Not your mother’s library

I hope that you had a chance to read Anita Brooks Kirkland’s post that I referenced in my TWIOE post on Friday.

If you missed it, here’s the link again.

Library Day at Queen’s Park 2015

There were three key messages that Anita wanted us to read from her experience.

I think it’s sad that we’re still having to have these conversations.

In education, in particular, we’ve seen the library and the teacher-librarian beat up beyond belief.  We’ve learned that “library” is a four letter word (not from teacher-librarians, of course) and seen it morphed into “Resource Centre” and “Learning Commons” to try to erase the traditional picture of a room of books from our minds.  We’ve seen budgets slashed and new resources not acquired.  We’ve seen those who are passionate do fund raising just for new resources or looking for business partnerships to keep it rolling.

We’ve seen the teacher-librarian replaced by a lower priced technician who takes on the role that administrators see as that of the teacher-librarian – checking out books and reshelving them.  Having spent many hours with computer contacts who are also teacher-librarians, I can tell you that they only do this as a last resort.  These are tasks done by library volunteers.

We’ve seen libraries disbanded all together and placed in the classroom so that the books are at the “point of instruction”.  How wonderful it must be to have a small subset of the library at the back of the room and reading choice added to the big list of things that teachers do already.

We’ve seen inane comments like “kids can just look it up on the internet”.  

Then, we hear the serious part.  

  • “We need to raise literacy scores.”  
  • “We need to teach digital responsibility.”  
  • “We need to have maker spaces.”
  • “We need someone who knows all the curriculum; not just their grade level.”
  • “We need kids to be critical thinkers.”

And yet, we as a system, we don’t stop to recognize that the solution has been there all along.  It just needs to be funded, supported, and stopped being the target of budget cuts.

As I’ve said many times, buy the best resources, put the best teachers in the library, make the library the heart of learning in your school, and you’ll see the real change that we need.

2 thoughts on “Not your mother’s library

  1. Carol Fowler says:

    Please don’t blame the library technician. Let’s put the blame solely where it belongs : district and school administrators who do not see a library/ media centre/ learning commons as a priority. Administrators do not want to invest the money in having a qualified teacher librarian in a school (not even on a part-time or shared basis) . My school for example has invested money in a resettlement worker , a fourth counselor and a First Nations worker to work with the influx of immigrants and refugees and First Nations youth but not in a teacher librarian.

    My colleague in the the library holds a MLS but is classified as a technician. I am a library technician (who does the majority of the technical and related duties. The only things I don’t do is manage the space, take care of the technology, and the ordering.

    As a technician I prefer to work with a teacher librarian… not only for the students and staff, but it frees me to do the duties for which I was trained.

    As a last thought… not only are teacher librarians being replaced, but some schools do not even have qualified library technicians. We are seeing our positions being replaced by educational assistants, administrative support staff and volunteers/ parents because of course you know you don’t need skills to work in a library.

    Like

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