Once More with Feeling – Stephen Abram

Stephen Abram is a well known librarian who regularly makes submissions to the MultiMedia & Internet@Schools journal. Visiting his blog makes me ask, what is Sirsi and should I be concerned about the connection here between big business and public education. I expect Sirsi and open source software do not go hand in hand. It is interesting to me that I find it frightening to say something tht may be construed as negative about an article written by a man that works for a corporation. I thought I was just cautious about references to my own work and my own school board – which I try to say very little about if possible unless it is positive. So much for free speech! That said, I was singularly disappointed with the article due to its sub-title “What Does Information Literacy Look Like in the Google World?”. The article should have been subtitled “Getting the most from your Public Library Partnership”. The article hardly mentions Google at all. Why give headline importance to something that is not the focus?

One other difficulty is the business-model language used for describe the school library setting. “…these guidelines are incredibly valuable in focusing our attention on what deliverables (my emphasis) we want to see in our partnerships between teachers and school libraries…” I’m all for coordinating our efforts and having some common goals but “deliverables” bothers me. We aren’t producing military equipment which is what I think of when I hear ‘deliverables’.

Once you get past the inappropriate title, the recommendations are positive. It is important to link the school library and the public library. One of the key goals in school library programming according to the Canadian Association of School Libraries is to support the development of lifelong learners; meeting this goal means helping students become aware of the public library resources and how to use them. By all means let’s make sure our students have library cards and know how to get the materials they need from this terrific public institution.

This is a place where teacher librarians and public librarians need to be careful of turf protection. In Saskatoon, we have a terrific public library and excellent programming for teachers and students is provided. I don’t know how well we promote the use of the public library resources within our classrooms. I know as a classroom teacher, the main factor which inhibited my using the resources more fully was the cost of taking the bus to visit the library. One of the best things that the city and our school divisions could do would be to arrange for bulk passes for classrooms to take public transit. This would do several things for students, it would open up their world to the use of public transportation – no small thing in light of global warming, it would teach students how to get to their nearest library from their home neighbourhood and it would make students aware of the resources they can access at the public library. What an opportunity for lifelong learning. If I could take my students to the public library for less than $75 a trip, I would go more than once a year.


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