Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Mice or Lions?

We are constantly being told that the library is the heart of the school, the key to learning, good qualified librarians are vital to the progress and advancement of the educational vision of the country, but who is saying this? Is it just the polemic of closeted librarians sitting in their echo chamber repeating the same thing over and over again to their own audience with a few celebrities and authors waxing lyrical about the joy of reading and their fond memories of libraries as a source of inspiration. So why isn’t the message getting through to the schools and colleges who seem to be hell bent on chipping away at the priceless resource that they possess. Undermining their own foundation and leaving a hollow space. If we want an outstanding label for our institution, don’t we need an outstanding library?
There seems to be little awareness of what an incredible resource the library represents. How we can support independent learning, improve engagement, improve attainment, provide a safe place, boost literacy.  
We have huge resources in terms of print and online resources and staff with the skills to assist with the use of these resources.
 There is a gulf between the library and the chalk face. How can we bridge this gulf?

Partly I think it is a failure of communication and librarians are probably not completely innocent in this. There is a tendency to hide away in our libraries, not necessarily connecting with teaching staff or management staff if we can possibly avoid it. We are a strange hybrid, the students see us as staff, the staff see us as technicians who stamp books. We might see ourselves as the custodians of knowledge and the facilitators of research, but that is not the image we present to the world. Self-promotion does not come easy to us, but it is something we need to learn. Especially if we are to protect the precious asset of the school library from the eroding tides of cost cutting and rationalization. Librarians are not naturally charismatic, we don’t stand out, if anything we prefer to hide, like library mice. (I know there are exceptions to this, I am really talking about myself here). But what is needed in this current environment is not mice, but lions! 

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