Defining a 21st Century School Library Media Program
“Technology has profoundly impacted the school library, providing access to information that was once available in only the largest academic and research libraries. The Internet, far from making libraries obsolete, reinforces the need for instruction in critical thinking and evaluation of information. All of these are essential teaching areas for the school library. Technological and information literacies, along with reading development and promotion, are basic to the mission of the 21st century school library,” (Iowa, 2007).
The mission of a 21st Century School Library Media Program, in summary, is to provide students and staff with access to a wide range of materials and technologies, encourage literacy and a love of reading, develop 21st century skills (Framework, 2013), support the learning of all students, and inspire curiosity and creativity. It must adapt to support today’s world of information, technology and digital natives and foster a desire for lifelong learning.
High quality information resources are no longer primarily paper based and so 21st century media programs adapt to provide access to digital resources. Media specialist stay on top of technology trends, evaluate, and provide access to quality, relevant informational materials (print and digital) that are to be used throughout the curriculum.
As part of a 21st Century Media Program, library media specialists work with classroom teachers to design authentic learning experiences to give students the necessary skills to survive and thrive in the 21st century. These skills include the ability to locate, evaluate, use, create, and communicate information. The media staff creates an environment that is inviting, engaging and designed to support 21st learning.
The Infrastructure - What it Would Look Like
● Each building would have a fully licensed school library media specialist (6 total in Richfield), who is engaged in professional duties, provides regular staff development in information literacy, information technologies and integration into content areas.
● Each building would have sufficient clerical (1 FTE per building/minimum of 32 hours a week) and technical help to allow the media specialist to perform professional duties listed above (in lieu of spending time on clerical and technical duties).
● The district would have a Media-Tech director, leadership team, or department chair responsible for planning and leadership.
● Media Specialists would participate in district level technology planning and provide staff training.
● The media program would have support from district and building leadership.
● The media specialist would be knowledgeable about student achievement data, content area standards and curriculum.
● The information and technology literacy curriculum would be integrated into all content areas where appropriate.
● The media specialist would be an active member of grade level and/or team planning groups and curriculum writing committees.
● The media program would be examined as a part of the content area curriculum review cycle.
● Information and technology skills would be taught by media specialists in collaboration with classroom teachers rather than in isolation.
● Flexible scheduling in the building would permit the media specialist to be a part of teaching teams and collaborate on info-tech projects.
● A clear set of information and technology literacy benchmarks would be written for each grade level based on 21st Century Learning Standards such as the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) National Educational Technology Standards (NETS), the American Association for School Libraries (AASL) Standards for the 21st Century Learners, Minnesota Educational Media Organization (MEMO) Information and Technology Literacy Standards; and Common Core; standards which include and call for:
○ Improving higher-order thinking skills, such as problem solving, critical thinking, and creativity.
○ Preparing students for their future in a technology-dependent competitive global job market.
○ Mastery of multiple literacies, including technology literacy, and information literacy (the ability to locate, interpret, use, evaluate, create, and communicate information).
○ Sharing knowledge and participating ethically and productively as members of society.
○ Fostering students’ abilities to effectively communicate and collaborate.
Collection & Facility:
● The media center print and digital resources would align with and support the curricula and would be well weeded and current.
● Materials would be available in multiple formats to meet the needs of different learning styles.
● Sufficient computers/devices and Internet access would exist to allow use of digital resources.
● The media center would have an atmosphere conducive to learning and would be available to the community.
● The media center would serve as a “hub” for technology and information and would house tech and media staff.
● Media center staff would maintain a frequent web-presence in linked resources for students, staff, and families.
● The collection would have a wide variety of online reference tools such as databases, encyclopedias, etc.
● The program would have a wide variety of software (on-site or in the cloud) that would allow students access to collaborative learning, and graphic creation and presentation.
● The budget would reflect both a maintenance and growth component to the program and would take into consideration technological needs.
● New technologies would be identified and added to collection when appropriate to instructional needs.
This 21st Century Media Center space includes pods of collaborative spaces, wireless access, and plenty of outlets to allow use of devices and computers.
Instructional Technology: 21st Century Media Centers. Forsyth County Schools. March 23, 2012.
The Library Media Center of the past ...
Richfield Middle School Media Center, prior to 2010
… moving into the 21st Century.
Sage Hill School Library, May 14, 2013
Richfield Middle School Taking Steps Toward a 21st Century Media Center ...
RMS 6th grade students were actively engaged in a research project which required them to find information. While trying to model a 21st Century Media Center, the lack of outlets, insufficient wireless, slow functioning devices, and lack of equipment left many students without the ability to access rich online resources. The tables had to be pushed to the very few outlets available, which was necessary to recharge the devices with a short battery life. Notice the students in the middle (right photo) who were using print resources that currently have an average age of 1993 at RMS. The information they are accessing in the print resources is 20 years older than the information the students using the digital reference materials were able to access.
21st Century School Library Media Program Recommendations
Below you will see recommendations for a 21st media program. It is not much different than what has been proposed in the past. That’s because the model is still effective. There is a great deal of research that supports that a sufficiently staffed and well stocked media center can positively impact student achievement.
So what’s different?
Media programs and spaces are dynamic. They are constantly changing to meet the needs of users and provide equal access to information and technology.
