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 http://sites.google.com/site/btla2011.


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 Рheart of the school has become a clich̩ 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."