Final week #blogjune 20

Last week at school. Racing to get my bi-annual report done before Friday, book my tickets for our 2 week train jaunt around China, pack our bags, prepare gifts, clean the house, finish updating the Library policy, clear my desk…

And I get this page:

Screen Shot 2016-06-20 at 12.02.51 pm.png

What do you think the Chinese Government have against infographics? Every single site seems to be blocked. I’m even trying with the VPN on (which we are not supposed to use at school) and it still won’t load. *cry cry cry*

At least I have an outline for my bi-annual report – I’m borrowing the headings from my Library Policy, which I think is a stroke of genius but is more likely biting off more than I can chew (a particular skill of mine):

Library Mission, Aims, Goals etc

  • community profile

Library Services

  • Teaching and learning (or curriculum)
    • Overview
    • Library orientation
    • Collaborative teaching
    • Development of resources
    • professional development/training
  • Reader Services
    • Book Week
    • Panda Book Awards
    • Displays
    • Book talks, discussions, book groups
    • Reading lists
    • Classroom support e.g. guided reading
  • Tech support
    • ICT lab
    • laptop / ipad loans
    • Library website
    • Recommended sites and tools
    • Training
  • Use of library space
    • Bookings

Collection development

  • Collection snapshot
    • new books
    • new collections (home language, graphic novel)
    • new digital resources


  • circ stats e.g. top 10 primary, top 10 secondary
  • top borrowing homerooms


  • Snapshot
  • Professional development and training attended

Evaluation and Goals – moving forward

  • Library services
  • Collection
  • Circulation
  • Staffing

Can I finish for this for Friday?? If not, I will blame the internet 🙂

“Staff quarter handbook” and other mysteries of Life #blogjune 19

How I feel about packing…

There is a funny set up here where the school is divided down the middle, with “academic” staff on one side, and “everyone else” on the other. While the Principals have authority over the ‘academic’ side of things, there is Someone Else who is in charge of the rest. This department is ironically known as: “Support Division”.

The first thing teachers learn is that staff in this division are never, ever, ever at fault. If the shifu (handyman) sets up the entire Assembly hall for an activity that occurs a month from now instead of your major event that takes place in an hour, this is your fault. If the purchasing person orders a CD version of a book (in a school without CD players), this is also your fault. And if you ever want anything to get done, you must play along with this farce, because when I said they are in charge of everything not academic – I meant everything: broken door handles, blocked toilets, drinking water, air filters, purchasing, security, visas, lifting heavy things, your salary…

They also manage foreign teacher apartments, so you may see where I am going with this? Fall out with them over the CD incident mentioned above, and you may find that when your fuse box blows up and you’re sitting in darkness they suddenly can’t hear their phones.

Saying that, there are staff in this department who have gone above and beyond to help us out, (dropped my bankcard down a toilet, dropped my electricity card in the middle of a busy road) and for that we are very grateful. I still think the school should consider making everybody happy by employing a staff member to act as “foreign staff liaison”.

Anyway, I’ve been searching for the staff apartment “exit procedure” for a while, and have finally received a reply that refers me to a handbook that – as far as I can make out – doesn’t exist. I hope this reflects the amount of effort they put into inventory of the apartment when we leave!

I’m hoping if the inspection person notices the change in toaster they will consider it an upgrade…

Paper in the Monkey year

We’ve had a hectic month. Given the crazy flight costs and that I am potentially unemployed come July, I decided to stay closer to home for out Chinese New Year (Spring Festival) holiday, and had thought we might do a short trip to Seoul to explore their hanji paper in the middle. Fortunately I didn’t book any flights, as we both came down with a shocking flu. One of the worst I can remember. We were bedridden for 4 days straight, which the locals celebrated by releasing tones of fireworks, from around 6am until 10 at night. When we finally recovered we were able to stagger into the city for a couple nights in fancy hotels, but our plans of heading to Korea faded.

Around the same time I’ve received disheartening responses from every university in Australia where I’d hoped to enrol in a research degree. Tasmania never replied, despite multiple attempts. CDU sent me a copy/paste of their website, telling me to identify a supervisor, which would be fine if they put any identifying information about staff online! Not even an email address…

University of Newcastle were the most promising, and I received a lot of advice and direction, AND they have an onsite paper mill.  However the artistic lecturer I found was not qualified to be sole supervisor, and although half a dozen others expressed interest in the project, none of them felt qualified to take me on as a candidate. The art lecturer also indicated that I should gain more practical experience, and I feel this may have influenced the rejections. He is right, so I have decided I should focus on this for now, and come back to the research at a later date.

