This is Circulating Ideas, I’m Steve Thomas. This episode is a special collaboration with the LiTTech podcast and we wanted to get together to talk about the state of the MLS. So their hosts, Emily and Addie, and I put together a panel and we hope you enjoy our discussion.
ET: I’m Emily Thompson the Learning Technologies Librarian at SUNY Oswego in Oswego, New York.
AM: I’m Addie Madison. I’m the Media Specialist at White River Elementary School in Noblesville, Indiana.
ST: I’m Steve Thomas. I’m an Assistant Branch Manager at Gwinnett County Public Library outside Atlanta.
DL: I’m David Lankes, I’m a Professor at Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies.
JH: I’m Jill Hurst-Wahl. I’m an Assistant Professor of Practice in Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies and that really should be Associate Professor Practice cause that’s what I am and I’m the Director of the Library and Information Science program.
C: And I’m Cori. I’m a School Media Specialist at a high school here in Keene, Texas.
ET: Great. Well thank you all for joining us and we’re going to talk about this very noisy editorial that was in Library Journal this month. Steve, you want to tell us a little bit about the Library Journal?
ST: Sure, it was called Can We Talk About The MLS and it was by Michael Kelly, the editor-in-chief of Library Journal. And it’s basically, so this topic has been coming up over and over again in some of our pre-show stuff. David mentioned that he’s been talking about this since the 90s, that is sort of a thing that’s sort of always been going on in librarianship libraries, that this conversation and his view, Michael’s view, is that perhaps librarianship would benefit more being, having an apprenticeship program more than a Master’s program and that, I think that’s basically, that is basically the theme of the editorial. Does anybody disagree with that, that’s kind of what it’s saying?
ET: In a nutshell.
ST: In a nutshell. But, and it, and so there has been a lot of talk about that because not everyone agrees with that. Some people think it goes too far, some people think it doesn’t go far enough, some people like the Masters degree program. Some people think the Master’s degree program is not a good option, it should be tossed out completely, but it sounds, I think of this group and of other groups that we’ve read, we’ve read a couple of other things in Publishers Weekly.
ST: There’s been tons of people who have been blogging about it. And so, but there’s a lot of good conversation going on about this. I don’t think anybody disagrees that there’s some, you can always make things better, so we just wanted to get all of this group together to talk about the state, the current state of the MLS and how we can improve that and things like that.
ET: So I guess the question for all of here is, all of us except for Cori have an MLS and Cori, you’re working towards one, correct?
C: That’s correct.
ET: Yeah. So, why did we go get it?
DL: Actually, to be fair, I actually have a Masters in Telecommunication and a PhD in Information Transfer.
ET: See I didn’t do my research before we start the podcast.
DL: No, that’s okay cause actually it’s, it’s somewhat interesting. I mean I, I’m a certified public librarian in the state of New York because I have a post baccalaureate, a Masters, you know post graduate degree in Information, Library and Information Science, but it’s, it’s a discussion that’s near and dear to my heart because there are multiple ways into the profession, so. I don’t pick that out to be picky, I just want to, you know, there’s a perspective here.
ET: And I think that’s a valid point.
ST: And that’s one question that a lot of people have, is that one of the blog posts that we talked about was Andy Woodworth’s Agnostic, Maybe blog about, just saying that they’re basically getting their MLS cause they have to to get a job, that you can, that they feel like they didn’t learn everything that they need to learn without the degree. What do people think about that?
JH: So, so, this is Jill, I grew up wanting to be a librarian and worked in my elementary, junior high, senior high, college libraries, took two years off, then went and got my library degree and then went into IT for five years before becoming a corporate librarian. And even though I’d had all that library experience, that I had run libraries when the librarian was out, and I had worked in cataloging departments and all the different things I’d done, I really didn’t know what a library was until I went to the Master’s program and, and I think that degree has served me well over time. I’m, I’m, have had my degree for quite a long time, but, and so I, I always think about what you miss, what you would miss, and the way I’ve been thinking about the conversation in the last week as what would our communities miss if we didn’t have people with an MLS degree.
ET: Addie, what’s you want to say?
