Okay so it is hard to process all that took place at the School Library Journal Leadership Summit from this weekend. It may take a series of days before this actually gets posted. I arrived Thursday afternoon, and promptly went to eat a late lunch/early supper right across the street at Joe’s Seafood, Prime Rib and Stone Crab Restaurant. We (me, Journeys author Diane Cordell, and the Daring Librarian Gwyneth Jones) had a Shrimp Bisque and a Crabcake, which was divine.
We returned to hang out in the lobby and watch for school library stars arriving at the summit. We were NOT disappointed!! We traveled up to the Summit opening reception, and then went back to the lobby to hang out with the Friday keynote speaker, none other than Stephen Abram. It was a blast getting to know him as he entertained our bunch for quite a while that evening. Best, I was surrounded once again by my reader (Joyce Valenza, Gwyneth Jones, Diane Cordell, Chris Harris, Stephen Abram,and so many more!) My sons often tease about all my virtual friends. Well fellas, they were very much real and face to face in Chicago this weekend. Clyde (son 1 who goes to school in Chicago) got an introduction to a few when he dropped by to visit me for a while Saturday around noon.
So what I will try to do is highlight the speakers memorable to me, adding quotes or comments that have resonated in my mind. Note that parts of the activities were modeled after the infamous Ted Talks, and we were encouraged to get up and take breaks when necessary. I tried to perform exit interviews for the more “ted-like” sessions, so I missed some presenters here and there. Overall, though, the Summit focused on “The Future of Reading,” and many interpretations were brought to the summit, including everything from 21st century, ebooks, literacy, transliteracy, and even media literacy.
Kick Off: Brian Kenney
The summit kicked off with Brian Kenney, editor in chief of the School Library Journal summarizing what many have already figured out, that the terms “chaos, confusion, and creativity” all can be used to characterize the future of reading.
Friday Keynote: Stephen Abrams
The summit was then turned over to Stephen Abrams, who challenged us to consider a question: Does the future happen to you or do you create it? He challenged us to end the victim mindset, and take our destiny into our hands.
Related to that comment, he pointed out that a notable trend lately has been to get rid of school librarians since there are tools (circulations systems for managing books, the Internet to meet information needs) that can do the job. He then suggested we counter back that the schools should also fire the bookkeepers and accountants, as there are calculators that can do their job. It’s the same concept. We need to make sure everyone knows what our job is and that we are needed for that job.
Abram predicts that we are five years away from 50% of books being on e-readers. Knowing our dilemmas in the library (proprietary issues, cost, device specific formats, etc.) he posed this question: “Since when did we let manufacturers of hardware determine how we get our information?” (My question is hey Apple, Amazon, are you hearing this??) Abram proclaims the debate over print vs e-books has become silly. Print books are important, but not the only way to experience reading. Essentially, it does not matter the container. What matters is that our students are reading.
Here is Abram’s slide deck for is keynote, filled with food for thought.
Chris Harris – Plotting Digital Resources: a purchasing framework for electronic sources
Chris compared the search for collection development to math and plotting dimensions. Interacting with those near us we used our arms to create an x-axis, a y-xis, and even added vertical and horizontal. He explained that with the move toward embracing other literacies as well as other formats for reading, we are quickly moving towards a multifaceted, multi-dimensional interface in general. It was also impressed upon us that in order to model the plots he gave, it took team work. From this I took that we need to work together to express our needs, or better, make our demands known regarding e-books in our collection. He reminded the vendors in the room clearly and quite loudly, “If I BUY something I own it!” He said what matters is that kids are reading and loving the experience. Chris says we need to get beyond foaming over formats to nurturing the passion. He strongly recommended that all in the audience have a look at the iPad interactive app e-book format of the new interactive book available called Sink your fangs into a Dracula.
As an avid fan of Ted Talks, this was the sole presenter’s session to me that really felt and behaved like a Ted Talks session. Now mind you I missed some while doing the exit interviews I was assigned to do at the summit.
Joyce Valenza – Ebooks and more questions
Joyce’s session was about all the questions that have arisen in her quest to conceptually understand how an e-book can be a successful device in her school library, especially when considering the vast issues that had already been brought up (proprietary devices, e-books formats that do not cross platforms or devices, how to get content on them, the issue of money and credit lines to make acquisitions, number for devices that e-books can be simultaneously shared on, etc.) She reminded us that for the first time ever, e-books outsell hardcovers through the Amazon site. So what are the implications for schools? More specifically, she asks, where is the school model for implementing e-books? While there are some schools having success implemting their own models, there is no consistency or even pattern to help others who want to dive in to pattern themselves after. It’s like being a pioneer, feeling your way along on how to purchase, get e-books, and implement a successful program. So what holds many back? There are so many more unanswered questions than actual advice. For this reason, there is an urgent need for school librarians to be involved in vendor decision-making and development. But many hold back for fear that what they jump in and buy now (still at a steep expense) may no longer be the application or device of the future. How many schools in these slim budgetary times can afford to make such a leap of faith? The problem is not desire or faith, but rather cost and fear for how the market will go. So essentially we end this session with more questions than answers.
