Henry and booksHere’s a great article by Barbara Braxton, a teacher-librarian from Australia who is a worldwide leader among those who want to encourage a heightened literacy among students. It’s called “The Teacher-Librarian as Literacy Leader.” Braxton says that “Once upon a time, the teacher-librarian was regarded as the literature expert in the school.” But [drum roll] the Internet has changed everything and has made all librarians seem less necessary and less important. We all know that. These days, we need to sell ourselves as literacy counselors, whether in a school or a public library, or we risk being ignored by parents, and by members of the general public.

This article was designed for school librarians, but that doesn’t mean that public librarians can’t find all kinds of useful stuff here. It tells us that a student’s brain continues to grow and develop well into his or her twenties – and in fact, the brain continues changing throughout a person’s life. It tells us that there are plenty of things we’re doing every day that make a difference to lots and lots of families. Such as:

Are there displays that exploit the brain’s capacity to learn at many levels? Children absorb everything, and artifacts, colors, labels, and subjects can help them build the concept of the library as a fun, alive place-where their imaginations can be entertained and educated. Displays can be large-for example, by creating Santa’s Village at the North Pole-or they can be modest, by putting a single volume on a stand in a prominent place. They can cover curriculum topics, local and international issues and events, genres, slogans and sayings and maybe a line from a lyric, and they can introduce new subjects to the students.

Even things that don’t seem as if they’re a big deal can make a difference, even to those kids and parents we may not come into direct contact with. Keep trying to do everything you can to reach everyone, even when you’re not there.