Posts filed under ‘Collaboration’
Posted by Robert J. LackieThe American Library Association (ALA), the Federal Reserve, and I hope that many librarians and their libraries are participating in the first ever national Money Smart Week® @Your Library this week, April 2-9, 2011! Money Smart Week (a registered service mark of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago) events are taking place now at member libraries across the country covering topics from learning how to apply for a mortgage to teaching young people about credit to ID theft protection, with many resources uploaded to the Money Smart Week® @Your Library official site, linked above. Visit this site for information on this initiative and for news and important links you can use this week, right now!
Additionally, Rider University’s Center for Business Forensics (CBF) has hosted several free interactive panel presentations for the general public (students, staff, community members, etc.) and law enforcement personnel focusing on the major issues surrounding identity theft—including financial literacy—and providing insight into the widespread, varying, and serious nature of identity theft.Dr. Drew Procaccino, a professor of computer information systems at Rider, has organized and led these Identity Theft: What You Need to Know sessions with panels of experts from law enforcement, banking, legal, library, IT, CIS, and health care organizations. As a panelist several times and as a new member of the American Library Association’s Academic MSW@Your Library Committee, I want to again provide everyone with some frequently repeated “best practices” from the panel experts for detection and protection, especially since this week (until April 9, 2011), we are officially celebrating the 10th year anniversary of Money Smart Week. Here are the 10 best practices/advice from our panel of experts at Rider’s CBF sessions:
1. Shred with a crosscut or micro shredder pieces of mail that contain any personal information before throwing them in the trash at home or at work.
2. Place outgoing mail and retrieve incoming mail via a locking mailbox or official Postal Service box.
3. Use a virtual credit card number (available through most banks) for online purchases, rather than your “real” credit card—connected to your card, the virtual number can be set up to only be used once, for that one online purchase (or for longer, but only if you wish).
4. Keep an eye on your credit card when you are paying for something—don’t allow it to disappear out of your sight (skimming of your card could occur).
5. Inventory/photocopy what is in your wallet/purse and place that photocopy (back and front of cards) in a locked cabinet—if your wallet/purse is stolen, you have all the info.
6. Never respond to an unsolicited email from your bank, medical organization, etc., and don’t unsubscribe—don’t even click on the link, just delete it.
7. Cover the ATM keypad from prying eyes and cameras with one hand while you enter your PIN.
8. Review your credit reports (you can get a free one each year from each of the three credit reporting agencies, and if you stagger requests, you can get one every four months).
9. Clear private data from your browser (i.e., Firefox, IE, or Safari): delete temporary files, browsing history, cookies, cache, saved form information, and saved passwords, especially when using a public computer or kiosk at a library, hotel, airport, coffee shop, etc., and then shut down your browser.
10. Use different passwords for different sites—and try changing/updating your passwords to passphrases.
Last but least, my annually-updated free website, Personal Profiles and Other Publicly Available Information: An Internet Hotlist on Detecting and Protecting Your Digital Footprint, contains some of my favorite ID theft protection, privacy information, and financial assistance sites, among other things, found on experts’ sites on the free Web, including our Identity Theft: What You Need to Know seminar project’s 29-page handout from Rider University, available to all.
Remember, according to Terri Cullen, author of The Wall Street Journal Complete Identity Theft Guidebook: How to Protect Yourself from the Most Pervasive Crime in America, ( “…Identity theft covers several different specific crimes, and collectively,…is one of the easiest crimes to commit, one of the hardest to prosecute, and one that is drawing increasing attention from the media.” So, feel free to share this information with all of your patrons and students, especially because proactively protecting your digital footprint and your finances is much easier than dealing with them after the fact as a victim—being a victim can be a very emotional, time-consuming, and financially-unrewarding process. Again, prevent it from ever happening to you, and help others do the same.Anyway, I hope this all helps you during Money Smart Week® @Your Library this week, April 2-9, 2011. Enjoy partnering with and/or sharing pertinent information from your community groups, financial institutions, government agencies, educational organizations, and other financial experts this week to help all of our consumers learn to better manage and protect their personal finances!
Posted by Robert J. Lackie
The American Library Association (ALA) has announced in October 2010 a partnership with the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago to make “Money Smart Week @ Your Library” a national initiative from April 2-9, 2011, and things are beginning to heat up now in late December—at least for this national initiative!
