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