Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Reading for librarians & advocates: interview with Gail Bush

In a great articulation of the timeless yet evolving value of libraries -- particularly public libraries -- jobber BWi has a worthwhile interview with Dr. Gail Bush on their blog. Dr. Bush is a professor in the reading and language department, director of the school library program, and director of the Center for Teaching through Children’s Books at National–Louis University in Skokie, Illinois. She is also a public library trustee for the Evanston Public Library.

Among her points:

  • "The library, at its very core, is the cultural institution of the community. It has a unique role, which is why it is a universal in cultures with written traditions. The stewardship of the human records in that society in which the community dwells is one aspect of the role, the other, perhaps more authentic role for the library user, is the role in the enculturation [of] the next generation."

  • "...the library is a reflection of its community at a moment in time. Each library tells its own story. This is who we are, we bring with us who we have been, and we strive to serve who we might be. Libraries, like their users, are in a constant state of becoming."

  • "Entering a library on any given day is like standing in a river with the waters flowing around you. As you enter the library, it is your identity that becomes the driving force. How might that library serve your needs? Who are you today? Who are you in the process of becoming?"

  • "On my desk sits a tiny publication that packs a wallop. It is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights ... it is Article 19 that I see as a beacon for librarianship, “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

  • "We stand on the frontlines of ... democratic ideals, we are the community agency that welcomes you in as you are and helps you to become who you might be, which, in our country, is limited only by your own vision and determination."

  • "We need to stay true to our vision. We do not have the luxury to allow ‘our current situation’ to limit our thinking, contain our potential, or impair transformation of our communities."

  • "...quality literature and critical thinking require guided discovery. Conversation is key; it is in dialogue that we best serve our young charges and in fact, that we gain self-knowledge.

  • Keep the community close so that you hear from supporters and detractors. Stay aware of other community agencies and align your goals to best serve your constituents.

  • "Traditionally we help learners find answers to their questions. Now we are obliged to help them question the answers."

  • "In a nutshell, libraries and technology have been interwoven since the days of Alexandria. And since change is our constant, what better fit for the advances of emerging technologies to find a home at your community library. As we move closer to the semantic web, we need to stay vigilante that personalized information services do not limit the perspective of our learners."

  • "Librarians need to be open to the universe... We need to mine our inner resources, to continue that novice perspective of learning something so new and different in order to keep the needs of the learner fresh in our minds."
There's a bunch more, worth reading for librarians and library supporters.

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