Pen’s TL Blog

Journey to the Centre of Teacher Librarianship

Out and proud. March 11, 2011

Filed under: Libraries,Ramblings,Reading for pleasure — penszen @ 1:50 pm

I’m not sure what librarians are trying to prove. Is it that they feel undervalued, unrecognised? They can come across as so condescending, as if we mere mortals cannot possibly be aware of the trials they face managing resources for an ungrateful public. I appreciate that it’s true, the average punter does not realise what a complex and demanding job it is to be a good librarian. I stress good librarian. We all know librarians who fit the stereotype of a sour-faced, mean grouch who doesn’t seem to want to actually share ‘their’ library resources. We also know perfectly pleasant librarians who have their systems in place, from 20 years ago, who do not seem aware of the changing pace of the world outside their shelves.

Good librarians are truly amazing people, with energy to burn, curiosity, empathy and minds sharp, quick and broad. They know their patrons and they know their products and they are not afraid to lead. Most importantly, they learn unceasingly, and they share that learning. I have been inducted into the world of good librarians through this course, and especially through the OZTL_NET listserv, which connects librarians all over Australia and beyond. They are inspiring. I fancy I could be like that, but I also came into this course because I have a love of books. I know. Shoot me now.

John Kennedy, in his 2006 book Collection Management, is withering when he states, “Until ten or fifteen years ago, entrants to library science courses were notoriously prone to nominate a ‘love of books’ as the reason for their choice of career” (p. 35). I know, John, how naive! While being a shameless lover of books, I do recognise that it does not automatically make you a good librarian, but I would dare to say it is a desirable attribute. Despite the growing number of alternative information sources and entertainment media available, libraries are still largely populated by books. I would be disappointed if my librarian was anything less than enthusiastic about books. Perhaps I am so book focused because I work in the primary realm of the education landscape, where learning to read is paramount as an entry to learning and pleasure. At our end, books are still an integral part of the library experience, and I will continue to love them, out and proud.

Kennedy, J. (2006). Collection management. A concise introduction. Revised edition. Centre for Information Studies, Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga.

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The post-literate world March 3, 2011

Filed under: Libraries,Role of TL,Teacher Librarianship,Technology — penszen @ 1:03 pm

I love Doug Johnson. What an interesting thinker he is, and always respectful of readers. His article, Libraries for a post-literate society (2010), invites me to think more positively about the move our society is making away from print towards other methods of information sharing and entertainment such as audio, video, graphics and gaming. As someone for whom words, especially the written word, are more nourishing and comforting than food, this is a challenging shift. Johnson convinces me with the argument that this move is in fact a revitalising of traditional forms of communication such as speaking, storytelling, dialogue, debate and dramatisation which were displaced by the advent of writing . He notes that “now these modes can be captured and stored digitally as easily as writing”. Instead of inviting friends over to sit in the parlour and listen to each other play the piano or recite a poem, we record ourselves and upload it to youtube to share with our friends and the world at large. So what does this mean for libraries, especially for school libraries? Johnson reminds us that libraries transmit culture, so resisting the technology juggernaut allows libraries to become irrelevant.We must engage with these new forms without bias, as Johnson reminds us, to really offer library services that are meaningful to a range of users.

Mal Lee, in his article A library without books? is much more strident in his warnings about the irrelevancy of school libraries that will not keep up. As the digitisation of schools progresses, he foresees “each classroom becom[ing] a digital teaching hub and thus a ‘state of the art library'”. This assumes that every teacher can take on the role of librarian and information specialist, able to guide and teach students how to manage the volume of information available on their laptop. This assumes every teacher individually has time to source and manage best quality digital resources for their teaching and learning experiences. I would argue that a state of the art library needs a state of the art librarian. Lee is also insistent that name changes, from ‘library’ to ‘information services unit’ for example, signal qualitative change. I am yet to be convinced that this is an necessary step. Lee argues that “[t]he old labels serve to inform the educational administrator that that group/entity has not moved with the times.” I would propose that it is the actions of the librarian and the activity of the library that will be noticed, regardless of titles. A principal should know what is going on within the library, whether it is moving with the times. Rather than worrying about the name, the emphasis should be on the relationships between the librarian, the school administration and the school community as a whole, and whether the librarian is stepping up as a leader within the community.

Johnson, D. (2010). Libraries for a post-literate society. Connections, 72, 1-2. Retrieved March 3, 2011 from http://www2.curriculum.edu.au/scis/connections/libraries_for_a_post-literate_society_1_2.html

Lee, M. A library without books? Connections. Retrieved March 3, 2011 from http://www2.curriculum.edu.au/scis/connections/a_library_without_books_1_2.html