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Talkin’ ’bout the Librarian

Everyone’s getting in on the act this week–first the Fischbowl, and now Littleton Public Schools’ Dan Maas posting has attracted the attention of State Librarian Gene Hainer.

Do you think this is the sunset era of librarians?
Is it the dawn of a new role as a scholar in schools?
What do you think of the conversation over there?

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6 Responses

  1. Just finished reading Dan’s article and Gene’s reply on my blackberry while waiting for my girls to get out of cheerleading. Then I got home, opened my computer, checked my email where Heidi said we should go post on the Calling All School Librarians blog, so I check it out and saw this blog post. Small world . . .

    Dan made some interesting points, Gene made some even more important ones. I also just read Abrams (from Sirsi Dynix) post about librarians being too anonymous – that we need to get out there and market ourselves. The comments from his readers at that point said they were afraid to wear name tags because of their fears of stalking! Are we really communicating or not here?

    Nevertheless, they all make for interesting conversation and dialog. But I think Nancy’s White’s article in the Ed Tech News on “The Role of Today’s Librarian” says it all. Check it out http://www.edtechmag.com/k12/issues/august-september-2008/the-role-of-today-s-librarian.html

    While school librarians may be the most misunderstood educators, they have always gone about the business of helping students learn how to learn. Nancy says (and I agree with her) “As the information landscape has evolved, the teacher-librarian has evolved as well to provide opportunities for students, staff and community members to fine-tune their information liter­acy skills, with the ultimate goal of preparing students for what most people would agree is an unknown future.”

    I like her terms if we really need new ones: “instructional coach” and “information specialist” and if we need to rename the library, let’s call it the School Information Center (SIC) – the kids would like that, that’s “Sick” as they say today when something is “groovy” or “cool” from my time. My kids would probably say, “Shut Up Mom – that is so Sick” – what have the meaning of words and saying come to these days! Nothing means today what it originally meant, so who cares if library meant paper and books originally.

    Libraries are and always will be the center of community. Just ask those librarians and community members that found refuge @ their library after Hurricane Katrina. ‘Nough said.

  2. Connie, thanks for linking this post to your blog. I am a big fan of 21st Century Libraries and a challenger of the status quo. My hope is that we can shatter some paradigms for the betterment of learning and to do that, perhaps we need to rattle some cages…
    -D

  3. Thanks, Connie. I posted a comment over there, but also wanted to comment on our blog. I do not believe this is the sunset of librarians. But I would support the sunset of the stereotype of librarians as the keeper of books. We have got to work hard to shed that label. I believe we do that by our leadership, vision and action towards moving our schools into the 21st century – which is not something extra that schools do, but rather a change in daily teaching practice. I do believe that the title “teacher-librarian” helps. I agree with Gene on the “scholar” title – I don’t think that would help our students or teachers to view the library or information center in a different light!

  4. I submitted a comment on Dan’s blog today, but in response to the “scholar” comment here and from Gene’s post on Dan’s blog. I have to add the thought of us looking at a scholar in a different way. At University of Colorado Denver, I have taught teacher-librarians to view the work they often do as the “scholarship of teaching” which has the practitioner answering the question: “What can I do to impact student achievement?” or “How can I improve my instruction to make a difference?” etc. Teacher-librarians perform “action research” often when they ask teachers or students questions to create better results; provide performance-based assessments to measure student achievement; evaluate a collection for development; and many more thoughtful actions each day. Meanwhile, we do need to read the research that is out there and decide how we, as librarians, can demonstrate the results. Librarians need to read the research about school libraries in action more often and share the results. It is just one more way to make a difference as we educate our learning communities about what our roles are in student learning. Knowledge Quest is one example of an easy-to-read journal with research-based articles published by school librarians for school librarians. LMC is another example. One idea is to gather with librarian friends district-wide and each agree to read a professional journal each month. Then, get together after school for a couple of hours once a month and share the highlights. If the group can’t meet, set up a blog, Wiki, Google Group, or Ning to share these ideas and have a common place to share statistics, quotes, ideas, etc. This is just one way to be aware of current trends if one hasn’t been in graduate school for awhile. 🙂

  5. As Teacher-Librarians we need to market to parents and administrators how we are teaching the new 21st Century Learner Standards to our students. The CASL board is working on a statewide collaborative grant regarding school librarians, public librarians and PTO’s. If you are interested or have time to give please contact a CASL board member… or me. I agree we need to awaken the public regarding what we really do and how it is done.

  6. As Teacher-Librarians we need to market to parents and administrators how we are teaching the new 21st Century Learner Standards to our students. The CASL board is working on a statewide collaborative grant regarding school librarians, public librarians and PTO’s. If you are interested or have time to give please contact a CASL board member… or me. I agree we need to awaken the public regarding what we really do and how it is done. We are fabulous!

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