Tag Archives: #RL2013

Information Literacy by stealth #RL2013

Imagine a tool that encourages students to evaluate, appreciate, consider, review, question their sources. Imagine a tool that encourages people to contribute to a global source of information. Imagine a tool that everybody has heard of. Imagine teaching & learning about information literacy without actually using the words “information literacy”.

There is such a tool. Wikipedia.

In our final event for 2013, Sara Roberts from the University of Canterbury shared her experiences of using Wikipedia in the classroom, as a tool for teaching information literacy & for contributing knowledge to a globally recognised information repository.

An enthusiastic UC Law lecturer identified a specific subject gap in Wikipedia, and set herself the Professional Development goal to contribute to the professional body of knowledge in her specialist area. Human Rights in Tonga is the page created by UC Law lecturer, Natalie Baird. She also decided to set her 3rd year Law students an assignment to create, edit &/or update Wikipedia content. She invited Sara Roberts from the UC Library to be an integral part of the learning partnership.

I love that students, lecturer & librarian were all involved in broad & interesting discussions – including authoritative sources, citations, author rights, legitimacy of information, writing styles, neutrality, referencing, databases vs. wikis, published content compared with editable wiki content – without actually calling it “information literacy”.

What resonated for me from Sara’s experience :

  • Teaching by experiential learning.
  • Wikipedia as a tool to learn alongside, rather than teach from the front, of a classroom.
  • Stealth information literacy.
  • Content creation for a global audience.
  • Empowering students to actively contribute to societal knowledge.
  • Partnerships lead to exciting & interesting collaborations.

Overwhelmingly, we shouldn’t fear or ignore Wikipedia. Embrace it. Leap in. Learn. Experiment. Like Jo Ransom’s earlier #RL2013 session on Chalkleº, Sara’s experience of using Wikipedia is another clear example of librarians facilitating the creation of knowledge in our community, fulfilling the brief of RD Lankes’ vision for New Librarianship.

Here’s our Storify of the event (which includes a number of links to useful pages mentioned in Sara’s session). Our WA participant, Karen Miller (@infoliterati) has also blogged her reaction to the session.

I’m already thinking up ways in which Wikipedia could used for communities that I am part of. Sara has also inspired me to stop being a lurker and actually be a participant in the Wikipedia community.



Get over it #RL2013

Last night we held the third Reality Librarianship 2013 event with Paula Eskett Programme Advisor – Learning Futures, Services to Schools, National Library of New Zealand.

Riccarton High School partners with Christchurch City Libraries is New Zealand’s largest urban, School / Community joint use library. Paula was the school library manager at Riccarton High School before taking up a one year contract with Services to Schools at the end of 2012.

Paula shared the successes of this library, and the enthusiasm with which staff and students embrace all it can offer, have created exciting chances to incorporate new projects linking the library and school.

As I was listening to Paula share her thoughts on this new way of working and learning I couldn’t help but think that many librarians (and teachers) would approach this partnership with a very large dose of intrepidation – we usually imagine the worst-case scenario before we believe that the best could actually happen. But Paula’s experience put those worst-case scenarios completely into perspective. For example:

  • Worst-case: Everyone needs to be a member of the public library in order to borrow. What about students? We’ll never get permission from their parents.
    Paula’s reality: Before the library opened Christchurch City Libraries put an enormous effort into marketing the new library and encouraging the community to sign up for a library card, the school followed up with parents, whanau and caregivers and by the time the library opened many students were library members. Today some classes have 100% library membership.
  • Worst-case: The school library’s collection development will be based on the curriculum and the public library’s collection will be much broader. We’ll never be able to ensure students only have access to age-appropriate resources.
    Paula’s reality: Yes it was a concern and it was something the school kept an eye on, but since 2006 Paula has only questioned the appropriateness of 3 books, after-all we can’t monitor what teenagers are looking at on their smartphones. Our discussions with staff, students and the community became less about age-appropriateness and more about critical thinking, responsibility and trust.
  • Worst-case: What about the senior citizens who use the library during the day? If students are using the library it will put them off.
    Paula’s reality: We found that some senior citizens were coming in because students were in the library – they wanted to be a part of that energy and excitement that only students have. Staff also spent a lot of time with students talking about behaviours and ‘being on show’ in the library. As a result students would offer to assist senior citizens with using self-issue kiosks or allow senior citizens to be served first. There were many more compliments than complaints.

