Monday, 13 October 2014

And an extra blog post ...

Here is an article I wrote for Incite on getting organised for studying - it was aimed at students and professionals but could be adapted for younger students.  Writing an article is an interesting process as you have a very tight word limit and need to conform to what the journal or magazine considers the correct format / design.

For example, in my first draft, I had a lot of images and it was more a "step-by-step" process type article of how to use 3 specific tools.

The editors didn't want to be endorsing any specific tools, so I needed to do some more research and make the tools more generic and the article more general, which I can understand, but at the same time I think it made it less concrete and useful for students who don't want to over think the matter and just want to take a tool and learn how to use it.

If it were up to me I DEFINITELY would not have had my picture taking up 1/4 of the valuable space!  Like I said earlier, I'd have put in more images on how to use the tools with screen shots etc.

All in all it was a valuable experience, and I was very gratified to see the positive responses it garnered, I was even approached by someone from UNESCO to request permission to post it on their UNESCO's WSIS Information Literacy listserv (thank you Judy O'Connell for promoting the article).

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Blog post 5: Review an electronic resource about delivering services to children or young adults – Asian Young People’s Book Awards

1. A detailed description of the activity undertaken:

A new young people’s book award has recently been set up in Hong Kong – the Golden Dragon Book Award. I decided to review the website supporting the award and to compare and contrast that with the websites supporting the other young people’s book awards in Asia, namely the Panda Book Awards (China), Red Dot Book Awards (Singapore) and the Sakura Medal (Japan). What all these book awards have in common is that they have been created for young people attending International Schools, and they therefore feature English Language Books, not necessarily the language of the “host” country of the award, except for the Sakura Medal, which has Japanese books.

Golden Dragon Book Awards
Panda Book Awards
Red Dot Book Awards
Sakura Medal
Type of site
Google Sites
Hong Kong
Founders/Run by
Association of Librarians in English Speaking Schools (ALESS) in Hong Kong

International librarians throughout China

 International school librarians Network (ISLN) in Singapore

Librarians from international schools

Year Started
Four  (ages 4-6; 7- 10; 11-14; 15-18)
Four  (Younger Readers; Middle Readers; Older Readers; Mature Readers)
Four  (Early Years; Younger Readers; Older Readers; Mature Readers)
Nine  (Picture Books; Graphic Novels; Chapter Books; Middle School; High School; Japanese Picture Books; Japanese Chapter Books; Japanese Middle School; and Japanese High School)
# Schools
Not mentioned
Not mentioned
# Students
Not mentioned
Not mentioned
Not mentioned
Not mentioned
No more than 2 years old
Published in English in the last 4 years
No more than 2 years old
Long List
8 books per category
8-10 books per category
8 books per category
25-30 books per category
Promotional Material including Brochures, Stickers, Book ordering, video, slideshow
Promotion materials including: voting posters, category posters, stickers for books and badges, bookmarks, printers for big posters, videos / slideshows / images
Interactive elements
Not on site – see social media
Not on site – see social media
Commenting allowed on site (moderated)
Related competition?
Related social media

The first thing that strikes one is that the websites are fairly comprehensive, but are very much geared toward the librarian rather than the students. Resources are geared towards promotional material such as brochures, stickers and bookmarks.  The Golden Dragon and Red Dot sites had some videos, slideshows and images, however it was not apparent that these were created for students or for the teacher / librarian. Further, none of the sites had any real interactive elements, where available, these were taken “off-site” to Twitter, Goodreads, Facebook or Diigo – again these elements were geared mainly to the teacher / librarian rather than the students.

The nominations or selections for the long-lists was not explicit on any of the sites but appears to be something done by a committee, whereas the voting for the award winners occurs physically at the various schools by the pupils with a variety of criteria (such as students having read a number of the books).

2. Answers to the following questions:

What did you learn?

A website that serves teachers / librarians indirectly is a resource for children or young adults inasmuch as it supports them in delivering a service - in this case access to recent, high quality books as part of a book award selection process.

How was the activity relevant to your professional practice?

In my practice I will probably assist with either the nomination or selection of a long list as well as with the promotion of long-list books and the encouraging of students to read. 

Were any gaps in your knowledge revealed? How might you fill those gaps?

Comparing different awards in Asia has allowed me to reflect on the award we run in Singapore and particularly to consider how sites could be made more interactive and more relevant to our students, not just indirectly through helping the teacher / librarians but more directly.

3. References

About - Golden Dragon Book Awards. (n.d.). Retrieved September 30, 2014, from

Panda Book Awards - home. (n.d.). Retrieved September 30, 2014, from

Red Dot Book Awards 2013-2014. (n.d.). Retrieved September 30, 2014, from

Sakura Medal  - Sakuramedal. (n.d.). Retrieved September 30, 2014, from

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Blog post 4: Analysis of a peer-reviewed journal article - Censorship & Diversity

1. A detailed description of the activity undertaken

In July 2014 the Singapore National Library censored, removed and pulped all copies of three children’s books with a gay-theme (Lee, 2014; Vincent, 2014). This created quite a lot of news and brought to light the question of public interest and individual right of access to diverse material versus majority consensus and community values (Schrader, 2009; Weisman, 2009).

I wanted to read more about the impact of public opinion on censorship and how librarians could best understand and counteract attempts to remove books from the library, and therefore chose the article: “Removal of Gay-Themed Materials from Public Libraries: Public Opinion Trends, 1973-2006” (Burke, 2008) for review. 

