Tag Archives: Yellowhead Regional Library

Dang! I’m Inspired Again

September is so busy. I shouldn’t have taken the day off of work to attend Yellowhead Regional Library’s annual conference.


I shouldn’t have had a peaceful night in a lovely hotel – where the people-watching game was very satisfying.

I shouldn’t have listened to so many intelligent people, making so much sense…making me admit that I’ve had enough time to assess my project and now it’s time to begin to take it to the next level. Just when I was trying to convince myself that I might be able to coast a little, get that teacher resource room cleaned up, maybe repair some books…

Then along comes Lynn Shabada and Lori Bell, the administrators of Onoway Elementary School and then Twyla Lesko, Onoway’s Librarian, Karen Mason, from Centennial Elementary School in Wetaskiwin and Stacy Howse, from Westlock Elementary School. These amazing people are transforming their libraries into Learning Commons. The upshot of this combination of presentations was to remind me that my library, although open, welcoming, somewhat comfortable and as accommodating as I have been able to make it, it is still not the hub of the school.

Sessions: The importance of school libraries: an administrative perspective, and Transforming your library: inspiring the Library Learning Commons

Onoway’s ‘Dream Team’ of principal, associate principal and library manager share a vision of transforming the space, the service and the culture of the library to “Open it Up” and remove a miscellanea of subtle and not-so-subtle barriers to reading: rules and procedures that stand in the way of students’ natural curiosity and adventurous spirit.

Twyla’s advice: “Say Yes! Think We”

Twyla’s advice: “Say Yes! Think We”

Karen’s vision is to “To Bring Technology, Community and Learning Together in one Memorable Place!” Newly placed into the library from her position as a learning assistant, Karen immediately saw a crowded, dated and unwelcoming space and transformed it into a well-appreciated hub that supports her students culturally, emotionally and academically.

Karen's welcoming reading corner at Centennial Elementary.

Karen’s welcoming reading corner at Centennial Elementary.

Stacy’s project began with a tree. When a well-known member of the community and school board chair passed away, his family wished that a fitting memorial be placed in the school library. The upshot of collective brainstorming was a tree house where children could climb to reading nooks. The coming construction seemed to Stacy to be the perfect time to begin a transformation that she had had percolating in her mind since she started in the position over a year ago.

Westlock Elementary

Stacy’s journey has just begun with the reclassification of her collection but is fully envisioned. Her goals: successful browsing, improved curriculum support and increased visual appeal.

And that was all before lunch…

After a wonderful lunch of Shepard’s Pie and Peach Cobbler, (where I won a door prize of two novels on CDs), and visited the vendors’ booths, I attended another two great sessions. Mary Medinsky from Red Deer College gave an lively presentation on Teen Tech Trends and Jamie Davis, the coordinator of Learn Alberta’s Online Reference Centre showed us some of the exciting new resources in that collection.

Between all these fabulous presentations and chatting with lots of people, (like Janet from Warburg, another K-12 school), the result of all this darn inspiration is a 25 point to-do list that I now will have to follow up on because I couldn’t hold my head up if, after all this work, my library is still not what it could be.

by Tom Fleming


Filed under Education, Library Management, Rethinking My Library

YRL Conference & My First Presentation

I was relieved that the shaky knees only came later in my car at a scary left-hand turn. I managed to do my presentation on the restructuring of my library and its collection at YRL’s conference with only slight shortness of breath and fewer-than-expected nervous brain-freezes. I didn’t say everything I wanted to say, but obviously said enough since the feedback I received was very positive. Islands of Knowledge (I am still struggling with the pretentiousness of the title) was scheduled at the end of the day, so I was worried that I (and the audience) would be a bit burned out. I think, instead, that I was too tired to shake much.

One attendee did comment after the session that she still felt that teaching the Dewey Decimal System was important for informed access to collections all over the world. Unfortunately there is no teacher librarian to teach it in my district and I suspect that the few students that actually retain the information will learn it, and/or LOC, as needed anyway.

As always after attending a library conference, there were several great ideas I gleaned from the sessions I attended that I want to incorporate in my library.

Connecting to Readers: Displays that Work by the vivacious team of Allison Stewart & Tamara Van Biert from the Stony Plain Public Library expanded on tips from a workshop that they had attended last year on Reader Centred Concepts. They talked about how to shift the focus from books to readers, persuading patrons to imagine themselves enjoying the books. Creative posters used the words ‘You’ and ‘Yourself’ to do that. I also learned that I need to look beyond library vendors to retail supply outlets for less expensive display materials. I’ll have to check that out for some slat-wall end panels. I was also reminded that I need to learn more about and start using QR codes. (A smart phone will be free with a contract renewal soon…)

I also attended an excellent session called Book Quest: Solving the Riddle of Getting Tweens & Teens To Read by Wanda Pederson from Onoway Jr/Sr High School. She showed a very interesting comparison between 20th & 21st Century readers and then a list of different types of readers, clearly defining who the alliterate or reluctant readers are: readers who, for various reasons, have the ability to read but consciously choose not to. She listed criteria for books for reluctant readers and distributed lists of recommendations for avid and alliterate readers. Referring to research by Dr. Stephen D. Krashen, Pederson stated that voluntary free reading is most beneficial to language learning. She shared links to Nancy Keane’s hundreds of booktalks and the online books at readbooksonline.

The organizers helpfully included a DVD with the program that included all the presentations so I’ll be able to view the many sessions that I missed. The conference was excellent, a great place to catch up with the wide library community, be re-inspired and newly informed. Living and working in an isolated town without a bookstore, its always great to be able to peruse some book and technology displays, talk to other library people and learn from them.


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Filed under Online Resources, Rethinking My Library