This year the ASCEL conference theme was Diversity, Empathy and Well-being and I decided to do a lightning talk which covered Well-being and Empathy for school librarians. This is how it went…
So what is #LibraryStaffLoveLearning? The simple truth is it was a way to get myself reading more non-fiction books, articles, blogs and listening to webinars, podcasts, TED talks for my own CPD. It allowed me to keep track of what I was reading or listened to and it made me critically evaluate and extend my own learning.
Ok so why bother to tell you all about this? You see I decided to not only do this for myself but realised it might be useful to others too. I felt that I could not be the only librarian out there that wanted to do this and saw that there was a gap in online, cheap CPD for school library staff. School librarians have a big job to do in empowering students and teachers to navigate their way through the world of information and it is essential that we keep up to date too. Not every school librarian is able to get away from work or has the budget to attend conferences and I wanted to create a space that allowed discussion and learning which supported well-being for librarians by helping them feel less isolated in their role through an online platform for discussion, whilst also helping them to understand and empathise with teachers through what we read.
I started in January 2018 as my new year’s resolution after tweeting about it and having a good response. I had no idea how I was going to do this but having put it out there I felt I had to at least give it a go.
My first idea was to run a chat at a specific time on Padlet and on twitter by providing suggested reading and then creating the questions. What I had not appreciated was that there were librarians in different time zones that also wanted to join in. This made the idea even more exciting as it was now possible to learn from other librarians from across the world but a specific time and place just would not work.
I gave up on twitter and stayed focused on Padlet. For those of you who don’t know what this is it is a platform where you can share content and comment on it. It originally seemed to fit my needs but I soon realised that I would have to pay for extra space and it was not easy to see all the discussions at the same time. So I evolved again…
After almost 2 years of trial and error, I not only realised that I had the perfect platform on my own website but I now have a clear vision of what is on offer.
Every month there will be a discussion on something small so, for instance, November’s discussion is a TED talk that I found about communication and our own behaviour which I agree does not obviously link to school libraries but we always find a way and learn something. I let people know the selected item, early the month before to give them time to listen, watch or read it. I then try and post the questions up in the first week of the month. I find that others are more likely to join in if I have a go at answering the questions myself so when you look you will generally see my questions and my own answers. I like to do this for my own learning and like to lead by example which is why I started it anyway. I worry less these days about others joining in because this is for me after all. However, I must be honest and say that I do get excited when I see comments coming in and I have been involved in some really interesting discussion over the last 2 years.
Next year I am being more strategic about the book choices and have decided that once every three months I will make a book suggestion, which we will discuss in March, June, September and December. I have found books the hardest thing to get school librarians involved with as they are a bigger time commitment and there is a cost involved. A lot of the professional books can cost £60+ and I completely understand that this is a lot of money to most of us. I did start trying to find cheaper books and this has worked but sometimes it is just good to read the more expensive ones. I often say that it is worth asking the budget holder to allow you to buy these books for your own CPD and point out it is much cheaper than the conference you recently asked about.
I am excited to tell you that the SLA has decided to support my online forum by offering book loans from their CPD library to line up with my book suggestions. If anyone is an SLA member they should check it out.
The old discussions always stay open where you can read anything that has been posted. However to join in and comment you do need to sign up to my website which allows me to make sure that everyone is genuine. I have enjoyed creating this forum and look forward to many more school library discussion in the future.
To find out more please visit my website and join when you can. https://www.elizabethahutchinson.com/schoollibrariescpd
Elizabeth Hutchinson, Independent Trainer and Adviser, School Libraries