Running Amok in the Stacks

Archive for the month “June, 2012”

Advocacy or “Hey Look We Do More Than Shelve the Books!”

Advocacy in the library media center has never been more important that it is in the 21st century.  In reviewing the readings for this week, it is very evident that the library media specialist must play a larger role in our education system by partnering with other educator and administration to create a strong community of learners and educators.  As it was pointed out in Empowering Learners, the media specialist must play a global role within  the school in order to advocate for change.  Partnering with other educators and ensuring that library services are known and championed not only within the school building, but within the community is key to awareness of the role the media center plays in student success.

As I’m starting in a new position as a library media specialist in the fall, I found the reading by Woolls to be very timely and helpful as I step into my new role.  It is helpful to think of the library as a business and most businesses will fail in fairly short order if they do not provide items that the customers want and if they don’t provide exceptional customer service.  I’m stepping into a role where unfortunately, advocacy through good customer (teacher/student/administrative) relationships was not cultivated by my predecessor.  As my former colleague and I rotated on  a weekly basis between two school, I was often struck by how often teachers would come to me searching for materials, but would not as readily ask my former colleague for the same help.  So, in moving forward, it is imperative to me to make sure the library is a warm and welcoming environment to students and teachers alike.  Removing the stigma of the library as a castle with the drawbridge closed is my most important job the first few weeks of school by championing the media center as a place where student/teacher input is always welcome and as a resource for everyone in the school building, not just the students who come to the center at their regularly scheduled times.

Woolls also points out the importance and need for involvement in leadership and professional associations.  As most school library media specialists are the sole person in their role in a school, it is important to be involved and active in these associations both at the local, state, and national level to move the profession forward as an integral part of the education system.  Membership in these types of associations exposes media specialists to new ideas and information as well as being a force in driving school library media programs forward.  As a member of MASL, I find the information I gain from being part of this association invaluable each year.

Nancy Dowd, begs the question by Seth Godin, “will they miss you if your are gone in ten years”?  I think not if we as library media specialists don’t advocate for change now!  With the availability of e-books and online content, we need to let go of the outdated idea that libraries are book repositories and embrace the rapid changes in the spread of information while realizing that even with information at our fingertips online, collaboration is just as important and doesn’t always happen behind the sterility of a computer screen.  Libraries, as Godin points out needs to be a place where people come together to work, create, and invent, not just some dusty warehouse of print materials.

Buffy Hamilton reflects on Seth Godin also and I agree, that we need to stop thinking of the library as book driven and move forward to realize the library as a place of learning.  Not simply learning from a text book, but a place of multiple literacies which is embedded in the community as a resource for all to collaborate.  As she states a place to, “take the world of data, combine it with the people in this community and create value.”  After all that is the basic concept of learning.  The ability to take information, make new connections and create a new outcome.

Gwyneth Jones covers creating a transparent media center program which is accessible through various web tools such as Wikispaces, YouTube, Flickr, Twitter, and Facebook.  I find that having an easily accessible web presence is not just something nice to have, but absolutely imperative in today’s highly mobile society.  While, she notes an on again off again relationship with Facebook, it is important to realize the advocacy power of this particular social network.  In looking at Facebook’s recent statistics, there were 901 million monthly active users at the end of March 2012.  To ignore this vast customer base would be foolish at the very least.  While Facebook is one option for creating a web presence, it should not be the only option.  Libraries need to utilize as many of these tools as possible to reach their users in the most convenient way possible for those users.  This idea is highlighted by Sara Johns, who used the online tool Animoto to create a video highlighting the exciting things going on in her library and used this tool to share her and her student accomplishments with her administration, students, staff, and parents.  The use of this type of technology in promotion of the library program is something every librarian should be doing to maintain the connection between the library and stakeholders in the advancement of library programs everywhere.

Finally, Doug Johnson points out several key reasons why he maintains memberships in ALA and AASL, one of which, well two of which are that by paying his dues, also gives him the right to voice his complaints and concerns.  I find this amusing and so true as I am a member of several professional organizations in my other life as a glassblower.  I am continually amused when I hear complaints about one organization or another by non-members and think to myself, “be part of the solution, not part of the problem” and get involved in the association by becoming a member and advocating for change instead of standing on the outside and beating on the windows, so to speak.


Dowd, Nancy. “The ‘M’ Word – Marketing Libraries: Godin, Gutenberg and Going Forward.” New Marketing Trends 14 May 2011. 27 May 2011. <>.

Empowering Learners, Guidelines For School Library Media Programs. Chicago: American Association of School Librarians, 2009. Print.

Hamilton, Buffy. “Are Librarians, Not Seth Godin, The Ones Missing the Point on Libraries?” The Unquiet Librarian 16 May 2011. Web. 27 May 2011. <>.

Jones, Gwyneth A. “ Transparency is the New Black.” The Daring Librarian. 3 Apr. 2012. Web. 1 June 2012. <>.

