A.B. What are some recent challenges you've had to face in your library and what are some possible solutions to remedy them? For example, your library has blocked media downloads and other restrictions for patrons. Please explain.
C.H. "I am not in a library, as it were, but rather lead a School Library System in New York. New York State has established and funds 42 School Library Systems that work to support the needs of member school libraries quick overview brochure. In NY, school districts are organized by town and tend to be smaller than in other states. School Library Systems typically provide staff development, interlibrary loan, a union catalog, automation, cooperative purchasing for electronic resources, and other services.
In my situation, I have run into some challenges recently when our network service provider upgraded the Internet filter. The new installation seems to be more aggressive at blocking sites. Clusty.com is blocked in its entirety because it has an image search portion. As such, students can't use the clustering engine that I think is a great example of an infomancy tool to helps novice searchers. As with many other schools, as blogged elsewhere we are seeing wholesale blockings of sites that allow user interaction. Most public blog sites, Flickr, discussion boards, etc. are blocked.
What I would like to see is for teachers and students to be held accountable. If this is the big word-of-the-day with NCLB, then why are teachers and students being presumed guilty before they have a chance to be accountable for their actions on the Internet? Now, there are some very bad things on the Internet – and worse, some very dangerous things – with which children should not be threatened. This may mean that we need some level of controlled access. Wholesale blocking of blogs isn't solving any problems though. It is actually creating new potential problems by giving parents and administrators a false sense of security and leaving students unprepared for the realities of unfettered access to information. Censorship never works, as I love to show in a workshop I do about plagiarism, I can crack through our filter and download a term paper in 10 minutes or less. I have no doubt that students could (and DO) do the same in less than half the time."
A.B. The roles of librarians in education has been in the spotlight recently, due to the surge of digital information, budget cuts etc. In your opinion, what is the role of today's librarian? And what do you think his/her future role will be?
C.H. "I want to be very clear that I am still working on my MLS and hesitate to identify myself as a librarian yet, as honored as I would be to do so. As I combine my previous instructional technology degree with what I am learning though my MLS, I am coming to some interesting conclusions. I freely admit that they may differ from the norm, and I make no apologies.
The role of today's school librarian is to be the information specialist for the school. This means that the librarian must be a curriculum leader who is involved in all aspects of curriculum development and mapping to facilitate the integration of information skills and the use of technology as an appropriate tool. The librarian must also be a teacher with teachers who continuously pushes for collaborative planning, teaching, and assessment. Librarians must model teaching for 21st century learning by embracing new ideas such as the three Es of David Warlick's take on information literacy. The librarian has to show great flexibility in continuing to promote the importance of reading while realizing that not all reading happens with paper books anymore. Books are critical, but they aren't the only game in town today. Librarians must never give in to the technology fetish – technology is a tool, not a goal. The goal is student achievement. Above all, the librarian must not only do all these things, but she ors he must also take the time to tell the students, teachers, administrators, parents, and everyone else what is happening in the library. The research shows that librarians are an important part of a successful school, and it is up to us to share this with others through advocacy and actions.
The future role of the librarian will probably be similar to what it is now. I don't see libraries or librarians going away, just changing. The chaos of information is growing at an astounding rate, and librarians are the natural infomancers to tame the problem. The catch is that we as a society have to decide whether or not libraries will remain a public institution. The work has to be done, but there are plenty of companies ready to turn a profit on information. I hope libraries will stay free; as I feel they are a key piece of a democratic society. But – and this isn't some NextGen attempt at trolling – libraries and librarians need to change. Information has changed, and now the information caretakers need to change as well."