2) How to Fight Fake News

I see librarians taking the lead in combating the fake news epidemic by curating resources for their students so they don’t have to question the information they are getting while in school. We offer several youth-friendly research databases in our district, including PebbleGo. Our librarians are also doing targeted lessons on warning signs of fakery, such as:

  • a high use of exclamation points;
  • the inability to find an author or contact that author if a name does exist; or
  • a lack of information about the source.

Librarians are teaching students to critically analyze their information sources to detect cleverly disguised “click-bait.” Also, by showing students how easy it is to take a web page and alter it themselves, librarians are showing students how bias, the choice of an image, and word choices can completely alter an article to elicit a particular emotional reaction.

3) How to Transform Libraries into Flexible Spaces

Additionally, library spaces are becoming flexible spaces. When we design or renovate our libraries, we want to make sure the design includes the ability to create small, intimate spaces as well as large open spaces for groups, activities, and classes. This means thinking about shelving as more than a function of storage but as a room divider or space-defining piece.

In our district, we have begun updating our libraries with innovative designs meant to accommodate flexible seating, shelving, and arrangement.

For instance, the new circulation desks are not built in, so as our needs change and technology changes, we will be able to alter what that piece of furniture does and where it is located. In all of our new and renovated schools, the shelving is on casters so it is easily move-able even when completely full of books, freeing librarians to change the layout based on the changing needs of their school.

Libraries are active hubs of learning that can serve as makerspaces, video or music production facilities, or places where students get supplies for classroom projects. We’re moving away from a dedicated computer space and looking at a future when students will simply grab a device from a charging cart and then go wherever they want to do their work. As digital resources climb in popularity, we believe there should be less emphasis on huge rooms packed with large quantities of books. (Not to say print is obsolete. Many students still prefer it.)

The key to a highly functioning library is the balance between print and digital, intimate and open, quiet and active, consumption and creation. Since making these changes to the flexibility of their spaces, my teacher-librarians are reporting that students are coming to the library more regularly and independently, classes are staying in the library longer, and principals are bringing visitors to the library to show it off.

School administrators need to know what a valuable resource they have in their librarians. The library is the center of the school and the epicenter for innovative new tools and programs that enrich the entire school.

Once administrators learn how to leverage the pioneering and creative power of their librarians, I guarantee they’ll see some incredible changes in their school community.

About the Author:

Susan K.S. Grigsby, Ed.S., is the district media specialist with Forsyth County Schools in Cumming, Georgia.