In a recent article on librarians as leaders which I wrote for TCEA’s Tech Edge magazine, I was puzzling over the issues related to librarians as leaders in schools, particularly their role as technology leaders and how they can ideally work as part of a team with the school technology staff.
The skills demanded of librarians for the last decade, particularly, overlap and complement the skills of instructional technologists, but developing a relationship of mutual respect is sometimes a challenge. I sometimes find myself frustrated by my hybrid role–longing not to”just”be relegated to the role of librarian, but envisioning the modern librarian as “something more”–wanting librarians to be thought of as just another facet of instructional technology expertise. (Thus, my technolibrarian moniker on twitter). We bring a great deal to the table, which is partially what I explore in the article, but are we equal partners at the “tech table” in discussions about purchases or filtering, for example; discussions that could draw on our expertise? I hear frustration expressed by many librarians in these areas.
As a librarian, I’d rather not be relegated to a “second class” technology citizen and appreciate it when my own expertise is valued for the unique elements that I can bring to the table to help teachers and students. I appreciate when it’s respected that I know what is needed to align our library services with the 21st century learning literacies we are trying to teach. But again, for librarians, that is often not the case. Librarians frequently have to fight and scrap their way into using technology–begging permission to use a tool or purchase a technology item, or facing battles against web filters when they try to blog or use sites for instruction.
What I would hope for, and outline in the article, are ways that technologists and librarians can ideally function as a team, there to help students and teachers. A team which is innovative, mutually respectful and forward thinking–who can collaborate with teachers on assignments together and provide students and teachers with the best instruction available.
Libraries are rapidly evolving, and librarians have to be able to embrace that change. But as the role and functionality of libraries change, the interpretation of what the domain of librarian is needs to evolve too. How to get there–that is the question. It’s time for some collaborative conversations on the partnerships that we can build within our professions, between our professional organizations who too often work in isolation, and within our own buildings to bring better service to our students. These are difficult questions to work out, and our answers are constantly evolving. But I”m curious -what models are you seeing in your own states and districts that are working?