AM: I was just going to say I, I actually had a conversation similar to this with, with some other school librarians recently, about how I, I went into the library program because I had to, cause I wanted to be a librarian and you have to have a Masters degree to do it, but I, I would have felt like I missed a lot if I hadn’t gone through a program. A lot of collaboration with librarians and so many different areas. Relationships that I still have and that they still serve me well, and just a direction and a focus for where I want my career to go and what that career should look like in the future, that I wouldn’t have had if I hadn’t been at that program.
ET: Cori, your thoughts?
C: Well I was going to say, you know, I wasn’t excited about going back to school for my Masters when I was done with my undergraduate I wanted to be done forever. But, I, I think in a school library setting, I don’t know about you guys, but I’m the only librarian at my school and so I end up having to know everything about everything for the school setting and that’s not something that I can just pick up by dropping into the lib, the library there, you know?
C: Definitely. And I also find being the only school librarian in my building, I’m the only person in my building that thinks like the librarian and sometimes, sometimes thinking like a librarian is a direct contrast with the people who think like teachers and, and I have to stick up for my library every once in a while and I know that my district has some teachers who have been made into media specialists, but they don’t have that MLS degree and they’re still thinking like teachers, so they’re collection doesn’t look the way mine does and it’s not going in the direction mine is and for better or for worse, that’s just the way it is.
ST: And I think that I would argue that I think that that’s a good reason to, I think, have the degree as a school librarian, because you need something like that.
DL: You know it’s, it’s interesting. One of the things that I took out of the editorial was this notion of mentorship and, or apprenticeship model and it, it’s, two, I think there are two very important points. A lot of the editorial in phrasing was “I got the MLS because I had to” and one of the things that I can say is that I think that even of this past week, this has been healthier discussion because I take from that editorial a desire for a conversation, for discussion. It is one, here we are, practitioners and educators together and two, you know, there’s the, when I said I was having these conversations in the 90s, they tended to be those damn MLS programs, they, oh I cursed, anyway. Those programs, you know, versus the practitioners, you know, it was us versus them and Ken Haycock actually on the panel we did in, in 2006 or 96, actually was it 96? When was it? 2006, reminded me, you know, that we follow as library science programs accreditation, and accreditation is set by the American Library Association which is the association of the profession. So, that in essence the profession can really guide where we want. If we want to extend the talk about more, you know, librarianship through library science program, Master, undergraduate, PHD, you know, apprenticeship and such, that really should be an open conversation for us all to have. I personally have a problem with the apprenticeship sole model. I have a very quick story and then I promise I’ll be quiet. I was in, I was in Florence at the Academy of Art, this was were the David is and it’s beautiful and I was look around and marveling at all the wonderful marble and I snuck into a tour group that was going into this like sealed off room and luckily they were speaking English and the room is just this huge, you know, five story high, hundred foot long room and it has these shelves and shelves upon shelves upon shelves along the wall. And on them are these marble busts and, you know, figurines and heads and, and they, the tour guide said well the ones at the bottom are the ones done by the masters. And the ones above it are the students and it isn’t until you cannot tell the difference between the two that they can graduate. I thought well that’s really interesting. And then as she goes on she goes and this is the problem with Italian art. And I thought, problem with Italian art? These beautiful, gorgeous sculptures and such and the answer was because they could only get as good as the master and they couldn’t do different from the master and they couldn’t try something else because they had to replicate it. And so one of the potential, not guaranteed, but potential downfalls of apprenticeships is you’re only going to be as good as the master and that’s going, that can lead to stagnation within a field.
ET: That’s a very good point because we kind of think like the people we’re learning from and Addie and I both went to Michigan and the thing that I find interesting, is growing to be interesting about Michigan is it’s one of the few library school programs with no online classes and.
AM: It’s true.
ET: Part of the advantage of being in library school was the conversations that you’d have in the lounge, particularly since Michigan’s an ischool so you got the librarians thrown in there with the human computer interaction people and the information analysis and retrieval people and the archivists and we’d all sit there and have lunch together and so those conversations were possibly one of the most valuable things I got out of library school and.
ET: You don’t necessarily get those from apprenticeship where you have to do as you’re told.
AM: And now of course I think there’s a, there’s a chance that, you know, in a, in some programs that professors haven’t been out there doing library work lately and you might get stagnation there as much as you would from learning from someone who’s currently working.
ST: Yeah I think, I think that argues more for like, I mean in a collaborative point of view, I mean that the, you don’t want the, the academic professors there just kind of in their little, you know, stereotypical ivory tower kind of thing of not paying attention to the real world, but then you also don’t want to be completely divorced from that larger theory either.
