In spite of huge cuts, role of school libraries very important

When district management and trustees consider the projected impact of cuts to non-enrolling staffing, including teacher-librarians, for the upcoming 2010/11 school year here in Vancouver and other BC school districts, we need to ask that they please consider this article by Jamie McKenzie: Why We Still Need [School] Libraries and [Teacher-] Librarians (FNO 19:4, March 2010) and the changing role TLs have in the new equations for learning. (Ekdahl)

The tech-savvy, highly engaging and engaged, school-library supporter McKenzie writes,

Those school librarians who hold stubbornly to a 1950s definition of the job are likely to pass and be forgotten – extinct before their time. While many of the tasks that were important back then remain important in this decade, new challenges must be firmly placed at the core of any survival strategies. By embracing these new challenges and offering expertise not held by any staff members, teacher librarians can make themselves indispensable.(

It is a terrible irony that, at the very time that what they do is so very important in this district and in relation to learning, there will be fewer who are enabled to:

* support adult learning about using new tools and resources to learn how to how
to engage in and teach about finding good information and making good new ideas;
go beyond the tools and information to deep understanding and knowledge; build
inquiry skills and connect literacy development to authentic research; and lead
teachers in creating resource-based learning opportunities
* support colleagues in building new approaches to curriculum, both by modelling and by
providing quality resources and support
* partner with teachers and work alongside them as peer coaches to integrate new tools, resources, and ideas that make learning more engaging for students
* guide colleagues and give them the skills, support, and knowledge to become independent users of technology and digital resources, to connect with others about the best use of these resources, and to sift the information for what is best
* play a lead role in selecting, organizing, and developing technology and information applications, structures, and systems that work in classrooms with kids at appropriate times and levels and maintain congruence between digital and print collections of resources
* collect and display appealing and appropriate resources that have been collected
for the particular purpose, including heritage
* lead teachers in collaborative communities of learning to shared understandings about purpose and direction
* share in the development and communication of the organizational account of a school as it develops its sense of itself in a rapidly changing world
* lead by “cooking stone soup” and moving beyond the tools and information to places of critical thinking and creativity, despite constraints of time and money
* continue the traditional roles such as encouraging the love of literature and reading, broadening interests, offering great resources in a variety of formats, staying current in new resource formats, making questioning and inquiry important, and working cooperatively with teacher colleagues
* lead the inventive effort in trying times
* be the best reading teacher in the school
* augment student performance and achievement where comprehension is important


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