People Get Ready


David Lee King has written another thought-provoking and insightful post about changes in our culture and society that he feels will impact the way we do “business” as libraries.    In the first part of his article, King outlines changes in our economy and society that reflect a fundamental shift.   He points out that the majority of materials we house in libraries are undergoing a significant transformation or going away altogether (print magazines and newspapers, the rise of digital books and readers, the advent of subscription services for music and videos).  He poses this question to his fellow librarians:

How are you starting to re-think your services and libraries?

While this post is geared toward a public library audience, I can’t help but wonder how we as school librarians might answer this question?  Are we paying attention to the change that is happening right now?  Are we thinking about how these changes will impact the way school libraries function in the short and long term future?  Are we thinking about how our school libraries will need to adapt as these profound changes occur?  Should we have already been thinking about these things?    How does this affect you as an elementary, middle/junior high, or high school teacher-librarian?

Are we open to change and the possibilities it brings?  I have a poster in my office that looks something like this:


Are we willing to surrender what we are for what we could become?  Are school libraries on the cusp of a sea-change?  For me, the question is not “if” we will adapt, but “how” will we adapt?  How can we use this opportunity to tap into these changes to position information literacy as a mainstream literacy that is taught by all educators, not just the school library media specialist?

These questions weigh heavy on my mind tonight.  Please take some time to read King’s post and share your thoughts.   Shift has happened, continues to happen, and will keep happening—will we stand still, or will we shift too?

Library Catalogs of the Future?

This week has been an exhilarating and exhausting experience–Ruth, my partner in library adventures, and I have been part of our district’s three day training for Follett Destiny Library Manager 7.5.  We are absolutely thrilled🙂 with the new circulation software our district has purchased for all of us—our new web-based circulation software provides our patrons access to the catalog at home, and it is loaded with many powerful features to help us better manage our collection and catalog.  We were fortunate to be trained by a former media specialist, Ann Shaver!   I love that our students can now browse our catalog from home, plus our district purchased a “state standards” search feature/enhancment that is fabulous—this is a tool that will help us with collection development AND help us demonstrate how our collection/library supports instruction and student achievement.

As I was both basking in the glory of and recovering from our training and first live day with Destiny in my comfy big chair here at home, I happened upon this thought-provoking article by Chris Harris at School Library Journal called “A New Word for Catalog.”  Harris first tries to unpack the term “catalog” and then raises this provocative question:

What if we could turn the library catalog into a library portal? Stop acting as a pass-through and become an experience! One of my favorite catalogs to look through comes from Williams-Sonoma. In addition to the surrogate records for their products, they provide an enhanced experience that includes recipes that show you how to use the products. An experience is probably best defined here as being a destination. You don’t just go to the catalog as a pass-through listing of surrogates, but you linger for original content as well. In fact, you may return even after acquiring the “real thing” to make further use of the original content. has created this through reviews, favorites lists, and “you might also like” suggestions. Returning to the Amazon catalog has a purpose and a meaning.

I was just saying to Ruth today how cool it would be if an OPAC could make book suggestions to students in the same vein as Amazon!  What do you librarians think about this concept?  I feel that Destiny is as cutting edge as it gets in terms of current school library OPACs, but do you think that something along the lines of what Harris envisions is a real possibility in five to ten years?  Do you think that this type of OPAC could have a significant impact in how our students use our libraries?  Does anyone know if Follett has something like this in the “development” works for the future?