Earlier today, as I was waiting for a meeting to start, I found myself eavesdropping on a group of librarians who were lamenting the fact that the students they served only wanted to use Google. As I listened in on the conversation a couple of things came to mind.
- First, I thought, why is this conversation going on AGAIN? Aren’t librarians finally at the point where they realize Google is here to stay, we have to accept it, and our job is to figure out ways to help teens use it in the best way possible?
- Then I thought, are librarians such a judgmental lot? Are we always judging the teens who come into the library and not simply accepting them for who they are? Do we focus too much on what we judge to be the best in materials, searching, etc.? Is this the reason why a conversation on this topic STILL takes place?
Well, maybe I sound judgmental about librarians, but I am always concerned about how successful we are at accepting teens for who they are, and this Google discussion brought it back to me. What if all teen librarians were able to let our judgments take a back seat? Then when a teen walked up to a teen librarian and asked for help on an informational quest we would:
- Start with a Google search since we know that’s what lots of teens like to use.
- Venture over to Wikipedia since teens also like that as a research tool and find some possibly useful background information.
- After a teen said she started her search in Google, smile and say, “I often start there too, what did you find?”
What I’m thinking is, we need to stop having these conversations that focus on getting teens to no longer use the tools they want to use. And, instead, talk about how we can support teens and their informational needs by:
- Showing an acceptance of the tools they like to use
- Respecting their use of those tools
- Visibly showing that acceptance and respect in order to gain teen trust so that when we make a suggestion that perhaps another resource might be a better way to start, that suggestion will be accepted and respected.
We’ll then have a really good chance at being people teens want to ask for research help.
I can be judgmental too. But, I work really hard when I’m serving teens to put my judgments aside and accept the teens for who they are. I know there are lots of librarians who do that. I’d love to find more conversations to eavesdrop on that are from that perspective.