The Rise of School Libraries as Technology Hubs
School librarians play a crucial role in bridging the digital divide
School librarians may be a relatively recent addition to school faculties, but their role has quickly become indispensable within the structure of a school community. Until the early 1900s people didn’t recognize the value of housing a library staffed by a professional librarian within school buildings. Throughout the 20th century, the landscape of school libraries has changed rapidly. They have been required to adapt, becoming not only reading and research experts, but also curriculum experts, and technology navigators. These professionals are often the technology wizards at their schools. School libraries have evolved in the past 50 years into tech hubs that are helping close the technological divide.
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A History of School Librarians
It wasn’t until the turn of the 20th century, when the necessity of having trained librarians and library specialists accessible to students and teachers was recognized, that librarians found a home in schools. Since then many standards and associations have been founded to support school librarians.
In the latter half of the 20th century, technology took center stage. Personal computers and the internet became necessary educational tools. The integration of technology education into the school librarian’s responsibilities became more prevalent. The connection that librarians had to the fast-moving world of technology and education made them ideal technological facilitators for students and teachers.
Where Are They Now?
School librarians and media specialists are now expected to be experts in digital literacy. Students will often make use of the library throughout their education for assistance with safely and effectively navigating the internet and learning new software. School librarians teach students where and how to access resources and connect them with information that is appropriate and reliable. Students are learning many essential computer and technology skills from their school librarians- from opening documents to finding research materials to supplement their projects.
In addition, school librarians have also become a resource for teachers, helping them to stay on top of relevant technology, navigate and source technology tools, implement digital learning techniques.
School librarians have had a significant impact on their school communities. They touch the lives of individual students and teachers, guiding them through their educational experiences and preparing them for the future. However, the sad reality is that when budget talks arise, school libraries and librarians are often the first to be threatened. Jarrett J. Krosoczka once stated, “It is an awfully sad misconception that librarians simply check books in and out. The library is the heart of a school, and without a librarian, it is but an empty shell.” School libraries have proved to be at the “heart” of their schools, sometimes literally, with their locations often right at the center of the building.
School libraries and librarians have come a long way since they first became housed in school settings. As technology came to rank with print materials as essential to learning and research, librarians and media specialists have had to learn how to move with the times. The role they play in the lives of their students and colleagues is essential as they continuously adapted their skills and tactics to provide top-notch technology education and assistance.
Save School Libraries
Modern school libraries not only house technology such as laptops, tablets, and maker space tools, they also house technology experts. They are truly the center of their school and a place where learning and the digital world come together. It is more important than ever that students have access to technology and a guiding professional who can show them how to use it safely.
Saving these tech hubs starts by recognizing the crucial roles they play and the impact they have on students and teachers. Many don’t realize or appreciate the value that schools get from their libraries. There is so much knowledge that school librarians and libraries can share with their schools and their absence would be noticed immediately, leading to increased challenges as schools and families overcome the digital divide.