TLA presentation – April 17, 2008 – Joyce Valenza

Getting Them Where They Live: Designing Virtual Library Sites for 21st Century Learners

What a ball of fire Joyce Valenza is! She is passionate about helping students learn by using the new tools of the web and truly models lifelong learning. I have been an admirer of her library web site for several years and was anxious to hear what she would have to say about designing a virtual library site and incorporating Web 2.0 tools. Needless to say, she did not disappoint!

Joyce started her presentation by talking about school library web sites in general. She said that since there aren’t really any models of best practice in this area, none of us are there yet. Her vision is for the library’s web site to be a knowledge management tool where all of the school’s information is collected. She sees the library site as another “door” into the library – there is a physical door and a virtual door. The library web site should allow the school library to be there anytime and anywhere a student or teacher needs information. It should be as ubiquitous as Google or Wikipedia and we should aspire to having just a tiny piece of real estate on the customized home page of all learners in the school. Joyce feels strongly about this and declares that in the shifting informational landscape, having a web presence is not optional anymore. If you don’t know how to create a web site, you web presence can be a blog or a moodle site, but you must have one!

Having done some research in this area with her own students, Joyce shared some things she has discovered that kids like and don’t like about library web sites. They LIKE to feel a sense of ownership for the site and they like graphical organization. They also LIKE for there to be mouse-over descriptions that pop up on the links to explain what things are. They DON’T LIKE it when the language and organization used on the site don’t make sense to them, e.g., calling databases by their vendor names and/or listing resources alphabetically instead of by subject. They also DON’T LIKE to have too many choices and having to remember lots of different passwords. They really recommend that we (librarians) stop using “library” terminology and start using everyday language to describe things on our sites. Joyce referenced a great site to help us with this: Library Terms That Users Understand.

In the next section of her presentation, Joyce gave lots of examples of things to consider including on a virtual library site, organized under the three components of a 21st century library as described in Information Power.

Under the umbrella of Program Administration you might want to have the following items:

  • Mission statements
  • Policies (materials selection, reconsideration, academic integrity, etc.)
  •  Calendar for library sign-up
  • Assignment planner form for teachers to complete and submit online
  • Surveys can be posted periodically using online survey tools such as
  • A form for book purchase requests or a link to an wish list for your school library
  • An ILL request form that can be submitted online
  • A reading interest poll
  • A learning survey to capture what students learned during library instruction
  • PDFs of monthly newsletters and annual reports

The Information Power component of Information Access and Delivery is probably where librarians put most of their energy. These are some things that you might want to include on your site that addresses this area:

  • A link to the library OPAC (although you DON’T want to call it that!) 😉
    As a side note Joyce asks wouldn’t it be great if we could have ONE search box for all of our library resources? Here Joyce advocated lobbying the database vendors to cooperate with each other so that this can happen – and for FREE!
  • Links to other library catalogs
  • Links to lots of different search tools
  • Links to some new search engines that use Web 2.0 technology to increase search result relevance
  • Links to some blog search tools
  • Links to subscription databases grouped by subject area
  • Links to free e-books and audio-books (e.g., The Encyclopedia of Life, Lookybook, International Children’s Digital Library)
  • Pathfinders for all research projects made on wikis – use to create lists of web resources for each project, create a customized library for a project using Google Book search, locate open content textbooks written by teachers on Wikijunior)
    Side note: Create a wiki pathfinder on educational research for faculty and campus administrators that includes links, images, documents, video, discussion, etc.
  • Links/RSS feeds to news resources
  • A way to connect to a librarian
  • Links to copyright friendly images and sound, such as Flickr’s Creative Commons Pool
  • Links to resources for royalty-free music and sound, such as Shambles and Podsafe Audio
  • Links to other people’s curriculum, e.g., OER Commons

The third component of a library program according to Information Power is Learning and Teaching. These are some things that you might include in a virtual library to address this area:

