The School Librarian, Volume 71, Number 2, Summer 2023
The purpose of this series is to address Jesse Shera’s charge that academic librarians, and by extension school librarians, had never developed a theory of the role of the library in the student’s intellectual experience, which is not the same as a list of things that a librarian does. This theory, from my perspective, is taking firm shape, and is discernible in the case that I have been making here.
I pause now to reflect on three significant developments that bring this theory into sharper focus.
Firstly, following the IFLA School Libraries midyear meeting at Blanchelande College in April 2022, I was invited to write a chapter for an upcoming IFLA book on digital literacy.* Having already argued at the UK SLA conference in June 2021 that inquiry was an imperative for the library if we are to become integral to the educational process in school, this chapter enabled me to argue that inquiry is an imperative for school if we are to adequately strengthen the reality-based community of error seeking inquirers who uphold the Constitution of Knowledge upon which liberal democracy depends (Jonathan Rauch).
Secondly, this emphatically reaffirms Neil Postman’s assertion that of all the survival strategies that education has to offer, none is more potent than inquiry, provided that we resist the tendencies that rob inquiry of its potency. We will explore this in detail and at length during an extended workshop at the IASL conference in Rome in July 2023.
Thirdly, growing interest in and adoption of FOSIL in Australia, including by students on the M.Ed. (Teacher Librarianship) program at Charles Sturt University, brings with it a wealth of theoretical knowledge and practical experience, especially as a number of these colleagues are moving from well-established Guided Inquiry Design programs to FOSIL.
The revolution will not be televised.
*My chapter – Digital Literacy: Necessary but Not Sufficient for Life-wide and Life-long Learning – prompted me to revisit my presentation at LILAC in April 2019 – Information Literacy: Necessary but Not Sufficient for 21st Century Learning – which coincided with the launch of the FOSIL Group. The formation of the FOSIL Group, in turn, was the unintended but inevitable outworking of my presentation at the CILIP SLG conference in April 2018 – Information Literacy Framework(s): The Next Step(s) – which identified an urgent and growing need to support colleagues who were beginning to develop information literacy skills systematically and progressively within an inquiry-based learning process.
The FOSIL Group is an international community of educators who frame learning through inquiry, which is a stance and process aimed at building knowledge and understanding of the world and ourselves in it as the basis for responsible participation in society.