A tale of two systems

I’ve just spent the last 4 days at the #LKSW2017 where 80 librarians around the SE Asian region got together to learn and share (mainly teacher) librarian practise. I also hosted a Chinese lady from a school in China and gave a daily ride to another Canadian librarian working at a school in China. We had some great conversations.

The first workshop I attended was led by Brad Tyrell. He of the magnificent Libguides at Scotch College that induce envy in every other libguide – even if you know that there is a slew of very techie people behind the gloss. During the workshop he kept emphasizing that everything that they’ve done is on a creative commons basis, and in fact shared all the documentation and templates used to make the guides.  He also explained that their staff’s job descriptions include an imperative to share what they’ve done – so everytime they’ve created a new library guide, they not only share it with staff and students internally, but they also have to post it on the listserv / social media of their local library association.

This is something I’m very comfortable with, and in fact have had many discussions with my lecturers at CSU about plagiarism and the sharing of academic output amongst students, where my (slightly controversial) view was that every academic assignment I’ve made is, and should be public, and that if students abuse it, or lecturers can’t be bothered to change the assignment, the system should take care of it… discussions documented here.  My libguides are also open, and I encourage people to take what they need from them and to adapt them to their own situation – and in turn, I get inspiration and links and resources from the other community guides. What do we all want? A little acknowledgement and for it to be on a “I share so you don’t just take, but also share”.

Then there is the in-between state, I’d call it the TpT state (teachers pay teachers), where you’ve made something that’s taken so much work, it’s done in your spare time and has cost you time and effort and is of a quality that you feel you can sell it. Personally I don’t do this, I’m more on the open source side of things, but I have bought items from other teachers where I like what they’ve done and don’t think I could do a better job.  For a rationale for this model, please read this.

And then the opposite extreme.  Chatting to my two compatriots working in China, I was surprised to hear that neither their catalogues, nor their library guides were open.  I was asking about sourcing Chinese books for our program in particular, and specifically nonfiction books for our UOIs. While they were helpful, and the actual answer is due to the predominance of text-books their is a less developed nonfiction publishing market at the primary level, none of their catalogs or resource lists were open. So unlike many other schools where I could take a look into their lists to find some good resources, this wouldn’t be possible. They explained that the Chinese private school market is very very competitive and this is all considered to be proprietary and competitive information.

Which of course leads to the question – are you being stupid or reducing your own competitiveness by sharing?  I’d like to think not and that everyone is better off as a result of this and opening things up allows them to be improved upon. Provided of course that the person doing the adaptation and improving is similarly civic minded and pays the sharing forward – which isn’t always the case.

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