Tag Archives: Education

Replacing School Libraries with Makers Spaces – a worrisome tale


I want to preface this post with a disclaimer: Though I spent 2 years in charge of a school library in the early days of my career, I make no claim to any special expertise in children’s services or school media centers beyond the general knowledge I have gleaned during my time in the library profession.  In addition I do like to ‘stay in my lane’ and, as a result, have rarely if ever weighed in on issues specific to school libraries. When I began reading about the Makers Movement in school libraries, I left the issue alone as it was outside my wheelhouse. However, as this picks up momentum nation-wide it will come to affect us all in time, not just as public libraries but also as a society looking to an educational system to develop our next generation.

I have previously mentioned that I was slow to embrace the Makers Movement shift in public libraries.  It simply didn’t speak to me right away; so I was a bit of a hard sell. I believe libraries, while we continue to innovate, must make decisions based on the ‘long-haul’ from a position that respects public trust and our over-arching missions that withstand the tests of time.  It is human nature to jump on the new exciting thing. However, I have been completely convinced that these programmatic spaces and innovative offerings in public libraries are an exciting component of lifelong learning and essential to bridging the digital divide just as books were in the early 20th century.

So as much as I am a proponent of Makers Spaces in public libraries, this same movement in school libraries is worrisome.  Is the school library really the appropriate home for a ‘makers space’ (3D Printer, sound studios, sewing machines, etc)?  I may be working from an old model- let’s admit- it’s been awhile since I was in elementary or high school.  But wouldn’t the 3D printer be more logical placed in the computer science department or the Technology/Computer Lab?  And the sound studio in the Music Department? And the sewing machine….what happened to Home Economics?

If you do agree that the school library should embrace the ‘movement’, then comes the question of “To what degree?”.  Where is balance in a school library setting between reader advisory, digital literacy, bibliographic instruction, etc and the cutting edge technology we are seeing in Makers Spaces in public libraries?  In at least one school district in Kansas it appears the scales are far from balanced and it has many worried:

School libraries shift toward innovation areas, but librarians fear for what’s lost,

by Rick Montgomery of the Kansas City Star June 24, 2016

(Edited for brevity- follow link for complete article)

Librarians in the Shawnee Mission School District are making way for “the maker movement,” and some worry where that story is going… at least four Shawnee Mission grade schools have hired “innovation specialists” to run their libraries when fall classes open.

That’s the language of the maker movement, which seeks to convert once-quiet school spaces — usually in the libraries — into hands-on laboratories of creation and computer-assisted innovation….In fact, the word “librarian” didn’t come up in the job description for an innovation specialist at Merriam Park Elementary. “Stories” wasn’t there, either. No mention of “books,” “literature” nor “shelves.”

[Jan] Bombeck [of Ray Marsh Elementary] said. “It’s like they’re avoiding people with library certification.”

District administrators say that’s not the case. They do acknowledge, however, that grade schools haven’t much need any more for the libraries of 20 years ago — when they stocked books, gave research help, suggested age-appropriate literature and provided a cozy corner in which kids could turn pages.

Wow…Really? That is quite a statement “haven’t much need any more for the libraries of 20 years ago”…so no middle ground? School libraries must either be an arcane model  or makers space?

 Today all Shawnee Mission pupils are issued an electronic tablet or MacBook, providing them many times the information once squeezed on library shelves.“Now that they have those digital resources in hand, no longer do I have to get up and walk my class to the library,” said Michelle Hubbard, assistant superintendent of leadership and learning.

It is excellent to hear that these technologies are being made available to students on this scale.  It is equally distressing to hear a school administrator diminish decades of school library efforts to this degree of irrelevance.

 This past weekend at Union Station, hundreds of area kids demonstrated what it’s about at the sixth annual Maker Faire: They programmed 3-D printers to craft sculptures. They used laptops to help Lego robots complete assigned tasks. They showed off sewing, gardening, electrical wizardry and consumer products of their own making.

In this worrisome movement I see a computer lab, tech center, science innovation, music education enhancements and home ec (with even a little bit of ‘shop class’ thrown in).  What I don’t see is a library.  If we need these innovations in our schools- and I would ABSOLUTELY argue that we do- let’s place them in the appropriate department.  If we need sewing machines and we wish to teach this skill, bring back those amazing Home Ec & Shop teachers who taught us how to make great pillows, bird houses, balance a check book and even cook! But don’t use them to replace Librarians. These are two different things and both are necessary!

