10 changes a school library must consider in the digital era

10. Update: “You’re not going to be able to monitor what’s out-of-date like with print,” said Luhtala. “There’s no way you can keep track of things like broken links in an online catalogue, so build a mechanism that can perform that function for you, like a QR code for students to scan to report a broken link.”

Luhtala also recommends that library administration update all social media, because “if it’s not current, kids won’t use it.” She suggests that updating also doesn’t have to occur through library staff, but can be curated in part by parents, teachers, and students.

“Re-think the Dewey. I’m not ready to give it up yet, but I don’t think it can be used for large collections anymore, so stick to smaller ones,” she noted.

“Graphic novels are also a good resource to include in your library because many students are becoming reflective visual readers and they also support Common Core requirements,” she said.

9. Spend: Luhtala emphasized that thanks to major shifts in online content collections, more money can be used to purchase mobile devices like iPads or tablets.

“You can have a whole collection of links from sources like the New York Times, Google, PBS, and the BBC as long as you have proper citation,” she explained. “You can curate them on a variety of platforms, such as Destiny Quest (we use this at our school), but you can also use platforms like Pinterest.

Because of the addition of more free content, the library can save on funding for acquiring mobile devices or investing in tracking software.

“I’ll be honest, our library keeps losing funding support, and most of our 13 iPads come from either award money or contests, but this free content is still a plus. We need it,” said Luhtala.

8.  Evolve: Luhtala’s library had nothing but bookshelves during the 2012-13 school year; however, the 2013-14 school year saw the end of bookshelves.

“We wanted to create more space for students to collaborate, so we put in couches, tables, and even physio balls. We wanted them to use the space for what felt most natural to them, and that was using mobile technology in groups.”

But it’s not just the bookshelves that went; it was also Luhtala’s office space.

“My office is now being used as a collaborative space that teachers can sign out to use with students. My staff and I now use the collaborative spaces provided in the library—the same ones for our students. We need to model the same behavior we want to see in students.”

Evolving also means changing routine processes of the past, such as inventory, she explained, since “figuring out what was lost is less important than curating new eContent coming in.”

“I haven’t done inventory since 2011,” she stated.

7. Replace: Here’s where the tracking information becomes important, said Luhtala, as tracking software can tell librarians what they need to spend time on and what they can do without.


“For example, we saw a significant decrease in database usage, but a spike in circulation in textbooks, and eBooks are at an even level. These stats are important as we look to transition to all digital textbooks next year.”


Luhtala also said that the usage of audio-visual technologies like USBs and digital cameras were declining, yet the need for iPad chargers, earbuds and Macbook chargers were increasing.

(Next page: Library changes 6-1)

Meris Stansbury

Want to share a great resource? Let us know at