Academic Life

As my oldest two children prepare for their upcoming semesters in college (one at Oklahoma State University and one at Texas Tech), I feel that I’ve been moving along with them through their education by mirroring their “levels” through my work in school libraries.   While they were growing up in the K-12 environment, I worked as a K-12 librarian, but now that they are both in college, it seems almost fitting that I’m now working in an academic library once again. 

The most interesting thing that I’m seeing (even though I’ve only been officially at work for one day), is that many of the same issues that K-12 librarians face are also evident at the academic level.  Students don’t know how to do research, teachers / professors believe that their students are smarter and know how to do research because they know how to download and morph photos on their iPhones, and there is just not enough time in the day to get everything done!  However, even with all of these issues, it’s comforting to know that the situations are the same regardless of the level of instruction and that there truly is a level of understanding among professionals, regardless of where they work.

There are some things, though, that are exciting and those are the new opportunities and promises that a new school year brings.  Even though January 1st is the beginning of a new year, I feel that it is always the beginning of a NEW school year that encourages me the most.  It’s the time to make new resolutions, new goals; a time to meet new challenges and to stretch your ideas of what is possible.  The new school year also brings new faces, new materials, new mandates, and new problems…but with those things, it’s a wonderful time to collaborate with those who have the same goals and objectives…the ones who want to make a difference and want to draw upon the strengths and ideas of others to meet the challenges that the new school year brings.

I’m excited about this new “Academic Life” and hope to be able to share some ideas, resources, and thoughts about the transition between the K-12 environment and the academic life. 

 

Everything Old Is New Again…or Deja Vu

Well, to say that it hasn’t been an interesting summer would be an understatement.  To be honest, most of what has happened to me this summer wasn’t something that I went looking for first.  It found me…which is a good thing!

Before moving to Texas in 2001, I was the Assistant Professor / Curriculum Materials Librarian at Oklahoma State University.  And even though things were great for me, it was a bit more difficult for my husband who did not have a full-time teaching position in Stillwater.  Thus the reason for our move to Texas (Fort Worth to be exact)—hey, we had to pay the mortgage and put three kids through college!!  So, even though I knew I would have to give up my position at OSU, it was something that I knew I needed to do in order for my husband to have a teaching position that paid the salary that somewhat resembled what the Occupational Outlook Handbook says teachers should make.

Now, after seven years in Texas, I felt that I had a firm grasp on what my future held.  Then… I was minding my own business one afternoon in May when I received a phone call from Stillwater.  The current Curriculum Materials Librarian was retiring this summer and she was calling to basically tell me to “get back now!”  So, to make a long story (of two months) short, I applied for and was recently hired to be Assistant Professor / Curriculum Materials Librarian at Oklahoma State University beginning this fall— August 1st to be exact!

This will be an exciting transition back into the Academic world after spending the last seven years working at various levels in Texas schools.  While the experience in Texas has been a whirlwind in itself, I can see that I had been given the opportunity to have a sample of various types of instructional environments which can only increase my understanding for what many pre-service teachers (and librarians) that I will be working with at OSU may soon face. 

It’s not often that someone in education has the opportunity to truly participate at many levels and in a wide range of school libraries and programs; however, I have had that opportunity.  From large metropolitan urban school districts where individuals are lost and sometimes never found, to small districts where the Avon lady walks into the library during story time and interrupts you to ask you if you’d like the latest catalog— I’ve been there!  Having the opportunity to work in private, college-prep schools where everyone graduates to later attend an ivy league (or at least a Big 12) university to a public transitional schools for medically fragile and disabled children where parents may never see their children live long enough to even attend high school, I’ve had the opportunity to experience it here.

So what will this do for me at the Academic level?  Well, aside from being able to come back to work with a fantastic group of professionals who understand the importance of a library within the field of education and who support philosophical discussions as an opportunity to learn rather than a reason to “document a dissending idea,” I have the opportunity to truly say that I understand some of the experiences that these pre-service teachers and librarians may soon face once they graduate.  “Being in the trenches” definitely brings credibility to the profession and I understand that some things can never fully be understood unless you’ve had the chance to experience them first-hand.  Granted, I may not have experienced every possible situation, but as far as a “sampler tray of educational opportunities” are concerned, I’ve tasted a little of everything. 

My experiences may only be a sort of  “career-shadowing” of what others live daily as they continue to work and teach in the same position and at the same school for years and years; however, I know that I spent enough time to invest myself in many of the situations and lives of students that I met.  Do I understand what is necessary in the classroom or in the library?  Yes!  Can I make a difference at the pre-service level?  I hope so!

