Built-in Alternative

There’s always an alternative

Why I love being the school Librarian

Like the disneyfied Tigger from Winnie the Pooh, I can claim that “I’m the only one”. I know that in fancy private schools there might be more than one and in public schools poorer than mine there might be none. In MY school though, I’m it and I get to define what it is.

Building relationships around information, that is my operating definition for my role as a school librarian. In my view education’s main role is to provide students with a way to understand and use information. The school librarian provides the connections.

There are no grades or assessments in my library. This might not be true in every school library because distant technocrats always want to push their agendas. Some of their accountability/control policies leak but I’ve guarded against those intrusions. Measuring people’s intelligence or mental growth seems like a fool’s errand to me. If anyone wants to interact with the library it is completely on their terms, let them be the measure of themselves.

The library promotes the idea of free inquiry, meaning there is no compulsion or system of domination in the library. Yes, you do “have” to return the books but we’re lenient. Most people want to return their books just so they can get new ones.

Remember, libraries are about information not just books. Books carry lots of information but there are many other information platforms and libraries deal with all of them. This creates a sense of freedom for me because there are so many options. I only have to follow directions when I’m tasked specifically by someone in order to connect them to the information they want, which I always find fascinating. I indulge in other people’s intellectual pleasures as a sort of sampling tour.

Technology has transformed information science. Being in the library is like being in a whirlpool of emerging technological systems that are all vying for relevance. Librarians are both early adopters and early critics of technology. The new Prometheus deals with the usefulness and the danger of this new fire in our world.

Librarians are the epitome of the quide on the side, the quiet subversive and the curator of alternatives.

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I'm a school librarian in Seattle who wants to take the corporate created standardized test away and give students books instead. Nothing would be better than to bring real progressive education to public school.

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