I am not a qualified teacher librarian yet. I have not yet worked in a school library except in a voluntary capacity. So I know that some of the resources I am going to discover as a result of doing this course, although new and wonderful to me, may be old hat for currently practising TLs. Then again, maybe my discoveries will help those more practised TLs to rediscover something too.
I have just been introduced to SCIS (Schools Catalogue Information Service) after discussing my studies with the TL at my son’s primary school (thanks Bec!). In browsing the latest couple of issues of the SCIS newsletter Connections, I have already discovered two articles that piqued my interest.
The first article, in the current issue, describes the benefits to both the students and to the library of a Gamers Club set up in the library of a middle school in Vermont USA. I am both the wife of a 40 year old confirmed gamer and the mother of an 11 year old who, like nearly every boy of the same age, is rather obsessed with Xbox, PSP, NDS and other acronyms. (I must confess that I also could quite easily while away many of my study hours on some of their games, and I’m nearly as avid a watcher of ABC TV’s Good Game as are the males in my house.) From a teaching viewpoint, I’ve been impressed in the improvement in my son’s reading ability, partially due to his interest in games, as well as his burgeoning interest in history (brought on by games like Age of Empires) and the sense of rhythm he is developing from playing Beatles Rock Band. So to read about a successful (and funded) after-school program in a school library that includes gaming is quite inspiring. I only wish I was in already in a TL position in such a school so that I could explore the possibilities further.
The second article, from issue 71, by UK children’s author and screenwriter Frank Cottrell Boyce, bemoans the renaming of the school libraries in his area as “Learning Resource Centres”. Boyce says, “’Learning Resource’ is a lovely phrase if you want to describe a paperclip perhaps, a stapler, a photocopier, or Google Earth. A book, however, should be something a bit more special than that. The distilled essence of a human soul, perhaps. Or a box of fun.” And he goes on to point out that, perhaps more importantly for schools, “every single kid in [my daughter’s] school, almost without exception, has access to computers (better computers) at home. Almost none of the other children in her school has access to books in any meaningful way at home.”
These two articles sum up why I want to be a teacher librarian.
Firstly because I love books. I love the feel of them in my hand, the ease with which they slip into my bag, the comfort they give as I lose myself in the other worlds, both real and imagined, between their pages. I love to share my book experiences with my child, my student, my family, friends and colleagues. And I love to see children developing that same love of books, the same joy of discovery of facts and fantasy.
But I also love the digital world. I feel similarly about my MacBook Pro as Frank Cottrell Boyce says he feels about his Mac Air for which he harbours “feelings little short of erotic”. I love the instant portal my computer gives me to a world of information, the almost instantaneous connection I now have with family, former colleagues and friends (some of whom I haven’t seen since high school back in the ‘80s) and the way I can quickly find answers to questions I have (like “What movies are on tonight at the local cinema?) As a teacher, I love the excitement that “going on the computer” generates in my primary students and the huge ranges of teaching and learning resources that are now available to me in my teaching, many of which were inaccessible when I started teaching 15 years ago.
My dream school library is one in which a love of books and literature is married with the awesome educational possibilities of the digital world. That’s the sort of school library I want to work in. That’s the sort of school library I want to foster.
That’s why I want to be a teacher librarian.