Reflective Professional Portfolio – THE FINAL ASSIGNMENT

Part A: Philosophy

Many hats of a TL infographic
The diversity of a TL’s roles. Copied from Facebook post by CBCA, South Australia. (Levin, n.d.).

An effective teacher librarian (TL) fully engages with students and staff as both teacher and librarian. The TL supports teaching and learning experiences by: resourcing the curriculum in a manner that considers the local context; providing access to and implementing current research in best teaching and learning practices; developing the information literacy and fluency capacity of students and staff; and inspiring a love of literature and ethical information use. The TL also develops themselves and their library by keeping up to date with best practices in the information services industry and responsibly managing its resources.

Part B: Thematic Reflections

I have focused my reflections on the themes of leadership, technology and literature. These themes are ones that recur throughout most, if not all, subjects in the course and are areas where I could see growth in my understanding and application to my practice throughout the course.

Leadership

At the outset of ETL504: Teacher librarian as leader I was sceptical about the claim that leadership is part of the role of the teacher librarian. As I detailed in my initial blog post for the subject, my experience with school leadership structures did not resonate with the idea of the TL being recognised as a school leader. Through reading the discussion forum and blog posts of other students on this topic, I realised that perhaps it was my understanding of leadership that needed to change. I therefore engaged in the subject with a mind open to entertaining such a paradigm shift.

Continue reading “Reflective Professional Portfolio – THE FINAL ASSIGNMENT”

Professional placement report

Section 1: About the organisation

Sydney Uni FIsher Library
Sydney Uni Fisher Library (c) 2019 Marika Simon

The University of Sydney Library is an academic library supporting one of the leading universities in Australia. Their mission is to “inspire a love of learning in order to advance the potential in everyone” (University of Sydney Library, n.d., p. 1). The library seeks to fulfil this mission in a way that expresses its values of inspiration, collaboration, integrity, respect and curiosity (University of Sydney Library, n.d., p. 2). While their chief users are the 77,000 university students, faculty, and other staff, they also serve the wider community.

The library provides users with access to information sources both physical and digital (University of Sydney Library, n.d., p.1), without which their scholarship would be impossible. In 2019, this resource provision included enabling access to 19 million ebooks and journals and the loan of 471,000 physical items. If the library did not exist, the university would lack the resources necessary for research and for teaching and learning at the tertiary level.

The library also provides safe space in which users can interact with the information resources accessed through the library and other sources. The changing nature of university study, with more emphasis on independent online learning and less on lecture theatre experiences may create a greater need for students to find learning spaces outside of traditional classrooms (University of Sydney staff, October 3, 2019, personal communication). The library provides twelve facilities, seven of which are staffed, all of which provide study space. Facilitating this role is one of the main tasks for the Learning Spaces division where I did my professional placement. Continue reading “Professional placement report”

Placement diary week 3

A full week at Sydney Uni!

Highlights from the week 28 October – 1 November:

Research on vinyl cutter

One of the initiatives my supervisor was currently working on was to purchase a vinyl cutter for the Library. For the Learning Spaces area, this would be useful for creating signage decals. A proposal had been put forward to the Director to combine staff and student use for the vinyl cutter by purchasing it to be housed in the Library makerspace, Thinkspace, and therefore provide value to library users as well as the administrative staff. Five models had been included as potential recommendations in the proposal. I was tasked with doing some further research on these models and meeting with my supervisor and the manager for  Thinkspace to present my findings. I was pleased to have my recommended cutter requested, with some of my arguments used to support the suggestion, and ordered.

 

user personal template screenshot
Screenshot of sample user persona template created on Xtensio.com

Research on persona templates

 

The initial plan for the user experience (UX) research for the Conservatorium of Music (the Con) Library was to get information from students representing different courses, subject streams, years, and so forth and create personas to inform renovation plans. To that end, I was asked to look into potential persona templates to use in the project. Creating personas is frequently used in marketing and commercial UX projects. Many of the persona creation and template sites had a high amount of demographic and “buying habits” information that was not useful for our context. I found a simple, straightforward and easily customisable template at Xtensio. I created an example for our project on that platform.

Continue reading “Placement diary week 3”

Placement diary week 2

Another 2-day week on placement.

