4.1 Networking with the Library Community
Candidates participate and collaborate as members of a social and intellectual network of learners.
“Along the journey, an event occurs that forever separates Miles’s life into two parts – before and after.” I wrote these words, annotating John Green’s Looking for Alaska, as an undergraduate enrolled in Adolescent Literature (my first foray into the field of school library media). Four years later, as a graduate student enrolled in School Library Administration, I reflected on the journey to completing this assignment, the School Library Handbook Wiki. I was struck by the thought that my life, like Miles’s, would forever be separated into two parts – before and after the wiki.
Through my work on this assignment, I further developed my connections with two Carroll County Public School (CCPS) librarians who served in a mentor capacity. More importantly, through this group assignment, I established a professional network with three fellow colleagues in the School Library Media program. I acquired materials, including expert interviews, from my mentors and also assembled source material from the CCPS Library Media Department at the central office. Having taken similar steps in their respective counties, my group members and I then ventured online to share resources and collaborate.
The School Library Handbook marked my first experience using the wiki venue as a collaborative tool, and it was a very fruitful one. As evidenced in my postings on the wiki homepage, I was an integral part of narrowing the field of possible sections for inclusion in the wiki (Mission, Vision, and Philosophy; Operations; Facilities; Ethical Issues; Media Personnel; Collection Development; Ordering Procedures; Administrative Procedures; Bibliography; and Contributors). I created a detailed outline from which my group members and I worked to equitably divide the work load.
My primary responsibilities included overseeing the Administrative Procedures section and the final revision and editing of the entire product. We worked together actively, sharing pertinent findings from our individual research representing three county school systems: Carroll, Montgomery, and Howard. It became even more important for us to truly work as collaborative team when we received confirmation, mid-way through our two week project timeline, that one of our members would be dropping the class. This hiccup in our plan of attack meant redistributing the work load between our four remaining members to ensure that the Facilities and Operations pages were properly supervised. We were able to efficiently converse back and forth, leaving each other hundreds of messages, posting our contributions, and summarizing and revising the language of each others’ statements.
The underpinning of our wiki was to serve as a helpful guide for a young school librarian. Through our posting of our county policies and procedures, AASL documents, prior related coursework, and our own conceptions of our future libraries, we facilitated easy online access to such resources. Professionally, I gained not only valuable knowledge of the wiki technology but also came away with a clear understanding of the administrative role of the school librarian in three different counties.
Speaking candidly, there were times this assignment seemed like it could not possibly come together, and it was a source of much anxiety for me and for my fellow group mates. In the end, we were all extremely proud of the depth of collaborative relationships we were able to foster through a solely digital medium, truly forging a social and intellectual network of learners.