20 minutes of fame!


I was invited to participate in a podcast by Dustin of the Evil Librarians in Utah. I was fairly apprehensive about it as I was worried I might sound unintelligent but decided that it was a good development opportunity. We talked about my journey to librarianship, what it’s like working in a school library in England and the state of public libraries.

Crikey I was nervous! Although I had written down some ideas about what we might want to talk about, I was very self-conscious about saying the wrong thing, umming and ahhing a lot and making an idiot of myself. I learnt that having notes of what you want to say is a good idea and we had an interesting conversation about privacy and ethics.

I heard on a different podcast that in the US they’re so strict about personal data that they delete borrowing records after a fortnight. They don’t let anyone pick up some one else’s books without written permission.

I said that in branch libraries my colleagues used to preemptively order for older customers and to help choose books and give them to a neighbour or friend to take to certain people. This sometimes involved checking our catalogue to see if they’d had the book before. Whilst there was probably an “understanding” about a neighbour/family members’ help it wasn’t written consent.

So what?

This conversation made me wonder about the ethics of this. Were we outside of data protection/not adhering to the CILIP values?

My instinct is that if we do it with some commonsense eg if someone is getting a book on divorce/abortion/a disease we wouldn’t offer it to their “friend”. As a result of the conversation I’ve checked the Cilip code of professional practice.

It says that we must
Strive to achieve an appropriate balance within the law between demands from information users, the need to respect confidentiality, the terms of their employment, the public good and the responsibilities outlined in this Code.”

This led me to question whether we were achieving an appropriate balance between the demands of the customer and the need to respect confidentiality.

Upon chatting to my hubby (very sensible man), he likened it to Amazon suggesting books for customers. Actually, some LMS will now do this. There’s the argument that we’re using the customer’s data for their benefit. I suppose it’s also rather like friends recommending books.

Our mobile library services used a numbering system in the back of the books, so staff could easily see if customers had already had the books. They’ve agreed to this at least in an “opt out” manner as otherwise the service wouldn’t have existed.

Dustin said to me that they’re so strict about privacy in the US because of the NSA and their monitoring of electronic information (we said hi in case they were listening). It’s also related to freedom of speech and being non censoring.

It brings up some interesting points in school as we use library helpers to issue and return books but they do have access to pupils’ borrower records. We always explain that it is the helpers’ duty to treat this information as confidential. Is that enough?

I also chatted to Dustin about selecting books and how I’d like our school libraries to be based a lot more on pupils’ selections. He suggested that it is easy to be paternalistic in relation to book selection and I agree. In the US, he mentioned that there has historically been direction in libraries towards classics and in school libraries selection decisions are made that could be seen as censorship based on religious, gender, sexuality or politics.
What next?

I’ve already had a conversation about my manager regarding on improving the percentage of books requested by pupils versus those chosen by us over the next few months using good old fashioned index cards for requests. Our planned change of LMS will make it easier to make and process requests (spring 2016). We do take requests now but I’m personally aware that we’re making purchasing decisions which are partial guesses in an unintended paternalistic manner.

Later I thought about this some more. I’m unconvinced that you can ever totally remove bias in book selection. Purchasing decisions are inevitably influenced by the decision makers’ unconscious prejudices and background and school/curriculum expectations. Reflecting may reveal what your biases are so you can fill in any obvious stock gaps.

Participating in the podcast was a helpful way of comparing notes with a librarian outside my locale about the ethics surrounding privacy and stock selection. As a result of this discussion I have improved my knowledge of stock selection. This awareness will be essential to me as a practitioner because I now participate in stock buys and share responsibility for selection.

As a next step, I am going to read some articles about stock selection and bias.

The podcast discussion also made me realise that I would like to learn more about the ethics surrounding data in the library. I am going to contact the Cilip ethics committee and ask if they can refer me to any articles/books about this.


Leave a comment

Filed under Chartership, CILIP, Copyright, CPD, Ethics of librarianship, My job, Podcasts, Reflecting for chartership

Protected: Thing 9, finally!

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Enter your password to view comments.

Filed under Uncategorized

Thing 23 putting it all together 

 http://rudai23.blogspot.ie/Wow, what a useful, brilliant course this rudai23 course has been! I’d really like to thank the organisers. I met with my Chartership mentor last weekend and he was very impressed how much I’d got out of the course in terms of CPD. I feel like I’ve learnt loads and virtually ‘met’ an entire support group of librarians. Thank you 😆

Anyway, on to thing 23, where I’ve taken a further look at curation tools to manage all this social media! I decided to have another look at Flipboard and have successfully added my Twitter feed and chartership/Rudai23 Facebook groups. 

