Web presence is a major theme of our Cool Tools For Schools and also modern librarianship, in general. It is no coincidence that as I am building my skill set as a librarian; I am constantly worrying about updating the web presence of our library at Mexico High School, how we represent all areas of information literacy to our students through database selections,how we store our resources online, how I can bring books to our students using our online catalog (including audio books) and how on earth I can provide guidance to teenagers (tech savvier than I) on how to create their own responsible web presence. Wow! Can you imagine that list of responsibilities as your job description? This is what we have to do to be a librarian. Oh, and don’t forget that we are charged with promoting free speech, critical thinking (don’t drink the Koolaid), identifying bias, questioning authority and teaching our students how to be world citizens. Phew! The list never ends. This is why I am trying to be more diligent about having a presence outside of the library where kids can go to use the library from home. It is not an easy task, but it is a necessary task.
This weekend, I had the distinct pleasure of attending the New York State Library Association Section of School Librarians’ Annual Conference, entitled “Expect More”, in September 2014. The keynote address was titled “The Faithful and the Radicals”, given by R. David Lankes. R. David Lankes is a professor and Dean’s Scholar for the New Librarianship at Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies and director of the Information Institute of Syracuse. His book, The Atlas of New Librarianship won the 2012 ABC-CLIO/Greenwood Award for the Best Book in Library Literature. Lankes passionately encouraged us to be radical in advocating for our positions, about teaching our students to question and use their power to change the world. To “know their presence online and in the world.” We, too, must know our presence in the world and online in order to be more effective for our school community. We also must radically change the perception in the minds of those who perceive us as the quiet scholars with a bun and bifocals who shushes those who desperately struggle to find information and complete tasks. We must live out loud online and in our libraries, creatively planning to improve our students’ lives so that they can be as literate as possible while navigating all areas of life including the online world. Our online presence gives our students more freedom and power to access the resources they need or want to make at any time. Freedom is a critical foundation of our libraries – freedom of choice, freedom to read, freedom to question and freedom to create. Freedom does not just mean giving information, it is about becoming the resource and allowing our students to become experts and makers of new information. We have the power to change our students’ worlds and to allow them to make our world a better place (this includes making our online world a better place to be).
I don’t know if it is possible for me to reach an ideal web presence. I look at Joyce Valenza’s Libguides and other fantastic online sites or blogs and think those are the ideal web presence, but I do have potential and I try very hard. I am trying to work every day to be on Twitter and be online so that my students know I am always here and our library is always here if they need it or me.
I am in the middle of my library career, but I hope that I can continue to make progress and innovate rather than just remain faithful in being a librarian. I always want to be doing something new online and in the library that will amaze and enlighten our community. I also believe in advocacy, and to that end, I’m always looking for ways to get my administrators to add certified librarians to our district staff. My hope is that the Mexico community will hire 3 new certified librarians to staff our elementary schools when the time comes to hire new people to lead these libraries into the future. I have publicized this need to our administrators at the highest level and I encourage everyone in the state of New York (and nationwide) to look at the staffing of your school libraries to be sure that you have librarians working for you and your children. We need to be radical about fighting for professional librarians and libraries nationwide. This involves daily advocacy and constant reminders to our community that we are here and that we are not going anywhere.
It is quite simple: as a librarian, I need to try to be everywhere I can be including online, do whatever it takes to survive, innovate, progress and help my students become powerful change makers and competent world citizens.
Here is a link to the blog in progress that I have created for my school library. It is called Teen Scene: http://mexlib.wordpress.com/