5 reasons a school library needs a website


As we continue to travel along the path of re-visioning our iCentre virtual spaces, we have been investigating what a website, Library Management System (LMS) and social media can offer school library services.  Our research has been interesting and we easily agreed that the LMS and social media are vital virtual spaces for our services.  The Library Management Systems we have investigated are web-based, learner-centred, sophisticated and interactive and as such, we have been challenged to consider the question: is an iCentre Website necessary?  Our conclusion is a resounding YES and here are the reasons why:

screen-shot-2016-09-11-at-12-43-26-pmWe model the literacy of participation

Jenkins et al. argue that the digital divide between those who will succeed in twenty-first (21st) century futures and those that will be left behind is determined not by access to technology but by access to opportunities to participate and develop the cultural competencies and social skills necessary in new media landscapes (2006, p.3).  Crockett, Jukes and Chruches (2011, p.14), O’Leary (2012, para.18), and Seely Brown (2012, p.15) are also among those advocating the necessity of educating for participation because individuals who find themselves lacking such skills are at risk of being on the wrong side of the divide and left behind in academia and the workplace. Many of the skills and mindsets outlined by these authors, require schools to transition from a scholarship practice that uses technology as a tool to enhance research to a social scholarship practice “in which the use of social tools is an integral part of the research and publishing process and is characterized by openness, conversation, collaboration, access, sharing and transparent revision” (Pearce et al. & Cohen as cited in Veletsianos & Kimmons, 2012, p.767).  The iCentre website models this literacy of participation through publishing blogs, connecting with social media, and the open sharing of learning.

screen-shot-2016-09-11-at-12-43-39-pmWe serve a community not just students & teachers

The college community served by the iCentre is broader than the students and teachers on campus.  In particular, parents, as the primary educators, are an important part of our community.  One of the roles of the iCentre is to provide leadership in digital citizenship.  The website regularly curates and publishes information on how parents can assist their children to develop the capacity to build a positive digital footprint that showcases their learning interests, talents, and successes, and enables them to build social skills and cultural competencies.  This content also includes resources that will assist the community to use information and technology safely, legally and ethically.  To this end, an icentre website is a valuable tool because it provides learning experiences that enable the community to engage in positive digital practices that are relevant and timely.

screen-shot-2016-09-11-at-12-43-50-pmWe value networks

Technological shifts have changed the culture of learning to one in which the classroom is now global and provides learners with access to “nearly unlimited resources and incredible instruments while connecting with one another at the same time” (Thomas & Seely Brown, 2011, loc.55).  In this new culture, learning resides in the ability to form networks and learning how to learn, what to learn, who to learn with and when to learn is more important than the mastery of content (Olsen, 2011, p.22).  It is argued that understanding both digital competencies and new ways of learning in order to model digital citizenship become possible when educators take on the responsibility of developing a Personal Learning Network (PLN) (Richardson & Mancabelli, 2011, p.10).  The iCentre website is one of the tools we use to connect with our colleagues in education – it is part of our learning network.  We have had many instances of professionals from other school libraries making suggestions for our website, contributing content to our website, and contacting us through the website in order to visit and share knowledge.  Such connections have been invaluable to the service we offer our community.

screen-shot-2016-09-11-at-12-43-59-pmWe value Open Scholarship

A trend that has been identified in 21st Century scholarship is an “openness” resultant from developing digital communication and networked technologies (Pearce et al., 2010, p.37).  According to Katz, this trend towards open content, knowledge and learning will offer great opportunities for scholars (2010, p.6).  The Creative Commons movement, which has opened up access to licensed creative content and also allows individuals to license work for others to share, is one example of how openness can lower barriers and democratize learning.  By sharing resources and learning through the iCentre website, we too are participating in a form of open scholarship.

screen-shot-2016-09-11-at-12-44-09-pmWe want to share our story

At this year’s Edutech Conference in Brisbane, both Kate Tormey, CEO of the State Library of Victoria and Dr Ross J. Todd, associate professor at Rutgers University, Department of Library and Information Sciences, stressed to delegates of the Future Libraries stream that if libraries are to thrive, then they must share their story.  The capacity of the Teacher-Librarians to share their story both within the college and beyond has valuable outcomes and the iCentre website has proved a powerful way to share our story.