My work begins on August 1st…and I do hope to write more as time goes by.  Everything old is new again….and it’s beginning to have the same wonderful feeling that I’ve been missing for so long!!  Stay tuned…it’s going to be a wild ride as we cross the bridge between the K-12 environment and the Academic world!

 

Refusing to Share

Recently I’ve been examining the hierarchy of librarians within school districts in my area and I’ve discovered an interesting thing.  Many of the larger school districts with several schools and a District Librarian to coordinate their programs seem to keep to themselves.  In other words, I don’t see a “web or print presence” among the individual school librarians on many of the listservs or in the professional journals. (Although I often see their District Librarians monitoring and contributing insights and ideas.)  Rather than sharing some of the great projects that these individual librarians are working on, providing others with their professional insights and great ideas, or asking questions about particular situations, these individual librarians seem to work autonomously but within their districts.  They never interact with others outside their district and their valuable work is often never seen.  I know that they are doing great things (as I’ve noticed some individual librarians who have made presentations during our state’s library conferences) but otherwise, we might we working side-by-side within a regional area and never know that the librarians in the district just 10 miles down the road are integrating technology into the curriculum through a multi-million dollar grant project that they received and carefully hid from the rest of the world.

I’m not sure if this is being stingy…or just being strange.  However, I do know that one of the points in the ALA Code of Ethics requires that:

   “We strive for excellence in the profession by maintaining and enhancing our own knowledge and skills, by encouraging the professional development of co-workers, and by fostering the aspirations of potential members of the profession.

In my opinion, that would mean that we are supposed to share our work with others, mentor those entering the field, and provide insights into new theories, ideas, projects, and programs to our colleagues.  However, I find that in my “corner of the world” few districts are sharing and even fewer individual librarians are showcasing their talents.  Am I missing something?

After working in a few larger districts that had District Librarians who supervised the entire library program and the work being done at each campus library within the district, I sensed a level of intimidation by those DL who did not want individual librarians within the district to “break-out” of their isolation and become a part of the main-stream.  In fact, I watched one DL become frustrated with my “professional independence” because I shared new instructional content lessons that I learned from listservs with the other librarians within my district.  This DL sent me an email reprimanding me for sending the information to the librarians as this individual felt it was the responsibility of the District Librarian to send out information to the librarians within the district, should that information be considered valuable for their use. (Hello?)

So, then, are some District Librarians on a “power-trip” to control the thoughts, minds, and actions of the librarians that they supervise?  Are young librarians moving into larger districts easily swayed into believing that they do not have a voice and cannot have an original idea or share information with others outside of the district.  Are they even aware that they need to be working to become a part of the profession “outside of the district” for which they work?  Are they discouraged from participating in listservs because it will “take too much of their valuable time”….?  Are some librarians even aware of what is happening outside of their own districts? 

All of these questions then lead me to wonder if some District Librarians are intimidated by the wealth of knowledge, skill, and abilities that their young, enthusiastic, and often, fresh-faced campus librarians exhibit.  Do these DL “encourage” their campus librarians to only share their ideas, projects, or resources with the colleagues within their district and not share them with the outside world?  What happens to those ideas once the librarian leaves the District?  Do “outsiders” ever see their work….What are we missing?  What are they missing?

Obviously, not all DLs behave like this —and it’s very obvious because we see their district’s “power and presence” everywhere within the literature (and online).  However, I still wonder with all of these larger school districts in my state, why it is that we (outside of the district) never hear about the wonderful library projects or the fantastic librarians working in those districts?  Why is it that these districts refuse to share with others? 

Happy New Year!

Okay, well, it’s not January 1st…but it’s close enough!  Yesterday was a busy one for my daughter (a senior) and me as we worked on her college admissions essays.  She began the process on New Year’s Eve and wrote through most of the day and night (which is a good thing.)  Then she gave them to me to review and make suggestions…..at 11:30 p.m. we finished the final essay which needed to be submitted before midnight on January 1st!  (Talk about procrastination…and, yes, I did push her to start earlier, but I also know how teenagers are when it comes to writing essays!)

Although we finished only two essays (the ones with the January 1st deadline), my daughter’s comment to me afterwards was….”Thanks, Mom, for all your help!  If I had known how much help you were with this kind of stuff, I would have let you help with me with ALL my research and writing!”

