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.