Thursday, July 02, 2009

Mandating School Libraries: but what will they look like?

A high-profile group of children's authors, publishers, teachers and librarians is calling on the government to make school libraries statutory. Signatories to a petition to Number 10 include Philip Pullman, Horrid Henry creator Francesca Simon and former children's laureate Michael Rosen, as well as the general secretary of the National Union of Teachers Christine Blower, Dave Prentis, general secretary of Unison, top children's publishers and the directors of a raft of youth library associations.

This is, of course, a logical idea - but what should a library - any library - look like in the future? Is there, for example, another petition from the same type of high-profile group demanding a radical rethink about the way that "digital literacy" is taught.
The petition itself – which calls on the government "to accept in principle that it will make school libraries, run by properly qualified staff, statutory" – will run until December, but by the end of the summer school term Gibbons hopes to have consolidated the support of the book world and to have started soliciting support from community figures, faith groups and celebrities within the wider community.

Properly qualified staff meaning someone who can find a book on Google Book Search? Who can explain issues of trust and verification when using, say, Wikipedia? Someone versed in the narrative genius of many computer games? Someone who is, at least, thinking about Kindles and E-Readers; about marketing the case for reading printed texts over the competing stories found online? Someone who knows where textual resources reside in the digital domain. I'm sure the "celebrities within the wider community" will be able to help here. From the Guardian.

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