Poster children!


I feel like a proud father. The students at my school, Penrith Public School, were asked (late last year) to be the “poster children” of this year’s NSW Premier’s Reading Challenge poster. The posters arrived today and they look fantastic! Not that I’m biased. Definitely one to get framed for our new BER school library when it’s built.

Meanwhile, a teacher-librarian colleague recommended this great Youtube video clip:

Ocoee Middle School’s “Gotta keep reading” Youtube song, based on a Black-Eyed Peas hit song.

Be brave! Go front-out!

A colleague over on the OZTL_Net listserv asked about making her high school library look more like a bookshop, with more of the book covers facing outwards to entice readers. She specifically mentioned those old brown library shelves, with their stodgy, flat canopies, and her unsuccessful efforts to use them as display areas. Does putting an angled display shelf in its place mean overcrowding below?

Sure, I said, if that’s all you can manage to do, it’s better than nothing. But I also suggested combining her new arrangement with a savage cull of old books. Crowded spine-out shelves are very uninviting, and it’s the front-out books that will be moving, while the spine-out books will no doubt get ignored by most browsers. There’ll be less books, but the borrowing figures will surely rise!

Kevin Hennah, at the wonderful PD day I attended in 2007, heartily recommended ridding all libraries of their antiquated, flat-top canopy shelves. Wherever possible, he suggested shelving that encouraged front-on displays. There are some library furniture catalogues around that have beautiful box-shaped tubs, rather like the old-style LP record bins, for picture books and large format, fully-illustrated non fiction.

In libraries with very limited space, or limited budgets, he recommended slant boards (even homemade), that could cover plain, unused shelving bay ends and turn them into attractive display spaces for cover-out books. In my primary school library, I had to be even more frugal. I knew we couldn’t justify spending money on slantboards – but I found a range of Japanese plastic wares in a chain of stores (called Hot Dollar), such as hooked baskets and funky, colourful, little magnetic boxes. I also made much better use of two existing spinner racks – it’s impossible to keep them filled! Front-on displays make books *move*!

Even assemble-it-yourself wheeled plastic trolleys, also from a “two dollar bargains” store, filled little corners of the library with useful front-on display space. I swapped the slanted display shelving of several old portable magazine racks to convert a set of standard wall shelves into display shelves. Click here for more amazing results!

Can you tell I’m just itching for my new library to be built?

School librarians shelved by the ‘Net?

I had some good belly laughs from Network Ten’s 7pm Project‘s presentation on teacher-librarians on Friday night. The pithy segment covered the forthcoming government inquiry into Australian school libraries and the roles of teacher-librarians. As always with this kind of TV news satire, when you’re close to the issue it can be hard to see the humour, ie. knowing that some teacher-librarians have felt under fire from a naive principal, or shortsighted Departmental or political decision-making, for many years.

I hope this inquiry into the state of teacher-librarianship has positive results for all stakeholders across Australia, especially the students. NSW conditions are certainly better than in many interstate school libraries; too often, when “equity” comes into a controversial issue, we all end up with less in order to be seen to be equitable. My school’s brand new “stimulus package” library starts being built this week – our local community really hopes I’m still there to work in it when it’s finished. What’s been interesting is that we’ve been without an actual physical collection (and a venue for centralized library visits) for two months now – and yet I’m still doing cooperative planning, programming and teaching, and promoting recreational reading, going from door-to-door. My influence on all class programs is as strong as ever. The TL role is so much more than a school’s information collection, be it shelves of books or a web of Internet sites.

As James Henri rightly says on the 7pm Project‘s web page, “Information is information. Packaging is just packaging”. With the Internet, everybody gets to be their own publisher and having “experts to manage what information is required by whom and when” has never been more important. Someone needs to be showing the students (and the teachers) how to navigate the virtual information overload. I’m not sure I want to evolve into one of those IT guys whom Carrie Bickmore loathes. Teacher-librarianship is so much more (although there’s plenty of IT blood running in our veins; has been for years!).

These principals who supposedly imagine a fully electronic, futuristic school library with no books – and no trained TLs to manage that info – are really going to be in trouble when there’s a power blackout. Or when their child or grandchild wants one last picture book to be shared before bed.

I did try to leave a comment on the 7pm Project‘s web page, but some IT guy’s message was telling me I was “undefined”.

The view from 1969

I wasn’t sure, at first, if this Youtube film clip is genuinely from 1969, or just made to resemble one of that period, but this is pretty cool! The narrator sounds very familiar.

Plenty of discussion points in this one!

Update: That sure does look like Marj Dusay (who stole “Spock’s Brain” in “Star Trek”) as the ummm, housewife. The Youtube comments say her husband is played by Wink Martindale, later to become a game show host. The narrator is probably Vic Perrin or Edward Everett Horton. (Suggestions welcomed.) I also found the segments of the same footage, in black/white, incorporated into a similarly-dated French video (1969). Amazing!

Bear and Chook by the sea: nominated!

Congratulations to author Lisa Shanahan and illustrator Emma Quay!

Last week the news broke that their picture book, “Bear and Chook by the sea”, has been shortlisted in the annual CBCA awards, in the Early Childhood category. The winners of this prestigious competition are announced in Book Week (in Term 3).

The students at my school remember the book’s creators and characters so well from last year’s Bear and Chook books rap and wish them all the best. Meanwhile, I understand that Bear and Chook themselves have been taking separate vacations:

Bear at Sea World, on the Gold Coast


Easter Show
Chook at the Royal Easter Show, Sydney.