Hello?  I guess when you’re this close to the situation (and the parent), it’s hard for your child to realize how much help you can be; however, the help that I provided was no different from what I normally do at school when I’m helping high school students in the library.  Allowing her to research, take notes, pre-write, write, and then edit are all important parts of the instructional process….but how many students don’t get this opportunity to work one-on-one with a teacher or even a librarian?

As a high school librarian I have always assisted students with essays, college applications, and other writing assignments.  I am happy to say that most (if not all) of the time, the students have been very happy with the results of our interactions and the one-to-one conversations that allowed me to mentor and share some of the resources and information that our libraries provide.  Many times, however, I have watched students struggle to meet the goals of their research or writing assignments without ever approaching me (even when I have offered my assistance during a formal class presentation).  Unfortunately, I have also been in some situations where just “being available” to assist students was virtually impossible because there were just too many students, too much work to do, no library paraprofessional to help with the clerical work, and too many “fires to put out!”

In many schools, librarians are often the greatest instructional resources for students who need additional help with research or writing.  Many times librarians are often available to review bibliographies, read through papers, make suggestions for additional content through library resources that are available, or to advise students about who to speak with for additional help.  However, for those schools that do not provide certified librarians, many students are left without anyone with the expertise in these areas.  Many student are left without that additional level of support that libraries and librarians provide.  In addition, for those students who do not receive assistance from their parents at home and do not have a certified librarian to provide a “safety layer” of support within the school for research assignments, it is nearly impossible for them to receive the same quality of instruction and information that can be found in those schools that do provide certified librarians.

Does this mean that the school librarian is the “Super Hero” of the school….well, actually, yes!  Certified school librarians are teachers first with a background in education and a teaching degree!  Additional hours of library and information science provides them with the qualifications to become a school librarian (and to many, the “hero of the day!”).  When schools fail to provide certified school librarians on every campus, they remove a “safety layer” of educational support that will ensure student achievement.  At every level, school librarians impact student achievement, provide instructional collaboration opportunities with teachers, and share quality resources and information better than any other individual on the campus.  As Dizzy Dean once stated, “It ain’t braggin’ if you can do!” 

Let’s hope that this New Year provides all of us with the opportunities to know what a certified librarian can do for a school and for student achievement.  Just yesterday, California introduced its new Library Standards that describes a strong library program through quality levels (much like Texas’ levels of exemplary, recognized, acceptable, below standards); however, unless these standards are adopted by the state legislature as mandates (and not “suggestions”), it will become more verbage to be ignored by those who are already overwhelmed by double-speak. (http://www.csla.net/pdf/CSLA_Standards.pdf ). 

Let’s hope that 2008 is a year for changes in how educational leaders view school libraries!  Student achievement and academic success comes from a variety of individuals working together to guide and mentor.  Let’s be sure that every school library provides that certified librarian that will make a difference in a child’s life.

Reading at Work

Recently on LM_NET we discussed how it looked for a librarian to read while at work.  Some stated that they did read but others suggested that it wasn’t something that they wanted to do, especially when libraries, budgets, and even their positions were always on the chopping block.

I think it’s interesting that at the K-12 levels, many librarians won’t read during their workday because of the appearance (or because there is something else that needs to be done—and there always will be something that needs to be done in a “living and growing library”) but at the academic level, many librarians often read during the workday.  Most of the materials read are new titles purchased for a department or section of the library, while others were materials relating to research being done. 

The acceptance of this behavior between the two educational libraries is interesting since the K-12 library program creates the foundation for the work done by students at the academic level and yet, we are intolerant of educators modeling the behavior which is vital for student success at the academic level.  One of our goals is to create an appreciation and enjoyment of reading, but the limitations set upon us at the K-12 level may hinder our efforts to model this most important goal. 

It is also important to note that having been at both the K-12 and academic levels, I found it interesting that individuals (students, professors, deans, etc.) at the academic level gave me more respect (as a professional librarian) and were more encouraging of my efforts to examine materials and read to learn more about what I would eventually use in instruction than those at the K-12 levels (with my same qualifications, degrees, and even academic university experience).  Reading various Caldecott books to create unique lesson plans for first graders would be considered important work that could be utilized by others within the College of Education; however, the same work at a K-12 environment may be considered an ineffective use of time if the librarian is seen reading a picture book–or even sitting, for that matter.  The same is true at the secondary level and could be evident in a librarian’s work to read a “challenged book” to determine how to address charges, evaluate the content, and look for evidence of quality within a book.  Why should this type of work be required to be done “on your own time” when it directly relates to the classroom, the library, and the students?  

