Running Online Book Clubs for Students
COVID-19 might have made online book clubs necessary for the past few weeks, but I have always allowed our school students to connect online. During COVID social isolation and schooling from home, our book clubs connected online and via video chats.
Online book clubs for students might look completely different depending on what platforms are available to each school and how each book club operates. I share here what worked for our school library and students and some of the things I learnt.
At my school library, we have weekly book clubs that are divided by age group. For the past few years now I have been running a Year 6-12 book club that meets weekly to talk about what they are reading and writing, take a look a new books, argue about cliff hangers vs edge grippers (a term we made up, we believe), hold unofficial book launches and generally have lots of fun each week. I also run a weekly Year 3-4 book club and we do similar things, but also read aloud from a picture book or novel and colour in or do bookish craft. Our awesome library technician runs the Year 1-2 group and I was also recently approached by a group of students wanting to create a new Year 5-6 group. For more book club ideas check out this post.
When COVID hit and schools were closed, I turned to online measures to keep our readers connected.
An Online Platform
Our school uses SchoolBox as an online learning management system. When that was launched I asked leadership for a Book Club group page for my Year 6-12 book club. Since then, we’ve been chatting, holding quizzes, sharing book-related Pinterest boards, giving book recommendations, sharing our writing and taking polls to determine everything from our favourite genres to preferred reading locations. Having an online area for the members to connect has allowed those not so vocal in meetings to have their say. It’s also added an element of fun to the group with quizzes, videos and polls. Members who can’t always join the lunchtime weekly session can stay apprised of group news.
School Libraries During COVID-19
COVID-19 has, very quickly, changed our world. It seemed to come out of nowhere (though some dystopian writers might say they predicted this years ago) and within a matter of weeks and months, life as we know it has been altered. For many, the impact has been far greater reaching than a change in civil liberties. It’s a heart breaking situation for many.
Within schools, it has sparked quick change. A big drop in attending student numbers. The move to online learning. A very quick learning curve for many as they navigate new technologies and new pedagogies.
I’m Speaking at the National Education Summit Brisbane 2020
I’m so excited to announce that I will be one of the speakers at the 2020 Brisbane National Education Summit Capacity Building School Library Conference. I was fortunate to attend last year – you can read my summary of the event here – and now I am thrilled to have the opportunity to present in 2020.
The conference runs across two days – Friday 15th May and Saturday 16th May, 2020 at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre. If Melbourne is more your area, there is a Melbourne-based conference that runs in August 2020. This year, the Brisbane conference is bigger than ever with 7 conferences and symposiums run across the two days, focusing on leadership, wellbeing, additional needs and, of course, libraries. As well as the conferences there is also a free expo and free seminars.
In 2020 the Capacity Building School Libraries conference’s focus is the power of reading, diverse collections, and the power of evidence. There will be four streams across the two days. Keynote speakers are Dr Margaret Merga, lecturer and researcher who is doing great things for school library research, and Dr Ann Gillespie, Doctoral Research Fellow at QLD Institute of Technology. There are also heaps of other amazing researchers, teacher librarians, authors and booksellers who are presenting. Head to the National Education Summit website for full details.
I’ll be speaking on the Friday with my Head of Library, about genrefication and the steps we have taken to increase student engagement with reading. I’m really looking forward to presenting and to listening to all the other presenters – it’s a fantastic opportunity to learn from some of the best in the business and take home lots of practical tips and ideas.
You can find information about the presentations and buy tickets on the NES website. I hope to see you there.
Year in Review – 2019
Well, 2019 has come and gone. I know everyone is saying the year has just flown by. And yes, I agree with that, but I can also see that the year has been very busy, with lots achieved and even more packed into each and every day. 2020 seems set to be an even bigger and better year.
So, here is my year in review. I’ll start with my favourite books and then add some library highlights, and then I’ll finish with some things I am looking forward to in 2020. Don’t forget to check out my lists of most anticipated titles due for release in January 2020. The list is HUGE and promises a fantastic year ahead in the world of book publishing.
Favourite Books of 2019
The Queen’s Resistance – Rebecca Ross. Sequel to The Queen’s Rising, I and my high school book clubers loved this amazing novel. Full review here.
Katie McGarry gave me two amazing reads, Only A Breath Apart and Echoes Between Us (which is due for release in January 2020, but I had the privilege of reading it in 2019, so it’s going on this list.) And if you like that edge of the supernatural, try another of my favourites from this year, Now Entering Addamsville by Francesca Zappia.
Jenn Bennett did it again with Serious Moonlight and the response from my YA contemporary library readers was the same “it’s just so good!!!”.
Students Need School Libraries Campaign
As a librarian, it’s no surprise that I believe that all students need access to a quality school library run by qualified and enthusiastic staff. Consider reading and all its benefits, exposure to literature that has the potential to expand readers’ lives, minds and world views, and research skills, digital literacy and information literacy, which are even more vital in today’s technology and news-driven world. To me, all of that equals a library. Plus of course, a safe space for young people to retreat to, a place for socialising, a place to receive support, a place of welcome, a place that encourages innovation and creativity. Okay… you get it… I love school libraries and all their possibility and what that means for our students. Which is why I am a supporter of the Students Need School Libraries campaign.
National Education Summit – 2019 Brisbane
On the 31 of May and the 1 of June 2019, I was fortunate enough to attend the 2019 National Education Summit in Brisbane and the 2 day Capacity Building School Libraries conference. Thanks to my employer and leadership team for encouraging and funding my attendance. What a two days it was. So much knowledge and experience, so much to be inspired about. If you were unable to attend, read on for a quick summery of the speakers and the info shared. And if you are interested in future events, sign up to stay updated on the National Education Summit website.
Library Ramblings: Genrefication – one year on
A year ago, our school library transformed our Young Adult collection. Using a variety of new genre stickers, genre groupings and collection changes, we fully embraced the genrefication process for our fiction collection. One year on, I took the time to investigate how the change effected our library, borrowing statistics, usage of the collection and student feedback, and how this reflection would direct our future practice. Here is what I learnt, my successes, what I could have done better and my thoughts on the overall process.
Library Ramblings: Holiday Borrowing
Poster created thanks to photo by Clem Onojeghuo from Pexels.
This is a topic I see pop up in school librarian discussions every time summer stars to roll around. To lend or not to lend? That is a question many librarians wrestle with. The long summer holiday period offers both a wonderful time for relaxed, lengthy reading, but also threatens lost and damaged books as families travel, move house or spend long days at the beach. So, do the rewards outweigh the risk?
Genrefication of a library fiction collection
Genrefication is perhaps the new (and yet not that new at all, really) buzzword for libraries. Opinions are divided on the benefit of such a move, and whether this step should apply to fiction or non-fiction collections (Pendergrass, 2013). Library consultants such as Kevin Hennah (Hennah, n.d) advocate for this book-shop model. Others cite the benefits, which range from better data collection on circulation and a visual aid for collection development to increased user engagement with the collection (Sweeney, 2013).
Genrefication actually isn’t that new (Shearer, 1996), but research surrounding its use and impact on readers is now increasing (Moyer, 2005). Moyer’s review of literature surrounding readers’ services found that genrefication can improve circulation, reader satisfaction, and ease of library navigation. However, other researchers found that genrefication may not be needed as technological advancements and provisions of OPACs allow library users to browse and search by genre digitally (Moyer, 2005). More research is needed on this area, and as individual libraries make the move to present their collection by genres more data can be gathered and shared about its benefits and limitations.