Category Archives: Uncategorized

No, makerspaces aren’t just the latest fad

Historically, school libraries have most successfully addressed the needs of students who are good at and/or who enjoy reading. Librarians have introduced generations of children to the pleasures of stories, but have rarely solved problems of illiteracy (or alliteracy).* If our larger purpose is sharing knowledge and enabling users to grow as learners, then incorporating makerspace activities, whether they be coding, 3D printing, electronics, soldering, song-writing, green screen video creation, or origami to name a few, can serve the greater goal of encouraging both students and staff to be lifelong learners who pursue knowledge by making as well as by reading.


Ethnographer, Frances Densmore, recording Blackfoot chief Mountain Chief on a cylinder phonograph for the Bureau of American Ethnology (1916). (Credit to the Library of Congress

Reading is not an end in itself and therefore is not at odds with any non-print literacy activities. One of the purposes of learning to read is to enable one to pursue personal interests and/or personal learning objectives. Another is to improve one’s reading level so that one can speak a common language with those who find entertainment or information in more challenging texts and to become familiar with the literary arts, themes, idioms, and philosophies in various cultures and time periods described therein. In addition, being a good reader may help one to become a better writer and/or communicator. These days, however, we must all learn multiple means of communication through visual and electronic means as well as through the printed word. We are in a time of flux and information is transmitted in multiple mediums. How many of us have watched a YouTube how-to video instead of seeking a page of written instructions? Perhaps one day handwriting and even printed text may become archaic art forms like calligraphy and cave paintings are today.

The elephant in the room, in the middle school where I teach at least, is that many students are such poor readers, they are alliterate: they choose not to read. Reading is so difficult for them, they prefer to say they hate reading. They need reading interventions, which it is not the job of the library to provide. A makerspace activity can motivate a reluctant reader to do functional reading (of instructions), do research to solve problems, and perhaps discover a passion that motivates them to want to read in order to not only pursue their interests, but to get the education they will need for a related career.  This motivation may spur them to do the difficult work of struggling to get meaning from the printed page.  Perhaps if students can begin seeing themselves as creators and not just consumers of information, they may gain a greater appreciation for what others have created and the choices one must make as one shapes and edits one’s creation for sharing with an audience.  Publishing their work to an authentic audience may help learners develop the grit and determination to not give up on themselves and their education. Libraries can be the place where students are asked to be creators: blogging, making PSAs, writing songs, coding games, describing their creative processes, sharing their own “how-to” videos, etc.  Critics are right, however, to caution against valuing making to the exclusion of any writing or reading connections.

All levels of readers (students and adults) can come to see the library as a place of learning through collaboration, experimentation, research, and fun, where reading is a one of several skills one needs to participate more fully. Once the user sees the library as a place to learn through making, a librarian can guide those makers to printed texts that might inspire a passion for being readers as well as makers. The image above reminds me that libraries have collected non-print sources of information and have valued technological means of communication for hundreds of years. Our learners already know that information resides in more places than just in books. We librarians must acknowledge that fact and teach students when books are better sources of information than magazines or websites or podcasts and must make it clear we are learners first and readers second: as a means to learning.

I grew up loving books and hope my students discover the pleasures of reading as I did. At the same time, I don’t want to ignore the fact that some students are not responding to my efforts to entice them to love reading by means of my book talks, read-alouds, or reader advisory services. I hope that by engaging them in other activities, whether they be research projects or making, they may get excited about learning and come to value reading as a means of pursuing their passions.

*The opinions above are my own and are based primarily on my personal experience as a high school english teacher for eight years and a middle school teacher librarian for four. I wholeheartedly agree that librarians can positively impact a desire to read in most students and the data supports that. National studies by Lance and others show that schools with certified librarians show significant increases in writing and reading scores…/school-libraries/impact-studies/ .
For example, NEAP data is positively correlated with school librarian staffing levels as described in this School Library Journal article:

States such as Alaska, Maryland, and Oklahoma, for instance, all of which gained librarians, had average reading scores for all students increase by 1.5 percent—a half a percentage point more than all states (1 percent) and almost three times more than states that lost librarians (0.5 percent).

