Saturday, March 5, 2011

A Rose by any other name

To what extent do you feel Lee is predicting the end of school libraries?

Mal Lee,
SCIS Connections Issue no. 72 Term 1 2010 ISSN1440 2076

I don’t feel that Lee is predicting the end of school libraries but that all of us within the education field need to view this role in a new way. Hence, his argument for a name change. Whilst being called the Director of Information Services in stead of teacher/librarian may seem to be a moot point, or a somewhat pedantic trifle that has no practical impact, Lee would argue that with a change in title comes a freeing up of possibilities for the Information Services Unit and its personnel to more effectively and efficiently meet the needs of their modern users in the modern setting which is rapidly and constantly changing. A change in title may bring a change in conceptual thinking about what the role of the “library” is in its current setting, rather than having a traditional concept of dusty, musty books, twin sets, pearls, sensible shoes and half-rimmed glasses leaping to one’s mind. Some would argue that a name change isn’t going to be make any difference, but then if a traditional name maintains the traditional 18th century views of what a library can provide and achieve, then libraries and librarians will go the way of the dodo.

Is he actually advising teacher librarians to be prepared to undertake radical change in what what is provided and how it is provided if the 'school library' and 'teacher librarians' are to survive? Yes, I think he is.

Is it important to adopt new names such as 'information services unit' and 'director of learning technology' as part of this process of change?

What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
I think the Bard said it best – and this concept has been pondering for millennia.

Juliet would say it doesn’t matter what you call a thing, as its essence will maintain its form regardless of what you call it. So those who feel resistant to the change in a name really need to take a leaf out of Ms Capulet’s book. Librarians would still be functionally librarians, having to deal with change as they always have. They will provide tailored services to their clients as they always have and they will be inclusive and helpful as is their imprimatur.

And I believe that in order to get others to realise that those residing in the learning hub of the school are keeping up with the times and do keep pace with the changes happening. That yes, we do more than read the paper, drinks cups of coffee and put books back on shelves, then a name change could be something that means they will think about the space and the people in it differently. I had a colleague ask me the other day if I was a teacher. As if between December and January my decade plus of classroom practice magically went ‘poof” because now I am just a ‘librarian’. Sorry if I sound that I am on my soapbox!

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