Books are quiet. They do not dissolve into wavy lines or snowstorm effects. They do not pause to deliver commercials. They are three-dimensional, having length, breadth and depth. They are convenient to handle and completely portable.
“There, where one burns books, one in the end burns men.”
Many librarians I know are listen to Radio National, (RN being the nearest thing I know to a free University Education – stimulating brain food piped directly into your ears!). Avid listeners to last Sunday’s Ockham’s Razor may have picked up this story: Is the Book as we know it dead?. Peter Macinnis (word herder, science communicator) discusses what he did when researching his latest book – how technology such as Project Gutenberg is invaluable for the original research which is needed to produce good books; and how those research skills can be best taught, not by computer boffins or English teachers but by Teacher-Librarians.
The vapid politicians who carry on about Australian history, meaning dead-white-male history, are also the ones who most commonly bleat about ‘literacy’, by which they mean simplistic reading and writing skills that can be tested. These enemies of education with their foolish lists are yesterday’s men. True literacy bubbles and froths with joy, even when a dead political hand is placed on it, and the new literacy will, teachers willing, sweep their foolishness away.
But who will teach this new sort of literacy? Not the teachers of English or computing or science: they lack the skills and the time. Among the professionals of education, only one group can do it. Oddly enough, they are the very people most at threat from those who say the Book is Dead.
Some call them school librarians, but they’re really teacher-librarians, people trained both as teachers and as librarians. Rather than getting rid of them and their libraries, we need to fund them better, far better. We need more, not fewer, libraries, more, not fewer, teacher-librarians.
You can find more of Peter’s writings in our library catalogue!
I’ve just started reading Alan Bennett’s The Uncommon Reader (or click here to find a talking book version), and am finding it an absolute delight (Yes, Business Librarians do have souls beyond money!) The story begins when the Queen accidently discovers a mobile library parked in the kitchen courtyard at Windsor and, out of politeness, borrows a book – an action which seems to be leading to some unexpected consequences…
…briefing is not reading. In fact it is the antithesis of reading. Briefing is terse, factual and to the point. Reading is untidy, discursive and perpetually inviting. Briefing closes down a subject, reading opens it up”.
The Uncommon Reader, p. 22
You can hear Alan Bennett being interviewed by Phillip Adams on Late Night Live earlier this year, find more of his work in our library catalogue, or find out more about him on the British Council’s Contemporary Writers website.