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Practically Paradise
Inside Practically Paradise

Are you a Walking Computer?

We teach our students to enable them to be independent, successful, and life-long learners. Librarians teach students to be creative, conscientious citizens. Teaching my students how to use the OPAC is one of many steps towards independent searching. So why do they still insist upon asking me first?

I asked my third and fourth graders this question recently. After the pretest at the beginning of the year when they couldn’t answer the question "Tell me how you use the computer to find books," I taught them how to use the OPAC to meet a variety of their needs. We instituted my standard rule "If one person doesn’t learn how to do this, you ALL fail." Cooperation, co-teaching was rampant. The students understand HOW to search. They know I will not tell them the call number for I Spy books any more.

The problem lies in their choice. When it comes down to it, they believe the person, the library information specialist is more reliable than the machine. Perhaps they are right. 

My laptop’s motherboard died last week leaving me stranded without passwords to write on this blog and connect with the world. I attempted to teach a lesson on how drop-down menus work yesterday using my district’s website when the server slowed to an unbearable crawl. Even the cataloguing records are not complete enough to locate the books they truly want. (see my rant on tags)

Perhaps it is the human aspect that is most needed in elementary schools anyway. I teach them beginning strategies to searching, but when they need troubleshooting, they need me – the teacher. The students interviewed talked about the way I suggest other terms to search, how I suggest special collections to check, how I know what they’ve already studied so I can suggest special indices. The computer hits a glitch and what does it do? It says "Please see the librarian."

I wish more parents and educators knew how essential we are. The human face of technology is the librarian in an elementary school.


  1. I agree 100%!
    And add to that some adminsitrators and people in government need to know what we do too. I always joke that the administration comes into the media center during the only 5 minutes a day when the place is quiet!