Sunday, February 4, 2007

Itchy Fingers

I have to say I left the conference and ran home straight to my computer. Two days without my ecommunities left me with what I call itchy fingers. I have spent Saturday and Sunday exploring Stephen Heppell's web site and any other site he may have mentioned. I began work on my wiki, adjusted my blog and shared all sorts of information with my online learning colleagues around Canada.

I have to agree with Anita about the information stimulation....I was exhausted but my mind wouldn't stop running through the different ideas and how I would like to see them reflected in my library and in classrooms in my school.

Compliments to the conference planners, the common thread of community and the changing interpretation of community ran throughout every session I attended. The power and importance of the social net for our net gen students reconfirmed my own beliefs and encouraged me to keep on working with teachers to buy in and accept it!

On a personal note, I left the conference with what I call technolust....I need a MAC! I have already begun shopping. It is time to join the MAC club. :)

Saturday, February 3, 2007

After the conference...

Well, eight sessions, three plenaries, hours in the EXPO, networking and, ahem, socialising later, and I'm done (and exhausted). What a great conference! My favourite session was the OSLA spotlight session, in which Stephen Heppell talked about the possibilities for learning. I had never heard him speak before, and was overwhelmed at his passion for what he does. He has inspired me to start thinking about the way we work in the library, and how we can design our space better in order to help our students get the most out of their learning experience.
Other favourite sessions included this morning's Top Tech Trends session, and the session on Web 2.0 that I attended on Thursday morning, entitled Is Social Software Too Social? Speakers from the Globe & Mail, CBC, and a lawyer discussed the possibilities and implications of a social web. I'm looking forward to reading back through my notes, and following up on the notes I made, searching the web for examples of 'where things work well'.
Congratulations to all those who worked so hard to make the conference a success!

OSLA Awards

Marilyn Kogon: OSLA Award for Exceptional Achievement

Hetty Smeathers, Teacher-Librarian of the Year, with James Saunders,
Michael Rosettis and Michelle Regina

OLA Distinguished Service Award recipient Bobbie Henley
with colleague and best friend Jo-Anne LaForty.

How can I miss the opportunity of using this blog to congratulate our OSLA award winners. Hetty Smeathers, Teacher-Librarian of the Year, congratulations for your exemplary library program and dedication to your students and your profession.

Marilyn Kogon, congratulations on your Award of Exceptional Achievement, for your years of dedication to negotiating licensing for the benefit of schools with COOL Sector and your contributions on our behalf to Resource Ontario.

And Bobbie Henley, a special congratulations for your OLA Distinguished Service Award. You led us through the darkest hours of school library advocacy, and never lost your fire. What a leader!

Information Stimulation

I overheard a conference attendee complaining of information overload yesterday. I think overload is an attitude. Yes, every year I come to the conference I hear about all sorts of new and sometimes mind-boggling ideas, and the synapses sparking away keep me awake at night. But instead of interpreting that as overload, I like to think of it as information stimulation. What I try to do is to take those big ideas home with me, investigate further, learn how, make the connections to school library programs, and do my best to help others put ideas into practice.

So, here's my information stimulation so far for this conference:

Stephen Heppell has me thinking about teaching and learning for the 21st century. He has me thinking about a constructivist approach to learning in a knowledge-based economy. He has me worried about how we can get there, when our school system was designed for a nineteenth and twentieth century farming and manufacturing economy. He has challenged me and all of us, who he says are perfectly positioned in the school library to achieve this, to go ahead and demonstrate to decision-makers that this huge shift is vital. Hmmmm.....

Glen Murray has me inspired about how he sees culture and knowledge as the economic engines of our global cities. He and Ben Heppell have me thinking about the design of learning spaces. And they have me hoping that sometime in the not-too-distant future knowledge and culture will be valued far more highly in our society - a welcome change for a clarinet-playing school library consultant!

Cory Doctorow has effected a huge lateral shift in my understanding of digital copyright issues, and has me trying to sort out how I'm possibly going to get my colleagues at work to understand all of this.

