rely on old resources. I know some of them were good and probably worth keeping, but we’re just going to have to try and source them via other means. Conversion is a time consuming labour intensive exercise and I could not justify the work involved to facilitate this. YouTube and TeacherTube are amazing; the content that is there is pretty mind boggling really.  Australian Screen and resources available from The Learning Federation are other fabulous source points for video that teachers could be using with their classes.

Don’t get me wrong. VHS tapes still lurk in offices around the school. But they are not in the library and not part of our catalogued resources. They’ll die a natural death when the players that support them curl up and die.

We’re at that point in Libraries where decisions need to be made about what stays and what goes. Non fiction purchasing is the other area where we as a library staff have questioned purchases. We are waiting to see what happens in the e book market and how the handling of that is going to equate with Library delivery of services. There are huge question marks around all of that right now and I don’t think I’ve seen anyone with an answer just yet. It’s been announced that the Amazon Kindle will be available internationally in the near future. Right now, my money’s on the predicted Apple tablet as being the frontrunner to take the lead with e book delivery. It seems only natural to integrate the book publishing market with their iTunes library.  

Interesting times and huge ideas for Libraries to grapple with. It is hard trying to predict where things are going and what the best course of action is to take. What is clear to me is that you can’t sit on the fence forever. At some point tough decisons need to be made, even if it does cause some angst.  

You know, I’ve been thinking. I think all teachers should be provided with a copy of Who moved my cheese?” and it should become mandatory reading. If you haven’t read it, get to your local library and check out a copy. Well worth it.