I was fortunate enough to be asked to participate in the Association of Independent School Librarians' conference held last week at the Metairie Park Country Day School just outside New Orleans. Thanks to Chris Young and his team, the conference was well-organized and had a wonderful variety of breakout and poster sessions.
The location of the conference - the beautiful old 14 acre campus of Country Day - made me reflect on school libraries and education perhaps even more than the sessions themselves. The conference theme was Preservation and Innovation and seeing kids using laptops but sitting outside lovely old buildings and in a dining hall with cane bottomed chairs symbolized this important duality.
For most of my 40 year career, I have pushed and pushed and pushed school librarians to innovate - to embrace technology, to increase their role as teacher, to become the digital resource gurus in their schools. And librarians have embraced the challenge. "Media centers" have become bright places filled with computers and strange plastic chairs and movable shelves where kids and adults come to create as well as consume information. And those are good things.
On reflection, perhaps I should have spent more time encouraging the profession to "preserve" the best of our programs and resources as well. Can a case be made for print books, wooden furniture, soft lighting, upholstered seating in quiet nooks? Do we need librarians who select and catalog and offer readers' advisory? Can our traditional roles of intellectual freedom fighters, intellectual property experts, and kiddie lit gurus help meet the needs of even progressive schools?
The lovely old campus and the library of this private school made me wistful for some attributes of the libraries from my youth. And the students at the school did not seem ill-served.
The next blog post will be re-examination/update of my 12/13 Point Library Media Checklist for School Principals. My visit to Metairie may inform that revision.