Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Our Library/Librarian "Script"

Our librarians are our information specialists. In a world where we can access information on demand, they are a vital link in the instructional process. I see this more and more as I continue on in the project I referred to in the last post.

As we've worked together, we've been struggling with the concept of cooperation versus collaboration. It's really back to what I referred to in a posting on the "scripts" we follow as teachers. In my school district, we're working with a "script" that was in effect 16 years ago when I first joined the district and probably for many years before that. The "script" goes something like this: I'm a teacher and it's my planning time. Our special area classes rotate on a 4 day schedule and today it's my turn to take the kids to library and computer lab. I don't exactly know what they're doing but it's my planning time so I don't have to know." Now, this isn't meant to be derogatory - it's just the script.

However, in the past 16 years the school district has gone from 15 computers in a small room we call the computer lab, to 6 computers in every classroom, a wireless laptop cart in every building and a large lab capable of seating 25 students as well as Internet access in every instructional space in the building. We all know what kind of instructional landscape that can create and what kinds of resources that provides for us. But, one thing it hasn't done is to change the way we view our librarians. For many teachers, the librarian is still the person that we go to when we're getting ready for our [insert your own title] unit so he/she can provide us with additional books to have in the classroom that we'll refer to or put out for the kids to read as they choose. We call this collaborating with the librarian but what we're really doing is just getting the librarian to do what we think librarians do best - help us with books. Their role is so much more in the 21st century and we need to fully explore what that can and must be.

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