• If you are citizen of an European Union member nation, you may not use this service unless you are at least 16 years old.

  • Introducing Dokkio, a new service from the creators of PBworks. Find and manage the files you've stored in Dropbox, Google Drive, Gmail, Slack, and more. Try it for free today.


SLJ Leadership Summit 2010

Page history last edited by Kathleen Porter 9 years, 1 month ago

Kathleen Porter, November 6, 2010:


I had the great good fortune of attending the School Library Journal Leadership Summit 2010, The Future of Reading, two weeks ago. I am grateful to the speakers, sponsors, and other participants. Here are some shared thoughts and links from my learning-in-progress:


Thanks to Leigh Ann Jones, Lynn Weeks, Sandy Kelly, and Joyce Valenza for sharing thoughts and links.


As Joyce put it in her immediate and encyclopedic blog post, "Speaker after speaker affirmed the value of digital citizenship, inquiry, critical reading, evaluation, comprehension, analytical skills, creativity, and authentic assessment." Key speakers on these points, to my mind, were Carol Gordon, Don Leu, Stephen Abram, and Catherine Snow. I may well have missed someone I should include here -- I'm open to being corrected, and I'm continuing to process. The analogy of drinking from a fire hose came to me more than once.


Part of the fire-hose experience came from staying in plenary session and switching speakers every 15-20 minutes, TED-style. That meant people who have spent a lot of time thinking about their topics condensed the highlights into very short talks, which made for pithy and thought-provoking statements. I give links to the full schedule below but this listing is not comprehensive.


  • SLJ Summit site, with links to schedule, etc.
  • SLJ's Kathy Ishizuka: 
  • Stephen Abram
    • Stephen, Innovation VP for Cengage Gale, used similar slides to the ones from the MSLA conference a few weeks earlier. I liked that because in the earlier session he handled so many questions that he didn't speak to several of the slides. Leigh Ann Jones summarized it as follows:
      • teens prefer fiction in print
      • often can't afford an eReader
      • don't Tweet but love Facebook
      • get fiction recommendations online
      • don't often need help from librarians but will initiate contact if needed
  • Joyce Valenza
    • With regard to praxis and e-books, Joyce Valenza presented and posted slides on e-book confusion. Among the highlights:
      • Chapter 3 Essential e-question: "How am I supposed to catalog all that stuff coming from all those sources – free and not so free – and is my catalog where they are really going to start? And will my decisions need to be vendor-specific?"
      • Chapter 4 Essential Question: "How can I get students to the e-stuff they need?"  
    • Joyce also said, "We shared with our dear vendors frustrations over proprietary platforms, restrictive digital rights, and the absence of an attractive and affordable model for what is going to be a huge and very profitable school e-reading market. Should the decisions be exclusively market/vendor-driven? We want a seat at the table. We want a model that works for both schools and libraries, for full classes, for easy circulation, for book clubs, for lit circles. We talked about the importance of our vendor partners helping us help learners to easily access these digital resources when they need or want them. About creating cataloging that makes e-books and interactive media pop (my emphasis). About non-negotiables for both devices and software (for instance, adjustable font, text to speech, attractive interface, annotating, highlighting, dictionary supports, flexibility of text, and more)."  
  • Don Leu
  • Top Tweets Day Two 
  • Tom Corbett 
    Leigh Ann Jones had this summary: "Tom Corbett updated us on Cushing Academy, one year later. Basically, Cushing kept all fiction, nonfiction volumes that had been donated, and art books.  They donated the rest of their print collection to other libraries and used the additional space for flexible study in this 1 to 1 laptop campus." See below for much more detail on what I'm learning from Tom.
  • Peter Gutiérrez 
    "A contributing editor at ForeWord Reviews, Peter Gutiérrez has written on fandom, media, horror, and genre film for MIT’s Project New Media Literacies, Screen Education, The Financial Times, The New York Times, Graphic Novel Reporter, and Rue Morgue." In short, he's cool, and he has NCTE cred. He talked about the appeal of graphic novels and games, how fandom sparks investment in literature and creativity in a variety of media. LAJ: "I loved Peter Gutierrez and his belief that the present of reading (as opposed to the future) is student interest.  Connect kids to text by helping them connect text to self and the world."
  • Steven Bell 
  • Patrick Carman 
    I personally thought Patrick was hilarious and immediately started following on Twitter some of the folks he follows. I was a little star-struck.
  • Paul Zelinsky 
    Extraordinary illustrator, artist working in children's books. Showed What I Did for Wood, details on making his picture book Dust Devil. Shared a clever drawing box he fabricated to allow him to paint accurately around text that would be in final book. 
  • Karen Cator 


While looking for write-ups on what we mean by new literacies I came across some dated but fascinating discussions at a sub-project of the International Reading Association called readingonline.org: see http://www.readingonline.org/newliteracies/semali1/#new


Judi Moreillon made a brief, beautiful presentation about levels of content engagement using images of a lizard walking across the surface of water (skimming) and a manatee feeding under the surface (diving in deep).


How do we synthesize the new literacies critical thinking work represented at the conference by Don Leu (UConn), the literacy education research represented by Catherine Snow (Harvard), the inquiry process education work represented by Ross Todd and Carol Gordon (Rutgers), and (for example), the social-authorship work of Andrew Lih (USC)? Who is influencing the education of new school library teachers? Other new educators? 


I've proposed a 3D visualization of a carbon tetrachloride molecule, where we put working school librarians as the carbon praxis and use chlorine for the various nodes of related research. Four nodes is arbitrary... this is just one image of stability and inter-relationship that speaks to me. The way I usually visualize it the electron clouds are much larger, so that instead of the emphasis on the bonds we see intersecting spheres of influence resulting in great cohesion. Based on observations and conversations at the conference I would not say that that overlap makes a good metaphor for the relationship of these nascent social sciences.


