Category Archives: Student librarian

Exam fever…

It’s that time of the year…I pick up a book to study and I get sleepy. Suddenly I remember the email I forgot to send, or that recipe waiting to be made. Oh, and look at the pile of washing, plus the garden needs weeding! Yep… Anything but studying! Got to get to it! It’s the final stretch…in two months all the hard work of DL can be over. Woohoo *claps with delight*

The practical portfolio is printed and ready for the courier. SUCH a relief! Hoping it gets a good grade.

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One thing I realised from doing this portfolio is the strength of my passion about school libraries! After last week’s final visit to get pupil demographics, I felt SO sad to see a school full of kids being disadvantaged because adults, who are stuck in the past, don’t utilise and support the school library.

After exams, perhaps a study-no-more “honeymoon” break with hubby. Thanks to him that I have reached the end. Brandtie, I salute you!

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Mundane DL turns into fun PD

Through all the work and pressure of deadlines approaching, I’ve just remembered that I have a blog which I have not posted to for a while.  What to talk about? All I have is the mundane of life at the mo…

  • Working through a module ‘Serving the User’.  I giggle each time when I think of how much R David Lankes hates the term ‘user’, and how we’re required to use it.  I must say I agree with him…I love the term ‘member’ instead (Expect more. Lankes 2012, p61).  With this subject I’ve been challenged to think of how Outreach and Extension Services can be used in my community.  That got me thinking about the huge numbers of computer illiterate labourers that are in this country, where much of everyday life takes place on the net – e-health, e-government, e-banking…  A challenge indeed!  I wonder if, and how, the fancy new National Library (due to open in 2015) will reach out to them.      
  • I’m also working through a module called the Political Economy of Information. Okay, whatever!! Can’t wait to see the end of it.  In South Africa’s scenario I only see regression from 2000, after Pres. Mandela stood down from politics.  South Africa’s ‘secrecy bill’ is a crying shame. This article from 2013 is still just as relevant.
  • In between, I’m practicing classification – for two hours each morning, while my brain is working at its optimal best from the caffeine kick, I tackle the Dewey system with various topics.  Let’s just say, out of every 5 I appear to get one and a half correct! Waaah.  😦  Well, I mean fully correct. (I do get at least the first three numbers correct, thankfully!)  Hopefully that improves by the end of the year before the exam.  I do love it though. It’s a challenge. 

So, with two essays due by the end of February and by the end of March, I’m going to have some reading to do.  That intimidating portfolio is pushed aside for now, except for a day or two, here and there. 

Every now and then I treat myself to a Twitter session.  Tonight, once supper was out of the way and the dishes were washed by my ever-supportive hubby, I sat in the bath and had the pleasure of following Buffy Hamilton’s real-time experience with library lessons.  Sessions which she referred to as ‘Book Tasting’. Oh wow, wow, wow!  I have to admit, that silent reading in the school library has become my pet-hate, but having the privilege of seeing this process (via Twitter, no less!!) has me realising that I know nothing at all!  Well, I do know that the teens I’ve witnessed are bored silly, but that’s because it’s not being done in a way that will make it exciting for them. Thank you Buffy! I am learning. Looking forward to your Blog post.  🙂

Oh, and Woohoo! for Twitter! I get to have some PD at any random hour I choose!  It’s just wonderful. 

And so a very mundane DL evening, was turned into a fun PD experience.

 

1 from hubby for Valentine's day, and the other from my garden.

1 from hubby for Valentine’s day, and the other from my garden.

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The SWOT analysis, SSR and an Asperger’s challenge

A month ago I shuddered when we were assigned the academic portfolio tasks. I thought, Me? Do a SWOT analysis? You’ve got to be kidding.  Two days ago I handed the completed SWOT over to the school, just for their info. Oh my word! *sighs*  It might not sound like a big thing to anyone out there, who may read this, but it was for me.  A personal achievement; proof of academic growth and professional confidence.  Woohoo! I feel good.  Now on to the ‘strategic planning for the way ahead’.  Okay.  Gulp. I can do this!

Not to say that all that is in the SWOT will make for happy reading…but that’s ok with me, because truth be told, the media centre of this particular school is stuck in the 60s!  While I spent the morning there, I had an opportunity to watch yet another (extremely) painful lesson of ‘silent reading’ for 30 minutes.  I place this in inverted commas because those Year 7s did NOT read! They stared blankly into space, laid on their arms, with some staring at the same page for the full lesson.  {You see, hidden in the stacks, it’s easy for me to observe these goings-on.} The teacher duly proceeded to mark classwork, and only when he heard a whisper did he seem to surface, separated one boy from the group and resumed his marking. The boy fumingly brooded for the rest of the lesson!  I had to wonder what was going on in this boy’s mind. For him it was a dreary 30 minutes – punishment, boring and useless. This was a missed opportunity to bring enthusiasm and discovery into a very dull mind.