Celebrating its 10th year in 2011, Money Smart Week’s mission is to promote personal financial literacy (Note: Money Smart Week is a registered service mark of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago). Throughout the 10-year history of Money Smart Week, libraries have been instrumental in facilitating and hosting quality Money Smart Week events. For instance, libraries of all types in Illinois (and Chicago), Indiana, Iowa (and Quad cities), Michigan, West Virginia, and Wisconsin participated in Money Smart Week in 2010, partnering with community groups, financial institutions, government agencies, educational organizations, and other financial experts to help consumers learn to better manage their personal finances.
ALA and the Federal Reserve hope that even more librarians and their libraries will be participating in the first ever national Money Smart Week this spring, from April 2-9, 2011. Events will take place at member libraries across the country and will and cover topics from learning how to apply for a mortgage to teaching young people about credit. We all, librarians included, can benefit from that! Watch this site ( http://www.chicagofed.org/webpages/education/msw/index.cfm ) for information on joining the initiative, for news, and for important links you can use right now.
I will be posting again later this week requesting info from all Library Garden readers on programming ideas, as I am now, as of this month, on the Academic Money Smart Week @ Your Library Committee for ALA.
Posted by John LeMasney
Yesterday (March 14th) was Pi day in Princeton, a celebration corresponding with Einstein’s birthday, and I saw (a little bit too late, I’m afraid) a suggestion from Janie Hermann to repost a great article which I sent her on “10 amazing life lessons” that one could interpret from Einstein’s quotes.
The article is at http://www.dumblittleman.com/2010/03/10-amazing-lessons-albert-einstein.html and the ideas from that article are listed in this illustration here.
In keeping with my visual posting plans for LG, I used Inkscape to make this image. I started with the famous Lucien Aigner image of Einstein at a chalkboard, and bitmap traced it in grayscale mode with 4 layers, which results in a posterized, if very recognizable image made out of points and lines. I extended the blackboard and using the calligraphy and gradient tools made a smooth transition between what’s in the photo and a gray neutrality. Then, I took the content of the post and laid it out in the right side of the image.
Thanks Albert, for all you brought to our lives. Thanks Lucien for the great image. Thanks to Janie for the suggestion. Thanks to you for taking a moment to remember Einstein with me.
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Hi, everyone! One of my favorite librarians and open source advocates (Nicole Engard) just Tweet DMed me and asked if I ever shared officially the tools I mentioned in a discussion session on Presentation Tools and Techniques at Pres4Lib at Princeton Public Library. I replied no, with regrets. I figured if she’s wondering about it, maybe you are too!
By the way, if you like our articles, please share them on Twitter, Facebook, and anywhere else you like.
I use a pretty well structured, personally vetted workflow for developing presentations and blog posts that involves developing an outline, collecting images, preparing images, research and citations. Let me share some of the tools that I use to accomplish these tasks just about every time.
Google Docs Presentations
I stopped using Microsoft PowerPoint a few years ago and have not looked back. While I would consider using the open source alternative of OpenOffice.org’s presentation tool, by instead choosing a presentation tool in the cloud, I get the ability to edit and present anywhere where I’m connected, the ability to edit offline with Google Gears installed on Firefox, the common ability to add images, draw pictures, embed my slideshows (!), allow people to automatically see the latest greatest embedded versions of my presentations up to the second after I’ve updated them, allow for collaboration and co-viewing and if I absolutely must, export to a PDF for offline sharing and presentation disaster backup. I can even make a PPT for someone who insists on it.
I typically log in to Google Docs, create a title slide for my topic, and then immediately develop an agenda slide, which I then begin to outline with the topics (and slides) that I want to cover in my talk. My style emphasizes simple broad topics which I elaborate on in spontaneous ways. I try to keep the number of words on slides to an absolute minimum. I usually make a slide for each of my topics, and I then try to look for stories, photos, and illustrations that lead the people in the audience to start thinking about my topics before I introduce them verbally or textually.
Creative Commons vetting via Google Image Search
Google Image Search is far and away the best image search tool I’ve come across (with the ability to search for line art, faces, and by color, etc.), especially now, since the recent addition of the license search feature in the advanced image search tool, which allows me to search according to Creative Commons licenses applied by designers and photographers to their images all over the web. This is especially important for me because I don’t just want to just use other peoples’ images in my work without their consent. I want to respect the wishes of image creators. By using the license restrictions, I can quickly find images available for commercial use, images allowed to be modified, images that simply require attribution, and even images in the public domain.
