Wednesday, December 21, 2011

BCTLA Winter Webinar Series

Critical Thinking and Inquiry in a Digital Environment
January 17, February 21 and April 17- 4:00-5:00 PM (PST)
Cost - $25.00

In collaboration with The Critical Thinking Consortium, BCTLA is sponsoring a three-part online series focussing on critical thinking and inquiry in a digital environment. The series will be hosted by Garfield Gini-Newman, a Senior Lecturer at OISE/University of Toronto and a senior national consultant with The Critical Thinking Consortium, and offered online via Blackboard Collaborate (formerly Elluminate). Blackboard Collaborate is an online, interactive platform. Upon registration, participants will be given instructions and support in using the platform.

To register, go here on the BCTLA website.

Please contact Arlene Anderson at if you have questions about the series or the Blackboard Collaborate platform.

Session Details:

Session 1: C3 (Critical, Creative and Collaborative)
Inquiry for the 21st Century Part One: Establishing a Framework
January 17, 2012 – 4:00 – 5:00 PM (PST)

For schools to remain relevant in an information age, the focus for learning must shift from the mere acquisition of knowledge to the use of knowledge to solve meaningful problems. Placing inquiry at the heart of teaching helps to ensure relevance and rigor for all learners. Specifically designed for teacher-librarians at all levels, this workshop will engage participants in an exploration of a powerful critical thinking framework that includes a variety of ready to use strategies that will:
  • Deepen understanding through critical thinking and literacy
  • Encourage exploration, investigation and reflection
  • Construct knowledge through connections and wonder
  • Emphasize critical inquiry in digital learning environments
  • The workshop will build learning around inquiry and offer ways that teacher-librarians can support classroom teachers achieve success through “tweaking” and fortifying the work they already do.

Session 2: C3 (Critical, Creative and Collaborative)
Inquiry for the 21st Century Part Two: Exploring the Opportunities
February 21, 2012 – 4:00 – 5:00 PM (PST)

In this session, teacher-librarians will consider practical applications of the critical thinking framework for grounding meaningful learning in critical inquiry. Together, participants will explore six ways to invite critical inquiry and identify entry points for infusing critical thinking in their teaching, particularly through inquiry-based reading and learning. Discussion will also include the use of TC2’s intellectual tools for quality thinking and their relevance in a digital learning environment. In their work and in their support role for classroom teachers, teacher-librarians have the opportunity to invite critical inquiry, increasing students’ abilities to think critically about information, its sources and how they may construct thoughtful questions and meaningful responses. This session supports teacher-librarians in applying this critical thinking framework to support all phases of inquiry, deepen student engagement, and build literacy and understanding of core curricular concepts.

Session 3
Critical Inquiry in a Digital Environment
April 17, 2012 – 4:00 – 5:00 PM (PST)

How can teachers adapt to the changing demands of a global and digital society as well as meet the needs of a diverse population of learners growing up in a digital world? Simply adding new technologies to classrooms and libraries does not ensure transformative learning, and may in fact merely contribute to reinforcing traditional practices. This workshop will explore how teacher-librarians can develop and support learning experiences that engage all learners and prepare them for success in a rapidly changing and increasingly complex world by:
  • Considering how we can make invitations to think and solve meaningful problems the driver for learning rather than the culmination of learning
  • Understanding the place of the TC2 framework in the TPACK (Technological, Pedagogical, Content Knowledge) approach
  • Examining the place of intellectual tools to support students in critical inquiry
  • Deepening student engagement through appropriate use of technology

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Working and Learning Conditions Survey

For 30 years, BCTLA has been surveying the working and learning conditions in BC public school libraries.

Between October 24 and November 30, 2011, BCTLA invites BC public school teacher-librarians and/or school staff representatives to submit a survey response.

Submit your response here!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Thoughts on National School Library Day

Thank you to the Burnaby Teacher-Librarians’ Association for all of their work toward organizing what was an amazing annual BCTLA conference this past Friday! A huge thank you also to the BCTLA Executive members for all of their work, as well as to the Chapter Councillors who met with the Executive on Saturday.

Here are some thoughts on the profession of librarianship and the role of librarians, from Dr. Dave Lankes, which I hope you will find affirming:

“In Egypt, when they saw tyranny and overcame it, when the Arab Spring spread throughout the Middle East, libraries were an important part of it. … Most of the protests in Egypt actually began in Alexandria and then moved to Cairo and Tahir Square.

And what’s interesting is as these protests in Alexandria got larger and larger and more and more people involved and then the security forces and the police starting having to manage the protest, looting broke out. People started breaking into businesses, people started breaking into institutions, people started acting in a lawless way.

The youth in Alexandria, when they saw this happening, joined hand-in-hand and surrounded the Library of Alexandria, to protect it. Not one rock was thrown at it, not one window was broken. They defended the library. They did it not, in my opinion, because it was a pretty building. They did it not because it was actually some sort of symbol of freedom; in fact, Mubarak’s wife was on the board of it.

They did it because to them it was an aspirational organization that represented what they thought was the best of their culture and the society. When they looked at the library, they saw the history, they saw knowledge, they saw learning, they saw openness. They saw a library. In the U.K. and in the United States as people have tried to close branch libraries and people have talked about ‘we don’t have the money for it’ they have stood up…they have stood up, and they have fought for their libraries. This did not happen when Blockbuster closed. When Borders closed, the only signs you saw were ‘30% off…and sorry you can’t use the bathroom’. Right? But they fight for libraries.

You’re not in the book business. You’re not in the media business. You’re in the aspirational business. Your kindred spirits are not people who sit there and sell books! They are people who fight for freedom.

The mission of librarians, the missions of you, whether you hold a Masters degree or not, whether this is a part-time job or full-time job, whether you’re doing this for extra time, I don’t care…I don’t care why you became a librarian, I don’t care if you did it because you loved books, I don’t care because you’re good at crossword puzzles, I don’t care because people said, ‘oh, you’re going to be a librarian…how did you know she loved to read as a youth’. I don’t care…you’re one now.

And this is your mission. Your mission is not to maintain the building. Your mission is not to shelve. Your mission isn’t even in having a building. Your mission is to improve society. How do we improve society? We do it by facilitating knowledge creation. We don’t do through circulation, we don’t do it through access. We do it by helping people learn. And sometimes that means talking to them, and sometimes that means doing things online, and sometimes that just means being an ear to listen to. We do it in an active way, to create knowledge in our communities.

Other people will say that these statements of improving society, this discussion…that I’m seeking to radicalize librarians…that I’m seeking to foment a revolution. Let me be very clear: they are absolutely right. I am seeking a revolution in librarianship. Not to take up arms, but to arm ourselves and our communities with knowledge. Not to overthrow the government, but to overthrow ignorance. To bring back big ideas, to talk about what we can be. … I don’t care if that victory that is small. I don’t care if the victory is that great. It is the struggle for that victory that defines our profession, that sets us apart from small ideas … that sets up apart from those who seek dollar signs instead of community improvement.

We are a profession that is here to serve. That is an activist profession. … It is profession of great complexity and caring. It is a profession that is unusual in the history of mankind. For 3,000 years librarians have been debating what makes the world better, have been experimenting, have been taking the chains off the stacks, have been spreading the word, and believing in knowledge. And that discussion, that conversation, that inheritance, is now yours.

That inheritance is now yours. What are you going to do with it? Are you going to simply continue what’s been done, because that’s not what this conversation is about. Melvil Dewey and the person who took off the chains did not sit there and go, ‘this is what we’ve always done’. Instead, they said, ‘this is what we need to do’. The conversation, the power of librarianship, is not in reifying tradition, it is in tearing it down, and coming up with something better. Not to dismiss it. To understand that what we’ve done in the past was important to get us here. But it may not take us into the future. That is the conversation that we must have, that is why we are a noble profession, and that is why we have every liberty, every right, and every obligation, to think big.” – Dave Lankes,

To BC teacher-librarians, helping people learn; doing what “we need to do”. Happy National School Library Day!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Images from the 2011 BCTLA Conference

Thank you to the Burnaby Teacher-Librarians' Association for hosting an amazing conference! Presentations from the conference are available on the BCTLA website at

BCTLA Treasurer Chris Evans and BCTLA Past President Pat Parungao
enjoying the Thursday evening social and vendors' display

Conference day Friday -- and Pat wore exactly the right thing!

