#RL2013 – Linking the Public Library and School

TL09 View of School Libraries
View of school libraries by vanhookc via CC license on FLickr

Last night I attended the third Reality Librarianship session for 2013 offered by Heroes Mingle – a partnership made up of Sally Pewhairangi (@sallyheroes) and Megan Ingle (@megingle). This is my summary of the main points of the talk :) 

You can read my previous summaries:

This talk was:
Linking the Public Library and School
Paula Eskett, Programme Advisor – Learning Futures, Services to Schools, National Library of New Zealand. (@librarypaula).

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Quick links to resources

How did this joint-use library start?

  • Back in 2003, the Riccarton high school principal principal, Gary Coburn, was keen to showcase spectacular students to the community; he felt that the “amazingness” was locked up inside the school
  • Sue Sutherland, manager of Christchurch city libraries at the top, became involved.
  • There was a shortage of libraries in Christchruch, and one suburb had missed out on their community library due to lack of land.
  • So Gary and Sue collaborated with some others in a meeting to come up with a joint-use public library on the school grounds.
  • Library was built on grounds of Riccarton High School.
  • Lots of preparation work done in the school prior to building to change the mindset/philosophy over “What is a school library? How can it support student learning?”
  • A really good partnership, but it was important to change the overall philosophy behind what school libraries are all about.

You don’t see a lot of joint-use libraries, except typically in small communities. This is unusual in a large urban setting, right?

  • Yes, it is unusual 🙂
  • Not based on finances or economic necessity, but mutual good will and collaboration.
  • It is a co-location library; a very intertwined model.

What are the challenges for staffing with both school library staff and public library staff? How does that work?

  • Dr. Alan Bundy (expert based in Adelaide on co-use libraries) was the advisor.
  • Original model was set up as a co-staff model.
  • School set up a library manager, and public library had some staff.
  • It was recommended after two years to move from a co-management model to single-management model.
  • Joan employed the public library team, and Paula employed school librarians.
  • As partnership involved, Paula became involved with recruiting reference librarians and had input on appointment on the school side, so that both sides could see the skills they were bringing.

What about student volunteers/shelvers/peer mentors?

  • There was a medium-sized pool of volunteers in old school library.
  • This transition was opportunity to teach more about the difference between a librarian and a library assistant and role-model how a library worked.
  • Offered library as place where students could do work towards their Duke of Edinburgh Young Service Award.
  • Double bonus. They had volunteer help from the student and the students gained more skills than they thought they would get.
  • The kids were on show in the library.
  • They both got the Duke of Edinburgh award and a reference from Paula for their CV.
  • This did involve a change to the volunteer policy and typical student shelver system.
  • The students worked out in the workroom with community library staff and received instruction from a number of people. It was all about community.

How did you balance curriculum needs with collection development as well as the library as space and teaching room?

  • The library allowed for break-out spaced that could be personalized.
  • It is rectangular shaped and breaks off into three separate classrooms/learning collections.
  • They are separated by big clear sliding doors.
  • Some teachers felt they were too visible in these spaces so we ended up frosting at least 2/3 of the windows at least 2/3 of them with library messages and patterns.
  • It has the largest young adult lounge of any library in Christchurch at the moment.
  • Kids learned to ask public library staff as well, but were more comfortable with school librarians as they knew them more.

If you’re a student at school, you’re automatically enrolled. With a public library, there are some issues with signing up people under 16 or 18. How did you approach this ‘difficulty’?

  • Prior to opening, Christchurch CC libraries marketed it really well that the library was coming.
  • Took membership out to community places/events and signed up heaps of people.
  • Some registered from the school.
  • Many came equipped with library cards, and others took a form home that they could sign up for.
  • Last year, 100% of students in year 9 classes were armed with library cards!
  • Not just a school library, but a school community library.
  • Community very multicultural, so great place for people to hang out in and use the computer.
  • Debt-collection stage – students couldn’t be identified from Riccarton high school at this stage, but later they were identified as school students and referred to Paula to deal with. Removed the ‘big brother’ aspect.

