I took the day to reflect on what I have learned about virtual libraries. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the luxury of a week like I did last time! As I suspected, I was fairly accurate in what I thought a virtual library was, having had personal experience with the University and public library, and what it wasn’t. Sites like the Pembina Trails Infozone and LearnAlberta.ca would be a part of a larger library website.
What was the most troubling was the name: virtual library, electronic library, digital library. These are all synonyms. I wish I knew that when I started. Most have similar features but it still depends on the unique needs of the users.
Early in the week I had an epiphany about virutal libraries and how they connect to Web 2.0 under the umbrella of Libraries 2.0 and more specifically School Libraries 2.0.
In planning for a virtual library, it is important to consider the needs of both the students and teachers. It would be very easy to go over board with links, however, it is meant to be a point of access, a starting point for research highlighting a variety of high quality information and supportive teaching tools that link to the school’s inquiry model. It is no sense spending time putting things in that won’t be used or worse, overwhelm the user.
I know teachers often have favorite sites that they like to use to support teaching and learning. Those could be used as a place to start creating subject specific pathfinders. If teachers know where they are on the school library website, they can let their students know as well and then neither would have to type URLs into browsers. Easy navigation is essential. It should only be a couple clicks away. Teachers and Teacher-Librarians should be collaborating on the content that will be most helpful to students as they complete projects, assignments and course work. I like how the virtual library represents the culture of collaboration, inquiry and celebration of learning.
School doors may close at four but the library is open 24/7! If students are introduced to the virtual library at school, and develop the habit of making it their staring point, then I think they will be more likely to use it at home, particularly if they think it has “cool stuff.” Students could even have a hand in desiging it. I would love to show students Valenza’s page then have a competition to do one unique to our school. Of course, I’d have to learn how to link an image map . . . maybe one of the students already knows how.
The idea of a virtual library built in a wiki is very appealing to me. I dread the thought of FrontPage and ftp having spent so much time with them in the past. With pbwiki for example, I could design the layout or structure then give teachers the password and they could add and annotate the links for their subject specific wiki page. We could collaborate together just like my colleague and I did as we researched virtual libraries.
I find the fluidity between physical and virtual library spaces facinating. Somewhere I read a suggestion to project your webpage on a wall in your library to showcase it. It could also be made into a slideshare. Another idea was to think about how your online presence could support the physical space. Students could listen to a podcast booktalking the new YRCA books then come to the library to sign out the one they want.
The benefits of virtual libraries far out weigh the costs. The majority of the time is spend in the initial design. Updates, particularly if using a 2.0 tool, can be done in a snap. Virtual librairies are a necessity required by students ensure success in navigating the new digital landscape.
Morris (2005) outlines many benefits and obstacles of virtual libraries. I have suplemented them with ones I found in other articles and my own thoughts of how the obstacles can be overcome.
Benefits of Virtual Libraries
1. Anytime, anywhere access – Reference material that traditionally could not be removed can now be used outside of the physical library (McCaffrey, 2004); students can access their school library at home, at a friend’s or relative’s house or the public library.
2. Tutorials support independent inquiry. The student finds out what they need to know when they need to know it – like the web 2.0 tutorials that we use as we are learning the tools.
3. Students learn information & critical literacy skills in context.
4. Students are explosed to a vast array of information sources. They look beyond Google.
5. The focus is on curriculum and the school’s learning goals and priorities for students.
6. Students build confidence knowing that items have been provided and checked by an expert (Mardis, 2003).
7. Diminishes digital divide by providing access and instruction on use for all.
8. Materials are not lost.
Virtual Library Obstacles include a lack of
1. Technology skills and professional development, both of which I believe can be overcome if there is a desire to learn. The problem I see is people don’t know what they don’t know. Someone needs to take the lead in showing what there is out there.
