Recently Carolyn Foote, a friend who is honestly a friend in the virtual sense, as I only know her from Twitter, blogging, webcasts, and Ustream forums, has challenged my thinking about the library. She works in a large public suburban high school in Austin, Texas (Westlake High School). She is in the process of packing up her entire library book by book for a renovation project. Earlier this week she was informed that the renovation could take as long as a year. My comment to Carolyn was “Wow, you will be a virtual librarian in every sense of the word.”
As I reflect on my joking quip, I realize it is true. Will her job end until the renovation is done? Will she have anything to do while the renovation happens? How can a staff member with no physical “home” in the building continue to work and serve the school without any books or tables, a checkout counter, or a reference section, especially in a high school?
I know the answer to my questions. Carolyn will be in need and in high demand right through the whole project. She will probably work harder than any other staff member in the entire building, as she strives to provide the same level of service and instruction as before when there were the typical tables, chairs, books, and more. How?
Just as I jokingly called her a “virtual” librarian, she will become just that. Research projects will be just as effectively completed as they were before. She will continue to teach information literacy and using online resources effectively. Students will have access to necessary resources. Book talks and author visits will continue to happen, even if she has to use Skype. You see, Carolyn is a 21st century teacher librarian, who has adopted and uses instructional technology to “complete” the job. She uses the tools to compliment instruction, and I would wager she is so good at this already, this vehicle called web 2.0 will drive her services until she can park her self back in a physical space called a library. Carolyn already uses wikis, blogs, and more to supplement instruction. She is using Skype to pull in authors for literature appreciation and book analysis. And students as well as teachers know she can assist in just about any kind of project she is challenged with. Carolyn Foote is a 21st Century Librarian, and I am so glad to know her, at least in the virtual sense.
Be sure to wish her luck as she tackles the project of library renovation. I know the end result will be a 21st Century Library to compliment her, the student body, faculty & staff, and community. I am looking forward to a face to face meeting with you in San Antonio this summer at Iste’s NECC.
Carolyn’s Blog Not So Distant Future
Carolyn’s Wiki Web 2.0 in Education
PS–my 17yo is looking at Austin, TX for college.