Tuesday, January 3, 2012

What We Make and Who We Are

Taylor Mali is a contemporary poet I’ve only recently discovered.  I received a link from a librarian colleague that impressed me so much, I feel compelled to share it with you…

Yes, this poem is about teachers, but I’d like to take a little leap into the topic of *What Librarians Make*.  Our careers are on the line in many school districts across the country.  Some administrators call the position of librarian antiquated.  One independent school in Massachusetts took the radical step of ridding the library of all its print books, purchased more computers and Kindles, and added a coffee machine to their former library.  Said the headmaster, “When I look at books, I see an outdated technology, like scrolls before books.” (Boston Globe, “Welcome to the Library. Say Goodbye to the Books” by David Abel.  4Sep, 2009.) What???  Have we not kept thousands of beautifully illuminated scrolls and manuscripts in our libraries and institutions of higher learning, despite the advent of the printed book?  Not all books in or out of print are available in electronic format.  Not all Google sites are created equal. 

So, back to my original thought…What Librarians Make…we make books, periodicals, scholarly journals, vetted websites, media, and databases available for our library users.  We slog through  less-than-accurate web sources to supply the very best information for students and teachers.  We help students find strategies to develop research skills, how to evaluate websites, how to cite sources, and, of course, how to find great books to read.  There’s more, but I won’t belabor the point. 

The bottom line?  The old model of the librarian and library are long gone, but they’ve morphed into something pretty darned exciting.  The incorporation of databases, eBooks, rss feeds, blogs, wikis, QR codes, and a wide variety of media haven’t replaced the books and periodicals we already have.  Technology works alongside print material and traditional media.  It can enhance the information and literature we find in print and often makes it readily available to many users at once.  I can’t think of a better career.

Mrs. Hodge

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