Sunday, 23 October 2011

Visionary Leaders for Information - Chapter 5

The theme of flexibility is repeated in this final chapter of Winzenried’s excellent book. His clear message remains: the needs of the client must always be the focus of the visionary library staff. Our clients are our future. Rather than force feed information fluency to students, these lessons will only be effective when taught as the time of greatest need.
In order to conclude this final chapter, Winzenried reminded us of Miles, the final year high school student whose scenario was painted by the author, Doug Johnson. Projecting us to the year 2025, Johnson acted like a true visionary and presented a day in the life of a student who used his school library for all of his information needs.
In this scenario, we witnessed Marian, the school librarian, wake Miles at 7am, using an auditory interface to his school library portal, which he accessed via a device in his bedroom. Marian serves as a learning mentor to Miles, by giving him his itinerary for the day. His day is full of collaboration with students and teachers inside his “bricks and mortar school” (p. 99), as well as academics outside the school, using teleconferencing technology at home.
The final two pages of this scenario were especially enjoyable and satisfying for me. The conversation Miles had with his grandparents provided the reader with the ongoing mission and values that his librarian mother and grandfather performed, to that which were still required by students in 2025.
In a conversation with his mother at the end of the day, Miles recalled the words that his grandfather shared with him, when he told his grandfather that he was considering studying library science after graduating from high school:
‘He said that the tools librarians use change, the importance of certain tasks that librarians perform changes, and even the services libraries offer to support their schools and communities change. But some things, like the librarian’s mission and values, remain constant. Librarians still support intellectual freedom and fight censorship. Librarians are still about open inquiry and access to information and ideas. Librarians are still about helping people find and use information that is reliable and help them use it to improve their lives. And librarians have always been about helping people help themselves by learning how to be lifelong learners and informed decision-makers. And Grandma Annie, who was listening in, added that librarians have always wanted people to find enjoyment, fun and excitement in learning and reading’ (p. 112).
Winzenried’s book was a useful and inspirational read. It has left a lasting impression with me and has helped me to be a visionary leader.

Visionary Leaders for Information - Chapter 4

Winzenried (2010) acknowledged that the last 30 years of the previous century were unlike any other era in history. He proposed that if library staff can be flexible and if they keep their focus on the needs of the clients, the libraries they serve will remain relevant.
The author used research which was published by Lonsdale and cited by Hughes in 2003. The research presented stark facts relating to the massive fall in the number of school libraries that are staffed by qualified library staff. Over 18 years, from 1983 to 2001, the number of qualified library staff dropped from 55 per cent to a tiny 13 per cent. It was stated strongly by Hughes that qualified staff enable and empower students to achieve, ‘regardless of the socio-economic or educational levels of the adults in the community’ (p. 197).
Winzenried stressed that communication and collaboration are the strategies for sharing the amount of information that is readily available in society today. The author concluded the chapter by encouraging the reader to imagine change and to be visionaries for the future.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Visionary Leaders for Information - Chapter 3

The seven scenarios that are portrayed by each of the seven authors in chapter three of Winzenried’s (2010) book presented varying observations and predictions of all aspects of library work. The detailed depiction of Miles, a senior student in the graduating class of 2025 caused the reader to imagine how the inevitable changes to technology will affect the provision of information resources.
I found Johnson’s scenario to be the most thought-provoking and controversial. His credible descriptions of the way Miles went about his daily academic pursuits caused me to imagine the likelihood that the learning tools used by Miles will be invented.

Teacher Librarian as Leader - Strategic Planning

Davies and Davies (2005) provide many useful ideas for analyzing and evaluating productivity (assessment). The differences between a good leader and a strategic leader are presented. Guidelines for creating a mission statement will be useful when I come to write one for the Kilbreda College Library. The section on leadership wisdom offered practical, analytical and emotional intelligence, and interpersonal skills of strength and courage were particularly interesting and relevant.
Welch’s (2006) article offered me the following tips:
1.      The three steps of a marketing approach (p. 25)
2.      Seven areas of a strategic analysis (p. 26)
3.      Checklist for data gathering in the market place (p. 26)
4.      SWOT analysis technique (p. 27)
5.      Mission statement tips (p. 28)
6.      Customer needs (p. 30)
7.      Objectives and goals (p38)
8.      Growth – not just more of the same (p. 39)
9.      Goals (p. 40)
Beare (2001) presented four fundamental issues: management, accountability, curriculum and teachers, and teaching functions. It was useful to me to read specific instructions about how long a vision statement should be.
Balnaves (1998) offered six concept maps, mind maps, etc. Pages 84 to 87 gave specific instructions about planning.

Visionary Leaders for Information - Chapter 2

In chapter two of Winzenried’s (2010) book, the author argued that teacher-librarians should lead from the middle, with a proactive attitude that looks for opportunities to constantly change and improve. I was persuaded to establish and maintain quality relationships with authority, which provided the springboard for collaboration and influence. The author failed, however to explain the title of the chapter ‘Manager or leader’.
Winzenried provided further elaboration of the leadership qualities that were portrayed in the previous chapter, without giving attention to the manager role. Is the definition important? Is the distinction significant to the role of the teacher-librarian?

Teacher Librarian as Leader - Communication

Mr. Savage (1989) seemed to believe that only men are administrators! With a sexist delivery, Savage defined communication, described the means of communication, the types of communication (including intentional communication and unintentional) and gave examples of rumours.
Mackay (1999) reinforced the commonly held idea that good listening leads to and enables good communication. His list of six steps towards negotiated settlement provided a useful tool to effective communicating both sides of the conflict.
Steven Cohen’s (2002) seven pillars of negotiational wisdom are:
1.      Relationship
2.      Interests
3.      BATNA – Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement
4.      Creativity
5.      Fairness
6.      Commitment
7.      Communication
People remember how they’ve been treated… I know I definitely do, so I do unto others as I would have them do unto me.
I picked up an excellent saying in Cohen’s article: “God gave us two ears and one mouth and we should use them in that ratio” (p. 184). The Manager’s Checklist is excellent.

Visionary Leaders for Information - Chapter 1

In his chapter, ‘Toward an organizational theory for information professionals’, Arthur Winzenried (2010) challenges the reader to consider the qualities of an effective leader. By describing the qualities of charismatic and transformational leaders, he allows the reader to compare and contrast the leadership qualities of each. His emphasis on the crucial elements of collaboration, team work and positive relationships enables the reader to reflect on his or her leadership style. This assists visionary leaders to aspire to the model that he offers.
I had never considered schools as organisations before embarking on this topic. Organisations that engage in  business transactions can measure their success by looking at their profit margins. It is difficult for teachers and school administrators to measure the success of their organisation. The ability by students to locate, select, present and evaluate information enable the display of outcomes that demonstrate the success of information literacy instruction. Knowing how to learn is the desired result. Measuring this knowledge and presenting this data to stakeholders is the challenge.