Friday, August 4, 2006

Librarians can challenge the Admnistration

I owe it to my readers (though few and selected) to tell them more about last July's NCBD, however, management and administrative matters drive me away from polishing the article. So, before you start thinking where I've been the past few days, I asure you that I'm still blogging and I'm still sane. Allow me to veer a little far away from NCBD to share with you a white paper, also known as a position paper I wrote on the issue of centralizing the library's AV services (and programs) with the Information Technology Services.

One of my "idols" in the field of school librarianship once said that, "librarians must be capable of challenging the administration." In general, it is a battle not many would want to participate in because, it is a political warfare and tremendous skills in communictaion, psychology, knowledge of work culture, political manuevering and management is requried to pull a win. I do not know what the outcome of this white paper will be for me and my department. Of course, we can always predict and envision what will be and what could've been done. But, as the great Gandalf the White had said to Frodo, "We are given only little time in this Middle Earth. We do as much as we can in the time given to us."

Here is the position paper in full.

There are two ways of looking at how school libraries function in a school community. School libraries can be treated as an auxillary/ancillary department servicing students’ needs; and two, it can be seen as an instructional department involved in the academic and formative education of the students. In Xavier School, the Grade School Learning Resource Center subscribes to the second school of thought as reflected in its departmental VMG and MAFs (Competence, Community and Culture).

…is a multifaceted information center that supports the school’s educational program.

…aims to create an environment that provides the necessary tools needed for growth & development of students & teachers.

…foresee students & teachers as “knowledge navigators” who
 Are responsible users of information
 Give respect to the rights of his/her fellowmen
 Have a genuine love for reading & literature, humanities & the arts
 Have high regard for one’s heritage (Chinese-Filipino)

The LRC Staff, particularly the librarians, are partners of teachers and administrators in forming men for others. Through synergy and collaboration, they are committed to helping students become competent users of information, technology and learning resources. Therefore, the primary client of the LRC is the students, but, it is one with the faculty’s objective to instruct and facilitate learning among them. That is why it has defined its roles and functions to continuously build a learning community in Xavier Grade School.

Roles & Functions of the GS LRC
 Work in cooperation with teachers & administrators to acquire & organize a wide variety of learning resources to support and enrich the curriculum, taking into consideration the varied interests, abilities and maturity levels of the students served;

 Provide materials and an information rich environment which will stimulate intellectual growth and promote personal enrichment and development;

 Provide technology skills training for faculty and staff to enable the integration of technology into instruction;

 Equip students with information literacy skills needed for independent research and critical judgment.

 Develop plans to integrate the best of traditional medium and possibilities of new technology;

 Provide a caring environment wherein students develop self-esteem, independence and the virtue of honesty;

 Promote reading and life long learning.

From these philosophy, VMG, and roles, it can be said that the GS LRC functions as an integral part of the educational process. This relevant function is enunciated in the UNESCO/IFLA School Library Manifesto. The manifesto was made in 2003 as guide for school libraries from developed and developing countries with the aim that, in affluent or indigent countries, school libraries may be empowered to reach global standards for optimum learning of the community that they serve.

The GS LRC AV Services
The AV Services of the GS LRC provides the GS community with the following:
a. Reservation – the LRC accepts reservation of learning resources, AV rooms, IT Labs, equipment needed for instruction.
b. Circulation – the LRC circulates learning resources and equipment to faculty and staff.
c. Documentation – the LRC documents relevant school activities with prior requests. The LRC provides off-campus video and photo coverage related to school activities.
d. Reproduction/Conversion/Recording – the LRC reproduces materials and upgrades learning resources exclusively for classroom use.

The selection, acquisition, development and organization of AV materials, learning resources and equipment are incorporated in the Collection Development Program of the GS LRC.

At first glance, the services provided by the LRC’s AV section appear as non-academic. They are, however, embedded with instructional and academic functions. A library staff facilitates the mechanical and clerical tasks concerned with reservation, circulation, documentation and simple editing services of the AV Section. The librarian who holds both licenses for teaching and librarianship, and who has, a faculty status, lends and renders professional and technical work required of the job. Specifically, the librarian assigned in the AV:

 Offers counsel and recommendations to teachers on their use of AV rooms, IT labs and equipment for instruction when problems and concerns arise;

 Team teaches with teachers in the grade level through identifying and defining learning materials (audio, video, kits, manipulatives, computer software, diorama, realia, online and electronic resources) that can be used for instruction so that learning goals and objectives can be achieved;

 Evaluates the system and operations of the AV section;

 Assess the learning resources, the technology and the equipment that was selected, acquired and currently being maintained and developed in the area.

Therefore, the AV services of the GS LRC perform the management of educational and instructional technologies. This is an attribution to the academic and instructional role of the GS LRC.

Centralization of AV Services

While centralization affords maximization of resources and equipment, it diminishes the academic and instructional roles of the GS LRC. Should this happen, it shall be a big loss to the school because its library that functions as an integral part of its educational process shall be reduced to a semi-auxillary/ancillary department. It is not the way to global learning as the school hopes its students to be global learners.

The GS LRC is a place where students’ learning experiences are extended beyond the four walls of the classroom. It is a learning laboratory where librarians and teachers stand on equal ground to plan and implement instruction using a variety of rich learning resources, facilities, equipment and technology.

With this conviction, the GS LRC can still help in the maximization of resources and manpower by:

 Being the bridge between the ITS and the GS Faculty and Staff – the LRC can collaborate with ITS to study and formulate training modules on the use of technology for instruction. Libraries are known for their USER EDUCATION services and the GS LRC has existing User Education programs for its faculty and staff.

Orientation and training on use of technology in the classroom and for instruction lessens maintenance problems, promotes a more intelligent use of technology and equipment, and fosters magis and cura personalis in the community.

 Continued collaboration and articulation with ITS – the LRC recognizes the importance of integration and synergy. There are services and functions that the LRC can do, but the ITS could not and vice versa. The community can benefit from the services that the LRC and ITS offer through coordination and better communication.

The views and philosophy in this paper may run opposite from the mandate of the school administration on centralization of AV Services, but it presents reasonable grounds and positive suggestions on the issue. Should the possibilities of centralization push through, the GS LRC will respect the decision, will stay true and loyal to the school’s VMG and will continue to function as an academic department at par with global standards.

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