Thursday, March 26, 2015

Thing 26: Taking the Lead: Connecting with your Stakeholders

This assignment certainly required significant time to watch and read the supporting materials, but I think I've taken away a lot of useful ideas. 

Heidi Neltner's presentation was interesting, and certainly provides a model to aspire to in regard to library advocacy.  I liked her idea about surveying your stakeholders to tailor your message both in terms of content and format.  I was especially glad I recognized some of the tools she uses thanks to earlier Cool Tools assignments!  That said, there were other tools like Canva, Screencastomatic, Picasa, and Powtoon that were new to me.  However, knowing that our next assignment is a pick-your-own topic, perhaps exploring one or more of those could be an option.

Anyway, my real take-away from her presentation was that advocating is a lot of work - but that the results make it worth it.  My administrator encourages me to advocate for our Library, in large part because she is already blown away by what I do and she wants the rest of our community to know about it, too.  That said, Heidi didn't really talk about advocating to the community; her focus was on students, teachers, and administrators.  She included parents in her list, but I didn't really see very much geared towards that group - just MS publisher documents embedded in email.

I also watched the video, "School Libraries Matter" and read through "10 Things..." and "4 Ways to Advocate for School Libraries".  Both of these articles hinge on the collaborative role of the LMS, which at my school, is a tough sell given my status as a part-time, fixed scheduled "prep" period for K-6 teachers.  When I say I do not have common planning time, I mean I don't even have a prep or lunch in my own schedule so there literally is no built in planning time for myself or for collaboration.  And although I've made it clear that I am more than willing to stay beyond my schedule to meet after school or whenever is convenient for faculty,  it rarely happens.  They don't even collaborate much with each other let alone with the librarian as sad as that is.  So there's one hurdle I need to continue to work on.

Next, I read "Survive and Thrive" and the looked through the Marketing SlideDeck of ideas.  The 34th slide in the SlideDeck really struck home in light of the battle going on as I type between Governor Cuomo and educators.  How right that is that if we don't tell our story, someone else will - and that story certainly is negative and ignores all the positive things going on.  I know I need to tell my story - but I have to admit, I just don't know how.  Like in many of the slides, I do have a strong web presence, I do have a variety of tools available 24/7, I do make displays and participate in important programs like Parents As Reading Partners - but how do I let my stakeholders know that?  I suppose one way would be to make my own SlideDeck of the amazing things that happen in my Library each and every day.  Of course that would require me to photo document things, which will take some time, but it's do-able.  The problem is, once I put together this fabulous digital documentary, how do I get my stakeholders to look at it?  I suppose I could email a link to it to administrators and teachers (who already have an idea of how amazing my library program is), and post it on my website, but if the parents and community are not looking at my web site now, how can I know they'll look at it then?

I guess my main form of advocacy is just getting myself out there.  For example, just yesterday I hosted author and illustrator, Suzanne Bloom, at our school.  She did a program for K-1 in the morning, and then came back for an evening Parents As Reading Partners event.  I invited families to come to the morning program, so was able to do direct out-reach to them via fliers and  personal communication, which was good.  Then at the evening event, Suzanne and I tag teamed an improvised presentation to over 200 guests about the importance of reading and the benefits of both libraries and shared reading at home.  We were like a comedy duo bouncing off one another and encouraging audience participation.  I think that was the most direct communication I have ever had with our families, and it was a huge success.  I was able to have students talk about what they're learning in library class and why libraries matter.

Now if only Andrew Cuomo were in the audience.....    

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Thing 25: Power Up Your Browsing

What a fun and useful activity!  You are absolutely right in assuming that I blindly use my browser 365 days of the year and usually don't think twice about it in terms of functionality or features.  It was a treat to actually make time to tidy up my menu bar to make it much more relevant for my needs and to take an opportunity to explore the Mozilla FireFox menu!

To respond to part one of the assignment - I explored all the settings and made some really useful changes.  I moved things I rarely use like Clearly to the Menu instead of the ToolBar, and deleted "Start a Conversation" all together from my browser because I frankly didn't see the need for it.  Conversely, I moved the "Print" icon from Menu to the ToolBar because I use that all the time.

Next, I explored every tab under "Options" and made a few helpful modifications.  First, under "General", I created a new "Downloads" folder in my Documents because I had a hard time finding things I downloaded when using FireFox.  Now, I'll know just where to look!  Finally, under "Search", I streamlined the search engines used during my searching.  Who knew I had control over that?!

When it came time to explore extensions, started by watching the video introduction.  Of course, after that, I could not resist choosing a theme.  I did have a theme back in the days when I used Explorer, but I never made the time to do so when I switched to FireFox.  Now I have a lovely new theme called, "Floral Birds" by daaanibby to make my web searching that much more enjoyable.  I considered trying one of the "Complete Themes", but I think I'm happy with just the top margin change for now.

Next, I browsed all the available add-ons and was surprised to see an EPub reader listed.  I'm wondering if that'll work with OverDrive for ebooks cutting out the annoying Adobe Digital Editions step?  That I plan to explore further.

And how cool is WOT (Web Of Trust)?!  This I installed because I was dying to see if it really and truly did accurately evaluate web sites' authority (validity).  Imagine how great that would be on our school computers when I'm teaching web site evaluation?!  But alas - I thought I installed it - I know I clicked install - but I am not seeing the traffic light warnings in my web searches, so I don't know what I didn't do to complete the process.  I looked in my ToolBar and under Menu, but I just don't see it anywhere.

Finally, I had to try Price Blink which is supposed to price compare, find coupons, and link to reviews when you're shopping - and that one does work!!  How cool is that?!  I just shopped for the Lego Friends Lighthouse set and used all three features.  Yippee!!

I truly enjoyed this assignment, and I certainly plan to continue exploring and customizing within FireFox :-)  Thank you, Polly!