>Although I’ve been working in a high school library for 4 years, there is still so much I don’t know about it. It would be several years before I could know the nooks and crannies and it’s a shame that I will not be around for it after June. Despite this, I still get excited at discoveries in my own workspace.
For instance, I have just been reviewing the vertical file records in our online catalog. (Now stick with me on this one, people. There is a good moral at the end of this story.) The vertical file is a file of paper resources, like pamphlets and booklets, things that really don’t go on a bookshelf. It can be a wonderful resource, but is becoming obsolete in this digital age. During my journey to delete unnecessary records, I was rifling through the contents of the vertical file, delighting in opening drawers and seeing the alphabetized miscellanea. Amid the irrelevant junk, like a booklet on teenage drinking from 1988, I found items like Problems of Communism, July-August 1964 vol. XIII and an eclectic mass of maps; countries, cities, regions, geographical features, oh my! I instantly began thinking of the teachers and classes who might benefit from these forgotten relics and lamenting at what will most likely be overlooked in years to come. I, after all, had not heretofore ventured a look believing that I would have time to absorb all of the library’s treasures year to year. This will not be so and if I’m not here to point these things out, who else would think to look there? Most likely no one.
The gaping wound is the knowledge of what my impending absence means for the teachers and the students in this school. The salt of the day is the frustration I feel at the misconception that everything digital is so great. Yes, yes, I know I am blogging, thus participating in the digital community, but I take great pride as a school librarian in teaching that being a capable participator in the modern world (the professional term would be “information literate” and is a topic I will go into more another time) is knowing, not just how to browse the Internet, but how to effectively use ALL types of resources, old and new. Information is at the world’s fingertips (not really, but I’ll save that one for another time, too). However, it’s what you do with information that counts.
Yes, it is neat to access online maps of anywhere and, gee, that flight view of the world from outer space is really cool, but how useful is it really? How sexy can the newest gadget really be if you’re toggling every couple of inches? The bling–bling of the screen and click-clack of the mouseless browsing can get old. Information flows only as fast as you can find it. What’s faster than opening a drawer and seeing all that you need in a couple of minutes? The yellowing pages of a booklet can transport you back in time like no scanned image can. No online map, no digital archive, nothing can replace that tangible item. It doesn’t crash and it doesn’t disappear on a webmaster’s whim. What sets the sheep of the information age apart from the herd is knowing how and when to use both digital and print sources. Both have their limits. Both have their merits.
All I’m saying is, don’t just go with computers all of the time because they’re there. Have a unique thought every once in a while. Go rogue, go print.