Libraries are not neutral and they are not safe for all – a reflection
Twice in these module’s readings I came across the concept of the library being a “safe” place.
The library is one of the few spaces in the school where students can feel safe
a safe haven for students
(Fitzgerald & Combes, 2018, Module 6)
However, I have come across much that disputes the idea of the library as a “safe” place for all. At GLAMSLAM18 one of the speakers (I believe it was Marcus Hughes) spoke about an indigenous community who, when invited into the library, asked if they were allowed to touch the books. It seems 50 years prior, as children, the older members of the community were told that they were not allowed to touch any books in the library and that message had been passed down through the generations. The library was not a safe place for that community.
Libraries are not neutral and are not safe spaces for everyone. If you want some meaty, challenging information on the subject then try nina de Jesus’ 2014 article Locating the Library in Institutional Oppression or Joshua Beatty’s companion piece Locating Information Literacy Within Institutional Oppression. If you want something equally challenging, Australian and an easier read, try Nathan Sentance‘s Your Neutral is not Our Neutral. Libraries and other GLAMR institutions are not neutral. They are not safe, sacred spaces for everyone.
Module 6 Activity
In Forum 6.3 briefly discuss
- the tensions between the information specialist and the teaching role of the TL; and
- how you think you might cope with these tensions.
Are you excited or apprehensive?
As discussed in a previous post, the Role of the Teacher-Librarian is complicated and varied. Digital literacy and the role of the teacher librarian is also something I investigated for my literature review.
The exact balance of information professional to teacher is going to vary from position to position and school to school. A school with a large team of teacher librarians will be different to a position where library technicians are employed which is different to a position where the teacher librarian is the sole staff member in the library. Flexibility will be required to make each position work as each position will provide its own challenges – such as meaningful learning in a school environment with fixed library scheduling (Stubeck, 2015). Collaborative potential in each environment will vary also, pending the support of executive and teaching staff (Abbott, 2017).
As a mature age student, the basics of time management, negotiation and conflict resolution (content in Module 6) are not new to me. My challenges will be more around leadership and finding the appropriate balance between developing collaborative peer relationships and valuing my expertise and training as an information professional. Personally, I feel both excited and apprehensive although part of my apprehension is around how to get everything done at a good standard and how to balance a career (since I’ve been out of the workforce for a long time now) with family commitments.
Abbott, R. (2017). Teacher-librarians, teachers and the 21st century library: relationships matter. Synergy, 15(2). Retrieved from http://www.slav.vic.edu.au/synergy/volume-15-number-2-2017/perspectives-local-/697-teacher-librarians-teachers-and-the-21st-century-library-relationships-matter.html
Fitzgerald, L. and Combes, B. (2018) Module 6. Introduction to Teacher Librarianship. Retrieved from https://interact2.csu.edu.au/webapps/blackboard/content/listContent.jsp?course_id=_34577_1&content_id=_2060440_1
Stubeck, C. J. (2015) Enabling inquiry learning in fixed-schedule libraries. Knowledge Quest. Volume 43(3).