Monday

The plan for the day was to do more user experience (UX) interviews at the Conservatorium Library (the Con). However, the morning provided an

Sydney Conservatorium of Music 2019
A beautiful spot for a bit of work – “The Con” (c) 2019 Marika Simon

interesting insight on the unpredictability of the Learning Spaces coordinator role. A delivery of tables came for two library sites at 7:30 in the morning, with the email notifying the coordinator of the timing coming overnight. On arrival at 9 am, we went running around sorting out various issues and providing a liaison between the delivery worker, the staff at the various sites and the installer (who was meant to show up at 7:30 with the delivery, but did not arrive until around midday) to ensure that everything was in a reasonable space.

After a brief lunch break, we headed out to the Con and I scribed a couple of interviews led by my supervisor and then continued on my own until around 4:30. I tried to catch people either as they entered or were about to settle in to a study spot or to catch them when they were up and moving around. I attempted to get users from each of the study areas on the level we were targeting, hoping that I could also get a reasonable cross-section of student types. The plan is to start pulling out themes and creating an affinity diagram next Monday.

Friday

Today was a “find out more about the library in general” day. I got an intro to frontline services with one of the access services managers and access to the online training for the ALMA library management system (LMS). I also got a chance to shadow staff at the main information desk and in the returns room, along with a TAFE placement student. The final learning experience for the day was touring the non-traditional library spaces – where the collection is not books and traditional information material formats, but rather human resources, technological devices, and study space. Highlights from the various experiences follow: Continue reading “Placement diary week 2”

Technology: Helping to connect users and information agencies

What role does technology play in the relationship information agencies develop with their users?

Technology was a common theme in the presentations of information agencies across a broad spectrum in the Sydney 2 study visit session. The uses of technology within the information agencies were integral to the relationship each agency had with its users. Though different uses of technology developed different aspects of the relationship between agency and user, one of the key roles played by technology was that of “connecting”. Technology used by information agencies connects users: to information; to personalised expert help; to the selection process; and to community. These connections create, change and develop various relationships between agency and user.

Technology connects users to information held by information agencies. Furthermore, technology has enabled the location for information exchange to no longer be confined to the library’s physical location, but rather freed in a new virtual mode of relationship between agency and user. Many of the information agencies on the Sydney 2 itinerary had online public access catalogues (OPACs) and e-Resource collections and had digitised selected items from their collections. Providing round-the-clock access to information and resources online extended the reach of these agencies, both geographically and temporally. This enabled them to forge relationships with users that they would not have had contact with otherwise due to distance or time constraints on users’ ability to physically access the library during opening hours.

Wallpaper sample book
Wallpaper sample book from Caroline Simpson Library (c) 2019 Marika Simon (Digitised version at: http://museum.collection.hht.net.au/search.do?view=detail&page=1&id=375&db=object )

For instance, the Caroline Simpson Library of the Sydney Living Museums has been contacted by users from around the globe in search of rare items that they have made available through their OPAC and through digitised items hosted on the Internet Archive (M. Stephens, personal communication, October 1, 2019). This interest from abroad in a small, specialised library whose main purpose is to provide support for the interpretation of historical houses would have been almost unheard of in the pre-Internet era. Woollahra Library owes approximately 10% of its circulation to e-Resources. It reports that a significant and growing number of its active membership maintains an exclusively virtual relationship with the library – never setting foot in any of the three physical branch locations (V. Munro, personal communication, October 2, 2019).  Those are just two ways that we see technology connecting users to information and developing geographically extended and virtual relationships between information agencies and their users.

Continue reading “Technology: Helping to connect users and information agencies”

Placement diary week 1

I am doing my placement in Sydney Uni Library’s Learning Spaces division. This comes under Site Services/Facilities Management for the library. My understanding of the mission is to improve the various spaces under library management to optimise the user experience.

