I was reading Michelle Leigh Jacobs’ article on “Ethics and Ethical Challenges in Library Instruction” in the Journal of Library Administration, 47(3/4), and noticed how she clearly defined her views, her role, and the liberal/conservative tug-of-war in academia. Jacobs indicates an uncomfortableness with the struggle while expressing her views as a liberal. She believes that peer-reviewed journals have not grown, have remained conservative, and thus, stifle librarianship because they are not practical for today’s librarian’s needs other than to promote tenure and further a career among colleagues.
In her article, her discussion of the liberal/conservative struggle represents a discussion that should remain alive and well in academia and not silenced from either side. Great ideas and perspective will come from the continuous debate. (She demonstrates how a good librarian works with students providing information representing both sides, even when they – librarian and student – disagree.)
For my take, on the school front, peer-reviewed journals may not make for practical reading either. However, the discussion of ideals brings greater thought to mind. Perspective is pondered. Out of the daily grind, one is taken.
I believe that we must make time to reach beyond the day-to-day living out of our work and grasp higher reading. This may not seem beneficial when we greet the next morning’s problems that are very real, but the reading might help us remember to not become bogged down in daily living by keeping our minds above the fray as we reach for new frontiers on the horizon.
Of course, this does not rule out reading for practical problem solving as Jacobs suggests, such as blogs, or listening to podcasts. These are excellent ways to share in the here and now. As for the school library, we have excellent print and online resources for practical reading, such as SLJ, among others.
What might be of greater importance is that, for peer-reviewed journals, issues that are of the practical realm and are long term should be addressed. Jacobs presents a few of these that should be of concern to academic and school librarians, such as the sharing of information among colleagues through Web 2.0 sources and how these should be documented for future reference.