ET: Jill, did you have something?
JH: So that’s why professors are supposed to do research. You hope that their research draws them back into libraries and back into dealing with users, patrons, members, whatever you want to call them and think about how to move the profession forward. I’m a professor of practice so I’m charged with staying connected to practice. That doesn’t necessarily mean doing research, but still I have to keep that connection, and I recognize, I think students recognize that if you don’t keep those connections alive, you become stale. And I think they hear that, you know, they, they can sense the difference between someone who has kept connections alive in some form or another, and those who haven’t.
AM: Yeah, I, I totally agree with that. I’m, one of the articles we were looking at and this is when I was, I think I was complaining that the tech classes were very low-level and kind of out of date and I know I’ve had that experience, like web design classes and stuff that aren’t really current and so I can understand where they’re coming from, where you’re better to have real world experience in some of those areas, but move really, really fast.
ST: Okay, that’s, that’s one of those things that I mean I think it’s, it’s almost a different problem because I, I mean it’s almost a different issue because that’s sort of a, that particular program is maybe not doing what it should be doing, I mean cause I, I mean no you should not be learning out of date things, especially in a technology rich profession like ours. But that doesn’t really say anything toward, I mean that may be, that school should update that class.
DL: Well, but there’s, there’s differences in the different programs. I mean, you know, we’re gonna find everything from focus on research and they’re too busy worrying about their research that they don’t do any and they’re stagnant. I mean that’s the nature of the fact that these are human beings that are in charge of education. The one thing that, that is interesting, and I think all programs have to reflect and change and I face this and Jill’s facing this. We’re, we have students coming to us and saying “we’re not getting x, y or z” and what’s very interesting is in the past that would be and it’s your fault and fix it and if you don’t I’m grumpy. And increasingly what it is is students come in together saying “you’re not teaching x, y or z” so we’re going to arrange for that to be taught, or we’re going to teach ourselves. And one of the things that we’ve had to do as a program, and I think increasingly higher ed has to learn to shape is these students are going to be doing a lot of educating of themselves and we need to recognize it and credential to a degree. And be much more flexible because we have systems like well I want to introduce this course, well it’s got to go through the curriculum committee to the faculty senate and the faculty senate has, oh and it’s going to be a curriculum change and that’s ALA every seven years and this idea of becoming more nimble regardless of whether we move to apprenticeship models or whether we stay in the higher education graduate or undergraduate, we have to be more nimble in how we prepare librarians. And we have to stop pretending they need to know with their career in two and a half years at the beginning of it.
ET: Addie, what did you have to say? Very good point David. Exactly.
AM: Yes. I was just going to add to that, that I, I think we saw some of that happening when we were at Michigan, when we were at SI, just versus changing, even between when I took a course, I can’t even remember which one it was though, I took a course with one of the older professors that was on her way out and Emily took it with the new professor on her way in and it was, there was a vast difference, the professional practices class and, and just bringing in new ideas and letting the students ask for what they need because, you know, it looks different right now than it did five years ago, being a librarian, and it will look completely different five years from now and I think that the students coming into this profession are coming into it because it changes fast.
JH: So I have a question. There’s different pressures on higher education and one of the pressures of higher education is the fact that any industry can look at higher ed and say we don’t value that and so we’re no longer going to require the degree. So we have people saying that you don’t need a degree, or you shouldn’t need a degree to work in a library. What’s stopping them from now posting jobs that don’t require the degree? And, and I’m asking that because they could fix their own problem.
ET: Right, I think that this is a really interesting point because like SUNY Oswego is having a lot of retirements, so we’re a hiring librarian right now and of course the librarians are the ones that write the job descriptions, so the librarians have the ability to say we want someone with an MLS, but I remember watching at Michigan, that they were hiring people who just had a Master’s degree and whoever they were, whatever area that they were going to specialize in, which I found as someone working through the library program, frustrating that they weren’t supporting their own graduates. But, you do, you have, you do start to see this around academic librarianship and we’ll get into it a little bit more but the school libraries in a number of states, this ship has sailed. So it’s a really interesting thing to think about.
