Recently, while perusing the internet in my copious amounts of spare time (tongue heavily in cheek), I encountered a recommendation for a new women’s magazine. My interest was piqued at the idea of a magazine free of advertising and full of thought provoking articles. I am myself, an avid reader of magazines, though I prefer the more…fluffy ones, shall we say. For me, they act as an escape from academic journals and essay writing conventions. Which got me thinking- in our roles as a leader as a teacher librarian, how do we promote reading and literacy of all kinds, not just those books and materials which we ourselves value? Obviously we do this through collection curation and development, but how do we decide what is valuable to our users?
My public library meets the needs of many very well, I feel. I live in a town where a high proportion of the population is Indigenous. In addition, educational outcomes generally are lower than the expected standards. The library however, is not perturbed by this, offering interactive programs for babies and children, ipads as competition prizes and a wide range of books, DVDs and newspapers for borrowing and reading. They also include a collection of works in other languages and dialects, to accurately reflect the readership of the area.
As a future teacher librarian, I see this as a huge issue, especially when we consider the prevalence of technology and decline in reading and literacy levels in schools. However when seeing what my local library promotes and the presence of library members constantly using the facility, I feel more positive about the future. If we make the effort to get to know our clientele, then we can make a difference and make our libraries welcoming, inclusive places of learning and interest.