As a person who loves to read printed books I never really considered a library or a librarian becoming obsolete. When I first enrolled in the LIS program I was confident and sure that my job status as a librarian would never be jeopardy. I frequented the library, my children frequented the library, and most of the people within my inner circle were also regulars at the library, so I was sure that my future profession was secure and stable. However my feelings began to change after reading about the growing number of high-tech schools that don’t employ librarians or even have print libraries. Darren (2009) stated, “it is predicted that by 2019, 50 percent of high school courses will be taught online”, as an educator and future librarian I find that percentage downright shocking and a bit frightening.
After the panic and worry began to slowly pass I started researching what the future of librarianship might be like. From my research it’s clear that today’s librarian will have to reinvent themselves to better meet the needs of the 21st century learner. No longer are we just the keeper of books and print documents. Today’s librarian will have to stay relevant and pertinent to schools and students by becoming a technology leader at their campus, being innovative, being collaborative, showing creativity, and most importantly being willing to change and adapt to new situations and expectations from our patrons and society.
Additional Related Reading:
Professionalism and the Future of Librarianship
So Now What? The Future for Librarians
The Doomsday Scenario
Darron, R. (2009). School Libraries Are Essential: Meeting the Virtual Access and Collaboration Needs of 21st Century Learner and Teacher. Knowledge Quest, 37(5), 78-83.
A library is more than a room or building in which books. A library is more than the person working with students and helping them find the information they are seeking. A library is compilation of puzzle pieces. When all the pieces fit together you have a library program that not only meets the needs of its’ patrons but it exceeds the needs of its’ patrons. In Betsy Ruffin’s 2012 narrative she compared a library to a Lego project. She stated, “Lego’s are about building, creating, sharing and connecting“. Just like a “good library program can help build information literate students, create lifelong learners, and share in student achievement by making connections with the school community through technology” and other resources.
Student “Blocks” of the Library:
- teaching research skills
- promoting student achievement through content connections
- promoting lifelong learning and a love of reading
Teacher “Blocks” of the Library:
- collaborative teaching and planning
- connecting with teachers through staff development and online learning
- shared resources
Parent “Blocks” of the Library:
- utilizing the website for parent connections
- building partnerships for advocacy efforts
Librarian and Community “Blocks” of the Library:
- connecting with fellow librarians to build your personal network
Ruffin, B. (2012). Library LEGOs: Putting the pieces together. LMC, 30(6), 10-11.
It’s important for librarians to remember relationships begin before classroom teachers even walk into the library. School librarians should ask themselves, “Is the library inviting to staff members?”, “Am I approachable and readily available to the staff members at my school?”, “Have I reached out electronically to the teachers offering my services to them?”. Many educators simply don’t know what librarians can do for them and for their students. Most educators don’t complete a single library course in college therefore they don’t realize we are trained educators, technology experts, and a valuable resource available to them and their students.
In First Year Firsts Gail Dickinson (2007) points out specific things librarians should do their first week, first month, and first year of school.
First Week of School:
- Introduce yourself to classroom teachers, walk the halls, be visible, get to know the staff.
- Offer your services to staff, try to find one good resource for one teacher. Let teachers see your value to them.
- Create one newsletter or one new Web Page
First Month of School:
- Read and review the mission, vision, and goal statements of the library.
- Offer to collaborate with teachers
- Set Goals
First Year of School:
- Make lists of your accomplishments
- Make lists of things you want to change the following school year
- Reflect and plan for the next school year
Additional Helpful Links:
Surviving Your First Year as a Library Director
Your First Library Job
Letters to a Young Librarian
Dickinson, G. (2007). First year firsts. LMC, 25(7), 34-39.
Teaching cybersafety has become a hot topic and more recently a national trend in lawsuits. As a result of the countless lawsuits many districts have faced several states have mandated legislation that now requires educators to directly teach Internet safety and cyberbullying prevention. “Many children and teens think that they already know how to be safe on the Internet” (Gray, 2011) however one can easily determine this isn’t the case by watching NBC’s “How to Catch a Predator”, the nightly news and stories of pedophiles luring young children through Internet chat rooms, or even reading about stories of how individuals create fake Facebook accounts to lure unsuspecting children.
Librarians generally interact with most of the students on campus and are therefore in a prominent position to be the leaders in the delivering awareness of cyberbullying, as well as, ensuring Internet safety is taught to every student on campus. Librarians could easily incorporate these safety lessons into their scheduled library rotation schedules or they could partner with classroom educators and offer to collaboratively teach them in the general education classrooms.
One of the best resources I’ve found for teaching children Internet safety is the netsmartz website. This website teaches digital citizenship and general cybersafety by various age groups: teens, tweens, and young children. The resources are easy to use and all student resources are available in English or Spanish.