AM: I’ve been looking at a lot of jobs basically for libraries and it seems like the, the newer positions in the libraries, they’re having a lot more flexibility with whether or not they want an MLS, like community outreach and literacy outreach and some of these positions that are just picking up steam in public libraries. They’re, they’re wanting someone with experience, but not necessarily the degree.
ET: Interesting, Steve?
ST: Well I wanted to sort of come off that discussion and make it a little bit broader and as David said, he doesn’t have an MLS, we all know, we all know good librarians who don’t have them, Buffy Hamilton is a good example as well. What is, if you don’t need the MLS to be a great librarian, what is the intrinsic value of the MLS? Like if you can learn those values outside the program, how can I explain to people then why it is, why they need that program.
DL: I think there are sort of three ways of becoming a librarian. Right, first of all, I think that there are, is a core skill, a core value and a core mission that is what makes a librarian, right? It’s not, it’s not a degree, that’s, see that’s back to the sort of broad strokes too easy. It’s, you don’t become a librarian because you have a degree, I mean you can get a job as a librarian because you have a degree, but to me there’s something deeper, I mean that’s my whole spiel. But, so the three ways I see it is one, you can get hired as one, which is what we’re seeing with a lot of the school librarians, well put. That ship has sailed and what’s interesting is when you look at, when you lose that requirement of needing a librarian with some sort of certification professional oomph behind it, not only do you begin to lose those positions for people who are trained for those and sort of political clout that comes with it. It’s hard for school librarians to fight against the trend when people are sort of, you know, adding to your ranks people who don’t get it and necessarily want to get it. The second way is you can get it so you can be hired, or you can get it because you’re educated for it, or you can get it because you sort of have the spirit for it of, in other words you sort of get adopted in. I’ve known many people who I’ve, you know, are brilliant librarians who never had the degree, but they’ve, as others put earlier, think like a librarian. And I think we need to recognize all of those and cast a broader net for it and the worst thing we can do is find someone who’s absolutely brilliant and say you’re not allowed in the washroom. We tried that and, and what we ended up with was a lot of stagnant libraries with a lot of tiered systems.
ET: And along those same lines, I think that’s something that those of us who do have the degree need to be careful of, because I read Jessica Olin’s blog, Letters To A Young Librarian and I was reading the comments and someone had commented on one of her ACRL posts about how she didn’t have the degree, but she’d gone to the conference and kind of felt like she had to hide the fact that she doesn’t have the degree and it’s, you know that whole attitude of I’m a librarian because I have a librarian degree is really constricting. Yes, Jill?
JH: I know someone years ago who was working on her MLS degree, working in the library and the librarian that was a, you know, her and the librarian and the librarian would not allow her to do anything that resembled professional work because she didn’t yet have the degree. And, and I don’t think we can be snobby like that. It hurts us when we’re snobby like that.
ET: It hurts everyone.
JH: And I think there’s reasons to have the degree, it’s gonna be, I think the one thing I kind of take away from all of the conversations is that the reason to have the degree is probably different for everyone. You hope, I hope that everyone who goes to a library science program, any place in the world, walks out of that program with new skills, new knowledge and a new insight. But the fact that someone decided to do that really is up to them and they have to recognize what they want to get out of it when they’re in that program.
ET: I think that’s a really good way to put it.
AM: Well you’re going to get out of that program what you put into it, like anything else, and I know that, you know, I could have left Michigan with fewer experiences and less knowledge, but I went out and I found it if I felt like it was missing from my program and, you know, that’s true of any graduate program, any program at all. If you, if you have the attitude that you’re going to go in and make the very most of it, then you’re going to leave with more to your name.
DL: Yeah this is one of the difficulties, is we talk about what’s the intrinsic value of library science program and, and one of the, the things that I resist most heavily is a functional definition of our profession. It’s the checklist approach. To be a librarian you need to know how to catalog, you need to do things in alphabetical order, know how to use the ILS, know how to do inter-library loans, know how to do MARC record and RDA at the back of your hand, la la la la la. Well the thing is, you know, last year you would have known, need to known the MARC record, today you need to know RDA, but I’m telling you it’s not a one to one translation of oh they’ve changed the field bumpers. There’s a fundamental difference in how information organization is done. One is semantic web and it’s based in a real knowledge of how interconnected systems work and the intranet. One is based on field names. What we do will change and what we do changes from place to place to place. What it takes to be a school librarian is radically different that what it takes to be a good academic librarian, is radically different than that it takes to be a good public librarian, except that really there’s a core skill that we and a core way of thinking we bring to it. That core, which has some skills in it, absolutely. It has a lot of history in it and it has, but it has a lot of this way of thinking in it, how do we embed that into the profession, enrich it and constantly evolve it? What mechanism do we have to it by? And ALA annual conference is probably not the mechanism to do it. So we have a distributed network of, right now, master’s levels programs and once again, I’m up for starting the undergraduate program tomorrow, in addition to, though I would make it instructional technology and less of doing the functions of informational organization. But that’s a discussion for later.
