Saturday, 27 January 2018

New online book club for school library staff - What next?

Running an online book club

Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash

Well, it has been and gone. My first attempt to create some professional development for school library staff. After a sudden and inexplicably impulsive suggestion that I wanted to set up an online book club I found myself having to put my money where my mouth was. Too many of my twitter friends thought it was a great idea so I had to find a way to make it work. 

My plan, well I didn't really have a plan, and to be honest I still don't! Was to create a platform for book suggestions and provide an area for discussion. I have joined in several twitter chats and felt that this was something that I could do but also wanted to provide a platform for those who don't use social media. This was why Padlet was chosen. I was not sure whether to post the link open to all or keep it for those that asked for it and have currently decided to keep it closed.  I may be wrong but this feels like a little like signing up for it which gives it a little more status. If you want to join in after reading this, either email me at or follow me on twitter @elizabethutch. Be aware that I don't automatically follow back so you will need to post a message to me saying that you want to join. At that point, I will follow you and give you the link to the Padlet. 

The first discussion took place on the 23rd January both on the Padlet and on twitter. We had chosen to read Reading by Right by Joy Court. After 2 hours of moderating I was shattered. I did learn a lot from the experience and will be making changes to the next one. I have also had some very useful feedback too that will be taken into consideration too. 

My thoughts on the first discussion 

  • I need to consider my focus for my questions. Am I wanting to engage in school library discussion or more about the book? I think this was a little difficult with the first book Reading by Right by Joy Court as it had very specific chapters and it lent itself to linking what we do in practice. This meant that it was possible to join in the conversation even if you hadn't read the book. I don't think this will be the case with every book so will monitor as we work our way through the next few books. 
  • I had far too many questions. 10 in an hour does not lend itself to a good discussion. I was moving to the next question just as an interesting discussion was starting on Padlet. On Twitter, I did not have time to join in the discussion myself as I was too busy getting the next question ready. I felt that I could not change this once it had started because I had already posted a link to the questions out on Twitter. I could, however, have some reserve questions in future! (Thanks, Janet!)
  • I need to sit at a desk and not the kitchen table as I was aching after I had finished 2hrs of talking on the computer...
  • Is the Padlet the best platform for this discussion? We had to keep refreshing in order to see other peoples comments and it felt a little disjointed although I am not sure if there is a platform that would give us what we need. I don't intend to change it for now as it may be that we just need to get used to it. 
  • I also need to think about keeping a 'request only' link to the Padlet. I am not sure if it will get too big to have a proper discussion if too many people are involved. Will I have time to keep adding people? I think I will have to monitor to see how this goes. 
  • Twitter, this worked well but I just need fewer questions and maybe someone else moderating with me. One person to ping out the questions and another to respond to comment might work better. Looking for volunteers :)  
  • The books need to be reasonably priced, most of the time. I had not thought about this at all and chose the first one on book suggestions and votes. I don't want to be restricted by price all of the time as there will be some really useful books that we should be reading that will have a higher price. I will try to make sure that at least every other book is one everyone can afford to buy.
  • This is a very useful thing to do and there is a need for this kind of #PD for school library staff

Where next?

I am very pleased with the enthusiasm for this book club. I do feel that there is a need to continue it. I hope that everyone taking part will suggest books or if not at least vote for what they would like to read. I don't want to feel like I am making all the decisions and so far that is not the case. 

If you have any feedback on the last discussion or any suggestions please feel free to comment below. This is very much our book club and I will try, as best I can, to make it worthwhile for everyone taking part.