Magazine article Computers in Libraries

Networking and the Impact on School Library Media Programs and Services

Magazine article Computers in Libraries

Networking and the Impact on School Library Media Programs and Services

Article excerpt

School Libraries, Wide Area Networks, Library Media

The capability of accessing school library resources from the classroom is an exciting technological development that many school districts are considering. Through wide area networks students can have greater access to information.

But what are the issues that a library media specialist must consider before introducing library resources on a wide area network? How do you ensure that student accessibility to information is not restricted by "misadaptation" of the technology to the environment? What impact will this innovation have on the instructional role of the library media specialist?

In finding answers to these questions, it may be helpful to frame the questions in the context of the change process. In establishing a wide area network (WAN), the library media specialist is implementing a change -- a change that will influence the entire school environment if it is successful.

According to researchers, for an innovation to be successful it must complete a three-stage evolution: 1. mobilization (or adoption) -- the introduction of the innovation; 2. implementation (or adaptation) -- the interaction of the innovation with the implementation; and 3. institutionalization (or continuation) -- the innovation becomes an integral part of the environment (Kulleseid, 1985).

Impact of New Technology

The implementation of a new technology can be overwhelming for the library media specialist (LMS). The LMS focuses on the equipment configuration, cabling, software, costs, training, and maintenance.

All of these details are very important to the total system, but it is important not to misplace the end-users -- students and faculty. Although the LMS has a clear sense that the end-users will benefit from the innovation, important questions about how the students and faculty will use the wide area network need to be asked early in the adoption stage. With this in mind, the library media specialist can maintain the balance between a technological wonder and a useful tool for access.

Questions to Ask

How will access to bibliographic records on the network influence retrieval of materials? Under what circumstances will students and faculty use the wide area network? Has the need for a wide area network been established or is the technology going to generate the need? If multiple resources are available on the network, is there not only a menu for selecting resources but some definition of the scope of the resources?

How have users been prepared to select resources that best match their information needs? …

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