I am feeling a little less overwhelmed after completing the second theme. Not because the job description is any less intimidating, in fact there are probably more bits and pieces to consider now! However, it feels a bit more humanly possible to try to achieve the goals of being a good teacher-librarian. So often in university courses, text-books and “how-to” manuals we are left feeling a sense of rigidity that doesn’t allow for or factor in the human element. I felt relief in this theme with the acknowledgement of how being a relatable human being with skills to communicate can and will influence how the success (or failure) of a learning commons. 1.) Give credit for what you bring as an individual to the role. One of the resounding messages that kept popping up, especially in Riedling’s Reference Skills chapter nine, was the role that the T-L’s personality plays in creating a successful learning commons. So often this stereotype of the introverted, quiet and meek librarian is perpetuated, even though I never felt that this was some sort of common goal or characteristic in reality there was a sense of validation I felt upon reading Riedling’s acknowledgment of what an individual’s unique set of skills and personality can bring to a learning commons experience.
“Both tangible and intangible skills combine to create purposeful and interesting communications between the school library media specialist and the student, and hopefully, a successful reference interview.” – Riedling pg. 102
2.) Finding Balance. Another strong takeaway I took from this theme is how crucial balance is to a learning commons. Not only does balance play a role in the budget, but it also applies to the distribution of resource selections; being mindful of balance in all its forms is imperative to the success of a learning commons in a multitude of ways. I can only imagine each T-L’s individual struggle when comparing the purchase of hard copy or digital reference resources. After looking over an example of what a hard copy set of encyclopedias cost, compared with an annual digital subscription my initial feeling is to go with digital. It almost seems foolish to invest in the hard copy resources at those prices when it is merely a matter of time (the clock starts ticking the second that order has been placed) that it becomes outdated and in need of replacing. Having said that, I can completely argue the other side saying it is not foolish to invest in print copies of resource materials. It is important that we have a balance of various types of resources for students to engage with and from which they will learn. So, how do T-Ls decide the allocation of funds and feel good about their decision? I guess it goes back to some of the thoughts outlined in module six, we need to be PICKY when selecting resources, and get as many different inputs as possible from the people who will be utilizing them. I have seen many great resources go unnoticed in a library because teachers didn’t know they existed, and neither did the T-L! In fact, at one school the staff bought a selection of resources without realizing it already existed in the library, no one had checked! I guess that goes back to one of the takeaways from theme one: Know your stuff!
Here is some follow up food for thought on the growing trend of moving from hard copy to digital:
Paperless Public Libraries Switch to Digital by Bill Hicks for the BBC.