Monday, October 20, 2008

We Are More Than Just Customer Service Agents.....We Are Information Missionaries!

Virtual library? Yeah, sure, I'm going to put myself out of work!
Never. I'll admit, there used to be a time when I had a limited view of librarians. I thought that their job descriptions were limited to certain tasks:
* Checking out books
* Checking in books
* Library volume control, "Shuuuush!"
* Customer service agent (aisle one for cookbooks, aisle 14 for Canadian History)
* Book "doctors"
* Collections agent (you have $1.70 in late fees)

Sure, an online library would diminish the need for this type of librarian, but not all of us are THIS type of librarian (many of us actually!!!). Further more, if one digs deeper into the realm that is the Virtual Library, one would find (where did that third person come from??) that a talented and creative librarian can create a hybrid library were a virtual library would extend the reach of the librarian into the homes of all their students (and beyond!). Virtual libraries are being called a "second door" into your library. In Virtual Library: E-ssential, Carol Grantham states, "If one of the roles of the teacher librarian is to organise and provide access to information then this should not be confined to the physical collection."
A virtual library can be a repository for online books and articles, meant to be searched and accessed or it can be an interactive experience engaging the student beyond the classroom walls.

What would I want in a Virtual Library? Well, I did some exploration online and found some amazing Virtual Libraries that I think epitomize the idea that Librarians are Information Missionaries! Here are the features that I found to be of most use in a virtual library:
* searchable database of the "physical" library's catalog
* links to research tools and tips
* interactive activities (such as read alouds and book talks)
* independent inquiry opportunities
* professional resources that extend the library community to the whole school
* virtual display case for student work
* leading students to sources of information that they may not have found on their own "A virtual library offers curriculum support for students and teachers by providing access to quality online resources that complement the library’s print resources."
* pull down menus that allow students to access specific information without crowding the website
* section to recommend and/or discuss books

Benefits of Virtual Libraries
* You will be meeting the needs of a new generation of learners who live, play, and seek out information in this venue.
* You will be able to reach more students outside of library hours.

OK so, if you hadn't guessed already, I am sold on the idea of virtual libraries BUT only if the Virtual Library is going to represent my library and acts as a hybrid virtual library that will work to enhance the work I already do and extend the scope and practice of my fight for information literacy! The teacher-librarian is the perfect person to build and maintain a virtual library, the teacher-librarian has the following that makes them an invaluable resource:
* knowledge of user's needs
* knowledge of the curriculum
* established relationships with the students and teachers at the school
* knowledge of web 2.0 tools that will enhance user's experience
Improving the way we connect to our students and colleagues will NEVER render us useless, in fact, the more we demonstrate our flexibility as educators, the more valuable we become.
Just a few of the wonderful Virtual Libraries that I've Come Across:
* Grandview Library (my favourite!!)
* Birch Lane
* Barbara Bush Virtual Library (I know, I know, but it's good!)
* John Newberry Elementary

1 comment:

Joanne de Groot said...

Thanks, April...I'm glad you have been convinced about the value of virtual school libraries! What do you think your next step(s) will be? Do you have a school library website from which to work or will you have to start from scratch if you decide to create your own VSL? What kinds of support do you have available to you? What kinds of support do you think you will need?