Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Beyond the Books

This podcast shares highlights from my paper "Beyond the Books" about the need for technology rich libraries.

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Thursday, July 1, 2010

Library Powerpoint

A Vision for the Future

Today's Library

Beyond Books

Beyond the Books

Libraries today look vastly different than they did a decade ago. The current generation will not remember a time when they searched a card catalog or entered a library without a computer. Children today are growing up in a technology rich world where information literacy is a required skill. So for those of us who do remember when books were the only research resources, we must shift our focus to technological resources. Technology rich school libraries positively impact student learning as evidenced by student test scores, future preparation, and personal development.

Both test results and surveys provide evidence that technology rich libraries with certified librarians directly affect students. School librarians do not just check out and shelve books. They are media specialists who teach students information literacy. “The role of school librarians or library media specialists has evolved from ‘keepers of the books’ to that of ‘leadership providers’. . . For students to be information literate they must be engaged in extended, inquiry-based research. School libraries provide students and teachers the opportunity to develop information literacy and digital technology literacy”(“School libraries”). Not only do libraries need to have technological resources, but they need certified librarians who are equipped to lead students to inquire and search for information. Students are empowered when they know how to find the answers; not when they have easy answers provided to them by educators. Self-directed student learning is possible because the Internet and the World Wide Web provide access to reliable databases. In order to tap into those resources, students must be provided with the tools: computers, software and application programs, and trained educators to teach them how to reach beyond the books. “. . . the most successful schools have librarians who are dedicated to teaching students how to use computer hardware and software effectively”(Minkel). A myriad of studies have been conducted to measure student success through their test scores. Evidence from these studies show that technology experience directly impacts student learning. “ . . . students in schools with technologically advanced libraries performed up to 18 percent higher on statewide tests than their peers in schools with poorly equipped libraries” (Minkel). One of the researchers claims that, “Kids achieve higher scores when they’re skilled at seeking, finding, and using information available to them on the World Wide Web,” and he asserts that knowing basic information literacy skills prepares students to perform well on the statewide tests (Minkel). Success on tests is just one benefit of technology rich experiences for students.

Technology experiences also provide students with the preparation they need to enjoy success in higher education and the work world. Once students graduate from high school, they go to college, join the work force, vote, participate in society, etc. They depend on the expectation that their high school education has prepared them to be successful, productive citizens. The following quote reveals this awareness of the importance of strong library programs that provide instruction in information literacy. “ . . . Businesses, organizations and school districts realize that information handling is and will continue to be important. Information Literacy . . . is recognized as a universal life skill today.” (Making Library Programs Count). One school’s library manifesto reinforces this idea as well: “The school library provides information and ideas that are fundamental to functioning in today’s information and knowledge based society. The school library equips students with life-long learning skills and develops the imagination, enabling them to live as responsible citizens" (UNESCO/IFLA School Library Manifesto, 2000) (Making Library Programs Count). Not only do we want students to pass tests in school; we also want them to learn life skills in a computer convergent world.

Gary Hartzell, a strong advocate for libraries, asserts that there is evidence reaching back fifty years to support the positive impact that effective library media programs have on student achievement (Hartzell). The current generation may not develop an appreciation for the value of book resources as previous generations, but we must not hold them back from looking beyond the books. In fact, as media specialists and educators, as well as personal users, we need to lead the way through providing technology rich experiences for today’s students.

Works Cited

Hartzell, G. (2003). “Why should principals support school libraries?” ERIC Digest.
Retrieved from

“Making library programs count.” (2003). School Libraries in Canada. Retrieved from

Minkel, W. (2002). “Library technology raises test scores, too.” School Library Journal.

School Libraries Work! (2008). Research Foundation Paper. Scholastic. Retrieved from