Saturday, May 21, 2011

CBC's Q & Globe and Mail: Why not to discard the librarians

CBC Radio's Q:  Jian Gomeshi spends the first three minutes of the podcast on May 18, 2011, in a spirited defence of the importance of teacher-librarians

Globe & Mail -- "Don't discard the librarians," Opinion piece by Ian Brown, May 20, 2011
In his extensive piece outlining good reasons to preserve libraries, school, academic, and public, Ian Brown also describes the shortsighted intentions of public educators and others making the case that there is no need in the 21st century, given Google and Wikipedia, to preserve "the physical spaces and flesh-and-blood librarians [who, in fact,] seem to be more necessary than ever."
Librarians are "knowledge concierges," writes Brown, who help citizens and students navigate the complex morasses of information, increasingly digital; they know the knowledge cues, manage data and the people who make up the community of learners who assemble in the places that are libraries to find information and to relish the "lovely lonely longing" experience "that found solace" in the vast collection that is a library; they assess omissions in the collections and information and teach skills for information literacy in order to connect seekers to the "affiliations" (eg: subscription databases) that ensure efficient and effective access to reliable information. They know that, while "information is abstract, ... the mind is ultimately physical, human."
Perhaps, Brown suggests, it is "digital technocracy's strange distrust of human beings sitting in a public room while communally enjoying the freedom of their own minds."  Even as some educators see the end of the lab in schools, see that we are moving to a place whereall  learners have their own personal digital devices and communities of real as well as virtual learning, there are those who would limit the learning and confine the learner to that which has been gathered -- often alone -- from Google and Wikipedia.  There is growth in the popularity of these misguided concepts, as the spate of recent news articles would suggest -- and and there is economy for cash-strapped institutions who portray libraries as luxuries in the 21st century.  Yet, seeking to eliminate the library is destroying a keystone of democracy, the one that embodies freedom of information.
"A motto is said to have been inscribed on [the wall of the ancient library at Alexandria]: the place of the cure of the soul. According to one theory, Julius Caesar burned it to the ground by accident, when he set the Egyptian fleet alight. He was trying to destroy what he thought was an enemy."
Read also: 
How to make school libraries relevant again - Globe and Mail, May 16, 2011
Make every child a reader - Globe and Mail, January 3, 2011
Reports of the demise of books greatly exaggerated - Globe and Mail, July 30, 2010


Did you know that the average contributor to Wikipedia is male, age 25? 

Do you sometimes wonder what has been lost with the closing of local bookstores and places like Videomatica? 

Do you wonder about American databases and e-book services and their impact on our students' understanding of the world? 

Are you ever concerned, in the rush to "go global," that the unique aspects of Canadian English are being "micro-softened" so that we have counselors and travelers and we are modeling the quiet and uncritical acceptance of cultural encroachment?

Are these "stands" now anachronistic?  Am I simply not keeping up with the times?

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