ST: Yeah I actually, I was gonna talk about something different, but I was going to mention that I was, I was skimming through a, David’s, a list of new librarianship before doing this and that was one of the things that you wrote about, get the book and read that part.
DL: Thank you.
ST: And the part that I actually did like was not only the bachelor program, but then you have another certificate program you can do afterwards and you change the, you change the PHD program so it’s not just let’s make libraries full professors out of you. And the other thing I was going to talk about before was I really think the library school needs to, people were complaining there was some discussion on Twitter of people were saying they should teach Microsoft Office in library school and that is so crazy to my mind that you would think a graduate program as a place to learn a specific software program. But my reaction to that was that library school, MLS programs need to be broader, not more specific, so that’s, that’s sort of why I’m coming against a lot of what Michael Kelly wrote in that editorial as well because I think we need to be broader in theory in MLSs than specific and we could, because we do all have sort of core values throughout, like David was saying, we have to be able to train school librarians and academic librarians and public librarians and sort of the same programs, but other professions do that. I mean all lawyers go to law school and doctors go to medical school, so I mean there is a core of these professions that everybody has to know.
DL: Great point.
ET: But I, I like what Jill wrote into the chat box cause we’ve got Skype open as we do this. You said, Jill, we want to train you for the first day of your career and we want that education to also make you able to be relevant the day you retire and I think that that’s exactly why you go to library school.
JH: And I have to admit, I took courses when I was in my MLS program that, that didn’t have an impact on me for years and when I started working on digitization programs and thinking about how they should be, how those should be, digital assets should be described and the access and, and all those different pieces, that’s when pieces of my MLS program I hadn’t yet used became relevant, you know. And that’s years later, so we always say to people that those classes may not seem relevant on day one and I think students can be very skeptical of that, but it’s true, you may walk into your first job and say “gee that class I took really didn’t mean anything” and then 5, 10, 15 years later look back and go oh yeah that class, that class really was important and it would be something that you wouldn’t have learned on the job, you wouldn’t have learned in the apprentice program, you wouldn’t have learned perhaps in undergraduate program.
ET: That’s kind of exactly what I’m thinking, is that you need to have a slightly broader role of classes because the ones that I, and granted I’m very young in my career, the ones that I found, have found less valuable are the ones that are specific skills related to this one specific thing, but the broader theory courses that taught me a new way to think about information and sharing it with people, those are going to be valuable forever. Addie?
AM: I was thinking the same thing, I’m actually sitting here chuckling because at Michigan we have this trio of core classes that everybody has to take regardless of what your specialization is going to be and we call them by their numbers, they are 500, 501 and 502 and we all hate them a lot.
ET: No-one hates 502.
AM: No that’s true, we like 502 cause we check our email and Twitter for most of the time, but [laughs] but, I, those, they were fraught with difficulty and one of that was, one of those was the fact the professors told us at the beginning you’re not going to get why these classes are important, but we’re going to teach them to you anyway. And, and the things that we learned in those classes come back to me a lot and just the fact that the, the kind of thinking that we had to do and, it really becoming information specialist and I, I know that I am the information specialist in my building and then, and that no one else has that perspective and it’s a big responsibility.
ET: They came back even while we were still there. If I had a nickle for every time someone said another class “oh I hate to mention it but you know like we learned in 500,” I’d be rich. Well we’re starting to run short on time and I would like to talk a little bit about the, the fact that my biggest problem with the editorial was the fact that it didn’t mention school libraries at all and this ship has essentially sailed in a lot of states.
AM: But it does, it mentions it right at the beginning about fuzzy memories from elementary schools, oh no wait.
ET: Yeah but he doesn’t talk about the fact.
AM: It’s a publishing other libraries, yes, that’s true.