2. Time is divided between webmaster, face-to-face instruction and reader advisory, and collection development (Casey & Savastinuk). I wonder where I will carve out time to design a virtual library that meets the diverse needs of learners with a variety of information skills and reading abilities. However, once I do, it will be very easy to maintain if I choose to build it using a blog or wikis and enlist the assistance of teachers who can add links to support their instruction.
3. Understanding of the role of Teacher-Librarians – A virtual library, coupled with collaboration with teachers, can help educate the school community about the role of a TL.
4. Confidence in the future of the profession – Fuller (2005) calls this “a triple-edged sword.” The power to reach any student causes a “fear of disintermediation” (where students bypass information and technology specialists and go straight to the information) and a “threat to democracy posed by the widening gap between the information haves and havenots.”
I don’t believe “disintermediation” to be an issue. With the vast quantities of information, experts are required to point students and teachers to the gems and teach others about how to manage and analyze information. TLs are these people.
As the world becomes flatter I believe the digital divide is getting smaller. People have access to information through technology, either personally or in public spaces. Schools are moving in the direction of ensuring students have skills to be able to move independently through the information. The democracy comes into play when people decide whether or not they wish to use their skills to participate.
5. Funding and Political Support can also be overcome by using many of the Web 2.0 tools. However, if there isn’t a teacher librarian in a school, who will build the virtual library?
What impact to libraries have on actual library space? What impact do they have on planning the layout of the library? These two questions were posed to me by a colleague who is working with the high school’s library committee to redesign their physical library space and create an online library presense.
These questions are addressed by Lippincott (2005) in “Net Generation Students and Libraries,” a chapter in Educating the Net Generation edited by Oblinger and Oblinger. Despite the focus on post-secondary libraries, I believe the suggestions can also be applied to school libraries.
Lippincott says that the physical space will still remain important as it provides a place where work can be completed in a social context. “As libraries renovate facilities incorporating technology, they are also making them more suitable for student group work, informal socializing, and ubiquitous computing.”
Library Physical Spaces
“Students will flock to library facilities that offer environments conducive to Net Gen learners….”
“Many academic libraries are…transforming part of their physical space into information commons [example at U of T], multimedia production areas, classrooms or all three.”
“While there is no one widely accepted definition of an information commons, generally it is a physical space, not always in a library, that incorporates many workstations,… offers workspace for individuals and groups, provides comfortable furniture, and has staff that can support activities related to access to information and use of technology to develop new products.” “[A]s users download and stream more books online, the media center as a physical location is morphing, dovetailing with another trend…, where software exits less on a physical computer desktop, and more online…” (Barack, 2007).
“These new types of library spaces communicate a welcoming attitude to Net Gen students. They are the opposite of old-style formal reference rooms where students were expected to sit on straight wooden chairs and work individually and silently, without access to technology. Instead, these spaces project a comfortable, relaxed environment, a celebration of technology, and an invitation to communicate.”
“Developing library content, services, and environments that are responsive to Net Gen students can achieved by examining the characteristics of those students and making a conscious effort to address deficiencies…”
In “Guiding the Googlers,” St Lifer (2005) asks, “If the world’s library holdings are eventually online, how do we defend the use of the physical library? We can’t and we shouldn’t.” I disagree! Rather, I ask what does the space mean or represent? Life long learning? Celebration of new knowlege and understanding? Community? Love of reading? I don’t believe that libraries will become completely virtual. While non-fiction and periodicals may become more digitazed there will always be readers who will like to curl up with a good book!
“Librarians can continue to use their information skills to be the gatekeepers of essential knowledge, to guide students through an ever expanding online world, and to play a leading role in honing students’ critical thinking skills and promoting inquiry-based learning. Librarians need to help organize this frontier into something more meaningful. Otherwise the Internet risks runs the risk of devolving into a Googlized version of virtual reality-one in which Google becomes the arbiter of what is relevant” (St Lifer, 2005).