Michael Rosettis' session on hot issues in school libraries has me blown over by the momentum that continues to build for improvement in the Ontario situation. A couple of years ago in a moment of despair, I remember OSLA Council almost believing that we had lost the battle. Hard to believe now, with so many positive developments!

And then there's technology. Yahoo Answers, flickr, you name it, I'm thinking about it. I've been flirting with flickr for quite some time now, and have resolved to take the plunge. I'm fascinated that there are quite a few people, it seems, blogging the conference, putting conference photos in flickr, and otherwise engaging in Web 2.0 to converse about it all. I'm thinking about how social networking could be applied to libraries, and am excited at the thought of Knowledge Ontario's Connect Ontario project going in that direction.

All of this, and there's still the top tech trends session this morning. Don't think I'll be doing a lot of sleeping this week, with all of those firing synapses!


Speaker: Alvin Schrader, School of Library and Information Studies, University of Alberta, CLA President-Elect

This session highlighted the importance of library services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth. Since these youth experience severe emotional and physical pain, it is crucial that school and public library services are provided to them as a means to combat oppression in their communities.

-library is a safe place where these youth can get factual information to combat oppressions

-librarians are in important positions to connect people to the information they need
-libraries must address the needs of all the people in their communities
-librarians are powerful because they already exist within the system
-its important for librarians to notice which youth come in to the library repeatedly but don't ask questions at the reference desk

How librarians can reach out:
-display rainbow flag/colours
-develop readings lists of LGBTQ materials so these youth can find the information
-display gay-friendly posters
-have a shelf with materials that can be borrowed on an honour system
-start a gay-straight alliance in community

-queer literature reflects the experiences of these youth
-just because queer literature doesn't circulate, it doesn't mean it doesn't get used by the community
-a public library should serve all people in the community

-librarians can do so much for these youth that doesn't require alot of effort

-pressure from teachers and parents to keep queer literature off the shelves

-important for librarians to seek out likeminded people and have a support network in place in the community before taking on these initiatives
-be aware that your initiatives may create challenges/backlash in community
-there is personal risk involved for librarians in their jobs when doing this type of work

-important that librarians have professional development in this area

-Various policy frameworks for these issues (constitutional, legislative)

-studies show that there is poor quality/availability of queer reference collections in public libraries
-reference librarians are less than welcoming to queer reference inquiries (no positive closure to query, raised eyebrows)

-Calgary and Edmonton public libraries have the most queer titles in collections

-queer picture books not well represented in library collections

-studies also looked at subject headings for these titles in library catalogues
-most headings weren't specific
-no reference to nature of subject matter
-subject access is important issue

-many health information websites for queer youth are blocked by internet filters
-up to 60% of gay health sites are blocked (2002 study by Kaiser Family Foundation)

-many reasons/excuses/myths for not collecting queer materials in libraries

Strategies for building these collections/services:
-develop relationships with local groups, teachers, guidance counsellers, schools
-develop a professional development support network
-have policies and procedures in place regarding collection and access
-community advocacy


Speakers: Mark Robertson, Kalina Grewal, Reference Librarians, York University.

Great session!

This session looked at blogs as a source for research materials, and it examined the content of blogs.

-blogs are emerging resources/tools for research
-they can be used in research even though they're not considered scholarly sources
-promote the content of blogs

-What are blogs?
-create an environment that fosters dialogue
-blogs have many purposes: commercial, personal, professional

-blogs have social and political impacts

Blog features:

-read/write medium: we read blogs and post comments.You can respond to posts.
-trackbacks: links to other blogs that cite the post. Allows blog author to know other people are reading her blog
-blogroll: links to other blogs
-RSS feeds: allows readers to subscribe to a site

Impact of blogs:
-interact with global issues

-reports from Gartner Group and Technorati that highlight huge blog growth
-"State of the Blogosphere" (2006), Dave Sifry

-the number of blog postings per day is impacted by world events
-many blog posts consist of political commentary

"The Corporate Guide to the Current Blogosphere"

-blog readership is significantly higher in key Asian markets
-blogs are much bigger phenemenon in other places in the world like the Far East
-most blogs are written in Japanese