I find Flipboard a bit US centric but I do like that it’s possible to collate your social media together. I’m likely to use it as an accessory rather than instead of Twitter and Facebook but I’ve also kept it as mostly work (I got distracted by a zombie apocalypse page!)

Regarding hootsuite, I’m going to show my colleague this as she manages our work Twitter account and I’ve seen her on it late at night. I’m less keen as last time I looked there was no app and I rarely use the PC at home (my iPad/phone are exponentially faster). Also, I liked the idea of using google alerts for ideas of tweets. I’ve used google alerts in the past but only in a personal capacity.

Thanks once again, I now know that I’m pretty digitally literate in spite of having learnt all of my tech skills through self study (via Rudai 23) organically/through my personal help desk aka my husband! I’ll feel far more confident about demonstrating them to others.


Filed under Chartership, CILIP, CPD, Curation tools, My job, School librarians, Social media, Twitter

Augmented reality and collaborative working


What happened?

After reading about AR as part of my rudai23 course, I overheard our deputy head talking about using the Aurasma app as a method of showing video book reviews superimposed over book covers (his old school had used them for World Book Day). I mentioned I was thinking of using AR to show a screencast demonstrating searching our library management system and he encouraged me to go for it. I should add that all our pupils have an iPad so there is no barrier to accessing information in this way.

Then I read on a Rudai23 blog about someone using AR for Open Morning to showcase their Library and commitment to digital literacy. I felt that as a school proud of our use of digital technology this was something that we could also do for our Open Morning (10.10.15). I saw the Deputy Head over lunch and was again encouraged. My manager also thought it would be a good idea. At this point I had a fortnight to go.

I arranged with IT to borrow 7 iPads for the Open Morning as prospective pupils/parents might not have access to the technology and approached our English departments on both the boys’ and girls’ side.

They were very happy to be involved in my “Aurasma project”and one of the teachers in the boys’ division suggested that she bring some of her form group (sixth formers) to talk about the books they were reading at the start of school in registration.

I had two reviews by the 6th form, the second group of boys were year 8s and I had three reviews by these boys during their library lesson. Again, their confidence and enjoyment of reading was wonderful to see.

It was a little harder to find time on the girls’ side. One teacher asked for sixth form volunteers. A second English teacher offered merits to any girls who helped and this persuaded four year 8s to help out.

On the day itself the pictures of the books were mounted and put on shelves around the library. They worked well as a talking point and were a good way of distracting the children whilst their parents asked questions about the libraries and facilities.

Some of the girls showed around prospective pupils and they were proud to show off the videos.

So what?

It was helpful to manage a collaborative project from start to finish. Montiel-Overall (2005) studied collaboration in the context of teachers and school librarians. She defined collaboration as,  “a trusting working relation between two or more equal participants involved in shared thinking, shared planning and shared creation of integrated instruction. Through a shared vision and shared objectives, student learning opportunities are created that integrate subject content and information literacy by co-planning, co-implementing and co-evaluating students’ learning progress…”

Although there could have been better collaboration as  defined by the above model as the idea/onus was on me to lead/co-ordinate the project and other staff to support my plans, nevertheless, I felt that I got to know some of the English staff better and it was great to feel that they were prepared to work with me.

P125 “When collaborating we go beyond informing. We begin conscious that we are all in different places in our understanding of a topic, but gradually meanings are negotiated and new learning evolves. Then at some point inspiration enters. It is a dynamic process that depends on genuine engagement with other people.”

Having the chance to chat to the kids about the books they enjoy was also a valuable experience. I realised when talking to them that we have quiet libraries which are helpful for concentrating in but not always conducive to chatting about book preferences. I was really impressed with the mature and enthusiastic manner the sixth formers spoke about the books.

It really demonstrated to me the way the boys have been able to develop their love of reading. (It also showed me how the tandem of a well-stocked library with enthusiastic teachers/librarians makes a difference).

The girls also spoke passionately about the books they had enjoyed- I was especially impressed by the girl who spoke with wonderful animation about the heroine Katniss in The Hunger Games being a role model. This demonstrated how much a book can affect a students’ perception of the world and provide personal inspiration.

I struggled with the app a little and finding time to sit quietly and combine the picture with the video was challenging as we were very busy. We would have liked to have had an aurasma about our Book Award but ran out of time. I couldn’t work out channels, this is something I’m going to get advice on.

I also don’t know how to edit videos and I’d have liked to have made the ones where the children talked  a little more professional.  Also, whilst I was very pleased with myself for working out the app I discovered that other local schools, college and university already had channels so my technology wasn’t actually cutting edge!

In an ideal world I would have begun the project with an actual meeting and had the chance to discuss my plans with the teachers and explore any further suggestions that they might have. The reality of it being awkward to leave the Library due to staffing levels means that email often has ‘to do.’

