We Seem To Have Forgotten That Librarians Are Teachers, Too

We Seem To Have Forgotten That Librarians Are Teachers, Too.

Oh, You Think You Know How to Search the Internet, Do You?

“From Denise Howell's unofficial transcript of the recent conference with luminaries such as the founders of Google (Larry Page and Sergey Brin), we get this statement from Larry Page:

Page: 'I've been waiting for them to start teaching searching, alongside spelling, in school.'

I agree that we should teach searching in schools, and it wouldn't have to be limited to Google.  It hasn't taken my kids much prodding to grasp the concept that they can find things quickly with the computer.  Then again, maybe the problem with teaching Internet searching is that there aren't enough teachers who would know how to 'teach' this; perhaps the process doesn't lend itself to 'formal education' because the target is moving too quickly.

But I can tell you that if my kids didn't know how to search the Internet, I'd be worried.  It's a basic skill along with reading, writing and calculating.” [Ernie the Attorney]

I think we're all worried about this, but here's the thing. Librarians do this really well. If you're old enough, you learned how to search information from the librarians at your school and your local public library, and this knowledge was enhanced when you reached university. So, Mr. Page, librarians have been teaching this for-like-ever. Why aren't you and others working more closely with librarians to teach searching? You don't want a lawyer teaching you about medicine, so why are we “waiting” for non-librarians to teach searching to our kids (or adults, for that matter)?

Why are we so quick to de-value and lay off school librarians? And why are we then surprised when students go through school using only Google to find information? In California, they pretty much don't have school librarians anymore, and we're so blind that it's the dominant trend nationwide. And yet, we librarians have this whole thing we do called “bibliographic instruction.” We take classes in it, write books about it, do studies to improve it, and practice it for anyone who walks through the door.

I guess that's the rub – you have to take advantage of it, even if it's a “virtual” walk through the door. How many of you are using the more in-depth, better indexed, full-text databases your library provides for you free of charge?

You were forced to walk through the door in school, but what happens when we've gutted our libraries to the point that there is no one there to teach you about information and the optimal retrieval thereof? You do the math.  [The Shifted Librarian]

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