-in Iran, blogs may be a substitute for a suppressed reformist press

-in China, blogs may be an alternative to the state-controlled press
-high level of trust in web-based media
-most popular blog in the world comes from China (Xu Jinglei)

Blogs' value for researchers:
-citizen journalism
-creation of communities
-as primary sources

Citizen journalism:
-citizens playing active roles in disseminating news
-blogs can do things that mainstream media can never do
-blogs are safe space to express identity
-citizens can communicate in closed regimes

Global Voices: example of citizen journalism blog, "blog of blogs"
-provides reporting from underdeveloped regions (Asia, Africa, Latin America)
-tap into conversations between people in these areas of the world
-allow people to have a voice and tell their own stories
-the mandate of these blogs is to get people to act (contrast with mainstream media)

Creation of communities:
-platform for discussion
-blogrolls create network of blogs
-bloggers share knowledge and collaborate
-there are multiple blogospheres. Each one is defined by culture, language, areas of interest
-many-to-many communication

As primary sources:
-blogs document events as they happen
-more likely to provide a personal perspective on an event (has historical value)

-sociological value: linguistic analysis, 1st-person narratives (narratives of girls with eating disorders)

-academic value: blogs can be pedagogical tools (use them in the classroom to communicate with students)
-object of study (primary source)
-a means to stay informed and building communities
-opportunites for information sharing and debate
-awareness/alert system
-role in informal communication

Possible responsibilities libraries have in relation to blogs:

Friday, February 2, 2007

"Radical Trust: Why '2.0' Really Matters to Libraries (Session #309)

Speaker: Doug Horne, Head, Academic Liaison, University of Guelph

I was looking forward to this session and it didn't disappoint. Doug Horne's "think piece", as he called the session, highlighted many innovative/current concepts, and it also tied in so well with many of the ideas discussed in Thursday's all conference event "The Future of Search."

As already mentioned, this session was not about a particular project. Instead, Horne discussed concepts and ideas he's thinking about:

-Web 2.0 does not signal the end of libraries or librarians

Characteristics of Web 2.0:
-user generated content
-filters and rankings (lets you customize what you see on the web)
-tagging and folksonomies
-syndication (websites come to you)
-web based applications
-collective intelligence
-APIs (sharing)
-the Long Tail (get a large number of small groups to come to your site)

-Web 2.0 is an essential component of the concept of Radical Trust
-Radical Trust: we put our trust in a group of people we don't know
-We read very personal and emotional blogs but we don't know who these people are that are writing these blogs
-We don't know how reliable these blogs are.
-we trust these sources but they're not official/confirmed/controlled/secure sources
-they don't consist of authoritative ideas
-"unpolished" works

Trust and Web 2.0
-4 ways in which trust works in Web 2.0:
  1. Classification: People can tag things people use and look at what other people have tagged. The community drives this action. There is an incentive to use tags others use so you're tied to a community.
  2. Content creation: content is created by viewers/users.
  3. Systems: examples are flickr . No contracts involved. Free to use. We don't know how these systems work but we use them anyway.
  4. Open source software: we don't know who makes this software but we trust our data with it.

-Web 2.0 technology enable us to do social networking, but its not all about technology. Its important to look at people's behavior.

-We are unconsciously providing advice in communities

Features of indirect social navigation:

-no 2-way communication

-based on qualitative evaluation

-anonymous contributions

-recommender systems (collaborative filtering)

-history enriched filtering

So, what about libraries?

-Librarians have to understand what people are doing in terms of information-seeking and usage

Requires a shift in thinking:

Content creation > massive collaboration

Content filtering/taxonomies > qualitiative filtering/folksonomies

Local control systems > dynamic/remote systems

Vendor closed systems > open source/collaborative/APIs

Peer review/expertise > decentralized/self-regulated

Stephen Heppell Wows the Crowd!

OSLA spotlight speaker Stephen Heppell (in black) with OSLA President Michael Rosettis and conference planning committee members Pat Elliott, Bobbie Henley and Lisa Teodosio.

