Making the School Library Sticky: Digital Libraries Build Teacher-Librarians' Strategic Implementation Content Knowledge in Science

Article excerpt

EDUCATORS REQUIRE VARIOUS TYPES OF KNOWLEDGE TO HONE THEIR CRAFTS. TWO ESSENTIAL AREAS OF FOCUS ARE IN-DEPTH CONTENT KNOWLEDGE AND PEDAGOGICAL CONTENT KNOWLEDGE. CONTENT KNOWLEDGE CAN BE ACQUIRED BY STUDYING NEW DEVELOPMENTS IN A PARTICULAR FIELD, DEEPENING ONE'S EXISTING KNOWLEDGE, AND BECOMING AWARE OF NEW RESOURCES IN WHICH CONTENT IS EXPRESSED OR CONTAINED. PEDAGOGICAL CONTENT KNOWLEDGE DEVELOPMENT PERTAINS TO THE EXPANSION AND IMPROVEMENT OF INSTRUCTIONAL STRATEGIES AND THE ABILITY TO ADAPT INSTRUCTIONAL STRATEGIES TO A VARIETY OF LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS (SHULMAN, 1987).

Although these knowledge bases are essential, the need to meet organizational and educational guidelines, defined locally and federally, requires another tool for teacher-librarians: a strategy that bears in mind these requirements and integrates school library programs into the school's strategic plan. Thus, thinking strategically--or, to coin a phrase, using strategic implementation content knowledge (STICK)--is just the tool that enables teachers, students, administrators, and the community to recognize the importance of a vital school library program, which is indispensable in achieving these goals. Those teacher-librarians that understand this know how to make their library program sticky.

In The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make o Big Difference, Malcolm Gladwell (2000) builds on the idea of STICK with his notion of the stickiness factor as a quality that compels people to invest sustained attention in a product, concept, or idea. Stickiness is hard to define, and its presence can depend on both message and messenger and how well the message is positioned in the context of people's existing roles and responsibilities. Therefore, the ability for a school library-based innovation to stick is influenced by the teacher-librarian's ability to strategically implement the content into teachers' lives and work.

LESSONS FROM THE SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL LEADERSHIP SUMMIT

On November 3-4, 2006, the second School Library Journal Leadership Summit was held in Chicago. Without referencing it specifically, the main message of the summit was a call for making school libraries stickier by reenvisioning school library professional philosophy and practice. Two main areas identified by many of the presenters were (a) continued support of learning through innovative curriculum partnering and (b) sparking student motivation through creative use of technology.

With this in mind, science curricula provide a means and method for school libraries--the centers of technology for schools--to connect in new and innovative ways; the digital libraries, such as those discussed in this article, may be an ideal part of a strategy to make the school library sticky for teachers and students.

SCIENCE IS IMPORTANT

Now is an important time to examine science education in K-12 schools because No Child Left Behind legislation has been implemented with its emphasis on student achievement measured with standardized tests. These annual high-stakes tests are expected to have a noticeable impact on classroom practice in science when testing for each grade band begins in the 2007-2008 school year. Trends indicate that as long as U.S. students continue to lag behind students in other nations in science achievement, there will be mounting pressure to investigate ways to improve student science learning.

Instilling positive feelings about scientific endeavors has far-reaching effects on students' lives within and beyond their school years. Science has become integral to our lives, as a biologist from the Argonne National Laboratories (2006) states:

   Science combines the use of observation,
   intuition, theory, hypothesis, experimentation,
   and analysis. It is our way of
   observing the world around us ... all of
   us. And all of us can benefit by being
   taught at least the most rudimentary
   tenets. …