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:

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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 🙂



Coding keeps haunting my brain. I was born just a little too late to have caught it the first time around – although I do remember having to enter simple code to get Nightmare on Elm Street or California Games booted up on our friend’s old computer. As I raise my daughter, it is suddenly everywhere – girls need to code: Code like a girlRails Girls,

Kids need to code, everybody needs to code: Hour of code

Including librarians, who are trying to set up new library management systems, or embed their OPAC into websites or blogs.

So I’ve signed up to a MOOC through Coursera: Computer Science 101, which I see other librarians have discovered before me. So far this morning I have discovered the Professor’s voice sounds a bit like Miranda Sings (well worth falling down the rabbit hole for – hilarious), but I have also CODED!

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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.

#blogjune 5 : travel planning

So far this #blogjune thing is boring the life out of me. I think we must be a little down at the moment. It’s almost the end of the longest school term in history, and as we went to Xi’an very Easter break we haven’t left China since early Feb. I think we have cabin fever.

We wanted (well I had anticipated) that we would do a lot more travelling on weekends – just roll up to the airport and fly wherever the winds took us. Unfortunately the city we are in is actually a satellite of another city, so it can take 2 hours to get to the airport. And you can’t just run out the front and hail a taxi. There’s some fascinating rule where they won’t cross the tunnel or bridge. So you have to figure out a myriad of buses, or book a driver. It sucks if you’re actually on the Qingdao side, at night, in the dark, with a child, and you cannot hail a taxi to get home. The school transport coordinator will book drivers for us, but that’s not always convenient. I’ve tried booking the driver myself but as lovely as he is when he drives us, he never shows up when I message 😒

So we feel like we haven’t really seen much. I am booking flights home for summer and wondering if we should stopover in Shanghai. We’ve been there a few times before, but am thinking we could stay in the French Concession or even on Suzhou for something different. No plans to go to Beijing at all – ugh! Our other options are Guangzhou (done), Shenzhen (done), Hong Kong (expensive & done), Seoul (some kind of flu virus scare there just now), Bali (hmm)…



#blogjune 4 : LMS

We have been in the process of upgrading our crummy 90s LMS to Follett Destiny library since November and IT finally sent the link today. My last library updated their software right before I left last year, so I have a little bit of experience, but mostly I am winging it. The difference is that this time nobody else knows any more than I do, so it’s all a little hectic. 

Earlier today I migrated Z sources into our database. Felt very librarian-y

I am glad to be learning this. I now understand and appreciate what my previous boss was going through when we updated Spydus. There are so many intricacies to it. And librarians don’t always have tech support or training, we just kill along figuring it out on our own. And still people (teachers, principals, local government managers and councillors) think we are only competent on scanning books.

The whole culture of people (in ignorance) looking down on librarians really gets to me. Sometimes to the point it makes me want to leave libraries. 

Rant – elists and the 21st century

Why are elists still a thing?

Recently one of the online networks I am a part of migrated from yahoo groups to schoology (ugly, clunky, difficult to navigate). I finally managed to find 5 hours in my day to navigate the site and get re-signed up. Shortly after I received an email telling me to ‘at least take time to upload profile pic and bio’ as this ‘helps the online community’.
Oh my god. 

Why don’t we just get with the times? Why do I have to have ANOTHER profile and ANOTHER platform?

Panda Awards

Discovered a very cool thing when I started here and joined the Beijing Librarians Network: the Panda Book a Awards. Librarians from international schools all over China nominate recently published works in 4 categories: younger, middle, older & mature readers. A steering committee shortlists them and schools buy the books and promote over summer. After Lunar New Year, online voting takes place.

Our books only just arrived, so we’re behind the 8-ball, which means our display looks a bit bare, but we’ve had enthusiasm from the kids, and staff are keen to get more involved next year.