I was just reading an article by Siah and Kwok (2010:168) on SSR (sustained silent reading) and discovered that it was a programme proposed and implemented in the 60s and 70s. Well, in my opinion, THAT IS WHERE IT BELONGS!  But then, some say there are those who appreciate and benefit from it. Really?! Maybe those from privileged or professional families, where parents are academically minded; or where parents are readers, engaged with their children – reading WITH them, reading TO them.  Perhaps my loathing of SSR is because I’ve only had opportunity to witness it here, in a non-reading culture. It does not work here. 

What’s that I hear? Teacher’s tired?  Oh, right, the last day of the week is a challenge? It’s a lesson ‘off’ for the teacher!  A chance to catch up on marking perhaps? A chance to gossip with the librarian?  Or rather, a chance to show how well you can punish, or embarrass, the individual who hates reading. 

Talking of hating reading…a statistic I saw last week, claimed that 1 in 50 children are being diagnosed with Autism/Asperger’s Disorder (no, it’s NOT a disease). Do teachers know the symptoms?  Would they know when they are confronted with a child with Asperger’s?  I think not.  Mainstream teachers are not supposed to encounter special needs. Yet they are! In increasing numbers!  With that rate of diagnosis, they’re in almost every other class, and counting those who are undiagnosed, you can bet your bottom dollar – they’re in every class today!  And, dear librarians, they’re in your library every day. And for the most part, they hate reading.

What qualifies me to talk so knowingly about Autism/Asperger’s?  Well, you see, our son was diagnosed only 18 months ago, at the age of 28!  All his life he was different. Normal, yet different!  He was odd. On another planet. (Aren’t we all, say the wise-cracks.) All his life he battled at school.  Hated reading, hated speaking.  Played differently, couldn’t cope with theory. Quietly observed life go on around him, with a question mark all over his face, wanting to be out, flying on his bike… Whenever we followed advice to take him for a diagnosis, there was none.  He’ll come by, they said.  He’s a late developer, they countered.  It’s neurological…speech dyslexia! Abused! said one. Naughty! said another. And finally, at the age of 18, an esteemed educational psychologist in Johannesburg told us, in front of our son, that he would not be worth anything! “Useless. Put him back in school so he can learn something!” said the man.  You see, I had refused to give up on my son, years back, and we had taken up home schooling.  (The method we followed worked very well with him, and he finished Year 12.  But that’s another story, for another day.)  This ‘professional’ only saw the word “home schooled” and was blinded by bias against it. He did not look deeper, to see the person he was testing.  He did not look into my son’s soul.  (Incidentally, my daughter was also home schooled throughout high school, and today she is a qualified primary school teacher.  A very successful one!)

Home-schooling days 2004

Home-schooling days 2004

Back to Asperger’s.  You see, no two people with autism are alike.  And with Asperger’s, some on the higher end of the spectrum are diagnosed only into their twenties, because they have learned to mask and hide the disorder, by means of coping mechanisms.  Suddenly, when they are supposed to be able to do certain things, take part in certain activities, arrange their business, hold a relationship, hold down a job – life suddenly becomes unstuck, and they cannot cope.  This is what happened to my son.  Once he lost his job, it all became clear in the year thereafter.  Asperger’s was confirmed.  If only we had known. If only specialists/teachers/doctors in South Africa during the 80s and 90s had been able to diagnose this.  But they couldn’t, didn’t.  My challenge to you, whoever you may be, is to inform yourself on Asperger’s.  Know what it is.  Sooner or later, you will encounter it.  Could be you’re already dealing with someone who has this disorder, and you don’t know why he/she is so damn frustrating.

Because we didn’t know, we sent him on to college, expected him to do what he could to build a career.  When he failed at one thing, he tried another.  After years of heartache, expenses, struggles and pain, he finally attained a Commercial Photographer’s Certificate!  His talent blossomed. Today he is a wonderful landscape photographer, brilliant at post production, without a job and an income, but attempting to build a Freelancing business. Gus 2012 
Certainly not useless! (Asperger’s people usually have a higher than average IQ.)  After 8 years of trying to ‘make it out there’, he has moved back in with us as he can’t live alone.  However, he is a person in his own right, living life to the fullest that he possibly can.  Not disabled, differently abled!

Moral of this rather lengthy post … look into a student’s eyes and see who is there.  Find what triggers his/her excitement and develop it. Connect. Information is for everyone…not only for the cooperative, obedient, few. Oh, and avoid SSR!

References:

Aspienaut – Wired Differently. http://aspienaut.tumblr.com/post/29899297574/what-is-aspergers-a-long-answer-to-a-short-question

Siah, P & Kwok, W. 2010. The value of reading and the effectiveness of sustained silent reading. The Clearing House 83:168–174.

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Filed under Secondary School libraries, Student librarian, The joys of learning at 50+

What makes amazing?

