“Today’s librarian is part of a growing cadre of 21st-century multimedia specialists who help guide students through the digital ocean of information that confronts them. These new librarians believe that literacy includes, but also exceeds, books. The days of just reshelving a book are over, now it is the information age, and technology has brought out a whole new generation of practices,” as pointed out in a recent article in The New York Times.
The roles for school librarians and the part school libraries play in teaching and learning have changed dramatically over the last 20 years. Many of the vital functions remain: the books are still there, story times are still a part of an elementary school experience, and reader’s advisory is still taking place, but nearly everything else has been revolutionized.
Today, students live and learn in a world that contains vast stores of information in a variety of formats. The way that kids seek and gain information has changed drastically. The librarian’s role has evolved to reflect the school’s changing learning requirements.
Early teaching sessions on library skills still focus on finding books and on fundamental research skills, but also include how to work in relevant databases linked to the library’s home page, how to decode Internet addresses and how to assess the quality of a Web site’s content.
21st century librarians teach children how to develop multimedia presentations or create online videos. Others get students to use social networking sites to debate topics from history, or to comment on classmates’ creative writing. They can assist teachers designing a classroom blog. Students write book reviews that are posted to the library’s online catalog. Librarians today combine traditional literacy skills and new technology.
The School librarian of today is an information coach and consultant for teachers and students, guiding them through the digital library. But they are still most valued as the reading guru of your child’s school. Instilling a love of reading, encouraging recreational reading, inspiring literacy and hosting student events to connect with authors and book talks. Their goal is to provide a warm, welcoming library conductive to bringing students and information, in all its formats, together, ensuring that the library remains a “cool” place to be and the heart of a learning environment.