Lighting the library touchpaper

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Ok, so this is a big one. How do you introduce something that you know is challenging the way people go about things in a profession. Something that tries to move people on in their roles, that tries to get them thinking in a different way. But something that you believe passionately in and that you know will make a big difference to a profession.

Well hopefully this is the beginning of that as today I start to light the school library touchpaper. Spurred on by things such as the millennium problems and more recently EduResearch, I’ve been thinking long and hard about the key questions in school libraries today. The real big big issues. What are they, what do they mean and more importantly how do we go about answering them. Surely for us to make any kind of difference these are the things we need to be discussing, to be talking about and trying to uncover a way to move forward.

Sure, publicity about school libraries and librarians is great but what actually does that achieve? Does it give us anything, do anything for us? The answer to that is most likely no, not really anything of any substance at least, nothing that’s going to be long lasting. PR is great but it’s only ever going to be short term, when the dust settles on an article or a report we’re straight back in the same place we’ve always been. When all the talking is finished that’s all it really is, words. Words won’t change anything, but people will.

So what’s really going to make a difference is us. If we take things into our own hands, if we provide the substance that’s going to have an impact and change things then we can really do something special. And I don’t mean run a one off event that might look good but again gives no real substance or meaning to anything. I don’t even mean an event that lasts longer than a one off I mean fundamentally changing something or producing something that changes the fabric of our roles.
So I’m setting a challenge. A challenge that’s going to get school librarians all thinking about the big issues, and not just thinking about them, but coming up with a solution. A solution that’s going to give us that substance that words and PR can’t. Substance that’s going to change everything for the better and that’s going to be long term.

That is the challenge and that is the purpose behind the library touchpaper conundrums.

The conundrums are the ‘problems’ I feel most evident in school libraries that must be answered to go someway towards showing the benefit of a school library and librarian. To me there’s no point lobbying for statutory school libraries when you can’t show the tangible benefit of having one in every school. Do this first and then there’s more chance you’ll win you’re argument.

Last week I let two of these questions into the open at our Herts CPD LibMeet. The session itself was fantastic with lots of people participating on the great things they are doing in their schools. So it was a perfect opportunity for me to get people thinking about the big issues.

To give you a flavour of what the questions are I’ve put two below. I’ll be releasing all the questions over time with the promise of producing something special to gain some outcomes, because that’s the reason behind this, to come up with some real defined answers as to how we can move on, improve and progress.

So watch this space as that small flame starts to burn brighter in all of us. Before long we’ll have a roaring fire burning that’s going to make such a difference nothing will stop us.

Question 4.
What is the shortest period of time needed to improve a students reading age by 1 year?

Question 5.
What organisation of physical resources produces the most effective learning outcome?

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