Later today, I have the opportunity to share a little of what I know about podcasting with Texas librarians. Unfortunately, a conference that’s meant to celebrate librarians’ learning and sharing is playing out against a backdrop of callous disregard for Texas education by the State’s Legislative leaders. And, even worse so than educational technology, librarians are seen as anachronisms, to be weeded out of the State’s and the Nation’s schools.

When you consider the changing media landscape, it’s not impossible to imagine that being a librarian isn’t about tending books, periodicals, and automation systems. Rather, it’s about challenging thinking, molding young minds to become critical thinkers, question-makers, information problem-solvers.

Doug Johnson (Blue Skunk Blog) suggests that teachers, like librarians, should be asking questions like the following:

  • Where did you get your information?
  • How do you know if the information is reliable?
  • Is the information important for others to know?
  • If so, how will you communicate this information?
  • And how will you know you’ve done a good job?

It’s not hard to see the Big6 lurking in the background. Yet, as wonderful as the Big6 is, as often as it is referenced, I seldom see the Big6 used. What causes that? After all, is it the status of libraries and/or librarians unable to encourage teachers to use the Big6 that makes a difference? Or, is it that the Big6 just seems so obvious, albeit formulaic, and unnecessary?

I’m not sure why the Big6 hasn’t been embraced. I’ve played my part in encouraging the Big6 in school districts, both from the inside and outside. Again, only librarians seem interested. The rest quickly move on. And, I’ve seen this reaction even when I’m not the facilitator.

Perhaps, it’s time to embrace different ways of thinking that put aside “information problem-solving,” “media-rich environments,” “technology integration,” and boil it down to the essence of what we learn, for what reasons, how we go about that, who we can learn with across boundaries. What new language, thinking tools can we provide educators who have a different focus than solving information problems a la Big6?

Salt Lake City Public Library – Most Beautiful Library Buildings (See More)

Rather than think of our students becoming content experts, I imagine not that they are content experts but people who can scan content, their environment, and then build a product from materials from a wide range of sources in collaboration with others like them. If I had to wish for libraries, it would be that they not be seen as the buildings where you go to for resources, but as places that enable collaborative learning in virtual spaces. What ideas should be “weeded out” out of our conversation about libraries?

Yesterday, I listened to an executive director of a local foundation share how businesses and parents wanted to donate money to buy books for an urban school district which had underfunded its libraries for years. Will we pursue the investment of precious funding in a cause we can all get behind that’s easy to achieve, or consider new approaches (ebooks, ereaders) that challenge our thinking, that have to be explained multiple times?

With the help of one of our expert genealogists, Kathleen Brandt, we conducted interviews with several important researchers and compiled our findings into a white paper, which you can download below.
White paper link: The Importance of Libraries to Family Historians 

Additionally, we’ve put together a visual graphic representing this pivotal moment for the American library system, taking a look at American attitudes toward libraries and reviewing their financial predicament. We are asking every single librarian, teacher, and concerned citizen to help us spread the message of why libraries are important to the family history community. 

Why are libraries, as they are, important to YOU? And, how SHOULD they be important in the future?

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure