Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Young Learners Need Librarians, Not Just Google

Good to see a respected business publication, Forbes Magazine, carry an "intelligent investing" article about the importance of strong school libraries. "Young Learners Need Librarians, Not Just Google" by Dulcina Media CEO Mark Moran is a article that will be shared widely within libraryland and hopefully to the policymakers and education leaders who keep shortchanging students and our future by reducing funding for school library service.

If Mark could write a series of followup articles, here are some topics he could cover:

School Library Standards -- require them!
The AASL - American Association of School Librarians has developed school library curriculum standards, as have many states. in fact, research shows that strong school library programs increase student achievement, regardless of a school community's poverty level. State school library standards are important, yet do not exist in all states. Here are some California and national material that supports the case for strong school libraries as a key element in student success. Technology is a key element of a strong school library program. Sadly, library programs are often cut because they are not seen as "classrooms", when in fact they are classrooms.
READ the Research:
  1. Primary Sources: America's Teachers on America's Schools (2010)
  2. "Haves, Halves, and Have-Nots: School Libraries and Student Achievement" (2009)
  3. School Libraries Work (compendium of state studies, charts, graphs)

Define "strong school library"
(most parents and policymakers don't know the elements of a strong school library ...this is why school library standards are important). See"Best Seller" Campaign for Strong School Libraries. Does the library have:
  • A full time, certified school Teacher Librarian and a full-time paraprofessional working as a team? This allows the teacher librarian to collaborate with teachers in co-designing instruction which incorporates information literacy into the curriculum.
  • Lots of carefully selected books, databases, and other learning resources? Resources must reflect the school curriculum and student recreational reading needs.
  • A program which provides instruction and activities for students to use the research process in finding the information they need? Research is a process, not an end product – it is the thinking process which the students benefit from, not the ultimate "find." The "find" is generally forgotten – while the process remains with them forever.
  • Technology, including hardware, software, and networking that form a virtual library without walls linking students to the world of information, a cybrary that fully supports the school curriculum, 24/7?
  • Its doors open before, during and after school hours, with liberal circulation policies? This means access to the school library, its resources, and staff.

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