Additional Internet Safety Resources:
- Internet Safety Video www.brainpopjr.com Following the video there is a great writing activity and online quiz
- The Walt Disney Company has designed a short Online Safety site for parents and young children. They also provide a short safety agreement that can be signed by parents and young children.
- Webonauts, a game created by PBS, allows kids to learn and play as they navigate through various online safety topics.
Gray, C. (2011). Internet safety and teens today. LMC, 29 (6), 24-26.
Education as we know it is changing; it’s transforming into a digital learning environment. According to the latest research more and more students are enrolling in online learning environments and many of those environments are being built without traditional libraries or librarians (Darron, 2009). The librarians of today need to advocate for not only their libraries but for their specific skill set. It’s vital we educate others on what we do in the library as well as what we do outside of the library walls.
Does the school administration and teachers know what the librarian can do for them? Do the parents and community members connected to the school library realize what a strong school library program brings to their children? It’s important for librarians to educate others what their programs and services actually do for students.
Having graphics and or handouts displayed in prominent places around the school and library during open house, meet the teacher nights, PTA/PTO performance nights, etc. can bring attention to the school library program. It’s also beneficial to include library information on school website and the library website.
Darron, R. (2009). School Libraries Are Essential: Meeting the Virtual Access and Collaboration Needs of 21st Century Learner and Teacher. Knowledge Quest, 37(5), 78-83.
Haycock, K. (2013). School libraries and student achievement. Ken Haycock & Associates. Retrieved from http://kenhaycock.com/school-libraries-and-student-achievement/
Checkout policies vary from school to school. Some campuses limit the number of books a student may checkout by grade-level. Some campuses, like mine, allow students to check out one choice book of their particular like and interest and one book in their specific reading level. However some campuses are trying something new and innovative, some campuses have removed restrictive book checkout policies from students and are allowing them to checkout “any book and as many books as they can carry” (Brown, 2012). We can all agree that library books are there for the students and not the librarians. If the books and media that we catalog and organize are there for the students why do so many schools still limit how many items a student can checkout?
Even in second grade I have a few students, fluently reading 150-175 wpm, that generally finish both their books the day after we visit the library. Those few students of mine have read all my personal beginning chapter books and are becoming frustrated with the stringent “2 book rule” imposed by our current school library program. The answer isn’t always as easy as “let them read digital content” as stated by my school librarian. Every student doesn’t necessarily have Internet access to our digital subscriptions of TumbleBooks and myON digital databases as home…they just need more books! Just as teachers differentiate curriculum for their individual student needs our checkout policy should be differentiated for our students and their specific reading habits. As Kathryn Brown (2012) cleverly stated, “students need books when they need them”.
Brown, K. (2012). Unrestricted checkout: The time has come. LMC 31(2), 32-34.
The phrase “show me the money” from the movie Jerry Maguire comes to mind when reading through this week’s reading assignments. To run an efficient library program funds will be needed and finding those funds is not always an easy task! As mentioned in the online lecture delivered by Professor Buchanan the librarian “will need to advocate for the needs of the library and the library program” (Buchanan, 2016). Money is tight When additional funding is needed the librarian will need to advocate for additional funds from the school administration and other financial stakeholders.
Recently I spent some time investigating the library budget at the school I presently teach 2nd grade at. After speaking to the current GM librarian and school secretary I was shocked to learn no additional funding has been given to our school library, from administration or outside grant organizations in the past 15 years. The school secretary informed me that to her knowledge neither the current librarian nor the one she replaced three years ago has ever even approached school administration for additional funding. The school secretary also mentioned that it is within the principal’s discretion to allocate additional funds towards the school library program however needs would need to be presented to them and sadly none have been brought forth as of yet.
Another way to add to a tight library budget is by conducting a Scholastic Book Fair.
http://www.scholastic.com/bookfairs/ Book fairs can easily contribute thousands of dollars annually to library budgets. The problem most librarians face with book fairs is the ability to attract and retain volunteers. I recently volunteered at my school’s book fair as a personal favor to our school librarian. While at the book fair I noticed there was not a volunteer treat station or even a “We Appreciate Our Volunteers” sign. Making our volunteers feel welcomed and appreciated is of utmost importance if we want them to return. Having coffee and sweet treats or even a simple appreciation sign will show our volunteers they are needed, wanted, and hopefully make them want to return.
Buchanan, S. (2016). Building the school library budget. Retrieved from http://voicethread.com/myvoice/#thread/6675202/34847315/36240774
Word cloud using: http://worditout.com/word-cloud/make-a-new-one
Today’s librarian in most schools can also be referred to as a technology information specialist. Gone are the days where a librarian can quietly sit behind a desk and read as their students dig through the card catalogs looking for the call number to the latest copy of The Boxcar Children series. Today’s librarian is trying and mastering new technology and in the classrooms collaboratively teaching with classroom educators. “The changing information landscape and highly technological environment” of schools today has completely “redefined the role of school librarians” (Johnston, 2012).
