Thursday, February 7, 2013

I attended the 8th Annual Librarian to Librarian Networking Summit this past weekend. I was both heartened and depressed.

Heartened by my colleagues and by the amazing new things that are out there to help us help students. Gail Holmes presented some great resources for digital learning, a few a new about but I learned about more that will be beneficial to librarians across the state. She is currently an educator on loan to NC Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI). She has a great site will many resources. Her wiki is even better.

Michele Oros presented a workshop on Grant Writing that is sure to be of use to those new to grant writing. She has some awesome information that will lead writers down the green path.

Gerry Solomon and Karen Gavigan, both ladies that I highly respect and admire presented information on tools that are out there to help School Library Media Coordinators (SLMCs) collect needed data and correlate the ability of the school media program to impact student test scores.

I was able to meet also, one of my heroes (or heroines, as the case may be), Frances Bradburn. This humble but confident lady helped to bring massive change to NC schools and is one of the authors of the IMPACT model with a host of other "big" names (including Gerry Solomon) from NCDPI. Names that I saw regularly in my teacher training program and later in TIPS (a Gaston County Schools initiative to support and help new teachers, which has been copied across the state). These people were my icons for so long, it was difficult to believe that I was seeing them in person!

IMPACT, a technology first initiative that started well before educators jumped on the proverbial technology bandwagon. Again, showing the vision of the NCDPI in staying ahead of the curve in the education of tomorrow's citizens.

Depressed, you may ask? Well, it's the decline of anything relating to School Library Media Centers. The Common Core coming to NC is a great thing. It brings critical thinking back into the educational arena - something that has, in my humble opinion, been sorely lacking. Common Core changes the horizon on high stakes testing, or does it? The advent of MSLs (Measures of Student Learning) seem to merely replace the all important, oppressive EOC (End of Course test).

Common Core has critical thinking at its heart. Critical thinking, a skill that requires inquiry learning and INFORMATION. Most schools in NC have an Information Specialist in their building. Librarians have a unique skill set that comes from study and experience. Most people do not know that librarians are required to have both an NC teaching license AND an MLS (Master of Library Science). I'm not suggesting that, necessarily, librarians are "smarter" than everyone else, just that our skill set includes the ability to locate information everything from beginning readers to technical manuals for subjects that only just been introduced. We know how to teach students about proper citation and use of appropriate resources (our libraries already have "pre-selected" authoritative and grade-level appropriate resources). We have, for years, matched to books/websites to readers, researchers, teachers, administrators, and in some case even community leaders. Librarians organize book drives, fairs, literacy nights - all with the betterment of student engagement in mind. We are uniquely qualified to not only assist teachers find resources, collaborate on projects, help students with inquiries but to filter the wheat from the chaff in terms of rhetoric and real life.

As teachers, we are all being pulled in multiple directions, asked to do more with less each year. Education takes the brunt of the "hit" for falling test scores and students' inability to achieve. No mention is ever made about parent and student involvement in the educational process. As librarians, we are often asked to perform tasks that are "specialized", even if not in our area of expertise. For example, many librarians are also the technology gurus at their school, being asked to fix equipment, troubleshoot computer problems, install equipment (all things that could be done by someone less qualified in Library Science and more qualified in Technology). But we do these things selflessly because in the long run, it will affect student learning and achievement.

I don't mean to complain, just to put my thoughts in words. Librarians ARE teachers and they ARE technology gurus and they ARE information specialists. We are ARE hard workers, we want to help, we want to impact students learning about life long learning and to instill a love of reading.

It's been said, and I agree, teach a student to read and you can teach them anything. Reading IS fundamental.

Hey, just my $.02 worth...

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