“But… a librarian shall be focus on reading, right?” Sometime back, I heard a new administrator expressing his thoughts about the role of the school librarian. I was surprised to hear that from a person with international experience but not everywhere the role and impact of librarians are really appreciated. On my previous post, I was talking about how the design of the library space is changing to adapt it to the new librarians’ roles. As a result, the title of librarians is changing. It’s evolving in different ways to show the impact of technology at the school library and new pedagogical approaches in the classroom.
Sheldon Soper at ASLC (Association for Library Service to Children) blog, ‘The constantly evolving role of the school librarian’; synthesizes the transformation of the position of the school librarian because of the evolution of the learning practices. Librarians support students on their learning, creating spaces of innovation inside of the school. Collaboration is one of the most challenging duties. However, teamwork between librarians and teachers produces unbelievable results on the benefits of the students. New technologies are introduced through the library creating a new tech hub that attracts students and teachers. It’s also giving another role of leadership, integrating technology, information literacy, innovative practices, and research instruction
Is the school community recognizing the same roles of the school librarian? I will go further and wonder: Is the school leadership team seen our role with our lenses? or like the comment at the beginning of my post, are they still attached to a nostalgic figure and role of the school librarian? and going even beyond… how can we make a change on the way they see us?
International Baccalaureate and the school librarian
“It is a multipurpose space that can provide resources for reading, both for academic development and personal enjoyment. It can be a social space, an experimental space, as well as a safe space in many ways. A functioning 21st-century library system, therefore, energizes the curriculum and the school more generally, in some areas driving school life and culture.” (IB blog World magazine, 2018)
The International Baccalaureate has been promoting a change in the nostalgic vision of the role of the librarian through articles on their magazine, workshops, blogs, etc. However, the policies were not cleared enough. Only for MYP, the role of the librarian was clearly specified. On other documents for IB Diploma and PYP, the impact of the role was a bit vague.
Until this year, the IB has published ‘The ideal libraries: a guide for schools‘. Long-awaited publication by the IB librarians community. For school management, leadership committees and boards, it clearly defines the new roles, leadership, and the impact of collaboration (planning, teaching, and learning) into the community. Also for librarians, it gives a series of topics and questions to reflect on the IB expectations. Moreover, the questions are directed to the schools. It means to the management and leadership teams. Can we expect a change? I always wonder about the contrasting realities of IB school libraries in different countries. If they applied the same evaluation criteria, they are places in which the IB is a new program and many nostalgic practices are applied. And they approved the evaluations. I think that only improving the evaluation tools and criteria considered to assess school libraries will push the changed. It will be a way to reduce the gap between school libraries and benefit the students, that at the end of the IB Diploma, will face all the same exams.
The role of the librarian on the Extended Essay
Learning theories and the school libraries
When do school libraries begin to change? In my opinion, when new approaches like constructivism enter the classroom and begin to change the ways of teaching. As a result, the librarian also started to change their approaches to teaching and learning. Just a simple example: If a student is learning about ideologies and revolutions, it’s a great opportunity to review sources of information (printed and online), find different points of view for the same topic (to promote critical thinking), academic honesty (encouraging citation and bibliography) in the context of the topic. It makes sense to the student and it becomes part of the inquiry process. How do concepts were introduced before? Through long lectures. Not interesting nor engaging at all. The student was a passive learner, not exploring just learning from the teacher.
When I was reading the Andrew Churches’s Bloom’s digital taxonomy, I could connect to the Big Six skills theory that I mentioned before on a previous post. The use of action verbs on different phases show the complexity of the research process. The additional step of ‘creating‘ is the maximum expression of deep understanding put into practice. A librarians’ homework can be to do a selection of verbs in each step according to the grade of the students in order to design research.
Knowing that the brain development continues even on students’ age of ’20s according to Heather Ridley, makes me wonder on the impact and protagonism of educators in their life. The importance of the relationship of teachers can help them go over any problem faced in the past and feel that they are in a safe environment. Also, the relevance of personalization and scaffolding learning experiences according to their level (differentiation). Discover that the brain doesn’t stop developing when you are a child, really makes me see this as an opportunity to offer a safe environment at the library so students can feel the space as pleasant and supportive. Offering different resources and tools will help children to select and curate. They will learn in multiple ways. A library becomes a lab in which students will connect knowledge (information sources), recognize patterns that appear to be hidden and create a product.
Challenging? Yes, it is. Connectivism will encourage STEM, support innovation and creativity. Is your school library ready?