After a week in warm, sunny California, I am back in wintery Vic. I had great plans of blogging directly from the conference, as I notice James Herring did, however due to my encounter with some really entertaining, smart, and funny TLs from Canada (you know who you are!), I was far too busy having fun to sit and write. I hope that’s enough to get four new subscribers, girls?
This was my first visit to San Francisco, but hopefully not my last. It’s a great city. My initial observation, as it is always when arriving in a new country, was to look at the trees. I have often found myself struck by the vibrant green flora in other countries, relative to our native olive tones. What I found here though, were gum trees. Everywhere! And not just the eucalypts. I saw wattle, bottlebrush and while not an Australian native, so much agapanthus I felt like I hadn’t even left home.
The conference venue at UC Berkeley was beautiful (even with the plethora of agapanthus), and it wasn’t always easy to head indoors with the grounds and sunshine beckoning, but I am glad I did.
Stephen Krashen’s entertaining opening keynote made the long trip worthwhile within the first hour of proceedings. While I feel such talks at a TL gathering are preaching to the converted, it was still great to hear about the ever growing body of evidence demonstrating “The Power of Reading”, the title of his book which I promptly purchased but am yet to read, owing to the fact it is now in the possession of my childrens’ principal.
A highlight for me was Kathy Hicks-Brooks’ “Designing multiple book clubs to meet the interest of diverse popuations”. I was torn between attending this and learning more about the ICDL (more below), and thankfully made the right choice. Kathy, a TL from Indiana, enthralled us with tales of the book clubs she has started for her students, based on student interests to lure them in! Yes, she has a good budget for it, but clearly it’s not the money that has made it thrive, but Kathy herself, her enthusiam and care for her students obvious to all in the room. Her program is to be extended further in the coming year, and I hope she can travel to Brisbane in two years to give us an update (because I am not going to Italy in ’09).
The International Children’s Digital Library (ICDL) is a full-text online library of children’s books from around the world. All content is free. The collection currently includes historic and contemporary books from 56 countries, and in 45 languages. My sister-in-law loves it because she now has 122 books in her native Spanish that she can read to her boys that she previously had little access to in Australia. The site is great for reading a “big book” to the whole class, assuming you have good broadband access. Take the time to explore the site, and perhaps donate some time as a translator if you posess such a talent.
David Loertscher was unable to present his keynote address, but you may like to investigate his quest for children and teens to read a billion books, write a billion books and do a billion projects at http://knowville.org . A quick glance reveals some great ideas for libraries.
Ross Todd had some interesting points regarding the Delaware Recommended Curriculum (DRC), but I will write more on this after some further reading.
As for library advocacy, there was little to no formal discussion on this. The meeting for the advocacy special interest group was poorly attended, and the only real mention of it that I heard was made by Deborah Levitov (I think) during a panel discussion about the new AASL standards, when she said we need to identify the people we want to support us and talk to them in their language. It is disappointing when the issue of lack of recognition for school libraries seems so universal. I was surprised to discover that my Canadian colleagues perceive Australia as so far ahead in terms of recognition of the profession, while some of us at the Hub have been looking at them thinking how much more progress THEY have made. Eventually we agreed that we seem to be in the same dire situation.
The final interesting thing that occurred at the conference was the guest appearance of a library cat at the final evening’s banquet and auction. Named Hubcat (how’s that for coincidence!), he is originally from Michigan, but dropped in en route to Australia where he hopes to promote school libraries to Australian parents and others. I tried to find out where he is now, and he is apparently spending a month at the AQIS quarrantine station in Spotswood, Vic. Hopefully we’ll hear more of him soon. Here’s a picture of him arriving at the conference, escorted by delegate Betty-Lou.