I was, to say the least, surprised by the reaction caused by Joyce Valenza and my School Library Journal article, Things that keep us up at night, published earlier this month. The article itself was more or less a distillation of observations, predictions and warnings that Joyce and I have been making for some time - not really covering a lot of new, radical ground. So why the reaction?
Joyce, on her TeacherLibrarian Ning, calls out these substatial reactions to the article:
* Beth's "guest post" on the Blue Skunk Where are the Others?
* Buffy Hamilton Refuting Inertness
* Cathy Jo Nelson Something for the "yeah buts" and Filters, a problem of complacency
* Karen Kliegman Cheering from the sidelines
* Jim Schneider Change, leadership, teaching and learning
* Tyler Reed (Scholastic) Why we need to embrace change
* Carolyn Foote's So, what can we do?
I received, as I am sure did Joyce, some direct e-mail comments as well.
So why this article, why the reaction, and what did I learn/observe?
- The conversation began, for me anyway, with a strong, thoughtful disputation of the article. Had it not been for Beth's taking us to task a little, this may have simply died a quiet death. The richness of this experiences came as much or more from the great critical comments to Joyce's post, my post and Beth's post as it did from the article itself. (Go back and read the comments if you haven't!)
- I find it interesting that the original article appears in the electronic version of an (old) traditional publication. Wide readership of SLJ plus convenient access = lots o' reactions??? Is this an example of an "and" rather than "or" kind of future envisioned by Walt Crawford and others?
- The vision of future libraries and services is coming from practitioners, rather than traditional "experts," resulting in a new generation of leadership emerging from the field rather than academia. Carolyn, Buffy and Cathy Jo linked to above who responded in their own well-known blogs all lead by example - with Joyce being the model for this type of in-field leadership. Best practices are less research-based and more driven by what actually works.
Five years ago the "conversation" this article may have produced would have only been a couple (heavily edited) letters to the editor of SLJ and perhaps a few e-mails on LM_Net.
Today I am blown away, still reading, still digesting and still thinking that next time I write for SLJ I'll ask for a damn raise ;-)