You’ve stepped back from Riccarton high school model and now moved into National Library job. For people in school/public libraries now, there is still a place for that partnership. With your role at National Library, where do you see these partnerships happening even though people aren’t co-located?

  • For libraries not based in main/urban centres, it’s a no-brainer.
  • Scary statistics as to how many schools actually have a professional librarian (particularly at primary level).
  • Amazing work being done by advisors throughout New Zealand.
  • National library looking outward to best practice models in the education sector.
  • Almost a revolution in the way teaching/learning has evolved – particularly with inquiry-based learning.
  • Just google MLE (Modern Learning Environment) and see how they are deconstructing the material so that students are owning the material.
  • The library is the original MLE.
  • Not just a primary school thing, but being adopted over the entire curriculum. Inquiry based learning is very much like the library!
  • Schools are equipping students at citizens in the 21st century to think about what they are needing, and why they need to learn it.
  • It’s all about developing literacy and educating citizens.
  • Reading together program, summer reading clubs, etc.. which encourage literacy are vital across New Zealand.
  • It’s about trust, letting people let go of 100% control, thinking about the users and their whole experience.
  • Important to grow the community for life-long learning.

How do the non-school public make use of the joint-use library? For example, a group of senior citizens? And does the joint use make anything better?

  • We had senior citizens who chose to come in at lunch time because they liked the energy and seeing the kids in action.
  • Layout made sure that everyone’s’ needs were met.
  • A community library means that you will always have a good mix of people in there.
  • Also timing – lunch time is probably not the best time to come in if you want a quiet library.
  • Had lots of positive verbal comments about the kids
  • Embedded culture of thinking into the kids when they were oriented to the library; reminding them that they are ‘on show’ to the community
  • It gives the kids the opportunity to be embedded in a community space.
  • Respect was a huge part of it.
  • The school librarians were treated with the same respect as the teachers received.
  • It make a big difference – the message was spread across the school.
  • The library was a continuation of school.
  • There was a large staff presence there, and a sense of ownership.

What was the relationship between the public library staff and the teachers?

  • Community library staff came into classes and got introduced.
  • Developed models that triangulated school librarians with public librarians and teachers.
  • Also asked the students what their perspective was.
  • Ran some sessions on behavior management.
  • Problems were approached from a team attitude. It was about learning a different way to day things.

Final thoughts

  • It always comes back to people.
  • Trust and honesty – clear dialogue with people. Being transparent.
  • As librarians we are part of the Life long Learning model – having this dialogue with the community is very important.
  • Students were included until they left – regardless of their age.
  • Special needs department so kids go up sometimes up to 23-24-25. Sometimes you have younger students – a 4 year old from Iraq.
  • A student was a student until they signed out of Riccarton high school.
  • You’re a student until you are no longer part of the school community.
  • It’s important to see things from multiple points of view – including stakeholders and school teachers.

How do you encourage high school students to sign up to the public library? Should we target the students or the teachers?

  • What’s in it for the student?
  • For example, show the public library has resources that are pre-selected for school assignments.
  • Create a need; fill a need. Show that you are there to help them out. Show the library adds value.
  • Free WiFi is great to encourage students too! Great for engaging the non-library user.

What do you do about censorship? Particularly in school libraries?

  • There have been a few instances with challenges over the stock.
  • 2 of 3 books were given to Paula by the students so encouraged dialogue.
  • The internet makes it harder to censor. Students can access anything!
  • Censorship is more about processing and thinking about the issues than protecting.
  • Never going to be perfect, but lots of consultation with Paula and buyers at the public library.
  • Important to talk about the values of the school.
  • Realize that we can’t control the content of every book.
  • Censorship offers opportunity to look at wider content. Not a problem, but an opportunity address the issue.