Our display, with charts for readers to mark off which books they’ve read:


QR code linking to website for the awards:


I found the first question was “what do we win?” And as I have no idea that meant kids lost a lot of interest. Quite a lot simply don’t get the idea of “reading for pleasure” This is a struggle for me to adapt to, as I have always been a serious bookworm, but also because I’ve just spent 3 years in public libraries, where people come in because they love reading.

Hopefully get the kids more engaged over the next week or two before voting.

2/4. Frances – doctoral researcher

Cannot recommend this blog enough – each new post I think “argh, I won’t read I don’t have time and I’m not sure I’m interested” but I make myself and each time I come away fascinated and inspired! So many library roles, so little time! (Also I secretly hope to be on the list one day – if Scotland ever lets me come back…)

23 Librarians - and counting!

Frances Breslin Davda Frances Breslin Davda

Frances Breslin Davda is a doctoral researcher at the University of Strathclyde. That’s her on the left with her poster, which won the prize at Strathclyde’s Research Day. Frances also won best student paper at ISIC 2014 (The Information Behaviour Conference).

Books and libraries were central to my childhood: as a child I was regularly taken to my local library and one of my earliest memories is being in fancy dress enjoying stories on a mobile library.  As a voracious teen reader, I was amazed that Glasgow Libraries allowed me to borrow (via my aunt’s ticket) more than the four books my local library allowed, opening up a new world of books.

When I finished school, I undertook a degree in Film and Media Studies at the University of Stirling as I wanted to work in public relations.  During my degree I worked part-time in East Dunbartonshire’s public libraries; it…

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One of the things I love about social media is it’s capacity to facilitate network building. This is such an important part of my job. I’ve also found twitter and Pinterest particularly brilliant for professional development and ideas. In my last job, my first in public libraries, I felt our service was a bit out of touch with contemporary library-ing, so twitter became my lifeline to all that was new and shiny.

As a teacher librarian, I had subscribed to OZTL_net listserv. In my first library role it was invaluable as I was in China, did not have a vpn (in any case social media was not such a Big Deal) and struggling to find my feet. I also joined the Shanghai Librarians Network yahoo group.

One of the most daunting things about returning to teacher librarianship is the loss of all my networks. There are beautiful people with whom I have built online (and sometimes IRL) connections that I know I will now leave behind to an extent as I am back in the land of school libraries. I am sure there are lots of TLs out there doing great things, but so far it has been a struggle to find them.

I tried posting to OZTL listserv, and although I got a couple of replies I was mostly ignored. Perusing the archives there don’t seem to be a lot of newbies on there asking questions.

I then tried Beijing Librarians Network, and got burned. My first post introducing myself has been ignored for over a week. My second one asking for help with collection codes received one response:
“Why don’t you visit a few libraries and see what others have done?”

Wow. If that were remotely possible, then I wouldn’t be posting this question on an e-list!

Feeling dispirited 😦

Am I Still Cooking? YA and ‘Adult’ Literature

Am I still cooking? YA and ‘Adult’ Literature – I delve into YA for work, but also because of this –> “boredom with an adult literature obsessed with middle class neuroses” I find it’s a lot easier to sort the wheat from the chaff in YAlit. Adolescence is an interesting thing to dwell on. My 86 year old grandmother loves to tell me how she still feels 17 inside, and sometimes catches herself in the mirror, and just can’t understand it.

matt finch / mechanical dolphin

The Eleventh Doctor played by Matt Smith

My friend, the children’s writer and editor Louie Stowell, was having Big Thoughts about Young Adult (YA) Literature on Twitter this week…

I collated the ensuing discussion using Storify – you can read it at this link.

Trying to respond to Louie, I find I’m a terrible critic. I lack perspective. I can’t formulate a consistent position, although I’m curious about the trend for adults to read YA literature. I feel like there’s something going on right now with adulthood and youth that’s fascinating – that really matters, even more than usual. The best I can do is wander around the borderlands between those categories. Maybe Louie’s right: maybe it’s some kind of strange intergenerational schadenfreude.

Ruth Graham tried to question adults reading YA at earlier this year

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