10 changes a school library must consider in the digital era

6. Showcase: Part of having meaningful resources is by letting students and staff know what’s available, and showcasing content can be done through a number of online platforms, said Luhtala.

For instance, GoodReads can be used to highlight summer reading content, while Aurasma can be used as a visual guide to printed content. Pinterest,  Destiny Quest, QR codes, and ThingLink can also help librarians showcase collections.

5. Assess: “It’s so important you don’t speculate—know your numbers!” emphasized Luhtala.

“How many kids in the school have internet access at home? These are the questions you shouldn’t answer with guess-timations. Instead, use surveys, polls and even focus groups to get the accurate information you need.”

Luhtala suggested using Moodle to complete many of these surveys, as well as to assess students during their library literacy classes, since “Moodle allows for mobile assessments, which frees up precious lab time in the school.”

4. Divest: According to Luhtala, divesting means getting rid of anything that’s no longer essential, such as file folders, notebook paper, old monitors no longer in use, old copies of books in disrepair, and even reference books.

“Getting rid of old, ratty books is so important because it not only clears up space, but entices students to use the library. No student wants to use worn-out items. Today’s library needs to look like a bookstore.”

Luhtala is aware, however, that divesting is also supported by funding.

3. Adapt: The skills librarians learned aren’t outdated, they just need to adapt, explained Luhtala.

“Catalogue but catalogue eContent, and use online tagging. These are just ways to organize like we did with printed content, only in an online format,” she said.

“Also, don’t put all your materials in one hub. Students like to use printed materials when they’re in school and digital when they’re at home, so separate the two out. It’s about making the student’s life easier, not yours.”

Luhtala also noted that ownership of rights is also changing, from owning content outright to having a number of uses per material.

“And teach 24/7, which sounds intimidating but it’s not,” she said. “What I mean is make sure students have access to the resources they need when you’re not available, as well as new information they may not be aware of. I use Blogger, but you can also use LibGuides.”

2. Promote: “Make yourself visible to the school and work with teachers to provide the best resources possible. Be as transparent as possible and work as a team, then you’ll be invaluable,” said Luhtala.

“I work with two favorite teachers to see what students need to be doing for homework and in class and to get their help with resources,” she said.

Promoting also means celebrating what merits preservation, noted Luhtala, like children’s books.

“Not everything needs to be scrapped in the digital era. What needs to be preserved should be preserved and should be promoted. Also, many students are different learners and like print.”

1. Track: According to Luhtala, everything from student usage to database usage should be tracked to have a great-performing library based on data.

“Do you see what these 10 changes spell? USERS ADAPT,” concluded Luhtala. “And that’s what today’s library is all about: adapting.”

For more information on the changing landscape of school libraries and the role of library administration, check out’s “Emerging Tech: Using technology to advance your school library program” community.

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