Sydney Uni FIsher Library
Sydney Uni Fisher Library (c) 2019 M Simon

Here are some rough-and-ready thoughts from my first week:

Corporate culture and leadership

I find it much easier to see the value of the material on leadership styles, corporate culture and change management in this large, established organisation.  My usual small primary school context is set within the larger Department of Education corporate culture, but the relevance of that is harder to see on a daily basis. In my placement, I can see more value in viewing events and interactions through a leadership theory lens. Being able to understand where attitudes and procedures come from and how to deal with initiating and overcoming resistance to change has daily practical value in this environment. Learning Spaces is all about change management. The remit is to observe and analyse what is in place, then collect evidence, and propose changes to improve the space (and then implement those changes.) Issues such as giving time for staff ownership of change and the need for an iterative process were evident. For example, in the SciTech library the reference and circulation service points have been changed from a large circulation desk to smaller height-adjustable pods. The intention of these pods is to be standing-height service “touchpoints” where staff have one to two hour shifts providing front-line service to users. When touring the libraries, these pods were set at seat-height and the staff I observed were sitting and working on the computers on their pods and did not even look up to take notice of users, such as myself, entering the library. This seems to be an example of a change that has been implemented but that has not been “owned” by the staff and will need to be re-visited to optimise the service. Continue reading “Placement diary week 1”

Study Visit Report

Reposting on 30 December 2019 as the original post seems to have disappeared 🙁

Part A:

Essay

What role does technology play in the relationship information agencies develop with their users?

Technology was a common theme in the presentations of information agencies across a broad spectrum in the Sydney 2 study visit session. The uses of technology within the information agencies was integral to the relationship each agency had with its users. Though different uses of technology developed different aspects of the relationship between agency and user, one of the key roles played by technology was that of “connecting”. Technology used by information agencies connects users: to information; to personalised expert help; to the selection process; and to community. These connections create, change and develop various relationships between agency and user.

Technology connects users to information held by information agencies. Furthermore, technology has enabled the location for information exchange to no longer be confined to the library’s physical location, but rather freed in a new virtual mode of relationship between agency and user. Many of the information agencies on the Sydney 2 itinerary had online public access catalogues (OPACs) and e-Resource collections and had digitised selected items from their collections. Providing round-the-clock access to information and resources online extended the reach of these agencies, both geographically and temporally. This enabled them to forge relationships with users that they would not have had contact with otherwise due to distance or time constraints on users’ ability to physically access the library during opening hours.

Wallpaper sample book
Wallpaper sample book from Caroline Simpson Library (c) 2019 Marika Simon – digitised version at: http://museum.collection.hht.net.au/search.do?view=detail&page=1&id=375&db=object

For instance, the Caroline Simpson Library of the Sydney Living Museums has been contacted by users from around the globe in search of rare items that they have made available through their OPAC and through digitised items hosted on the Internet Archive (M. Stephens, personal communication, October 1, 2019). This interest from abroad in a small, specialised library whose main purpose is to provide support for the interpretation of historical houses would have been almost unheard of in the pre-Internet era. Woollahra Library owes approximately 10% of its circulation to e-Resources. It reports that a significant and growing number of its active membership maintains an exclusively virtual relationship with the library – never setting foot in any of the three physical branch locations (V. Munro, personal communication, October 2, 2019).  Those are just two ways that we see technology connecting users to information and developing geographically extended and virtual relationships between information agencies and their users.

This virtual relationship has changed some of the collection management practices of information agencies from “just-in-case” models, where resources are acquired and held by the agency so they are present just in case a user needs them, to “just-in-time” models, where eResources can be acquired instantaneously (or nearly so) and made available to a user just in time to meet their need (Neatrour, Callaway, & Cummings, 2018, p. 8). This is an example of technology connecting users to the selection process.

When technology connects users to the selection process, it changes the relationship between users and agencies from dependence to partnership. The Australian Film, Television and Radio School (AFTRS) Library (personal communication, October 2, 2019) and Sydney University Library (personal communication, October 3, 2019) both experimented with a patron-driven-acquisition model for the Kanopy audio-visual streaming service whereby three instances of users viewing any program for more than 30 seconds continuously would trigger a purchase of the program (AFTRS Library, personal communication, October 2, 2019). Both agencies found, as others have before them (Lukes, Margren, & Thorpe, 2016, pp. 112- 113), that this pure patron-driven-acquisitions model led to a rapid blowout of their budgets. Sydney University Libraries have moved to an evidence-based-acquisition model with a set 12-month expenditure (personal communication, October 3, 2019), and AFTRS have opted for a model using librarian selected titles, guided by user suggestions (personal communication, October 2, 2019). Therefore users are still connected to the selection process, though not directly and instantaneously, and users and agencies relate with increased partnership when compared to traditional resource selection models.

