quarta-feira, 5 de agosto de 2015

488 - The Internet won't make libraries obsolete

AT THE LIBRARY: The Internet won't make libraries obsolete

While working at the library, it is inevitable that we hear comments that libraries are becoming obsolete because of the Internet. I am here to tell you that I don’t have enough space to explain why this is not the case. However, here are just a few of the reasons:
• This may be obvious to some, but we cannot say enough about how essential early childhood literacy is for educational success. Besides the reading level children now have to attain prior to starting school, our educational systems have limited funding for libraries during the school year. Children don’t have access to school libraries in the summer, resulting in learning loss.
Libraries offering summer reading incentives, year-round programs and story times help supplement our children’s education. Would it surprise you that during my visits to local elementary schools this spring to talk about summer reading, I was repeatedly asked how could they participate and read since they didn’t own any books?
• Another reason is resource sharing equals costs savings when people check out books and DVDs, browse magazines online or in the library or even use one of our many online research databases you would normally have to pay for outside of the library like Consumer Report and Ancestry.com.
• Google doesn’t focus on your communities’ local history like your library does. One momentous time in our local history comes to mind: the 1972 Flood. Google it, and you will see two short blurbs on various national sites; then you will see the comprehensive Flood resource our library has put together, including photos, biographies, news stories, oral histories and interviews.
We are also cataloging oral histories of our local citizens outside of the Flood in order to preserve our communities’ perspectives and memories. Then there is the Black Hills Knowledge Network: an online community information service that is a resource for local information, ideas and history.
• What about the Internet as an information source? Not all websites are reliable. That’s why you can’t go wrong asking a reference librarian — whether in person, by phone, email, online chat, text or a 1:1 Book-a-Librarian session.
I think think English author Neil Gaiman said it best: “In a world where Google can bring you back 100,000 answers, a librarian can bring you back the right one.”
• Computers and the Internet are integral parts of modern life; yet so many individuals lack access to this technology and experience barriers when seeking employment or housing. If you drive by the library before it opens or after it closes you will observe people using the library's Wi-Fi outside of the building because it is such a need.
• Where else is there community space that is free to use for group gatherings? And speaking of community space, our Maker Space gives the community hands-on access to tools and technology.
As our Library Director Jim McShane says: "If you think the Internet has made libraries obsolete, just ask yourself: 'Has it made schools obsolete?' Schools just impart information and serve a small part of the populace. Libraries serve everyone and do a whole lot more than educate."

segunda-feira, 3 de agosto de 2015

487 - Comparing school library perspectives - Principal's versus Librarian's

Comparing school library perspectives - Principal's versus Librarian's

Illustration by David Flaherty from SLJ

The school holiday break is providing an opportunity to follow up items I've saved to Instapaper for reading later. This post reflects on Principal's perceptions of school librarians compared to how the librarians saw themselves in research conducted by Tricia Kuon and Holly Weimar.  Published in the School Library Journal blog, 12 September 2012, the article is entitled: How does your boss see you?: Proof that principals value librarians.
Having visited school libraries in both the US and Canada over the past two years, I'm aware that, on the whole, we are in a far better position here in Australia.  Generally speaking, we have more library staff and better budgets, although both are being closely monitored and library services reduced as in North America.  In reading this article from an Australian perspective, I also read the role of 'librarian' as the full range of models from teacher librarian as library manager through to technicians in that role.
Authors, Tricia Kuon and Holly Weimar have explored their evidence to provide a signpost of attributes for librarians to adopt a leadership role within their schools.  Principals are looking for that leadership, especially in relation to technology. Marcia Mardis, associate director of the Partnerships Advancing Library Media (PALM) Center at Florida State University says some school librarians don’t feel comfortable labeling themselves as leaders—but it doesn’t mean they’re not acting like ones, “Leaders are as leaders do.”
The authors lists of 'Librarian's top 10 tasks' from a Principal's, compared with Librarian's perspective, is particularly significant.  The Principal's view is broader and management-focussed, the librarian's is narrower and task-focussed.  In these few weeks we have off over the summer Christmas break, it's worth taking time to reflect on our roles.  Don't just shut down and wait till we go back and start the year in the same way.
Reflect:  What takes up the time in your day?  What tasks could you do more efficiently?  What could you abandon completely?  What does your Principal value most about your role? How does the library team contribute to the discussion?  Does everyone have a voice?
To quote (from the article) retired school librarian, Alice Yucht, 'it’s important to promote the library, not yourself—and to know the difference between promotion and advocacy. “You cannot self-advocate. You need to create satisfied customers and users who will then advocate for the library.”'
So I invite you to join me in reflecting during the break, ready to return to school with a 'plan for action' in 2013.  In the week the New York Times Room for Debate topic: Do we still need libraries? stimulates discussion, take time to reflect and plan.
I found this article valuable reading.  Thanks Tricia and Holly. 

PS: As a benchmark against our own practice, further recommended reading is the School Librarian Evaluation Rubric recently released by the New York State Department of Education (SED) through submissions from Section of School Librarians (SSL) of NYLA and the  NYS School Library Systems Association (SLSA)..