School Librarians as Technology Leaders: An Evolution in Practice

By Wine, Lois D. | Journal of Education for Library and Information Science, Spring 2016 | Go to article overview

School Librarians as Technology Leaders: An Evolution in Practice


Wine, Lois D., Journal of Education for Library and Information Science


Introduction

When Eliza Dresang coined the term Radical Change she was referring to literature for youth that have digital age characteristics: connectivity, interactivity, and access (Dresang, 1999). Connectivity refers to both connections to books as well as sense of community provided through books. Interactivity refers to the reader's interaction with books, regardless of their format. Interactivity may be in response to digital formats or may be mental interaction as a reader responds to a book. Access refers to breaking barriers through access to diverse opinions and perspectives previously unavailable to youth. While Dresang's theory is directed toward the digital age, it also applies to the development of the school librarian profession. The role of school librarians has a history of Radical Change as expressed by Dresang. School librarians adapted to take on responsibility for technology as audio-visual materials were introduced in schools. This was a Radical Change in their roles. With the advent of the Information Age in the middle of the 20th century, and the subsequent development of personal computers and the Internet, the American Library Association (ALA) recommended schools and colleges begin integrating information literacy into students' learning (1989), another Radical Change.

Today, school librarians are entering another period of Radical Change as they combine their information specialist roles with technology integration. This literature review traces the Radical Changes that have affected the role of the school librarian. This paper begins with a general overview of changes occurring in the field of school librarianship. This is followed by a more detailed focus on the role of the school librarian now that technology integration leadership is more often shared with instructional technology specialists. Forming a collaborative partnership between school librarians and instructional technology specialists may be the next Radical Change for school librarians.

Development of the School Library Profession

In the first half of the 20th century, high school libraries were collections of content related publications that students could use for research. The school librarians cataloged, organized, and assisted with accessing these materials. The school librarian's role was limited to that of "keeper of the books". By mid-century many elementary schools also had libraries but only a few of these had qualified school librarians.

Several major events precipitated the first Radical Change in school libraries. In 1960 the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) published standards for school libraries with recommendations for equipping qualified school librarians with quality literature and non-fiction books, films, filmstrips, slides, and other audiovisual equipment (AASL, 1960). The second event was the release of groundbreaking research on the impact of a centralized school library staffed by qualified school librarians on students' learning at a time when there were few school librarians (Gaver, 1961). Furthermore, the Knapp School Library Project provided funds and support for model school libraries following the new standards developed by AASL (Boardman, 1994). The fourth event was federal funding through the Elementary & Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965 that helped increase the number of school libraries and the inclusion of certified school librarians (Sutherland, 1970; Michie, Holton, & National Center for Education Statistics, 2005).

Information Literacy and Technology

It was in this atmosphere of change that the role of school librarians was about to change again. In 1974 Paul Zurkowski first mentioned the term "information literacy" while advocating for government training programs to achieve universal information literacy by 1984 (Zurkowski, 1974). Zurkowski, a lawyer, was addressing the National Commission on Libraries and Information Science as the president of the Information Industry Association, an organization which had grown from 12 companies at its establishment in 1968 to 70 companies by 1974. …

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