At most conferences I can identify that aha moment, when someone's new ideas take hold of my imagination and stimulate all sorts of new thought processes. This SuperConference didn't let me down on this front - in fact, there was more than one aha over the course of today. Clearly, though, the OSLA spotlight speaker Stephen Heppell was the inspiration that will motivate my post-conference learning journey over the next year. And I know that I'm not alone. The crowd at this morning's spotlight session was transfixed by his ideas about learning in the 21st century, and how libraries are so well positioned to transform our students' learning experiences. The follow-up break-out session was filled to overflow, with people fetching chairs from neighbouring rooms and filling up all of the standing room. Astounding stuff.

Congratulations to the OSLA conference planning team, for bringing Stephen to us. I think we should spread the wealth, and invite Stephen back as an all-conference plenary speaker in the future.

Visit Stephen Heppell's website at

"Our Launch Gift"

All the schools that came to the OLA Forest of Reading Launch received a challenge: bring an activity to share with other schools. Mega-thanks to Helen K. for her presents; she gave out a Forest of Reading Bingo and an Anagram This! activity. I was a little preoccupied on Wednesday (what with having 46 kids there plus a migraine combined with laryngitis and nausea) so I forgot to give my gift.

The link above is the gift.

In our board we use our e-mail system to set up online literature circles to discuss the Forest of Reading books. Those outside the board cannot access the posts. The URL above is my/our first attempt at a broader version of those online literature circles. It is in its early draft form - if you get a chance, take a peek and tell us how to improve it. Thanks to Ron, the husband of one of our teachers, for learning the software and putting this together.

Back to the launch - it was a super event. There were these "get-to-know-you" scavenger hunts. We were able to snafu about 4 prizes to give to those who were first to complete their sheet entirely and within the guidelines. By about 1:15, the pile of completed entries was thicker than my arm! Next time - MORE PRIZES! (We learned lots about what to do and what not to do so hopefully if or when we do something like this again, we will improve it tremendously.)

Okay, better catch up on sleep (and polish off the handouts) in time for Saturday!

Thursday at the OLA

I meant to post during the day on Thursday but the technology gods were against me, and I couldn't connect. (Oh ye fickle Fates!) Guess one of my "solutions" for this "changing landscape" is a live (as in warm body sitting right next to me) blog tutor!

Thursday was amazing! You'd think if you were at a place from 8:30 'til after 7 that you'd have enough time to do everything ... ha! I barely had time for lunch and did not do justice to the Expo floor! Thankfully the vendors were very understanding as I ran through grabbing books and throwing my P-card at them with a "I'll be back in 2 minutes!" holler in their direction.

In brief (because I'm at work right now - yep, a brief sojourn back to work and then returning to SuperCon on Saturday)

- attended "Being The Change" (#317) ... it's incredible what one person can do, and super-incredible what a bunch of people can do! Gwen, Amy, Sybille and Heather mentioned how being involved in this practice altered their teaching practices and listeners could tell they were very excited about what was going on in their schools. They all sounded grateful to Peggy for bringing them on board and it made me think about all those people who have pulled me into things that really enriched my professional and personal development.

- went to "Inclusive Collections @ Your Library" (#414) ... hard to believe it was Michelle and Linda's first time presenting at OLA - you ladies did great. The handouts were plentiful and useful. There were lots of great titles mentioned.

- the Plenery session with Tomi from Yahoo! was very interesting. I should save a separate blog entry for all the reflections that stemmed from that.

- Carol and Sandi gave me more of what I want and expect from them - concrete strategies ready-to-go that improve student achievement from their session (#623) "Questioning Success". It's hard to keep your audience attentive and motivated at 4:00 but they did it, with neat activities that couldn't help but draw you in.

