An interesting Twitter conversation the other day has had outreach on my mind.
The other morning, several of us — Kristin Hokanson, Jenny Luca, and Robin Ellis and others were debating how to reach out to librarians (or teachers) who were reluctant adopters of technology. We concluded that there are several factors at work and some possible solutions:
–encouraging or providing funds for librarians to attend library conferences or tech conferences with library strands that have a high tech presence (like AASL, ALA, NECC, Internet Librarian Schools, Tech Forum, etc.) and are motivating.
–engaging more reluctant librarians like we would reluctant teachers by sharing how these tools can help them personally–to keep track of their personal stocks, travel info, their child’s college news, whatever that might be helpful to them personally.
Turning librarians onto supportive environments like Teacher Librarian Ning or Library2.0 Ning or even flickr’s 365 libs projects are ways to get them interested and to help them find supportive colleagues.
–Recognizing that librarians often don’t have any assistance, and are tasked with many roles–from being managers of a facility to teaching to purchasing. So the tools we entice newbies with need to be ones that add efficiency, build community and support for librarians without staff, and that are easy to use.
–Starting with one focal point–like what would matter most to their particular library program? Does the librarian do booktalks–then maybe podcasting is the place to start. Does the librarian do lots of lists of good websites–then wikis would be a good jumping off point. Just as with teachers, we have to meet people where their concerns are.
As we talked on Twitter, we also felt like education schools have a part to play, both in training librarians to work with technology(which most of them do) but also, and of importance, in training teachers about 21st century research skills and collaboration with librarians.
How many teacher training programs address research projects with students and how the library and tech departments on a campus fit into those projects, and the importance of collaboration? (For that matter, how many administrative programs really train principals in the kinds of support a library program can bring to their curriculum? How many are trained in using the librarian as a researcher or support person administratively?)
Sometimes it feels as a librarian that you have to convince teachers, even new ones, of how your role can complement and support what they do. So having new teachers or new administrators come in with a better idea of how the different roles interact is important too.
I tend to think of librarians as a real curricular partner on the campus. Many campuses have no other curriculum-type generalist–no one else who has an eye on all the curriculum in terms of supporting it at the campus level. That ability to connect teachers to one another, connect kids to ideas and materials, and to see how curricular areas overlap is fairly unique to the librarian and technology coordinator. It’s helpful to have some player on campus who can see the “big picture” so to speak, instead of their own individual curriculum, and many librarians play this role for their campuses.
So it is significant that they be involved with understanding the power of embedding different technologies into projects, and that they continue to learn and grow just like every other professional on campus.
Thanks twittees for the interesting conversation!