The Shifted Librarian pointed me to Rybczynski who asks “What sort of public library does the “digital world” of Google, Wikipedia, and Kindle require? Even though he is speaking about public libraries, I think his answer also relates to how school libraries are changing as well. In response to Ross Dawson, a business consultant who speculates that public libraries will disappear by 2019, Rybczynski says that “in its mutating role as urban hangout, meeting place, and arbiter of information, the public library seems far from spent. This has less to do with the digital world–or the digital word–than with the age-old need for human contact.” As the nature of communication changes, so does the nature of libraries including school libraries.
As I researched virtual libraries, every article I read seemed to present a new and different reason why students should have access to virtual libraries. For me, the quotes speak for themselves. I know that administrators and district officials often wonder what the academics have to say. As such, I have titled them with their main theme. The headings summarize the reasons while the quotes offer further explanation. I started with the student and ended with where they will one day be – in the world of work.
“In the 21st century, we live in a digital, online environment. Periodicals, general nonfiction, and reference works are readily available and widely accepted in electronic format. Our patrons like this electronic environment. Library media specialists who ignore the fact that students prefer information in electronic format will be left behind. To survive and thrive in the 21st century, school libraries must rethink collections and services. Collections must include electronic resources, and services must be designed to reach patrons who are outside the physical library walls” (Church, 2005).
Information Equity & Diminishing the Digital Divide
By connecting students to the wealth of high quality digital resources that are online, we are opening up the world to them. By incorporating tutorials, we are helping them to be critical of the information that they take in. No tools and no webpage equals no access and no equity. Every student should have access to high quality resources. (Valenza, 2006)
Standards and Curriculum
The AASL Standards for the 21st-Century Learner define nine foundational beliefs related to reading, inquiry, ethical use of information, technology skills, equitable access, information literacy, thinking skills, the social nature of learning and essential role of school libraries. As I read it, I was struck by how much they reminded me of Focus on Inquiry and the Information and Communication Technology Outcomes, elements of which are a part of all our provincial curricula. Even though these are not course specific, they are important in ensuring our students are prepared for their future. Fuller (2005) writes, “[w]eb design based on solid educational and learning theory must drive site development.”
Information Literacy and Critical Literacy
Church reminds us, “[t]here is so much good information our there, and it is out job as library media specialists to point our students to it! There is so much bad information out there, and it is our job to teach students how to evaluate what they find….If we are to help students become information-literate-critical assessors, evaluators, and users of information-we have to meet them on the Web and provide library service and instruction online, at the point of need.”
“A virtual library can become an integral part of the instructional culture of the school. Serving as a school’s instructional archive, the site shares collaboratively developed lessons, WebQuests, rubrics, handouts, organziers, and research scaffolds. Archiving…online encourages sharing among teachers and reinforces learning across grades and disciplines” (Valenza, 2006). Some websites also include FAQs or Ask a Librarian a librarian services such as the Rochester School Library System and the Florida Virtual School which sponsored a video competition to promote its services.
Keeping Libraries Relevant
“To maintain relevance, the 21st century school library must expand and reinterpret library service. Existing both offline and online, it must offer around-the-clock access as well as instruction and guidance that support face-to-face interactions of students with librarians and classroom teachers. The school virtual library offers young people both independence and intervention, guiding learners through the complicated and often overwhelming processes of finding and using information….Librarians can tame the information chaos that students may experience by providng customized user-centered interfaces that create order as they offer instruction.” (Valenza, 2006).
Research Starting Point
“When people say that Springfield Township’s library is the heart and brain of the school, they are also referring to its virtual counterpart, which is the repository of around-the-clock instruction. The virtual library has become students’ and teachers’ starting point for research — their access to rich and meaningful resources and learning.”
Ubiquitous Libraries – Anytime, Anywhere
Valenza says “[u]biquity changes everything. In one-to-one schools, students visit the library less frequently. In such environments, in all modern, truly relevant environments, library [must] also be ubiquitous. Library MUST be everywhere. Librarians must teach everywhere, in and outside the library. And I think we need to redefine library. We must be ready to scale our instructional voice, as well as our resources. And we must make libraries just for me, just in time, all the time.”
