Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Learning journey from SMU Libraries to SOTA Library

Reach out to your neighbor – and literally we did. This was a mutual objective shared by Singapore Management University (SMU) Libraries and School of the Arts (SOTA) Library as we bonded over a learning journey in the afternoon of Friday 25 August 2017.

A university with a key focus on business and law – and a pre-tertiary specialized arts school – what do we have in common? How different are we? More importantly, what challenges do the libraries in these 2 institutions face? Read on to find out more!

In part due to physical proximity, SMU Libraries thought it a great idea to visit SOTA Library as part of their Learning Circle activities to share and learn good practices. The Learning Circle is a series of continuous professional development for staff of SMU. These could be in the form of faculty talk, conference sharing, learning journey, training, development, and the like. These activities aim to support the SMU librarians in helping them to keep abreast of the latest library and information industry trends. These trends are constantly evolving in today’s increasingly digital age.

About 25 visitors from the SMU Libraries team visited SOTA Library. They were from both the Li Ka Shing Library and Kwa Geok Choo Law Library. The visit started with an introduction by Ms Adeline Neo (Senior Manager, SOTA Library) on the library layout and its range of facilities, before bringing the visitors on a tour to the various venues in the library. She also shared on new initiatives to optimize space usage and improve ease of retrieval of library items for users, such as building of new shelves to house the teachers’ resource collection. This collection had been housed in a room that had, over time, been used more for meetings and other activities.

The visitors had a good time exploring the facilities in the numerous discussion rooms, which are also equipped to be used as classrooms. We learnt that SMU Libraries has many open spaces for individual use, as well as for research and collaborative pedagogy. The range of facilities include 24/7 Learning Commons, Investment Studio, Learning Labs, Project Rooms – all of which are designed to be conducive for learning.

One of the highlights of the library tour was when our visitors tried on the node school chairs in the newly furbished Learning Centre – where they enjoyed manoeuvring these flexible and mobile chairs, which are designed to enable quicker transition from one teaching mode to the next, as compared to the conventional school tables and chairs.

As we came to the Cool Stuff Zone, which is the library’s main display area and often doubled up as a venue for talks and programmes, Adeline pointed out on the specially designed book display shelves showcasing a selection of Singapore Art Museum (SAM) publications. Earlier in 2017, SAM and SOTA had entered into a Memorandum of Understanding to work together so as to provide greater access to quality resources on Southeast Asian contemporary visual art. Initiated by the Visual Arts faculty in SOTA, SAM would extend copies of its publication to SOTA Library. SOTA Library would include these into its collection to support teaching and research of Southeast Asian contemporary art, develop student knowledge of the visual arts sector, as well as generate greater awareness of and participation in SAM programmes.

Our SMU guests then sat down for a quick break of refreshing fruit platters at the Teacher’s Resource Centre. After which, I conducted a presentation on SOTA's background, curriculum and programmes. At this point, our guests let on that they used to have the impression that SOTA is a vocational school for secondary school students. They were glad to quash their misconception and learn that it is the only national pre-tertiary specialised arts school with a six-year integrated arts and academic curriculum, which leads to the International Baccalaureate Diploma or Career-related Programme for youths aged 13 to 18 years old.

I further spoke about the ongoing partnership between SOTA Library and the various faculties to identify, select and source for relevant materials that support informational, research, curriculum and reading needs of the SOTA community. Beyond print, SOTA Library is looking towards the direction of leveraging more on electronic resources. Database trials for Infobase’s Science Online, Bloom’s Literature and Classroom Video On Demand are recent potential additions to SOTA’s range of subscribed online resources.

Following that, I briefly explained SOTA’s pedagogy and teaching philosophy - one that celebrates experimentation, expression and discovery as a school of the future - and how it nurtures the students into tomorrow’s artists and leaders. The visitors were impressed to learn that a SOTA alumnus, Ms Cheri Wee, was among the five students who had been awarded the 2017 President’s Scholarship, making her the first SOTA alumnus to receive this highly prestigious award.

The presentation concluded with recent events organized by SOTA Library for its users, such as National Library Board librarians showcasing their resources as part of professional development for teaching staff on 6 July 2017, Chinese writer’s sharing session for students by library committee on 4 August 2017, amongst others.

The presentation sparked off interest and a lively dialogue ensued. Together with Adeline, I led a discussion with our SMU guests on the sharing of best practices in support of teaching and learning needs. One of the many interesting points raised was the feasibility of libraries leveraging more on electronic resources to support information literacy and research needs of its users.