 …Leslie Preddy, president of the American Association of School Librarians….“To call yourself a librarian, you need to have that training and to be certified,” said Preddy, who works in a school district near Indianapolis. “If you replace a certified librarian with someone who’s just an expert in technology, you’re losing half of the role that school libraries are supposed to be serving.

“You still need someone who is a champion of reading.” She cited the research of Keith Curry Lance (much of it funded by librarian groups) that shows higher student scores in reading, and in some cases even math, at schools where certified librarians are present.

The shift has many worried and they are speaking out.  Hoping to encourage the school district to seek a balance between library and makers space.

…Bombeck…took a stand. At the May 23 meeting of the Shawnee Mission school board, the librarian stepped up to an open mic …“Several elementary principals have expressed a desire to turn the library into only a makers space without any library curriculum,” Bombeck said. “I have never ‘just read stories’ and checked out books. I have taught digital citizenship, copyright law and internet safety. I have taught research skills and database use.”

Ellie Seemann, who just finished her final year as the Merriam Park librarian, said that offering maker spaces and traditional library services shouldn’t be viewed as an either-or proposition. “I hate to hear it talked about as one or the other,” she said. ….

But, unfortunately there may be more at stake than the library-advocates can rail against…

District officials say part of a $233 million bond referendum that voters passed in 2015 directed funds toward remaking school libraries. They say the innovation goals were well-communicated at the time.

As for staffing, assistant superintendent Hubbard said: “It’s really more about the skills that an individual brings to lift kids to that level than it is about certification.”

Whether or not educators have completed a master’s program in library science, which is one route to certification, Hubbard said that “all great teachers can teach kids to read and teach them research skills.” She said she would expect those skills to be highly considered whenever maker-minded teachers are hired to replace retiring librarians….

$233 MILLION! Towards ‘remaking’ libraries.  As I lay in bed in the dark of night and ponder these shifts perhaps I am becoming more cynical with age, but I do wonder: In an educational system that has spent the past decade downsizing and marginalizing school media centers and the role of Librarians, is this shift to makers spaces simply another step to further that agenda but with a more palatable flavor? From the success of the bond referendum and the resulting organizational changes to district libraries and hiring practices, one could certainly draw that conclusion.

They say “you can’t fight city hall” and I think the same sentiment could be applied to school districts.  But I do hope that the professionals, the public, the parents, and groups like ALA and AASL will continue to fight the good fight and raise issues with the worrisome path school districts are choosing.  I certainly believe a balance between library and makers space can and should be found that will provide the most educational   opportunities for students.

If not, in 20 years when our “libraries” are full of sewing machines and 3D printers, we may find ourselves reading articles about a revival movement to add “Reading Spaces” to schools…where will those go…the band room?

 

 

 

 

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The 21st Century Library Director is a CEO


I have to play solitaire to go to sleep.

I didn’t use to. I would watch tv, read, dozing and drifting to quiet my mind. And eventually I would drift off.

But that doesn’t work anymore. My mind races. To-Do lists fill my head. Conversations rehashed or practiced. Strategies and plans. Budgets and contracts. They barrage my mind until I’m making notes into the wee hours. Sending emails. Making lists.

Why? What has changed?

 

My job.

 

I started as a librarian. Moved on to management. And then into administration. I always thought that jump from management to administration would simply be a natural progression of steadily increasing responsibility and challenges. But I simply had no idea. Being the Director (if you are in an autonomous agency and doing the job correctly) is to be the CEO of your library.

But they don’t teach you to be a CEO in library school. I also have an MBA. And surprise. They teach you a whole lot about money, marketing and business. But they don’t teach you to be a CEO in Business School either

So when you find yourself in the job and realize that none of your formal education has given you the tools necessary to do the job, what do you do? As any good librarian, I started researching.  I found hundreds of books, articles, and online resources on the subjects; because IN FACT they don’t teach you to be a CEO anywhere.

 

So how do you learn to be a CEO?

 

After asking a great many professionals and doing a great deal of research I have come to the conclusion that the majority all learn the same way.  They get dropped in the deep end of the pool and either drown or swim.

And what does it mean to be the CEO of a Library? What does the job look like? How is it similar or different than being the CEO of other types of organizations?

 

So what do my days as the CEO of an urban public library look like…?

Many of my days take on a life of their own and a trajectory that on great days I shape, on good days I wrangle, and on bad days I just hang on and pray a little.

