When a word means something very different
Some words in the English language have two very different meanings—for instance, the word compromise. One person may use the word by its first definition to reach an agreement or meeting in the middle. However, another person might immediately think of the second definition. This definition communicates that someone has settled for something of lesser value or compromised their principles.
Collaboration is one such word that school and academic librarians have used in one way that may be misinterpreted. The essential meaning of collaboration in the Merriam-Webster dictionary is “to work with another person or group in order to achieve or do something.” However, if you consult the Oxford Reference Dictionary, the same word means “Traitorous cooperation with an enemy.”
Is collaboration the right word?
I never thought I might be on such a different page until the initial responses from a recent faculty collaboration survey came back with a solid “no” we do not want the library or librarian’s help. Not yes, or even maybe, which was a possibility, but no. Did the faculty use the Oxford dictionary and think I was asking if they wanted to cooperate with the enemy? As more survey results come in, I am hopeful that we will get the opportunity to work with faculty in the coming year.
Unfortunately, I believe teachers are hesitant to collaborate with school librarians. This apprehension is because they have lost so much classroom instruction time due to the pandemic. They do not have time to figure out how librarians fit into the equation. This reluctance leaves school librarians with considerable responsibility. We must research how, in 2022, we can help the teachers teach without encroaching on limited instruction time!
Suppose you search Google for “how a school librarian can help you,” there are more results than one could read. The current climate and the time crunch may call for quite different techniques.
Instead of asking for classroom or planning time, perhaps we can become a digital resource for a teacher. Many academic libraries have begun focusing on the user experience. This type of shift may require an extensive overhaul of our school library website. It may also find us outside our comfort zone to make video tutorials that teachers can use on-demand.
Here are some articles that may help with new ideas for “collaboration.”
- 5 ways school librarians can support teachers and students amid reopenings [Focus on SEL]
- The School Librarian: Your Ultimate Digital Resource [Focus on Digital]
- Evaluating and Improving the School Library User Experience [Focus on the User Experience]
Author: Hannah Byrd Little
Hello, I am the Library Director at The Webb School of Bell Buckle. I use my past experience in college and university libraries to help my current students in school libraries transition into college, career, and life. I am currently the lead Senior Class Adviser for the Capstone Project. I also served at the state level with the Tennessee Association of School Librarians executive board from 2009-2013 and was the TASL president in 2012. I am certified as a Library Information Specialist for PreK-12th grade, have a BS in Communications with a concentration in Advertising and Public Relations, a BS in Liberal Studies with a concentration in Education and Information Systems and a Masters in Library and Information Science.