In early February, I received an unsolicited phone call from a student in the Library and Information Technology program at Langara College. She inquired about the possibility of completing her mandatory ten-day school library practicum at our school library.
Now, I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I was initially shocked, and then flattered. I asked her why of the hundreds of large and well run secondary school libraries in this province, why she would want to come to Nelson to work in an under-funded, under-staffed, heavily-utilized, very small rural school library?
I attempted to dissuade her (honestly, I did!): the library is very small, we don’t have a large collection, we use L4U; but nothing seemed to work. She was excited and wanted to spend her practicum with us.
Still, I pressed her.
She came across our website while she was searching for a place to do her current practicum (she had just come from a government library practicum in Victoria last month) and knew that L.V. Rogers is where she wanted to come. “And besides,” she added “Nelson is so beautiful.” (I don’t think that she’s ever been here in April.)
But, after a flurry of emails, some finessing with senior administration, and completion of minimal paperwork, Marcia* began her practicum yesterday.
After a hectic Monday (and what Monday’s for a teacher-librarian aren‘t hectic?), today Marcia and I were able to sit down, have a cup of coffee, and well, talk.
After the essential small talk, our discussion quickly drifted towards the evolving role of the “school librarians” in the new paradigm; the need for the librarian to embrace technology and social media; for the librarian to be a leader in the school.
I had to know.
“What about the website did you like?” (by the way, I have very little programming experience and the website is created with a Weebly platform).
Marcia shared her observations: she noticed that I regularly blog; Twitter is my friend; we keep an online book review; the website offers online assistance with our digital databases; it provides a page of Web 2.0 tools for students and staff; and it provides a platform that allows for a “two-way communication street with the students” to discuss books and reading. To her these were “indicators of a well-organized, technically-savvy, twenty-first century operated school library.”
Marcia also admitted to having been in the libraries of many BC schools over the years, and she felt that the online presence of the school libraries that ‘get it’ really demonstrate a true connection and a healthy complement to the brick and mortar library, the teacher-librarian, and even the school’s vision of the role that both play in the education of its students.
So, Marcia gets it. Teacher-librarians need to make themselves a necessity in their schools because inactivity, indifference, and a lack of advocacy will quickly make oneself very obsolete in the eyes of students, staff, and administrators.
What I can’t get is…why don’t more of my other teacher-librarian colleagues get this?
*Marcia is a pseudonym.