Perhaps the “intolerance” at the K-12 level is a result of over-scheduled, micro-managed, test-focused curriculums that don’t incorporate the importance of reading for personal information, inquiry, or entertainment beyond what is being taught / dictated by those who have programmed our day. While many may advocate the elimination of libraries as unnecessary with our ability to access information online and others may question the need for librarians when others less (or un-) qualified are considered able to do the same job, it seems that reading is now also slowly being removed from the daily lives of our children.

While I’m not proposing that there is a conspiracy theory to eliminate libaries and librarians by some higher power, I am suggesting that somewhere along the way, we have allowed those of lower intelligence to eliminate from the curriculum what was once considered valuable by society (reading, educational research, inquiring, and critical thinking). Because time is of the essence and anything that does not move us forward quickly must be a waste of time, instead of encouraging reading for inquiry and research, we now provide our students with only a small selection of possible answers to all of life’s questions and allow them to choose their answers by darkening the bubble next to the appropriate response offered rather than read for themselves to locate an answer.  But then, there is no need to read, no need for anyone to model this behavior….it’s all been taken care of with our pre-packaged educational program.

Databases and Choices

It’s a happy day in Texas school libraries!  The Texas State Legislature added Rider 88 to the Texas Education Agency (TEA) budget.  Rider 88 directs the Commissioner of Education to transfer amounts not to exceed $2.5 million in each year of the 2008-2009 biennium to TSLAC for the purpose of acquiring “online research and information resources for libraries in public schools, and for administrative expenses.”

The problem with this situation is that school librarians have had no choice in which databases will be made available to them “free of charge.”  In fact, the decision of which databases would be made available to schools was based upon the fact that TSLAC had an exisiting contract with EBSCO, rather than what school librarians  might want or need.  In fact, it was explained to me this week (by someone who wanted to “clarify things” for me) that school librarians were “given a chance to review the various database vendors in 2006….” Hello?  I think some of the databases have made some significant changes in the past year…and many more are scheduled to take place soon….but perhaps school librarians need more “help” in making these types of decisions than other librarians might, so we aren’t offered choices.

When I questioned the reasons why school librarians have not been allowed an opportunity to choose vendors, I was “reprimanded” by two individuals at TSLAC–I will post the first reprimand and my response today.  This first explanation / reprimand was posted on the “Database Wiki” by Peggy Rudd, TSLAC Director. 

(By the way, the”Database Wiki” was created to allow school librarians the opportunity to “choose” which online encyclopedia they would prefer since we weren’t given the opportunity to select vendors for the databases.  The problem with TSLAC providing an online wiki for feedback from school librarians is that MOST schools block access to wikis.  This, then, is virtually worthless and creates an illusion that school librarians aren’t interested…we ARE interested but are restricted by the very districts for which we need to make professional decisions….but I’m sure that with all those “free evening hours after school,” most librarians would be more than willing to voice their opinions to the wiki from their home computers….NOT!)— Is anyone at TSLAC thinking about how school libraries function or how school librarians are able to access information from within their schools?  Wikis, blogs, and other 2.0 technologies are largely blocked in public schools…unlike public and academic libraries, public school libraries have restrictions that are much tighter, even for the teachers / librarians.

Here are Peggy Rudds’comments:

 “Let me clarify something. TSLAC continued the EBSCO databases for the k-12 library community because we had a contract in place, we could “turn on” access immediately for the current school year, and EBSCO was willing to work with us on pricing. We understood from the school library community that librarians wanted a database package that would begin at the start of the school year; therefore, issuing a bid document was not an option.

We understand that $2.5 million is not enough to be able to invest in all of the electronic resources that school libraries need to support students and teachers. We are pleased that we are able to squeeze out enough money to cover an encyclopedia, however.”

My guess is that most any database company under consideration to provide resources to K-12 schools in Texas (and to become the K-12 statewide database provider),would be more than willing to provide an extended trial evaluation / usage period if a selection process needed to be made by all school districts later in the school year.

“Turning on” these products is done easily by hundreds of database companies every day, so this shouldn’t have been an issue. Because several of the database companies offered free trials throughout the summer months (a time when many school librarians are not actively monitoring their email or checking for database funding news / legislative updates), it actually seems more reasonable to ask for trials during the school year so that school librarians could actively utilize the products with their students and teachers, rather than during the summer months.