BCTLA Presidents' Award recipient Al Smith (SD23), New BC Teacher-Librarian of the Year Nicola Kuhn (SD20), and BC Teacher-Librarian of the Year Sylvia Zubke (SD39)

The BCTLA Chapter Councillors and BCTLA Executive met on Saturday for the 2011 BCTLA Fall Council meeting with special guest Susan Lambert, BCTF President

Monday, October 17, 2011

Learning Commons in BC

Interested in how technology is being integrated into BC school library programs and services? Or how both academic and school libraries are providing personalized experiences for students?

A new video, "Learning Commons in BC", features the Chapman Learning Commons at UBC, and learning commons at VSB's John Oliver and Gladstone Secondary Schools, and David Livingstone Elementary School.

Check it out:

What do you think about the learning commons movement? Are you conducting inquiry into this area in your school library?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

DEAR 2011 Press Release





VICTORIA--On Monday, October 24, 2011, the British Columbia Teacher-Librarians’ Association (BCTLA) hopes that you will join them to…DROP EVERYTHING AND READ!

Through its annual support of National School Library Day, the BCTLA wants all British Columbians to celebrate the joy of reading and the power of literacy by joining them to read for twenty minutes (officially from 11:00-11:20 a.m. but any time is a great time!). Last year, over 45 000 students and teachers joined several MLAs and local officials from around the province to drop what they were doing to spend time just…reading.

For many rural communities in British Columbia, the local school library is often the only library that their students have access to on a regular basis. Sadly, many of these rural (and several urban) school libraries offer limited access (i.e. one morning a week), are not staffed by a trained teacher-librarian, and/or possess an outdated and unattractive collection of materials for youth. While continuing its advocacy for BC school libraries, the BCTLA has formal requested that the government officially recognize the fourth Monday of every October as ‘BC School Library Day’ in order to bring a greater public awareness to the plight of the school library in the province.

This year, the Minister of Education, and several high-profile MLAs, including Carole James, will be participating in the DEAR Challenge on Monday, October 24th. We hope you’ll take a moment from your busy day and join us, too!

For more information about the DEAR challenge, you can visit our official website at, find us on Facebook (DROP Everything and READ), follow us on Twitter (@BCTLA_DEAR
) or contact BCTLA VP (Advocacy), Jeff Yasinchuk (

British Columbia Teacher-Librarians’ Association, 2011

Bonnie McComb Receives the 2011 Alan Knight Memorial Award

The BC Teacher-Librarians' Association and the Editorial Board of The Bookmark recognize the contribution to communication in teacher-librarianship made by the submission of outstanding articles to The Bookmark. Each year an award committee is formed in one of B.C.’s school districts. This committee selects the most outstanding article in The Bookmark for that year and the Alan Knight Memorial Award goes to the contributor(s).

For 2011, and for the second consecutive year in a row, the award recipient is Bonnie McComb, teacher-librarian at Parkland Secondary School in Saanich, B.C.

Bonnie has received the Alan Knight Memorial Award for the article "Creating a Culture of Reading in High School: Student Book Clubs Work". As with the first article in the Creating a Culture of Reading series, the article has already had a significant impact in terms of the contribution it represents to the professional growth of teacher-librarians in B.C., and beyond! It was presented at the Australian School Library Association XXI Biennial Conference in Perth, Australia on September 30, 2009 while Bonnie was in Australia on teacher exchange.

On behalf of the BCTLA, I would like to congratulate Bonnie McComb for her continually outstanding contributions to The Bookmark!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Arlene Anderson Receives 2010-11 Prime Minister's Award for Teaching Excellence

Congratulations to Arlene Anderson on receiving a 2010-11 Prime Minister's Award for Teaching Excellence / Certificate of Excellence!

Arlene is the teacher-librarian at Rockridge Secondary in West Vancouver where she is an amazing "Techno-wiz teacher–librarian [who] inspires students and...reinvents [the] school library. If the school is an atom, the library is its nucleus where energy and enthusiasm fuel ideas". Arlene is also a member of the BCTLA Executive, as the BCTLA Professional Development Chairperson. In the 2010-11 school year, in addition to developing an amazing library program at Rockridge, she was instrumental in the development of the BC Teacher-Librarians' Ning. At the 2011 BCTLA Spring Council, Arlene led Chapter Councillors through the Ning and presented a workshop on ebooks. She was also responsible for the development of the 2011 BCTLA Summer Institute, held at Rockridge Secondary, which focused on the topics of media literacy and social networking. On October 21, Arlene will present on "Developing Your Social Network with NING and Twitter" at the annual BCTLA conference.

Congratulations, Arlene, on a well-deserved achievement, and thank you for also being a "techno-wiz teacher-librarian who inspires" her colleagues and fellow teacher-librarians!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

October is Library Month

October is Canadian Library Month and has been proclaimed Library Month in B.C. This year's theme is "Your Library: A Place Unbound". Many events will be held throughout the month celebrating all libraries and library workers. This will include the BCTLA conference on October 21 and National School Library Day and Drop Everything and Read! on October 24.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Book Week 2012

From the Canadian Children's Book Centre:

"TD Canadian Children’s Book Week will take place from May 5-12, 2012.

Applications to host a Book Week 2012 touring author, illustrator or storyteller are now open! Invite an author, illustrator or storyteller to your school, library or community centre today and share the magic of books and reading!

TD Canadian Children's Book Week is the single most important national event celebrating Canadian children's books and the importance of reading.Twenty-nine English-speaking authors, illustrators and storytellers will be visiting schools, libraries, bookstores and community centres in every province and territory across the country. Over 35,000 children, teens and adults will take part in the readings and workshops that will be given by the Book Week touring authors, illustrators and storytellers.

Visit to learn more about the authors, illustrators and storytellers that will tour in your province or territory.

Visit to apply today.

The deadline to apply is November 30, 2011".

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Note to BCTLA from Sharon Scott

A note to BCTLA from retired Vancouver teacher-librarian Sharon Scott, recipient of the 2010 Val Hamilton Lifetime Achievement Award:

"As the recipient of the 2010 BCTLA Val Hamilton Lifetime Achievement Award, I would like to express belated but sincere gratitude for this honour. It is especially meaningful because Val and I were on so many executives and committees together in Vancouver over the years and remain friends.

Being a part of the teacher-librarian community and member of both BCTLA and VTLA has been a pleasure and a privilege.

Helping organize and actively participating in the Information Literacy Project at UBC Faculty of Education and cooperatively planning with professors, instructors, volunteers and pre-service teachers over the eleven years since my retirement has been exceptionally enjoyable and fulfilling.

BCTLA has continued to support teacher-librarians and advocate for school libraries through challenging times and deserves to be commended.

Thank you again for the beautiful and much appreciated award.

Sharon Scott"

Thank you, Sharon!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

2011-12 BCTLA Program

The specific goals and objectives of the BC Teacher-Librarians' Association for the school year 2011-12 are now available on the BCTLA website! Click on the image below for more:

Monday, September 12, 2011

VIWF Spreading the Word Schools Program

"Vancouver International Writers & Readers Festival
Spreading the Word Schools Program
October 18-21, 2011

Free Festival Author Visits to Schools-in-Need

The Festival is sponsoring eight Festival authors to visit inner-city, 'vulnerable', schools in-need, to speak with up to two classes about being a writer, read from their books, engage with students. This is meant to be an intimate experience, and IT IS FREE.

