Posted by: bluesyemre | October 25, 2016

Will #Librarians be the overseers of the #InformationAge?


Julie Todaro, President of the American Library Association, ALA and Eleni Miltsakaki, founder and CEO of Choosito! sat down with Rod Berger to discuss the role of librarians in today’s schools. Contrary to the widely held notion that the role of the librarian is shrinking, both Todaro and Miltsakaki make strong arguments for the increased importance of librarians as overseers of an endless stream of Internet data. Todaro and Miltsakaki agree that students, more than ever, need the guidance of librarians in their educational lives.2

Rod Berger: Well, Julie, I want to talk with you about the concept that we live in a world where students of all ages have the notion, “I can do it on my own.” Independence. I even see it in my home with my three-year-old son who always tells me, “Dad, I can do it on my own. I want to do it on my own.”

The Internet and technology, with regards to libraries, is fascinating to me with that idea of “independence” at the foundation or the premise. I’m wondering about your thoughts on how you look at it or how the American Library Association looks at it. How do we provide support for librarians in a space in a world where students now have the power through technology to do so much on their own? When I was growing up, the library was one of the main resources. I saw the librarian as a resource and help. I know that they still are. I am curious as to how you look at that and how you provide support not only for the librarians but also for the students in that type of exchange.

Julie Todaro: That’s a good question. For many years, we’ve heard people say things like what you said, “They can do it on their own.” Or similar statements, such as, “Everything on the Internet is for free, and it’s there.” One of the statements that I made very early on was, “The Internet is a mile wide and an inch deep.”2 There are, as we all know, billions of sources, and I would carry out your question a little further and say not just children do it on their own, but we also expect adults to do things on their own, as well.

The reality is that there should be an ever-continuing exchange of discussion and interaction, not only between software, if we can say it in that way, but also with adults, teachers, and librarians, to assist people in an ongoing way and help navigate. It’s not only finding the right tool to use, which they’re not probably going to do on their own, but it’s also finding out how that tool best works in an environment, and then the language that goes into that tool. Once they find the content, they can make decisions between and among the resources.

Those are the four elements that schoolteachers, librarians, and academics deal with all the time, and they’re never-ending. Yes, we can teach people tools, which cut our work down by about 25% – although I will tell you, tools are constant, and they’re constantly being refined. So we can absolutely teach people how to make choices among tools, and we can teach people in general the kinds of languages that are behind some of the tools and then teach them skills to go with that. But sharing with them ways to choose from among things that will reduce or narrow that pipeline of discovery is an ongoing process1. We are constantly looking for resources that allow us to do that and our roles and responsibilities in that.

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