When we respect the rights of creators and innovators, and celebrate others’ work properly, I believe we engage in modeling important aspects of information literacy, if not common humanity.
I’ll search for a topic keyword, often choosing CC-attribution licensing, which allows me the greatest flexibility with which to use the images, to modify them, use them in commercial situations, and promote creative commons licensing, while simply being required to include attributive references to the original image author. I will very often name the file locally with the name of the author of the image, in the format “by username.jpg” or “from nameofwebsitedotcom.jpg” so that I have a built in back-reference.
Once I have the images I want to use in my presentation saved to my local hard drive in a project folder, I often need to tweak, categorize, combine, title, tag, and integrate the images. While I can do this in a myriad of different utilities, tools, and applications, none of them have quite the combination of speed, comprehensive toolset, ease of use, functions, smoothness, or slickness of Google’s Picasa. Once you have downloaded and installed this free tool, you can use a Google account to store images in free named online galleries and keep them synchronized for free. With the number and variety of images I work with in my design and presentation work, I am thrilled that I have Picasa to help me wrangle them all.
I use it to tag, group, move, geocode, describe, upload, tweak, collage, print, and watermark my images for presentations, design work, papers, and everything else. It is a free, versatile, and irreplaceable tool in my personal tool set.
Zotero is a Firefox extension that allows for the single click based collection, categorization, tagging, editing, and even full text storage of web based database entries, books, articles, presentations, images and other standard citable sources. The amazing thing it that it automatically recognizes and collects metadata when it is present in a form that Zotero understands. This might sound like a difficult thing for content providers to implement, but all I had to do to make my WordPress blogs compliant was to install a single metadata-providing plugin (COinS) that offers my name, the title of posts, the publication date and other automatically generated metadata in blogging to Zotero users. Other sources who provide the relevant metadata to Zotero include major scholarly databases like Ebsco, newspapers like the New York Times, online booksellers like Amazon, and blogs and wikis around the world.
If I haven’t hooked you in to using Zotero yet, did I mention that with two clicks, you get properly formatted bibliographies in APA, MLA, and other citation styles? After I’ve visited books on Amazon and collected their data, or after I’ve found articles on Google Scholar and collected their data, or after I’ve grabbed creative commons licensed images from Flickr and collected their data, I can simply select all of them in my Zotero database, right click, and choose “Make bibliography from selected sources” which I then choose to send to clipboard, then paste right into my final slide, reference area of my paper, or wherever else I need to respect copyright or usage license. It is also a phenomenal way to meet the requirements of CC Attribution.
Number 5, QuoteURLtext (https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/4292) is another Firefox Extension that does one thing, but does it exceptionally well. It copies the highlighted text on a page along with the date and time, URL, and page title to the clipboard so that you can easily paste some casual piece of information (such as a tasty tech tip, a quick statistic, a delicious quotation, or a little known fact) into a slide, paper, or post without having to go so far as to reference it in APA style. It’s like a casual little sister utility to the powerhouse that is Zotero.
<Jeopardy Daily Double Music> Bonus Tool: Zemanta: </Jeopardy Daily Double Music>
Finally, Zemanta (a play on semantic) is another Firefox extension that shows up in a sidebar when you are using supporting applications, such as Gmail, Blogger, WordPress, and other applications (check out their site for more). I desperately wish it worked with Google Docs Presentations, but nothing hints at that yet. Here’s why I care: All of the photos, captions, tags, post story articles, and even some of the links to referential sources were all suggested, generated and placed with a single click each using Zemanta. As I type, Zemanta autoscans sources with CC licensed imagery, content, and resources related semantically to my content. Let me reiterate: As I type. All I need to do to add it to my post is simply to click. Clickety-clickety.
A pleasure to speak with you as always, I hope you learn to love these great free tools for developing your presentations just as much as I do.
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This week, we’re pleased to have a guest post from two wonderful librarians:
- Justin Hoenke is the Teen Librarian for the Cape May County Library.
- Melissa Brisbin is the Media Librarian for the Cape May County Library.