SLJ110901w_CV_ChartA(Original Import)

At the same time, the average reading scores for poor students in states that gained librarians increased by 2 percent—almost twice as much as the percentage change for that group in all states (1.2 percent) and four times the percent change for states that lost librarians (0.5 percent).

From personal experience, I have seen a big boost in excitement about reading after giving book talks and about the books I recommend in particular. I have also had some success in getting self-professed non-readers to read through reader’s advisory.  I still believe there are other effective ways to engage learners. Something as simple as teaching classes to make “climbing spiders” by following directions in a how-to book by Tammy Enz is an example of “making” to engage students who might never read a book if it wasn’t assigned reading and even then might not read it.

Few studies I’ve seen analyze the content of library instruction to tell the story of which instructional techniques do best. Although no studies I reviewed mention makerspaces directly, I did find one summary of 23 state level “school library impact studies” that gets at some qualitative factors. That report sums up its findings by saying, “Where teachers experience librarians as instructional colleagues and technology integrators, students are more likely to excel academically.” (…/07/MU-LibAdvoBklt2013.pdf)

In a brief about the “Idaho School Library Impact Study–2009,” referenced in the summary article mentioned above, the author says:

In Idaho …, higher test scores tended to be earned by students whose principals felt that their schools did an excellent job of teaching information, communication, and technology (ICT) literacy. In turn, such self-assessments were more likely at schools where principals valued as essential (or at least desirable) several policies and practices associated with fully credentialed librarians:
 Flexibly scheduled access to the library,
 Collaboration between the school librarian and classroom teachers in the design and delivery of instruction,
 Provision of in-service professional development opportunities to teachers by the librarian,
 Appointment of the librarian to key school committees,
 Regular meetings between librarian and principal, and
 Addressing the instructional role of the librarian during teacher hiring interviews.
For further reading, an excellent source of research and statistics about libraries is the Library Research Service:

Infographics & Information Literacy

Infographics rock! Here is a good example of using one in an information literacy lesson, with links to apps for making your own.

It's Academic, Librarian.

Information Literacy InfographicPresenting information, data, or library instruction content, in appealing and innovative formats offers librarians opportunities to engage students and library users in services, resources, and instruction.

An infographic is a visual representation of information, data, or ideas through images. Think visual storytelling.  Mike Smiciklas recently authored “The Power of Infographics: Using Pictures to Communicate and Connect With Your Audiences” reviewing the history of the infographic and guiding readers through design elements, the science of visualization, and many uses of visual storytelling.

I create infographics to present material covered during information literacy sessions. Subject faculty can load the graphic into course management programs (Moodle, BlackBoard) where students can easily access materials pertaining to library instruction and resources.  While infograhics can be printed, they are intended for viewing online where embedded objects and hyperlnks can be opened.

We are bombarded by slick images every minute of everyday.  The aim of an infographic is to…

View original post 175 more words

Taking the long view …

Yesterday I went with my family to visit Mount Vernon. My uncle was visiting from California and, since they live near the estate, my parents wanted to take him there.  They invited me to go along knowing my odd fascination with all-things-George-Washington.  It was a beautiful day to walk the grounds and tour the mansion while imagining what life was like back in the late 1700’s.  (See it for yourself @ Later that evening, at a bar in old town Alexandria, we got to talking about things that have had the greatest impacts on human society since GW’s day: such as television and the internet.  As I think it over, I am stirred by a number of new thoughts.  I am thinking more about how the long view informs my attitude towards modern life (and technology). I’m sharing my musings with you, because lately I’ve fallen in love with Google software: Google Docs in particular, which is a bit frightening to me. Is it good to put all your eggs in a Google basket?

1932 Histomap of Human Civilization:

The Entire History of the World—Really, All of It—Distilled Into a Single Gorgeous Chart.

(Click to enlarge, then use <Ctrl> and <+> or<-> to zoom in or out.)

The pace of change is so sped up today, it is hard to recognize how recent and dramatic these changes are. Since George Washington’s time, we’ve undergone the industrial revolution (think steam engines), the machine age (bringing electricity, automobiles, and radio), the atomic age (adding space exploration, photography, and television), the information age (using computers everywhere), and now the big data age (where Google owns the world!).

