Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Michele Farquharson's Diane Poole Award Acceptance Speech

"BCTLA Executive and colleagues,

In anticipation of today, I wanted to put together something special that would show how grateful I am for this award. I read a lot of speeches! And I found some lines that I liked from a speech by Harrison Ford.
He said, 'I have written two speeches for today, a long one and a short one. My short speech is...thank you. And it looks like there might be enough time for the long one as well. Thank you...very much!'

Thank you very much for this incredible honour.

I am very grateful and humbled at being the recipient of the Diana Poole Award. I truly feel that I am accepting this award on behalf all members of the BCTLA, because collectively, we support and foster each other to be exemplary teacher-librarians.

A perfect example of this is Vancouver’s Teacher-Librarian Consultant, Moira Ekdahl, who, I would like to say encourages us to become involved, but for those who know Moira, a more appropriate word is pushes us to be involved, at all levels of professionalism. Pat Parungao, Liz Austrom, and Ken Haycock have helped raise the bar and assist us so that we can be the very best we can.
Throughout B.C., we all know 'the' Moiras, and 'the' Pats, and 'the' Kens, many that are here today, that encourage and push us to be our very best. Aren’t we lucky!

What better job could there be—where you work collaboratively with other professionals, learning from each other, to give children tools, skills, processes that allow and encourage them become critical thinkers and future learners. At the same time we instill in them, a love of reading and learning.

As teachers we are innovators. You know we all have those eight or nine lessons that we love to teach. I love showing the male pregnancy website and the follow-up YouTube to teach critical evaluation of the Internet. I enjoy using swamp slugs for the younger grades, but my all time favourite is the urine test, and use it whenever I can—works for secondary and elementary. When I use it I always feel innovative and creative.

However, a teacher that I was working with, was truly the innovator. We had forty-five Grade 7s that were studying archaeology and investigating the various tests that people would do at an archaeology site. Mark and I had planned to do the urine test. He was going to bring in the doctored specimen bottle, filled with the yellow food colouring and water and I would demonstrate the taste test. As the students were finishing up the various tests on rocks and fossils, I motioned to Mark to hand me the specimen bottle. He hits his forehead and runs out of the library. I think he’s forgotten it and carry on explaining to the students that some of the tests that archaeologists do, like carbon dating, use elaborate machinery, but sometimes the best tests are the simple ones. For example, think of diabetes. Does anyone know what diabetes is? Someone gave the answer that it is when we have too much sugar. Mark wasn’t back, so we did a think, pair and share for the tests we could do for diabetes. Sure enough, they came up with check the sugar content in blood and the urine and I suggest that we could taste the urine to determine how much sugar there might be in it. Almost on cue Mark walks in. Then as if in slow motion he handed me the container. I saw it wasn’t clear the way food colouring and water should be and as it reached my hand—it was warm. But with the urine test you actually stir with your index finger but lick the middle finger and continue until one of the students spots it. The punch line is: the most important thing you need for any test or science experiment, is a keen sense of observation.

I was washing up my hands as the students left and Mark rushed over and said, 'I’m sorry, Michele, I forgot the sample and couldn’t find food colouring so I rushed to the staffroom and used mustard powder and hot water'.

Our role as teacher-librarian requires us to be innovative and to be advocates for what we do. I am fortunate to have a long standing affiliation with the journal Teacher-Librarian. Recently, each member of the advisory board was asked to write a report on support for the role of teacher-librarians. It is heartening to review the research that so clearly supports quality library programs. It is interesting to note the emphasis that is being placed on technology. Keith Curry Lance and others have conducted dozens of studies in various states and concludes that when library conditions are optimal, which includes being adequately staffed, stocked and funded, and CPPT is happening and the library program embraces networked information technology, reading scores can improve by 10-18%. Similar findings in Canada are supported by the Haycock Report and the OLA research in 2006.

I am now re-reading Thomas Friedman’s The World is Flat which talks about globalization and how governments and societies can, and must, adapt. It was a wake-up call for me and what I should do as a teacher-librarian. It made me appreciate my job and how we are enabling our students. I think now, more than ever before, we must be lateral thinkers and innovators. I like this quote from Edward de Bono.

'You cannot look in a new direction by looking harder in the same direction'.

These are exciting times. They call on us to once again take a leadership role, be lateral thinkers and innovators.
Thank you again for this wonderful award. I would like to read and leave you with this story that I think illustrates how teacher-librarians are lateral thinkers.

A Vancouver teacher-librarian, who was going to teach in Japan for a year, walks into a bank in the heart of downtown Vancouver and asks for a $100 loan. She offers her car as collateral and the bank manager approves the loan. A year later, the TL comes back, repays the loan and the 10% interest and is ready to collect her car. Finally, the puzzled bank manager dares to ask her: 'Excuse me, madam, could you tell me: did you really need that $100 so badly? In order to get the money, you left your luxury car with us for a whole year!' The TL replied, 'That's simple; where else in Vancouver can I find such a great parking spot for just $10 a year?'"

