Sunday, 23 October 2011

Visionary Leaders for Information - Chapter 5

The theme of flexibility is repeated in this final chapter of Winzenried’s excellent book. His clear message remains: the needs of the client must always be the focus of the visionary library staff. Our clients are our future. Rather than force feed information fluency to students, these lessons will only be effective when taught as the time of greatest need.
In order to conclude this final chapter, Winzenried reminded us of Miles, the final year high school student whose scenario was painted by the author, Doug Johnson. Projecting us to the year 2025, Johnson acted like a true visionary and presented a day in the life of a student who used his school library for all of his information needs.
In this scenario, we witnessed Marian, the school librarian, wake Miles at 7am, using an auditory interface to his school library portal, which he accessed via a device in his bedroom. Marian serves as a learning mentor to Miles, by giving him his itinerary for the day. His day is full of collaboration with students and teachers inside his “bricks and mortar school” (p. 99), as well as academics outside the school, using teleconferencing technology at home.
The final two pages of this scenario were especially enjoyable and satisfying for me. The conversation Miles had with his grandparents provided the reader with the ongoing mission and values that his librarian mother and grandfather performed, to that which were still required by students in 2025.
In a conversation with his mother at the end of the day, Miles recalled the words that his grandfather shared with him, when he told his grandfather that he was considering studying library science after graduating from high school:
‘He said that the tools librarians use change, the importance of certain tasks that librarians perform changes, and even the services libraries offer to support their schools and communities change. But some things, like the librarian’s mission and values, remain constant. Librarians still support intellectual freedom and fight censorship. Librarians are still about open inquiry and access to information and ideas. Librarians are still about helping people find and use information that is reliable and help them use it to improve their lives. And librarians have always been about helping people help themselves by learning how to be lifelong learners and informed decision-makers. And Grandma Annie, who was listening in, added that librarians have always wanted people to find enjoyment, fun and excitement in learning and reading’ (p. 112).
Winzenried’s book was a useful and inspirational read. It has left a lasting impression with me and has helped me to be a visionary leader.

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