Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Library School in the time of Valenza

There's a big idea circulating in the library world. I heard it while listening to Dr. Joyce Valenza present at the ECIS library conference and in Seth Godin's post about librarians' changing roles and in Buffy Hamilton's thoughtful response

Today's librarian needs to offer vastly different services than s/he did even five years ago, and future patron information-needs are also likely to take us in new directions. Librarians should be the people to anticipate and serve these changing needs.

Joyce Valenza "teaching" at a lunch break, ECIS 2011

If we believe that a librarian today should be, as Godin suggests, "a producer, concierge, connector, teacher and impresario" (a view in common with what Dr. Valenza presented at the conference) what should our library schools look like?

I went to Simmons College for my MLS from 2002-2006. 
During that time...
No one ever mentioned that a library could be a film studio.
No one knew that pathfinders should include curation tools
No one told me about the powerful benefits of computer games on learning
No one saw twitter is a valuable research tool

Yet, I feel prepared today to discuss all of these ideas with my administrator, prepared to implement these to better serve my young patrons. The toolbox of skills I left with in 2006 prepared me for 2011 and will probably serve me well many years from now.

How did my professors do it? 
Creativity - All assignments were geared toward critical thinking and future-oriented solutions
Access to the best technology possible - Access and systems so good they felt invisible
Patron-centered approach - We never lost sight of the goal to serve our patrons in the best possible way FOR THEM. Always, always, we were encouraged to think with their needs in mind.

After spending three intense days listening to Joyce Valenza share the projects, learning tools, and resource-rich environment she has created at her school library, I see that this is what she's doing for her students. Through her presentation, she modeled the kind of librarians we need to be.

Creative / Accessing the best technology possible / LEARNER-centered 


  1. Sarah,
    It was truly a pleasure to meet you and your ECIS colleagues! Your energy and enthusiasm is inspiring. And I am so glad that your graduate experience prepared you for the growth you needed. I am also greatly flattered by your post. Thank you.

    (And that picture is my very favorite from the conference. It captures the spirit of our learning together. Would you allow me to use it?)

  2. Joyce,
    Thank you for your comment and yes - please feel free to grab the photo!