Christine Hurst, Library Manager, Macleans College, Howick, Auckland.
We’d discussed sharing a taxi on the Librarians email list and once the flight arrived, and there was no sight of the person we were supposed to meet, I realised quite a major flaw in my plan - we hadn't exchanged phone numbers. The taxi pulled into the main driveway at St. Andrews School, and I'm sure the driver thought we were going to do a runner because he repeated several time "The school is closed. School holidays.”
I found our accommodation in the hostel, which was a pleasant surprise, and then went to the meet and greet. I spoke to several people I know, and met several more whose names I recognised from the Listserv. After a long chat with the ladies at Access-It (l'm a huge fan) I did the rounds of supplier exhibits and grabbed a few pens. A few of us from the hostel were ready for dinner so we set off across the field and down the main drag towards the shops. The first place we came across was Thai, so we dived in to a selection of dishes. Back at the hostel a pre-bed cup of tea and I was ready for bed. The daylight savings change that morning meant it was only really 7pm, but it felt like 10pm. A long read of a good book (The Girl on the Train, in case you're wondering. An excellent read). All in all a good first day.
After trying not to fall out of the single bed all night, I headed off to breakfast. The dining room manager was a humorous man, which helped to start the day on the right note.
The first keynote speaker, Roger Dennis, was interesting (technical issues aside). He talked about how the world was changing rapidly and the growing technology curve showed an increase in tech over a short period of time. He talked about the pace of change going faster and faster, and to keep up he recommended buying Wired magazine, and also checking out Scanadoo, Tell Spec, and Thingiverse. He also reckoned that reverse mentoring is all the rage these days; find a digital superhero kid who knows what changes are coming up. I shall be on the lookout! When asked if we should be teaching our kids coding he said no, get kids to learn the logic that computers use, but not coding. When asked about e-books and print books, he said that print offers a serendipity that you don't get with digital; you don't know what's coming next in print.
My first workshop of the day was on e-books and e-literacy. Apparently research shows that we are reading more than ever before, just differently. Some read digitally, and some by print, and others a mixture of both. Setting up for e-books in your school can be tricky, and having to think about all the different technology can be challenging.
Next I went to find out about the librarian's toolbox. I got so much out of this session! The presenter had a website full of links to some really cool ideas, and I walked away from her session thinking that my year 9 orientation sessions next year are going to be transformed.
Mark Osborne from CORE Education was our second keynote speaker who delved into the modern learning environment. He challenged us to think of the library as no longer a storehouse, but as makerspaces/hackerspaces. We heard about, and saw, some amazing collaboration spaces.
The last workshop of the day was on how libraries are the new relevancy. The presenter talked about the many ways she has changed the library space at her school, in particular bringing the library staff out from the back room to be ‘front of house’ and interacting with the students more. The vacated space was then used by IT. I love the idea that the IT Department is more accessible to students.
The SLANZA awards and happy hour was next. A full, exhausting day.
Keynote, Janelle Riki, was an amazing speaker. I loved hearing about her family, and her journey. Hers was another message about change, and Janelle’s Seek slide showing the demand for certain industries, and lack of demand for others, was an eye opener. She helped me view my students from a different perspective, and my library (and me) will be better for it.
My first workshop of the day was on e-books with the Access-It ladies. I gleaned some great ideas for using the new OPAC. My second workshop was about using customisable quizzes to engage students. We did some Dewey quizzes while learning about how Kahoot and Socrative works (I wasn’t the fastest, but was pleased to see I know my Dewey!). Oh what fun! This built on the session from day 1, and I was starting to see how my student librarians training sessions might be transformed.
The final workshop was Creative Commons. I thought I had a good grasp of this topic, but I was educated further. I came away with a plan to make sure my school is licensed.
We were then bussed to Cashmere High School followed by Upper Riccarton Community Library. I had a great nosy around, took loads of photos and came away buzzing with ideas.
Browsed the trade tables and got pens.
That night was the conference dinner. The food served at the Ilex Centre was delicious (I don’t think I will ever taste better than Canterbury beef!), and the entertainment was…well, it was entertaining.
The last day of conference, and the keynote speaker first up was Kay Oddone talking about Makerspaces. This is definitely the buzzword of the conference, and Kay showed many ways that our libraries can become makerspaces. This talk also focussed on the changing world and how the job landscape for our young people will look very different in the next 2-5 years. Much food for thought.
I did a final round at the sponsor’s stands and made sure I had spoken to all of them. Got more pens.
The last workshop was how to Zhoosh up your Book Club. Is it telling that out of all the workshops this one solicited the most note-taking from me? I came away with squillions of ideas and can’t wait to implement them in my book club.
Workshops I wish I could have gone to:
●Engaging readers with engaging book talks
●Spicing up summer: summer reading programmes
●Don’t panic: a hitch-hikers guide to book week
●Why don't they just behave?
●Developing info-savvy students
●Digital footprints: you are what you click
●Tertiary prep programme
●BYOD: One school library’s journey
My overall focus on this conference was eBooks and digital libraries, as this is an area that we are currently looking at in my school. But I chose some workshops at the expense of missing out on others that I desperately wanted to go to. Luckily for me, a colleague was able to plan her workshops so that we didn’t go on the same ones, and we were able to have an in depth debrief following the conference. This is a strategy I recommend to anyone who has a buddy or colleague going to conference.
So with a focus of eBooks, I listened to how schools were implementing their programmes, how they’d gauged the comprehension of eBooks vs print, and how successful (or not) e-books are in their schools. My conclusion is that while they add a dimension to the collection, they are not the holy grail of library services.
There was much talk of makerspaces, or hackerspaces. I watched and listened, fascinated at how this new philosophy (dare I call it a craze?) was being adopted in school libraries. And while I had moments of excitement, I know deep down that this is not something that will work in my school. At this time. In the meantime, I will be taking all the wonderful things that I have learnt and adapt them to my school community. Which is the way it should be, don’t you think?
What did I learn from the conference?
●Librarians are an amazing bunch of people
●The amount of collective knowledge within the SLANZA membership is far-reaching
●There is no substitute for meeting your peers in person
●You can discuss library things over a glass of wine much easier than an email list
●SLANZA rocks! (thank you SLANZA for my conference ticket)
●I will never run my library orientation sessions the same again
●You can never have enough pens
So in conclusion, did I love my first SLANZA conference? Hell yes! Will I go to another one? Hell yes! Try and keep me away!