Tag Archives: Librarianship

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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Filed under Distance learning, librarianship, Student librarian

The shrieking shrew and other issues – a rant!

I’m burning with passion to write this post.  I visited the secondary school library yesterday, mainly to interview the librarian, or Learning Resource Centre Manager, which is the title that has been invested upon her. I came away alternately saddened, angry, and frustrated, that an opportunity to have a fully operational library has gone so horribly wrong.

Firstly, the school has no staff room.  In the ‘old days’ as they were referred to, staff met for a quick before-school meet in the library.  Now they meet for 15 mins on the first day of the week, in the hall.  A mid-week 15 min meet-up for primary and secondary teachers in their respective groups happens as well, but otherwise very little chance for teachers to make longer contact.   This to me seems like a group of teachers not fully connected, and not least with the library facility, since there is no encouragement at all to pop in and see what is on offer.  In fact, the senior management of the school declined to answer any questions I had regarding the library as they felt “unequipped to answer”, not knowing what happens in the library.  I could cry!

To add to this, the school operates outdated library management software, and only for the librarian!  No-one has had training on it, no-one is prepared to pay for training on it, which I believe, is hugely expensive and via Skype.  The only person that has access to the catalogue therefore, is the librarian, because the technology capacity of the school (in one of the richest countries in the world), is so dodgy, that it takes a full 5 mins just to open a WORD document!

The librarian is frustrated, having never been given a proper job description, neither recognised as librarian nor teacher.  No-one in management seems particularly interested in her job, nor her library.  She has a host of responsibilities, with only a few of them pertaining to managing the library.  She is doing spine labelling by hand! Typing little pieces of paper, cutting them out into squares, and attaching them with scotch tape. One of her tasks is to provide tea/coffee to surrounding class teachers, because with no staff room, and nowhere to gather, if you’re located next to the library why not pop in there for a chat and coffee?, even if there is another lesson going on!

Talking about lessons in the library…why, oh why, take a bunch of Year 7 boys into a library, shout like a shrew for them to “get a library book to read – quickly, and sit down.” They then proceed to have 40 WASTED mins pretending to read from a book, grabbed from anywhere on the shelves, in which they have zero or very little interest; they are sniggering, whispering, fidgeting, doodling, staring blankly – everything except READING!!! And when the period is over the shrieking shrew tells them to “put the books back where you found them!”.  Well, besides the fact that they don’t have a cooking clue where they took the book from, they also just want to get out of there as fast as possible and into the next class/break time.  The books land up anywhere – anatomy with fiction, insects with volcanoes, and fiction scattered anywhere in-between.

During this supposedly silent reading, the teacher shows no interest in what the students are reading, and proceeds to gossip with the librarian, enjoying a freshly-made cup of coffee!  I want to froth at the mouth when she shouts out “SHHHHHHH! [wholly unacceptable in this multi-cultural society] A library is supposed to be a quiet place!”

Well, OK, relatively quiet, I’ll concede, but not in the way she defines it! Those kids will never willingly set foot in a library, guaranteed!  And when they get to college, their remote memories of secondary school’s ‘forced’ reading will come flooding back and they will sidestep the flippin’ library and resort to Google! No wonder Google is doing so well… we the librarians, teachers, parents, educators, professionals, have failed to make the library a ‘want-to-go-to’ place, especially in a school.

The budget is supposedly sufficient – for what?  There is no mention-worthy technology present.  Twelve computers that are dreadfully slow, a scanner linked to one computer, and one printer that works.  No e-resources subscribed to (not even Encyclopaedia Britannica), no electronic catalogue, few current print resources, dodgy furniture, no mention of the library on the school’s website….I could rant on and on!

So, I have to do the SWOT analysis.  Yes, it’s easy to identify problems, potential, threats, (few strengths at this moment in time) – but inside I’m so sad.  Sad that yet another year will go by and those learners will have no support, no idea of how to approach a library for learning, no clue how to find resources, no clue how to make full use of information and teachers that are forcing their multi-cultural class to pick up a book and READ! I cannot see that strategy work….you have to make them WANT to read.

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Batho Pele (Sotho, for ‘people first’)

Batho Pele was a South African government initiative, started in 1997, to transform public services. It would seem it was to transform them from adeptness to corruption, waste and inefficiency.
However, that is not why I’m stressing the term today…it’s because it fits as a label (mentioned in my Study Guide for AIS3703, by Dr JA Fourie) for my personal image of a professional librarian. Truly someone who is there for the people, regardless of race, culture or social standing!
So why this elitism that exists in the profession? Why do you even find the term ‘celebrity librarian’? I may well understand, one day.
But for now, reading about the attributes of professional service, it’s heartwarming to see that I’ve at least got the foundation rightly formed – a desire for true altruistic service orientation! Yes, expert knowledge, strong ethics, accountability to the community, knowledge of their needs and interests, professional autonomy – all important in the right measure – but all worthless without a heart for selfless service. People first! Batho pele!

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A year on…

To recap my experiences in the last year would not be difficult; it would just take several pages, even if I try to condense it! With 7/30 modules left before I finish this degree, I’m eager to usher in 2014, as I’ve registered for all 7.  This year the focus is on cataloguing and classification, info organisation & retrieval, research methodology in Info Science, political economy of information, serving the user, and last, but not least, building a practical portfolio. I really want to aim for a Cum Laude pass, but 2013 was not easy.  I was forced to take less subjects because of a change in personal circumstances.  Asperger’s  has been diagnosed in our family. Why didn’t we know before?  Well, probably because we’re South African and there was little awareness and education of the condition in our country until now.  But also because my son, diagnosed at 27, went undiagnosed by professionals throughout his life, so we were oblivious to the reason behind his learning and behavioural difficulties. His condition doesn’t show outwardly. Indeed he appears to be very “neuro-typical” (jargon for ‘normal’). A year ago he returned to live with us – after being out of the home for 8 years – having suddenly found himself paid off from work, misunderstood by friends and unable to cope with everyday living. Along with his diagnosis and subsequent rebuttals from family and friends (since they think we’re daft) came severe emotional stress and even trauma.  It’s not easy for an adult to know he must move in with mom and dad, nor is it easy for us to adapt to having a dependent again.  Helping him cope with his diagnosis has been hard, but not as hard as the scepticism and betrayal from those closest to us as we are labeled ‘helicopter parents’!

But, moving on, his diagnosis has made us aware that my husband is also an Aspie (a person with Asperger’s).  That revelation answered years of questions and confusion.  One day, if I have the time, I will begin a blog on what it was like being married to an undiagnosed Aspie!  By God’s grace we are still together, 34 yrs later.  Somewhat of the struggle is depicted in this website.

And so…to my studies.  I have begun a refresher course online for cataloguing and classification, offered by Idaho Commission for Libraries. Good reminder of important points.  My last cataloguing experience was in 2012.

2014, I welcome you!  I am tired… tired of DL, tired of essays, tired of examination stress, but would I do it again? YES! I have enjoyed the experience, am learning much, and am really eager to get out there in 2015.  I won’t try to volunteer this year…don’t think I’ll have the time.  However, next year, God willing, I will have completed my studies and ready to take up the learning experience working in a library. Hopefully, full time. Bring it on!

So, let’s do this…2014 here I come.

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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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Filed under Student librarian

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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Filed under Distance learning, Student librarian, The joys of learning at 50+