School librarians are impresarios. We make connections between people and resources within and outside the school community. We listen to students and faculty and offer ways to scale, promote, produce, and sometimes even fund, their ideas. We organize events within and outside the library. We bring together teachers who might not even know each other. We see common threads and connect disciplines.
School librarians are curators. We select and organize material with the specific learning goals of students in mind. We teach others how to be curators too, focusing on how to ethically borrow and collect with the purpose of creating new knowledge.
School librarians are design-thinkers. The skills of human-centered design, rooted in empathy, begin with interviewing, improv, seeing multiple points-of-view, and then brainstorming and prototyping toward real-world solutions and new knowledge. These skills are central to our training and our work as connectors of people and knowledge. The school library, in its role as learning commons, is a center of innovation and creativity.
School librarians are specialists in literacies. We teach how to be critical readers. We teach that reading is fun. We also focus on the “new literacies” in their many forms, including financial, visual, cultural, spatial, scientific, mathematical, political, data, and media literacy. Assessing, comprehending, and interpreting skills are keys to any of these literacies. However, as some scholars have pointed out (1), our purpose is not simply to teach literacies in all these many new forms, but rather to foster the mindset by which to adapt to any new technology. We model how to learn.
1. Leu, D. J., & Zawilinski, L., Castek, J., Banerjee, M., Housand, B. C., Liu, Y., & O’Neil, M. (2007). What is new About the new literacies of online reading comprehension?. Secondary School Literacy: What Research Reveals for Classroom Practice, pg. 43.