My concern is that we humans cannot yet see what will be the impact of these rapid changes.  My uncle is one of the first generations to have grown up with a television in his home and, before we can even learn what television means to human evolution, we have nanotechnologies and biotechnologies, and petabytes, exabytes, and zettabytes of data impacting the world today.  Each of these innovations are revolutionary in their own way. Who knows what is in store for us tomorrow?

The news is abuzz with people imagining drones coming to drop packages from Amazon on specially designed helipads hanging off their apartment windows.  I wonder what’s to stop a network of super small drones from conducting surveillance operations on great swaths of humanity for governmental and/or commercial agencies?  We’ve recently learned that the government has, for all intents and purposes, burrowed a virtual wormhole into the data collected by commercial software companies so they can suck up all the information they want–just in case they might need it later.  The services I get from Google and Amazon are fantastic, don’t get me wrong, but when I say the software is free, I am failing to see the real price I am paying: I’m actually paying in privacy and freedom dollars.

As a teacher librarian, I need to educate students about the long-term implications of socializing and doing their work on the internet.  I also need to show them that the learning products users are creating online, such as class assigned PowerPoints published to the web, are freely available to others, while much of the most reliable information on a subject is locked behind a pay wall.  It is my job, as a media specialist, to help them decide what kind of future they want: perhaps greater open access to all information AND greater control over personal data — or are those things mutually exclusive?

If both television and computers can come into being in the space of my uncle’s lifetime, what might come into being in my grandchildren’s lifetimes?  We are only eight generations past George Washington.  If you measure time in lifetimes instead of 25-year generations, it only takes three and a half to get back to 1776!  In an amazing article that discusses this further, Kevin Kelly states:

“…we can imagine only 13 lives (and perhaps fewer if longevity increases), linking us and the year 3000 AD. Between you and the year 3000 AD stand only 13 lifetimes. In terms of lifetimes — which are steadily increasing due to medical progress — 10 centuries is just next door.

But in technological change terms, 10 centuries is a distant as another galaxy. Consider all the revolutions that have happened in the last century: automobile, the pill, digital communications, jets. Now times it by 10 or 100 more. Landing in the next millennial will be like landing on an alien planet.”  The Technium: 13 Generations

When we say we are equipping students to function in a 21st century world, do we have confidence we are imagining that future clearly?  My take-away from these musings is that teachers need to keep refreshing their technology skills and one of the best ways to do that is let students teach us about the latest software applications and to work together to see how to employ them effectively in the service of education.

I am lucky to have young adult children who keep me informed.  Last year my daughter encouraged me to start using Google Docs (  She explained that it backed up her work constantly without her having to remember to save and that it made her work more portable with its availability from any device with internet access.  She didn’t tell me how useful it and Google Presentation were going to be in my grad school coursework as I teamed up with two or three classmates at a time to plan, compose, and present formal papers and slide shows.  I think Microsoft and Apple have missed the boat in this area.  Google has given the world a tool–for free(?!)–that does much of what Microsoft and Apple charge lots of money to do and it enables me to collaborate and work anywhere, without requiring any hardware hurdles to be surmounted except one: access to the internet.

Sample of collaborative editing using Google Docs.
Sample of collaborative editing using Google Docs.

Just today, my husband had the day off and wanted to take a laptop with him while he ran errands so he could use Word to create an outline for a training manual he is writing for the hospital where he works.  Our daughter had hidden the laptop power cord somewhere so he had to take my iPad.  I showed him how to create a Google Doc that he could work on while waiting at Mr. Tire.  I assured him he could download the document to MS Word format when he got back to his own computer at home or at work.  It occurs to me now, that he ought to invite his collaborators to edit the document in Google Docs before he downloads it to MS Word for final revisions.  I predict he and his colleagues will be using this software regularly in the near future.

Another exciting feature I am only beginning to learn about is Google hangout.  This morning, I saw an eye-opening example of how it can be used in school in an archived recording of an actual hangout conducted by the awesome Joyce Valenza and attended by many other well-known librarians.  Give it a gander: 

This video got me excited to imagine how I might use it at school, and I particularly like the idea of using it as a television broadcasting program.  It was instructive hearing some details on how students didn’t have to have an account to access the broadcast, but could still interact via other means, such as Twitter.  One could conduct a class and record it, then post it online for absent students or for viewing as a refresher.  One educator is using it to conduct club meetings online at a time that works better for the members and doesn’t require transportation (unless the student doesn’t have internet access).  I do worry, though, that this type of tool further blurs the separation between work and home life.

