As librarians, we are evangelists for our students, our teachers, our families, and how we all interact with the world. At the opening keynote of the 2017 AASL National Conference, we were reminded of our importance in the lives of our library members by Google Education Evangelist Jaime Casap. In addition to his role at Google, Casap focuses his time on education, innovation, and equity.
Jaime reminded us why we gather at events like national education conferences. Education disrupts poverty. We gather because we believe in the power of education to give opportunities to our students. Sometimes we forget the impact that we have on students and how it can go on for generations. As librarians, how do we remind ourselves about this on a daily basis, so that we take advantage of every moment we have with our students?
Jaime also invited us to consider how education is not broken. We need to consider how the world is changing and how we can take the best parts of education and take it to the next level. If we collaborate as librarians, we are bringing together all of our school communities to think beyond the boxes of education.
As librarians, we are talking a lot about future ready librarianship, but Jaime encouraged us to realize that the future is here. There are computer science careers open all over the country and a gap of people to fill them. Our libraries can be a driving force in offering students opportunities in computer science both in our libraries and in collaboration with classroom teachers.
When Jaime asked the audience who had NOT used the internet today, no one raised their hands. It reminded us that we are constantly connected and we expect to have the internet at our fingertips. If we have those expectations as adults, why do we ask our students to disconnect when they come into school? We can be advocates and models of access for all of our library members.
Shifting Our Thinking
In today’s world, jobs are shifting. Jaime gave us the example of grocery stores where a person scans all of your items and another person bags them. We are already seeing a shift to self checkout and apps that allow you to check out without a person. Grocery stores are shifting this position so that the workers are more helpful to shoppers. Instead of holding onto parts of our libraries that are no longer serving our library members’ needs, we need to think about how we can shift our roles to get ourselves more involved with our students, teachers, and families.
Jaime posed that we talk about how much we love collaboration in education, but we don’t really mean it. How are we taking advantage of the wealth of digital tools available to us to support collaboration among our students to be digital leaders and creators? Librarians are a key in teaching these skills and laying the foundation for digital leadership and collaboration to happen.
We have an opportunity over the next few days in Phoenix to network, share our truths, collect the wisdom of one another, and plan for how we all move forward in our libraries and schools across the country. Let’s not let that time go to waste. What problems do we want to solve together with our library members? What new questions do we need to ask? Thank you Jaime Casap for giving us a great focus for our next three days together.