Johns, Sara K. “Guest Post: Visibility Works!” Make Some Noise! School Library Journal, 9 Mar. 2012. Web. 01 June 2012. <>.

Johnson, Doug. “BFTP: Why I Belong to ALA/AASL.” The Blue Skunk Blog. 14 Apr. 2012. Web. 1 June 2012. <>.

Woolls, Blanche. The School Library Media Manager. 4th ed. Westport, Connecticut: Libraries Unlimited, 2008. 279. Print.


The Ever Changing World of Education

In reviewing this week’s reading by Woolls, I was struck by how much our educational system has changed since the 1800’s.  As an educational system we moved from a style of teaching by rote memorization where students were simply expected to memorize information whether or not they understood what was being taught.  As we moved into the nineteenth century, John Dewey, “believed that education was life…”, (Woolls, p. 2).  Learning become the goal of education rather than simply memorizing facts and figures.  Dewey’s goal is still at the forefront of our educational system, but the idea is now not just simply learning, but learning how to learn.  Unfortunately, many other factors influence and impact our educational system today.  More specifically, I question, have we moved away from learning to learn, through external factors, such as economics and standardized testing?  The need for common core standards and goals is evident with the transient nature of many families and students moving not just from one school in a district, but across the country.  In trying to implement these standards and meet the requirements of NCLB, I think we are not necessarily teaching students how to be lifelong learners, but in some ways reverting to the learning styles of the nineteenth century as teachers “teach to to the test” at the exclusion of other subjects because their jobs and livelihood depends on how well their students perform on standardized tests.

The role of the library media specialist is one though that needs to champion not just what information students need to do well on standardized tests, but how to utilize tools and resources to learn about any subject.  Basically, to get back to Dewey’s idea of learning how to learn and how that ability can translate to any subject matter that a student has an interest.  In short, to have the tool, resources, and ability to be a life long learner.

Stephen Abram posted a list by Doug Johnson regarding “15 Educational Experiences My Granddaughter Won’t Have”, with an addendum of fifteen educational experiences he hoped she would not have.  As much as I agree with his ideas, such as using personal mobile computing devices or social networking, most school districts have not adopted such forward thinking educational ideas.  Textbooks are still the norm.  There is limited class time each week in a computer lab working on study guides and usually those are not of a collaborative nature, but basically the paper format of a class study guide in the guise of a website quiz or review.  There is little student collaboration to creatively problem solve and create new learning outcomes.  While technology is rapidly changing, as a educational system we are not embracing the use of these new and ubiquitous learning tools such as cell phones and social networks.

Andra Brichacek, asked if brick and mortar libraries are still necessary in schools today in her ISTE Community Ning post.  While I believe with a resounding yes, we do still need brick and mortar libraries, but I have a caveat.  Libraries are not going to look like the libraries of the past with shelves and shelves of books and materials. As pointed out by Hay and Ross, libraries will be a place of inquiry in an increasingly digital age.  As  library media specialists,  we will collectively need to address the new methods of inquiry and teach those to our students as new technologies develop.   Libraries will be more of a place of congregation and collaboration with students working together on webcasts, blogs, book trailers as well as more traditional research activities through less traditional means such as greater use of online databases and ebooks instead of the familiar, but little used traditional World Book Encyclopedia.  Librarians will not be, ( as some have been in the past) “gatekeepers of information”, but there to unlock, “gateways to information”.

Joyce Valenza’s Revised Manifesto was perhaps the most daunting of this week’s readings.  While I wholeheartedly agree with the technology-based collaborative nature of her manifesto, I find it almost overwhelming to consider how to implement her ideas full scale in this educational climate.  I work in a school district that not only bans cell phone use by students, but by teachers as well and does not allow access to any social networking sites.  This lack of movement forward by district administration coupled with budgetary constraints that don’t allow for items such as video cameras and computer access so students can create book trailers or collaborative video clips on a research subject, Valenza’s manifesto seems to be an almost insurmountable goal to achieve.


Abram. Stephen. “15 Educational Experiences my Granddaughter Won’t Have.” Stephen’s Lighthouse, 8 May 2012. Web. 5 June 2012. <>.

Brichacek, Andra. “ READERS RESPOND: Do Schools Still Need Brick-and-mortar Libraries?” ISTE Community Ning 17 Aug. 2009. Web. 19 June 2012. <>.

Hay, Lyn, and Ross J. Todd. School Libraries 21C. Rep. NSW Department of Education and Training, 2010. Web. 19 June 2012. <>.

Valenza, Joyce. “A Revised Manifesto.” NeverEnding Search 3 Dec. 2010. Web. 19 June 2012. <>.

Woolls, Blanche. The School Library Media Manager. 4th ed. Westport, Connecticut: Libraries Unlimited, 2008. 279. Print.

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