So, you've made it through another school year filled with programs, book talks, and-oh, yes-research projects, when the teachers simultaneously descend on the library with students in tow to begin their reference work. The number of places to turn for materials grows exponentially, leaving us in search of ways to better utilize the vast array of resources available on the web. Seeking opportunities to assist students in learning information literacy skills can become time-consuming. Whether in the thick of this process for several months or every day of the school year, you have an ally you might not have considered: your public library.
Today, Web 2.0 tools make collaboration easier than ever, and your public librarian is there to help you navigate through them. While public libraries have many focuses, resources for children and teenagers are a mainstay of their programs and materials. These librarians work with the same students you do, just after school-helping with homework, research papers, and math problems, as well as finding the perfect novel for a historical fiction assignment. Why not work together during the school day? This collaboration can help you assist students to understand the Web 2.0 tools that can make research fun and invigorating, and it gives you a chance to share the workload.
When working with the public library, many of the tools you currently use can be morphed into great research tools beyond the school setting. Additionally, Web 2.0 tools can save time and avoid duplication of effort. After all, any time you have two librarians suggesting ways to help students search effectively, you are bound to come up with new examples and innovative techniques.
One such tool finding wide usage in schools (where not blocked) is Delicious (http://delicious.com), the social bookmarking application. Delicious users can save bookmarks of websites, organize the bookmarks using tags, and share them with other members by making them public or by sending them to other users.
At Schofield Elementary School in Wellesley, Mass., librarian Elisabeth Zimmer noted: "The teachers give me a list of topics in advance, and I find sites and post them using Delicious. The kids have been using the list quite a bit-I think they find it less overwhelming than Google, and it allows them to focus on reading the information and taking notes. It also lets them learn search behavior in a more controlled environment. I feel that if I can show them a selection of reliable sites, maybe they will learn that there is more to life than Wikipedia or the first site on the Google list."
Karen Gray, librarian for St. Anne's-Belfield School in Charlottesville, Va., has eighth grade students using Delicious. "They had to discover the event or moment in the person's life that forever changed the person's/ world's destiny. No two students in any class were researching the same person, but there was some duplication across the grade. Using Delicious allowed students to share quality sites from the web with their peers in other classes."
Because Delicious also allows for adding "friends" to your network, collaboration with another librarian--say, a public librarian-is easy. For example, a school librarian can add sites to her Delicious account that she knows will be helpful to students in a particular class. Then, she can bundle the sites under specific headings or tags for each of the classes or projects in the school. The public librarian can see these tagged bookmarks and add additional sites to the account. By utilizing the public librarian, you can tap into a resource free of charge and gain the expertise of another professional web searcher to locate information for your students' research needs. The public library gains reference question statistics, which would never have happened without the partnering between the two libraries.
As we know from doing research for ourselves and our students, the original topic presented does not always make it to the final draft. …