For the Love of Librarians: Appreciating their Transformative Work

Written by Carol McGimpsey

As libraries metamorphosize all over the continent, Learning Bird launched a new page for libraries just in time for National Library Week. This year’s theme of National Library Week—Libraries Transform—fits perfectly with Learning Bird’s dedication to helping young people digitally navigate their own path through the rapidly changing patterns of learning.

With our engaging, contemporary digital lessons that cover subject areas in grades 6-12, all aligned to curricula, textbooks, and topics and vetted by experienced teachers, our unique model offers a crucial opportunity for the digital generation to learn the way they do best. Students can move to a new lesson in concert with how information is commonly disseminated rather than just hoping that the older, outdated model of pedagogy will return to our classrooms and libraries. Learning Bird is committed to bringing the personalized and community conscious efforts of the local library to the digital age, helping to improve grade scores, increasing knowledge and helping provide a spark to the unique educational demands that every learning community has.

I was (and am) a library person but not as an object of nostalgia. I have read extensively about all the different ways libraries transform, and I think an interesting concept that helps to define the challenges of today is one called “makerspaces”. Makerspaces are not about tools or technology per se but about using tools and technology to aid a fundamental concept of an engaged, immersive education. In educator Diana Rendina’s blog “Renovated Learning,” a recent post called “Defining Makerspaces: What the Research Says” provides useful definitions of the term, but also succinctly points out that: “Makerspaces are not about the tools; they’re about enabling making.”

This definition led me to reflect on the people who make educational transformation possible and easier—the educators who are familiarly known as librarians. This inevitably brings me back to my own love of libraries—a love which began at a humble public library in Burlington, Ontario and led me to a life of literary study and book reading and an interest in the world of educational publishing. For me, the library was a haven, a place where learning was not the administration of cod liver oil, but a fun window into the world which was always a lot more than just a space to read and a sign that says “SHHHH!” When I was a teenager, the library was a place to watch movies, to participate in seasonal events, to research the past, and to find cool things to read. As such, it was the prototype of the multi-media platform of today’s educational experience. The library is safe, comfortable, unpretentious and buoyed by the enthusiasm of people who also were using the common space to pursue knowledge that fit their individual passions.

Spaces change, content delivery changes, and there are many new ways to empower young people in their learning and their creativity. While the physical library may not be as needed to research a movie, the idea of the library as a curated space which encourages people to adapt positive methods of learning is even more important today.

Learning Bird seeks to facilitate the librarian’s generosity to students and knowledge-seekers in this rapidly changing environment by maintaining dedicated principles of education. To establish a line of communicative strategies which see the older model of the library as improved but still integral to a code of learning which respects the value of knowledge and the standards of learning. We provide a resource that helps students accumulate skills while understanding that a great deal of the information comes first through digital command. Learning Bird helps the educator maintain the comfort and promise of the library without the obviously outdated tools of the older library (card catalogues, microfiche, etc – although I do nostalgically lament the loss of card catalogues).

Learning Bird, then, seeks to enhance the educational experiences of young people. We are not here to simply draw a pretty picture of the traditional library but to welcome a new generation who would greatly benefit their students with a simple accent to our project. And it is the librarians, who add tools like Learning Bird to their arsenal of resources, who continue the tradition of fostering growth with incredible energy and imagination, who I want to acknowledge and celebrate.

About the author

Carol McGimpsey

Carol was that nerdy kid who enjoyed school, read voraciously and beat everyone at Scrabble. After completing her BA and MA in English she found a career in educational sales -- her greatest satisfaction comes from helping others discover their own love of learning. She enjoys activities which involve winter and recovery cocoa.

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