The problem is, I live in a backwater in China. I can’t find supplies here to create a home studio. I have the blender and frames, felt and etceteras, but cannot find the mesh. Intensely frustrating. So far the onlmy practical experience I’ve had were two goes at elephant poo paper parks in Thalamd. It was fantastic, and I’m so desperate to get started on making all my mistakes so I can be closer to being an expert craftsman, it kills me! I’m hoping the upcoming Easter break will provide an opportunity. I’m looking at washi paper in Japan, hanji in Korea, Thailamd again, or visiting the Miao or Dai ethnic groups in south China.

News: International School Librarians recruitment season is beginning…

9/10/15 –  Fall is the beginning of the recruitment season for international school librarians which, by far, offer the most opportunities for overseas work and living for librarians. If you have experience in this area or think you might enjoy this for a few years in order to gain international experience it is possible to […]


Too many Americans at our school this year. I’m starting to pronounce things with a twang. My daily blog posting is out of this world. Perhaps monthly would be a better aim?

dole queue

Apparently it’s recruiting season for international schools. A few of the other staff are in a flurry of CV writing and awkwardly asking SMT for references. I’m not sure what I’m doing. I’ve never had to worry about it before. My jobs have always come along when I needed them. I think qualified and experienced Teacher Librarians are a rarity.

Other teachers have registered with Search Associates and ISS and are heading off to job fairs. Kinda wish there was such a thing as an international librarian job fair. Not just school libraries, but all libraries. Imagine!
This time last year I was yearning to be back in public libraries. Now, I’m no longer 100%. I still miss them and miss loving going to work each day (wondrous feeling), but I’m also curious about what library life might be like if I actually worked at a decent school – one with a state of the art library, well resourced, a workable budget, technology in the library – and maybe even another librarian on campus.

Part of me is also curious to see where I could end up.

Library life

Despite (unbelievably) still feeling queasy, this week was definitely a lot easier to live through than last!  Travelled to Qingdao side to catch up with some of the other new staff on the weekend and I managed to eat western food, even though I was sweating just putting it into my mouth.  I actually shared a meal with one of the other ladies – at least we’d both go down together!

My new library
My new library

Spent the week getting to know my library – and upsetting the apple cart!  Shifted shelves and furniture, much to the consternation of Chinese staff.  Interestingly each time I requested something be moved, they would phone my Chinese co-librarian to check.  I think I am starting to get a feel for how things work around here…

Library ICT room
Library ICT room

They have moved the ICT lab (I know, a lab? In 2014?  Interesting…) up to the 4th floor so the old lab has become part of the library.  For structural reasons it is still a separate room, and due to cabling issues all the computers will stay in that room.  I have a lot of misgivings about this (lets not build walls between  print and digital) but this is how it stands.  I got all excited to see a guy in there ripping up the floor (thinking it would be replaced with carpet so it genuinely looked like part of the library), but alas, it was replaced with the old floor.

I am going to have to get involved in cataloguing here, which I have not had to deal with in too much depth for 3 years.  In some ways, I enjoy it, but there are so many other things I am better at in the library that I tend to let it slide.  However the other staff do not have any library training (and there has not been anyone in this library with training) so there are some big issues that we need to sort out.

Starting with the fact that the collection code for all the books is “LB” – for “Library Book”.


Death in the pot

I have lived in China before – in Ningbo, south of Shanghai – also working as a Teacher Librarian in an international school.  This experience was only short-lived – about 5 months – for reasons I may rant about one day!  Ms 8 was only 4 at the time and she had a terrible case of food poisoning/gastro, but I was lucky enough to have it only mildly after eating a turkey and cranberry sandwich from Starbucks.  This is one of the (many) reasons I dislike that chain.

Devil's Diner
Devil’s Dinner

Anyway, I am just catching up on life after being knocked out by the worst, the most crippling, the foulest bout of food poisoning I have ever had in my life.  In fact I think it is probably the sickest I have ever been in my life.  And ironically WESTERN food again!  Pork schnitzel to be precise.  Can’t even think about it without gagging!  I missed the first 2 days of teacher in-service (we had a whole 7 days dedicated to this, which was nice), and finally dragged myself in on the Wednesday through a monsoon (water a foot deep running along the street – fairly unpleasant) only to be barred from the library because teachers are not allowed keys.

I got a key in the end, but it was a fairly crappy start given that we were both drenched and I was still retching every time a new smell passed my nose.  Appalling week, but it was good to start to get my head around things.