Softlink Education is excited to welcome international school library consultant Dianne McKenzie as keynote speaker for the 2019 Oliver v5 User Conference: Community and Diversity. Dianne is a passionate educator with a global presence, whose career has led her from Physical Education teaching in Australia to teacher-librarianship and delivering teacher librarian training in Hong Kong and around the world.
In 2014, Dianne founded School Library Connection, a global consultancy and training company specialised in developing and delivering professional development workshops, conferences, and consulting services for school library professionals worldwide. Her areas of specialisation include 21st century pedagogy, inquiry and conceptual learning, policy creation and capacity building. Dianne has written for professional publications in the USA, Australia and the Netherlands, and is currently working on a book about the role of school libraries in International Baccalaureate programs. She is in great demand as a speaker and has delivered numerous workshops and presentations throughout Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Australia.
For this article, we spoke with Dianne about her career path and the lifelong passion for digital technologies in education that has driven her to experiment and innovate within the school library space. These experiences enable her to offer a unique perspective and expertise on the topic of her conference keynote presentation, Diversity in Libraries: Connecting Students to the World. As part of the conference’s secondary and K-12 stream, Dianne will also be delivering a presentation on Evidence-based Practice in the School Library.
Dianne began her career in Australia as a Physical Education teacher before parental leave and a move to Hong Kong led her to shift focus, completing a Masters in Teacher Librarianship at Charles Sturt University. During her studies, she developed a business importing Australian children’s VHS, books and CDs to Hong Kong and coordinating children’s cultural events, including Wiggles tours to Hong Kong in 1996 and 1998. She then held Teacher Librarian roles at schools in Hong Kong, including the Australian International School and the German Swiss School, while working with James Henri at Hong Kong University to deliver teacher-librarian training for local teachers.
Dianne’s diverse roles have given her a broad range of experience across new and established school libraries, small and large library teams, International Baccalaureate programs and other international school frameworks, and a holistic understanding of education from the perspective of both subject teacher and teacher librarian. She is also an experienced events manager, having helped organise the 2005 IASL conference in Hong Kong as well as multiple other conferences and workshops in Australia and abroad through her own company, School Librarian Connection. Dianne says one of her key career-shaping moments was the decision to start her blog, Library Grits, in 2008. She credits James Henri as a major influence in this decision, as he pushed her to go beyond her comfort zone with sharing her expertise.
Dianne has a special interest and expertise in digital technologies, and has always been an early adopter in this area. She purchased her first Mac computer in 1987 and explored ways of using digital technology to enhance learning as a member of the Second Life education community in 2008. The same year, she launched the award-nominated Library Grits blog, where she continues to document her “journey as a tenacious lifelong learner in the Teacher Librarian field.”
Dianne is a strong advocate for schools engaging with technology, and has incorporated eBooks and readers into her library collections.
“It is important to me because [digital technology] is the way things are going and if we don’t keep up, then we will be left behind.”
Always forward-looking, Dianne is excited by the prospect of a dynamic new paradigm for teacher librarians.
“I think the [teacher librarian] profession is going through a change of focus but also a shift in what a school library can be, rather than what it should be based on perceptions and experiences from the past.”
According to Dianne, the ability of schools to embrace past, present and future is fundamental to fostering inclusion and diversity. She will explore this concern more fully in her keynote presentation.
“Diversity in school libraries is about going beyond the single story. What messages are you sending with your collection? What stories are being told and whose stories are they? What stories are we missing and what stories can your student population tell?”
With these questions as a starting point, Dianne will offer a wealth of strategies from her own experience and research to help you assess your library collection and maximise connection, inclusion, and diversity, for the benefit of students and others in the school community.
“Being connected is such an important way of learning from each other, and if we can connect beyond Australia either virtually or physically, then everyone’s lives will be richer.”
Oliver v5 users are invited to hear more from Dianne at Softlink Education’s 2019 Oliver v5 User Conference: Community and Diversity. Please join us in Sydney on Friday 17 May for this exceptional networking and professional development opportunity, which will bring together Oliver v5 users from around Australia and the Asia Pacific.
Delegates attending the one-day conference can choose from a primary or secondary/K-12 stream featuring presentations by innovative school library practitioners as well as insights from the Softlink Education Development and Support teams. Early registration is encouraged as places are limited and filling quickly. Visit this page to book your ticket.