Technology also facilitates the connection of users to expert information through the development of a

RFID Returns and libraryy help point Woollahra Library
RFID Returns and library help point Woollahra Library (c) 2019 Marika Simon

more personal relationship between users and the agency and a more proactive relationship between agencies and their users. This is accomplished by using self-service RFID technology for circulation and return of items, and OPACs with access to various online datasbases and streaming services for initial search processes. This frees the expert staff to give assistance, whether at designated stations (Sydney Uni, personal communication, October 3, 2019) or by roaming throughout the library (V. Munro, personal communication, October 2, 2019). Freeing the frontline staff from routine circulation and return duties gives them more time to serve users on a one-to-one basis, making the relationship more personal. In the case of Woollahra Library, where the librarians then roam the library to be more approachable and accessible (V. Munro, personal communication, October 2, 2019), it also makes the agency’s relationship with users more proactive.

Another common thread amongst information agencies was the trend towards digitising portions of the collection and making them available online, through the agencies’ own websites or OPACs, through catalogue aggregators like Trove, or digital libraries like the Internet Archive. This practice allows information agencies to provide access to rare, fragile, or unwieldy items while minimising the handling of those items to facilitate longer-term preservation of them (Matusiak & Johnston, 2014). This brings us to the next connection that is enabled by technology use.

Technology connects users to their community, developing a richer and more contextualised relationship between users and information agencies. Providing access to digitised items is one way that agencies connect users to their communities. Woollahra Library has started digitising its local history collection, this access – combined with increased opening hours and staff presence for the collection – has enabled many users to connect with their personal and community histories (Woollahra Library, personal communication, October 2, 2019). Jessie Street Women’s Library has also used digitisation as a way to minimise handling of their poster collection while providing broader access. This effort has actually created stronger ties with the poster-creating community, resulting in donations of more posters and strengthening the library’s collection (Jessie Street Women’s Library, personal communication, October 3, 2019). Libraries such as Woollahra (personal communication, October 2, 2019) and Jessie Street Women’s Library (personal communication, October 3, 2019) also use social media, their library websites, and targeted e-mails to tell digital stories and advertise library events that bring their user communities together. These uses of technology connect users with the community in multi-faceted ways, creating a rich, contextual relationship between user and information agency.

Therefore, through the experiences of information agencies participating in the Sydney 2 study visit we can see the connecting role of technology. Through this multi-faceted connecting role technology facilitates relationships between users and information agencies that are more extended, virtual, partnership-oriented, more proactive, richer and highly contextualised.

Reflection

The study visits contextualised my coursework through the observation of real world examples. An area of learning that was brought to life for me was the relevance of leadership theory material to my practice as a teacher librarian – particularly the evaluation of corporate cultures, library networking and promotion, and establishing my personal network with colleagues.

Seeing the differences between large, established organisations like Sydney University Libraries, Ultimo TAFE Library, and State Library New South Wales gave me real-world insight into the difference that corporate cultures and leadership styles can have on the direction of information agencies. To my eye, these organisations occupied a continuum of responsiveness to users and resilience for change ranging from Sydney University Libraries at the most conservative end and Ultimo TAFE at the most flexible. I could see the potential for applying theories of leadership styles and change management from ETL504 to understanding the workings of these institutions much more clearly than I have been able to do in relation to my small primary school.

I was impressed with the user-responsiveness and community networking of the Woollahra Library and Jessie Street Women’s Library in particular. Their engagement with their respective communities and use of technology and digital storytelling to network with their users inspired me. Library promotion and community involvement are two areas that I would like to focus on in my practice. Seeing the example of these two libraries that are within my local area and being able to make connections with staff there was a helpful step on that journey for me.

Finally, meeting classmates and instructors in person helped to strengthen my personal learning network and community of support. Even though I have connected extensively with classmates online, meeting in person adds an extra dimension to those relationships. I believe that these meetings have helped to strengthen existing ties and begun forging new bonds that will continue beyond this course to support, encourage, and challenge me in my ongoing practice of teacher librarianship.

