Category Archives: Future of School Libraries

Reflection Part C – ETL503

The impact that school library collections will have on students into the future cannot be underestimated. Whilst many schools are facing bleak outlooks in terms of keeping their libraries viable, this subject has made me realise how crucial school library collections will be in the future. The key to their survival will be how they respond to the rapid changes          brought about through technology, decreasing physical resources, library spaces becoming more social and collaborative  and an increased focus on satisfying individual user needs. Teacher Librarians can no longer be complacent with the idea that libraries will always exist in every school.

Modules 5-7 covered collection evaluation, weeding, policy, censorship and the future of school library collections.  Working in a school library, I have to admit that much of the selection, evaluation and weeding is done spontaneously. The existing Collection Development Policy is out of date (I plan to update it soon) and is rarely referred to. The criterion for selection is based mainly on instinct and a confidence that I know my clientele extremely well after years of experience. Subconsciously, I am checking selection measures as I interact with my clientele daily, discuss their needs and reading interests, my knowledge of Curriculum content, Readers’ Club, suggestion box, user surveys and through my extensive professional reading. My criterion for evaluation and subsequent weeding is much the same. I use the CREW method (Larson, 2012) of weeding as outlined in my blog.  The Collection Development Policy is written evidence of what I am doing, often collaboratively that supports the school’s mission and Curriculum requirements. In terms of using collection-centered measures (checking catalogues, collection mapping) and user-centered measures (circulation statistics, user surveys) (Bishop, 2007, p.141), they are considered, but not relied on solely. It is interesting to note that during my Public library placement, my task was to weed novels from a list of books that had not been borrowed for two years or more. If I was to apply this to my school library, there may not be many books left on the shelf.

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Books may still be relevant as Curriculum changes. For example, Senior English ‘Discovery’ requires resources that have not been circulated for some time, but are now important as related texts. Another example is the Accelerated Reader program  containing over two thousand titles. These books, whilst not borrowed regularly each year, still suit different readers as  they progress through the program annually.

The Australian School Library Association’s statement on school library resource provision states that ‘every learner has access to a variety of quality, relevant, accurate and current information resources’ (ASLA, 2014). I believe that there is more emphasis on individual students than there was previously and that preparing our students for future society is more evident. Personalised, student-orientated, differentiated, inquiry-based and authentic learning pedagogy need to be our focus. We want students to ‘learn how to learn’ (Lonsdale, 2003, p.9). Globalisation and technological advances have changed the Curriculum and traditional schooling. Students need to develop attributes and skills necessary for a rapidly changing society and workplace (ASLA, 2013, p.7).  ‘We imagine futures for our students, our school libraries, our programs, our schools and ourselves’ (Kimmel, 2014).  An active engagement with the above processes, supported by effective resources and Teacher Librarians will ensure a positive future.

Australian School Library Association, (2013). Future learning and school libraries. Retrieved from
             http://www.asla.org.au/site/DefaultSite/filesystem/documents/2013-ASLA-futures-paper.pdf

Australian School Library Association, (2014). Statement on school library resource provision. Retrieved from
http://www.asla.org.au/policy/school-library-resource-provision.aspx

Bishop, K. (2007). The Collection program in schools: concepts, practices and information sources (3rd ed.). Westport,
Connecticut: Libraries Unlimited.

Kimmel, S. C. (2014). Developing Collections to Empower Learners. Chicago: American Library Association. Retrieved from
http://www.eblib.com

Larson, J. (2012). CREW:  a weeding manual for modern libraries.  Retrieved from
https://www.tsl.texas.gov/sites/default/files/public/tslac/ld/ld/pubs/crew/crewmethod12.pdf

Lonsdale, M. (2003). Impact of school libraries on student achievement: a review of the research. Retrieved
from http://www.asla.org.au/site/defaultsite/filesystem/documents/research.pdf

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IFLA Trend Report 2013

IFLA trend report 2013, ‘5 Top Level Trends’ <http://trends.ifla.org/&gt;.

The future of school libraries has certainly been a topic of discussion recently.  It appears that school libraries are being forced to reinvent themselves, prove their worth and some even ‘prostituting’ themselves for fear of being taken over or completely closed down through decisions made by ill-informed school executives.  Schools have constantly struggled with funding and with the changing nature of libraries, school executives have taken the opportunity to redirect money that is currently spent on qualified Teacher Librarians, print resources, databases, library spaces and library programs and spending it elsewhere in the school.  It is a sad state of affairs that school libraries around the world are being reduced in size, have significantly reduced budgets or closed altogether, often with Teacher Librarians replaced by clerical staff or librarians without teaching qualifications.

The IFLA Trend report outlines 5 significant areas where the information environment has changed and discusses how libraries must evolve to remain relevant in the new information landscape. (IFLA, 2013)

Trend 1:  For school libraries, the emergence of technologies such as; BYOD, Apps, online learning,Learning Management Systems, blogs, wikis and eResources have changed the way our students interact, use information and create knowledge.  This occurs anytime, anyplace and often using a number of devices.  ‘Technology impacts powerfully on every aspect of our lives and it offers opportunities unimagined by previous generations and educators’ (Whitby, 2013)
However, more than ever our students need information literacy skills to navigate the online world that is increasingly influenced by so many different bodies.  Also, the question of ownership of certain information, especially eResources has posed access issues for many schools.  The ability to own a device, pay for online access, live in a country where internet access is available and then to be literate enough to read and understand the information are important when one considers a widening digital divide and even global inequality.

Trend 2: Traditional school libraries are already a thing of the past.  The focus is increasingly on eResources that are up-dated regularly, easily accessed, portable on devices and often cheaper. The library environment has become more social, collaborative, flexible and vibrant with makerspaces, cafes, online learning platforms and resources available 24/7.  Schools will need to compete with Online Open Education courses (OER) and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCS) that offer free education to everyone.  Teacher Librarians need to equip students with lifelong learning skills to be able to capitalise on these technologies throughout their lives.

Trend 3: Students are increasingly having their privacy eroded as they post information online. This will lead to less information being shared on the internet, for fear of developing a negative digital footprint.  The emphasis for schools and particularly, Teacher Librarians is to equip students with strong digital citizenship skills so that they are aware of what can occur online and how best to avoid this.

Trend 4: The online environment has enabled students from around the world to interact in ways they have not done previously.  Opportunities to collaborate with students globally about social justice issues, the environment, different cultures, in fact any topi, will more readily engage students than a traditional lesson delivered in the classroom.  The work of the Julie Lindsay and Flat Connections Global Projects (Lindsay, 2015) is an example of this in schools. Technology that drives better communication and collective action will empower our students and better prepare them for a digital world. (IFLA, 2013)

Trend 5: The increase in mobile devices, wearable technology, 3D printing and language-translation technologies are already changing the way schools, businesses and households operate.  People no longer need to live in larger cities to access high paying jobs, people including students can operate from home and there is an increased access to parts of the world’s economy reducing the competitive advantage of the more developed countries.

International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA), (2013), Riding the waves or
caught in the tide?
Navigating the evolving information environment.  
Retrieved from http://trends.ifla.org/files/trends/assets/insights-from-the-ifla-trend-
report_v3.pdf

Lindsay, J. (2015), Flat Connections.  Retrieved from http://www.flatconnections.com

Whitby, G. (2013), Educating Gen Wi-Fi: how to make schools relevant for 21st century learners.
Sydney, NSW: Harper Collins Publishers

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