While SMU and SOTA differ in several aspects such as the age group of students, type of courses offered and so on, we found that the libraries of the 2 institutions share the same commitment to provide a user-centric learning space and support the information needs of our users. Both libraries agreed that there are certainly common areas that we could possibly explore further together that are mutually beneficial. The visit ended with a group photograph at the spiral staircase near the library entrance as a backdrop, as we bade goodbye to each other.

SOTA Library had received compliments on the visit and our SMU guests thought that it was planned well, such that they had an enjoyable learning experience. The goodwill was reciprocal, and SMU Libraries team had expressed their interest to host the SOTA Library team in the future.

Article By: Foo Soo Chin (Manager, SOTA Library)

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Regional PD 2017/8

2017/8 School Year

We are spoilt for choice this year for Librarian related PD. Please note the following events with opportunities to attend and to present. Please add a comment if you know of any other opportunities to add to these. The list below is in chronological order. For other events and development opportunities in the region see this page

For good FREE PD consider attending a TeachMeet in Singapore

8-10 September 2017 (Hong Kong):
IBO, Cat 3: The Role of the Librarian, Hong Kong

14-16 October 2017 (Hong Kong): 
IBO, Cat 3: The Role of the Librarian, Hong Kong

2-4 November 2017 (Shanghai, China):
Learning 2.0 at Shanghai American School.  Of particular interest to librarians is Jeff Utecht speaking on "Honing research skills in the age of falsified news & echo chambers"

16-18 November 2017 (HCMC, Vietnam):
LKSW at American International School Ho Chi Min City, Vietnam.  Contact Jennifer Alevy, Coordinator of Library Services, for further information

17-19 January 2018 (Hong Kong):
21st Century Learning Hong Kong will have a library pre-conference and library / information literacy strand with Joyce Valenza as keynote. Here is the link if you'd like to submit a presentation proposal.

16-17 February 2018 (Chennai, India):
ECIS Library 2018 in Chennai India. Keynote speakers are ​Shannon McClintock Miller and John Schumacher (a.k.a Mr. Schu).

29-31 March 2018 (Bangkok, Thailand):
EARCOS Teachers' Conference in Bangkok. Diane Mackenzie and Katie Day will be presenting as will Pernille Ripp (Global Read Aloud).

20-22 April 2018 (Shenzhen, China):
IBO, Cat 3: The role of the librarian, Shenzhen, China

6-11 May 2018 (Istanbul, Turkey):
IASL 2018 Istanbul Turkey.

30 July to 2 August 2018 (Queensland, Australia):
Asia-Pacific Library and Information Conference. Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre, Queensland, Australia.
First joint conference of ALIA, Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa (LIANZA), and Library Association of Singapore (LAS) 

24-30 August 2018 (KL, Malaysia):
IFLA 84th World Library and Information Congress, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Red Dot shortlists for next year! 2017-2018

Apologies for the delay, but at least we've managed to do this by early June.  Progress!

I've made a new Red Dot website -- see

The domain name -- -- hasn't been transferred to the new site yet, but should be working within a few days.  (For some reason, mapping a GoDaddy domain name to a Google Site is not an instant thing.)

I think we've got a good line-up and balance in the "baskets" of each category.  Go have a look.  Many thanks to the ad-hoc committee members who found time to meet up in the evenings and to read recommendations throughout the process.

For availability, see the Google Spreadsheet where we composed the shortlists -- and know that we will be adding other sources to that, e.g., usually Follett put the shortlists in Titlewave and Denise Tan from Closetful of Books will produce an order sheet.

The Readers Cup Reboot information will also be added to the Red Dot website in the near future.

Happy summer reading!

Monday, May 8, 2017

Winners! Red Dots 2016-2017

Students from 11 different international schools in our network cast almost 8,000 votes in total in the four categories of the 2016-2017 Red Dot Book Awards.

The Singapore-wide 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners in the four categories are:

Early Years:
  • 1st place:  Beep! Beep! Go to Sleep!
  • 2nd place: Aunt Amelia
  • 3rd place:  All the Lost Things
Younger Readers:
  • 1st place:  The Story of Diva and Flea
  • 2nd place:  Blamehounds
  • 3rd place:  Freddie Mole Lion Tamer
Older Readers:
  • 1st place:  The Thing About Jellyfish
  • 2nd place:  Secrets of Singapore
  • 3rd place:  Confessions of an Imaginary Friend
Mature Readers:
  • 1st place:  Nimona
  • 2nd place:  Boys Don't Knit
  • 3rd place:  Illuminae

Note that each school also has its own winners -- and participating schools are given those results to advertise as they will.

We're close to announcing the shortlists for next year's eight books in each of the four categories..... Watch this space....