- The Awards Ceremony was great and I was very proud of myself - I was able to stop talking and listen to the speeches. That sounds like just common manners but if you haven't been to one of the OSLA Awards ceremonies, you have to note that there are a few things conspiring against true attentive listening ...
> the lighting (dark and subdued)
> the time of day (5:15 p.m.)
> the drinks (free, thanks to Saunders Book Co.)
> the yummy snacks (mmmmm, chicken kabobs!)
> the room set up (lots of little corners to hide in to yak)
> the company (I saw people I hadn't seen in a long time and wanted to catch up with them)
> did I mention the drinks? ;->
Anyway, I found this year's crowd to be pretty respectful with just a few "shhhhs" to remind them, and congratulations to the winners.

Okay, a class is about to come back to the library ... better get going!

Thursday, February 1, 2007

A Different Kind of Book Signing

That's me talking to author Leo Yerxa as he signs my book remotely from Ottawa.

This afternoon I had the very unique experience of having a book signed by an author who was several hundred kilometers away. I had heard about LongPen, the remote signing machine developed by Margaret Atwood, and here it was on the trade show floor at SuperConference. I had to have a look.

I must admit I was mildly skeptical as to whether this would be the same kind of experience as one would have meeting an author face to face, but I was very pleasantly surprised. The machine incorporates video conferencing, so I was able to have a conversation with author Leo Yerxa as he signed my copy of his beautiful picture book, Ancient Thunder. Way cool! Leo was signing in Ottawa, and the robotic machine's pen was signing the book following his motions, in real time.

Be it to save authors from enduring prolonged book tours, to reduce the carbon footprint of such expeditions, or to bring a remarkably personal experience to people in remote locations, the technology is fascinating and the experience not at all impersonal. Great work, Margaret!

Coming home to Super Conference

Hi all!

This is my 11th Super Conference and I've loved every one! I've been to the CLA conference twice, once when it was combined with ALA, and I have to say I prefer OLA's Super Conference. It's like coming home!

Super Conference is, at the same time, both extraordinarily energizing and totally exhausting. I've made it through day 1 - three sessions, the exhibit floor, the OLA Store...and two trips to the car to drop off loads of stuff so I could keep going. Having finally (!) been invited to join my school's literacy committee (I'm a high school Teacher-Librarian), I've been focusing on literacy sessions so I can bring lots of information and ideas back to the committee (thus making it blindingly obvious that of course school libraries and literacy are connected). I entered more draws than usual this year up in the exhibit hall. Frankly, given the budget situation, my collection development plan amounts to "win stuff"! Well, I'd best go get ready for day two - see you there.


Coming home to Super Conference

Hi all!

This is my 11th Super Conference and I've loved every one! I've been to the CLA conference twice, once when it was combined with ALA, and I have to say I prefer OLA's Super Conference. It's like coming home!

Super Conference is, at the same time, both extraordinarily energizing and totally exhausting. I've made it through day 1 - three sessions, the exhibit floor, the OLA Store...and two trips to the car to drop off loads of stuff so I could keep going. Having finally (!) been invited to join my school's literacy committee (I'm a high school Teacher-Librarian), I've been focusing on literacy sessions so I can bring lots of information and ideas back to the committee (thus making it blindingly obvious that of course school libraries and literacy are connected). I entered more draws than usual this year up in the exhibit hall. Frankly, given the budget situation, my collection development plan amounts to "win stuff"! Well, I'd best go get ready for day two - see you there.


End of day 2 I have walked a 1000 miles today in the expo, met authors, got free stuff and put business cards in for a number of prizes. What I will do with most of them I am unsure.

Anyway, time for a nice dinner, put my feet up and enjoy the sounds of Toronto - Ontario's capital city. It is always vibrant here in the city, even though it's cold. Taxi's swishing through the streets, the bustle of the crowds, the snow falling softly on the sidewalk - ah! how I wax poetic about the town. It also smells. But that is not really an advertisement for tourists is it?

Tomorrow is Day 3. I've lugged al my Expo stuff to the car, and now it's time to sit back and enjoy the conference. I even bought 4 of Ken Roberts books and had them signed. Very neato!

Later gators,

How well do you know your online patrons?

