Buffy Hamilton – School Librarian Extraordinaire

Inspired by Buffy Hamilton’s call for librarians to rethink and reimagine their role and their practice within academic environments, in order to remain relevant, here is her response to a series of recent interview questions.

“What do teacher librarians do?”

As a school librarian I have multiple roles: program administrator, leader, instructional partner, and information specialist. All of these roles blend as they inform and shape my work as a teacher. I’m not merely providing instructional support, but instead, sharing with my teaching partners, decision-making processes and responsibilities; this teamwork is reflected in our classes as students consult both of us for assistance for content and process. We are co-teachers.

“What is your vision for the library? For librarians?”

My vision for librarianship is a distributed ownership of the library and make it a shared environment for both students and learners. The library is a learning center focused on scaffolding students’ abilities to read, write, and create content through social interaction in physical and virtual learning spaces as well as multiple forms of media. The librarian is no longer the central expert, but instead, becomes a true partner for students and teachers.

“What is your process for developing a participatory information literacy course?”

I begin by having conversations with subject specialists and we map out the selection, use and evaluation sources in multiple formats, creating research pathfinders or subject guides. I create these research guides—a collection of information sources to help students begin their research—with LibGuides, but any web-authoring tool can be used to create a research pathfinder. By incorporating traditional forms of authoritative information in multiple formats (databases and periodical articles, online periodicals, podcasts, videos, websites, interviews with experts, e-books and print books) as well as emerging forms of scholarly information (blogs, Twitter streams, photos) we scaffold students’ ability to demonstrate confidence and self-direction by making independent choices in the selection of resources and information (AASL) they are using for research. As students explore the range of information sources, we engage in conversations about search strategies for each kind of information source and how to use the tools that are available in the information sources to adjust their searches if students don’t at first discover the information they are seeking. The research guides serve as models for the students building their own individualized research guides they create on a topic using Netvibes, a free cloud-computing tool for building information dashboards.

“What are relatively new skills students should have in their teacher librarian toolkit and why?”

It’s difficult to predict the future of libraries or technology’s role in that future, but I see technology as tool and medium for amplifying the core work that we do in terms of providing access and services to our learning communities.   I think if we keep our mission and vision of our library programs first and then ask the questions, “How can technology support that mission/vision?” and “How can technology be a catalyst or provide support conversations for learning?” then we are more likely to do a better job of harnessing the potential of technology in meaningful ways rather than utilizing just for the sake of doing something “new” that may not necessarily be better.  The application of technology to meet a need of the library community and the possibilities technology can present are the interesting aspects of technology integration for me.

 “What are some of the most exciting software applications right now?

Glogster, Xtranormal, VoiceThread, Masher, Netvibes, Google Docs, Google Forms, MyFakeWall, SlideShare, Animoto. Flickr, Evernote, Diigo, and YouTube.

“What is your teaching philosophy?”

As I think about my role as teacher and contemplate learning theories and strategies, I discover continuously through the nodes in my personal learning network that the framework of participatory librarianship is a lens that keeps me centered on how every aspect comes back to Dr. R. David Lankes’s mantra: It’s all about learning…there isn’t a part of the library that isn’t about learning. Learning is a collaborative conversation.” He wrote this in the Atlas of New Librarianship in 2010.

“How did you come to school librarianship?”

I have nineteen years of experience as a teacher. I started out as a high school English teacher and have become a technology integration specialist and librarian. Around 2000, I realized that being a librarian would be the perfect marriage of my love of books, reading and technology. I love being a classroom teacher but as a librarian I feel like I can be more of a change agent. My interests include social media, participatory learning and culture, ethnographic studies, digital composition, personal learning environments, critical pedagogy and social scholarship. I was a 2011 Library Journal Mover and Shaker. I earned my M.Ed. in English Education in 2003 at the University of Georgia; in 2005, I completed my Ed.S. at UGA in Instructional Technology and School Library Media.  I have been recognized as the 2011 winner of the Salem Press Blog Award in the “School Library” division, Salem Press Blog Award,  School Library Blog Winner 2011 as well as the 2010-11 GLMA/GAIT Georgia Library Media Association/Georgia Association for Instructional Technology School Library Media Specialist of the Year.  My Media 21 program was a winner of the American Library Association (ALA) Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP) Cutting Edge Library Service Award.  In addition, I was honored as one of the National School Boards Association Technology Leadership Network “20 to Watch” 2010, Tech and Learning’s 100@30: Future Leader;  her library program was also honored as the 2010 Georgia Exemplary High School Media Program.

“How do you stay current re: educational technologies?”

I read MacArthur’s Digital Media and Learning Research Hub.

“How do you stay inspired?”

I talk with my colleagues: Ernie Cox, Kristin Fontichiaro,  Heather Braum, Jennifer LaGarde, Susan Grigsby, Beth Friese, Linda Martin, Peter Bromberg, Melissa Johnston, Diane Cordell, and Sara Kelley-Mudie.


2 thoughts on “Buffy Hamilton – School Librarian Extraordinaire

  1. Pingback: Suffering from Technolust? Try Evaluation! | The hAPPy Librarians

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