If your school meets this criteria, check out this year’s writers listed below. For author bios go to

Select one and email Ilona Beiks, Education Coordinator: Make sure to include the preferred date, time, grade level, # of students, school address and contact phone number. You will be notified if your class is selected.

If you have any questions, call 604-215-9726.

Ilona Beiks
Education Coordinator
Vancouver International Writers & Readers Festival


Alan Cumyn
For Grade 7
Available: Tuesday, October 18, anytime; Wednesday, October 19, morning; Thursday, October 20, afternoon.

Tanya Davis
For Grades 8 - 9
Available: Wednesday, October 19, afternoon only; Thursday, October 20, morning.

Deborah Hodge
For Grades 1 - 2
Available: Tuesday, October 18, anytime; Thursday, October 20, anytime.

Christy Jordan-Fenton & Margaret Pokiak-Fenton
For Grades 3 - 5
Available: Tuesday, October 18, morning; Wednesday, October 19, afternoon.

Margriet Ruurs
For Grades 4
Available: Tuesday, October 18, anytime.

Janet Willen
For Grade 6
Available: Wednesday, October 19, afternoon; Thursday, October 20, morning.

Sheri-D Wilson
For Grades 11 - 12
Available: Wednesday, October 19, afternoon.

Moira Young
For Grade 10 - 11
Available: Wednesday, October 19, morning; Thursday, October 20, morning.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

“Living and Learning in a Smartboard World”

Written by teachers and researchers in the Livingstone Inquiry Group, the thirteen-chapter book outlines teachers’ innovations in teaching and learning including:

  • Designing digital curriculum units

  • Changes to student writing through digital media

  • Smartboards and students with special needs

  • The power of embedded video

  • Collaboration in a learning community

Sylvia Zubke, teacher-librarian at David Livingstone Elementary and member of the Livingstone Inquiry Group, was recently named as the 2011 BC Teacher-Librarian of the Year by the BCTLA.

The Points of Inquiry Posters

Points of Inquiry PosterAll BC public schools should have received a copy of a poster featuring The Points of Inquiry model. The poster should have arrived in the school start-up mailing from the BCTF. The posters were provided via a special grant from the BCTF, for which we thank them!

To download addition copies (several sizes) of the English and/or French posters, go to

In addition to the posters, resources on the site include the full The Points of Inquiry: A Framework for Information Literacy and the 21st-Century Learner document, a technology integration screencast, subject integration and collaborative planning templates, a student inquiry-teacher inquiry crosswalk, and more!

New resources include the Langley Inquiry Questions wiki, developed by the Langley Teacher-Librarians' Association. The wiki features a bank of sample questions in every subject area that may encourage inquiry in the classroom and/or school library.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Drop Everything and Read Posters and T-Shirts

We are excited to announce that information and resources for the 2011 Drop Everything and Read challenge are now available at!

For 2011, resources include posters and t-shirts.

Drop Everything and Read...

WHEN: Monday, October 24, 2011 @ 11:00 a.m. - 11:20 a.m.

WHERE: Wherever you are!

HOW: Stop whatever it is that you are doing and...just read!

WHY: Because the love of reading is a beautiful, valuable, lifelong habit that everyone should enjoy, every day.

For more information, visit the Drop Everything and Read website at, and/or follow @BCTLA_DEAR on Twitter!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Deadline Extended!: BCTLA Summer Institute (July 26)

2011 BCTLA Summer Institute: Social Media, Media Literacy, and Youth Culture

Date: July 26, 2011
Time: 10:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Location: Rockridge Secondary School, 5350 Headland Street, West Vancouver
Cost: $50
Contact: Arlene Anderson, BCTLA Professional Development Chairperson,

Registration: contact Arlene as above and/or download registration form; deadline July 15

Join Wendy Chen, a doctoral candidate in Media, Culture, and Education at New York University, to learn how students are shaping the information landscape as writers and publishers as well as how you can help your students use digital content critically. Lunch will be provided. The cost is $50.00. Register via email with Arlene Anderson:
Registration deadline: July 15, 2011.

The proliferation of mobile technologies and the intensifying forces of globalization have significantly expanded the possibilities for communication, collaboration, and participation in media cultures. Join us as we explore some of the key developments – citizen journalism, online social justice campaigns, digital remixes and mashups – and their relevance for a new generation of 21st-Century learners. Provocative visual examples of user-generated content and discussion of key concepts will illuminate the power of social media and consequently, the changing notions of creativity and community.

Outside school walls, in leisure time and other informal learning environments, young people develop a range of media expertise. These skills and competencies are rarely addressed in the classroom. Why is media education necessary, and how can it be approached in the service of critical thinking? How do we prepare young people to navigate their complex, mediated realities? This workshop employs hands-on activities and current media resources to explore the ways in which curriculum can be made relevant to students' everyday experiences in the media-saturated landscape.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Summer Issue of The Bookmark Released

The Summer issue of The Bookmark, "Diversity and the Magic of Three", has been published online on the BCTLA website. Check out the Summer issue today!

Table of Contents: Summer 2011

  • President's Column by Heather Daly

  • From The Bookmark Editor by Angie MacRitchie

  • Meet Our Stars: Arlene Anderson

  • Diversity and the Magic of Three by Vi Hughes

  • Living Books Festival by Karen Lindsay

  • Helping Schools Enhance the Health Literacy... by Cindy Andrew

  • From Study Centre to Dedicated Library by Dr. Andrew K. Shenton

  • Practice What You Teach: Evidence-Based Practice by Nicola Kuhn

  • Michael Kusugak Interview by Margriet Ruurs

  • Invite and Author or Illustrator into Your School by Shar Levine, CWILL BC Society

  • Greetings from Shar Levine, Guest Columnist

  • New on the Net by John Goldsmith

  • Science Fiction Has Space Opera? by Stew Savard

  • DEAR Drop Everything and Read 2011 by Jeff Yasinchuk

  • Cruchley's Corner by Diana Cruchley

  • BCTLA Points of Inquiry Initiative

  • Elluminate Project Report by Jeff Yasinchuk and Janine Cornwallis-Bate

  • Storytelling by Cheriee Weichel

  • BCTLA Reviews

Monday, June 13, 2011

October 2011 Conference Registration Now Open!

Registration is now open for the fall BCTLA conference being held at Burnaby Mountain Secondary in October!

The conference will feature keynote Doug Johnson (Director of Media and Technology for the Mankato Area Public Schools, Minnesota), a Thursday night social event, vendor displays, and 50 sessions on inquiry, technology, media, library, authors, and more.

For more information, and to register, visit

Monday, June 6, 2011

Moira Ekdahl's Award Acceptance Speech

The following speech was delivered on May 27 in Halifax, at the Canadian Association for School Librarians AGM and Awards Ceremony. Congratulations once again to Moira Ekdahl (Teacher-Librarian Mentor, Vancouver Board of Education) on receiving the 2011 CASL Angela Thacker Memorial Award!

Moira on the occasion of accepting her award:

"In thinking about how to say thank you for this award, it was necessary to do some serious research. Being something of an expert in inquiry, as TLs are, I sought advice from colleagues who had worked as TLs during Angela B. Thacker’s time in school libraries and was re-directed to the expert Liz Austrom, formerly the District Principal of Learning Services for Vancouver, now retired.

What were the qualities of Angela and her work that would lead to the creation of such an award? I asked. Liz was clearly a fan.

  • Formidable, she said, a very strong presence, a force to be reckoned with. She spoke her mind, spoke directly, but with such good manners that, should you disagree, you were always at a loss because she had said it so nicely.

  • She knew everything about school libraries, a shining light who got the excitement going.

  • When she was in charge of library services in West Vancouver, they were the best-funded in Canada. Her work in West Vancouver set a standard that generated respect for the work and thus enabled other districts to move ahead.

  • She was the President of the BCTLA and the CSLA; she was a founding member of the ATLC (now CASL).

  • Angela was always looking for ways to make things better and for better ways to keep TLs moving forward. As Angela moved forward, she pulled others in her wake. She just kept going and going and going.