Thanks for sharing this with LG readers! -PB
Justin: I’ll start off by saying this. It’s been two weeks since our Teen Library Lock-In ended and I’m not sure if I’ve recovered yet. My brain is still a bit fuzzy and I still don’t think I’ve caught up on sleep. If I tend to ramble or get lost when I’m talking, we’ll just blame it on that. You got my back Melissa?
Melissa: I’ll watch your back if you watch mine. I’m still sort of in a sleep-induced coma.
The Initial Idea
Justin: My Teen Advisory Board kept on talking about how they wanted to spend the night in the library. I thought they were sort of crazy at first, but the longer I thought about it the more it seemed like a really great idea. And I had this feeling that the teens would freak out and love the program.
I did some research on how these types of events were structured. I must say that without the guidance of the teen librarians at both the Corvallis-Benton County Library and the Willingboro Public Library I wouldn’t have ever got our Library Lock-In off the ground. I borrowed bits and pieces from their lock-in programs and created an outline and a permission slip. With these two things in hand, I had something to give my directors.
Melissa: One of the biggest concerns we had when constructing the Cape May County Library Teen Lock-In was how to keep our participants entertained and out of trouble. We decided that the best way to go about this was to implement activities such as an Library Olympics and a scavenger hunt, combined with an ongoing marathon of Harry Potter movies, crafts, and computer access, as well as continuous usage of our video game systems, such as the Wii, Playstation 3, and Xbox.
Justin: The idea was to start the lock in right after our weekly game night ended. The games would already be set up and I thought gaming, especially Rock Band, would be a good community building game where the kids could get to know one another. After the scheduled events such as the library Olympics and the scavenger hunt, things got a bit looser. We had one room dedicated to a Harry Potter movie marathon, the video games still set up, one room for tabletop gaming, and crafts in the children’s room. We wanted to have some structure to the program but at the same time let teens be teens and have some random (and very supervised) fun.
Justin: Once I got the OK from my directors to have the lock-in, I knew that I had to assemble a REALLY good team of librarians and library associates to help run the event. I sort of felt like I was putting together “The A-Team” of Library Lock In staff members. I knew I had to have the right blend of people who the teens could identify with and not feel intimidated by. I ended up with 7 (counting myself) chaperones for the thirty teens that had signed up. That’s roughly 4 teens to every chaperone, which is something I thought was manageable.
Making it all work
Melissa: As an example of one of our planned activities, I will highlight the obstacle course, which like the scavenger hunt, was created to promote fun activities that would also reflect library usage. For instance in the obstacle course, all participants were told to carry a book on their head, paperback of course, and then proceed to the next activity. Teens had to carry a book on their head, walk with the book while wearing box shoes, crab walk with a book on their stomach, jump down an aisle while still carrying the book and find works written by a variety of author(s), and finally dig though a box filled with scrap paper in order to locate a library card that had a Teen sticker on it. All participants worked in teams and were timed. For the winners, we planned an award ceremony that was similar to the Olympics, complete with medals for first, second, and third place.
Justin: Call me a hippy, but I’m all about good and positive vibrations. I always wanted to make sure that both the chaperones and the teens all respected each other and created a positive community.
Melissa: We also wanted to stress to teens the importance of good behavior, and how exceptional actions would be acknowledged and rewarded. We implemented a Good Behavior Chart. Teens were awarded stickers that they could post next to their name in order to win an array of prizes at the end of the night. I have to admit at first we were not sure if this idea would work, or if teens would see the idea as somewhat immature and childish. However, like teens have a tendency of doing, at least for me, they proved to be an exceptional group of young adults. They really went above and beyond to help out the librarians and each other. There was definitely on ongoing competition among the teens, but it was never malicious. They were all super positive and a lot of fun to hang out with.
The Actual Event
Justin: I got into work the day of the event at 4:30 and made sure all the loose ends were tied up by the time we started at 7pm. The first few hours were a bit hectic in getting all the teens together and in one place. Once that was done, we started off on the scheduled events. Some teens didn’t want to join in, so that was a bit difficult in explaining to them that they had to be there and once these things were done they’d have a bit more freedom.
Melissa: Once we were finished with the scheduled events, the Teens were allowed to be in either one of three rooms. They were great about telling us where they were going and we didn’t experience any problems with them disappearing. Most of teens just meandered between games, movies, crafts, and lots and lots of conversations.