I read somewhere that our recent change to a sedentary lifestyle is out of step with human evolution.  Our bodies can’t evolve fast enough to adapt to the loss of regular daily stresses to our muscular-skeletal structures, which are so necessary for good health. [This article addresses the increased likelihood of osteoporosis as a result:]. This is just one more example of the unforseen consequences of rapid changes in technology.  Consider the raging debates over the merits of the Common Core Standards, PARCC tests, and teacher evaluations.  On the one hand, much of what I’ve learned about the Common Core seems educationally sound and is, frankly, quite exciting. On the other hand, for the same reasons I hesitate to use Google for everything (not wanting them to have a monopoly, for one), I hesitate to blindly embrace all the changes to education coming down the pike.  Do your own investigations to see what I mean.  Here are two places to start: first a video created by the Pearson Foundation in favor of educational reform

and second, a website making a case for mistrusting the Pearson Foundation as one in which conflicts of interest and possible corruption charges could be made:  Boycott Pearson Now | United Opt Out National: the movement to end corporate education reform

When we educators talk about preparing our students for the 21st century, one thing we must do is try to stay updated on the latest technological advances that will make students more valuable in the workplace. 21st century learners also need to embrace the rapid pace of change and learn to adapt and retool more and more frequently.  However, as critical thinkers, students also need to examine the choices they make today for their possible impacts on the future, for themselves and the grandchildren they will have someday.

See for an article on historical eras.

Related articles


What’s in a Name?

By Leslie Everitt

Navigation Central, Pilot House, Collaboration Hub? Do any of those sound like names for a library? How about Idea Store?

Thoughts–stirred up by a chain of libraries and adult learning centers called “Idea Stores” in the East End of London–have been haunting me all month. Appropriate imagery for October: the ghost of libraries future keeping me up at night.

When I heard the name “Idea Store” and saw some of the very modern buildings housing them, I was inspired to imagine a high school library with an exciting new name and a beautiful interior design to help the school community to view it in a new light. And no, “Media Center” is not the kind of name that will do the job. But what name would? And what do the names “library” or “media center” lack, exactly, that leaves me feeling so discontented?

When I think of a library, I think of the library of my youth: an organized storehouse of books, a model which is not sufficient to encompass all the roles of a modern library. But when I hear the words “media center,” they bring to my mind the image of technological equipment–computers and projectors mainly–made accessible in a central location. Media also means the medium of the message, but the strongest connotation of that word for me is a concrete one: disks, films, books, tapes, etc. At least the term “library” hearkens back to the concept of a librarian–a service provider and resource in human form, which “media center” does not.

The moniker “Idea Store” is an improvement due to its focus on what libraries and media centers can give us: ideas. Its other strength is it begs to be compared to a store in the mall with all the entertainment, excitement, and socializing that might imply, to go along with the fun of browsing for something new to take home. However, the word “store” still feels a bit archaic when one considers what the libraries of the future must and will become.

From my studies in the iSchool at UMD, it is becoming apparent to me that school libraries need to become collaboration laboratories (there’s an idea for a name), where patrons don’t passively take in ideas, but, working with others, they actually help construct and organize ideas, whether in real time and real space, or virtually and asynchronously, or some other combination. The Idea Store is a perfect name for the facilities in London in their dual roles as public library and, perhaps more importantly, community center. However, school and academic libraries are, first and foremost, about scholarship, hence the need for learning to construct knowledge.

The American Association of School Librarians puts it this way: “Learning is enhanced by opportunities to share and learn with others. Students need to develop skills in sharing knowledge and learning with others, both in face-to-face situations and through technology.” School libraries need to prepare the citizens of the country to develop “crucial skills” in multiple literacies, including “digital, visual, textual, and technological” literacy. It is the job of academic libraries to adhere to AASL standards such as teaching students how to apply “critical- thinking skills (analysis, synthesis, evaluation, organization) to information and knowledge in order to construct new understandings, draw conclusions, and create new knowledge” (AASL, 2007). Without those skills, students won’t be able to pilot themselves through an ever more complex sea of information without getting lost, wandering aimlessly, or drowning.