Surely, I thought, working with this Angela B. Thacker must have been a little like tailing Haley’s Comet. Even as I compare some of what I bring to the field to the qualities exemplified by Angela -- maybe a certain obsessiveness and unrelenting focus, certainly a strong sense that we must move forward, and a tendency to use the words “school library” in every second sentence! – I am struck by the powerful message about the importance of relationships in what we do.

I am fortunate to work within the most supportive of professional learning communities, the teacher-librarians in Vancouver and in British Columbia. I have been well introduced to the field by truly excellent role models and lucky to have had fantastic opportunities to travel to hear and work with some of the biggest names in provincial, national, and international school library contexts. I always hope that the excitement about learning and moving ahead in school libraries, in partnership with others in our schools, as well as the drive to provide new and improved services and resources for teachers and students, have been shared. TLs are, like Angela, always so gracious, so appreciative of work done to support their work. I do believe that we have moved ahead, despite setbacks here in BC, that we are seeing glimpses of the light now and will soon be taking our rightful place in the provincial conversations about education reform grounded in collaboration and in meaningful teaching for the love of reading and the pursuit of inquiry, the integration of technology including new tools and resources, and learning to learn.

In a recent post to his blog The Culture of Yes, West Vancouver Superintendent Chris Kennedy, an influential voice in the provincial conversations about change, wrote that, as we move forward, 'teacher librarians are more important than ever.' He said that his experience has been that, 'next to the principal, the teacher-librarian is often key in moving the learning agenda forward. In schools that are moving forward, it is very often the teacher-librarian, working side-by-side with teachers on staff, who find new ways of working with students. ... As we lament that little change has taken place, or how slow the change has been, many teacher-librarians have transformed what they do to stay relevant and ahead of the curve. [Many] are seeing their roles ... “as producer, concierge, connector, teacher and impresario.'

Couple Chris’s vision with the recent political development, the BCTF’s winning their years-long challenge under the Charter of Rights that had sought to reverse the 2001 Liberal government’s stripping of language and ratios that had, amongst other dreadful effects, undertaken a deliberate and intended outcome of reducing the numbers of TLs in BC schools. Add in that the judge expressly declared an expectation of remediation within a year, and you can see there is reason for hope for restoration of TLs and strong school library programs in BC schools. We have been working hard to make sure our TLs are ready.

On this hopeful note, I wish to end by thanking CASL for its important work in supporting the very different struggles to keep school libraries alive and strong across Canada and, in particular today, for honouring me with this Award which Judith Comfort is gratefully accepting for me. In speaking with Liz Austrom, I found myself incredulous and incredibly honoured to think that in some small way, by comparison, I have been enabled to follow the very significant and clearly hewn path laid down by the formidable Angela B. Thacker.

Thank you again."

Heather Daly's Award Acceptance Speech

The following speech was delivered on May 27 in Halifax, at the Canadian Association for School Librarians AGM and Awards Ceremony. Heather on the occasion of accepting the Margaret B. Scott Award of Merit:

"Thank you so much for the honour of naming me the 2011 recipient of the Margaret B. Scott Award of Merit. It sincerely means so much to me.

My first experience with the Canadian Association for School Libraries was in 2004, at the CLA conference which was held that year in Victoria. I believe my first introduction—in person—to what was then called the Canadian School Library Association was actually at the awards ceremony at that conference, which took the form of a luncheon held in the Victoria Fairmont Empress hotel.

The amazing Lillian Carefoot from Nanaimo, BC, was the recipient of the Margaret B. Scott Award of Merit that year. Her acceptance speech, in which she talked about the role of the teacher-librarian, inspired and had a huge influence on me. Lillian also handed out stickers in the shape of turtles, in honour of the amazing Margaret B. Scott and her 'Turtle Club', which celebrated teacher-librarians who were not afraid to 'stick their necks out'.

One of the loveliest notes that I have received since it was announced that I had received the 2011 award was from BC legend Donald Hamilton, who received the Margaret B. Scott Award of Merit in 1988. He said, 'welcome to the Club', meaning the Margaret B. Scott Club and he also said that, 'the list of members in this august group reads like a history book on school librarianship in Canada. I am humbled when I consider all the people who helped me and who gave so much to an idea that seems to losing its flavour. I hope that you can stick your neck out'.

On that note, I would like to take this opportunity to recognize all of the teacher-librarians and library technicians who every day ARE doing just that, from coast to coast to coast. From Prince Edward Island to here in BC and everywhere north, south, and in between, we are PROVING that our role is critical and needed.

I hope that the recent BC Supreme Court challenge win that could ultimately restore the contractual teacher-librarian to student ratio in BC and therefore, restore teacher-librarians to every school in the province, and the very significant positive media coverage about the closure of school libraries in Windsor, Ontario, are signs that the tide is at long last, finally turning.

Following the 2004 awards ceremony at which Lillian gave the speech that meant so much to me, I attended the last AGM of the Canadian School Library Association at which the Canadian Association for School Libraries, CASL, was born. I am sorry that I can’t be with you today, for what I hope will NOT be the final AGM for an association that was launched with such promise just seven years ago.

CASL has played an integral role in building a national network between—in particular—the territorial and provincial teacher-librarian and school library associations. I know this networking will continue, no matter what happens, and I wish to thank the current members of the CASL Executive—Linda, Diana, Richard, Dianne, Wendy and Cindy—and all of the members of the CASL Publications Team, for everything that they have done to build and promote teacher-librarianship in Canada.

Finally, thank you to Judith Comfort, both for accepting this award on my behalf, and for exemplifying what a school library program can look like in the 21st-Century when it is being developed by a superb teacher-librarian. We are very lucky here in Coquitlam School District.

Thank you so much!"

Judith Comfort's Award Acceptance Speech

The following speech was delivered on May 27 in Halifax, at the Canadian Association for School Librarians AGM and Awards Ceremony. Congratulations once again to Judith Comfort (teacher-librarian, Dr. Charles Best Secondary, Coquitlam) on receiving the 2011 CASL Follett International Teacher-Librarian of the Year Award!

Judith on the occasion of accepting her award:

"We talk teacher-librarian speak: information literacy, collaborative planning, learning commons, critical thinking, heart of the school . . . . Sigh – heart of the school has become a cliché used by admin, even as they slash our time and resources.

We are a mutual admiration society, but are we valued by society in general or even in our own educational communities?

Are we necessary? What are we needed for?

When challenged to defend our programs against cuts we often descend into educational jargon, teacher-librarian speak, or play the accountant game – the only thing that counts is that which can be counted: test scores, parental attitude, numbers of hits.

Is this effective advocacy?

I think we need to start talking about needs and defend our programs in plain language.

If our educational communities have needs that we are not fulfilling, then perhaps they ARE better off hiring another counselor, or reading specialist.

I do believe that the time is right for our profession – if only we would get going on seizing the opportunity – not continuing to sit by waiting for something to come to us.

The invention of the online computer has brought serious challenges to education and learning. Computers and wires and wireless and bandwidth lust and technology handmaidens and traffic and security experts have sucked the juices out of both printed paper and toilet paper school budgets. We have been had (collectively that is).

Teacher-librarians have watched in horror, as people believe the sales pitches shrouded in faux magic about “engaging” students with machines, spinning dull boys into golden orators and communicators, if only we could get a laptop in every lap.

My teacher-librarians colleagues and I have questioned the spending of hundreds of thousands/millions of dollars on software designed for business recommended by techno gurus with profit motives. Our province has adopted “personalized learning”, a buzzword of computer programs business developers who slog online courses as “choice” superior to living breathing teachers. Bill Gates and the creator of Star Wars have become gurus to our Ministry. Heaven help us.

Why do we see what the techno sycophants cannot?

