Lots to do this morning, but I really couldn’t help but take note of Al Smith’s terrific reply to the idea of transforming our school libraries into ‘learning commons’. Ever the wordsmith (no pun intended!), Al really gets to the heart of the matter–call your library whatever you want–but above all else–maintain the service and high quality of what all referred to as ‘educational rigor’; maintain the connection with the kids and, if possible, the faculty.

This makes sense to me. The idea of the learning commons as a new way of conceptualizing school libraries (and I guess therein TLs) and making them ‘relevant’ is forward thinking, but not new thinking. Al is right. No one owns the crystal ball on the 21st century. Learning commons or not.

And not to sound too ignorant (and perhaps I am), but after reading those two posts on the BCTLA list, immediately (right or wrong) the word ‘backlash’ seemed to leak out of my subconsciousness somewhere deep from inside…strange, eh?

One thing is for sure, even small changes make huge differences. Adding plants, putting covers on the ends of these ugly metal book shelves. Taking down silly and misquoted posters that were all the rage in the ’80s. Keeping the blinds open all the time. Buying a cheap couch and two small chairs. Six bean bag chairs. Purchasing some old spinners and displaying books off the shelf.

I guess that I’ve tried to make the TL role indispensable and in doing so I’ve really ‘stretched’ the term TL. Sure gopher sometimes. Computer technician during others. Teaching digital literacy to a Grade 9 class. Setting up a user account for a new international student. Help the Ab-Ed department to create a newsletter. Set up for a departmental Elluminate session. Maintaining the textbook catalogue (not exactly a high point of this job!). Whatever needs to be done, if I can help make the school operate a little better (in any capacity) I feel that it more than justifies the position of TL. And really, TL is a very narrow term that in essence limits what I do on a daily basis around here. Not one day is like the other. And that’s why I love this job. That’s why it IS the best job in the school.

Sure, circulation is not really up that much more than in previous years (and there could be any number of reasons for that), and maybe I only connect with about 25% of the staff on a regular basis. And maybe most of my colleague don’t really know what goes on in the library or what I actually do. Most of the students get their books elsewhere (the ones that read). And yes Google is still the preferred method of research for everyone in the school. But both the staff and students know where the true keystone of this building is…and it ain’t the cafeteria!

One thought

  1. Hi, Jeff,

    I think that you've defined exactly what a teacher-librarian is in a school in this post. It's not so much a limiting term as it is everything that you've noted. I agree with you completely.

    -Heather

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