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« Is it worse or is it simply different? | Main | My backlist »
Monday
Mar252013

Words of wisdom from Mike Eisenberg

... the library is everywhere, not just in that room with books and shelves and computers and tables - Mike Eisenberg 

Posted to LM_Net on March 23, 2013 and republished here with permission:

Greetings LM_Netters!

It's been a while since I've posted, but I do continue to lurk.  But I HAD to post about this development and opportunity.

The school library field continues to experience a slow and painful decline in many states and communities. I won't go into the reasons, rather let's focus on some solutions.

  1. focus on the core mission: to ensure that students are effective uses and producers of ideas and information.
  2. focus on the 3 major roles: information literacy instruction, information management, reading advocacy.
  3. think digital, electronic, and technology.  Yes, certainly we should continue to develop and promote print collections for fiction, stories, easy books, biography - anything that would be read cover to cover. But, the action is digital-electronic-online. We are central to that.
  4. engage other faculty and administrators in decision-making about priorities for the program. I'm not talking about collection development or purchases; I'm talking about prioritization in terms of the 3 functions and what the library information and technology program should be emphasizing.
  5. stop running around after the "fad of the month" - focus on our core - information literacy, information management, reading advocacy.
Then - when we see a development that is in our "sweet spot" - we should grab it!  For a few years, I've been talking about helping to ease the home-to-school technology connection. We should inventory what technologies the students have at home, what they might bring to school if we allowed them, and what operating environments are common (including gaming devices). Then, as part of our information management role, we can work to integrate the various systems so that classroom teachers are able to build instruction around them. I'm not saying this is easy - but that's the good news!  As a field, we can seek solutions and share information about how to integrate (cloud services, web-based functions, even using smart phones) - and help to create a common baseline in our schools, districts, and states. And, then we can work on the digital divide issues - providing access and devices to students who do not have them at home.

This is finally hitting the popular press - http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/23/technology/in-some-schools-students-bring-their-own-technology.html?pagewanted=all - but there are problems. Again, that's great news for us - for teacher-librarians and our programs. If we can lead in providing solutions and overall information management of the systems, we have a very powerful and important role to play.  It's not a new role - information management of library collections and access to materials has always been part of the role of the library program.  But, we have often limited our scope to the "library" and not assumed responsibility for other learning resources (e.g., textbooks) or locations (e.g., classrooms).  Now is the time to expand our horizons - the library is everywhere, not just in that room with books and shelves and computers and tables, etc.  Teacher-librarians can and should facilitate use of information systems throughout the school.  Others do this now?  IT staff?  Great - work with them, but don't under-estimate your possible contribution as seeing the big picture in terms of needs, connections, and solutions.

We can rise to the challenge - but we must be willing to downplay some traditional functions that are no longer mission-critical to the school (yes, like non-fiction print collections) and focus on functions that are - like having every student to have usable devices to access the world of information and knowledge.

Thanks for listening,

Mike Eisenberg
Dean Emeritus and Professor
The Information School of the University of Washington

 

I could not agree more. (My thoughts on BYOT (BYOD) and libraries appeared in a Head for the Edge column last fall.)

I was particularly struck by Mike's advice not to keep running after the "fad of the month." Yes, it's a balancing act between staying current and living in fear of falling behind. (How much time and energy do I invest in that new social networking tool, search engine, nifty little device...?) 

BYOT, however, is going to be with us for a very, very long time. Figure out your library's role in it.

Thanks, Mike. 

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Reader Comments (2)

I agree except about what he considers as no longer mission-critical to the school (yes, like non-fiction print collections) - given the encroachment of CCSS on our educational systems, it is mission-critical to have quality narrative non-fiction available. Having served on the YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Award committee, I know that print far outweighs ebooks <I>for now. That may change, but for now? Print.

Informational/reference nonfiction, on the other hand, can be electronic, provided you have the bandwidth and computers (school provided or BYOT, which not every school allows).

March 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLaura

Hi Laura,

Good to hear from you! I expect that narrative non-fiction (like just plain fiction) will be with us in print form for quite awhile. Publishers cannot seem to get their act together when it comes to providing this stuff to libraries in a reasonable way. BYOD can be a mixed blessing too, depending on the wealth of the community and the willingness of the tech staff!

Doug

March 26, 2013 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

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