Virginia Walter (2001) suggests that there are many things that Teacher Librarians (TL) are very good at but we fall short when it comes to reflecting on what we do and why, and it is this that serves us best when creating libraries for children now and in the future.

This semester “ETL503 -Resourcing the Curriculum”, has changed that – it required me to identify my strengths and weaknesses in collection development. Coming from a classroom teacher position into the TL field has placed me well for linking teaching and learning to resources. However, the proliferation of online curation tools now available can be confusing for the beginner (check out my post on Pinterest). Thankfully, I think I’ve got a good system now where my Pinterest Boards tie in with Selection, Acquisition, Purchasing and accessioning workflows. I do worry that using this type of tool “in the cloud” leaves me vulnerable to loss of data if it is ever removed.

Johnson (2010) reminds us that the loss of oral stories in Plato’s time has parallels to what is happening with technology at the moment.  For my part, I am excited by what is now available for the learners in my school and how global education trends are making the world a much smaller place. But there are issues with this. The increasing demands of the digital world are forcing our hands in some ways and cutting them off in others. The challenge in trying to provide resources in formats that our users want (and we want to be able to provide) is a complex issue (see “Give me quality over quantity any day”). It’s a bit like chaos theory – whilst Digital Rights Management concerns restrict our access to e-book and audio books, the world finds another way. The changes afoot are moving more towards freely available, open source digital products and how we, as TL’s select, acquire and catalogue these will impact significantly on workflows. Watch this space.

T-Rex
Chaos theory was mentioned in Jurassic Park as an explanation for how the dinosaurs ‘found a way’ to reproduce outside of the laboratory.

Whilst our computer systems and databases are struggling to keep up with cataloguing these new types of resources, the rate of change with the processes involved in identification, selection and acquisition of resources, is also struggling.

With digital resources, identification has become quite complex and time-consuming. Comparing books, e-books, audio books, apps and learning objects for specific teaching and learning purposes far exceeds the administration time available. However, the balance here is in acquisition, which is immediate and requires no stamping, barcoding or covering.

Similarly, we are continually being asked to do more with less in terms of money (see “Show me the money!“) We have to be a collaborator, a steward and a thinker (Lamb and Johnson, 2007). This applies across all aspects of the TL role – we collaborate with others to identify and select appropriate resources, take their suggestions and follow-up ideas (steward), and we think about how everything is connected, take opportunities for joint projects, and use hard data to evaluate our programs and the collection, then make compelling cases for more funding.

The nature of the school library collection is changing. We must change with it by making sound professional decisions and basing them on clear Policies that are derived from user data, library trends and community needs.

 

References

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