As a grad school student, I have experienced this first hand. My classmates and I used various technologies to co-create a presentation for class. We each researched the internet for software applications to help with teaching writing, dividing the topic and collaborating to combine our findings in a Google Docs document and slideshow. It was fun and encouraging to build the documents with simultaneous editing. I was typing in my section of the document while watching my partners words appear magically on the screen in their sections. I was able to use instant chat to make plans to meet or to ask my partner for clarity on the assignment. We were able to post comments on each other’s sections with suggestions for edits. We could also revise each other’s work, if desired.

I am learning these skills in grad school. Public school students (as early as Pre-K) are learning them in all their classes, but especially in library class or projects co-taught by librarians and classroom teachers.

Navigation Central, Pilot House, Collaboration Hub … how about Knowledge Building Center? What words can offer the literal or metaphorical captioning for a place that delivers services, objects, equipment, education, connectivity, space, community, entertainment, and so much more? I like the word “hub,” for its ability to conjure images of a place where connections are made. For that matter, I like the word “connections,” since so much of library services are connecting people with resources. Oooh, how about “Resource Hub”? “Connection Center”? “Idea Hub”?

I don’t have the perfect name yet, but I know that when I get my first school library job, I will campaign heavily to update and improve the library’s image. Why? Not because I don’t love libraries; I do. My earliest memories of the school library are of awe and delight from when I was finally deemed old enough (in third grade) to choose books for myself. I know: third grade! That’s crazy, right? I doubt libraries in the U.S. have age restrictions today, but the point is, my earliest memories of libraries are all good. Back then, I felt an almost physical sense of blossoming due to having so much choice and the freedom to indulge my interests, whatever I might discover them to be. (Maybe a good library name is “Freedom Center”?) But today, libraries are doing a job that is also being done by tons of telecommunication devices: giving people access to stories, images, and information. Libraries have competition.

The public needs to be taught the value of libraries in the face of this competition. As vast as is the store of resources on the internet or cable TV, there are a lot more resources still blocked by a payment wall. And even the very vastness of our information society is now becoming a problem for seekers of knowledge. According to the AASL,

“The continuing expansion of information demands that all individuals acquire the thinking skills that will enable them to learn on their own.
The amount of information available to our learners necessitates that each individual acquire the skills to select, evaluate, and use information appropriately and effectively” (2007).

But do information seekers even know they need help? Research has shown that researchers often overestimate their abilities to locate reliable resources. Out of necessity—due to lack of time, or underestimating the time needed, people are satisfied by the first hits they get when using search engines. This is called, in information science parlance, “satisficing.” Satisficing is

“… an information competency whereby individuals assess how much information is good enough to satisfy their information need. Scholars from different fields have drawn on the satisficing concept to reflect on the ‘contrast between choosing what is satisfactory and choosing what is best.'” (Byron, 2004, as cited in Prabha, Connaway, Olszewski, and Jenkins, 2007, p. 2)

Libraries should be the one place people can rely on for help locating reliable information or at least learn of alternatives to satisficing.

Search engine providers are fast becoming not only the arbiters of knowledge, but the gatekeepers as well. How many people still don’t have access to the internet? How many people know how Google (or any other browser) have written their algorithms to rank the sites that will rise to the top of the results page? Who died and made Google king? Oh yeah, I forgot. Libraries died.

Of course, I exaggerate. Libraries aren’t dead … yet. Libraries are more necessary than ever to provide equal access to digital assets, to pay for content that one person could not afford on her own, and to employ librarians to teach users how to find information that is buried online, and to help users judge whether that information is reliable.

That’s why I like a library name with something having the sense of providing guidance, like “navigation” or “piloting.” A library is a place where a professional helps the patron navigate the information highway, helps them ask the right questions, teaches them how to “steer” themselves, and “launches” them on the path to independence.

Exploratorium? Infolab? What is the name that would communicate to potential patrons that the library is the place to begin to master the modern universe? Aaah, I know: Superhero Hub. And wouldn’t you know it? There is such a concept:

If you have the perfect name for the library of tomorrow, please share it in a comment below.


