What are the implications of the changing information and library landscape for the broader information profession?
History of Libraries and the role of the Teacher Librarian
Taking some information from Wikipedia (something we usually advise students not to do!!) one of the great libraries of the ancient world was the Royal Library of Alexandria. It ‘functioned as a major centre of scholarship from its construction in the 3rd century BC until the Roman conquest of Egypt in 30 BC’. The library’s purpose was ‘to show off the wealth of Egypt, and less so a place of research, and the knowledge of the library was to aid the ruler of Egypt.’ The Library at Alexandria was charged with collecting all the world’s knowledge, and most of the staff were occupied with the task of translating works onto papyrus paper.
These are other examples of the history of selecting and sorting material in the Thomas Frey reading.
The point here is …. Change! We have to be flexible and adapt. Schools in general are moving away from behaviourist theories to cognitive and constructivist theories and it seems only right that the school libraries of today need to make the same adaptation in line with their schools.
Current role of the Teacher Librarian
The integration of information and communication technologies (ICTs) into teaching has encouraged the development of more active learning among students who increasingly use online resources for their coursework (Herring 2007 p.28). A teacher librarian has to be more than just an administrative role but has to work collaboratively with teaching colleagues to provide the best possible resources available.
In the Herring reading, the Teacher Librarian is often referred to as an information specialist. Definitions of the role are given, but it is interesting to note only the School Library Association of South Australia recommends teacher librarians contribute to the school web page or intranet (SLASA 2003).
Barrett (2004) states that the new guidelines in the UK there is an altered role for the teacher librarian and that this role means that teacher librarians must take a proactive role in influencing the development of innovations such as e-learning and ensure that information literacy skills are incorporated into curricular subject areas.
The collection that was once a store of books is now a multiformat information centre with a collection that can be accessed and used from within the school, from home or from anywhere with online access (Herring p.35).
School libraries are not mini-public libraries but learning centres with varied collections that challenge students.
Anticipated future role of the Teacher Librarian
Questions from Frey’s reading:
Are books becoming out-dated? Will they eventually disappear? Many would like not to think of this as the book in its forms has been around for so long. Maybe the book will just change format: from paperback to downloadable e-reader.
Is there an ultimate limit for storage? There have been Floppy discs, CDs, even now USBs are becoming out-dated for portable storage devices that can hold several terabytes. Surely it can go on.
Yes, as teacher librarians we have to be good at searching for information and it is hard to predict what tomorrow’s search will be.
The statement made by Dr William Crossman is a bit shocking that by 2050 literacy will be dead. I hope that this means literacy as we know it will be dead, or literacy will change format. This quote may be taken out of context and needs to be looked into further.
Yes libraries have other activities than book reading these days. This brings back the point of change.
Therefore the implications for the broader information profession:
Just like any profession, with time comes change and adaptation. Teacher Librarians have to use a range of technologies to work collaboratively with classroom teachers. Many schools are starting to combine the role of Teacher Librarian and e-coach for teachers. This may be more a cost-effective solution rather than the true role of the Teacher Librarian. For the public as a whole, technologies are changing, the way we source information is changing and we have to keep on top of that. So as an information sourcing professional Teacher Librarians need to keep up to speed with technologies so that they can fully work with teachers to challenge students whose knowledge of technology rapidly outranks some of the best teachers.
In the article ‘First Public Library Without Books’ (http://www.cnet.com.au/first-public-library-without-books-coming-in-2013-339343011.htm) Borrowers go to the library for free internet and can borrow one of one hundred e-readers for up to two weeks. The article ends with the quote:
“It’s not a replacement for the [city] library system,” he told local newspaper My San Antonio. “It’s an enhancement.”
Let’s see if it works!
Herring, J (2007). Teacher librarians and the school library. In S. Ferguson (Ed.) Libraries in the twenty-first century : charting new directions in information (pp. 27-42). Wagga-Wagga NSW : Centre for information Studies, Charles Sturt University
Futurist Speaker Thomas Frey – The Future of Libraries, Da Vinci Institute, http://davinciinstitute.com/papers/the-future-of-libraries/ accessed 06/03/2013
Library of Alexandria – Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Library_of_Alexandria accessed 07/03/2013
The first public library without books – Crave http://www.cnet.com.au/first-public-library-without-books-coming-in-2013-339343011.htm Accessed 07/03/2013