Crockett, L.,Jukes, I., & Churches, A. (2011). Literacy is not enough: 21st-century fluencies for the digital age. [Epub]. Kelowna, B:C: 21st Century Fluency Project.

Jenkins, H.,Clinton, K., Purushotoma, R., Robinson, A., J., & Weigel, M. (2006). Confronting the challenges of participatory culture: Media education for the 21st century. Paper presented at MacArthur Foundation. Retrieved from http://digitallearning.macfound.org/atf/cf/%7B7E45C7E0-A3E0-4B89-AC9C-E807E1B0AE4E%7D/JENKINS_WHITE_PAPER.PDF.

O’Leary, T. (2012, October 10). Making connections to end digital divide. The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved from http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/making-connections-to-end-digital-divide-20121009-27aul.html#ixzz2nF0cHrLS

Olsen, R. (2011). Understanding virtual pedagogies for contemporary teaching & learning (pp. 1-32, Rep.). Victoria: IdeasLAB.

Pearce, N.,Weller, M., Scanlon, E., & Ashleigh, M. (2010). Digital scholarship considered: How new technologies could transform academic work. In Education, 16(1), 33-44.

Richardson, W., & Mancabelli, R. (2011). The power of networked learning. In Personal Learning Networks: Using the power of connections to transform education (pp. 1-14). Moorabbin, Cictoria: Solution Tree Press.

Seely Brown, J. (2012, November 21-22). CJ Koh Professorial Lecture Series No. 4 in Singapore: Learning in and for the 21st Century Singapore. Retrieved from http://www.johnseelybrown.com/CJKoh.pdf

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

Veletsianos, G., & Kimmons, R. (2012). Networked Participatory Scholarship: Emergent techno-cultural pressures toward open and digital scholarship in online networks. Computers & Education, 58,, 766-774. Retrieved from http://10.1016/j.compedu.2011.10.001




Change ahead: Designing a new online space – Part 1


Change Ahead

This year we begin yet another change process in the iCentre.  We have always maintained that our digital space, the iCentre website, is as important for our students as our physical space.  The website, enhanced by social media streams such as Facebook and Twitter, resulted from an initial project that aimed to move the digital services offered by the school library out of the static Learning Management System (LMS) used by the college.  This website is now five years old and we’re not planning to just renovate the space, we are about to embark on designing and building a brand new space.  In the five years since we built the first website, we have learned much about digital learning spaces and library 2.0 services.  Simultaneously,  information and digital environments have continued to change.  It is with much excitement and a little trepidation that we embark on this new project and we plan to share the story as the plot unfolds.

At the recent Edutech Conference in Brisbane, both Kate Tormey, CEO of the State Library of Victoria and Dr Ross J. Todd, associate professor at Rutgers University, Department of Library and Information Sciences, stressed to delegates of the Future Libraries stream that if libraries are to thrive, then they must share their story.  We plan to blog and share the story of our journey into designing a new digital learning space as we progress.

An analysis of the first design project that resulted in the existing website found that both good practice points and missed opportunities were evident in the team’s process.  These points need to be carefully considered as we embark on this new journey and will be published over two blog posts.

The good practice points identified in the first design process included:

  •      Pedagogically driven change

The ‘Library to iCentre’ project undertaken to, improve digital literacies, support the inquiry learning framework used by the college, and to create new learning connections, demonstrates a process that is underpinned by pedagogy which is central to informing learning space design (Hunt, Huijser and Sankey, 2012, p.183).

