The Unquiet Library: make the connection—learning to play, playing to learn

This past Wednesday, I was given the opportunity by my principal, Dr. Bob Eddy, to speak to our faculty about my vision, philosophy, and goals for my library program for 2009-10.  While I am proud of the progress and growth of my library program since its birth three years ago, I feel we are on the verge of a breakout year in terms of making some significant and innovative strides in instruction and program initiatives.

During my setup of my laptop, the teachers picked up their goody bags, some GALILEO flyers, the databases/subscription service handout, and a vial of bubbles with a wand.

I began the presentation with a few housekeeping tasks—a quick discussion of new databases, magazines, and other purchases.  Most importantly, I had the honor of introducing my new media specialist, Roxanne Johnson.  Roxanne and I first met about ten years ago when she was the librarian at Sixes Elementary in our district, and I was her technology specialist.  She is one of the individuals who inspired me to become a school librarian, so it is truly an honor to now have the opportunity to work with someone of her experience and her knowledge!

I then talked briefly about the challenges we face as libraries and educational institutions.  Inspired by a May post from Helene Blowers, I then showed this video while asking our staff to substitute the word “libraries” or “teachers” for “entrepreneurs.”

I then shared an article from the newest issue of Fast Company about Jeff Bezos and discussed how he is stealing pages from the playbook of Apple; I stated that is what we should be doing as librarians and educators—borrowing pages from the playbooks of successful businesses who innovate and break the mold.   In the article, Bezos is quoted as saying that failure to evolve is dangerous; so goes it with with schools and school libraries.  With that, I then launched into my presentation and bubble talk.

I used my slides as talking points referencing different events and examples to support those talking points.

I also referenced my mindmap of my library vision and program during the presentation (although I wish there had been more time!).

After Slide 16 in my presentation, I took up a bottle of bubble solution and blew a single bubble with an ordinary wand.  After slides 17-18, I took my handheld bubble machine  with four nodes and created about 500 bubbles in 60 seconds to represent how student learning can take off with access to multiple sources of information (traditional and emerging social media) with the help of the librarian and well constructed research pathfinders.

After slide 19, I instructed the teachers to take their vials and blow bubbles!  Faculty were smiling, laughing, pointing, conversing—I then stated that this represented how learning can look if all faculty in all departments are supporting information literacy/fluency (which is no longer an optional literacy) by using research as a learning tool and collaborating with the library.

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As everyone laughed and engaged in conversation, I pointed out that people were enjoying blowing the bubbles so much that they didn’t want to stop.  I stated that through collaboration with the library and the use of a wide range of information sources and learning tools, together we could create this kind of learning experience via research in which students would not want to stop and would want to learn.

After the final slides, we then had the moment everyone awaited—door prizes!  Teachers had to look beneath their theater seats for the winning sticky notes!  I awarded three prizes:  a $25 gift card good at several restaurants, a $25 Books a Million gift card (we just got one about 10 miles from the school), and a $10 iTunes gift card.  These seemed to be a big hit, naturally!

Overall, I feel the talk was well received—as soon as I finished, one teacher immediately came up and said he wanted to utilize the library more this year.   Several others sent emails or came by to say how much they loved the presentation even if they didn’t understand all of the ideas just yet and wanted to know/do/learn more.

With Dr. Eddy’s express vocal support at the meeting and this presentation, I feel I have the right tone to help move our library program forward in becoming a more effective change agent and learning commons in our school.  I feel that we will be doing more risk-taking in using more web 2.0 tools for learning and putting connectivism front and center as our foundation for creating the information fluent student (and teacher, too!).

My own continued professional growth as a librarian fuels my desire to create meaningful learning experiences that ignite people’s passions  and to open new doors of learning.  I feel that my ever-expanding concept of today’s school library and my Media 21 project (which embodies all the concept of the presentation and the mindmap) are going to be the cornerstones of taking The Unquiet Library to new heights of learning and making the library a player with a deeper impact in our school.

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I must once more thank the amazing Helene Blowers for giving me permission to use her idea of bubbles and play and to adapt it for my purposes of the presentation to the faculty.   I am looking forward to hearing this personal library hero tomorrow at my alma mater, The University of Georgia, as she is the keynote speaker for our annual GALILEO Gold Conference!

I also want to thank my friends in my PLN for your words of encouragement and support as I have stuffed goody bags, contemplated surprises, and then experienced the normal pre-presentation angst of, “Will they like it?  Will they get what I’m trying to say?”  You all know you are the best!!!

Coming up in the blog:  book lurking at Target and a Media 21 update!

7 thoughts on “The Unquiet Library: make the connection—learning to play, playing to learn

  1. I am absolutely in AWE of you and your presentation!! I’m so glad to finally read all the details and put it all together. Your hard work and dedication has paid off. Bravo Buffy!

  2. Okay Buffy…I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…you are AMAZING! Since having the pleasure of getting to know you through our PLN my mind has been a whirlwind with ideas of how to make changes in our Library! There are so many things I’ve wanted to change and you’ve given me the inspiration to move past the status quo and push the envelope! I’m very excited and plan to start mind-mapping this weekend (another great idea from you I must add!). I plan to talk to admin about addressing the staff at our 1st staff meeting in September @ moving forward. Thank you SO MUCH for your inspiration! You inspire so many people!

  3. Thanks so much for sharing this in so much detail. I was just working on a blog post thinking about my vision and have learned much from your blog. This work sounds very exciting! Sounds like it will be a great year in the library:-)

  4. Wow! I want to thank each of you for taking the time to comment on this blog post—I am thrilled that it has proven to be inspirational! I am honestly a little overwhelmed by the positive feedback that I have received here and in other places—I am truly happy that this sharing of info has been so well received!

    I have had a few more notes from some teachers interested in the ideas from the presentation and ready to do some risk taking with new strategies for engaging students, so stay tuned!

    You all are treasured colleagues in my personal learning network—thank you for making me a better librarian!

    Buffy🙂

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