According to Johnston (2012) further evidence that librarians are “becoming the technology leaders” at campuses can be found in the 2010 AASL Learning Standards. The AASL “standards assert that school librarians provide leadership, instruction, and collaboration in the use of instructional technologies and should move beyond the role of provider of resources to one who leads in the use or integration of these resources for learning”. Johnston (2012) goes on to say that librarians “can use technology to connect and create meaningful instruction and to model technology integration” across their campus. This can be established by:
- Following and researching new digital trends and tools
- Leading after school student coding clubs
- Experimenting with then offering after school technology training to fellow campus colleagues
- Coteaching collaborative lessons involving technology with classroom educators
- Displaying student created technology work samples in prominent places in the library
To be the digital leader at a campus the librarian will have to “be the person willing to try things” and the person willing to “pay attention to what the new trends are” (Buchanan, 2016).
Buchanan, S. (2016). TL as technology specialist. Retreived from https://voicethread.com/myvoice/#thread/7526020/40513926/41627639
Johnston, M.P. (2012). School Librarians as Technology Integration Leaders: Enablers and barriers to leadership enactment. School Library Research, 151-33.
As a librarian it’s important to model technology that can easily be incorporated into the library as well as the regular classroom settings. Technology should be used to enhance student learning but the question is how do we teach the teachers to efficiently use technology with their students. It will be the role of the librarian to meet teachers when they are available. Librarian’s have some flexibility with their schedule where as most classroom teachers do not. Librarian’s will have to make themselves readily available before and after school, during passing periods, during lunch times, possibly even on nights and/or weekends. According to Herold (2015) one of the greatest challenges we face with technology integration is lack of sufficient knowledge. The librarian’s role should be “expanding teachers’ knowledge of new instructional practices that will allow them to select and use the right technology, in the right way, with the right students, for the right purpose”.
An easy way for librarian’s to model technology integration is to create simple “how-to” screencast videos for their staff. Considering many teachers are bombarded with emails, paper copies of directions should also be created to.
Herold, B. (2015). Why Ed Tech Is Not Transforming How Teachers Teach. (2015, June 10). Education Week, 24(35), 8-14. Retrieved from
What does technology look like in the library? What kinds of technology, hardware and software, are available at most campuses? Does today’s librarian need to be proficient with current technology? As professor Buchanan of SJSU stated, “one of the biggest hats that the teacher librarian can wear is that of the technology specialist”(2016). From briefly surveying 10 elementary schools within my district I found technology seems to vary greatly from school to the next school. At my particular campus you can find technology dispersed throughout the building. Our library houses only a small portion of our school’s technology devises. The technology housed in the library is the responsibility of our school librarian and those are the items she is expected to be the “go-to” person for. In our library you can find:
- Portable Technology including: 60 iPads, 60 iPad Minis, 2 camcorders, 7 digital cameras, 5 Flipcams, 10 webcams, 10 laptops, 5 plug-in projectors, plug-in utility carts, 2 scanners, and all other portable audio-visual equipment.
- 9 Designated Library Desktop Computers and all software applications
- Digital Database Subscriptions: Britannica School Elementary, Britannica Spanish, National Geographic Kids, Tumblebooks Library, GALE Kids, OMNI Music, Discovery Education, Britannica Image Quest, Explora, and EBSCO Host
So how can the librarian support the staff and students with technology? The school librarian should take on the “role of the technology leader within the school” (Buchanan, 2016). The school librarian at minimum should offer her campus:
-Before/ after school staff development technology sessions
-Offer teachers ways/examples of how to incorporate technology creation tools in current units/lessons
-Create Symbaloos or similar bookmarking sites for teachers to use with their current units of study
-Attend grade-level planning sessions to present new technology tools to teachers or be available in meets to answer questions from teachers
-Model/ test new tech tools in the library with students
-Offer to model technology lessons in the general education classrooms
-Offer to coteach technology lessons with the general education classroom teachers
The librarian is more than the keeper of the books, “because of their knowledge of pedagogical principles and curriculum, paired with technology and information expertise, school librarians are in a unique position to serve as technology leaders” at their campuses (Johnston, 2012).
Buchanan, S. (2016). Teacher librarian as technology specialist. Retrieved from https://voicethread.com/myvoice/#thread/7526020/40513926/41627639
Johnston, M.P. (2012). School LIbrarians as Technology Integration Leaders: Enablers and
Barriers to leadership enactment. School Library Research, 151-33. Retrieved from http://libaccess.sjlibrary.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=ofm&AN=82442509&site=ehost-live