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Monday Means Advocacy: Where do you hang your hat? March 3, 2014

Posted by Deanna Harris in Advocacy, Learning Standards.
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At my library media learning team a few years ago, we looked at the beliefs that are the cornerstone for the standards in library media programs using the book, Standards for the 21st Century Learner in Action (AASL, 2009).

First, we looked at the nine common beliefs through our own eyes, as library media coordinators. If we had to hang our hat on just one of the beliefs, where would we hang it? What did we see as our focus in our library media programs?

  • Reading is the window to the world.
  • Inquiry provides a framework for learning.
  • Ethical behavior in the use of information must be taught.
  • Technology skills are crucial for future employment needs.
  • Equitable access is a key component for education.
  • The definition of information literacy has become more complex as resources and technologies have changed.
  • The continuing expansion of information demands that all individuals acquire the thinking skills that will enable them to learn on their own.
  • Learning has a social context.
  • School libraries are essential to the development of learning skills.

We were split between two of the beliefs: ‘Reading is a window to the world’ and ‘School libraries are essential to the development of learning skills’. Some of us felt that reading was the main focus of our programs and our work with students while others took a broader approach to seeing themselves and their programs as the place, environment, and access to all. No real surprises there.

But when we looked at the beliefs from other perspectives, we began to see how others view the library media program and how this affects our work. We asked ourselves which belief our principals would hold up as the hallmark for the media program. What would our students say is the most important belief? And what about our parents and PTA? Where would the superintendent or the school board member hang her hat on these common beliefs?

That’s when we realized that we have to consider all perspectives about library media, our influence on others, and the advocacy to promote our entire program. If a teacher views the library media program as a place for reading and that’s it, will they ever begin to incorporate instructional technologies or encourage educational and social networking with their students? If our principal sees our program as the place for students to improve their technology skills, will we ever get a budget to purchase the latest and greatest fiction? If the superintendent is most worried about and focused on ethical behavior in use of information, will he recognize the need for inquiry and critical thinking skills within the framework of learning?

We as librarians know that these are a set of beliefs and one does not necessarily outweigh another. It’s important to understand the perspectives of all our users in order to meet their needs, build influence and advocate for out total program. However, our hat rack may tell a different story if we tend to hang our own hat on only one or two of the beliefs instead of wearing the many different hats of our profession.

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