This is our balleywycke. We are experts in the connections between kids and curriculum and technology and teaching. We are practical humanists who defend equity and democracy and smell profit motive because it stinks. We know our stuff and are needed to recommend sites that are well designed and appropriate, and to save teachers from drowning in frustration by resources that have unrealistic learning curves and 10-click access.

To keep our programs we need to support the needs of our communities to the point that we are indispensable. As it turns out – we have the exact skill sets to be indispensable.

Or, we should have the skill sets. The status quo is not an option.

Here is my recipe for getting up to speed:

1. Build on and offline connections with staff and students, every single day.

2. Teach students and staff, every single day.

3. Anticipate and satisfy needs that prove teacher-librarian programs have NOT been made redundant by the Internet.

4. Live digital literacy leadership by keeping up with all things digital that is relevant to the educational community in which you work. Teach today what you learned yesterday.

5. Let go of territorial and proprietary attitudes and free up your school library programs to connect with others.

6. Take advantage of online computers to save time and personalize for people: cut down on turnaround time for requests; reduce redundant tasks, adapt and reduce info glut.

7. Create a vibrant online presence, not a link storage site."

Monday, May 23, 2011

Important Blog Posts

Two very well-respected British Columbian educational bloggers have recently written posts about teacher-librarians, and learning commons respectively.

On his blog, SD45 West Vancouver Superintendent Chris Kennedy describes his understanding of the important role of teacher-librarians in
"My Take on Librarians" (May 23, 2011). In his post, Chris writes, "My experience has been that next to the principal, the teacher-librarian is often key in moving the learning agenda forward. In schools that are moving forward, it is very often the teacher-librarian, working side-by-side with teachers on staff, who find new ways of working with students".

In his post, Chris mentions the blog post of John Oliver Secondary School (Vancouver School Board) principal Gino Bondi about the transformation of John Oliver's school
library into a learning commons. In "Our Learning Commons: One 'How To' For 21st-Century Learning" (May 16, 2011), Gino describes what observers will encounter in the learning commons and what it will look like. In his vision, "The Learning Commons is a real world whole school approach to creating such a new collaborative learning model. In joining the collaborative dynamics of the school library with technology-rich labs and expertise and providing a seamless portal of flexible physical and virtual learning resources and spaces. Top that with relevant participatory learning experiences and students will be energized to make meaningful connections and develop strategies for successful learning".

Check out the blogs of Chris Kennedy and Gino Bondi, and check out what great things are happening in BC school libraries!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

ABPBC Call for Teacher-Librarian Evaluators

From The Association of Book Publishers of BC (ABPBC):

"Call for Teacher-Librarian Evaluators

BC Books for BC Schools
and Canadian Aboriginal Books for Schools

The Association of Book Publishers of BC (ABPBC) is calling for experienced reviewers to join the evaluation for our catalogues.

Evaluators will select resources from submissions from publishers that have a match to the BC curriculum for the BC Books catalogue. The Aboriginal catalogue will be distributed across the country so knowledge of curricula in other jurisdictions will be helpful for evaluators. For both projects, evaluators will also write the annotations and identify curricula match and grade levels.

Evaluators must be available over the summer to undertake this work. Books will be mailed to evaluators in early July. Annotations of selected books are submitted via email and must be completed by August 15, 2011. Evaluators will work under contract from their homes and must declare their self-employed income to Revenue Canada. Evaluators will be paid $25 an hour.

If you are interested in joining either of the above evaluation teams or both, please send a résumé and sample review of a book of your choice by mail, fax or email to:

Margaret Reynolds
Association of Book Publishers of BC
600-402 West Pender Street
Vancouver, BC
V6B 1T6
Fax: (604) 684-5788

Please indicate the kinds of books that you are most interested in reviewing. Reviewers must, however, be prepared to evaluate a wide range of titles. The ABPBC is particularly interested in hearing from teacher-librarians with an interest in First Nations material K-12, secondary level evaluators and those who can review French material.

Evaluators who have previously worked with the ABPBC need only send an expression of interest, however, they will not be guaranteed a position. In order to ensure the quality of this program, the ABPBC encourages fresh voices on our team. Only selected annotators will be contacted.

DEADLINE: June 12, 2010"

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Judith Comfort Wins the 2011 CASL Follett International Teacher-Librarian of the Year Award

Judith Comfort, teacher-librarian at Dr. Charles Best Secondary School in Coquitlam, BC, has been announced as the 2011 winner of the CASL Follett International Teacher-Librarian of the Year Award. The award honours each year a teacher-librarian, "who has made an outstanding contribution to school librarianship within Canada through planning and implementing school library programs, based on a collaborative model which integrates library and classroom programs".

From the
Canadian Library Association press release: "Judith’s current practice as teacher-librarian at Charles Best Secondary School in Coquitlam, BC, and previous experiences as a teacher, professional writer, and teacher-librarian has been attested to and recognized by teachers, students and colleagues throughout her thirty-five year career. Judith began her teaching career 1975 at Liverpool Regional High School in Nova Scotia.

Judith successfully integrates 21st century literacy skills between library and classroom programs and her practice supports quality teaching and learning in face-to-face and virtual environments. Judith recently stated that, “she constantly pushes boundaries and as a master teacher-librarian, she is an information specialist working in collaboration with teachers in an evolving digital age”. She believes that “transparency is advocacy” and her comprehensive web site, Dr. Charles Best Secondary School Library provides recommended print, virtual and digital resources, strategies, lessons and activities to support teaching and learning across curricular areas.
Judith ensures that information literacy is embedded in her collaborative units and lessons are developed collaboratively with teachers at the school. Her numerous units, and lessons, in a range of subjects, reflect a strong interest in global perspectives, information bias, media literacy, and the ethics of information use. Judith promotes reading and literacy through various events and strategies and enables students and teachers to engage, interact and develop 21st century skills through technology integration, and the use of virtual library resources and programs. She is knowledgeable in library collection development, and incorporates Web 2.0 technologies and resources to support curriculum.

Judith has contributed as a leader and advocate for school library-related campaigns and initiatives at various levels including, school, district, and provincial levels (British Columbia) and has been a member of the BCLA, CTA, BCTA, BCTLA, CTLA, BCTLE, the Writer’s Federation of BC and CUPE. She has been a teacher-librarian presenter at conferences within Canada and in 2010 she was the keynote speaker at the Saskatchewan School Library Association Conference.

Judith is an online and offline mentor for teacher-librarians and teachers. Like many of her fellow teacher-librarians, she is a lifelong learner, and is committed to literacy, information literacy and technologies to enhance learning. Her school web site and personal site are informed by years of experience and collaborative planning with teachers and quality teaching with students.

Judith is a role model and exemplary teacher-librarian who is very deserving of the 2011 Follett International Teacher-Librarian of the Year Award".

Judith will receive the Follett International Teacher-Librarian of the Year Award at the Canadian Association for School Libraries awards ceremony on May 27, 2011 in Halifax. On behalf of BCTLA, congratulations, Judith!

Heather Daly Wins the 2011 Margaret B. Scott Award of Merit

Heather Daly has been announced as the 2011 winner of the CASL Margaret B. Scott Award of Merit. According to CASL, "the Margaret B. Scott Award of Merit honours an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to Canadian school librarianship at the national level".

From the Canadian Library Association (CLA) press release: "Heather Daly stands out for the professional qualities that exemplify leadership in school libraries in Canada. Her vision, motivation and energy have contributed immensely to school libraries in the province of British Columbia.

Heather is currently the Library and Information Coordinator for School District #43 (Coquitlam) in British Columbia. She has taken and fulfilled opportunities to lead – in her school district, her teacher-librarian association and her professional union, and reaches out across Canada with the BCTLA President’s blog, In Circulation, and her participation in CASL-PAC, the Provincial Advisory Council of the CASL, the Canadian Association for School Libraries. She is a member of the Canadian Association for School Libraries and serves on the Copyright Working Group for the Canadian Library Association.