Michele Farquharson, Teacher-Librarian, Kerrisdale Elementary, Vancouver
2008 Diana Poole Award of Merit

Monday, October 27, 2008

Did You "Drop Everything And Read"?

We would love to know who dropped everything to read on Monday, October 27! Please post a comment on the "Send Us Your Numbers" post on the DEAR Blog. Include your school name, district, and DEAR count!

Visit the DEAR blog to see newspaper articles, press releases and endorsements of the very successful 2008 Drop Everything and Read Challenge!

Friday, October 24, 2008

2008 Diana Poole Memorial Award of Merit

Diana Poole was an exemplary teacher-librarian, teacher-librarian educator, leader, mentor, colleague, and friend. The BC Teacher-Librarians' Association's highest honour was named in her memory. In honouring in turn a phenomenal teacher-librarian every year, we honour all teacher-librarians, who make such a difference in the lives of B.C.'s learners, every day.

The BC Teacher-Librarians' Association would like to congratulate the amazing Michele Farquharson, teacher-librarian at Kerrisdale Elementary School in Vancouver, who was today awarded the 2008 Diana Poole Memorial Award of Merit in Victoria at the 2008 BCTLA Conference.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

What A Busy Fall!

Drop Everything and Read! (DEAR) Challenge
created a poster and sent a School Staff Alert
· BC School Trustees' Association mentioned DEAR in
Educational Leader
· DEAR has been added as an event on the Canadian Library Month website
· Electronic copy of DEAR poster provided to Public Library Services Branch
· Notice sent to
public library trustees by the BC Library Trustees' Association
· DEAR information and poster added to school district websites
· Interviews with several newspapers
· DEAR Blog and DEAR Facebook event created
DEAR resources, including a press release, posters, etc. created
· Mentioned in a special edition of Linda Hof’s
· Mentioned on the CASL and CCSL email distribution lists

Digital Initiatives and Publications
· New BCTLA website in final stages of development
Fall Issue of The Bookmark published online

· Canadian Library Month posters were sent to all schools in the province with the help of the
Public Library Services Branch
· Continuing discussions are being held through the
Library 2020 initiative around how public, post-secondary, school and special libraries can provide the best of library service to all British Columbians -- a consultant is now working on examining models for moving forwards
· BCTLA is a partner in preparing the
West Beyond the West: B.C. Digitization Symposium (Dec. 1-2); several meetings have been held
· BCTLA is a partner in the CASL-Provincial Advisory Committee; one meeting has been held

· Helped staff a table at
Word on the Street
· Chapter Councilor Handbook updated

· Regular communication with Chapter Councilors
· Frequent BCTLA News, BCTLA News from the BCTF and other blog posts

· Proposed that the Lieutenant Governor create an award for B.C. Aboriginal Children’s Literature
· Prepared draft Val Hamilton Lifetime Achievement Award criteria and nomination form

Working and Learning Conditions
· 28th annual Survey prepared

Continuing Education and Conference
· K-12 Committee working towards completion of the K-12 framework
· Proposed sessions for the
BC Library Conference (formerly BCLA Conference), being held April 16-18, 2009
· “Mission: Literacy: Teachers and Teacher-Librarians: Not-So-Secret Agents of Change conference and conference blog

Friday, October 17, 2008

Fall Issue of The Bookmark Published!

The Fall issue of The Bookmark, "International School Libraries: Summer Conferences" has been published online on the BCTLA website. Check out the Fall issue today!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

B.C.'s Lieutenant Governor to Visit School Library

The BC Coalition For School Libraries has organized a wonderful event on October 27 in celebration of National School Library Day. The BC Coalition is excited that B.C.'s Lieutenant Governor, the Honourable Steven L. Point, will be visiting a secondary school in North Vancouver on the day. He will be visiting the school library and will be hearing about the school library's role in enhancing Aboriginal literacy. Thank you to the Coalition, and particularly, Pam Withers, Mary Locke, and Kathy Shoemaker, for what will truly be a special event.

School Staff Alert - DEAR and School Libraries!

The following School Staff Alert has been sent to all public schools in B.C.:

"October 14, 2008

Drop Everything and Read!

The British Columbia Teacher-Librarians’ Association is marking National School Library Day by urging everyone to participate in the Drop Everything and Read! challenge.

On Monday, October 27, between 11:00 a.m. and 11:20 a.m., people young and old across BC will stop to read for 20 minutes in celebration of the joy reading can bring.

Studies show that daily silent reading is a very effective way of improving reading comprehension, increasing vocabulary, improving spelling, and broadening understanding of others. “Let students choose what they want to read from a well-stocked school library or from home, and then give them the time and space in which to read—away from the threat of tests and questions,” says Karen Lindsay, vice-president of the BCTLA, who would like to see the DEAR challenge grow to include other provinces.