 

References

Lukes, R., Markgren, S., & Thorpe, A. (2016). E-book collection development: Formalizing a policy for smaller libraries. The Serials Librarian, 70, 106 – 115. doi:10.1080/0361526X.2016.1153329

Matusiak, K. K., & Johnston, T. K. (2014). Digitization for preservation and access: Restoring the usefulness of the nitrate negative collections at the American Geographical Society library. The American Archivist, 77(1), pp. 241-269. Retrieved from httpds://www.jstor.org/stable/43489592

Neatrour, A. L., Callaway, E., & Cummings, R. (2018). Kindles, card catalogs, and the future of libraries: a collaborative digital humanities project. Digital Library Perspectives. doi:10.1108/DLP-02-2018-0004

ETL504 Assessment 2 Part B Reflection

My view on the case study group work moved from initial dread (Simon, 2019, 23 July) through to hope for a positive experience (Simon, 2019, August 9). In the end I feel this component has contributed to my developing practice of leadership and understanding how it relates to the role of the teacher librarian (TL).

In our first group effort, members stepped up as initiators, contributors, opinion seekers, elaborators, orienters and encouragers (Roberts, 2012; Simon, 2019, August 18, ). Donna Thurling (2019, September 22) suggested that perhaps groups should have been seeded with some dominators, blockers or aggresors (Roberts, 2012).  I disagree because I think the value of the experience is the authentic nature of the situation. Negotiating with real people rather than just roles or scenarios gave insight for my practice of leadership as a TL. Evaluating real-life reactions to my initiation (Simon, 2019, August 18) or hanging back (Simon, 2019, September 9) developed my understanding of how to effectively manage teams when leadership is distributed to me as TL. Continue reading “ETL504 Assessment 2 Part B Reflection”

Cry baby, cry, make your mother sigh

After writing my reflection on my group’s process in Case Study 5, I thought it would be interesting to see what other experiences classmates have been having with this part of the subject. Here are my reflections on my impromptu blog tour from yesterday:

My first stops were to my case study group partners. It is interesting to see the same experience through someone else’s eyes. It can be a bit nerve-wracking, as comes up for our scenario-star in Case Study 6, as this includes seeing yourself from a different perspective as well. Dan’s initial reflection  reinforced my positive perception of our group interactions, but brought up the frustration of working with the set communication structures that are part of the Interact site. His second reflection provided some insight on leadership styles – both the difficulty of identifying some or expressing them in this particular microcosm and how our own pre-conceptions and interpretations of leadership styles and theories can sometimes get in the way of our recognising and identifying them “in the wild”. Deb’s post also opened a brief window on our group experience and struck a consistent positive note. Continue reading “Cry baby, cry, make your mother sigh”

Time is an illusion. Case study posting time, doubly so.

With my apologies to Douglas Adams and Case Study Group 9, time got away from me and our assembled-on-time group response was posted to the forum after the Friday midnight deadline. I think this highlights one of the potential downfalls of distributed leadership. Distributing leadership depends on having an overarching, supervising main leader from whom leadership is distributed to other parties. In the case of our case study group, since we are all trying to be leaders, yet all trying NOT to assert dominance over each other, in the end analysis something fell through the cracks. This week, the timely posting of our response was that thing.

This week was generally hard for us. More than one person commented on feeling less confident about the case study material – noting the narrowing of focus. The wiki-page creator and analysis initiator this week set things up in a slightly different way, which made it more difficult for me to connect with the material. We ended up identifying 4 major deeper issue areas for five people to comment on, but people were also slow to claim topics, so there was more confusion about who was covering what. I know that I had a hard time snapping into the frame of mind for analysing the case study while waiting for the return of the first assessment, processing the feedback when it was returned and beginning to process the requirements for the second assessment. I think a single, in-charge, following-up leader/manager would have helped our process to go more smoothly this week.

On the other hand, this week was definitely a team-bonding, relationship-building success. We had a lot of back and forth conversation in the wiki comments section and I feel we are bonding more as a team. I would not be surprised if some relationships from this group continue past the group exercise, the subject, the session and perhaps even the course. Since I feel that the greatest worth in this part of the course is the networking opportunity and the participation in and analysis of the group dynamic – I actually count this as a relatively successful week.

Five down, one to go.

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