Heather represented British Columbia’s school libraries as part of BC Library 2020, composed of leaders from the public, academic, special and school library communities who worked together on visioning and celebration for the BC library community, and to identify new opportunities for collaboration among BC’s library sectors. With the BC Educational Resource Acquisition Consortium (ERAC), an association of BC public school districts working together on software, video and learning resource acquisition and evaluation, Heather has served as writer/reviewer and on its advisory committee.

As President of the British Columbia Teacher-Librarians’ Association (BCTLA), Heather has forged the association into a powerful, highly-achieving body and an agent of change. Heather’s support of BCTLA’s award-winning DEAR (Drop Everything and Read) event held annually in celebration of National School Library Day has led to this program being adopted by the Manitoba School Library Association (MSLA), with interest from even more jurisdictions for next year. BCTLA’s professional, well-considered evaluation and statement against the practice of assigning reading levels to students’ reading material appears in their 2009 position statement Book Levelling and School Library Collections, which has been influential at the national and international level.

In 2007, Heather supported the formation of BCTLA’s Information Literacy Task Force which had the goal of developing provincial learning outcomes for information literacy. The result is The Points of Inquiry: A Framework for Information Literacy and the 21st Century Learner, which was published in 2011. Along with another CASL award winner, Mary Locke, she wrote the 2008 article School Libraries as Classrooms, which was published in BCTLA’s The Bookmark journal.

Heather Daly’s career is a model of dedication, encapsulating the perseverance that accompanies the passion of an individual for a valued and essential component of education in Canada – its school libraries. CASL is honoured to grant this award in recognition of Heather’s important achievements already made and in anticipation of the new and future goals for school library advocacy across Canada that we know she will accomplish".

The Margaret B. Scott Award of Merit will be formally presented at the Canadian Association for School Libraries awards ceremony on May 27, 2011 in Halifax.

Moira Ekdahl Wins the 2011 CASL Angela Thacker Memorial Award

Moira Ekdahl, Teacher-Librarian Mentor for the Vancouver School Board and BCTLA Liaison Chair, has been announced as the 2011 winner of the CASL Angela Thacker Memorial Award.

The award, "has been established in memory of Angela Thacker, teacher-librarian, library coordinator, and school library colleague, mentor, leader and advocate who served the Association for Teacher-Librarianship in Canada (ATLC) and the Canadian School Library Association (CSLA) in many capacities. This Award honours teacher-librarians who have made contributions to the profession through publications, productions or professional development activities that deal with topics relevant to teacher-librarianship and/or information literacy".

From the Canadian Library Association (CLA) press release: "...she started as a classroom teacher in 1972, mostly teaching in secondary English and Social Studies classrooms and acknowledges 'she is ever so grateful for the wonderful teacher-librarians that she worked with as a classroom teacher and for the collegial relationships that have encouraged and supported her work as a teacher-librarian'.

Moira acquired her Teacher-Librarian Diploma from UBC in 2003 and also holds a Masters degree in Social and Educational Studies (1993). Moira...has co-authored, “Book Levelling and School Library Collections”, a position statement response from the BCTLA and the subsequent position statement on school library programs, “School Library Programs, Teacher-Librarians and Effective Teaching and Learning”, and most recently, she co-authored the BCTLA InfoLit Task Force publication, The Points of Inquiry: A Framework for Information Literacy and the 21st Century Learner (2010). She has contributed to other significant campaigns and initiatives partnered with the BCTLA Executive which includes the DEAR campaign (Drop Everything and Read), the Downtown Eastside Women’s Book Club.

Moira provides leadership and professional development services and resources for teacher-librarians in the Vancouver School Board related to reading, information literacy, school library program and curriculum support documents and technology integration. She communicates, and collaborates online through a blog, and wiki and tweets fellow teacher-librarians. She developed and maintains a blog, titled TL Weekly Special Report. She is also a member of various library associations, school and district committees.

As VSB Teacher-Librarian Consultant/Mentor, Moira contributes to professional development, information literacy initiatives, publications, and literacy programs in the Vancouver district to support school libraries and teacher-librarianship.

Moira is a leader and mentor--a very worthy recipient of the 2011 Angela Thacker Memorial Award".

The Angela Thacker Memorial Award will be formally presented at the Canadian Association for School Libraries awards ceremony on May 27, 2011 in Halifax. On behalf of BCTLA, congratulations to Moira Ekdahl!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Sylvia Zubke is 2011's BC Teacher-Librarian of the Year

The BC Teacher-Librarians' Association is pleased to announce that Sylvia Zubke is the 2011 recipient of the highest honour of the BCTLA, the BC Teacher-Librarian of the Year -- Diana Poole Memorial Award.

Now, Sylvia would be the very first to say that she's gonna let me finish, but that it's Beyoncé who truly deserves the award.

Not this time, Sylvia...this one is all yours!

This award honours a practicing teacher-librarian who is making an outstanding contribution to teacher-librarianship at and beyond the school level in British Columbia. Recipients of the award are teacher-librarians who have planned and implemented a school library program of such exemplary quality that it serves as a model and inspiration for others.

Sylvia Zubke's school library program at David Livingstone Elementary School in Vancouver, BC, is just that. In addition to being an incredibly beautiful person, inside and out, Sylvia is absolutely a school library leader in the province. Every day, she is inquiring into and challenging and redefining traditional concepts of elementary school library service. She does this by approaching every single opportunity and challenge with the amazing and genuine attitude of "welcome!". Hers is a school library program completely alive with the vision of being welcoming to all.

Sylvia is powerfully collaborative and her library is completely accessible. Everyone feels comfortable working with Sylvia and she works with all of the classes at David Livingstone each year. In addition to working with classes, Sylvia also ensures that the families of her students have a role in the library. All have borrowing privileges at David Livingstone, including the younger siblings of students.

Sylvia has been inspired by and is inquiring into how to take the learning commons concept more commonly seen at the academic library or secondary school library setting into an elementary school. Less shelving, new furniture, increased access, different approaches; David Livingstone Elementary may just be the only school library in the province equipped with both a SMART Board, and a dollhouse. She has noticed that usage has increased and that entire families come in to the school specifically just to visit the library! What her inquiry might ultimately find is yet to be known, but it is certain that something special is happening at David Livingstone.

Sylvia has introduced significant technology to the library, including databases, a 17-station computer lab, and a SMART Board. She has experimented with the use of clickers (SMART Response system) and notably, she has taught everyone in the school (staff and students) how to use databases. Sylvia is most well known, however, as THE provincial leader in the use of interactive whiteboards in the school library. She is a key member of the David Livingstone / BCTF / UBC SMART Board inquiry project (ongoing for several years). In addition to using her own SMART Board constantly with her students, Sylvia has presented over twenty workshops in the past five years to community members and educators, including teacher-librarians, classroom teachers, senior management, and pre-service teachers in her district, at conferences (including at the BCTLA conference), and at UBC.

At the district level, Sylvia is an exemplary leader and mentor. In addition to SMART Board workshops and support, Sylvia has presented workshops on VSB's Horizon library automation system and has presented on the role of the teacher-librarian to TOCs and to Parent Advisory Councils. She has mentored new teacher-librarians for at least the past eight years, including working side-by-side with new teacher-librarians in weeding collections. She is a member of the Vancouver Elementary School Teachers' Association Technology Committee and is a member of VSB's School Library Resource Centre Consultative Committee. Sylvia has also worked with VSB District Learning Services in support of the implementation of new curriculum, such as by participating as a team member in the development of a bibliography of science resources.

Sylvia has also made incredible contributions with the Vancouver Teacher-Librarians' Association (VTLA) and the BC Teacher-Librarians' Association. She has presented to the Vancouver School Board in support of school library staffing (an amazing presentation described as being "major" and "dramatic"). She was the Chairperson of VTLA from 2004-2007 and also chaired the organizing committee for the 2004 BCTLA conference "Celebrating School Libraries" which was held in Vancouver. She has recently been an exceptional Conference Chairperson and Vice-President, Chapter Relations for BCTLA.

