My suggestion is that
it creates an even more serious problem in attempting to develop
the professionals who are the key elements in determining whether
a library in a school is an educational function or a place of
In the New Zealand
context there seems to be some "creative tension" between the
view of the professional in the school library as a catalyst of
this educational function, and that of a manager of the school
library and its resources.
These are two perfectly
valid roles, and both, no doubt, necessary, complementary and
certainly not mutually exclusive if the library is to fulfil its
potential in the school. However, what we need to do is stand
back from the destructive and divisive stereotypical association
which cling to the labels 'teacher' and 'librarian', and look
beyond the library, beyond the school, to the community and social
context in which the
We believe that knowledge,
understanding, appreciation and skills in the critical and discerning
use of information in its different forms are fundamental to a
democratic society as well as to effective functioning in an information
world. A much greater emphasis however needs to be placed on developing
an analytical posture toward ideas and the capability of critically
evaluating information from different perspectives. It is also
important for students to develop an interest and positive attitude
toward the vehicles that express ideas if a lifelong positive
relationship with ideas and information is to be achieved. The
independence of mind that comes with a personal, free and independent
interaction with ideas also kindles the kinds of appreciations
and understandings that permit the enjoyment of the subtleties
of life and the aesthetic aspects of our world (p.14).
We also need to consider
the perspective from which we are
roles and library functions. Is it a service perspective or a
Librarianship is notorious
for its reluctance to abandon its traditional allegiance to the
management of resources and information, the service perspective
being superimposed by the provision of reference services and
in largely futile attempts at 'user education'.
Teaching is equally
notorious for its reluctance to accept that education is not the
transfer of "facts" from the knowledgeable to the ignorant, but
two-way communication as part of becoming informed.
the need to develop a user perspective.
It is critical at
this time to have a clear and comprehensive concept of how school
library media programs blend into this scene. The abstract and
ambiguous conceptions of the past will not be sufficient. The
conception of the function and services of a school library media
program that will be used in this discussion was developed by
the writer over a period of years as a critical part of the development
of a systematic planning and evaluation process for school library
media programs (Liesener, 1976). It was discovered early in this
work that the conceptualizations and definitions of school library
media programs were very inadequate when it came to trying to
apply more systematic and rigorous approaches to the planning
and evaluation of programs. In order to be able to analyze programs
more carefully it was necessary to develop a more comprehensive
and cohesive definition. This approach attempts to define from
a user's perspective the function and services of school library
media programs as comprehensively as possible. This definition
is used to illustrate the role of the school library media program
in developing the kinds of learners required in our striving for
Looking at the users
of school libraries, there are two distinct groups: Students and
teaching staff. Again Liesener' summary is excellent; presented
in the context of the conclusions of the A nation at risk report
The so-called information
revolution, driven by rapid advances in communications and computer
technology, is profoundly affecting American education. It is
changing the nature of what needs to be learned, who needs to
learn it, who will provide it, and how it will be provided and
paid for. Liesener says:
The knowledge and
skills required to survive and succeed in the technologically
and stress-oriented society and world we presently live in are
quite different from those required in less complex times. The
development of higher level thinking skills is clearly not achieved
by concentrating on a rather limited view of basic skills and
on drill and practice. Both teaching and testing have to concentrate
on higher level skills as well as on the more basic skills...
These kinds of skills are not developed and nourished in a passive
lecture/recitation mode. The active and constant opportunity for
the application and practice of these skills in an information
rich environment with knowledgeable and accessible assistance
is a necessity for success (p.12).
The next challenge
highlighted by Liesener seems to relate to all libraries and information
professionals, not just school libraries and professionals. He
says "The challenge to teach higher order cognitive and problem-solving
skills more effectively cannot be responded to succcssfully with
a naive view of information use and users"
This is crucial to
the question of "who is the professional in the school library?"
Does our view of the role reflect the traditional organized-room-of-books
image of the school library or do we see the role in relation
to the information world and the need for users to gain adequate
information handling and analysis skills?
An overly simplistic
view of the information world and information use has dictated
our past approaches to the provision of library and information
services and the teaching of information seeking skills.... Simply
'preaching' the wonders and benefits of using libraries in the
traditional manner and exhorting users to reform when nothing
in the last twenty-five years gives us any encouragement that
they can or will seems to be a futile and nonproductive exercise
Summed up, all this
translates into several concerns and issues key to the planning
of the education of the information professional in the school:
We need a user perspective.
Users are not just school library users, but information users
(adult teacher /child student) in an information society.
A naive and simplistic
view of information and the cognitive skills and strategies need
to access and use (analyse, synthesise, interpret, communicate)
information in all forms and formats cannot suffice today.
are not diluted, simplified forms of 'real' libraries, public
libraries. The needs of the school community are different from,
but no less complex, specialist and challenging than the needs
of a postgraduate university community. The professionals concerned
with information and the school have an obligation beyond the
management of the school library and its resources, and this area
of 'obligation beyond' clearly relates to the "development of
higher level thinking skills" relating to "the learning of information
seeking and utilization skills" - what I call information literacy.
these skills is one thing. This has been done well, and frequently
Showing how these
skills can be developed and supported by the educational functioning
of the school library is far from clear and documentation is scanty.
"How I does it good"
testimonies generally emanate from America in the guise of books
titled "Implementing the school library media program" and the
like, but analysis reveals an overwhelming emphasis on the contents
of the program, not the implementation in other than the most
limited managerial sense. Research in the area is, likewise scanty.