It is satisfying to know that a lead practicing librarian such as Joyce Valenza has echoed aloud many of the same questions I have. She is one step ahead in the game as her school is implementing a Kindle program for a small group of struggling readers. We will all await anxiously to read or hear about the program and its effectiveness.
I am being reminded that I must take my own advice that I dish out all the time–in order to understand how any of this can work in my own educational context, I too must jump in. This makes me feel somewhat guilty that I haven’t jumped in and bought an e-reader device of any kind, my excuse being expense, no definite fore runner for education, etc. Okay so now I want one, or two, or three….all different kinds.
Mother/Daughter duo Kathy Parker and Sara Evans – Re-Kindle kids with a Passion for Reading-Implementing an E Reader Pilot Program
This sessions was another well planned out session, as daughter Sara Evans took the approach of interviewing her mom on the beginnings of the now 180+kindles used in her elementary school program. The pilot program as she referred to it seems to be solidly implemented (at least I feel comfortably saying this knowing they have 180+ kindles in use in her school.)
School Library Journal recently had a spread on this program if you want to read more about it. The article titled “Librarian Brings Kindles into the Classroom” is available online. (Note to self-go back and re read this one!!) Kathy and Sara also recommend we go back and have a look at the link for Kindle for Educators.
On a side note, I learned that Kathy Parker is none other than the author of Marian’s Librarian. See? I told you I was surrounded by my reader at the summit.
Don Leu, John and Maria Neag Endowed Chair in Literacy and Technology, and Director, The News Literacies Research Lab, University of Connectitcut
The session, titled “The Future of Reading: Misalignments of Public Policy, Assessment, and Instruction in an Online World of New Literacies” was quite dynamic. Often Leu felt like he was preaching to the choir. But his content was still invigorating and quenching a needed thirst for substantiating what many already believe about instruction in online environments. So first let me share a link to his slide deck.
- Leu’s online reading model looks very Big 6ish–Define problem – locate- evaluate – synthesize – communicate
- 75% of adults reading health sites online do not validate the source; higher for students.
- Leu says Wikipedia is “awesome for teaching critical reading.” Agreed.
- Leu showing notorious MLK site by hate group. I’m surprised by how many seem not to have seen it (I heard audible gasps in room).
- OMG! Don Leu is the author of the famous Pacific Tree Octopus website! I did not know that.
- In a study, Leu checked 50 students ability to evaluate with his Tree Octopus site. Eight students identified it as questionable. Only eight. He said interestingly enough, all eight were from the state of South Carolina. (Can I say “REPRESENT?!!) He sent some researchers to interview the kids on why they were able to tell, and they all said they had been taught by their school librarian to evaluate websites. (Can I say once again “REPRESENT?!!)
- Librarians help groom students for 21st century challenges.
- Successful school libraries = ones that move beyond “gathering” information to “transforming” information to knowledge.
- Technology will not replace librarians, it will elevate them.
Andres Henriquez sharing this video–The Future of the Book
Andres Henriquez makes the point that e-readers will be building the future of reading, basing this on 4 million US homes have currently have e-book readers. Henriquez calls this shift to digital reading and e-readers as “an incredible moment in reading history.” He reminds us that we are so fortunate to live interesting times.
Carnegie Corp has been working on the Advancing Literacy Initiative for 9 years. Dr. Elizabeth Snow, Harvard Professor and another panelist from this session, confesses that libraries and librarians are not mentioned or consulted in any way in the report, and only now are they realizing the oversight. The report, still in draft form, Time to Act (Carnegie Report on Reading) did not deal with libraries or technologies. The panel suggests we as librarians make suggestions for improving the document, and then we will be a part of the evolving work (still in draft form.) (In the back of my mind, I wonder if this is being said to appease us….) There were two other panelists, Dale Lipschultz, from the American Library Association, and Gina Biancarosa, Assistant Professor, University of Oregon. My big take away (other than librarians may be asked to read over and make recommendations for the document still in draft form) came from Dr. Snow. She reiterated something the Neu had emphasized in his earlier presentation: It is very important to teach students how to read like a scientists and write like historian. Content area teachers are teachers of reading and literacy. Much of online reading underscores this beleif.