Paula spoke a lot about inclusiveness and the importance of relationships, honesty and trust between the school, library, teachers, students and the community. It is a new way of thinking, working and learning for everyone. Creating a culture of respect and trust within the school, library and community is absolutely vital for a partnership to flourish and be sustainable. It’s time to get over it or get out.

We’ve also created a Storify of the Twitter chat, rounding up the comments with #RL2013 hashtag.


Next week we’ll be discussing Wikipedia in the classroom with Sara Roberts of Canterbury University Library. This will be our last Reality Librarianship: community partnership event for the year. We’d love it if you could join us.

Law for Lunch fills community information gap #RL2013

Last night we held the second Reality Librarianship 2013 event with Celia Lillis & Rebecca Chilton from Wellington City Libraries (WCL), talking about their successful Law for Lunch series.

Starting out in 2007, WCL & the Community Law Centre have created Law for Lunch, a series of lunchtime events delivered over five weeks, with two series run each year.

Celia & Rebecca talked about the practicalities of developing a partnership with a community provider who had the networks & expertise to deliver sessions covering a wide-range of legal issues in order to fill an information gap for their community. From tenants’ rights to Family Trusts, from issues relating to employment or relationships, the topics are varied and relevant for the community. And the community is certainly turning out to these events, with 80+ attending some sessions!

The key ideas that resonate for me to replicate this type of partnership in your library :

  1. Identify an information gap for your community. For WCL, this was ‘legal’ issues, but it could just as easily be health or technology or life skills.
  2. Find a community partner who has a similar values & community needs, and discuss how you can “share” your target audience.
  3. Market widely. Use your networks & your partner’s networks, and take a multi-pronged approach (e.g. social media, posters, newspapers).
  4. Debrief regularly to make sure that you are both still benefiting from the partnership.

For me, Law for Lunch demonstrates how libraries successfully create & develop partnerships to benefit our communities. We don’t need to be the experts delivering the content for everything, but we facilitate learning in our communities by providing the space & the ongoing support for these events. As with last week’s Chalkle° session, it’s all about the lasting partnerships we create & sustain for our communities.

We’ve created a Storify of the Twitter chat, rounding up the comments with #RL2013 hashtag, and Abigail Willemse has also blogged her summary of the event.


We have two more community partnership events coming up. Next week Paula Eskett will be talking about the partnership between Riccarton High School & Christchurch City Libraries. Learn more.

Chalkle° provides libraries with community engagement metrics

Last night we held the first Reality Librarianship 2013 event with Jo Ransom from Te Takere sharing her views on Community Centred Learning – the chalkle° experience.

Here are five truths Jo reinforced for me:

Truth #1: Life-long learning is a core business of libraries.
Truth #2: Libraries are at the heart of the community they serve.
Truth #3: Libraries are facilitators of knowledge.
Truth #4: Chalkle° enables the community to come together to share and/or learn knowledge.
Truth #5: Te Takere is leading the way in New Zealand libraries with the facilitation of community education and knowledge.

I’m not going to go into the details of the session as Abigail Willemse has already blogged a summary and there is also a storify of the twitter chat from last night. What I do want to do is briefly highlight two aspects that resonated with me.

1. The education landscape is changing. The traditional models of teachers, students, classroom and learning are all changing. The beauty of Chalkle° is that anyone can be a teacher, anyone can be a student, and learning doesn’t have to occur in a classroom setting.

For example: A Chinese language Chalkle° class in Wellington meets at the train station, a cafe, and the vege market to learn and practice their Chinese. Another example is of a 15 year old boy who has signed up to teach juggling classes so he can have other kids in Levin to juggle with. Chalkle° classes can happen anywhere by anyone. Te Takere acts as the hub connecting them all.

2. Chalkle° provides libraries with community engagement metrics. We all know that statistics such as how many times an item has been borrowed or how many kids turn up to storytime are easy to gather but they don’t give a complete picture of how libraries meet community needs. Te Takere has only been facilitating Chalkle° classes for six weeks but the response from the community has been huge. There are many local people who are willing to share what they know, and there are many others wanting to learn. Community engagement stories and statistics galore!

Chalkle° ticks all the community and education boxes that will make a library’s funding body happy. The next step for me is to find out how I can make it happen in my community.  ‘The boss won’t let me’ will not be a valid excuse.

Thank you Jo for sharing your experiences of this exciting community partnership.

We have three more community partnership events coming up. Next week Celia Lillis and Rebecca Chilton will share how Wellington City Libraries have been working in partnership with the Community Law Centre since 2007 to offer free lunchtime talks on a range of law topics. We’d love you to join us as we discuss what goes on behind the scenes to attract over 50 people each week. Learn more.