For the sake of our students, we must embrace the changing role of the school librarian. 2017 was a year filled with makerspaces, student engagement, personalized learning, and more. Here, two seasoned librarians shed light on their biggest lessons learned in 2017 and look forward to the up-and-coming trends for the new year.
“Never underestimate what students are capable of.” – Robin Glugatch
There’s no denying that libraries today look a lot different than they did 20 years ago. This year was the second year that our library was a makerspace. We added new robotics, drones, and video game design, and engaged students using our new Lightspeed audio system. Throughout the year, I saw students evolve, gain confidence in their public speaking skills, and enhance active listening skills when myself or others were speaking. We also painted an entire wall green to utilize the Green Screen with larger groups. The library is leading the way in adding technology and research materials to the curriculum to enhance learning.
The biggest lesson I learned in 2017 is to never underestimate what students are capable of. It is not up to me to decide what is too difficult for a student. If I don’t give them the opportunity to make those decisions for themselves, I risk squashing their ideas, talents, and confidence. This applies to the books that they read, objects they make, and tasks they are given. I would much prefer students to try something and risk failure than always play it safe. Student choice is essential to help students discover their passions and flourish.
The library is a place for all students to feel safe and welcome. As we enter 2018, I believe libraries will become more collaborative spaces for students. The transformation of libraries into makerspaces will provide a space for hands-on exploration and creativity. Modern media specialists will play a critical role in diversifying the materials in the library and promoting inclusion and kindness. We will be looked upon as facilitators for these programs, and will continue to embrace new books, technology, and learning styles.
As a New Year’s resolution, I encourage librarians to embrace the concept that libraries are changing. They are no longer quiet rooms with books. Challenge yourself by asking what you can do to promote 21st-century learning in your library. Create a personal learning network, via Twitter or other groups, to continue to learn how to transform your library and make it a place students want to be.