In the article, the author examines data from the General Social Survey (GSS), in the USA over the indicated period, related to survey answers on the removal of a homosexually themed book, and attempts to relate this to other questions on demographic and geographic factors and personal belief.  She concludes that people are becoming less conservative viz a viz homosexuality and even if people do not believe homosexuality is wrong, they generally do not support the removal of gay-themed books and the trend is downwards in all groups. Higher educated and younger people were less likely to support removal and the largest variation in data was to be found in people from different religious backgrounds and between denominations, with people self-reporting stronger beliefs more likely to support removal.  Gender and political party affiliation was neutral.

In relation to the Singapore situation, the relationship between belief and supporting removal is the most relevant.  Singapore is known as a strongly religious community and it has been implied that political and social power is concentrated in conservative Christianity (Waipang, 2011).  It also appears that the books were removed under pressure from a targeted campaign originating in one of the religious organisations. 

2. Answers to the following questions:

What did you learn?

The most interesting finding from the article was that although people may not accept homosexuality, they still did not believe that books with homosexual themes should be removed from library collections and thereby not be accessible to those with lifestyles different to them.

How was the activity relevant to your professional practice?

Reading the article (Burke, 2008) and also reading related articles (Gutman, 2010; Lukenbill & Lukenbill, 2007; Schrader, 2009; Weisman, 2009) gave me a better insight into censorship challenges to books and the positive and professional duties of a librarian within the framework of ethics, inclusive service, access to information and guarding against discriminatory or censorship practices. 

Were any gaps in your knowledge revealed? How might you fill those gaps?

Until now I didn’t have a very clearly articulated view on censorship beyond the fact that I didn’t think it was appropriate. The articles I have read have given me some concrete strategies for dealing with challenges to books in the library as well as an opportunity to revisit our collection in the light of recommended books.

3. References

Burke, S. K. (2008). Removal of Gay‐Themed Materials from Public Libraries: Public Opinion Trends, 1973–2006. Public Library Quarterly, 27(3), 247–264. doi:10.1080/01616840802229552

Gutman, D. (2010). How I Corrupted America’s Youth. School Library Journal, 56(5), 28. Retrieved from

Lee, P. (2014, July 13). 400 gather outside National Library for reading event in response to NLB’s removal of three books. Retrieved August 8, 2014, from

Lukenbill, W. B., & Lukenbill, J. F. (2007). Censorship: What Do School Library Specialists Really Know? A Consideration of Students’ Rights, the Law and Implications for a New Education Paradigm. School Library Media Research, 10.

Schrader, A. M. (2009). Challenging Silence, Challenging Censorship, Building Resilience: LGBTQ Services and Collections in Public, School and Post-Secondary Libraries. Feliciter, 55(3), 107–108.

Vincent, A. (2014, July 11). Singapore pulps childrens books about gay parenting [News report]. Retrieved August 8, 2014, from

Waipang, A. (2011, August 6). Singapore’s religious landscape from Census 2010 [Weblog post]. Retrieved September 18, 2014, from

Weisman, S. (2009). A Review of “Challenging Silence, Challenging Censorship”: Shrader, A. and Wells, K. (2007). Ottawa, Canada: Canadian Teachers, Federation. Journal of LGBT Youth, 6(1), 92–96. doi:10.1080/19361650802379805

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Blog post 3: Write a book review - Diversity

1. A detailed description of the activity undertaken

The visually stunning book: The London Jungle Book by Bhajju Shyam (Shyam, Rao, & Wolf, 2014) was reviewed.  In this recently republished book, an Indian artist from the Gond tribe creates a visual travelogue of his experiences in London where he lives for two months to paint murals in an Indian restaurant.  The title refers back to Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle book – a juxtaposition where an Englishman travelled to the jungle area where Shyam lives and wrote of his experiences there.

The visual story and text
Explanation of drawings

Besides the wonderful illustrations and the poignant but perceptive comments on London and its people, I particularly liked the fact that the book could be read on multi-levels and is therefore suitable for readers of all ages. There is a visual story accompanied by text in translation from his oral storytelling that will appeal as he simply recounts experiences and observations of a foreign land. Then the artist explains his choices of drawing as he breaks with traditional communal symbols and traditions in order to tell a unique and personal story. An additional level is added by the reader, who while reading this will no doubt reflect on his or her own travel experience or knowledge and feelings about London.
Extension activities for students could include investigating and comparing Kipling’s book with this as well as the works of the anthropologist Verrier Elwin who lived with the Gond tribe.

2. Answers to the following questions:

What did you learn?

In the first place I realized that although I’ve been reviewing books informally (in my Goodreads profile, or on my blog) for a while, I didn’t actually know what the principles of a good review were, so I had to first do some research on that. I found three good reputable resources, Owl Purdue writing lab (Brizee, 2012); BookTrust (Playa, 2014) and Scholastic (Philbrick, 2014) and compared the elements.

How was the activity relevant to your professional practice?

As a librarian I am often asked my opinion on books or need to write brief reviews. I had not approached this in a structural way before, so it is good to have a review “template” in mind when talking about a book. I can encourage students to write reviews on the books they have read, and give them tips on how to do so.

Were any gaps in your knowledge revealed? How might you fill those gaps?

At first the illustrations struck me as being reminiscent of Australian Aboriginal art, so I did some more research on the Gond Tribe and ethnic minorities in India. About 30% of our students are Indian, and I recognised that I know very little about India and its vast diversity in language, culture, art and literary traditions. I can fill the gaps in my knowledge both by reading up about the country and its people and by having conversations with students and their parents to better understand the nation.

3. References:

Brizee, A. (2012, September 19). Purdue OWL: Book Review. Retrieved September 7, 2014, from

Philbrick, R. (2014). Writing with Writers: Writing a Book Review. Retrieved September 7, 2014, from

Playa, L. (2014). Tips for writing book reviews [Article]. Retrieved September 7, 2014, from

Shyam, B., Rao, S., & Wolf, G. (2014). The London jungle book. India: Tara Books.