ET: He doesn’t talk about the fact that a lot of our current school media specialists, Cori included, and I didn’t know that Buffy didn’t have an MLS and she’s amazing.
AM: Pearl Harvey’s degree is an undergraduate degree.
ET: Yeah, so we already have those people who have taken what they needed to learn on the job and are, are very successful without the degree and there are others, like you Cori, who are going back to get it.
C: Working on it, yeah.
DL: And this is, this is the, I mean Buffy, I love Buffy, good friend and she’s a great, I’ll give you a couple of others, Eli Neiburger in the public sector. There are a directors of.
ET: Just to clarify real quick, you ask Eli if he’s a librarian, he will flat out tell you no, sorry about that.
DL: And he’s wrong, he is. The director of the Brooklyn Public Library, Linda Johnson, brilliant lawyer. I want these people in my profession, I want to point to them and say librarian, librarian, librarian. I want to, I want to adopt them. My thinking, in fact one of the things that ALA should do is to go and hijack people’s careers and call them librarians whether they like it or not. We need a mechanism for this to happen. We need a mechanism, one of the issues that we have is that in New York there’s still a relatively strong school library media profession and that’s because of law, that you have to at the high school, middle school level have to have a certified school library media specialist and at least one at the elementary level though they may be shared, we want to fix that. Though, the, and what happens is they have to become teachers and librarians and it leaves them zero electives when they through a program. What we need to do, and I look at the advocates we have in school libraries and we look at, you know, Barbara Stripling, you look at, just Joyce Valenza, the brilliant folks, we need them to in essence get together and be able to anoint the next generation of folks who say “yes you may have been hired as a school librarian without a degree, but guess what, you’re now going to be a school librarian and we’re going to make a mechanism where it may not be a full LIS degree, but we’re going to make a mechanism whereby you can go through and make up this core value, core spirit so that when you go advocate, you have this, the tools to do it.”
ET: Here, here.
ST: Yeah, it drives me crazy when people don’t want to be called librarians cause I think, I wish we would embrace those terms more and I, I’m like I very much dislike the school media specialist name.
AM: I really hate it too.
ET: It’s annoying. I think the new phrase is teacher librarian.
DL: No it’s school librarian, ALS says we can go back.
ET: Yes, they did.
ST: Everyone likes this, I like it.
JH: I kind of like teacher librarian though, because we are the teachers.
ST: I do too, yeah I like that too.
JH: And I think that’s the phrase maybe I’m not hearing it officially, but that’s the phrase I hear from school librarians when I go to conferences is, is teacher librarian.
ST: I was, I would.
ET: Oh sorry, I’m just, let me just interject for a second, in New York state the way teachers are now assessed also affects the librarians in those schools and so I think the word teacher librarian gets at the fact that they are teachers and should be assessed like teachers. Although that does cause some difficulties.
JH: It also makes it a little bit harder when they just do these sweeping cuts to just get rid of all the librarians. If they’re the teachers as well, then that’s a little bit harder to push.
ST: That’s what always makes me think, sorry, I know, Cori, but that’s what makes me think that they moved, why they even want to move to media specialist because to the average person what the heck is a media specialist.
ET: Well it sounds like tech help.
ST: Right, right, I mean, it’s harder to justify a line item view of librarians.
ET: So Cori, you’ve had your hand raised for a while.
ST: Sorry, Cori.
C: Well I was going to say in Texas, I don’t know about other states, but in Texas they require school librarians to have two years of classroom experience before they even get to the library which is kind of a huge discouragement towards getting into a school library the normal way because you have to spend a couple of years teaching a class that’s kind of outside of whatever you feel like doing, so for me I’m, I would, I’d be happy with just getting my degree and going straight to the library, or working there like I’m doing and getting my degree as part of that process, but like in my school I’m the closest thing they’ve ever had to a school librarian and what I hear a lot is we never thought about doing that and I think the more schools realize that librarians actually bring a very different useful mindset, the more that they will want to have school librarians, certified school librarians.
DL: Yeah, I was, just really quickly, I was there at the tail end of everyone being called a media specialist. My adviser was Mike Eisenberg, good friend Mike Eisenberg, and he pushed it hard and his thinking behind it was technology’s cool and awesome and technology’s the new thing and if you rule the technology, you rule the school. And what we’ve seen is that technologies become the utility and so what once was, what once was “I’m the administer of the technology therefore very powerful” has become “I’m the administer of the utilities like the water and the steam” and that’s why I think that librarians need to constantly reassert profession, being professional, teacher librarian but unique in that they have a contribution and a role to play, not just “oh we can do this cool or that cool.”