My first session Thursday morning was How well do you know your on-line patrons? An important session when libraries are thinking about re-designing websites, acquiring databases and adding additional services. This session presented findings from an online patron survey (over 5000+ responses) conducted by OLA in 2006. What's useful is that this information moves beyond what web use, program attendance and library attendance stats provide in that it tells you what our patrons are thinking and valuing. The survey evaluated patrons of school, university and public libraries. Some survey questions and responses were...

What % of your Patrons spend more than 2 hours/ day on the Internet for personal use?
29% (S)
66% (U)
20% (P)

What % of your patrons spend more than 2 hours per day on the Internet for academic purposes? (only university library)
24% (U)

Which of the following options was most frequently cited by your patrons as their first priority for Library services? (choices were free borrowing, online databases, buildings, free reference access, free computers/internet, remote catalogue access)

Free Borrowing (s)
Online Databases (U)
Free Borrowing (P) 54% (what was neat here is the "next runner up" for public libraries was online databases at 25%)

What % of your patrons visit your library in person several times a week or more?
42% (S)
46% (U)
28% (p)

What % of your patrons say they visit your library's online catalogue, website or databases several times a week or more?
35% (s)
36% (U)
40% (P)

There were more survey results presented. I believe that they are going to be posted on the OLA conference site.


Last night's speaker Cory D. was way cool. He is one of the most literate computer dudes I have ever heard speak. As good a Stephen Lewis, and just as enthralling as Ralph Nader. I love the conference as they give me the chance to hear inspiring speakers like these for the price of admission. The after reception was great and full of chessy goodness -ie. swiss, chedder, blue...... Lots of familier faces and F-U-N!

My first session was the "Kids are Keen for French books." I don't think that people know the amazing resources en francais that are out there. There is this one series that kids write into the "genius" with their science questions. They publish the answers and the questions in a book. This way the kids get to see their own questions in print. How empowering is that!

Anyway, off to the afternoon sessions. Need caffine, fading fast.................


Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Reading Gala Gals

Peggy Thomas, Donna Rea and Hazel Hutchins

I had the pleasure this evening of meeting three fabulous leaders in children's literature, fresh(?) from their Forest of Reading Gala experience. The gala was a great success, by all accounts. Pictured above are Peggy Thomas, OLA Reading Council chair and incoming president of OSLA, Donna Rea from NBS, generous sponsors of the Forest of Reading, and Hazel Hutchins, author of two titles nominated for Silver Birch, Sarah and the Magic Science Project (SB Fiction) and TJ and the Sports Fanatic (SB Express).

OSLA Pre-Conference

I had a great time today at OISE for the pre-conference sessions. There were a lot of people there to learn all about the new Knowledge Ontario resources from Thomson Gale and EBSCO. The OSLA had pre-conference sessions on webquests and TuLiP, the teacher-librarian's planner. I had a great time with a large group in my session on podcasting. We even discussed posting some of their podcast creations on this blog, but alas, the production quality control problems of recording in a lab full of other people recording overcame the merits of the content.

Just to let you know, Tim, the TDSB crowd were fully engaged and extremely productive! ;-)

The First DAY

Wild and Crazy day in TO!! My coworker and I arrive to pay a hideous amount in parking fees and sally forth to the preconference. I got to see the opening of the Forest of Reading Event - chatted with pals K.Kacer and Loris L! Always nice to see the finest in Canadian Children's Literature at OLA.

The forest was a zoo. Thousands of screaming children - I felt like I was back at my department (yes - I am a Childrens Librarian). But the best part of the day was the preconference session "Every Child Ready to Read" . It rocked my world. I am so excited to take what I learned today back to my library and implement it. Also a bit overwhelmed. After all Hamileton Public Library had 20 staff members working on this - I have , like, me and maybe a volunteer or two.

Pehaps I should lay off the caffine for the rest of the conference. Do some meditation, breathe, put myself in a transendental mode. Ahhhhh, that's better.

Or not......hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

I found out that I may be on a selection committee (I can't tell you which one - watch for confirmation later). Yippppeeeeeeeeeeeee! I see lots of work in my future.

Well, off to the opening plenary, then the P-A-R-T-Y!!!!!!!! Get down with the sassy librarians.

Later fellow library dudes!