A separate takeaway for me tied to the future of reading as we have long understood it, the engagement with the printed page, was a hanging question: Is it cool to be reading? How can we make it cool to be reading? Do we re-frame the word? Let's acknowledge that the activity of reading lives in a larger sociocultural context. What if we consider reading text messages to be reading? Text and other signals in gaming? Are we talking about making personal connections with content, construing meaning? "Literacy" seems to have been more broadly defined, "reading" more narrowly. How will our word choices matter? 


Four guest students from the University Laboratory High School in Illinois talked about preferring print for their fiction and textbooks reading, and other references online. 


As Joyce summarized it, "9. We discussed the potential power for digital texts to address issues of currency, equity, customization, flexibility, collaboration, interactivity, and access." That's a lot! I'd like to break down what we mean by that, and who the key intellectual and physical players may be. 


We saw a panel discussion including Andrés Henríquez (Carnegie Foundation), Gina Biancarosa (University of Oregon), and Catherine Snow (Harvard School of Education). They discussed the work of the Carnegie Council for Advancing Adolescent Literacy, which had some damning conclusions for the current state of U.S. literacy education after Grade 3. The researchers did not plug school librarians into their process and acknowledged that was a weakness of the work so far, but that they heard us and intend to remedy that. I personally took the mike to encourage them to collaborate with the folks at CISSL/Rutgers, among others. Joyce V. summarized much of what Catherine presented: "We are not skilled at teaching learners to attack advanced texts or teaching students to learn through reading. We have yet to address major slumps in 4th and 9th grades. Many teachers assume students come into their classrooms as competent readers. Learning to read and reading to learn are tasks for all grades, across content areas. It is important to teach how students to read like a scientist, write like historian. Content area teachers are teachers of literacy. Comprehension is a complex act. It occurs when reader, text, and activity intersect." 

Current reports, plus a video:

  • Time To Act: An Agenda for Advancing Adolescent Literacy for College and Career Success
  • Writing Next: Effective Strategies to Improve Writing of Adolescents in Middle and High Schools
  • Reading Next: A Vision for Action and Research in Middle and High School Literacy
  • Video vision of the future of the book

Leigh Ann's summary: "Speaking of text, what about eReaders? The Carnegie Corporation proposes nine recommendations for eReaders such as operating system compatibility, standard core and innovative features, and reader personalization." 


When Chuck Follett, President and CEO of Follett Corporation, took the floor Saturday morning, he talked about the future of reading within the context of the future school library. He quoted David Loertscher and praised Valerie Diggs and the Chelmsford High School Learning Commons at some length -- the only program in the country he singled out. The Massachusetts contingent was very proud on her behalf.


Tom Corbett is Executive Director for Fisher-Watkins Library at Cushing Academy. He had the good grace to spend most of the roundtable break-out session of the second day with me, going over the nuts-and-bolts details of implementation of his digital library at Cushing Academy, talking about federated search providers and licensing terms to minimize costs. Did you know they eliminated their ILS? I believe LIS schools are going to have to reconsider everything...  They use Drupal to power their site now. See http://fwlibrary.cushing.org/. The top menu bar is currently arranged with the options below. I've copied verbatim the introductory text from a few of the pages by way of explanation.
  • Courses
  • Databases

    "The best method for finding the most useful databases for your assignment is to use the Courses menu above.  From there you can drill down to the course of study you are working on and find recommended databases and web sites.

    However, you can also browse below to view all of our many databases.  You can use the category "tag cloud" in the right-hand column to filter this list."

  • Web Sites

    "The best method for finding the web sites you need for your assignment is to use the Courses menu found above.  From there you can drill down to the course of study you are working on and find related databases and web sites.

    However, you can also browse below to find research-related web sites recommended by our librarians, teachers and students."

  • eBooks

    "Listed below are the downloadable Kindle eBooks currently owned by the library.  Keep in mind, however, that any downloadable eBook is potentially available to you quickly and easily.  Search Amazon  to find a title we don't own and request it by copying and pasting the content to the library staff in an email.  If the title is appropriate for our collection, we'll buy it and make it available to you on a library eReader.  In fact, if you are in the library right now, come by the circulation desk and we'll usually get the title for you before you leave.  (See also EBL and GVRL for academic eBooks.)

    Happy reading!"

  • Videos
  • Periodicals
  • Digital Tools


Background information: most school libraries use "integrated library systems" to keep track of materials and help students find them. The district typically buys ILS software when the libraries are automated, or the software is included in network membership. Think Alexandria, Follett Destiny, Koha... MassCat uses Koha. My library participates in SAILS and so uses SirsiDynix's Symphony WorkFlows. As Wikipedia has it, "An ILS usually comprises a relational database, software to interact with that database, and two graphical user interfaces (one for patrons, one for staff)." So the books and other items from the library, which used to be represented by cards in a catalog, are represented by records in the database.

The ILS's "graphical user interface" (GUI) for patrons is also called a "Discovery Layer". Marshall Breeding's site Library Technology Guides gives a listing of several prominent discovery layer interfaces with links. Sometimes when people talk about a library's online public access catalog (OPAC) they mean the database plus discovery layer. (I think the linked Wikipedia article is weak, but I'm not ready to try rewriting it myself...) In most cases these discovery layers still do not offer true federated search of all the "deep web" content in the library collection, like full-text search of multiple licensed periodicals databases at once.


I welcome feedback. Thanks for reading!

Comments (0)

You don't have permission to comment on this page.