I can see that ‘making do and managing’ means that with more time and a chance to meet with a colleague more experienced in using the app I could have done a better job. On the other hand, I believe that if we wait until something is perfect we would never try anything new and my project received positive attention from both prospective pupils and parents.

It was interesting that having a task to distract the children on Open Morning gave their parents a chance to chat to us and trying something new was an ‘icebreaker’ when it came to conversations with the adults. It is worth us remembering this next year and giving the kids something to do again. Other departments in the School were showing their ‘fun side’ with quizzes, cultural food (for languages) and the opportunity for the visitors to experience fun elements of the School.

Whilst we want to demonstrate that the libraries are a place students can study, I’d like us also to show that we work hard to engage with our School and to make reading enjoyable.

What next?

I felt it was an effective way to promote books and was an interesting way to give book reviews. We are discussing using the app for World Book Day, possibly asking staff and pupils to tell people their top 5 books. It would also be a good way to promote new books and possibly the Book Award.

Having experienced the chance to talk to students about books and reading, I feel that I would like to find other opportunities to continue to get to know the pupils and their reading habits. This may be in library lessons but will mostly be informal chat.

I learnt that I need to be very careful to be explicit about what help I need. One of the English teachers brought her whole class and hadn’t realised I only needed a few volunteers. It was perhaps an occasion where a phone call would have been better than an email (a meeting would be better still). The observation that being explicit about what is required saves time is essential to me as a librarian at a school, as building goodwill is necessary for any future collaborations.

1 Comment

Filed under Augmented reality, Chartership, Interesting technologies, My job, Reflecting for chartership, Rudai 23, School librarians

Protected: Notes on innovative school librarian 

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Enter your password to view comments.

Filed under Uncategorized

An excellent presentation thing 20 (again)

  We had an author (Curtis Jobling) at my School today and his presentation was excellent, partially because he was funny and interactive but also because he had lots of different visual props.

For example, he used little animations (with panto comedy) to illustrate his style, drew 30 sec sketches in a Rolf Harris fashion and also had minute or so book clips all brought together by his discussion of these materials and even a little game at the end.

Leave a comment

Filed under Marketing, My job, Rudai 23, School librarians

Thing 22 mobile devices

Above: page 1 of far too many apps on my phone!

I think I’d better admit now that I’m a bit of a gadget geek. As such, I’ve got a nexus 5 (android) and to be honest I’ve done almost all of the things on my phone. My School let me have an iPad just before the summer holidays so anything I’ve not been able to do on my mobile, I’ve done on the ipad! Actually, it’s why I’ve still not done my screencast thing, I couldn’t find an app to use 😉

I listened to a really relevant cyberpunk librarian podcast where he tried to survive just using his phablet rather than a PC. He explained that you can actually buy a stand for your phone and a Bluetooth keyboard and indeed he quite happily survived just using his phone for the week.

Personally, I’ve completely gone off PCs and only use them at work, the rest of the time I just use my mobile, mostly because the amount of time it takes for the pic to turn on winds me up and my PC is slower than my phone! I haven’t invested in a Bluetooth keyboard yet but I will be getting a phablet when I get a phone upgrade next month as I never use my phone to actually call people!

I’ve not used Gum app but have been known to use the Amazon scanner of isbns in bookshops to check whether it’s available or cheaper elsewhere (naughty!). As for beacons, I knew about this as I used to work In marketing and something similar was used in train stations to push adverts via Bluetooth. I think it’s a cool idea but we need to make sure any information sent is relevant, timely and wanted by the customer or they’ll very quickly deem it spam!

So, what apps would I recommend? I’m going to slightly cheat. The app I really really want is my LMS. I believe that Eclipse, the LMS we’re going to move to at school is available for the iPad which will be great for several reasons. Firstly, we could have a school Mobile library and issue books somewhere that isn’t the library desk. Being mobile would help with book buying and stock checking. Secondly, our pupils could easily access the library database online wherever they are. At the moment it’s barely used. Making it easy to use will hopefully mean it’s used more and that our library book buying is driven by pupil requests rather than what we think we want.

This would really help us be more customer centric. I know that we’re a bit behind the times with this wish.


Ooh, I’ve now remembered the app I wouldn’t do without. It’s awallet (cloud) an android app that remembers all your usernames and passwords. I can’t remember them all myself and knowing I can log in and check my details means they’re that bit more complicated and hopefully more secure.

It’s useful for work too as well as personal apps as I don’t feel comfortable writing work details down due to data protection issues (which I know sometimes happens in the back of diaries).

There’s a free non cloud version that works well too. I just decided after about 3 years that I’d pay the pennies and it really wasn’t much.

Leave a comment

Filed under Chartership, Google, Rudai 23, Social media