#94 Flickr

Flickr is well known to most, it’s one of the better photo storage and sharing sites.

It has some very nifty features including the ability to create custom goods from your photos (promotion), create quality photo books and upload video clips.

One of the little touches is the ability to add notes to photos. These are not the same as tags, but are ‘hotspots’ on the photo itself which give you information when you run your cursor over them. Sounds dull, but have a look at this labelled photo. If you imagine parts of a book, parts of a web address, parts of your library etc, you might begin to see the potential for this tool.

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#93 Facebook

I’ve been on Facebook for a while, but haven’t really done much with it apart from keep in touch with a few friends I contact in other ways anyway.

However, the software has a lot of potential to network, and it may take over from mailing lists and newsgroups eventually. There are some relevant librarian groups, like the ones below.

Library 2.0 Interest Group

Libraries & Librarians

Libraries Using Facebook Pages

#92 Supplementing Your Budgets

School library budgets are always tight, if they exist at all.

Even if you receive a reasonable amount to keep your library running (let’s be honest, it’s never enough) it’s always an attractive option to supplement your budget from other sources.

The following are some of the options you might consider:

Regional funds. Your local authority will have various pots of money which will be available for certain types of activities. These could be club activities, services for pupils with SEN, tie-ins with regional services, public libraries etc. Check their website, or contact their community services department.

Government funds. Any funding that comes out to schools for ‘curriculum support’ is fair game. Bid for it imaginatively.

Specialist activities. Chess federations, poetry associations, writing clubs may be prepared to support your activities if they find them interesting. Explore and ask.

Departmental external bids. Keep an eye on other departments: if they are making bids for curricular activities, will they need support materials? If so, maybe you can buy into the bid.

The document linked below is fairly generic, but useful for general guidelines regarding information that should be contained in any bid.

Making Effective Bids

#91 Careers Information

Some Careers Officers have a very strange view of their profession, and how librarians fit into it. They seem to feel that school librarians will happily accede to being their administrators and filing clerks.

I never accepted this myself, and always ensured that I devoted some time to making sure that Careers Officers devoted some time to improving the service they offered. This varied from the very good to the appalling.

I think Careers advice is too important to ignore, so ensured that there was a good quality Careers library, and helped pupils as and when I could based on my own professional career.

I think Careers advice is far too important to be treated as it is now, i.e. an ‘incidental’ to be dealt with by a part time, peripatetic officer, not based in schools. However, this is a political issue, not a library one.

Careers Scotland have a nice colour scheme they offer schools to display Careers materials, and a website that no-one seems to understand.

#90 Special Educational Needs (SEN)

Pupils with Special Educational Needs can often be a bone of contention in libraries, in that they can tend to appear throughout the day without due cause. A cynical librarian could point out that it might appear as if some teachers tend to sideline and exclude such pupils.

I’ve had a lot of contact with SEN pupils, the vast majority of it profitable. They have come in all shapes and sizes from those with social difficulties, through to individuals with severe spectral disorders. For sure, these pupils can be difficult to work with from time to time. However, over a period of years, I found my attitude towards them change from suspicion and anxiety, to one of interest and occasional delight at special qualities that can be uncovered

Chess certainly helped me discover that no individual should be stereotyped, and that externally violent and abusive pupils can become quite civilised and extremely disciplined within the calm environs of the chess board. I also discovered that many pupils labelled as SEN can turn out to be extremely thoughtful and interesting individuals if they are allotted time, attention and respect.

I’m almost ashamed to admit that relationships with some of these pupils was built up during times they were ‘allocated’ to the library for their own protection during non-teaching times, which is a shameful aspect of our schools and society in general.

More information about SEN here.

#89 Policies, Documents & Reports

It’s useful to have a library ‘bible’ where you pull together all documents that can help you justify, detail, guide and promote your service.

This could include your staff manual or handbook, yearly reports, mission statement, policies and guides.

You might get some further ideas here.

#88 Mapping & Labelling

There are thousands of useful web 2.0 tools out there, but some deserve special mention. One of those is Mapwing.

Mapwing lets you take a photo, or series of photos, and attach labels to them to create a one stop guide, or add photos to a ‘map’ to create a virtual guide. This can be used for activities as diverse as explaining the parts of a book, to showing where things are held in your library.

You could also try photo stitching software to create a 360 degree view of your premises, for a nice visual touch.