Justin: We asked the teens at the beginning of the program to always tell at least one chaperone where they were going. We told them that this was one of the most important things they could do throughout the night. They were amazing
Justin: The alternate title for this section is “This is what we’ll do differently the next time around.”
We had one incident at the lock in that sounded the alarms. During a game of hide and seek/manhunt, two teens collided with each other. One had glasses on, so the other teen got quite a big gash on their head. It was big enough that stitches were needed. We had to call their parents at 1am and let them know what happened. They came to the library and we had to go to the Emergency Room. I accompanied the teen and the parent there, and 20 minutes later, the teen was all stitched up and ready to go. The parent let the teen come back to the library. I feel like I lucked out on this one. Incident reports had to be filled out and the overall mood of the lock-in really changed after that.
Melissa: Yes, everyone really mellowed out, such as a lot less horsing around, and became more interested in hanging out, talking to one another, and playing video games.
What We Have Learned and What the Teens Taught Us
Melissa: The overall of theme of the entire Lock-In was camaraderie. It was evident from the beginning that there was a relatively wide range of ages and maturity levels, as well as groups and interests. However, throughout the night, it became extremely evident that all the teens were just interested in hanging out with each other in an array of activities. The entire Teen Lock-In produced a fantastic sense of community atmosphere. In all, this event was A LOT OF FUN WITH A GREAT FLOW AND POSITIVE INTERACTION. It was a fantastic opportunity to librarians to get to the teens and vice versa. We have received a great response from teens, parents, and administration. We will definitely plan more Teen Lock-Ins for the future, using the knowledge and lessons we have learned from our initial experiences with this program.
Justin: I thought 30 teens would be manageable, but now that I think about it the next time around I’d limit it to 20, possibly 25 teens and maybe have it twice a year. I also may reconsider having any kind of hide and seek activities since we had a bit of a snafu this last time. But it worked so well and the teens loved it! Agh!
P.S. For those wondering where the title comes from…The most common response to “We’re having an all night sleepover at the library with 30 teens ages 12-18 was “ARE YOU CRAZY?”
P.P.S For more photos of the lock in, click here for our Flickr gallery
My name is John LeMasney, and I love libraries. I’m the newest blogger on Library Garden, and I’m thrilled and honored to be here.
I’m a technologist, father, open source advocate, artist and designer, and I’ve been known to wax poetic about beer from time to time. I’ve been told by Ed Corrado, one of my favorite librarians, that I should start looking at an MLS. I told him I’d maybe think about it after I finish my Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership later this year.
I was invited to join Library Garden despite the fact that I have no MLS, I think, because I have a regular beat in the New Jersey library consortia, have many good friends who do have their MLS (many of them co-bloggers here) and I also tend to spend a lot of time in libraries.
As the newest blogger for Library Garden, I wanted to give a kind of gift to my fellow bloggers in the form of a new header for the blog. Peter Bromberg’s original header was simple, elegant, and straightforward, but he asked me if I wanted to take a shot at making a new one. I have given workshops on design for Peter, and others here, so I figured that it would be a good way to show some of what I know about design, as well as present a thank you gift to the group.
My process for design usually follows the procedure I’m about to record here, and it is how we came to our new header you see in our blog. You can click on any of the images in this post to see a full sized version of the image. I encourage it for the alternative headers, since it’s difficult to see the detail in the thumbnail.
Using the open source illustration application named Inkscape, I show the name of the organization in a list of fonts for the stakeholders that I think speak to the feel of their brand. I usually present a list of at least 5-10, but it’s not a set number. In this case, I shared the following image, which went a little further than simply listing fonts and had progressed to forming word-form relationships, which is typically a secondary process. Since I had access to the original header, I included it for comparison. No kerning or other fine tuning is done at this stage:
I got the feedback pretty quickly that people preferred the second and fourth design. They liked the boldness of Library in #2 and the finesse and softness of #4. People were positive, respectful, and kind and that always makes for a better design project. They said they liked the font used for garden in the 4th option, and might like to see it paired with other fonts.
I wanted to respect Peter’s previous work, celebrate the brand that is Library Garden, and above all respect the opinions and feelings of the stakeholders. I hope that I did that, and I am very happy with the work that we did to come up with this solution together.