Window on Each Student’s Desktop
“Library must find a way to be a window on a students’ desktops. We must present ourselves as a real adult who knows the students, their techers, their learning and recreational needs, their curricula. Library space, off- and online, is for the whole information fluency process; for displaying; for archiving the information and communication work of the whole school; for organizing collections that look far different from the ones I once collected.” I can’t help but think of how Valenza’s school library website is visted more outside of school hours than during school.
Evidence Based Practice
“Studies done by Keith Curry Lance and others in numerous states http://www.lrs.org/impact.php show that academic achievement is higher in schools where library media programs have quality collections, library media specialists take an active role in curriculum and instruction, information literacy is taught, and information technology is used effectively. All of these elements come into play with virtual school libraries. (Church, 2005). Ross Todd writes about how to collect evidence that demonstrates the power of the school library.
“We must create relevant landscapes for learners. If we are to meet learners’ needs with quality resources, and if our goal is to graduate learners who enter the worlds of academia and business with 21st century information skills, there is no time to waste” (Valenza, 2006). This reminds me of the Donham (2007) article “Graduating students who are not only learned but also learners” that we read in Topic 1.
The World of Work
“In communicating the results of their research, students should be using the current tools of business and academia, and librarians should be introducing these opportunities to students” (Valenza, 2006).
Like Rhonda, I’ve identified nine content features. However, I’ve combined library information with the home page, separated ethical use of information from curriculum and added a visual/interactive category. I found “The Virtual Library” written by Valenza (2005) to be an invaluable resource.
Valenza suggests that the library home page be a picture, a visual metaphor, of an online information environment. However, her school’s library homepage is the only one that I have seen that uses an image map. Instead many use clip art or are starting to use digital photos to link to the information. Still others provide still images like Senioritis or slideshares of pictures of their physical library to connect the physical and virtual spaces. Winnipeg’s Ecole Charleswood Junior High Library has combined a still picture of a part of their library and the goals, yet another element of a virtual library, on their wiki opening page.
Most library webpages link to any number of the following from an introductory page: general library information, catalogue, databases, and subject links and/or pathfinders for students and teachers. Valenza also suggests style manuals, reference tools and bibliography help. On some library webpages academic material is on the left, reading for pleasure and personal interest is on the right and announcements are front and centre. Resources for students and teachers are kept separate for ease of navigation (Pappas, 2004).
If something is out of sight, it is often out of mind. When it comes time to search, students often revert to Google that is familiar and habitual. I love Valenza’s saying, “although Google rocks, it’s not the only band in town.” By identifying a variety of age-appropriate search options students become more familiar with the different ways they function and with the invisible or deep Web that does not turn up in general search engines (Mardis, 2003; Fuller, 2005). Subject specific search tools, subject portals, search engines, subject directories, metasearch tools, e-books such as those found at Follett (Church, 2005) and Gale (McCaffrey (2004), primary source docuents and databases are all possibilities. I like the idea of annotations or descriptions popping up as mouse overs.
If we want students to look beyond Google and other commercial search engines, we must point them to the quality resources that we want them to use. Valenza promises that once students experience databases they wonder how they ever lived without them. This student created video helps educate students about the benefits of databases and promote them at the same time. However, in my exploration of virtual libraries, many still include Google as a search suggestion but pair it with instruction. Rather than banning students who so obviously love to use it, teach them about how it works and how to use it properly.
By providing age appropriate examples of references for sources (on and offline) and explaining school-wide expecations for referencing, student frustration will be spared and respect for information will fulfilled. Links can also connect students to more outside examples or citation generators.
The virtual library also serves as a place to share curriculum online. Instructional resources, collaborative lessons, handouts, graphic organizers and student work can be archived for easy access. This way students receive instructional support at point of need. Pappas (2004) outlines two forms: tutorials (details steps supported with images) and guides or help sheets (more concise supported by fewer images). It sends a strong message to all members of the school community that the library, both online and off, is the centre of learning. By moving beyond instruction of specific resources to selection, evaluation and synthesis, students learn the importance of the information process and critical literacy (Pappas, 2004).