Those who nominated Sylvia for this award mention the words "collaboration", "accessible", "open", and "welcoming" over and over. Her admirers say, "she's been instrumental in creating a collaborative culture amongst teacher-librarians in Vancouver". Sylvia is much loved by all who have the great pleasure of knowing her. We know that she will always be instrumental, and influential, in integrating technology and rethinking service with "welcome" in mind, and in heart.

BCTLA will be honoured to recognize Sylvia Zubke as the 2011 recipient of the B.C. Teacher-Librarian of the Year -- Diana Poole Memorial Award at the 2011 BCTLA Conference on Friday, October 21, 2011 at Burnaby Mountain Secondary School in Burnaby, BC.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Al Smith Receives the BCTLA President's Award

At the 2011 BCTLA AGM, a new award was proposed and approved, to be called the "BCTLA President's Award", and to be given at the discretion of the BCTLA Executive to honour particularly outstanding teacher-librarians for their work and contributions.

In actual fact, we proposed this award with one person in mind -- Al Smith. From creating Drop Everything and Read posters and the new BCTLA logos, to developing the new BCTLA website, to managing the BCTLA Twitter feed, to formatting issues of The Bookmark, to hosting the 2010 BCTLA conference, all while providing continual encouragement and inspiration, Al is quite simply the best! On top of his contributions to BCTLA and COTLA, Al works with Sharon Bede to provide the students, staff, and community of Kelowna Senior Secondary with one of the most amazing and exciting school library programs in the province, complete with exemplary service. Thank you, Al, from all of us, and congratulations!

From Al:

"This custom-crafted award is such a nice gesture everyone. It has come at an ironic but never more appreciated time. I was just thinking how good it felt to see Nicola recognized. I remember telling people about her when I met her at Victoria Conference and have been networking with her ever since. It is what makes the BCTLA such a vital group. Everyone reaches out to others of all stripes and shades. TLs are generous people. Finding candidates for awards is easy. Selecting them is much harder because we have so many talented, humble and hard working souls. It is a wondrous thing in a way to be surrounded by such gifted people. I've been blessed to work with this current Executive and past TLs. Working closely with people like Angie has made me stronger. Sharing leadership with people like Heather, Karen, Moira, Bonnie, Halia, Sylvia, Pat, Val, etc. has been an enlightening and enriching challenge. Having opportunities to network with people like Jeff, Arlene, etc. has been so rewarding. Working as a teacher-librarian has been the most demanding and rewarding portion of my 31 years in teaching -- that says a lot considering the amazing assignments and colleagues I've had the pleasure of working with.

What is so poignant for me at this moment is the my room with a view. Not the beautiful library at Kelowna that I get to work in each day but the shoulders of giants I get to stand on. TL colleagues like Pat Kirkey, Joan Eaton, Colleen Knox, Bill Fleming, Don Rampone, John Pendray, Jan MacCrimmon, etc., etc., and many more from the Okanagan were role models of inspiration. They modeled teacher-librarianship before I knew what it meant. Years ago, I was encouraged to join this misunderstood fraternity and work in the library at Mount Boucherie Secondary School by Sharon Bede, 1995 BCTLA Award of Merit (Diana Poole) winner. You don't say no to Sharon. Although inspired, trained and well-mentored, I joined the KSS Library still a TL novice but landed into the welcome arms of Kay Treadgold, 1994 BCTLA Award of Merit (Diana Poole) winner and 2001 CLA Follett Teacher Librarian of the Year recipient. The midas touch of these two skilled and passionate women has to rub off onto even the crudest of biblio-peasant. Well, to say I was swimming in good luck is obvious, and to say I am in debt is inadequate. Kay moves onto TL nirvana (retirement), and guess who moves to KSS -- Sharon. How cool is that! Now we are conspiratorial bibliovores having the time of our lives. What is so rewarding is that our staff and students know it too. They enjoy being with us as we endeavour to make the library experience special. To receive recognition for my service is humbling and appreciated but oddly a trophy guilded with guilt because teachers should be so blessed to choose this career and follow those giant footsteps.

I used to carry an inferiority complex, not having finished an MLIS, but soon realised that the role of a teacher-librarian is not as much about the science as about the art. The art of crafting content, pedagogy, faculty and learners into something so beautiful it looks easy. TLs soon need to learn how to lead, collaborate and plan. They have needed to in-service, retrain and technologically upgrade faster than anyone. No other department in a school has changed its daily practice so dramatically in the past decade as the library. Teacher-librarians need to strategize and manage funding and so much more all while being told they are redundant or irrelevant or "non-enrolling". The teacher portion of TL precedes the librarian portion for very important reasons. We all suffer the stereotypes of the librarian (especially us men) but wear them with pride because it is those attributes that can make you such a powerful teacher. The job is very complex and the rewards sometimes seem so remote yet we persevere.

I'm feeling rather sheepish really because I know so many of you work your little tails off. To receive this inaugural award named the "President's Award", while Heather holds office as President, could not be more meaningful to me. I cannot envision a PSA President more iconic than Heather. Since joining the BCTLA as a CC and Exec member, I was awash in womanhood and wondered what feminist trap I had found myself in. Presidents Pat, Bonnie and Heather all were so welcoming and professional I always felt motivated to be a contributor not a spectator. Now I reflect on that frightful time as something very special indeed. A huge thanks from my peers -- nothing compares to that. This award is recognition from like-minded professionals who carry similar aspirations in their hearts. A thank via email is simply not suffice. I will thank you all properly in the fall at the BCTLA conference!"

BCTLA will be honoured to recognize Al Smith as the 2011 and inaugural recipient of the BCTLA President's Award at the 2011 BCTLA Conference on Friday, October 21, 2011 at Burnaby Mountain Secondary School in Burnaby, BC.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Nicola Kuhn is 2011's New BC Teacher-Librarian of the Year

The BC Teacher-Librarians' Association is pleased to announce that Nicola Kuhn is the 2011 recipient of the BC New Teacher-Librarian of the Year Award. Kootenay-Columbia teacher-librarians; Back Row: Sandi Lamont, Maureen Mattson, Rick Galliver, Nicola Kuhn (with flowers), Heather Johnston, and SD20 Superintendent Jean Borsa; Front Row: Marilyn Lunde, Corinne Tamelin, Tracey Minor, Louise Sidley, and Lisa Vanness (missing: teacher-librarians Carmen Davis and Darlene Ross-Barrett).

Nicola is the teacher-librarian at Rossland Secondary School in Rossland, BC. In the less than three years that she has been a teacher-librarian, Nicola has epitomized the qualities of a 21st-Century learner and facilitator. She has embraced a leading role in her school and in the district in focusing on the integration of technology and inquiry-based learning.

At Rossland Secondary School, Nicola is the Lead Literacy Teacher, the Technology Infusion Teacher, and the Department Head for Humanities/Language/Technology, and she supports the school's Academy program in both English and French. She has revised the library website into a blog and has brought an energy to the staff and to the school library, which is the hub of the school and a place that students and staff love to visit. She is proactive and works collaboratively with her colleagues to ensure students understand how to learn. She models her love of learning with everything that she does, including beginning a Masters degree in Teacher-Librarianship at the University of Alberta (watch for Nicola's article on evidence-based practice and the school library in an upcoming issue of BCTLA's journal The Bookmark).

At the district level, Nicola provides her expertise on several district committees, including the District Professional Development Committee where she promoted inquiry-based learning. She is in demand as a facilitator of professional development in particular in the areas of technology, inquiry-based learning, and personalized project-based learning. Her "Infusing Technology In The Classroom" and "After School Learning" sessions provide hands-on experience using technology tools (web 2.0, social bookmarking, wikis, blogs) and collaborating and planning with teacher-librarians while demonstrating how to teach for understanding.

