I have listened dutifully listened to three connected courses recorded webinars on The World Wide Web – From Concept to Platform to Cultures. There are recordings of sincere consultants, academic technologists, and educators that have interesting perspectives and experiences, but as the organizers and protagonists for our adventures in connectedness, they tend to be going to their memory book and providing a great deal about back in the days when set up a server in my closet and taught my students how to turn a hamster cage into a router.
It was during my reflection about these self-absorbed recordings, that I began to put a finger on what was gnawing in my restless consciousness. I am both an academic technologist and a teaching librarian. My technology yin accepted the bantering technologists, while my yang said something was left unsaid. So here it is…
The web literacy experts at every school or university without an academic or learning technology facilitator is usually a librarian, an information professional that may not have set up a server in a bedroom closet. But they teach information and web literacy, recommend web applications, plugins for Firefox, and feel great joy in making staff and teachers more productive in their work with students. But lacking the coloratura or flair of technology specialists and the need to maintain traditional collections of print materials (the most portable and resilient knowledge format, requiring no recharging), they tend to blend in with other good deed doers and even get marginalized by misperceptions that the digital library has already replaced the non-digital library.
So I am trying to get better about making and mixing to make a point, and s I thought of marginalized equivalents, the Kurds came to mind. Take this passage from a CNN blog post from last August:
“The largely autonomous Kurdish region of Iraq has become an open, cosmopolitan, forward-looking place with a booming economy – construction cranes, car dealerships and fast food chains sprout up every day.
The American University in Sulaimani is a place marked by a modern educational outlook and open dialog. Kurdish leaders have been responsible in their efforts to secure their future – not declaring independence, working to end Kurdish terrorism in Turkey, supporting humanitarian efforts for Syrian refugees. They have been a force for stability in a region in chaos.
One of the lessons of American foreign policy over the last six decades has been that interventions work when the locals are led by popular, legitimate leaders and they want to fight for their cause. Think of South Korea compared with South Vietnam – they don’t work when the locals simply will not fight.
The Kurds want to fight for their freedom, for their independence. They have a strong, well-trained army. Their leaders are popular and legitimate, they have been close allies of the United States. Now they urgently need America’s help. The Obama administration should answer their call.”
Now lets transform the subject, but not the unabashed support, substituting one marginalized group for another.
The largely SELF-SUFFICIENT LIBRARIAN has become an open, cosmopolitan, forward-looking ANCILLARY TO EDUCATION with a booming FOLLOWING — CLASSES, OFFICE HOURS and LIBGUIDES sprout up every day.
The LIBRARY IN A SCHOOL OR COLLEGE SETTING is a RESPECTED PROFESSIONAL marked by a modern educational outlook and open dialog. LIBRARY leaders have been responsible in their efforts to secure their future – not declaring A DEFICIT OF CAPACITY, working to ENSURE STUDENT ACCOMPLISHMENT, supporting EXTRACURRICULAR efforts for STRUGGLING STUDENTS. They have been a force for stability in CHAOTIC UNDER SOURCED ACADEMIC SETTINGS.
One of the lessons of American HIGHER EDUCATION over the last six decades has been that CURRICULAR interventions work when INSTRUCTORS ARE SUPPORTED by LIBRARIANS, WHEN LIBRARIANS and INSTRUCTORS want to fight for their STUDENTS’ cause. Think of CLASS-COORDINATED LIBRARY INSTRUCTION compared with NON-LIBRARY RESEARCH LECTURES – they don’t work when the LIBRARIANS simply ARE NOT INVITED.
LIBRARIANS want to TEACH WEB LITERACY, for their ROLE AS A FACILITATOR OF EDUCATIONAL OUTCOMES. They have a strong, well-trained COMPETENCE. Their SKILLS are REFINED and legitimate, they have been close allies of INSTRUCTORS. Now they urgently need ACADEMIC TECHNOLOGISTS’ help. The CONNECTED COURSES LEADERSHIP should answer their call.
Please acknowledge that well-intentioned librarians in academic settings are not as marginalized as well-intentioned Kurds.