Our 8th grade students are required to complete a career project. If one of them had done a keyword search for Librarian - Job Description, they might have read this:
Maintains collections of books, serial publications, documents, audiovisual, and other materials, and assists groups and individuals in locating and obtaining materials: Furnishes information on library activities, facilities, rules, and services. Explains and assists in use of reference sources, such as card or book catalog or book and periodical indexes to locate information. Describes or demonstrates procedures for searching catalog files. Searches catalog files and shelves to locate information. Issues and receives materials for circulation or for use in library. Assembles and arranges displays of books and other library materials. Maintains reference and circulation materials. Answers correspondence on special reference subjects. May compile list of library materials according to subject or interests, using computer. May select, order, catalog, and classify materials. May prepare or assist in preparation of budget. May plan and direct or carry out special projects involving library promotion and outreach activity... -Career Planner
Although the above profile might have been accurate when I received my MLS - in 1973 - it hardly reflects the nature and scope of our profession in today's world.
There has been a lot of discussion lately about libraries and librarians.
Doug Johnson explores The Essential Question on his Blue Skunk Blog: "Does a school need a library when information can be accessed from the classroom using Internet connected laptops?" He offers no easy solutions, reminding library professionals that "The new question is uncomfortable, messy, and incredibly important and not restricted by any means to one particular school. It is one to which all library people need a clear and compelling answer."
In Manifesto for 21st Century School Librarians, Joyce Valenza asks "What does a 21st Century librarian look like?" then draws the portrait of an effective education leader who models modern information tools and techniques for both students and staff members.
Which brings me to a discussion that's been occurring in my area of New York State. Some of my fellow School Library Media Specialists view library skills as separate from technology. They advocate teaching a foundation of "basic literacy skills" before utilizing "extras" like blogs, social networking sites, etc.
They know my viewpoint:
"As Information Specialists, we MUST be familiar with new tools so that we can help our students and staff communicate, collaborate, and create in our increasingly connected world. Library walls are coming down. We need to keep up or we'll become obsolete."
Few of them share it.
Karl Fisch, Darren Draper, and a number of other interested parties recently conducted a Twitter conversation about the role of librarians. The question was asked, "What's the point of having a media specialist if they aren't specialists in the media forms of the day?"
As school districts look to trim budgets in a time of reduced funding, the answer to this query becomes increasingly important. Library Media Specials who can't articulate their value and relevance may find their careers in jeopardy, their positions "covered" by technology teachers and clerks.
There is a social technographics ladder, shared by Cathy Nelson. She asks, "Where are you on this ladder?"
Joyce Valenza puts it bluntly, "In my mind, if you are not an expert in new information and communication tools, you are NOT a media specialist for today."
Carolyn Foote advises "as we each sort out the answers to those 'essential questions,' as Doug calls them, we should post our answers on our doors and windows for the school to see... We should let everyone know what we consider our core mission to be in simple, concise terms. And then we should live that mission daily in our policies and practices and purchases."
It's time to update that job description.
"Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything." -George Bernard Shaw
"ARCHIMBOLDO, Guiseppe The Librarian c. 1566" by carulmare