“The Library As Indicator Species: Evolution, or Extinction” from Char Booth

Presentation given at the University of Connecticut Libraries Fall Forum, October 2011; be sure to check out Char’s wonderful and thought-provoking blog post that is a companion piece to her slidedeck.

From ACRL 2011: The Librarian as Situated Educator and Embedded Librarianship

I am sick I am not at ACRL 2011, but here are two fabulous presentations I enjoyed vicariously today through Twitter.  The first, “Instructional Literacy and Participation in Communities of Practice”, is from one of my favorite colleagues, Char Booth; the second, “On the Front Lines: New Opportunities for Embedded Librarianship”, is from a new favorite, Lynda Kellam.  Follow the tweets of wisdom from the conference with the hashtag #acrl2011!  The ACRL 2013 conference is now officially on my “must attend” list as is the addition of this division to my ALA membership so that I can become more involved with a group who share my passion for teaching and learning.

Instructional Leadership + Instructional Literacy=Librarian

For the last month, I’ve been quietly self-reflecting on the Media 21 experience, probably the highlight of my career both as a school librarian and as a classroom teacher as of right now (I expect 2010-11 will be be an even grander adventure!).   I’ve also done some “think aloud” reflection (both face to face and virtually) with colleagues Elisabeth Abarbanel, Michelle Fromme, Wendy Drexler, Diane Cordell, and Laura Deisley.

As a veteran high school English teacher (who even taught two English classes four nights a week for three years and 10th grade English in our district’s summer school for three years during the first three years of opening The Unquiet Library), I always found it easy to embrace the role of “teacher” as a school librarian; the value of the school librarian as teacher was also a focal point of my training at the University of Georgia and modeled by Dr. Mary Ann Fitzgerald, among others.    In fact, the focus on teaching and learning quickly became a hallmark of my library program; it was not unusual for visitors to ask my principal, “Where is the librarian?” and mistake me for a classroom teacher as I facilitated a lesson.

The role I played as teacher, though, in Media 21, has been far different from any other teaching experience I’ve had in my six years as a librarian (starting year 19 in K-12 education in August).  The depth, the investment of time, the level of collaboration, the relationship I was able to develop with the students through daily interaction–quite honestly, it reminded me of team teaching in my classroom teacher days. Some days I found it very hard to separate the five major roles of the school librarian because they often seem to overlap.   Most days, though, I relished being an a teacher and leader through the library program in my school.  Many librarians(school, academic, public) inspire my work, but Wendy Drexler, Michael Wesch, Howard Rheingold, Henry Jenkins, Laura Deisley, and David Lankes have been and continue to be the cornerstones of the evolution in my teaching philosophy over the last eighteen months.

A new voice I first heard at Internet Librarian and Internet at Schools West last fall and have been exploring more in the last month is that of Char Booth.    She is a fount of wisdom on many fronts, but her materials on Reflective Teaching, Effective Learning are practically shouting in my ear right now as I am in the throes of serious planning for the next round of Media 21, which I hope to expand and position myself as an “embedded librarian” with a group of teachers for 2010-11 (more on that coming soon).

Although I consider myself a veteran teacher,  I think Char’s work speaks to where I am at right now as an instructional specialist and gives me a framework for honing my practice in 2010-11.  I learned and grew so much this last year, but there is so much to still learn, which I find incredibly exciting.   In thinking about instructional literacy and rethinking what it means to be an educator in my current position as a school librarian and what that looks like in the educational ecosystem, I think this increasing reconceptualization of myself as an embedded educator in my building will influence some of the conferences I choose to attend and present at in 2011, but that is another post for down the road.  For now, I  encourage you to check out these resources as you think about the teaching you will be doing in your own library program in 2010-11.

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