Tuesday, March 7, 2006

More on Philosophy and Paradigm

During the dalmatian-librarian controversy, I have written about two school's of thought pervading Philipipne librarianship today. This was only an observation and I wished to express my opinion via blogging but so far, no one has yet commented. My point is, the plans, decisions and actions that librarians make are dependent on his or her philosophy. This includes the education and life experiences that shaped him or her.

If a school librarian believes that his or her role in the school is confined to library work alone, limiting services and functions to the four walls of the library, school administrators will perceive them as auxiliary personnel and not as collaborators to teachers nor professionals who can make great contributions to the academic program of the school.

When I hear complains and sentiments of school librarians that they are being treated as "second class" citizens in their school community; that they are not getting the support they deserve; that the library is the last priority; I ask them what solutions they've done so far. It is not easy to prove and substantiate the library's worth, but it has to be done. A non-librarian may have the impression that libraries are important in a school and so are the staff and librarians who run programs and services, however, these people are very few.

To change the perception of non-supporters, school librarians need to change philosophy and paradigms if necessary. This is not to say that things learned in library school must be forgotten. What I mean is for school librarians to initiate the change themselves vis-a-vis the evolving environment. There will be mistakes along the way and it will be tough battling one's own demons. It is worth the risk, however, and with careful reflection, study and planning, it might work. What else do I wish to impart? I have five thinking points to consider and mull over.

1. Readiness and Preparation. Do you welcome a change in mind fame? A renewal? A revamping of time tested processes? If you are, you need to prepare yourself - emotionally, psychologically, professionally and POLITICALLY. There are skills that must be learned, relearned and unlearned. Play on your strengths. Find solutions to problems and weaknesses.

2. Support. I mean people, and not just technology. It is an advantage if you are adept at investing on technology and nurturing relationships. I have known a gifted few who can do both. We can learn form their example.

3. Sustainability. How can you keep yourself motivated once you start revving up your school library? How do you keep others motivated? It can be a tiring task, so expect this to happen.

4. Systematize. Look with in the system and outside of it. Network your way and connect with other systems who can help your school library. It is a key to survival.

5. Stay healthy. Smile a lot. Laugh. At your mistakes. On good work accomplished.

Easier said than done? You will never know unless you begin.

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