Global Collaboration: CiSSL International Research Symposium


A few weeks ago I attended the Third International Research Symposium at Center for International Scholarship in School Libraries (CiSSL) in New Brunswick, NJ . The theme this year was Digital Youth, Inquiry, and the Future of the School Library … Research to Practice.

The focus question was: How can schools prepare to deliver a 21st century education for digital youth?

I always like to sit at a table with people I don’t know when I go to these types of conferences or workshops so that I meet new and exciting school librarians. I have met some of my now dearest friends and favorite co-collaborators that way. And the same was true for this event! I sat at a table with some wonderful school librarians and school library coordinators from Maryland, Virginia, and Washington. I experienced two full days of engaging and energized learning with this group. We brainstormed as a group on what we think schools should be doing to address the needs of today’s learners. Then we listened to a variety of speakers that included international guests, practitioners, and academics speak on their views, experiences, and research in this area.

Another focus of the conference was also to celebrate 10 years of CiSSL and 30 years of Dr. Carol Collier Kuhlthau’s research centering on the Information Search Process and Guided Inquiry.  Guided Inquiry serves as a framework that can give learners a foundation for developing deep knowledge and understanding. It was inspiring to hear Dr. Kuhlthau speak on how she developed the Information Search Process from observing real world students and their information needs and seeking processes. Also her daughter Leslie, who is also her co-author, spoke about bringing in the teacher’s point of view to this process and how they developed the Guided Inquiry Design book. Practitioners from across the globe including England, Sweden, and Australia shared how they were using the guided inquiry framework and new technologies to address the information needs of digital learners and learning in a variety of environments.

It was great to see the element of collaboration in each of these presentations – how school librarians and teachers were working together to create deeper learning experiences for kids. It was refreshing to see and hear about these experiences and to experience some good professional collaboration myself. I often find that I learn just as much from my colleagues through informal chatting as I do the formal presenters. It was a treat to get to talk with and share ideas with school librarians from across the globe. As we enter the summer, be sure to think about yourself and your own professional growth – what do you have planned to expand your thinking and grow your network?

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