Prudence Please

Even among today’s progressive population, there is still a whole crop of …

… subjects rooted in the literary landscape that bear the blight of stereotype. I know, it shouldn’t be, but I’m living proof that it’s true. The other day, I encountered a topic that sent me stumbling into stereotypical territory, and it all started with one word …

Librarian.

Librarians of old. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia, Nevins Memorial Historic Collection

Yep, librarian. I wonder what images came to mind when you read it? I confess that when Meg mentioned the librarian at my grandgirl’s school, I pulled up a mental picture that was steeped in stereotype: stern matron in horn-rimmed glasses with a finger pressed to her lips. Hush. I imagined a circle of attentive little listeners gathered around her as she began to read from the pages of a beloved … iPad?

Okay, wait just a minute …

Before my decidedly dated daydream could play out, Meg started talking technology: iPads, iPods, and Kindles, oh my!

It seems libraries have changed dramatically since I was a schoolgirl, and so have the ladies that blaze the trails into literature. Surprising? Not after I gave it a second thought. After all, this old-fashioned farmgirl is never far from her Smartphone.

My grandgirl’s librarian is young and modern and doing a lot more than reading stories (although, thank goodness, she does that too.). Since information is no longer neatly bound inside the covers of books, librarians are now charged with helping kids learn how to go out and forage for it. The future of education has become free range.

Most kids are already barreling into the wild world of collective intelligence by means of computers and hand-held gadgets before they even start school. Luckily, librarians are working to stay ahead of the game so that they can help their students make sense—and make the most of—the educational possibilities behind the buttons, switches, and screens. Card catalogs are making way for conversation and creative expression. Instead of folding their hands quietly in their laps, kids are getting hands-on opportunities that will equip them for the increasingly technological education that lies ahead.

So much for silence in the stacks.

I can appreciate this new era of “free range” education as long as my grandgirls come home to pick flowers, dig in the dirt, and snuggle up with me to turn the pages of a good book.

Leave a comment 2 Comments

  1. Susie says:

    Some of us older librarian types have learned to embrace technology and appreciate how it can simplify our lives but…recently I’ve begun to wear my hair in the stereotypical bun and I still use a flannel board in my story times! However, this fun-loving gal seldom shushes folks. Have you noticed that libraries aren’t the quiet places they used to be?

  2. Hi MaryJane, it never came up at The Creative Connection, but I’m also a substitute librarian. I received my Master’s in Library Science and it’s important to me that I *do* something with that degree. You are absolutely right, the role of a librarian and the library have changed dramatically. I have an internal struggle with the move towards more electronic media. In my heart I have a deep love for the feel of books. I hope that my children will embrace technology, but I also hope to find them reading past their bedtime with their new favorite novel..

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