If you have any further questions, feel free to contact Paula on Twitter @librarypaula or by e-mail.

I’m looking forward to the final #RL2013 session next week on Wikipedia in the classroom – you can still sign up for that!


#RL2013 2: Law For Lunch

Law School
Law School by Tulana Pulic Relations via CC license on Flickr

Last night I attended the second Reality Librarianship session for 2013 offered by Heroes Mingle – a partnership made up of Sally Pewhairangi (@sallyheroes) and Megan Ingle (@megingle). This is my summary of the main points of the talk :) 

You can read my summary of the first talk here.

This talk was:
Law for Lunch
Celia Lillis, Customer Service Team Member
& Rebecca Chilton, Customer Specialist from Wellington City Libraries (@wcl_library).

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What is “Law for Lunch”?

  • Free lunchtime seminar in the library from 12-1PM
  • Offered in partnership with the local Community Law Centre
  • Informs/increases knowledge of legal rights
  • Also raises awareness of legal material/resources held by the library

What was the trigger for offering this programme?

  • Back in 2005, there was a change of alignment in the Council business units. The library became part of city services and was required to focus on events and partnerships within the community.
  • A staff member at the time, Kim, had a contact with the Community Law Centre.
  • The first session started in 2006, and the programme has been running successfully since then
  • It’s a core part of the event calendar that people look forward to and ask about

How often do you run it?

  • 2 series a year – one beginning in March and one starting in October
  • 5 weekly sessions in each series

Who decides on topics?

  • A combination of the library and the Community Law Centre
  • Prep starts early – 3-4 months beforehand – as it takes time to decide on topics & secure presenters
  • Topics are general legal topics of interest to the general public
  • Important to secure the right lawyers to present the topic
  • Often cover recent law changes

What were the most popular topics?

  • There have been a number of very popular topics!
  • Neighbours at war
  • Employment issues
  • Relationship issues (include property)
  • ACC
  • Wills and trusts
  • How you can avoid leaving legal problems (when you die)

How many people attend these sessions?

  • Average – 50-80 per session
  • Popular topics – 80-100+!

Is there a limit to who many people can attend?

  • No – have a nice big open space in the library which can seat 100 comfortably
  • People will also stand or look from the mezzanine area

Is it only offered at the central library?

  • No, we offer the sessions at the larger branch libraries too
  • Usually 20-30 people at those; maximum 45
  • Still early days

Do people have to register?

  • No, they just rock up!

Do you gather customer input for topics?

  • Go round with a clipboard at the end of the sessions
  • Anecdotal feedback

Who’s responsible for running the sessions?

  • An equal partnership with the Community Law Centre
  • Have meeting 3-4 months beforehand to brainstorm and shortlist topics
  • Community Law Centre also prepares a list of topics and notes lawyers who are keen to speak on particular topics
  • Confirm topics for series
  • City Library is responsible for all the marketing and promotion
  • Big part of Ceila and Rebecca’s roles 🙂

What marketing channels do you use?

  • Community law centre has a database of members it e-mails information out to
  • Library has multiple channels including:
  • Material in the library branches
  • Website
  • Twitter
  • Blog
  • Good printed posters
  • Page of council news in Dominion Post
  • Citizens Advice Bureau also advertise it
  • Word of mouth

Do you have a routine established now?

  • Yes, there are some routine tasks
  • Template process for marketing
  • Standard meetings with Community Law
  • Used to time and technology required now
  • Make sure you test all sound first!
  • Also make room for more people than you thought might come…

What’s the evaluation process like?

  • 2 debriefs after the sessions
  • 1 internal marketing debrief that looks at:
  • effectiveness of marketing, what could be done better next time
  • looks at effectiveness of titles & popularity of topics.
  • 1 external with community law that looks at:
  • How well attended it was
  • How effective the speakers were.
  • It’s important to evaluate as this programme takes lots of time and resources
  • Also vital to keep it ‘fresh’ and new – not tired and old…

What is the biggest benefit to the library?

