Magazine article American Libraries

School Libraries Transform

Magazine article American Libraries

School Libraries Transform

Article excerpt

Having a transformative school library is an issue of equity.

According to its mission, the American Association of School Librarians empowers leaders to transform teaching and learning. The words "leaders" and "transform" are key. As a faculty member in a preservice program, and as a school librarian for more than 25 years, I know that's exactly what I want my students to do when they land in libraries.

Research confirms: When credentialed school librarians lead teaching and learning in our schools' largest classrooms, student achievement and reading scores increase.

Perhaps what the research does not show is what it looks like and what it feels like. School libraries are not merely places to get stuff. School libraries are more kitchen than grocery store. They are more transformational than transactional. Critical weeding and new design models make space for user-centered, "genrefied" collections and for messy, informal, self-directed learning. On any given day in a school library, you can hear the productive noise of collaborative invention--brainstorming, design, debate, production, storytelling, and presentation.

We teach kids to be solid digital leaders. We teach them to be kind bloggers, tweeters, and networkers, to understand, build, and take pride in their contributions and their digital footprints. Because of school librarians, when kids build media, when they remix, they know how to respect the intellectual property of others, leverage the Creative Commons movement, and flex their fair use muscles and understand its limits.

We work with classroom teachers to build creative inquiry projects and assessments. We help learners develop meaningful questions. We encourage them to critically evaluate, to triangulate authority in all formats. Our kids can mediate truth and recognize a source when it is unglued from its container. They make thoughtful, nuanced decisions about the credibility of an infographic or tweet or the authenticity of an image. Their inquiries lead to knowledge building, problem solving, meaning making, agency, and voice.

We aspire to be in their pockets and on their phones. The librarians I know were blended, flipped, and embedded before it was a thing. Our websites, guides, apps, and social media curation efforts create ubiquitous road maps. …

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