Groups and schools who decide to participate should contact their local media and highlight the importance of libraries, books, and adults as role models in encouraging children to read.

The BCTLA has created a Facebook page to allow people to make their reading count. Point your browser to or search for “Drop Everything and Read!” at

Join with children, parents, trustees, administrators, and politicians in highlighting the need to maintain and reinstate library services in schools.

The Canadian Coalition for School Libraries is unequivocal, “School library programs are being drastically reduced across the country as school boards confront funding shortfalls. But cuts are occurring when researchers abroad have determined that well-stocked, professionally staffed school libraries which remain open during the day are linked to student achievement, reading, information literacy skills, and success at the post-secondary level.”

Source: BCTF,

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Next Issue of The Bookmark

The next issue of The Bookmark, the journal of the BCTLA, will be published online on October 17, 2008. Be sure to check out previous issues of The Bookmark and its interactive virtual component, The Virtual Bookmark.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Drop Everything and Read Resources

Thank you to the BCTF, which has produced a fantastic Drop Everything and Read poster which also celebrates School Library Day. Large copies have also been distributed by the BCTF to all schools in the province! This poster is in addition to a number of resources, including other posters, that have been created to support DEAR on October 27. There is also the DEAR blog and the Facebook event to help with planning for the day. Do you have a resource that would be useful to others? Email it to Val Hamilton to be added to the DEAR resource directory.

BC School Trustees Association and DEAR

The BC School Trustees Association (BCSTA) makes issues of their publication the Education Leader available on their website. The October 2008 issue of Education Leader mentions the BCTLA's Drop Everything and Read! challenge on page 8, in an article entitled, "Drop Everything and Read Day". The article gives wonderful recognition to the Surrey Teacher-Librarians' Association for starting the DEAR initiative last year as a way to promote literacy and School Library Day!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Vancouver School Library Circulation Increases

In 2007-2008, the Vancouver School Board's 109 school libraries circulated 1,846,862 million items from September to June! This was up from 1,826,876 in 2006-2007. According to Maryann Kempthorne, the VSB's amazing Systems and Media Librarian, circulation has greatly increased since the completion of the automation of Vancouver's school libraries.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Saskatchewan TL Professional Opportunities

In addition to the new Saskatchewan School Library Association website, the SSLA has for a limited time made issues of their journal, The Medium, available to all. The latest issue of The Medium, Fall 2008, has just been posted to the SSLA website. Check it out!

In addition to the new issue of The Medium, the SSLA has arranged a virtual three-part professional development opportunity on Fostering Reading Comprehension with author Sharon Grimes. The session dates are October 14, January 12, and March 2.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Good News from New Westminster

Congratulations to Ruby Sihota, teacher-librarian and longtime BCTLA Chapter Councilor and President of the New Westminster Teacher-Librarians' Association! Ruby has been hired into the position of District Librarian (0.2) for New Westminster. The position had once existed, disappeared for a while, and is now back, which is great news!

New School Library Tools Launched in Alberta

The Alberta School Library Council has launched some new communication and collaboration tools. Join ASLC online at the:

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Library Month Proclamation

On behalf of the BC Teacher-Librarians' Association, I would sincerely like to thank our Minister of Education, Shirley Bond, for the wonderful recognition of our association in today's announcement of the proclamation of October as "Library Month" in British Columbia. We would like to thank the Ministry of Education for their investment in literacy strategies and libraries in B.C. through initiatives such as funding of the multi-sector database bundle which will enable universal access to information for all British Columbians through B.C. school, public, and academic libraries.

In turn, the BC Teacher-Librarians' Association would also like to extend our congratulations and thanks to our fellow B.C. library associations and all of the library professionals that they represent. We salute our own members, B.C.'s teacher-librarians, and the exemplary school library programs and services that they develop and implement which play such an integral role within schools, school districts, and within communities. B.C.'s teacher-librarians remain committed to the goal of B.C. being the best-educated, most literate jurisdiction on the continent and look forward to celebrating Library Month all through October. Join in the celebration on October 27th as we celebrate National School Library Day and Drop Everything and Read!

News from Manitoba

Check out the fabulous Manitoba School Library Association website, launched today, just in time for National School Library Day, which has been officially proclaimed in Manitoba by the Minister of Education, Peter Bjornson. The November 28th MSLA conference features as keynote speaker author Kenneth Oppel (Darkwing). All this in celebration of the Manitoba School Library Association's 70th anniversary in 2008-2009!


Val has created another blog - to support Drop Everything and Read! on October 27. There is also a Facebook event, in the hopes of "viral marketing" of DEAR. We hope these sites help you in preparing for Drop Everything and Read! We want to hear from you--do you have any DEAR stories? Let us know on the DEAR blog or Facebook site.