School libraries: A shift to digital

By Laura Devaney, Managing Editor, @eSN_Laura
September 4th, 2013

With increased collaboration comes a growing need for expanded resources in libraries

school-librariesThe school library is changing. Instead of a stuffy and silent space filled with books, today’s school libraries are becoming collaboration centers, where teachers and librarians work together to help students develop technology skills and evaluate digital information.

Over the past decade, studies have shown that students in schools with endorsed librarians earn higher scores on standardized reading tests, and those scores are higher regardless of students’ socioeconomic level and despite overall school staffing declines.

A 2012 Institute of Museum and Library Services study that spanned 10 years analyzed library conditions and their impact on learning and literacy development in two Philadelphia neighborhoods. The researchers found that, when comparing a poor community with an affluent community, “children with early access to print and technology continue to build and gain knowledge. Children who don’t have early access enter school far behind and are taught the ‘basics.’”

When computers are readily available to children, those children are able to use technology such as search engines comfortably as they compare information and engage in learning. Children without the same easy computer access are not able to judge the quality of information found online as adequately.

According to the report, public libraries can serve as an extension of school libraries and can support early learning in important ways, including linking new digital technologies to learning and helping children develop “deeper learning” skills through literacy and STEM-based experiences.

A successful working partnership between teachers and librarians is often touted as a sign of 21st-century education, but “evidence suggests that achieving successful collaborative relationships in the field is fraught with challenges,” according to a June 2013 study published in School Library Research, the research journal of the American Association of School Librarians.

(Next page: Digital libraries on the rise)

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3 Responses to “School libraries: A shift to digital”

September 4, 2013

This is an excellent article, particularly about the need for library media specialists and classroom teachers to collaborate as these new tools are introduced. Knowledge is power and there is power in “team”!

I would also encourage your readers to explore our StarWalk Kids Media digital eBook platform (www-dot-StarWalkKids-dot-com), which offers a tightly curated collection of nearly 200 high quality eBooks from authors and illustrators whom educators know and trust. Our eBooks work on any device with Internet access, most feature high-quality, professional narration, and every book comes with Common Core support documents developed by literacy expert Linda Hoyt. Our collection of high quality literary nonfiction and fiction is being used by more than a quarter-of-a-million K-8 students in the US and abroad!

Thanks for your good work in highlighting this important topic.

Liz Nealon
Publisher, StarWalk Kids Media

September 4, 2013

Yes, great points! There is definitely a disconnect between pre-service librarians and pre-service teachers in terms of collaboration. While there have been years worth of studies showing its importance, it still just doesn’t happen enough.

Also, another huge problem is the lack of technology in the hands of the students and staff. I think it is time for local businesses to put their money where their mouths (and complaints about unprepared graduates) are, and pony up the funds to educate students with equitable technology.

I don’t think the portrayal of the library as a “stuffy and silent space” is accurate–whether digital library or brick and mortar. Good article, but let’s not feed the stereotype.