School libraries are evolving to meet student needs in a digital age
- The mission of the school library has always been to match resources with those who need them, but schools now need to pursue that mission by creating active spaces designed to connect students and teachers with both print and digital resources and to inspire students to participate in collaborative, creative efforts, District Administration reports.
- Many schools are accomplishing this by transforming traditional school libraries into student-friendly learning commons areas with access to computers, whiteboards, couches and maker spaces, as well as reading nooks.
- The role of the librarian is also shifting to a more technology-focused role as librarians are expected to not only promote literacy and teach research skills, but also to act as “champions of digital literacy and technology integration.”
The old image of the school librarian whose main responsibilities were to curate books, help students learn research skills and cultivate a love of reading is gone. Today’s school librarians are expected to be tech-savvy media specialists who pursue all those goals and more. With education’s growing dependence on digital resources and the trend toward personalized learning, school administrators need to find school library and media specialists who can connect students and teachers with the resources they need to both learn and teach.
The school library space needs to change as well. In the past, the school library was a place that students either loved or ignored, based on their personal approach to education. Today, school administrators need to rethink that model by creating an open, comfortable, student-friendly space that invites learning, creativity and collaborative problem-solving. The inclusion of active learning spaces, such as maker spaces where students can experiment with different media forms and elements including Legos, craft supplies and 3-D printers, also creates opportunities for hands-on learning and makes the school library more appealing.
Such conversions of school libraries may seem beyond the reach of schools will limited budgets, but it may be less costly than first imagined. Most schools have an existing library or other large room which could be converted for the purpose, so construction costs should be minimal. However, redecorating, furnishing and equipping the space may be more of a challenge. The good news is that such innovative ideas are just the sort of thing some parent and community groups can get behind. With the right fund-raising strategies in place, anything is possible.
- District Administration Big leap for school libraries