Great ways library media and IT departments can work together

By Bridget McCrea
November 4th, 2015

Library media specialists and IT teams can work toward a common mission

library-mediaInformation technology (IT) departments in the K-12 environment have historically operated as their own separate entities, making decisions about, providing support for, and overseeing the successful implementation of hardware and software on campus. With more and more technology infiltrating classrooms, the IT team’s role has shifted to include more interaction and collaboration with other departments, administrators, and individual instructors.

As purveyors of digital learning materials and research, library media specialists are aligning with their IT departments to help create dynamic, engaging hubs for students and instructors. At Henrico County Public Schools in Henrico, Va., Suzanna Panter said the 50,000-student, 70-school district was an early one-to-one laptop adopter and, as such, relies on strong ties between its media and IT departments.

Panter, who is the district’s educational specialist, library services, actually has an employee who serves as a go-between for the library and the IT department. “At the library, we’re completely instructional in nature,” Panter explains, “so we don’t see eye-to-eye with IT on every issue.” During a 2015 migration to Microsoft Office 365, for example, Panter says her department had concerns about the proposed single sign-on (SSO) process, which automatically signs a user into his or her email account once signed onto Office 365.

Panter said this is just one example of how school libraries have different technology needs than other campus departments. “It’s wonderful for most users, but our library assistants don’t have their own computers,” Panter explained. “They need to log into email to check for inter-library loans, for example, but with single sign-on they wouldn’t be able to do that (i.e., the computers are logged in as ‘library user,’ for access to the circulation system).” Working with the IT department, the library came up with a work-around that includes the use of Office 365 but not SSO.