I simplify life. I tell people when they have done well or when they have failed. I refocus energies on the goal. I remind people of the path. I listen and summarize in the hopes that my synopsis might provide the clarity for others to reach a decision

Other times I complicate life. I explain what is missing and request more to be done. I explain why a project is not complete though it is presented as such. I add necessary details or new information that reshapes a project. I add new requirements I only now realize are necessary because of the progress made thus far.

In some people’s story I am the champion. In others the villain. And none, if any, know the whole story even when they believe it is their own. I take blame and give credit. I have broad shoulders and thick skin to withstand the barrage when it will shield the innocent and ensure the goals are accomplished.

I make sure that everyday I am exactly the kind of employee I want to have. I work harder, longer and better than I expect anyone else to do. I don’t ask anyone to do anything that I would refuse to do or have not done in the past. I model every attitude and every behavior I ask my staff to have. I hold myself to a higher standard than I would anyone else. I create the culture of my organization. I build my team. With that team, I define the vision and set the direction of my organization.

I never raise my voice.    I admit when I’m wrong. I ask for, listen to, and implement better ideas than my own. I try to surround myself with people who are smarter and better than me. This makes some staff love me.

I am decisive. I know my own mind and my vision for my organization. I believe we can be better. So I do not accept the present as good enough. I tell people when they are wrong and demand they do better. This makes some staff dislike me.

And at the end of the day if the organization is better I have succeeded. If it is worse I have failed.

And at the end of the day- I am responsible for everyone and everything.

Because that’s what being a CEO is. And that’s why they don’t teach it in any school or classroom. Because they can’t. It’s not a job or a profession. It’s not even a career.

It’s a way of life.

My job is to hop and juggle and prioritize. Like a circus performer, keeping all my plates spinning on their sticks. And just when they start to fall, give them a good spin in the right direction with all my focus and attention for a split second before I move to another set of plates and do the same. And repeat. And repeat. And repeat.

When does it stop? When does it get easier?

Never.

 

Why does it matter you may ask? Why do we need to understand that a Library Director is a CEO? Defining the position helps us identify the skills, education, and measures of success for the job.

How do we gauge the success of a Library Director?  How their staff feels, patron feedback, increased material circulation?  We know the CEO of a corporation is successful based on the companies bottom line and growth.  How do we determine the success of a Public Library and therefore its Director? In a Library there is no fiscal bottom line, instead we use numbers that are more fluid, testimonials of patrons, budget ups and downs, etc.  So how do Boards and Citizens evaluate the work of their Director? Do they? Shouldn’t they?

And if we are going to start using clear criteria to determine the success of our Library CEOs, are we providing them with the skills necessary to BE good at the job?  Or are we simply taking good Librarians and promoting them hoping they will also be good administrators?  We are overflowing with leadership programs in LibraryLand – but is growing leaders the same as training skilled CEO’s to lead our Libraries?

This year the 21st Century blog is going to spend time exploring the issue of Library Director as CEO.  This incudes:  training, tools, skills, challenges, measures, outcomes, and more.  I hope you’ll contribute to this important conversation.

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An Awesome Experience With Strategic Planning


The awesome part was working with my daughter to present something that we are both passionate about to other library professionals. Besides gaining a new appreciation for just how awesome Kimberly is, we experienced something that few parents and children get to experience – getting paid to work together.

What greater experience could a librarian have than to present a workshop with their child, also a librarian, who is now a colleague? Last week Kimberly and I spent two 8-hr days in Utah presenting our Strategic Planning Workshop to two groups of library directors and their board members.

Our workshop covered;
• What Is a Strategic Plan,
• Why Do Strategic Planning,
• The Strategic Planning Process,
• A Strategic Planning Format, and
• Details of each step in the process, with
• Breakout sessions for participants to collaborate and develop new elements of their own Strategic Plan.

Kimberly Planning

Based on our book Crash Course in Strategic Planning, published by Libraries Unlimited last August, we developed this Strategic Planning fundamentals workshop and were contracted by Utah State Library to deliver it to their first group of librarians.

Steve Goals

The icing on the cake was that the participants left at the end of the day inspired to take on developing a visionary strategic plan for their library. Some of the participant comments included;

“Thank you! I came in this morning planning on a boring lecture but you guys were great. I am not stressed about Strategic Planning now.”

“I came today discouraged at the whole thing. After the class, I feel so much better. I feel this is really a goal I can reach. Thank you Thank you.”

“It was excellent. Thank you. This is such an intimidating process and I learned a lot.”