  •      Consciously adopt a beginner’s mindset

The team’s practice of positioning themselves as learners is a useful approach because it engages them in activities to explore, inform and inspire new ideas at the important front-end or ‘fuzzy’ stage of the design process (Sanders & Stapers, 2008, p.6).

  •      Learning from others

The enthusiasm by the team to gather ideas from others by exploring exemplary spaces both within and beyond educational examples is useful (Oblinger, 2005, p.16) and shows a capacity for divergent thinking (Brown, 2009, p.111).  As digitized school library services become more mainstream, the pool of examples on which to draw a variety of ideas will grow.

  •      Practice of storytelling

The capacity of the Teacher-Librarians to share their story both within the college and beyond, with networks, conferences, and online environments has valuable outcomes.  It communicates the vision for change to the college leadership and community, invites collaboration and enhances the value of the change (Brown, 2009, p.22).

  •      Reflect institutional values

The cohesion between the vision of this project and the institution’s strategic plan is important as these connections ensure change is valued and supported by the college’s leadership (Hunter, 2006, p.64).

  •      Continued ‘entrepreneurial’ championing of the product

The Teacher-Librarians leading this project continue to champion the new virtual space within and beyond the college.  This proactive publicizing of the idea provides the perseverance that is necessary throughout a project in order to see the vision through to reality (Kuratko, Goldsworthy & Horsby, 2012, p.111).

  •      Iterative design and continuous improvement

The team’s view that new learning space is only the beginning of an ever-changing process and that iCentre v20 is fast approaching demonstrates a successful mindset for design which values the ongoing assessment of learning spaces, resulting in iterative design, and continuous improvement (Oblinger, 2005, p.18).

  •      Concentrate on holistic rather than technology centred approaches

The new spaces designed in this project were not only about incorporating technology, but also about creating new patterns of social and intellectual interaction.  This is an important philosophy that assists in maintaining learner-centred and education-centred change (Istance & Kools, 2013, p.47).

As we work on our new design project, we will need to ensure that these good practice points are repeated.


Brown, T. (2009). Change by design: How design thinking creates new alternatives for business and society. New York: Collins Business.

Hunt, L., Huijser, H., & Sankey, M. (2012). Learning spaces for the digital age: Blending space with pedagogy. In M. Keppell (Author), Physical and virtual learning spaces in higher education: Concepts for the modern learning environment (pp. 182-197). Hershey, PA: Information Science Reference.

Hunter, B. (2006). The eSpaces study: Designing, developing and managing learning spaces for effective learning. New Review of Academic Librarianship, 12(2), 61-81. doi: 10.1080/13614530701330398

Istance, D., & Kools, M. (2013). OECD work on technology and education: Innovative learning environments as an integrating framework. European Journal of Education, 48(1), 43-57. doi: 10.1111/ejed.12017

Kuratko, D. F., Goldsby, M. G., & Hornsby, J. S. (2012). The design thinking process. In Innovation acceleration: Transforming organizational thinking (pp. 103-123). Boston: Pearson.

Oblinger, D. (2005). Leading the transition from classrooms to learning spaces. Educause Quarterly, 1, 14-18. Retrieved September 27, 2014, from http://www.educause.edu/ero/article/leading-transition-classrooms-learning-spaces

Sanders, E. B., & Stappers, P. J. (2008). Co-creation and the new landscapes of design. CoDesign: International Journal of CoCreation in Design and the Arts, 4(1), 5-18. doi: 10.1080/15710880701875068


School libraries supporting literacy

For anyone wondering about the value of school libraries – you should read this great article about the ways that school libraries support literacy by our friend Steph Ellis. Thanks for sharing Steph!

A Thoughtful Spot to Rest

Boy readingImage shared on Pixabay with a Creative Commons public domain licence

In these times of rapidly changing technology, with increasing amounts of information (which can vary drastically in quality), and trying to keep up with new trends in school librarianship, it is sometimes handy to be reminded that the core business of a school library is literacy. This is exactly what happened at the National Library of New Zealand facilitated School Library Network meeting held in Hawke’s Bay this March.

