Advocating for Teacher Librarianship

This year I am Vice President of the Ontario School Library Association. Part of this three year commitment is that I attend the quarterly meetings of the Ontario Library Association Board and take part in interesting & challenging discussions with some of the smartest people in the field of Libraries, Knowledge and Technology.

Yesterday our activities were focused on planning forward for the OLA as a whole and specifically on the importance of advocating for the importance of Teacher Librarians in schools across the province of Ontario.

Advocacy is a big hairy monster of a discussion that is not for the feint of heart. It is also necessary to ensure that today’s learners, educators and administrators understand the important role we have in every publicly funded school in our province. Understanding our key role in the school community is imperative in order to advocate for the appropriate supports in our education system to ensure the Teacher Librarian and effective School Library programs continue to be part of every school.

So my question to Teacher Librarians in Ontario and beyond…..can you  effectively and succinctly describe your role to colleagues, administrators and the greater school community? Does your description align with the vision of literate graduates in the 21st Century? With this in place I think our path forward becomes clear.

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Interesting news day for Librarians

People for Education advocate Annie Kidder was talking about the importance of school libraries and Teacher Librarians today on CBC radio.  Their research released today details that learners are not getting the instruction needed to navigate information they access daily.  Kidder was discussing the importance of information literacy as part of all students learning experiences as well as the fact that shrinking school budgets have forced school districts to trim areas deemed unimportant.  Never has the school librarian had a more important role for teaching and learning.  To me this was not news but it was great to hear positive reporting supporting teacher librarians.

Checking my Twitter feed, Seth Godin posted a great discussion about how Library advocates must stop referring to the room as an institution but the important skills and practices that Librarians bring to learning.  His comment “The librarian isn’t a clerk who happens to work at a library. A librarian is a data hound, a guide, a sherpa and a teacher. The librarian is the interface between reams of data and the untrained but motivated user.” explains the valuable skills the librarian should bring to the job in the 21st Century but the ongoing lure of staffing school libraries with librarians who are in enamoured with the idea of “library as a warehouse for dead books”.  Godin’s discussion of what libraries need to be truly reflects a culture of knowledge, collaboration and networked learning with the guidance of an engaged and engaging facilitator.

With this kind of  forward thinking approach to learning, knowledge and librarianship, school libraries, public libraries would truly provide the guidance needed to enhance and guide library patrons in schools and public libraries everywhere. To quote Godin “We need librarians more than we ever did. What we don’t need are mere clerks who guard dead paper. Librarians are too important to be a dwindling voice in our culture. For the right librarian, this is the chance of a lifetime.” What we need are administrators who understand this and step up to the challenge, it would be a great experience to work as a Teacher Librarian in this culture don’t you think?  Sign me up!