American Association of School Librarians (2007). “AASL Learning Standards.” American Library Association. Retrieved Oct. 24, 2013, from

Cengage. “Librarian superheroes.” [Cartoon image]. Retrieved October 23, 2013 from

Confessions of a design geek (2011, July 24). “out and about :: london’s libraries.” [Photograph of an Idea Store]. Retrieved October 21, 2013, from Read more about Idea Stores at [Image on Website]. Retrieved Oct. 27, 2013, from

Prabha, C., Connaway, L. S., Olszewski, L., and Jenkins, L. R. 2007. “What is enough? Satisficing information needs.” Journal of Documentation, 63(1), 74-89. Pre-print retrieved October 27, 2013, from archive/2007/prabha-satisficing.pdf.

Trapped in Complexity

By Leslie Everitt

WWGD (What Would George Do?)

If George Washington somehow hitched a ride in the Tardis and got out in my backyard in the year 2013, he would have be amazed at many things, not least of all coming inside to hear the classical music issuing from the little, glowing tablet with metallic buttons in a tray that I hold on my lap. In his lifetime, the only way to hear classical music would be to listen to a live performance of it. I’m sure he would love to learn how to use such a device and might even be willing to put more time into learning how to get his favorite pieces to play using the Slacker Radio™ app than I am willing to do. However, I expect he would soon feel overwhelmed by all the technological advances surrounding him in my home: dishwasher, telephone, flashlight, refrigerator, vacuum cleaner, lawn mower, car, blender, coffeemaker, electricity, batteries … let’s not even talk about the TV programs coming to me via FIOS and the resources on the World Wide Web.

Heck, I feel overwhelmed quite often, such as when I am browsing the web and start to feel how impossible it is for me to appreciate all there is to enjoy and use in the time I have available. How about our students? When we give them research assignments to do and they look for resources on the web, it can seem as if that information is getting buried under more and more new sites as the web grows larger every minute. Of course, many students aren’t discriminating enough to feel the elusiveness of the hunt and are easily satisfied by the first hit they make in their attempt to search. Perhaps those students are simply trying to avoid feeling overwhelmed.

The Whirlwind of the Web

As a former 10th grade English teacher with a demanding agenda and state-wide tests at year’s end, I didn’t often make time to deal with my students’ feelings. Sometimes I treated my 10th grade Honors students as if they were college students, and, while there were some students who rose to that level of expectation and did quite well, others need more scaffolding. After I become a school librarian that is one area where I want to improve. As I discover what a vast store of free electronic–and often interactive–learning resources are available online (much of it free of charge), I am struck with the idea that each time I suggest or assign the use of one resource, I ought to seek out alternative sites that are easier and/or more fun to use. Students can self-select the level that is right for them and teachers can help by labeling each link as best for beginner, proficient, or advanced students.

Helping students get better at negotiating current technology is imbedded in many of the NETS for Teachers standards, as in #3: “Modeling Digital Age Work and Learning”; particularly #3b: “Collaborate with students, peers, parents, and community members using digital tools and resources to support student success and innovation.” Helping students get better at locating reliable sources by providing fun and instructive software tools is also part of NETS standard #2c: “Customize and personalize learning activities to address students’ diverse learning styles, working strategies, and abilities using digital tools and resources” (International Society for Technology in Education, 2008). It will take work to meet such high standards.

Or, is the Web a Whirlpool?

George Washington might look at some of the ways we spend our time and suggest we use more productive, simpler methods of accomplishing our aims, since he would see that we seem to be wasting our time. If George was watching me, I would feel even guiltier about the time I spend online than I do now. When I start to read blogs and tweets and I follow the links to learn more about new (and admittedly exciting) content, I feel like I am being sucked into a time-eating vortex. However, as we play with technology and learn its ins and outs, we can uncover tools to help us do miraculous things that would make old George quite envious. He might wish he could bring some of our technological advances back with him, when he returns to the 1700’s in the Tardis.