“I was expecting to be overwhelmed and confused but I came away understanding the need for Strategic Plans. I now believe that we can put together something for our library that will be useful. Very clear and understandable. Thank you!”

“Steve and Kimberly gave a wonderful plan to follow so our strategic plan will now actually reflect the community and library’s needs in regard to the patrons’ expectations. I now have a direction to follow in developing our first long-term strategic plan.”

“I should have brought board members to participate in this.”

“It was perfect! Fantastic!”

Visit KD Matthews Consulting for more opportunities to learn about Strategic Planning.

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A Sixth Challenge Every Librarian Must Face


In October of 2011, I wrote Five Challenges Every Librarian Must Face and outlined these five challenges.
1. Broadest Spectrum of Library Customers in History
2. Information Literate Millennial Customers
3. Computers that Replace Librarians
4. Transition to Digital Content
5. Devaluing of the Library’s Benefit to the Community

In the past two years I have not seen or read anything that revises my opinion about these five challenges. Almost 5,000 reads in just the past year (8,500 since posted, about 100 a week) have not resulted in any opposition to those five challenges. Although, in January of 2013, I posted an update to 21st Century librarianship, 21st Century Librarianship – Revisited, in which I wrote about (a very slight) change in librarianship education.

And fortunately, there does appear to be a slowdown in the worsening of Number 5. Library closings have slowed and are less in the headlines, which seems to indicate that, if there has been any improvement in the economy, libraries are benefitting from better local budgets along with other community entities. That’s the good news! Still, the bad news is that the local library must reinvent itself to be more relevant to its community, if it expects to survive, and certainly if it hopes to thrive.

The sixth challenge every librarian must face is the personal development of new skill sets – the kind of skills they don’t teach you in library school. I have long advocated that the 21st Century library must be more business-like to meet the multitude of challenges that running a library faces. (Read and The 21st Century Library is More: Business-like and More Business-Like? Absolutely!)

Based on my assertion that 21st Century Librarians Create 21st Century Libraries, it follows that the 21st Century librarian must also have the business acumen in order to run that 21st Century library – 21st Century Librarianship – Part 4, Business Acumen. That business acumen includes the skills to be successful at such tasks as:
• Conduct continuous assessment
• Be service oriented
• Employ marketing strategy
• Implement continuous innovation
• Develop flexibility
• Be highly responsive to every environment
• Become nimble in operations

These are traits and skills not traditionally associated with librarianship. Which means the forward thinking and innovative librarian must develop these skills on their own motivation, effort and resourcefulness. Not only those business skills are required in the 21st Century, but many other skills not traditionally associated with librarianship.
• Cloud Computing
• Customer Targeting
• Crowdsourcing
• Digital Discovery
• Gaming
• Open Innovation
• Planned Abandonment
• Social Networking

And, as if that wasn’t enough change, in 2000 Alvin Toffler gave us a new understanding of literacy in the 21st Century: “Tomorrow’s illiterate will not be the man who can’t read; he will be the man who has not learned how to learn.” Which means we must also develop new learning skills and master skills such as how to:
• Learn and re-learn
• Use constantly changing technology
• Master new ways to find Information
• Efficiently problem solve
• Effectively communicate
• Create strategic collaborations

21st Century Librarianship is faced with MANY challenges that can only be overcome through new ways of being a librarian, using new skill sets, and imbued with a new understanding of what being a librarian means today – and in the future – if our profession is to have a future.

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MLS Still the Fourth Worst Degree for ROI


According to PayScale.com.

Five Worst-Paying Master’s Degrees

1. Master’s in Counseling – Median Pay: $52,300

2. Master’s in Social Work – Median Pay: $56,900

3. Master’s in Music – Median Pay: $56,900

4. Master’s in Library and Information Science – Median Pay: $57,100

5. Master’s in Education – Median Pay: $60,000

NOTE: Median pay is based on thousands of salaries, and many years of an individual’s job experience. Earning the median salary requires several jobs of increasing responsibility, where entry level MLS job salary is more like what was reported below two years ago.

This should not be surprising to anyone, because nothing has changed since two years ago when there was national media attention paid to college graduate un- and under-employability and the worth of college degrees in general. In my Post of December 2, 2011, Library Science Ranks #4 in Highest Unemployment I noted that “the Library Science [undergraduate] major ranks #4 at 15%” unemployment.

When you “Couple that with the earnings of $23,000 as the second LOWEST on the entire list, just $3,000 ahead of Performing Arts.” one has to ask “What does this say about our profession?”