Web-based pathfinders reduce cognitive overload by providing customized resources to meet a particular need. When students pick a hyperlinked topic, they are taken to a page that can include any number of the following: concepts, definitions, keywords, questions, call numbers for books and references, periodicals, databases, subject portals, websites, streaming media, primary sources, blogs, wikis, etc. Valenza says “pathfinders enable librarians to intervene in — but not take over — the research process to ensure students cover all research bases.” Students who are accustomed to roaming free on the internet or teachers who permit them to do this may question the use of pathfinders. Isn’t that doing the research for them? By pointing students to high quality resources students are encouraged to use a variety and instead spend more time thinking critically about the information they find. Structuring meaningful experiences for both studnets and teachers will aid in understanding of the purpose of pathfinders.
In discussing pathfinders, Kuntz,” says “[t]he bottom line is that we are supporting students by guiding them through the gridlock of the information highway, assisting them in the development of effective search strategies, and helping them to understand that information is available in a variety of formats and from many resources, places and people.”
By building a virtual library using a blog or wiki or linking to one, news, events, additions, book discussions and assignment support can be easily updated without knowledge of code or ftp. It is then possible for members of the school community – students, staff or parents – to subscribe through an RSS feed when the page is updated. Others are also able to contribute by commenting, or collaborate by adding content to the virtual library if this is offered as an option either through blogging, a wiki or through social bookmarking. There is a list of school libary blogs at the blogging libraries wiki. Wikis have the added benefit of no longer requiring server space while students collaborate and teachers can monitor content changes through an aggregator. While the Galileo Academy of Science and Technology’s Li-blog-ary has been cited in many of my readings, I don’t find the colors or font visually appealing. While this is important to consider, you also can’t please everyone. Hopefully, as users become accustomed to using the virtual library they will also become accustomed to its visual features. Valenza suggests wiki pathfinders are even better because you can edit them anywhere and allow others to do so as well if you so choose.
Lippincott (2005) calls for visual, interactive services as well. Valenza (2006) suggests links to other classes, museums, subject experts and a media pathfinder of free and subscription streaming media. Students may use the links to connect to a virtual reading group with students, teachers or other adults from near and far or a discussion with an academic from the community’s university or one on the other side of the world. I remember having my students email questions to a Tolstoy expert in Toronto. Now, with permission, the responses could be posted on a school’s virtual library for everyone to read. I love the British Museum’s learning website, one part of which is dedicated to Mughal India. Students can click on different objects in a virtual room to learn more about them.
Students could be connected to research and information literacy sites such as those suggested by Junion-Metz (2004). While I haven’t explored it in its entirety, the 30-minute Texas Information Literacy Tutorial or TILT for short provides information on six topics. Even though it is geared towards university students, it could be used with high school students. I like it’s simplicity and interactivity. While the content may be good, for me Research 101 lacks visual appeal so I didn’t stick around. KVYL How to Do Research is yet another example although very American in its color scheme. While these sites may be helful in the short term or provide ideas for creating your own instructional support tools, it is important to provide support for the specific inquiry model that your school employs. Pappas (2004) stipulates “[d]evelopers of virtual websites need to select a process model and consistently follow that model throughout all the instructional resources.” Pembina Trails School Division INFOZONE provides yet another example of instruction (in the left sidebar) integrated with resources down the centre.
A site map is a necessity for a virtual library (Pappas, 2004). It can be text or visual like this homebase for the Research Rocket. The latter is only a map for the research tutorial and not for a complete web library but it shows how a map can be an image rather than words alone. The visual sitemap I think could work for junior high students but the portal and its contents are definitely geared towards a younger audience. These examples illustrate the need for age appropriateness to be applied to content and visual appeal.
