School libraries: A shift to digital

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)

Laura Ascione

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