Florida Libraries…Essential 2 Education

     Libraries have meant so many different things to me at various stages of my life. As a
“tween” living overseas the base library in Wiesbaden, Germany was my lifeline; the
weekly trips to the library gave me the chance to explore new worlds and learn new things
while adjusting to my new surroundings….

     Florida libraries are not just places to check out books. As budgets for county
services continue to decrease libraries have become places of learning, clearinghouses of
information, and, in some cases, community centers that provide reliable internet access
and other amenities that some citizens cannot afford. Our libraries are not a luxury, but a
necessity, essential to ensuring that Floridians have access to resources and to the
librarians and paraprofessionals who can help them locate, access, and understand the
information they need.

     Although we might not see ourselves as teachers, we are. Whether we’re conducting
sessions to teach students how to find and evaluate information resources, hosting
workshops to show seniors how to use social media, working with fifth graders to identify
potential science fair topics, or troubleshooting problems with computer software or other
technologies, we are engaging in the work of education. Some of us may be hesitant to call
ourselves educators because we may not have formal training in the field of education.
That’s okay. We’ve all spent time working with all kinds of library users helping them
interpret their assignments or projects, finding the resources necessary to complete them,
and then providing extra support when they need help editing, revising, or just want a little
reassurance that they’re doing things right.

     Nelson Mandela once said “education is the most powerful weapon which you can
use to change the world.” Librarians and libraries are uniquely positioned to help people
learn and grow, get the education they need, and change the world. This year’s conference
theme asks librarians, paraprofessionals, and library friends to consider all of the ways
they contribute to the education of library users. Whether we take on support or active
teaching roles, when we help our users in their attempts to learn, we become part of the
education process, and it’s time that we acknowledge, respect, and celebrate that.

Elana Karshmer
President, Florida Library Association
Instruction Program/IL Librarian and Associate Professor
Saint Leo University

Page Updated: 9/22/2016