If for no other reason than to change the perception of the value of the library science degree, ALA should recognize the BLS as entry level to both increase librarian employment, and to begin to create the proper career progression within the profession. The MLS degree will gain value as well because it will no longer be valued as entry level which will always be at the low end of the salary spectrum.

As I also noted in my Post of November 28, 2012, Why Not a Bachelor in Library Science? – Still Asking,

According to John Richardson, Jr. of UCLA, History of American Library Science: Its Origins and Early Development Encyclopedia of Library and Information Science, Ed. Mary N. Maack and Marcia Bates. Francis and Taylor, 2010. the MLS as the professional standard was adopted in 1951.

1930s
• 1930: First PhD in library science: Eleanor Upton at University of Chicago.

1940s
• 1949: Twenty-seven of the thirty-two accredited schools adopt the new MLS degree (or in process of doing so); ….

1950s
• 1951, July: ALA adopts new Standards of Accreditation making MLS entry level degree. ….

1960s
• 1966: ALA establishes Office for Library Education; …
• 1968: ALA’s COA establishes subcommittees on undergraduate and graduate standards for accreditation. ….

Still this begs the question – If the MLS was the accredited “entry level degree” in 1951, why in 1968 was ALA still reviewing undergraduate standards for education?

Regardless of why the MLS became the standard entry level degree for the profession, it does not always have to remain that way. When 21st Century environment and economic conditions clearly indicate that librarians and the entire profession would be better served by a bachelor’s degree as entry level, the better question now is – Why won’t ALA at least consider a common sense approach to librarian career progression?

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21st Century Libraries and Librarians Look Like: Innovation


As I conduct my personalized professional development, I want to share articles that to me typify what the 21st Century Library looks like – what it does – what it symbolizes – how it performs – how it benefits its community – how it remains relevant – and most of all, how it is different in the 21st Century. This will include the Librarian and Librarianship – what skills you need – what attributes – what practices – what education – and most of all, how they are different in the 21st Century.

What Does A Library Look Like In 2013?

The Future Of Libraries.

Think Like a Startup: A White Paper To Inspire Library Entrepreneurialism

College Students Study Habits Changes Library Operations

Libraries Transforming In The Digital Age

Library Adds Vending Machine to Dispense Laptops

What Is The Role of a Library?

Adopt-A-Magazine Program

These articles are presented to be thought provoking and ideas for change, adaptation and progress. What they mean to you is what is important, not what they mean to me. There will be other resources to follow periodically that I hope will also spark conversation.

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Personalized Professional Development? Scoop.It!


In this 21st Century environment most everything is moving toward personalized service and product. Marketing efforts are trying to reach individuals as well as market segments, and products that sell very well are those that people can use in ways that fit their interests, needs and life style.

Seems to me like librarianship is also one of those interests that can benefit from being personalized, especially since professional development opportunities on cutting edge librarianship are few and far between. Everything from embedded librarianship to virtual reference services to BISAC is focused more on the individual’s needs than ever before, and taking charge of your own professional development is more important than ever.

ScoopItI have found that for me Scoop.It works extremely well for searching the Internet while I work, and pulling out headlines and URLs that are potentially of interest to me according to the search parameters I determine.

Professional reading – not just juried articles or publications – and everything thought provoking, is my personalized professional development program.

Scoop.it is the most connected curation publishing platform. Our partners and integrations include major social networks and platforms including LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, WordPress, Tumblr, SlideShare, and HootSuite.

Additionally,

We built Scoop.it to help the marketers, the consultants, and the entrepreneurs increase their visibility online. Scoop.it enables professionals to share important ideas with the right audiences giving them an opportunity to create and maintain a meaningful Web presence, a crucial component to the success of their business and career.

So, in a sense, you can become your own consultant – and certainly you should be an entrepreneur – regarding your librarianship professional development, as well as your network. I use my 21st Century Libraries Scoop.It site to collect hundreds of headlines and URLs almost every day. It provides me with the latest Who’s Doing What information, as well as articles of interest on anything “21st Century Library related.” Other interested professionals browse my site and Re-Scoop articles and URLs for their own audience, and share thoughts and Scoops.

Scoop.It is the easiest way there is to keep tuned in to the world of librarianship, or whatever interests you.

For those hundreds of you who are interested in my Strategic Planning series of posts – the most viewed posts on this Blog – feel free to review my picks for my own professional development at my new Library Strategic Planning Scoop.It site. It currently has over 20 very informative and thought provoking scoops.

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