  • There are so many benefits!
  • It enables us to provide direct information to people in a different form
  • Provides reliable current information
  • Works with an organization that has similar goals & philosophy – not selling services but helping community
  • Promotes library services and resources relating to legal issues
  • Encourages view of library as community hub
  • Also encourages different people to come to the library who might not normally come

Are these sessions stand-alone or do they have a common theme?

  • Each session is stand-alone
  • Series are not themed, but cover a good mixture of topics

Does the Community Law Centre do follow-up?

  • It encourages people to ask Qs at session
  • Some stay back and talk to lawyer after session
  • Also encourages them to come to Community Law Centre if they have longer inquiries

So why a lunch session?

  • A lot of people from the offices in the CBD have an hour for lunch and come to the library
  • It works so we keep on doing it 🙂
  • The sessions run from 12-1 with 45 minute presentation and 15 minutes for questions.

How do you get the lawyers on board?

  • The Community Law Centre approaches the contacts
  • Some are lawyers actually working at the Community Law Centre
  • Others are specialists on particular topics from the greater Wellington region
  • Also link the topics to the lawyers; if you have a lawyer who wants to speak you can design a topic around their area of knowledge

So what does the Community Law Centre actually do?

  • It offers free legal advice to those in the community who can’t get to a lawyer
  • May charge a small fee if very complex inquiry
  • Not a government agency; it is an independent, non-profit organization
  • They do receive some funding from the government though
  • Take some cases, but primarily provide information/referrals
  • All qualified lawyers there
  • Mainly give legal advice

Anything you would do differently?

  • The law centre knows more about the subject, but we know our customers
  • In early days, the titles were often too serious sounding and didn’t attract people, so the library stepped in with the marketing/promotions to find titles that drew customers in
  • Make sure both sides are equally contributing
  • Remember it is all about the customers – it needs to stay relevant
  • There was one session – driving offenses – that is a topic frequently asked about at the Community Law Centre that we thought would be very popular. But the numbers were lower than other sessions. One thought was that people may only want to know this information if they have a traffic offense, and normally don’t think it is relevant to just go to a session if they don’t have a problem. But this is conjecture only 🙂

What sort of people come? Who is your target audience?

  • Varies depending on the session
  • There are the regulars who come to all of them!
  • Also ladies working at the Citizens Advice Bureau also came for training
  • School teachers, board of trustees members, tenants, landlords, older folk, young people – a real variety!

Do you have any other community partnerships?

  • Yes, we’ve run a variety of other seminars
  • Career services – ran a series of seminars on that
  • Also seminars for City Council business units on earthquake survival (ironically before the Christchurch earthquake) so that involved Building Compliance, Emergency, Civil Defense, and utilities like water.
  • Also tapped into popular interest topics such as astronomy during International Year of Astronomy – had a very fruitful partnership with Wellington Astronomical society.

Any tips or suggestions for other libraries?

  • Know your local community – what are their information needs? Who can you partner with?
  • Are you competing with other groups and their resources?
  • Work in partnerships with mutual benefits for both sides
  • Make sure you have compatible philosophy and values
  • Libraries are often great at working iwth other non-profit organizations
  • Think about credibility of information – make sure you don’t compromise on the quality and jeopardize losing trust people have in you
  • Look at what you can manage and go from there
  • Also look at who is responsible for promotions – does your partner have communication channels that can also help get the message out?
  • Also look at what topics are hot in the local news and media and tap into those interests.

