Thursday, September 20, 2012

A Voice from the Past: Margaret Edwards

For me, Margaret Edwards was a consummate pragmatist. For decades beginning in the early 1930s, she tirelessly advocated for the value of library work with teens through her position as a librarian at Baltimore's Enoch Pratt Free Library. In 1988, with a gift from Edwards' estate, the American Library Association established an award in her memory, which honors authors of books for young adults.

Edwards had much to say about youth services librarians' fetish with card catalogs, which still apply to the profession and OPACs today. Here's one example from The Fair Garden and A Swarm of Beasts: The Library and the Young Adult (original published in 1969, reprinted by ALA in 2002):
If we gave up our futile attempt to teach everyone to use the catalog, the time saved could be spent in the intensive promotion of reading. We could use the time for more class visits to talk about books, assembly programs on reading, book lists, reading clubs, and above all, work with individuals on the floor of the library (p. 79).
I see many lessons to be learned from this thought, but most important is questioning tradition. What do we value? What do we do that is inessential? What might we do instead?

No comments:

Post a Comment