Buffy Hamilton's "Participatory Librarianship: Creating Conversations for Learning"

Imageby Joan Fraser Burton

Buffy Hamilton’s presentation at this year's ABQLA Conference on participatory librarianship was timely and truly motivational.  Buffy is an award-winning media specialist and teacher/librarian at Creekview High School in Canton, Georgia and she shared her views on how school libraries can take advantage of new technologies to make them more relevant and meaningful to all stakeholders. She believes we must teach transliteracy (the ability to read, write and interact across a range of platforms, tools and media) and make learning portable, participatory and personalized – the “three p’s”.

ImageLibraries must move from warehouses to places of experiences. They should be flexible, fluid learning spaces that provide communal learning opportunities. The new library is a mash-up of old and new – not either/or, not print/digital. Librarians connect people and ideas and she stressed that relationships are the cornerstones of libraries and participation, and we must create conversations about the multiple ways of reading and writing in today’s world.

She stressed that members’ opinions matter; they must feel connected and have a sense of shared ownership. She showed how social sites encourage participatory learning and outlined a variety of ways, from group wikis to blogs to Flickr, for engaging students in active learning, giving amazing examples from her own school library.

Buffy concluded by challenging the audience to ask themselves: how do you invite and engage participation in your libraries? In closing, she reaffirmed that the strength and relevance of a library is in the community you and your patrons create together.