There is very little documentation of failure, of problems, of
ongoing struggles in the form of case studies except in the battleground
of censorship. What we have are numerous tomes on the role of
the school library media specialist which paint a daunting picture
of this multi-legged, multi-armed wonder (Wo)man as curriculum
planner, and consultant, information manager, information consultant,
counsellor, reading and literature promoter, provider of an individualized
reference and reader guidance services for some fifty teachers
and 500-1000 students, provider of an SDI and current awareness
service for the academic staff, teacher of so-called bibliographic
education programmes, I.T. expert, producer of teaching resources,
storyteller, curriculum and literature expert, resource reviewer
and filter for all curriculum-related resources, and not least
colleague, chum and bundle of enthusiasm etc.
Spare me! Look instead
that the realistic studies - some 20 in the last decade - emanating
from or supported by the British Library. Chaning some of the
negatives into positives is a real, and more realistic, challenge
for our new course (4).
Canadian Ken Haycock,
is adamant that "The school resource centre serves quite a different
function from other types of libraries, because of an emphasis
on teaching young people to process and use information" (5).
The English 'LISC
Report', School Libraries: the foundations of the curriculum (1)
defined the school librarian as "a teacher whose subject is learning
Taking New Zealand
today, the sweeping changes in school syllabus and curriculum,
and the implications for styles of teaching and learning,the curriculum
must drive the service. Liesener emphasises this curriculum dimension:
Unless there is a
curriculum need there is no point in considering resources or
organisation. We believe that the educational system needs to
focus on the central curriculum issues and that these will demonstrate
the need for libraries. Then, but only then, can criteria for
resourcing and models for staffing and organisation be developed
has been placed in many cases on the lower level information locating
skills; significant improvement is needed in order to develop
the strategies and processes necessary to focus more attention
on the higher level intellectual skills. A continuing serious
problem is the difficulty of integrating the instruction and application
of information seeking and utilization skills into the various
instructional areas. (p.15).
This emphasises the
clear need to place the educational horse firmly in front of the
management cart by emphasising the needs for the learner to be
able to handle (select, analyse, synthesize, reject, interpret)
information effectively, not just locate it and retrieve it.
As librarians we have
to learn that libraries in schools exist to create information
need, not just to serve it.
As teachers we have
to shift perspective from teaching to learning.
our job is to support teachers' teaching, but, even more challengingly,
to support learners' learning, not just with resources, but with
help (collaborative, team and individualized teaching) to ensure
that resource selection and resource use is effective.
The emphasis in our
course design and content reflects this
- on information acquisition, analysis, selection, rejection,
packaging and communication; on "new thinking and new strategics
for teaching and learning" in areas related to curriculum, curriculum
change, information and resources.
At the heart of this
emphasis is the learner, a human being who needs to become confident
and independent in using information.
Education in New Zealand
is undergoing rapid change. The recent curriculum review, and
recent syllabus change in areas related, to health studies, peace
studies, economics, agriculture, just to mention a few, have profound
implications, not just for what resources are provided, but for
the changes in teaching and learning styles they imply and anticipate.
Teachers themselves are daunted by the change of
emphasis from teaching
to facilitating learning.
Spearheading a future
direction has never been comfortable. In a small country like
New Zealand the need is even greater for all professionals to
accept challenge and change without being threatened, to look
forwards, not backwards, and to state a professional perspective
based in scholarship, research and evidence - the tools of our
trade as librarians and teachers.
I believe New Zealand
will, likewise, pay a heavy penalty for ignoring the urgent need
for INFORMATION SPECIALISTS, not school library managers, who
can spearhead New Zealand's future as an information society.
A grandiose aim for the Teacher-Librarian? Maybe, but the children
in our schools today will be the adults of tomorrow determining
New Zealand's future in a world where information is the new currency
Meanwhile, I have
been sickened by the volume of the hate mail I have received from
fellow librarians. Yes, I have even received a death threat! I
have been vilified in the pages of the NZLA broadsheet by one
of our most senior librarians for bringing nothing to the task
but enthusiasm! For the record, I have postgraduate qualifications
in education and librarianship, and have years of experience in
public and school libraries. In New Zealand I have worked for
School Library Service for five years and undertaken research.
I have also lectured in teacher-librarianship in West Australia
for a year. This year provided a useful example of poor teacher-librarianship
education, but I met, in West Australia, some of the most dynamic
and forward-thinking librarians and teacher-librarians I have
ever met. So I have both good and bad examples, and I hope to
build these into a training programme which will meet New Zealand's
Commission on Excellence in Education. U.S. Department of Education.
A Nation at Risk: The imperative for Educational Reform. Washington,
D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, April 1983.
James 'Learning at risk: school library media programs in an
information world. School Library Media Quarterly, Fall 1985,
Ken: Teacher-librarians - continuing to build. Canadian Library
Journal ,42 (l) February 1985, pp 27-33.
from Anne Jones, Senior Librarian, Crofton School. Library Association
Record, 88 (1) January 1986, p13.
Ken: Ten issues in school librarianship. In Kids and Libraries:
Selections from Emergency Librarian. Vancouver: Dyad Services,
1984 p. 37.
Assistant Librarian. January 1985, p.1.
Ann: Study and information skills across the curriculum. London:
Heinemann Educational, 1985
Eric and GARDNER, Keith (eds) The effective use of reading.
London: Heinemann Educational, 19'79
Colin and SWATRIDGE, Colin: Study sixteen. London: Oliver &
M. (ed.) Information skills in the secondary school curriculum.
London: Methuen, 1981. (Schools CouncilCurriculum Bulletin No.