Thankfully, resources exist online to assist in building a school library website or virtual library. Rhonda’s suggested Valenza’s Webquest about School Libraries. I hadn’t come across this one before. When I read it I must admit I felt very overwhelmed thinking how long does it take to do all this? But then I reminded myself of what I wrote reflecting on my own experiences with virtual libraries: start small. That’s why, as a beginner, I like this Virtual Library Design which is divided into advocacy, information and instruction.
A curriculum based virtual library sends a strong message to the school community. The school values meaningful and engaging learning through inquiry. Through the information process, students learn critical literacy, information literacy and information ethics. The school library page can serve as a celebration of learning where students publish for the world, contributing to the global body of knowledge.
Valenza (2006) defines a school virtual libraries this way:
“Designed and maintained by school libraries, virtual libraries are multipage online resources devoted to the needs of their specific learning communities. From a home page, users access search engines, databases, references, and general library and school information. “
In some articles (Pappas, 2003; Morris, 2005) the terms cybraries and cybrarians were used but, thankfully, I don’t think these have caught on. I wouldn’t want to be called a cybrarian.
Fuller (2005) states “terminology hampers a researcher wishing to locate these sites” as they can be described as digital , virtual or electronic (Pappas, 2005). In my own search, I used virtual library yet many of Ronda’s references use the phrase school library web site. Given this example, consistency or awareness of synonymous names continues to be an issue.
It’s interesting to compare Valenza’s definition to one quoted by Pappas (2003) from five years ago: “a library unconstrained by space, geographic location, or specific type of computer system.” We’ve come a long way, focusing more on the people rather than geography or technology.
As I consider my reading audience, I’m guessing that they are wondering about the nuances of all these 2.0 terms just like I am. This time I decided to focus my exploration of terms on different versions of 2.0. Since Web 2.0 was the first I put it at the top of the list. After that I put School Library 2.0 as it directly relates to our topic this week. A school library is a special library as it supports curriculum in a school. It is still a Library none the less so I included the bigger picture of Library 2.0 which, as I understand it, is related to the work in public libraries. As I read about Library 2.0, I often replaces users with students. I believe the message is still important. I also included some other versions of 2.0 including Staff Development 2.0 (Jakes, 2006) that we learned about in Topic 2.
Web 2.0 . . . How It All Began
“pervasive interactivity, where multitudes of users online actively exchange or contribute content…transform the very nature of knowledge and information” (Harris, 2006); also referred to as the Read/Write Web; video and slideshare available at web2tutorial links and resources or Judy Web 2.0 Notes.
School Library 2.0
“24/7 workspace; learning-centred laboratory; participatory, social, user-centered space; librarians are connectors; community of trust emphasizing personal responsibility; place for interactive learning and collaboration with others” (quoted by Will Richardson from School Library Journal Summit Wiki )
In a presentation to the British Columbia Library Association, Marylaine Block quoted the following definition of Library 2.0:
“Library 2.0 simply means making your library’s space (virtual and physical) more interactive, collaborative, and driven my community needs.” Sarah Houghton-Jan
Casey and Savastinuk (2006) explain it extensively in their Library Journal article:
“The heart is user-centered change. It is a model for library service that encourages constant and purposeful change, inviting user participation in the creation of both the physical and virtual servies they want, supported by consistently evaluating services….Each component by itself is a step toward better serving our users; however it is through the combined implementation of these that we can read Library 2.0.”
“What makes a service Library 2.0? Any service, physical or virtual, that successfully reaches users, is evaluated frequently, and makes use of customer input is a Library 2.0 service. Even older traditional services can be Library 2.0 if criteria are met. Similarly, being new is not enough to make a service Library 2.0.”
“Currently, libraries have a tendency to plan, implement, and forget. Library 2.0 attempts to change this by encouraging the development of a schedule that includes regularly soliciting [student] feedback and evaluating and updating services. Both new and existing library services should be revisited routinely to ensure that they are still meeting expected goals. Even older, traditional library services should be reviewed with a fresh eye to determine if any aspect needs updating.”