While every school librarian appreciates the funding made available to provide online databases for their students, many schools will not be given any opportunity to choose “additional databases” because their budgets will not allow for that.  As a result, these schools have had no voice and no choice.  Because the needs of many rural or smaller school districts are often not taken into consideration when educational programs are implemented, these districts must often deal with what is handed to them. It would appear then that a ‘digital divide’ is created when ALL K-12 schools aren’t provided the opportunity to select, choose, or vote for which “free resources” they would select when those resources are provided through state funding. Well-funded schools receive the “free” databases and have the funds to purchase additional resources to supplement what is missing.  Poorly funded school districts receive only what they are given without any opportunity to choose.

Luckily, my district can select other databases to supplement the EBSCO products; however, for those districts that expected an opportunity to voice their opinions about their database needs, it is disappointing that these school librarians are restricted from selecting resources for their students by other librarians who “know what is best” for all of us.

Back to the Books

School starts in about a week and our teachers report this week for inservice training, room preparation, and brain re-adjustments after a long, forgetful summer. 

Maybe it’s just me who needs to re-adjust my brain to prepare for school.  It seemed that all summer I worked on little projects to smoothly begin the new school year and then just before school starts, the bottom dropped out and “the best laid plans of mice and men went awry!”

After an awesome introduction to materials from the Suzy Red presentation at the end of July and the Upstart Roadshow with Toni Buzzeo and Pat Miller, I had tons of ideas, plans, projects, etc., to start the new year.  Then my mother called to let me know that my father was in the hospital–the ICU ward, my college-aged son tells me that he needs to move into his apartment that weekend, and my senior 2008-daughter has failed to take care of her summer AP art project, get her yearbook photograph taken, or take her car into the repair service to have a whining belt changed (after reminding her to do these things all summer!!)  After a slow and sultry summer of mindless wanderings, my life turned upside down quickly with everything happening at once and everyone waiting and watching me to “get things going” for them.

I think it must be the “librarian leadership” thing that kicks some us into gear.  Without thinking “emotionally” about any of this (my father critically ill, my oldest son going “away from home” to college, and my daughter –who is a blonde–having a “seriously blonde summer” and forgetting to take care of business), I managed to take care of the things that I could control.

Nate is completely “moved” and loving the apartment at Oklahoma State University; Nachel has her car repaired, her photos taken, and her art project completed; and I visited my father and spoke to the nurses and doctors about his care.  Fortunately, he is doing much better but is still in the hospital.

What does all of this have to do with schools, libraries, and “back to the books?”  Well, I think it puts everything into perspective.  Even though we plan ahead, write lessons, create projects, and compile book lists, the reality is that “the people” around us are really the main reason why we are who we are and do what we do.  Those individuals in our personal lives may drive our thoughts and behaviors at home, but those individuals at school are the ones that we seldom consider when life is going well for us and a new school year begins. 

What are our students, our teachers, our parents, and our administrators facing each day that may be turning their personal lives upside down?  Is anyone there to help, to listen, to understand, or to guide?  Not everyone has a support system in place to take care of those things that twist their lives into pretzels. 

 Sometimes stepping back and watching…listening….and caring can make a difference in how our students and teachers find us and how they see us as both educators and human beings.

Starting a new school year is stressful for everyone. Facing new people, new ideas, and new schedules can easily cause individuals to become emotional, distracted, or isolated.  Being a cornerstone of support for those individuals that you see having problems with their new environments (new teachers, new students) is the first step in building a relationship of trust.  Taking the time to make one thing easier or sharing information and resources to help guide them through this difficult time will certainly remind them who they can count on when they have a problem.

Sometimes it’s great when things go smoothly and everyone is ready to start the new school year.  But not everyone has a smooth start and not everyone has their mind set for learning.  Taking the time to see the person and their problem can help to bridge the gap and bring them back to you.

 Realizing that the people are the most important reason why we do what we do should be our back-to-school lesson.

Workshop Summer

While the summer started slow and rainy, it’s ending much faster and with a bit more sun (although I’m loving the mild summer after the past few).  With all of this “lazy daze of summer” atmosphere, you’d think I’d be resting and relaxing, but it seems that I’ve managed to schedule several workshops for myself during these last few weeks just before school starts (what was I thinking??) 

