School librarians are critical to schools’ digital success
Librarians and libraries are in a unique position to help schools and districts prepare for and progress through the digital transition, according to a just-released Alliance for Excellent Education report.
Librarians and school leaders can partner to create strategic technology purchasing and implementation plans, and librarians and educators are able to work together on technology integration when it comes to teaching and learning. School libraries, then, become critical to digital learning experiences.
The American Library Association and the American Association of School Librarians has adopted the term “school librarian” to include library media specialists, teacher librarians, and media coordinators.
(Next page: Three districts that know librarians are key to the digital transition)
Leading In and Beyond the Library notes that three districts have created excellent, leading examples of how school libraries and librarians are partnering with school leaders to ensure an effective digital transition.
Forsyth County Schools in Georgia is using personalized learning to bring about a digital transition that uses data to meet student needs and highlight the 4 Cs.
The district is a “bring your own technology” (BYOT) district, enabling students to use high-speed broadband to access digital content and resources for digital learning.
School librarians are part of the district’s instructional technology department and work with instructional technology facilitators in each school. Librarians also identify and implement digital content, and support classroom teachers as they integrate this content into their instructional practices.
In North Carolina, the Mooresville Graded School District‘s one-to-one program gives each student a device and access to the internet.
The district’s move to digital teaching and learning is focused on using proven instructional strategies, data-driven decision-making, and high-quality digital resources.
As the district becomes more digital, librarians’ roles have changed. Now, librarians are “focused on helping students conduct research, understand copyright laws, and apply digital citizenship,” the district’s chief technology coordinator, Scott Smith, says in the report. “It used to be that the media coordinator was the keeper of the books and never left the media center, but now he/she is out and about in the building as much as in the media center.”
Libraries across the district have changed, too, giving students more access to resources and digital opportunities.
Librarians in the Avon Community School Corporation in Indiana play a crucial role in professional development, guiding educators through digital content, research, and digital citizenship.
Teachers and librarians collaborate on lessons and work to find tools and resources. School librarians also teach students directly at times.
District libraries have partnered with public libraries to enable students to use public electronic resources via their student identification numbers.
The report also outlines recommendations to help school districts, policymakers, and librarians leverage libraries’ potential during the digital transition.
District and school leaders can:
- Support, create, or transform the school librarian’s role to incorporate professional development and coaching for teachers
- Include school librarians as part of school leadership teams
- Envision the school library as a flexible space and learning hub
- Consider how funding impacts the school librarian’s role in supporting teachers, students, and administrators
- Recognize that the library is an essential digital learning space for students
- Share best practices about collaboration, professional development, and instruction
- Continue their own learning to champion digital learning
- Lead and model the potential of the library itself as a digital learning hub