This relates to Ross Todd’s evidence based practice. He suggests we “[m]ove away from advocating the value of school libraries and start documenting tangible outcomes.” Keith Curry Lance provides examples.
“Many tools and ideas will come from the world of Web 2.0, and many will have nothing to do with technology. The specifics of the Library 2.0 model will be different for each library system. Every library has a different starting point. Through collaboration between staff and users, you wil be able to develop a clear idea of how this model will work for your organization” (Casey and Savastinuk, 2006).
Building on this, I believe the specifics of the School Library 2.0 will be different for each school library. Everyone is starting at a different point regarding information literacy, critical literacy and inquiry. Different staff. Different skills. Different levels of confort and knowledge. Even different inquiry model. Someone asked me why we don’t have a district virtual library. I think the answer stems from the fact that the content of a school’s virtual library is based on the needs of the students and teachers in the school. Each school has a different focus and has has students complete projects. One size does not fit all.
Other 2.0 Terms
Classrooms 2.0 a social networking site for those interested in Web 2.0 and collaborative technologies (site)
Curriculum 2.0 “is about creating “habits” for the 21st century learner” (newliteracy.wikispaces.com).
Schools 2.0 “discussion of how education, learning, and our physical school spaces can (or should) change because of the changing nature of our social and economic lives brought on by these technologies” (site)
Staff Development 2.0
“In a digital age, high-quality professional development means tech-infused training that measurably impacts student achievement” (Jakes, 2006).
Terms Related to 2.0
long tail coined by Wired editor-in chief Chris Anderson (2004); in contrast to the demand for all things popular, long tail aims to tap into the market that is not interested in what is popular; “going after the diverse long tail requires a combination of physical and virtual services, a move underway in many libraries” (Casey and Savastinuk, 2006).
“the cleaner, faster Internet formerly used only be universities and research institutions” (Valenza, 2006)
Before I jump in and start exploring further, I thought I would reflect on my own experiences with virtual libraries or a library’s presense online. Through that, I thought I would distill some of the features I appreciate being able to access online at a library’s website.
I frequently visit the Edmonton Public Library. I love being able to make my requests online and going to my location of choice to pick them up. While notices can be emailed, I still prefer the automated phone system. Somehow, I think that if I skim an email, I will forget about my hold and then it will be sent back. With a phone call I feel I am more likely to respond. Maybe one day when I collect my email from my phone I will think differently!
Other than the catalogue, hold and renew functions, I also like to see what is new and exciting at the library. They often exhibit the art online that is on display in the gallery at the branch downtown. There are also different programs promoting reading for kids, teens and adults.
I have used the databases on occasion, although I must admit, I often forget they are there. The library also has pathfinders, although I didn’t know their official name until my last course. I found the first one on the list on an Aboriginal theme to be invaluable when I was completing a virtual seminar a few courses ago.
I also use the University of Alberta Libraries. I often wonder what I would do if I wasn’t a student and didn’t have immediate access to the e-journals and databases. While we do have access to ProQuest through our district, I wouldn’t have access to all the other resources available through the library website. (Someone mentioned the Alberta Library Card that would give me similar access. I will have to check it out.) I’m grateful for the ability to be able to request books from other libraries that will arrive at Coutts for pick up, my location of choice. When I was completing my undergrad, I would search for the books I needed at home then go find them on the shelves knowing where they would be. Now I can request them online and they will be ready in the self-serve holds for self-checkout.
I don’t know exactly when I learned about the Live Help or Instant Messaging service that U of A Libraries offers but I remember being impressed that they were taking the bold step. I thought it was very cutting edge for them at the time as I had never heard of any other library doing it. It wasn’t until we explored social bookmarking that I learned what the del.icio.us, digg or Reddit links were for.
As a user, the only downside that I see to a library’s virtual presence on the internet is the need for maintenance and upgrading of the system. There is no good time to do this, however, it always seems to be when I am online rather than when I am sleeping!