In order to clarify what I was hearing, I sent out a revised picture of three options in which the less popular options were removed and a new option was generated making use of what was learned in the first round. That looked like this:
This set brought the garden font into focus as a definite, while showing that the great Gill Sans, one of my favorite fonts and shown in the first two options, as well as in the final result, had the versatility to provide the boldness that people were looking for in the third option.
Once we had our wordmark it was time to begin developing a background for the header on the blog. I decided to emphasize the garden aspect of Library Garden, relying on luscious foliage, summery greens, and deep layering.
I wanted to try to evoke the depth of information and directions and ideas available at your library. I wanted to show people the complexity and richness of their options when they walk in and sit down and talk with a reference librarian, for instance. I also wanted to try to celebrate the work, history, and richness of my fellow bloggers on this site.
So, if you feel that the work I’m about to show you is kind of busy, keep in mind that complexity, richness, layering, and depth were my goals. I didn’t want you to look at the header so much as dive into it.
With that said, let’s look at how the first header option came about. Note that at this point, I didn’t intend any longer to edit the text based information, and so I converted the text to paths in Inkscape. This makes it easier to nudge and relate letterforms and other elements. I tweaked the wordmark we collectively chose by fixing the kerning (space between letterforms) and exported it as a PNG in the exact size of Peter’s original header.
I opened up the GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP) and imported the wordmark, and then I added 3 transparent layers, named close, middle, and distant, so that I could add my visual elements in a layered way so as to build depth. I also duplicated the wordmark layer so that I could create a blur based glow effect to make the workmark pop up from the busy backgrounds. I saved it as a native GIMP XCF file to preserve the layer work and named it header template.xcf. Then I saved it as header option 1.xcf and began working on the first header possibility. I started with the template each time so I wouldn’t have to start from scratch each time. Templates are great, but I encourage you to roll your own, rather than relying on someone else’s.
In retrospect, Option 1 is seen as the most tame, minimalist, straightforward, and quiet. None of these are bad things. It was early, easy play with greens and foliage brushes, and was intended really just to get my ideas out of my head and onto the screen. I worked back and forth between the layers, adding blocks of color in the deep layer, and thinner, more crisp elements in the foreground. Most of my objects and shapes are available to me as brushes I used from online brush sites such as those I bookmarked here. I thought of the process as though I was building a garden landscape scene, starting first with broad deep dark strokes, then building on top of that with thinner, more careful, contrasting details. My palette for this option was deep grass green, grayish midnight fields, moonlit patches, and a bright orange for contrast. People thought it was okay, but they liked the second option much more. So much more in fact, it almost got the nod.
This one brought in much more of a Chinese influence — It was very much like option 1 in that it was mostly greens and greys, but it allows the eye to focus on the bright beautiful sunny flower peeking out, and is balanced nicely with the red signature stamp, both of which are parts of free brush sets, as well as most of the tree and foliage shapes you see. I would say that this option was a favorite for many. As I finished each option, I’d send out an email to the group asking for guidance and feedback, and they didn’t disappoint.
Options 3 and 4 were simultaneously my favorites and the group’s least favorites. They consistently ended up at the end of the list of one’s preferences. They are both quite busy, very technology imagery driven, go deeper into what I think is an modernist color theorist’s palette that’s I’d call sporty, and are energetic to the point of dizziness.
I love them both, but they were obviously (now) not the best choice for representing this group. I think I like their painterly style, deep layering, and rich color, but they’re not especially garden-y.
Perhaps the most important thing in design is knowing how to listen to your stakeholders, and being receptive to the survey even when it forks with your own feelings. I’m glad I made these options in order to provide contrast, offer other options, expand expectations, and most of all, in order to go a little too far. It’s hard to know when something’s right unless you’ve seen it go wrong, or at least wrong in the eyes of your stakeholders.
After hearing feedback at each new option, I learned that these people wanted clarity, simplicity, legibility, some energy, some calm, garden-ness, lush vegetation, and that no matter what, these were all okay — they’d all do the job. That’s reassuring when your client says no matter what, they’ll be happy. With that, I tried to pull all of this together in a final option, which ended up being the one that took the prize.
The only concern was that no one, including me, knew what the block and character in the lower left translated to. As a result, I decided to remove and replace them instead of potentially upsetting someone with the interpretation of the character. I replaced it with a postmark from a set of very cool stamp related brushes, and soon after, the header was in place.