Nicola is passionate about the work and role of the teacher-librarian. An active member of BCTLA and the Kootenay-Columbia BCTLA Chapter, she has been a key voice in ongoing efforts to maintain teacher-librarian staffing in her district. Chapter Councillor Marilyn Lunde called recent good news from the strong Kootenay-Columbia Chapter with its eleven teacher-librarian members, "a beacon from a little lighthouse, none the less, continuing to shine", and Nicola has contributed significantly to ensuring that SD20 has strong school library staffing and programs.

Nicola is admired and respected by all who know her and she demonstrates "incredible knowledge, insight and passion regarding the role a teacher-librarian plays in today's school". She has made an outstanding contribution to teacher-librarianship at and beyond the school level in British Columbia and is demonstrating the planning and implementation of a school library program of such exemplary quality that it serves as a model and inspiration for others.

BCTLA will be honoured to recognize Nicola Kuhn as the 2011 recipient of the New B.C. Teacher-Librarian of the Year Award at the 2011 BCTLA Conference on Friday, October 21, 2011 at Burnaby Mountain Secondary School in Burnaby, BC.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Greg Smith Receives the 2011 Distinguished Service Award

The BC Teacher-Librarians' Association is pleased to announce that Greg Smith is the recipient of the 2011 BCTLA Distinguished Service Award.

Greg is an incredible, committed Social Studies educator and he is currently the President of the BC Social Studies Teachers' Association. He is also a long-time friend of BC teacher-librarians. For years, he has provided the BCTLA Forum with a monthly “Top 10 Picks” Social Studies resource list, helping to keep BC teacher-librarians up-to-date with what is available as socials resources. In 2009, when BCTLA was involved in assisting in the organization of the BC Digitization Symposium, Greg was specifically asked to attend (supported by BCTF). He made great contributions toward the success of the event and the involvement of classroom teachers and teacher-librarians in supporting and having a voice in BC history digitization efforts.

However, one of Greg’s greatest contributions was (and is) his strong sentiment that, “…we need teacher-librarians back!" in BC schools. We know that if it hadn't been for Greg's support, the health of school library programs and services in BC would be far worse than it is today.

In summary, Greg is a Social Studies teacher extraordinaire, and an amazing friend of BC teacher-librarians. His efforts on our behalf are worthy of being recognized with the BCTLA Distinguished Service Award in this year of his retirement from South Okanagan Secondary School in Oliver, BC and the teaching profession. Congratulations, and thank you, Greg!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

April Hilland Receives the 2011 Ken Haycock Professional Development Grant

The BC Teacher-Librarians' Association is pleased to announce that April Hilland is the 2011 recipient of the Ken Haycock Professional Development Grant.

April became a teacher-librarian in 2007 and is currently the teacher-librarian at Glenwood Elementary School in Maple Ridge. She is an active member of the Maple Ridge Teacher-Librarians' Association and the BCTLA, recently serving as Chapter Councillor. She is currently working on her Master in Education (Teacher-Librarian Speciality) degree at the University of Alberta.

With support from the Ken Haycock Professional Development Grant, April will be taking the course "Process of Curriculum Development" as part of her University of Alberta program. Her goal is to ensure that she is prepared to bring her library into the 21st Century, with a better ability to understand how curriculum is built and how to better coordinate it within the school and in the context of 21st-Century learning. As she says, "the 21st Century, with all of its technology, tools, and changing job market is demanding a change in how and what we teach our youth. I believe that as leaders in schools, teacher-librarians need to be some of the first on board to match the curriculum with the needs of the 21st Century".

The BCTLA was pleased to recognize April Hilland as the 2011 recipient of the BCTLA Ken Haycock Professional Development Grant at the 2011 BCTLA AGM on April 16 in Vancouver.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Awards and Grants Deadline is April 1st

The nomination deadline for the British Columbia Teacher-Librarians' Association awards and grants is April 1st!


  • BC Teacher-Librarian of the Year - Diana Poole Memorial Award

  • BC New Teacher-Librarian of the Year Award

  • Val Hamilton Achievement Award

  • BCTLA Distinguished Service Award

  • BCTLA Honorary Life Membership Award


  • Ken Haycock Professional Development Grant

  • William H. Scott Memorial BCTLA Conference Grant

  • BCTLA Representative Speaker Grant (new!)

  • BCTLA Chapter Grant Program

Please visit for more information and any required nomination forms.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Chronic Underfunding is Creating Severe Inequities in BC School Libraries

BCTF News Release, March 1, 2010:

A decade of underfunding has compelled teacher-librarians and parents across BC to become fundraisers for their children’s school libraries, together raising more than $1.2 million to purchase books and electronic learning resources in 2009–10.

That’s only one of the worrisome facts reported in the BC Teacher-Librarians’ Association
29th annual survey of working and learning conditions in public school libraries.

While most schools raised up to $3,000 last year for library resources alone, 24 schools raised between $5,000 and $10,000, and one school was able to raise an astonishing $50,000. These figures point to the growing inequities between public schools in low-income neighbourhoods and those in affluent areas.

“Equity of opportunity to learn is fundamental to a democratic public education system, so this report serves to ring the alarm bells that one of our key principles is threatened by the chronic underfunding of schools and their library services,” said BCTF President Susan Lambert. “Here is concrete evidence of the importance of teachers being able to negotiate teaching and learning conditions with the employer. These issues will be of vital importance as we go to the bargaining table this spring.”

Heather Daly, president of the BC Teacher-Librarians’ Association, noted that as a group, teacher-librarians have been the hardest hit since the cuts began in 2001. “We have lost 25% of all teacher-librarian positions across BC,” she said. “Despite tremendous challenges, our members are continuing to serve students well, running creative programs, hosting reading clubs, and providing crucial expertise for children growing up in an information society.”

Both Lambert and Daly called on premier-designate Christy Clark to read the report and listen to the voices of teacher-librarians, whose services are so important to students’ success at school and in their future careers. Here is a sampling of the comments contained in the report:

“We have no money for books. Zero. We have a [Parent Advisory Council] that is already stretched to its limits trying to replace our unsafe playground.” “I feel so lucky that this school has wealthy clientele, and parents who can and do assist with book fairs, as well as total teacher support.” “Libraries feed democracy and give students a safe place to figure out who they are and who they will be. Libraries have always been for me a place of solace and I fear that we are losing ourselves as we continue to cut funds and staffing to libraries in the province.”

To read the report in full, go to:

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For more information, contact Nancy Knickerbocker, BCTF media relations officer, at 604-871-1881 (office) or 604-340-1959 (cell).

Monday, February 28, 2011

"Professional Learning and the Lone Wolf"

From Dr. Jennifer Branch, Teacher-Librarianship by Distance Learning Program, University of Alberta

“My name is Jennifer Branch and I work at the University of Alberta as Coordinator of the Teacher-Librarianship by Distance Learning program. My colleague, Joanne de Groot, and I are very interested in the professional development experiences of teacher-librarians. As you know, teacher-librarians often work in isolation and so finding professional development that meets the unique needs of those working in school libraries can be both a challenge and an opportunity. To that end, we are doing a Canada-wide research project where we are interested in finding out more about what kinds of professional development experiences teacher-librarians have had in the past two years. We are also interested in if, and how, the Internet is changing how teacher-librarians get professional development.

Research results will be reported at conferences and in research and professional journals and I think that provincial/national/local associations would find the information interesting for planning to support members in their professional learning. A summary of the findings will be made available - please email and I will sent out a summary directly to your email.

Please find a link to the survey below. A letter describing the survey is found at the beginning of the survey for more information about the project.

Thank you so much in advance for your support of our research. We really appreciate you taking the time to get this survey to as many teacher-librarians as possible. We are hoping to hear from teacher-librarians across the country to gather a rich picture of teacher-librarians professional development.

Best wishes,

Jennifer Branch, PhD
Associate Professor and Coordinator
Teacher-Librarianship by Distance Learning Program
Department of Elementary Education
551 Education Centre South
University of Alberta
Edmonton, AB T6G 2G5