Thursday, March 10, 2011

Go, Librarians!

     I'll start off by saying that I'm a librarian and many of my best friends are librarians, so my bias should be clear.  Nevertheless, you sometimes have an experience that gives you a larger perspective on something very close to you.
     I spoke to the New York City School Librarians Association yesterday on the subject of using graphic novels in literacy education.  Though I am used to trafficking among them (librarians, that is), speaking with a new group really stirred up that old sense of pride.  Each and every one was curious, engaged and committed to advancing her own professional development and the development of the profession itself.
     I have always considered librarianship, in its ideal form, as a commitment to the availability of information (in all its myriad forms of transmission) to everyone.  But in our hyper-connected era, where availability of information seems to come automatically with the Internet (and I do mean "seems"), you often hear the cry that the profession is becoming outmoded, obsolete.  Working among, speaking to and hearing from librarians who do a far sight more than I do everyday, let me categorically state that I've never met or heard of a group that does more to expand our ability to function in an information-driven culture, to help people understand the information they're getting in new ways, or to bring new and worthwhile kinds of information to resistant communities.
     Far from librarians being obsolete, I'm afraid to imagine the future without them.    


  1. Jesse! We thoroughly enjoyed your talk. The exercises pushed us to grasp and express every bit of knowledge of the art form! I came away with an understanding that graphic novels are a concise art form that stem from the infinite variations coming from the combination of visual and literary ways to create meaning, so that there is a decision-making process before you come up with the best way to get your message across. It really stretches your thinking to a different (non-literal) level. For example, using visual distance to depict sadness. I am currently teaching interpretation (or inference as we call it for the elementary crowd), and am now incorporating graphic novels, primary documents, and poetry--those forms that say so much and force students to go beyond literal interpretations and think metaphorically, visually--deeply. Thank you so much for speaking to NYCSLA, (the oldest organization for NYC school librarians) and inspiring us to embrace graphic novels as teaching tools, for the teaching of comprehension, collaboration, interpretation, and more! Can't wait to order your book. Our students' pallette is composed of more than just words. We need to build on that. You gave us some wonderful ideas. Bravo! - Sara

  2. Sara - it's clear you already had a deep understanding of the medium's potential. Thank you so much for having me.