How does the school librarian respond and adapt to the needs of students in a world dominated and driven by technology and the Internet?

Report of the workshop run at the SLA/YLG Weekend Course – Lightbulb Moments: Powered by Librarians on 23 – 25 June at The Majestic Hotel, Harrogate.

JCS was delighted to be invited by SLA to run two workshops at the joint SLA/YLG Weekend Course one of which was on Managing Change.

For this workshop, we brought together Terri McCargar (Librarian, Latymer Upper School) and Elizabeth Hutchinson (Head of Service, Guernsey School Library Service) who we knew had considerable first-hand experience of managing change amidst the growing use of technology and digital resources.

Originally from Minnesota, Terri worked in educational and children’s publishing before re-training as a librarian. She has worked as a children’s librarian for the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and as a school librarian for the past nine years. At Latymer Upper School, she has increased the Library’s online subscription resources from around five in 2010 to over 30 today, and is always looking for opportunities to work with teachers and senior managers to promote their use among students.

Terri started building her collection by identifying e-resources she had already heard of, reviewing recommendations, researching and seeing what was out there, and trialling products for free before subscribing. She went on to show how she organises her collection on Firefly using multiple entry points, images, and cross-promotion on departmental pages to make them as easy to find as possible. Terri also emphasised the importance of promoting resources.

Email can be effective but as teachers receive a huge number of emails finding different ways to get the message to them is necessary. Some other ways include promotion via social media, posters and fliers in the library, and including stickers on physical resources linking students to online resources available.

Terri also spoke about training students to use resources. She finds it makes more sense to do this just before students start research or project work, when they actually need it. Basing the lesson around a topic is the best way to do this and she has found that students may later ask for one to one sessions.

Elizabeth is passionate about the importance of information and digital literacy. In 2016 she was runner-up in the LILAC Information Literacy awards, and presents workshops internationally on the importance of using the school library effectively across the curriculum. She writes regularly on her blog about how school librarians can make a difference and was published in a recent CILIP Update. She believes access to a good school library is a right of every child, and through information and digital literacy school librarians have the skills and expertise to support students and teachers to become future ready.

Elizabeth began by saying that whilst you may have to jump through hoops for education, there’s always a way to effect change. She believes that through information and digital literacy, school librarians have the skills and expertise to support students and teachers to become future-ready.

She also believes that having an information literacy framework is essential and gives school librarians the tools they need to talk to teachers in a language they understand. Elizabeth shared the CWICER framework (Connect, Wonder, Investigate, Construct, Express, Reflect) with the attendees. (A framework shown to her by Darryl Toerien from Oakham School; poster by Anna Quick from Guernsey Grammar School and Sixth Form Centre).

Elizabeth explained the need for all staff and senior management to understand that information literacy is at the centre of all literacies. She shared an information literacy landscape diagram by Dr Jane Secker and Emma Coonan – a great tool to demonstrate to teachers how information literacy fits in with the curriculum and how school librarians can support teaching and learning.

Quoting Napoleon Bonaparte “Courage isn’t having the strength to go on – it is going on when you don’t have the strength” Elizabeth admitted that it can be scary to be the only librarian amongst large numbers of teachers who seem to know everything. But she believes it’s essential for librarians to muster their courage and talk to teachers to initiate change. She’s found that teachers and students may not know as much as you think they do!

Terri and Elizabeth gave attendees a lot to think about from growing their online library to working with teachers and SMT to spread the importance of information literacy in this digital age.