Monday, February 28, 2011

The Cushing discussion continues

Many thanks to Shannon Acedo, Department Head of Library and Information Technology at the Harvard-Westlake Upper School, for her thoughtful comments to my blog post Cushing: a new model for libraries. I contacted Shannon and she has generously given me permission to re-post her comments.

Thanks for providing the opportunity to revisit “The Cushing Effect” after things have settled down a bit. Your blogpost has engendered a lively discussion among independent school librarians.

Cushing has moved away from a ‘Collection Maintenance Philosophy’. Personally, I’m a firm believer in the ‘Collection Development Philosophy’, and the primary value of our collection (both print and digital) is that it is carefully crafted to support the curriculum at our school. We weed old materials, purchase new materials (print and digital), and work closely with teachers to make sure we have what our students need. Format is not an issue; content is.


Cushing’s print art books are kept because they are hard to get in digital format; in spite of this perceived value in print materials there is no intent on maintaining that collection or adding to it. This must eventually lead to a gap in resources, as the art world is decidedly not static. If a particular area is not easily duplicated in electronic format, doesn’t that emphasize the need for a complete collection consisting of print AND digital resources?


All the work our students do is to prepare them for their future lives, with an immediate goal of success in college. We need to be aware of the resources at the colleges and universities our students will attend and make sure we prepare them to navigate those resources productively. We also must support our students as they do their work here on campus, and our teachers require a variety of different resources for this purpose. We work hard to make sure it is ALL available.


I do love the information literacy curriculum as presented by Cushing—indeed I’m jealous. We are working on defining our 6-year information literacy program, moving ahead a bit at a time, but I’m inspired by what they are doing at the Fisher-Watkins library.


Conclusions
• The library at Cushing is neither a pariah nor (imho) a powerhouse—it’s a library with its own strengths and weaknesses
• There are aspects of the space and program at Cushing that I can benefit from
• The value of a library collection is based on its content and not on its format; format is important only as it impacts access
• One of our most important roles in the Independent School world is to prepare our students for success in college; to do so we must teach them how to use libraries like the ones they will see in college.


Thanks again for inspiring a lively debate on a very timely topic.


Thank you, Shannon, for your wonderful contribution to this ongoing discussion.

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