Practical Theory - The Origin
The Scholars in CyberEnglish
ToDaY's MeNu - Ted

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Cybrarian

I became a Cybrarian in the early 90's after creating CyberEnglish and my cybrary. I chose this name because I was becoming a cybernaut, a cybernut, a teacher who was jacking in and morphing into more than what I was before I became a Cybrarian. I am an etymologist as well and looked for a word that would complement what I was becoming and Cybrarian was the word. A Cybrarian is one who tends to the matters of Cyberspace or things cyber related. I say this because "cyber" was the current word of the realm in which we were playing and I drew a bit on the Greek origin of steersman and govern to "cybernetics" of the Sci-Fi world and "arian" which means "having a concern or belief in a specified thing" as in antiquarian, humanitarian, vegetarian, agrarian, necessitarian, latitudinarian, disciplinarian, contrarian, or librarian. When I did a word search using "*-arian" on Merriam-Webster, I found 228 entries that support my contention. A Cybrarian is not necessarily aligned to librarians nor it is exclusively the domain of librarians. A Cybrarian is more, much more than a librarian. Just as the Oxford English Dictionary defines words through published usage, I can explore the use of the word through not only my publications and presentations but others as well.

In my early presentations, I'm skirting around the use of Cybrarian. It isn't until November 1997 at an NCTE conference in Detroit that I actually use the word "Cybrarian" in a session title. I came to understand this after a few years of using technology in my classroom when I wrote a personal vision document during my days in a doctoral program in 1997. In 1999, I raised the ire of librarians when I published an article for Multimedia Schools Magazine titled, "Morphing from Teacher to Cybrarian." The Magazine sponsored a conference for librarians and the editor asked me to speak, especially since my article had angered many librarians.

Since then I have seen many people call themselves Cybrarians. Janet Murray wrote about this for the librarians, which is probably where we began this mistaken idea of the Cybrarian as a new version of the librarian, when she published her article over a year later in the same magazine I published my article about morphing to the Cybrarian. This misguided idea continues today. Cybrarian is not a derivative of librarian as Marilyn Johnson suggests in her new book as discussed on Leonard Lopake on Wednesday, February, 24, 2010. Not all librarians can be Cybrarians and not all Cybrarians were librarians. A Cybrarian is one who knows how to use the tools of cyberspace and how to access and assess the information and tools of the new information highway, to oversee CyberSchool, to coordinate a Virtual School.

The Cybrarian is more than a librarian, a teacher, a technician, a webmaster, a technology coordinator, a geek. The Cybrarian is all of these things and more as I outlined in my Personal Vision or in Susan C. Hunnicutt's definition. The Cybrarian would be a key player in Lengel's Education 3.0 vision. Every school needs a Cybrarian for so many reasons, with student safety being the most important. Cybrarian can't be an added role to an existing role. It is a new role.

In my role as a Cybrarian, I assist scholars in using the Internet safely. I assist in searches, I deal with ethics; plagiarism; creating email, webpage, blog, web accounts; cloud computing; operating software; integrating virtual with real world; and so much more each day. I teach a class, I maintain the school webpage, oversea our cyberschool and virtual school, provide professional development, and work with others to maintain our technology, infrastructure, and user accounts.

As we continue to make attempts to integrate more technology into our schools, we need to identify those Cybrarians in our schools who will help us make that leap into the brave new world of cyberspace.

I'd love to hear from anyone who has references of the use of Cybrarian before 1997.

No comments: