Doug Johnson over at the Blue Skunk blog recently posted a response to a post Joyce Valenza shared about the belief among some folk that librarians are obsolete in a digital world over at her Neverending Search blog. Both posts got me really thinking about our work and role we play here over in our library. Joyce’s full post is very much worth a read …
About Our Obsolescence
January 31, 2007 in About libraries
Kathy Schrock just sent me a link to a fine piece, Are Librarians Totally Obsolete? Which offers “33 Reasons Why Libraries and Librarians are Still Extremely Important.” This comes on the heels of David’s recent post, “Who Needs ‘Em?” …
… If a librarian cannot lead his or her learning community, perhaps that librarian really is obsolete.
In his riff of of her post (excerpted below), Doug Johnson asks if positions in our institutions are “librarian proof,”
BFTP: Librarian-Proofing Library Programs
… A good question to ask ourselves is what do we do as librarians that justifies having us on the job – the cost of which results in more kids in a classroom, less technology, older curriculum materials or higher taxes? If the offer were made to your classroom teachers to have a couple fewer kids in class or better technology or a new reading series or a professional librarian in the school, which would they chose? What would parents choose? What would your principal chose? And most importantly, what would your kids choose?
You can build all the lists you want about why librarians are important. But in the end it comes down to “Why are MY librarians important in MY school?” When I last visited with library guru Mike Eisenberg, he stated that we all need to be important in our own ways in meeting the needs of our individual buildings and teachers. Some schools will want a reading specialist, some a computer geek, some a Chief Information Officer or uber-reseacher, and some an information literacy teacher. “Be what your school needs you to be,” he recommends. Good advice.
If you won the lottery and retired tomorrow, would your school replace you – and why? Is your position librarian-proof?
I have to say, that I think that my current job is, indeed, “individual librarian proofed!” Understand that I don’t think that the librarian-proofiness is solely because of the work that I, in particular, have done. Very clearly, I’ve had the unbelievable good fortune to work for a head librarian who truly “gets it” And she REALLY GETS IT!!! I was hired fresh out of library school into a program that was active and growing. Before I ever arrived, my head librarian, “The Library Goddess” as we like to call her, had positioned our department well through strong advocacy, enlightened vision, political smarts, and a lot of plain old hard work and good service! The work our department has done allowed us to expand to a third librarian a few years after I arrived and a fourth two years after that. I love my co-workers! We all have our quirks, but we all do what we do pretty darned well.
What do we do? So far this week I’ve: spent my days teaching the Big6, indexes, and encyclopedia use to seventh graders; taught database searching to five classes of eighth graders; charged up the 30 Flip video cameras that we loan out to students for projects; charged up the iPods loaded with audio books that we loan to kids; updated one of the two iPads that we want to set up as a search kiosk in the library; did reference with frosh seeking primary sources for term papers; did reference with seventh graders working on an American Government project, and worked with history teachers on two different projects they’re planning … And it’s only Tuesday!
Meanwhile my co-work presented online tools at our faculty meeting this afternoon and we’re in the throes of planning our evening chat for the parents’ guild on “digital citizenship and online safety.”
It’s a chaotic jungle out there, but the way that I see it, the chaos is job security so bring it on!!!