Academic journal article School Libraries Worldwide

Teaming with Technology: Providing Library Services to Parents

Academic journal article School Libraries Worldwide

Teaming with Technology: Providing Library Services to Parents

Article excerpt

School libraries can provide valuable services to parents and develop meaningful partnerships with them in order to help children succeed, particularly with the new computer technology. School librarians should analyze parental resources and needs and match these factors with the library's mission. They also need to be sensitive to possible barriers to service and find ways to overcome these obstacles. Parental involvement occurs at different levels:family obligation, school involvement, home education, advocacy, and community collaboration. Therefore, school librarians must ascertain which services are most appropriate; several ideas are suggested for each level. General guidelines for collaboration conclude the article.

Introduction

No matter the culture, parents are generally considered the first teachers of their children. Therefore, it behooves the school community to work with these parents to optimize student achievement. Indeed, Eileen Faucette (2000) and I (Farmer, 1999) discovered that collaboration by librarians with parents had an impact on student achievement. To facilitate such collaboration, it makes sense to use those means of communication with which parents are comfortable. Although for some people this continues to be face-to-face oral communication, others have easy access to a variety of technological means: from radio to telecommunications, from broadcast television to home VCRs. Because technology allows users to accomplish tasks not easily done without it, or optimizes the effect of some efforts, librarians should examine these media carefully to determine what role technology can play in providing connections with the parent community. This article helps school librarians to identify potential technology in their community and to leverage that technology to foster collaboration with families with the aim of providing optimal library service. I have worked extensively with parents in suburban California settings where the potential impact of technology is high. In addition, I have worked in Tunisia, where technology options were not as plentiful. The underlying concepts of using different communication channels effectively hold true no matter what technologies are available. The key element is teaming, and the means should follow availability and capability.

The sight of parents bringing their children to the public library delights librarians. They see parents as the first models of lifelong learning. When children first scribble their names on a library card, librarians smile-and hope that library habits blossom. Yet too often, parents do not hold their children's hands to walk them to the school library. In some areas of the United States, children may not even see a school library until high school. Even with a good school library, most parents think that school is not the same open space as a public library. Indeed, some schools do not encourage parent involvement. How sad! For with proper guidelines and training, parents can serve as strong educational partners. And for those parents who frequent other types of libraries, the school library can reinforce and expand the library's role as cultural preserver and educational haven for the community. Particularly with the advent of computer technology, school libraries can provide valuable services to parents and guardians (in this article, the term parents is used to describe both parents and guardians) as well as develop meaningful partnerships with them in order to help children succeed.

Who is this Population?

From teenagers to baby boomers, from single moms to extended families, from foster caregivers to stand-in grandparents, from Mayflower descendants to newly arrived green card holders, from illiterates to honorary doctors, from the homeless to empire builders, the parents or guardians of today's students represent a vast spectrum of skills and experiences. They differ in socioeconomic background and the resources they have on hand, whether material, psychological, or time-related. …

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