At the beginning of this course I visted those virtual libraries linked to from the course weblinks section including the Prince of Wales Secodary School Library page. I liked how it was simple and I didn’t have to scroll far. However, after reading Valenza’s suggestions to use real images instead of clipart, that would be my preference. The Singapore American School library pages are divided into primary, intermediate, middle school and high school which makes sense to me when you have a multilevel school of 3800 students!
I also visted the M.E. LaZerte High School Library page. I like how clean and simple it is. It is not overwhelming and I don’t need to scroll – either down or to the right (I have a small monitor so I find myself having to do this with many pages these days to be able to see the whole page). One might assume that there wouldn’t be a lot of content but there is as you drill down deeper into the site which includes content for both students and teachers.
Early on in the course, I visited the Pembina Trails Infozone. Because it’s focus is only on supporting reasearch I assume that it is not a virtual library. Sites like LearnAlberta.ca, which provides access to curriculum related materials, databases and online encyclopedias through the Online Reference Centre, would also be linked to from school library webpages.
Last but not least, I love Joyce Valenza’s Springfield Township HS Virtual Library. As Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe talk about in Understanding by Design (1998, 2005), with backwards design you need to know what the end goal will be. I think that Valenza’s page is an ultimate goal, however, I think that it is intimidating and if it is the first website that you see you might throw in the towel even before you start because it might seem impossible. Rather, I think it is important to start small and not become overwhelmed, instead creating in manageable pieces with short term goals leading to the long term goal of a comprehensive virtual school library presence.
My exploration was through a junior and senior high lens. I have yet to created a virtual library for my own school and am currently sharing what I have learned about virtual libraries with a colleague at a high school that is in the planning stages of their virtual library. “Web design experts consider age- and grade- specific access points essential to good Web design….[T]he stage where anything is better than nothing has passed….Further exploration of Web design is essential, particularly challenging the one-size-fits-all link approach, which short changes both high school and elementary” (Fuller, 2005).
I have decided to include my references here. For me it doesn’t make sense to include them at the end which would be the top of the page. This way they will be at the end when you scroll down.
Church, A.P. virtual school libraries-the time is now! MultiMedia & internet@schools, 12(2), 8-13. Retrieved January 14, 2008 from ProQuest.
Donham, J. (2007). graduating students who are not only learned but also learners. Teacher librarian, 35(8), 8-12. Retrieved January 18, 2007 from ProQuest.
Fuller, D. (2005). State-level support of k-12 virtual libraries. Knowledge quest, 33(3), 25-29. Retrieved February 22, 2008 from ProQuest.
Junion-Metz, G. (2004). Desperately seeking study skills. School library journal, 50(6), 30. Retrieved February 22, 2008 from ProQuest.
Kuntz, K. (2003). Pathfinders: Helping studnets find paths to information. MultiMedia schools, 10(3), 12-15. Retrieved February 1, 2008 from ProQuest.
Mardis, M. (2003). Uncovering the hidden web. Principal leadership, 4(3), 62. Retrieved February 22, 2008 from ProQuest.
McCaffrey, Meg. (2004). 24/7 library. School library journal 50(3), 32-33. Retrieved February 22 2008 from ProQuest.
Morris, B.J. (2005). The emerging school library media center from teh past into the future: A keynote article. Knowledge quest, 33(5), 22-27. Retrieved February 22, 2008 from ProQuest.
Pappas, M. L. (2004). Finding information on the state virtual libraries. School library media activities monthly, 20(5), 30. Retrieved February 22 from ProQuest.
St Lifer, E. (2005). Guiding the Googlers. School library journal, 51(1), 11. Retrieved February 22, 2008 from ProQuest.
Todd, R. J. (2003). Irrefutable evidence. School library journal, 49(4), 52-53. Retrieved February 1, 2008 from ProQuest.
Valenza, J. (2006). The virtual library. Educational leadership, 63(4), 54-59. Retrieved February 22, 2008 from EBSCO.