Last Tuesday I had the pleasure to attend the annual symposium that MELS holds for school librarians across Quebec. Not only do we get a full day of learning but we get to share with school librarians across the province what we are doing in our schools. The day that I attended was for secondary school librarians. Here are some of the highlights from the day:
Keynote speaker Joanne de Groot gave a fantastic presentation on maker spaces. Throughout the presentation we would have interactive sessions with our table. One of the discussions at our table included what does our school library represent. Most tables agreed that it is a learning space that provides a safe place for students. Another activity we did was based on creating small maker spaces in our library. Our table scored with Lego (okay, I admit it, I had to beg for the Lego) while others had arts and crafts, solar powered items and sand crafting. We had a certain amount of time to create whatever we wanted – without instructions. I would encourage everyone to look into maker spaces. They can range from the high end 3d printing to something simple like an arts and crafts session to make bookmarks for your library. There are tons of ideas for school libraries. All you have to do is Google “school library maker spaces”. One of our bloggers did a post on this topic awhile ago which you can read here.
I stayed for the session “Library spaces your students will love” which highlighted different ideas that you can have in your library. I absolutely loved the magazine storage area. Suzanne Nesbitt was able to find a hack to make it less expensive if you are interested. The other session that was going on at the same time was ” The Dream Collection: Planning Today for Tomorrow” which I heard was really good.
During the lunch hour, there were several poster sessions that highlighted different activities in libraries as well as different ideas on how to get involved with your school community. Ute Wilkinson presented ideas on how to engage with the staff and school community whether it is through the Home & School, Governing Board or other committees. Creating networks will increase awareness about the library and its goals which then will increase support for various projects you want to implement
After lunch there was a panel discussion with principals from LBPSB and Western Quebec SB about the role of libraries in their schools. They provided great insight into how they see the role of libraries and librarians within the school. They also highlighted the obstacles that we face in regards to budgetary cuts.
The final session of the day that I attended was “Valuable Virtual Spaces: Making Them a Reality”. There were 3 speakers presenting from acquiring French e-books to social media game sites to the Quebec Reading Connection website . The other session that was going on at the same time “Demystifying Minecraft” presented by Sandra Bebbington provided a new way for school librarians to incorporate gaming in their libraries.
The day ended with an edu-slam. There were 4 people who participated in this activity. The participants had 5 minutes to explain their cool idea or practice to the voting audience. Read this blog from QSLIN for a better understanding of an edu-slam. It was my first time seeing one of these in action. It is amazing how much information you can glean in 5 minutes! Betty from LBPSB demonstrated the Weebly website hosting platform, Julia from EMSB demonstrated Camtasia (making videos), Ellen from MELS on notetaking and myself on quick programs to get students reading.
The take-away that I took from this conference is that although our libraries are constantly evolving and redefining themselves, it is still important to remember our core values and make sure to influence those in the changes that we make and the decisions we take in our libraries. The Lego maker space will be coming soon to my library!
A big thank you to Julian Taylor for coordinating this day and to his planning committee Sandra Bebbington and Ellen Goldfinch.
Submitted by Kathy Conroy from Westwood Jr. and Mount Pleasant Elementary