Participants at the network meeting were asked to share an activity or strategy they have used in their schools to promote literacy. This exercise enabled us to be exposed to a number of new ideas, with the challenge to implement at least one of them before we meet again next term.

Here are some of the strategies that were discussed:

  • Book of the week – highlighting a favourite book can be done using the library…

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Book Review: It’s about love by Steven Camden

It's about love (1)

I have to say that based on the title and the cover,  I would have never read this book.  However, the girls in my student book club convinced me to read it and I really have to thank them – it’s great.  This book oozes menace and tension and from the beginning, the reader is gripped by the fear of what has happened in the past and what that will bring to play in the present.

This is a coming of age story that is difficult to label.  The reader is warned about this complexity of plot and theme in chapter 1 when, Luke the protagonist of the novel, debates the central premise of his favourite movie with a girl in his film class.

“It’s a love story, you know …..

No it’s not”

“Course it is,” she says, “Not a conventional one, but it’s a story about love.”

The fact that she’s even seen it make me like her, but it’s not a love story.

It’s about revenge,” I say. (p.11)

The characterisation of Luke, the protagonist, is a strength of the novel.  As a reader, you really like him but are often puzzled and devastated by his inability to articulate his feelings and his poor reactions to people and situations.  Steven Camden has mastered the ability to bring the gritty reality of the tough neighborhoods of Bearwood, Birmingham where Luke lives into focus. Luke is a “fish out of water” when he starts at film school on the other side of town.  At home, the return of his brother from prison is the catalyst for family and neighborhood tensions that will climax on the night of Luke’s 17th birthday.The author also uses an interesting structural device in this novel by interspersing the story with fragments of hand-written notes describing snippets of memories, thoughts and dreams.  Additionally, he also uses small inserts that read like film directions or play scripts. Together with countless references to modern films, this structural device compliments the central motif of film study.

The author also uses an interesting structural device in this novel by interspersing the story with fragments of hand-written notes describing snippets of memories, thoughts and dreams.  Additionally, he also uses small inserts that read like film directions or play scripts. Together with countless references to modern films, this structural device compliments the central motif of film study.

I highly recommend this book for YA readers who love gritty reality, love stories, character books and movies.

One last thing …. This book is full of great quotes, here are three of my favourites:

“Because nobody’s one thing, Lukey.  You make a person one thing and you’ll miss out on everything else that they are.  That they could be. And they’ll always let you down.”


“I repeat the words in my head. Whoever’s writing this script is giving all the best lines to everyone else.”


“You are what people think you are.  You make a reputation, then it makes you.”


Book review: One life: My mother’s story by Kate Grenville

One Life: My Mother's StoryOne Life: My Mother’s Story by Kate Grenville

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Written from fragments of memoir and some recorded interviews, Kate Grenville’s book outlines the event’s of her mother, Nance Russell’s life. It follows Nance from her birth in 1912 through childhood days growing up days, across the space of two world wars and the Great Depression and into the new millennium when she passed away in 2002.

This book is an intimate portrait of the life of Nance who was typical of her time in many ways and ahead of her time in others. Like many women, family came first for Nance. She craved her family through her childhood and early adult life as she made her way through an education and training that took her away from home. Unlike many women of the time, Nance earned a qualification as a pharmacist and became an independent career woman. This too would take her from her young family at times when she herself had children. This is a terrific story of a woman that many of us can identify with despite the different times and life opportunities because we feel that dual pull of family and career, the particular joys and turmoils of relationships and the balance between looking after others yet sticking up for yourself at the same time. This is articulated in Nance’s wonderings:

“Yes, she wanted to meet someone, get married, have children. She wanted to be happy. But she knew now that she
wanted something else as well.”

I found the book to be a beautifully told story that read like a novel. I was completely caught up in Nance’s story and particularly the struggles she felt within relationships. I would highly recommend this book to any working woman in Australia.

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