However, it would be impossible for him to do so because we live in an age of far more intense specialization than was true three hundred years ago. As stated in an article written by Dr. Bush, the head of R&D in the US during WWII, “Had a Pharaoh been given detailed and explicit designs of an automobile, and had he understood them completely, it would have taxed the resources of his kingdom to have fashioned the thousands of parts for a single car, and that car would have broken down on the first trip to Giza” (Bush, 1945, p. 3). So it would be with George Washington. Even to create the electric toothbrush, which I imagine he would covet, he would need the work of so many specialists to create all the components that it might take his whole lifetime to build this one item (made of plastic, using a battery). And who needs the headache? Due to the slowness of communicating new knowledge in George’s era, I doubt he ever felt as overwhelmed by the advances of science, technology, and information access as we do. People may be tempted to sit back and let others discover what new technologies are worth employing, but to avoid exploring new innovations will keep us from being vibrant professionals who excite and motivate student learning or help recharge the batteries of our colleagues. So, the take-away message is surfing the web is good (up to a point—the point when moss starts growing on your shoes).

Librarians to the Rescue

The Bush article, even though it was written sixty years ago, speaks of the complexity of the modern age and suggests that modern man is forced to specialize, since no one can hope to know everything in her field these days, much less in the entire world. The problem is that, in spite (or because) of this level of specialization, we are still ignorant of much of the work of other specialists and they cannot all be aware of ours. Who can hope to use even half of the vast stores of knowledge that are growing larger each day? What good is knowledge if it is inaccessible? How can we hope to tell our fellow humans about the conclusions we have made and spare them the struggles we endured? How can we be sure our conclusions are sound and that we took into account all the relevant information already in publication?

This is why librarians will always be valuable–as long as they come up with some answers to these questions. However, if librarians, being information specialists, are as lost as everyone else, what is it they can do that can’t be done by a lesser paid, less educated individual or by a computer system?

Rallying the Troops

When I was reading Gwyneth Jones’ blog, The Daring Librarian (, I was awash with ideas for how I might follow Jones’ example and collaborate with teachers to create new programs such as a school TV program. The next thing I knew hours had passed due to my following links on her blog to create an avatar, googling clever new names in order to come up with a “brand” for my blog space, and fantasizing about winning even a fraction of the awards on her page (!) (sounds a bit egotistical, but I imagine students will benefit from having a teacher who competes and innovates). This time might be called wasted or, and I prefer this view, it could be called learning. The authors of Meaningful Learning with Technology argue that “flexible thinking is as necessary for teachers as it is for their students in today’s shifting times. Emerging and rapidly changing technologies demand individuals who are prepared to experiment, adopt, or discard technology tools as they appear, evolve, become successfully entrenched, or fall by the wayside” (Howland, 2012, p. 21). Sometimes sitting “by the wayside” looks far more comfortable than being stuck in traffic on the information highway, but when that traffic jam breaks up and we start speeding away, the wind in our faces wakes us up and tells us we are living a life of adventure. This educational adventure may lead to places we’ve only dreamed of going before, if we convey that excitement to our students and take them with us on our journey.

Come to think of it, George might be so excited by the revolutionary (heh, get it?) advances in the 21st century, that he might choke down his horror over the pollution, consumerism, and other flaws of the information age and actually ask to stay here to be part of the amazing changes that we are experiencing every day. However, the only way he would he enjoy the miracles without feeling distraught by the literal and metaphorical enormity of the world today would be through the help of a trusty guide: a librarian perhaps? Chaaaaarge!



Bush, V. (1945, July 01). As we may think. The Atlantic. Web. Retrieved Oct. 03, 2013, from

Heyimcarlk (Taylor) on DeviantArt (2012). George Washington lightsaber. George Washington Lightsaber. Deviant Art. Web. Retrieved Oct. 06, 2013 from

Howland, J. L.; Jonassen, D. H.; Marra, R. M. (2011-03-14). Meaningful learning with technology (4th Edition). Pearson. Kindle Edition.

International Society for Technology in Education. (2008). Nets-t standards. Retrieved from

Zir (2009, Jan. 20). Current TARDIS seen at BBC TV Centre and taken by me Zir. Digital image. TARDIS1.jpg. Wikipedia. Web. Retrieved Oct. 5, 2013 from

%d bloggers like this: