Sometimes we are slaves to what others say...
Recently, another department member stopped Ann and suggested that she and I "ought to teach classes on research skills to secondary students." This comment left my partner momentarily speechless, wondering what sort of vacuum we have been working in all year.
Just a few days later, another colleague commented to me that "librarians are really becoming like technology specialists." LIKE? Like technology specialists? As our conversation continued, he noted that what he remembered about his school librarian was "she only talked about reading and the Dewey Decimal system." His comments left my head spinning.
Rather than be offended, I strive to use these tidbits as reflection tools. What am I doing well? Where have I missed the mark? What do I need to do differently?
Ann and I have worked hard all year to collaborate with content leaders and classroom teachers to make research skills an integral part of more classroom content. We have participated in content meetings at the district level, we have presented at faculty meetings, we have worked one-on-one with teachers and taught lessons directly to students. To spread our message we have utilized every tool we can get our hands on... We have emailed teachers directly and submitted blurbs to weekly newsletters. We have created webpages, wikis, blogs, and facebook pages. We have tweeted and scooped. We have conducted monthly trainings with our library assistants that cover everything from the nuts-and-bolts of running a library to the newest apps for library resources.
And yet.... someone just a few cubicles away is unaware that we teach research skills. So I ask myself... what ELSE can we do?
The second person's comments reflect the greater state of librarianship: The role has changed but the perception has not. I dug up an article I published nearly 10 years ago and reread it.
Surprisingly, I found most of this article still relevant...very little has really changed in the library world in 10 years. (Ok, I no longer think the OPAC is the greatest piece of automation. Being able to access it via an app on my iPhone is!) But if so little has changed, why are people just now recognizing me as a technology specialist? What have I not done to spread this message? I am constantly learning about technology and how to apply it to education, but have I really been a LEADER in technology?
The speaker's memory of his librarian talking about reading and the Dewey Decimal system prompted several thoughts.... Librarians STILL promote literacy and information access. Our job really hasn't changed, but the tools sure have. Book talks and story times have remained important, but are they essential? And what about eBooks and audio books? Am I providing students with the books they want/need in the FORMATS they want/need? And how can I be sure?
As for the Dewey Decimal system, Melvil Dewey created his system as a means of quickly and easily accessing information. Do students still need to learn the Dewey Decimal system? Should my libraries be arranged by Dewey or by genre? I've tried both (and may blog on this later), but I think the greater question is: Do students (and teachers) realize that the Dewey Decimal system is a means to a greater end: information access?
So I ask myself....Do my students and teachers know how to access the best information available? Do they have the most recent weblinks and passwords to databases? Do they know how to search the World Wide Web effectively? Can they limit their search results?
If the answer to any of these questions is no, what am I going to do next?