Magazine article Internet@Schools

What's in the Pipeline? Part 2. What I Watch

Magazine article Internet@Schools

What's in the Pipeline? Part 2. What I Watch

Article excerpt

LIB RA RIANS are more relevant than ever. We have no good reason to be on the defensive and every reason to be on the offensive. The conversation in our field is fraught with too much navel gazing and not enough looking out there at the evidence that some things are going well. We share too many stories about the bad stuff and too rarely share the successes. We are an adaptive profession.

Change is our tradition!

So, as we continue to be challenged by an ever-increasing range of major technological and economic change, we must continue to also improve how we represent ourselves. Let's emphasize the humans that make the magic happen: librarians! Let's focus on value, impact, and positioning (VIP).

That said, I am very challenged to keep up with the threats to our profession. Just in the U.S. federal news, as I write this column, there are threats to Institute of Museum and Library Science (IMLS), National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), National Education Association (NEA), and more. There are even threats to the very presence of the Department of Education and other sources of information such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and more. Who can cope?

I believe that the best way to sustain our relevance and to thrive is to focus on what we do best. Our issue isn't survival, but having the best and most effective impact on the health of our schools and their learners and the decisions they make. We improve the quality of questions. We improve the quality of decisions. We add speed to the process, and align all resources with our learners' needs.

To accomplish a sea change in the representation of our profession, we must do the following:

* Emphasize the librarian and not the physical library and its resources.

* Build real, long-lasting, and personal relationships with our teachers, principals, and learners.

* Be positioned as a real professional and offer professional services-and that includes advice.

* Tell our stories. It's the stories that happen between librarians and learners that matter-not just the ones you have on the shelves or in the library facility.

So, for 2017, resolve to tell those stories. Better yet: Collect those stories in your users' voices. And encourage the heart ... (Thanks, Michel Stephens.)

If we care about the future of our brand of school librarianship, we will not worry about change but heartily embrace that this is the normal world for now and forever. Continuous change just provides evidence that you're not fossilizing.


Determining what is a fad and what is a critical trend is difficult, but over the years, I've learned to ask myself these eight questions:

1. Will this improve the experience of the learner? Does it just make my life better or easier or does it have wider application to the needs of teachers and learners? For example, I love it when I can watch clients use stuff and then I can focus on understanding their experience as a human and not just my experience (and assumptions) of using something new and fun.

2. If this seems like a bright shiny fad, is there something material there that is longer-term? For example, I never loved QR codes, but the ability to place content locally and in context appealed to me. Now I think NFC (near field communication) and Beacons seamlessly integrated with smartphones are the cat's meow.

3. Does this trendy tech just support information delivery, or can context be provided too? Can you add point of view and bias to context and content? For example, the social media shiny things triumphed over email because they supported collaborative and social opinion sharing, not just plain information sharing and delivery.

4. Does this tech align with real humans-the normal ones? Or will it only work for a narrow range of geeks, nerds, librarians, etc. …

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