  • An online research guide that is interactive
  • The research process
  • Links to bibliographic helps, such as NoodleBib, BibMe, Citation Machine
  • Links to sample papers
  • Information on how to document sources
  • Links to information about each teacher’s different projects
  • Information for parents
  • Research organizers and other documents to be downloaded
  • Information about evaluating blogs and other online sources for research purposes
  • Notetaking guidelines
  • Powerpoint presentations developed for information skills lessons (You can also save these to Slideshare and link to them there)
  • Organizers for note-taking and outlining
  • Student work – create a gallery of student art work on Flickr, post leftover yearbook photos, post video projects
  • Library orientation
  • Book trailers
  • Videos made to address learning gaps, e.g. Its vs. It’s
  • Links to student blogs of their research process (allows for early intervention and can be used as an assessment tool; the teacher and librarian can make comments on student blog posts)
  • Celebrate student life with links to book reviews trailers made by students, lots of photos, timelines, favorite web 2.0 tools, reading lists, literature circles
  • Teach students to create their own information spaces with iGoogle or Pageflakes (require that they include a sticky note with a link to the Virtual Library)

Joyce ended the session by encouraging us to “lead from the center” and reminding us that “it’s ok to be beta.” She said that everything will not be perfect, but to try anyway.

She also encouraged us to take the work she has already done and link to it or use it in any way that we need. She has an amazing collection of resources on her Virtual Library site and on her Information Fluency wiki.

Texas Bluebonnet Award Luncheon – TLA, April 17, 2008

Wow! Things have been going fast and furious since we got back from TLA last week. I can’t believe how long it is taking me to get all of these sessions posted! Sorry for the delay…

Anyway, after the Smackdown, I went to have lunch with 2,000+ of my closest friends. We had some kind of grilled chicken salad and celebrated the with the winners of the Siddie Joe Johnson and Texas Bluebonnet awards. As always, seeing the student representatives and hearing their presentation of the Texas Bluebonnet Award are some of the most fun parts of the conference. After all, promoting good books for kids to read is one of the things we like to do best! Having them there reminds us why we spend time and effort promoting these books every year. The winning author, Lucy Nolan, told some great stories about the dogs she’s had in her life and how they have influenced her writing. Her book Down Girl and Sit: On the Road was a definite kid favorite, earning 19,000+ votes.

2007 TLA Conference details


Theme: Strong Libraries, Strong Communities

Featured Speakers: Author Isabel Allende, ABC’s 20/20 correspondent Lynn Sherr, school specialist Stephen Krashen, Unshelved comic strip creators Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum, Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, advertising legend Tim McClure, educational expert Hall Davidson, and library instruction guru Randy Hensley.

Welcome Party: Wednesday, 6pm, San Antonio Museum of Art

The President’s All-Conference Party: Friday, 8pm, In the grotto area of the convention center, featuring a one-time gathering of the Men of Texas Libraries – yes, those brave and stalwart souls who donated their time (and bodies) by posing for the calendar being sold to raise funds for the TLA Disaster Relief Fund. Meet the models, drink some margaritas, and enjoy a true evening of San Antonio good times.

Things to do…

1. Complete the session preference form when you pre-register. This allows the Conference Program Committee to assign rooms based on number of attendees expected for each program.

2. Make your room reservation.

3. Watch the mail for your program and bring it to Conference with you. It will be the only one you get with descriptions of each session. The one you will get at Conference is abbreviated and just includes session names, times and locations.

New Texas Bluebonnet Award list

One of the great joys of reading is that books can take us places that we could never go. The 2007- 2008 Texas Bluebonnet Master List creates such a journey, allowing readers to log millions of literary frequent flyer miles – miles that can be used for widening their imaginations, critical reading skills, and pleasure in the written word.

These young readers will visit a new world, the land of Foo (Leven Thumps and the Gateway to Foo), and revisit a familiar one…

Read more in the TLACast 25_4: DECEMBER 2006

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