From their early beginnings, the goal of libraries was to give all users equal access to information implementing the latest technology and practices. Starting with the concept of organizing information in one place to make it more accessible, to the introduction of the Dewey Decimal system (which is currently being re-vamped by forward thinking media specialists), to what has been spelled out in these pages, media staff and media centers continue to be a place where people can visit either in person or now virtually to access information and learn about technology.
So why do we need media staff – aren’t the resources enough?
Without people, the media center stagnates. Technology isn’t maintained. Resources get old. Shelves get crowded with outdated books. New information resources and technologies are not introduced or supported. And those individuals that don’t have access to these resources through other means are cut off.
But can’t teachers teach information and technology skills in their curricula?
Some teachers can and will. In fact, it should be an expectation for teachers to integrate these skills. However, just like any subject, we can’t assume that every teacher is going to be good at it. Teachers are experts in teaching their subject matter. But they may need assistance when it comes to media skills. There are many great teachers who would like to use information resources and technology more. But they may need some assistance and training to navigate the exponential amount of continuously changing tools and resources out there.
Even the digital native generation varies in their exposure to devices and technical abilities. There is a definite population of students who don’t have access to new technologies at home. Those that do can certainly use phones, get on YouTube and socialize on Facebook. But can these digital natives find and access credible information? Do they know what credible information is? Can they use it ethically? Creatively? Collaboratively? As stated, like any subject, some have more skills than others.
And what about the current media centers – aren’t they sufficient?
As mentioned, the amount of new information resources and technology tools has grown exponentially. Also, students are being asked to research, collaborate, create, communicate, etc. in ways that were not available just a few years ago. These developments have new infrastructure demands and require a new way of teaching and learning.
Staffing, Support and Space
Full time media specialist in each building (6 FTEs total) – responsible for:
● Teaching students in information and technology literacy – flexible schedule
● Leading staff training
● Aligning curriculum
● Library and collection management (more info below)
● See supporting information above for details
● RHS, RMS and STEM = 1.5 to 2 media para positions (7.5 - hour min./day FTE) per building
● Cent, RDLS and SH = 1 media para position (7.5 - hour min./day FTE) per building
● Responsibilities include: student management in media center, book checkouts, cataloging, AV tech management
Tech paras (for consideration in the tech department staffing):
● RHS, RMS, STEM = 1 FTE tech para per building
● Cent, RDLS and SH = 1 FTE tech para split between two locations (need to include DO, RCEP, etc.)
● Align with curricula
● Select and purchase
● Promote and display
● Needs to include digital offerings
● Equitable funding between schools
● Hub of school – digital café
● Area for collaboration for students and teachers
● Staffing sufficient for assistance to all learners
● 21st Century (includes digital) resources/content to support curricula and a love of reading
Again, is the 21st Century Media Program model different from the past? Structure – No. Teaching, content, tools and infrastructure – Yes! We are providing education and support for things that weren’t even in existence a short while ago. We are striving to design any time, any where learning using new resources and tools that are becoming available. We have evolved and will keep doing so to serve students and staff while offering equal access and opportunities to all learners.
Resources & Bibliography
21st Century School Library Programs: A Vision. University of Wisconsin. Retrieved on May 9, 2013 from http://merlin.uww.edu/uwsslec/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=92&Itemid=182
Empowering Learners: Guidelines for School Library Media Programs. 2009. American Association of School Librarians.
Framework for 21st Century Learning. Partnership for 21st Century Skills. Retrieved on May 9, 2013 from http://www.p21.org
Instructional Technology: 21st Century Media Centers. Forsyth County Schools. March 23, 2012. Retrieved on May 9, 2013 from http://www.forsyth.k12.ga.us/Page/31241
Iowa School Library Program Guidelines. Iowa Department of Education and the State Library of Iowa. 2007. Retrieved on May 9, 2013 from http://educateiowa.gov/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=959#documents
Johnson, Doug. January 10, 2012. A 12 point Library Program Checklist for School Principals. Blue Skunk Blog. Retrieved on May 9, 2013 from http://doug-johnson.squarespace.com/blue-skunk-blog/2012/1/10/a-12-point-library-program-checklist-for-school-principals-2.html
National Educational Technology Standards. 2012. International Society for Technology in Education. Retrieved on May 9, 2013 from http://www.iste.org/standards
State of the Library: October/November. 2012. Sage Hill School Library. Newport Coast California. Retrieved on May 14, 2013 from http://libraryatsage.blogspot.com/
School Libraries in the 21st Century. Library of Michigan. Retrieved on May 9, 2013 from http://michigan.gov/libraryofmichigan/0,2351,7-160-34169_51980---,00.html
School Libraries Count: National Longitudinal Survey of School Library Media Programs. American Association of School Librarians. 2009. Retrieved on May 9, 2013 from http://www.ala.org/aasl/sites/ala.org.aasl/files/content/researchandstatistics/slcsurvey/2009/slc2009.pdf
Standards for the 21st Century Learner. American Association of School Librarians. Retrieved on May 9, 2013 from http://www.ala.org/aasl/sites/ala.org.aasl/files/content/guidelinesandstandards/learningstandards/AASL_Learning_Standards_2007.pdf
Who school librarians are and Learning4Life. American Association of School Librarians. 2009. Retrieved on May 9, 2013 from http://www.ala.org/aasl/aboutaasl/aaslcommunity/quicklinks/el/elwho
Teaching in the 21st Century. Retrieved on May 9, 2013 from http://bit.ly/YivC3q
The 21st Century Media Center. Retrieved on May 9, 2013 from http://youtu.be/AsaACY1NM-k