Magazine article School Librarian

Disseminating Our Ideas: From Information Science to Education

Magazine article School Librarian

Disseminating Our Ideas: From Information Science to Education

Article excerpt


Around three years ago, Barbara Band noted during her CILIP Presidential term the importance of writing for educational journals. She recognised that by limiting our articles to publication in school library periodicals we merely 'reach the already committed' when it may be more beneficial for us to encourage those in the wider community within schools to think about the ways in which their organisation's library can be used. (1) My own experience supports Barbara's central argument, although sometimes from a different perspective. In the late 1990s, I began a PhD study into the information behaviour of young people from four to eighteen years of age. In particular, I explored the information needs that emerged in the lives of my participants and how they sought to satisfy them. (2) I began the project firmly convinced that the research was situated within the discipline of information science and I collected my data in that spirit. Yet, when I analysed the material I had gathered and began to form recommendations, I noticed that my discoveries had clear implications for education, as well as information science, and the need emerged to convey my ideas to professionals working in this field.

Over the last fifteen years, I have contributed to sixteen educational outlets, the majority of which have taken the form of practice periodicals, rather than scholarly journals, and I would urge readers of this piece to give as much consideration to writing for teachers as they would to writing for other school librarians. Of course, taking the first steps outside one's own discipline can be intimidating, especially as any form of writing for publication means putting one's work into an arena where it may subjected to scrutiny, and perhaps even criticism, but the benefits that can accrue with regard to raising the profile of key information science issues within an important and influential readership need to be acknowledged.

When I first set about writing for professional periodicals aimed at teachers, I had no-one to mentor me and I struggled to find advice in information science magazines or indeed anywhere else. I learnt simply through doing. In the sections that follow, I offer five tips for others based on my experiences.

1. Explore key magazines and other outlets

This is an obvious starting point. It should probably begin with the prospective author asking teaching colleagues what they read and examining any professional periodicals to which their school subscribes. I myself would recommend investigating titles such as SecEd, Creative Teaching and Learning, Teach Secondary and Insight. I am assuming that most of my readers are based in secondary schools, although those who operate at more junior phases may benefit from looking at Primary First, in particular. Browsing several recent editions of such periodicals will enable you to understand the kind of areas that are covered by the title and how these are typically addressed. Take your lead from previous articles that are in some way comparable to the piece you have in mind. If we are seeking to move library or information issues up the educational agenda, it is worthwhile to target magazines aimed specifically at headteachers, such as School Leadership Today. Those of us who suspect that the teachers we know are inclined to read sources on the Web more than paper materials may well reason that it is wiser to think in terms of educational sites aimed at practitioners rather than to go for traditional teacher periodicals. Certainly, sites such as those of Scholastic and Optimus Education have much to commend them.

2. Make it useful and relevant

Teachers especially value pieces that give timely, relevant and practical advice they can adopt in their work. In 2007, I carried out a study of Ofsted's expectations of the libraries within schools they had inspected in recent years within my own part of northern England. …

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