Sunday, January 18, 2009

Dispelling Misconceptions About Technology and the School Library

Technology will be the death of the Library. You have got to be KIDDING! Opps, did that come across as too strong? Since becoming The Passionate Librarian, just a mere year and a half ago I have heard a variety of opinions about school libraries and librarians from fellow librarians, school colleagues, and my friends and family. They have ranged from playful comments about my horned rimmed glasses (yes, I have a pair!) to wistful sighs of colleagues wishing that they could just "hole up in the quiet library and read all day". But, the comment that made me stop in my tracks and honestly (get a little feisty) was the question that was posed to me, "With the increase in student's access to the internet and Google, aren't you worried about job security? I mean, do students really need libraries and librarian anymore?". So, when Joyce Valenza's Manifesto for the 21st Century Librarian was brought to my attention, I embraced it with open arms and spread the word: Technology INCREASES the need for school libraries and teacher-librarians!!! Keep reading and I will tell you why!

First of all, students are NOT the same as students ten years ago. Learner's needs change as the educational landscape changes. In the latest edition of School Libraries Worldwide, Marlene Asselin and Ray Doiron explore how teachers need to "extend teaching to meet the literacy and learning needs of the Net Generation". I quickly saw the connection between Asselin and Doiron's paper and Valenza's Manifesto and I think that using both of these articles, I can summarize why TLs will be the perfect agents of change to address the changing learning needs and styles of this new generation of learners.

A Few Characteristics of todays learners and how TL's fit in..........

* Interactive participants- Students want to be active participants in their learning. They not only want to hear what everyone else has to say, they want to be involved in the conversation as well.
As the TL, you can be the "go-to" person for Wiki creation and instruction.

* Early adopters- "I'll figure it out myself". Students want to try the newest things NOW! "They don't want to know how it works, but how it can work for them." (Asselin, Doiron)

Use your library's "second door" (library webpage) to introduce new and worthwhile resources and tools.

* They are "Multi-tasking, multi-modal, multi-resourcing" students- They do it all, at the same time! They can research, IM, and rock out to Katie Perry all at the same time!

"Think outside the box about the concept of “collection.” That collection might include: ebooks, audiobooks, open source software, streaming media, flash sticks, digital video cameras, and much more! You lend this stuff." (Valenza)

* They share and share alike- Intellectual ownership is less of an issue. These students are working to collaboratively come up with ideas and solutions by seamlessly adding their ideas to others.

Being there to guide and inform students of information rights and responsibilities. Check out Flickr- Creative Commons!!!

* They are connected with a capital "C"- They are in constant communication with their peers, through text messages, IM, Twitter, and email.

Be just as connected as they are!! Can they find you on Twitter, Furl, or Flickr?

And, for those of you who are more visual learners, here is a little animation I created.
Like it? It's free and fun! Create your own at

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