AM: Yeah I agree, in my building, in our district, they elementary school media specialist which is the title on my contract, we, we are on a flexible schedule which means that my time with students is not dictated the way that PE and art and music is. I don’t have them on what we would call a fixed schedule and it is difficult to communicate why that is with our teachers and to, to be collaborating with teachers to, so that I am fully integrated into what they’re doing in their classrooms and the reason why we have it that way is because all of those research skills and the information skills that I teach are learned best in context of everything else that they’re doing, but I still have teachers consistently asking why I’m not part of that special rotation, why I can’t go into my corner and stay there, which is, that’s, they don’t actually use those words but that’s what it feels like and, so it’s, it’s definitely, it’s so much about communication. And just a little plug is that I’ve spoken with my principal who is fantastic, many times and one thing that she said to me is that when she had a choice between hiring me with the MLS degree and another teacher from the district or from the school who wanted the media specialist position, she choose me because if there’s a master degree for it she figured there was a reason for that and, and I really appreciate that.
ET: Jill, you had something that you wanted to point out.
JH: So I just wanted to point out that as teacher librarians, school librarians, whatever we want to call that group, what they do is teach information literacy and digital literacy and you get literacy in every class, but it’s the librarian in the school who really focuses on information literacy, on understanding how to use the tools, how to understand the tools are valid and understanding what’s online, where the online might be and how to recognize if that information is accurate. All those things that we valued, all those things that you have to understand when you get older and you’re trying to negotiate a career or a job or just banking, are all things that a school librarian can teach and do teach.
ET: Yes. So last comment from Cori.
C: And I, I agree with Jill, even if I’m not directly teaching the information literacy, I’m still the advocate in the school to make sure that it gets on the other teachers curriculum, that it is still pushed, that the students are getting it somehow and it is nice to be able to throw around my weight a bit, you know, with my few Master’s classes and be like yes I have the training and I know what I’m talking about and this is a good thing because they really do respect that a lot and they see the value of it more.
ST: That’s great.
C: Because I have Master’s.
ET: Yes. This has been a fascinating conversation, so we want to thank all of you for being on and here at LiTTech we always like to end with what are you reading. So if you could all just give us a quick idea of what’s in your hands lately and let’s go ahead and start with Steve.
ST: Oh, sure. Right now I’m a little Sherlock Holmes obsessed from watching too much of BBC Sherlock so I’m making my way through the complete Sherlock Holmes and I also saw another mystery series called The Baker Street Letters which is a modern day thing of someone that moves into 221B Baker Street as like a, just as a business and then they start getting letters that are addressed to Sherlock Holmes and things go from there.
ET: Oh cool, David?
DL: I’m, well it sounds very impressive, I’m reading The Structure Of The Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Cune but I should say I’m on the fifth year of attempting to read it, so I, it is very interesting, but very dense.
JH: I’m an avid gardener, both flowers, herbs and vegetables and I compost and so I’m reading The Book Of Compost by Mike McGrath.
ET: I need to look that up. Corrine? Cori, sorry.
C: I’m reading Beautiful Decay by Sylvia Lewis. I picked it up as an ARC although apparently it’s on sale now, just recently. It’s a YA book about modern day necromancers, so I’m, I’m in, I’m easily entertained, what can I say, I’m like necromancers, I’m good, I’ll read it, yes, yes.
ET: What about you Addie?
AM: I am reading Who Can That Be At This Hour, it’s the new Lemony Snicket book and it’s Lemony Snicket, so.
ET: That book sends me emails, with like, that was their advertising campaign, is somehow they got my email address and they’d send me just one of the illustrations from the book, so if the emails are any indication, it’s excellent. And me, I’m reading Sticks And Stones by Emily Bazmon which is her book on bullying and it’s fantastic and what I really like about it is that she is trying to provide solutions, not just oh poor woe is me we need to be nicer to everybody, like concrete solutions that will take years to implement and it’s really cool.
ET: So once again we’d like to say thank you to all our guests; Steve, David, Jill and Cori, it’s been great.