Monday, July 19, 2010

A trip down memory lane.... the changing role of the teacher / librarian

The role of the teacher librarian and how they / we contribute to the development of learning and teaching has changed so much over my lifetime that comparing then to now is almost impossible. How we learn, how we teach and celebrate and of course how we research has changed to be almost unrecognisable to my early recollections.

To illustrate this I will take you on a trip down memory lane, my memory lane, or more precisely, Yarra Road, for this is where I met my first teacher / librarian and explored my first library, which was housed in a big bus/caravan, smelled (to me) like heaven and visited our school once a week.

Every Tuesday morning I would pack my library bag, loaded down with the three books (maximum number we were allowed) I had borrowed the week before and read and reread over the previous week, and every Tuesday afternoon I would go home with three new books which would be read and reread over the coming week.

This mobile library was to me, paradise, and supplemented the school's small and reference dominated library.

Mr Hopkins, the teacher librarian (such is the impression she made that I remember her name almost 40 years on) would accompany each class to the "magic bus" (as we called it) and steer us in the right direction, to books she thought we would enjoy and were at a level we could read and comprehend.

This talented lady was, as they say, a Jack of all Trades. She would help us with our projects and provided addresses of companies which could provide extra information or answer questions we had. I remember writing to a mine at Mt Tom Price for my project on mining iron ore, and thinking I was the 'ants pants' when I received a package back addressed to me. My project turned out pretty flash, full of photos, information and actual samples of iron ore, which had been provided by the mining company education section.

Our librarian's research skills and ability to point us in the right direction were excellent but throughout June and the the beginning of July she would swap this hat and replace it with a beret. Library lessons were swapped with French lessons, or more accurately, lessons on how to sing the French national anthem - La Marseillaise, because Bastille Day (July 14th) was fast approaching and although no longer PC, the school as a whole, would march down in their houses to the monument at La Perouse sing our little hearts out, lay a wreath and march back to school.

Ms H turned us into fluent French singers (at least of that song) and such were her lessons that when ever I have been to a school reunion or attended a function with people who attended this school, someone has always belted out a rendition.

Bastille Day is no longer celebrated at my old school, it's been replaced with such days as Sorry Day (which is not entirely a bad thing) we no longer have to write away to companies to help complete assignments and the magic bus has also long gone, but not the feeling when I smell a new book or enter a library.