I want to take this opportunity to say thank you to my fellow bloggers for their patience in the process, for the opportunity to collaborate and create together, and for the opportunity to have another great place such as Library Garden to share ideas. I feel very welcome here, and I’m looking forward to my our next post.
Submitted by: John LeMasney.
It’s a buzz word everywhere. You’ve seen it at ALA, AASL and every faculty in-service. If you’re like me, you’ve got it in your PIP (Personal Improvement Plan) and you start the year out with high hopes of all the amazing collaborative projects you’re going to do with the teachers in your building. Then, somewhere around October/November, you realize that your co-planning time is limited or non-existent and many of your teachers are so regimented with their schedules that they can’t see how these shared projects will actually help them in the planning, implementation, and assessment processes. We have a wide range of responsibilities and we deal with most of the people that work in our building in one way or another. Collaboration should be our middle name, right? You would think so. I’m here to point out one reason why it might not be working and to give you some hope for looking at collaboration in a new way.
Working with the “enemy”
One definition of the word is “To cooperate treasonably, as with an enemy occupation force in one’s country.” Sounds inappropriate for the school setting, right? I think it might be quite relevant. If we imagine the school building as a country, it’s easier to understand why teachers feel like their classroom is their ‘territory’. In my elementary school setting, the teachers are alone most of the day with their students. They bring and drop off their students to specials, such as gym, music, or media center and often feel as if another classroom is “enemy territory.” If you’re lucky enough to not be a prep coverage for that teacher, and they stay with their class, which I have for a few periods a week, the challenge becomes involving that teacher in the lesson in order to keep them from running off to make copies and phone calls, or my favorite, sitting and correcting papers. They don’t feel comfortable teaching or taking the lead in “your” classroom. We can change that.
Start small and socialize
Knowledge Quest, the AASL journal, features collaboration (“Social Scholarship”) this month. Barbara Schultz-Jones’ article, “Collaboration in the School Social Network” connects the popular subject of social networking to the school setting. Seeing the Media Specialist as a social network organizer will help to make connections between the ‘territories’ within the ‘country’ of the school. The teachers will feel more at ease when things are less structured and we start with small connections between our curriculum and theirs. For example, I recently showed a video on shapes to a 1st grade class and the students responded right away saying they had just learned about shapes and engaged their teacher from the back of the room to show off their knowledge.
Get involved- take the initiative
Collaboration, in all its facets, can be successful and seamless if we take the initiative to build relationships that break down the borders. Watching students make connections between subjects, or forget they’re learning as a result of a well-planned project makes it all worthwhile. Volunteering to work on curriculum development is a great way to harvest professional relationships with teachers and curriculum supervisors (who can be great supporters of your program).
Celebrate the small things and the success stories
Why not think more creatively about all the things we do each day that don’t traditionally count as collaboration and stop focusing on the “projects” that we aren’t able to do with colleagues. Media Specialist, Mary Alice Anderson, in her article for Multimedia Schools, “The Media Center: The Many Faces of Collaboration” suggests that we “celebrate the varied aspects of our multi-faceted roles” by including the support we give throughout the year to teachers, staff, as well as parents and the community. Do you organize the school’s book fair? How about author visits or other school-wide assemblies? Maybe you’re the “go-to” person for website help and technology issues. Our ability to help the entire school succeed is just as valid as a project we would specifically work on together. How about publicly acknowledging and praising those teachers that embrace collaboration? Students can describe how they felt learning and working that way and be your best publicity.
Anything is possible
We work hard to create an inviting atmosphere in the Media Center that feels like home to every person that enters, including students, parent volunteers, teachers, administrators and even our public librarians. We are responsible for supporting the school’s curriculum in many different ways, and with that, we have the power to break down barriers as we go along.
This year, I’m going to include some of the less traditional collaborative projects in my end-of-year meeting with my principal, and make sure to quantify how many people were willing to work collaboratively throughout the year. It’s time that we advocate for our program to all who “occupy” our building.
The White House Conference on School Libraries, in 2002, presented a session that is sure to inspire you to find a way to makeover your program to a dynamic, integrated media center, with you as the “information consultant” facilitating collaborative work throughout the year. The conference notes can be found at the Institution of Museum and Library Services site: http://www.imls.gov/news/events/whitehouse_2.shtm#kcl.
Keep your enemies close, but your fellow collaborators closer.