Actually, I’m glad I did.  I’ve learned a lot (and I’ve started compiling even more ideas) after attending them.  Last Thursday, I went to the Library Sparks Road Show in Irving.  Toni Buzzeo, Pat Miller, and Rob Reid presented their program ideas for storytelling, music, and library programming for elementary students.  Aside from the entire Upstart /Highsmith (mini) catalog being marked down to unbelieveable prices (which eliminated much of that “heavy change”  from my wallet—and credit card), the resource ideas and suggestions really sparked some creative energy.

Toni shared some resources (and philosophies) for storytelling, Rob shared musical materials and contacts for purchasing some of the unique content that is so often hard to find, and Pat shared some interesting ideas for teaching library content while keeping students engaged in assignments related to the TEKS.  With more to carry home that I intended (and additional materials purchased once I got home….to start creating some of the unique storytelling props), I’m starting to panic that I won’t have enough time to get everything done before school starts for teachers on August 16th!

Tomorrow I’m attending the Suzy Red workshop at Region XI and hope to learn more ideas for sharing books with elementary and middle school students.  I have several of her material already, but it’s always fun to see what’s new and how I can use the state reading book lists in more ways than just a booktalk.

Finally, I have a few additional projects left to complete which will require some investigation, writing, and research.  I know that by the end of August I will be kicking myself for not enjoying the summer more, but the reality is I hate “down-time” that lasts too long.  I’m usually ready to go back to school after two weeks of any type of vacation, so I guess that makes me a work-aholic.  In the meantime, I guess I’ll follow through on my workshops and complete these project ideas to use this year.  There’s only three weeks before school starts…and then the fun really begins!!

Cool Tools

I realized yesterday that I have less than a month before school starts (at least for the teachers), so I am “on a mission” to locate resources that might be useful during the next school year.  Among some of the really cool things that I’ve found are:

 Gliffy: A free online program that allows you to create diagrams, flowcharts, and floorplans online.  This is a great alternative to Inspiration software.

Bubbl.us :  A free online tool to allow you to “brainstorm” with others by creating “bubbles” (that represent ideas).  The brainstorming session can then be emailed to others, posted on a webpage or printed.  Imagine how you can use this with students as you instruct ways to determine what keywords might be used with a database.

Interactive Periodic Table of Elements: What a way to get your science teachers (and their students) excited about using the Periodic Table of Elements.  This interactive table allows users to click on each element square which opens another webpage to Wikipedia’s definition of the element and examples.  Another, more artistically appealing version is the Visual Elements Periodic Table which includes photos, as well as interactive components.

ThinkFree : A completely free “online alternative to Microsoft Office”, ThinkFree lets you create, collaborate on and store documents and files.

Google Docs and Spreadsheets:  A combination of Google’s great features such as Gmail, Talk, Docs & Spreadsheets and Google Calendar in one place for immediate access from any computer. The service comes complete with a “custom domain” on which your documents, mail and conversations are stored.

Zoho: Includes Writer, Spreadsheet, Show, Wiki, Virtual Office, Project management, planner and chat feature. This program offers several options for teachers and librarians —working together??

Backpack: Backpack is loaded with useful organizational tools. Keep your pages private or share them, schedule text message and email alerts and enjoy regular online-office services such as a calendar and to-do lists. 

These are only a few of the long list of new resources that I’ve discovered.  I’m looking for additional links of how others are using these tools in educational settings.  There are SO many interesting things to use—-now, can librarians have access to them or will they be blocked in most districts?  How can we teach students ways to work in a 2.0 world when we are only given access to early 20th century resources (printed books, magazines, films, audio recordings, etc.)? 

More to come….

Flat Classrooms, Flat Libraries

Living vicariously through others, I’ve visited blogs describing the recent conferences (NECC and ALA) and the presentations at each.  (Next year’s NECC conference will be in San Antonio…and I’ll definitely be there!  Here’s more…. )  But this year’s NECC presentations brought me to an interesting instructional concept and wiki entitled Flat Classroom Project.

Based upon the concepts behind Thomas Friedman’s book “The World is Flat,” the project brought two classes (which were literally a world apart)  together as they examined the technologies that make the world a much smaller place.  The students involved in the project examined how technology has changed the world and how productivity can be increased through the use of such technologies.  (The “Flat Classroom” blog by Julie Lindsay is posted here.)

As I read through the wiki and the blogs dealing with this concept, I am reminded that I am also being introduced to new ideas that were once never even considered by school librarians.  The teachers involved in this project were technology instructors with a definite interest in the use of these new types of interactive technologies, but how could librarians incorporate these ideas into their libraries?  How can we create Flat Libraries….have we already created Flat Libraries without realizing it?