Thursday, January 17, 2013

Goodbye to Unquiet Library

Those of you who have followed the school library career of Georgia-based TL Buffy J. Hamilton, or the Unquiet Librarian, will have been saddened by news she has left the school system for the world of public libraries.  Here is an important recent farewell blog reflection on school libraries that responds to the strange notions that the work we do simply needs to be re-branded:

Do I Really Have to Leave the Role of School Librarian To Do the Work of a School Librarian?

What resonated with me?  Buffy writes,

"While technology integration is a part of these processes, it is not THE focal point—I’m more concerned with high quality instructional design and teaching than I am technology integration–if we don’t have sound pedagogy that we’re collaboratively crafting with teachers and students, we’re not really getting to the core of what libraries should be about—learning. "

"Rather than suggesting we can’t do the kind of work we know matters under the name “school librarians”, I would suggest we need to boldly embrace the term librarian and dispel the old stereotypes through more widespread and fearless sharing and transparency in that work that keeps students and learning through multiple formats at the center of what we do.   Our challenge is how do we grow school library programs in these difficult economic times and a shifting educational  landscape that is increasingly discounting the value of school libraries as an essential partner in learning spaces?  How do we encourage our learning communities to expect more, not less of us, and to support a model of school librarianship that would increase not only the quantity of school librarians, but the quality of school librarianship as well?  .... We must find better and more effective ways of engaging school and district administrators, school board members, teachers, students, and parents in honest conversations about librarians as instructional partners.  How do we engage them with the shared story of library we’re trying to compose and construct with our teachers and students?"

And finally, "While I have had my share of dark days full of doubt and questioning, in my heart I  still believe in the possibilities of libraries and school librarians–but those will never come to fruition if we acquiesce and abandon the effort to elevate the library as a site of participatory culture and a cornerstone of every child’s learning experience in schools, as a partner who can support our teachers by being embedded as part of the team to give every child positive, constructive, and meaningful learning experiences.  Changing the perceptions about what modern school librarians do, not our job title, is essential for the future of this profession .... we CAN make a difference for the future with the work we do now if we will carry the banner for school librarian more assertively and with respect for the possibilities that are inherent in that name: a librarian is not a technology specialist, but instead, a learning specialist and architect.    

Thanks, Al Smith, for passing this along.  Thanks, Buffy, for all you have done to place value on our place in the learning equation in schools.

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