Reaching out

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!

5 thoughts on “Reaching out

  1. 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?

    At the university I attended, this is not done at all because teacher training is done by the College of Education and library school is in the College of Communication. As a former English teacher, I was never coached on how valuable the librarian could be to me during research project/paper time. I thought I had to do it all myself. After a rough beginning with a doomed 9th grade research report, I eventually learned to give the librarian a list of my topics ahead of time and even to make sure our library had information on the topics.

    I think the key to engaging more librarians in the emerging technologies is to find the one thing they are most into and see if there is a technology link to it. I like the idea of doing podcasts and wikis for specific tasks not just learning something “new” because it’s new.

  2. I am a teacher librarian working in a Gr. 8-12 school. I was thrilled when this year’s batch of student teachers came to me and said that part of their practicum included collaborating with the teacher librarian on at least one unit of work. This is the first time I have seen this requirement and I was heartened to see that at least one university was recognizing the important role we play.

  3. I also meant to say in my post that I think building some personal learning network activities online, like WOW2 for librarians would be a great way to help people enter into the web 2.0 environment.

    Lesley, I think that is great news. It’s not customary around this part of the country from what I’ve seen, so hopefully that model will spread.

    Laurie, Thanks for the testimonial about learning it the hard way, and how libraries have made a difference. Kudos to you!

  4. Great to visit your blog this morning and find this post in support of librarians, who need to be valued and supported and brought into real collaborations.
    When I taught in high schools, I was sad to see how many teachers around me wasted great opportunities to work with our librarian. Great to see the discussion here.

  5. Thanks for the inspiration. Your blog entry has put a gust a wind back in my library media sails. I am in the midst of setting up a brand new library media center for 488 PreK-5 students. Here’s my web site which is work in progress. On Tues. 5/27, the Follett truck will deliver our “Opening Day Collection”. I’m so passionate about creating a 21st century learning hub for our students and teachers. How do I best prepare myself to collaborate with classroom teachers who have so many items on their platters already?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *