Search this site
Other stuff

All banner artwork by Brady Johnson, college student and (semi-) starving artist.

My latest books:


        Available now

       Available Now

Available now 

My book Machines are the easy part; people are the hard part is now available as a free download at Lulu.

 The Blue Skunk Page on Facebook


EdTech Update




« BFTP: Becoming George | Main | Paraprofessionals: a dilemma »

Are good teachers also good librarians?

If your boss is seen as a librarian, she becomes a resource, not a limit. If you view the people you work with as coaches, and your job as a platform, it can transform what you do each day, starting right now. "My boss won't let me," doesn't deserve to be in your vocabulary. Seth Godin Moving Beyond Teachers and Bosses

Godin sees teachers as limiters, not enablers:

We train kids to deal with teachers in a certain way: Find out what they want, and do that, just barely, because there are other things to work on. Figure out how to say back exactly what they want to hear, with the least amount of effort, and you are a 'good student.'

He says we form the same relationship with our bosses when they act as teachers.


Do classroom teachers need to start performing more like librarians? I've thought so for a long time. Fifteen years ago, when the Internet was just starting to be used by students in our schools, I watched as some boys looked up information about the Ebola virus at the Center for Disease Control using a library computer. To me, the ramifications were astounding.

When those boys returned to their classroom, they were suddenly the content experts on this topic, not Ms Anderson, the teacher. If Ms Anderson had always viewed herself as the content expert and dispenser of that content, she was in for a rude awakening. 

But if she sees herself as a process, rather than content, expert, Ms Anderson still has a valuable place in the information age. When those boys came back from the library, she needed to be able to ask questions like: 

  • Where did you get your information?
  • How do you know if the information is reliable?
  • Is the information important for others to know?
  • If so, how will you communicate this information?
  • And how will you know you've done a good job?

The teacher is asking the same kinds of question, performing in the same kind of role as the librarian.

With an increasing number of students carrying Internet-connected devices, they don't even have to leave their seats to be "content experts." This shift from content to process expert is accelerating, not diminishing.

And librarians ought to be helping teachers make the transition. 

Good librarians have always also been good teachers. Are good teachers also good librarians?

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments (45)

Emphasis on content often depends on department. English teachers are
usually more likely to be aware of the bulleted questions in the post.
History teachers may be more caught up with content.
A schoolwide writing assignment gets everyone thinking like English teachers
a bit more, and English teachers tend to be good librarians.

August 31, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterClif

I totally agree that teachers are vital in the effort to teach students how to use the Internet for research. Just telling them to go to the Internet to find information and not questioning where the information came from or guiding students towards trusted ultimately will produce bad research habits in our students that will be hard to break.

August 31, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterR. Schlatter

If we look at the job of an educator as a supporter of lifelong learning, then teachers and librarians must do the same thing— that is, to teach students how to become active in searching and evaluating the information they find.

August 31, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterP.

In order for students to be experts in a content area, students must be able to go through the the process of reading various sources and sift through and discern the credibility and quality of the information to assure that students have been exposed to a scope of content related information that is presented in various perspectives and approach.

August 31, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterLiz

To all 33 or 34 commenters from the college class on this post, thank you for the attention. Sorry that I do not have the time to respond to each comment individually. Best of luck in your class. Doug

August 31, 2015 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>