This week’s post…? Suffice to say that I cannot stop thinking about that Portfolio waiting to be put together, but what’s good is, it’s becoming a little less daunting!
I have this desire to see the school’s library transformed, become amazing – because of what the SWOT report will deliver, because of what my research (gulp) will prove…or because of recommendations made. Ultimately, because of this passion inside me, of knowing that libraries are meant for so much more – uplifting and serving the community in more ways than we can imagine!
Fittingly, I noticed a tweet this morning, where someone had posted a Vimeo presentation by R D Lankes on “The Bad, The Good, and The Great.” (Given, no less, from the chemo therapy room! Talk about amazing!) Viewing the presentation by this remarkable mind, I’m going “Yes, yes, yes!” I hear him say that libraries are of the community…it’s all about community! Community building.

I’m really hoping I can translate this into the school situation, so that I make sense. That’s my mission over the next few months, aside from tackling cataloging, classification, subject organisation, “user” (the term Lankes hates so much!) services, and the political economy of Information (ugh!).
I’m eating, breathing, sleeping, dreaming library services and librarianship right now; loaded with info, yet trying to find the words…

There’s a community right here, worse off for not having access to amazing! 10,000 books in a school library, don’t make amazing. It’s what 1 valid, relevant, item, 1 community contact, 1 link, 1 article can do for 1 person’s need – that makes ‘amazing’! 1 person becomes 2, and 2 become 20, and so on. And soon the community is amazing, because 1 library served, truly served, 1 person.

Lankes says: “Great libraries build communities”.
Dare I say a great library builds an amazing community?

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Blogging not my forte

Everyone blogs! If you’re a librarian, you blog! Well, I’m a different librarian, or at least student-librarian. (Ah, yes…I discovered a little late in life that I had missed my vocation).

Anyway,  I just can’t seem to latch on to this blogging thing. I do keep a journal…couldn’t go without it. But using language in an entertaining manner for the public to read is not one of my talents. I was brought up half Afrikaans/half English, and this did not help my vocabulary and grammar. (Talking about being a different kind of librarian…do all librarians love cats? It seems that way! I don’t like cats. Yes, you read right…I DON’T LIKE CATS! Feels good to say it too. But then, there are those two that belong to my daughter and son-in-law, that have kind of crept into my heart!)

With 7/30 modules left to complete a Bachelor’s degree in Info Science, 2014 is going to be a slog; I’m doing Distance Learning through the University of South Africa. I should complete this in Dec 2014. Roll on 2015, when I can get out there in the ‘real’ library world, hopefully equipped to make a difference somewhere.  As an expat in Doha, Qatar, I have my eye on the VERY handsome, modern Qatar National Library. Aah, as they say, dreams are good friends!

This year the course focus is on subject organization, cataloging, classification, user needs, political economy of information and more. Also a practical portfolio to do.  I love cataloging…sounds crazy, but someone has to love it, right?! However, this course is designed to make you a ‘jack of all trades’.  We’ll see where my strength lies when I get out there. By nature, I love to help, to serve, and make things easier for others.  So maybe it will be reader guidance.

For now, though, bring on 2014!  Dying to get this year behind me.   I hope to keep a record of my experiences in this final year.  Cataloguing, here we go again!

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Tools of the trade

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2012 Nerves

So, looking back, the 1st-year subjects are down with ease! Now 2nd year has begun and I’m really sweating.  Do I have enough time to get through all this material? Do I have the ability? My memory is questionable…stress??  The ACRONYMS are killing me.  How in the world does any information professional remember all these acronyms? And I already feel as if I’m sinking in a quagmire of metadata, microdata, motivation equation, knowledge – what is it?  There are interests, preferences, attitudes to make up user behaviour, all affected by record behaviour and contexts of user behaviour…whoa!! At least I recognise one thing…dear old Maslow. Thank goodness for something I know! But wait…what’s this? It’s being taken a step further…reading needs, escapist and aesthetic needs etc. etc.

So they say the world may end this year? Might I be so lucky! And then there’s talk of war in the Middle East…now that would mess up my plans! Just my textbooks alone would make up my allotted 30kgs if we had to flee, but there’s no way I’d leave them behind! Would be good if a certain country across the way would quietly shut its mouth and behave!! We’re all a tad tense.

Ok, enough already….back to the books. Bibliographic control, basic descriptive cataloguing, classification…

As they say locally, Inshallah, next month I may have a more positive outlook. Gulp. 😦

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Hello blogging world!

It’s Winter 2010…two weeks to Christmas. I’m embarking on this thing called Blogging. Feeling brave.

Just returned from Brisbane where we attended our lovely daughter’s graduation ceremony. Can’t believe she has qualified already. Where did time go? And I’ve just completed my first year of studies while working FULL TIME. Needless to say, I resigned, so that I could rather study full time.  But now I find I’m in two minds regarding what I should do…find a job? Study full time? I’ve just registered for four 2nd yr modules….four! That’s a lot for me. Decisions, decisions… Oh well, MERRY CHRISTMAS to anyone on the Information spectrum who might read this! 🙂

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