Survey: School web filtering can impede learning

Many survey respondents said web filtering can curb learning’s social potential.

More and more students are bringing personal mobile devices to school, but a new survey from the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) finds that internet filtering often prevents students from taking advantage of learning’s social potential.

School librarians report that web filtering programs have had varied effects in their schools and on school library programs. Fifty-two percent said internet filters have impeded student research when topics or keyword searches are filtered. Half said web filtering has decreased the number of potential distractions, while 42 percent said it discounts social aspects of learning.

Roughly one-third said internet filtering has decreased the need for direct supervision, 25 percent said it has prevented continued collaboration outside of face-to-face opportunities, and 23 percent said web filtering allows research curriculum to yield more relevant results.…Read More

Five key roles for 21st-century school librarians

School librarians, with their specialized training in collecting, organizing, preserving, and disseminating information, now must teach their patrons to perform these tasks.

According to Joyce Valenza, teacher librarian at Springfield Township High School in Pennsylvania and author of School Library Journal’s “Never Ending Search” blog, this is the golden age of librarianship.

Co-presenting a session at educational technology leader Alan November’s 2012 Building Learning Communities (BLC) conference on July 19 with Shannon McClintock Miller, district librarian and technology integration specialist at Van Meter Schools in Iowa, Valenza outlined five areas in which K-12 schools should turn to their librarians to empower learners with valuable 21st-century college and career readiness skills.

“Librarians are in the sweet spot of education,” Valenza said.…Read More

Opinion: Are school librarians expendable?

My feeling–as someone who works in a local tech education center that shares its library with the high school next door–is that this situation is more complex than administrators’ seeing librarians as expendable, says Jessamyn West, a librarian and technology instructor in central Vermont, for the New York Times. No matter how effective teachers are, children will be left behind without librarians to help guide them through the information blizzard. In the situation schools are in now, where expenses like staff health insurance costs and I.T. infrastructure budgets are going up by double-digit percentages a year, people have a triage mentality. Some schools are having to reconsider all non-mandated services and make tough decisions. I think a few factors come into play…

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‘Something sinister is happening…’

Decisions with important implications for students are being left to 'legal eagles' who 'seem to know very little about education.'

“In the basement of the California Mart building in downtown Los Angeles, one can find a series of bright, cavernous rooms buzzing with the sound of the fluorescent panels that hang from a ceiling of exposed ducts and wiring,” writes a school media specialist who identifies herself online as Mizz Murphy.

“… This is where teachers come to defend their qualifications in front of a judge in the hopes that someone in the legal system will understand what the students of this city really need. From what I’ve seen in the last two days, that just doesn’t seem likely.”

Thus begins a riveting first-person account of a series of hearings conducted this month by the Los Angeles Unified School District to determine whether school librarians are qualified to remain with the district as classroom teachers.…Read More

School librarians targeted in budget crunch

Los Angeles school librarians must prove they are qualified to teach students if they want to save their jobs.

How will students learn key information literacy skills, and how will teachers get help with integrating digital resources into their instruction, without a full-time media specialist in their school?

That’s the question a national school library group has asked the nation’s second largest school system as it prepares to cut dozens of school librarians in a high-profile example of a trend that is occurring nationwide.

The American Association of School Librarians (AASL) has issued an open letter to the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) urging the district to avoid cutting school media specialist positions, which would leave thousands of students and teachers without guidance on digital content, reading lists, and research options, the organization says.…Read More