School libraries: A shift to digital (continued)

While such collaboration does exist and is successful, it is not as widespread as it could be, the report claims. One roadblock could be that, in some universities, preservice teachers are educated at the undergraduate level, while preservice librarians are educated at the graduate level. Sometimes, teachers resist or take offense to the idea that they “need help from a librarian,” and the education system’s focus on test scores makes it less likely that teachers “will engage in collaboration unless they foresee a tangible reward in the form of improved test scores,” survey participants said.

“Now is a particularly crucial time for teachers and school librarians to be working together to educate students in the skills needed to be successful in the digital age,” according to the report.

A move to digital collections

As the idea of teacher-librarian collaboration is changing, so, too, is the concept of a library’s resources. Today’s students joke about older generations using printed encyclopedias for reference projects, as many schools have added digital collections to augment their offerings. But it’s not just reference materials that are going digital: Entire book collections are as well.

Students and teachers in the Van Meter Community School in Iowa have used the eBook platform MackinVIA for more than a year, and have access to roughly 900 eBook titles in the collection. In addition to eBooks, MackinVIA includes online databases as part of a “one-stop” process and offers access to most titles simultaneously, so multiple students can use the same book at once. Using a “backpack” feature, students can select books they want to read and can store books and resources as part of school projects.

“It’s so simple for the kids to use— even the kindergartners use it without a problem,” said Shannon Miller, the district teacher librarian and technology specialist.

“It hooks them on reading—even things that they might not have read before or outside of the genre they typically pick,” Miller said. Van Meter has a one-to-one computing program in which students bring their own devices, and parents can help their children select books and perform research using their children’s devices and user accounts.

Other services exist to help school libraries develop and expand their digital collections.

Lerner Publishing’s Brain Hive offers an eBook rental option for K-12 libraries. Schools pay $1 each time a digital copy of a book is accessed, and they are able to purchase frequently used eBooks as part of a permanent collection. The service includes more than 3,000 eBook titles.

Jones eGlobal Library offers a free three-step analysis to help educators and librarians understand how their digital libraries are developing and how well they are supporting students.

Capstone Digital’s myON reader is a digital library platform that offers a “personalized literacy environment,” complete with more than 4,700 enhanced digital books for students from birth through 8th grade.

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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.