A Librarian’s BLEND Dreams

Today’s Contributor: Tara Lane Bowman is the librarian at Cook Elementary.

I’m new to Austin Independent School District, and when I was assigned the role of CIC, I was unsure how I would use BLEND in my role as a teacher-librarian at Cook Elementary. After all, BLEND is a great way to organize teaching and learning tools. But my role combines teaching and managing my campus’ physical and digital book collections. Where would BLEND fit in for me?

As it turns out, BLEND may be an immediate way to mitigate an ongoing problem.

Within the library community, we use a listserv to communicate with one another, with all the positives and negatives attendant to a giant email list.

Daily, I receive emails from other librarians. This makes sense, right? Librarians cannot go ask a teacher next door a small question. We’re the only one of our kind on our campuses, in the same way that a lot of campuses have one music educator and one art teacher. Librarians rely on one another for practical advice and questions; the best way to get that is from another librarian.

However, BLEND could make this all so much simpler.

Instead of a giant email thread of librarians sharing how they, for example, design their schedules, why not create a space in BLEND to have that discussion?

Or let’s say a librarian would like to share an introduction to new technology at her school. This is something that can be replicated. Right now, the only way to share documents is through a Google Doc space. But what if the teacher used Screencastify to create a small lesson for the librarians on how to set up such a workshop? That would, currently, have to be emailed to the entire list of librarians and further gunk up the inbox.

What if BLEND could be that online repository for information that librarians need, beyond just documents? It would be the go-to spot for librarians to check in for conversation, advice, and the database of ideas.

In case you’re wondering, the listserv is currently quite active, and I’ve used it myself multiple times. It is unwieldy and difficult to access information (a big no-no in the library world; access to information is our raison d’etre).

Our fabulous library technology team has created a group in BLEND where we can share documents. Dedicated librarians have added sub-headings where we can go to discuss professional development and our assessment process.

Guess what, though? It’s dead in that BLEND group. That’s not to say there weren’t some hearty attempts to get things going at the beginning of the year, but unless someone is hiding something from me, we have a BLEND-sized hole in our professional communications.

Here is my BLEND dream:

  • A space where librarians can check in daily to discuss anything new/current/urgent
  • A space where librarians can share lessons and units
  • A space where librarians can work in partnership with other librarians in their cohort (for example, all the librarians whose schools feed into a particular high school) 
  • A space where new librarians can go to share their frustrations (and maybe a mentor or two to drop in and help problem-solve)
  • A space for digital content that we’re using. This may be self-created or it may be something like a Flipgrid that is customizable for everyone.
  • Book recommendations. There’s no one we trust like other librarians. 

As you can see, we still have a long way to go. But BLEND is the best way to combine our needs–and get us off the messy email listserv. Additionally, it’s a storehouse that doesn’t disappear into the ether as the emails pile up.

Librarians are here to help people access information. It only seems right that they are able to access information about their own profession in an organized and cohesive way.

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