Why school librarians are critical to digital learning

A new Follett-sponsored initiative aims to raise awareness of how important school librarians are to ed-tech success

‘It makes sense that, in this Age of Information, we’d want to align our information specialists with the digital conversion taking place in schools,’ Edwards said.

School librarians are critical to the success of digital learning initiatives, and they deserve a place at the table in discussions about digital learning: That’s the message behind a new awareness campaign that targets K-12 superintendents and other senior school district leaders.

“Too many people still see school library programs in kind of a stodgy way. They need to change that mindset and think of a school library almost as the ‘research and development’ center in a school,” said Susan Ballard, a former librarian for the Londonderry, N.H., schools.

Ballard now teaches in an online library science program at Simmons College, and she is the immediate past president of the American Association of School Librarians (AASL). While she was the organization’s president, she collaborated on an initiative called Project Connect, which aims to give school librarians a stronger voice in the planning and implementation of digital learning programs.

Sponsored by Follett and launched at AASL’s national conference in Hartford, Conn., last month, Project Connect grew out of an idea from Todd Litzsinger, Follett’s president of K-12 content and services.

To help lead the project, Litzsinger brought together stakeholders such as AASL, the nonprofit organization Digital Promise, and school district leaders such as Mark Edwards, superintendent of North Carolina’s Mooresville Graded School District and the current Superintendent of the Year.

Getting school librarians “to have a stronger voice” in the transition to digital content and instruction is important, Litzsinger said. He added: “Often, they get overshadowed in the decision making process—but they really hold the key to making all this work.”

(Next page: How school librarians have made a big impact in Mooresville, N.C., schools)

Dennis Pierce

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