Academic journal article School Libraries Worldwide

The Connecting School and the Intranet Librarian

Academic journal article School Libraries Worldwide

The Connecting School and the Intranet Librarian

Article excerpt

A growing number of Scottish education authorities are providing intranet technology to schools. This article is based on grounded research investigating the role of the school librarian within an intranet environment. The evidence suggests that despite a lack of expectation by school library services and authority intranet officers, school librarians are taking on roles of intranet building, management, and content creation. It appears that far from distancing librarians from traditional areas of interest, their involvement in the intranet has promoted their relationship with whole-school resourcing and literacy support. Despite evidence that recent graduates are more likely to take on roles with the intranet, it is shown that a key factor is the attitude of the librarian and linking of the intranet to resource provision.

Introduction

The United Kingdom government, like other governments around the world, has set standards for information and communications technology (ICT) in education. Through the National Grid for Learning (NGfL) all pupils in UK schools should be connected to the Internet with their own e-mail addresses (Department for Education and Employment, 1997). The Scottish Office has promoted an intranet as one option for authorities and/or schools to follow in order to meet these requirements (SOEID, 1998). An intranet is defined as "an organization's internal communications system using Internet technology" (Blackmore, 1997, p. 23). The Schools Online Project found value in the relatively low costs, the security offered, and the potential for generating curricular materials (Department of Trade and Industry, 1998).

Aims

This research set out to investigate factors in intranet development in Scottish secondary schools and the role of the school librarian. This article deals with the key findings relating to the role of the school librarian. In particular, it aims to:

* identify the key roles of the school librarian in relation to intranets, and

* identify the critical factors affecting these roles. Background of School Librarianship in Scotland

Scottish secondary schools take children for the six years from ages 12-18. School librarians in Scotland are not teacher qualified, but undertake a degree course or postgraduate qualification in librarianship/information management. The Standards for School Library Resource Services in Scotland (Convention of Scottish Local Authorities [COSLA], 1999) highlighted the increased role of the school librarian with ICT. The document makes reference to the school librarian's involvement in using ICT in their information skills program. On the policy side, they advocate a role for the school librarian in developing good practice and acceptable use policies. In addition, they suggest that schools should "consider the role of the School Library Resource Centre in the context of network management" with other staff in the school (COSLA, 1999, 3.28, p. 29). The role and extent of involvement in areas such as Web site development and maintenance in relation to an intranet are not mentioned.

Potential Intranet Role as seen in the Literature

The intranet has been called an opportunity for the school library (Clyde, 1998). Teacher librarians have been described as "logical partners in the development and management of a school information system or intranet" (Fankhauser, 2000, p. 204). At Hales Grammar School in Western Australia, the teacher librarians are involved in the design and management of their school intranet (Wake, 1999). Wake highlights a range of ways in which the librarians provide information literacy support via the intranet. Page (1999) outlines how three Australian schools are making use of intranets as a school-wide approach to information management and information use, with the libraries at the center. In one school, the catalogue is used to index "everything from Internet sites to PowerPoint presentations to scans of the newspaper" (p. …

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