#RL2013 1: Community Centred Learning – the chalkle° experience

Chalk by Simon James via CC license on Flickr

Last night I attended the first Reality Librarianship session for 2013 offered by Heroes Mingle – a partnership made up of Sally Pewhairangi (@sallyheroes) and Megan Ingle (@megingle). This is my impression of the main points of the talk 🙂 The italics is me; the rest is my summary of the talk.
This talk was:
Community Centred Learning – the chalkle° experience
Jo Ransom(@jransom) Te Takere Horowhenua Culture & Community Centre

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Quick Facts

  • chalkle° started in Wellingon in 2012
  • Te Takare has been open 8 months
  • Te Takare started offering courses through chalkle° from May 1, 2013

How did Te Takare become involved with chalkle°?

  • The council wanted to build more than just a library
  • The library needed to find a tool to deliver community education
  • Horowhenua has quite an elderly population, so people with a lot of experience to offer
  • These people are equal providers and consumers of knowledge
  • Heard about chalkle° at NDF 2012 which was a perfect fit!

It’s important to work with the community, not just ‘do’ stuff.

What is the chalkle° model?

  • Participants sign up to be a teacher, learner or both!
  • It relies on community knowledge and engagement; the courses offered will vary depending on the community.
  • A different model of learning that relies on local experts
  • Face-to-face classes
  • Low cost – from free to $10+ (really depends on the course)
  • Values include open source, community engagement, collaboration, sharing

A community getting richer…

What is your relationship with chalkle°?

  • chalkle° is a franchise
  • Training and a manual is provided
  • chalkle° also manage online registration & payment and take a small cut for admin costs
  • Ongoing relationship between delieverers as well; learn from each other & identify best practice models/courses
  • Also have one library staff member who works exclusively on the chalkle° courses

Do you have more learners or teachers?

  • Got feedback on what people would be interested in learning in planning stage
  • People are very keen to both teach and learn!

Where do you hold the classes?

  • Everywhere!
  • Local college
  • Library
  • Any community space really

Everywhere is a classroom

What role does the library play?

  • The library plays an integral role in coordination
  • Been particularly overwhelmed with requests for ‘digital literacy’ – was holding 1 hour sessions which people could book and ask for help with anything
  • Picked some of the most popular digital literacy topics – particularly about ereaders and ebooks – and put them into chalkle° classes which were fully booked!
  • Recognizes the demand that drives the classes

Chalkle° helps the community as a whole become stronger. It is an extension of what the library already does.

How do you market it?

  • Newspapers
  • Mail-drop
  • Posters
  • Word of mouth
  • Aware of digital divide, so use other means to draw people in

What sort of age groups do you have?

  • Usually around 40-60 year olds (but typical of this community)
  • Could also be the people who see this marketing

What are the maximum/minimum size of the classes?

  • It depends on the topic, venue, and perhaps the tutor

How do you do quality control?

  • Chalkle° works with the tutors and gives them tips from the manual
  • The tutors learn from bad experiences
  • People recognize Chakle° is about people sharing, not ‘teaching’ so they are both forgiving of mistakes and generous in their reactions

Any challenges you are facing so far?

  • It’s hard for people to believe it is free and comes from altruistic motivation for good of community
  • People get scared by the term ‘franchise’ and worry that it might be all about making money
  • We challenge this misconception by demonstrating how good it is
  • We walk the talk and make it work

I asked a question about how Jo thought that Chalkle is both similar to and different from MOOCs.

How are Chalkle° classes similar to and different from MOOCs?

  • Chalkle° is face-to-face, connecting people, exchanging information and knowledge.
  • Not online
  • Key thing is community engagement and the face-to-face model.

So in a sense, I suppose you could argue that they are not similar at all; they are completely different models of teaching – face-to-face versus online – but I believe the philosophy behind them is the same. Both Chalkle° and MOOCs are about bringing education to the communities and making it free to learn. Both are part of a larger movement towards the freeing of information, and the breaking down of barriers to education. The world is your classroom, and I think that both of these contribute to this vision.

Thank you to everyone involved in making this session a success – I’ve learned a lot, and got plenty to think about. I can’t wait for the next session! So if you haven’t already, make sure you sign up for the next sessions.