What is the Role of Libraries in the Digital age?

With the advent of digital eBooks and the overwhelming volume of information both scholarly and general, on the internet, what is the role of Libraries moving into the future?  Most school Librarians are only employed part-time and funding cuts mean that Libraries are some of the first places that are looked at for potential savings.  In my own school, I work part-time, three days a week in the Library  and more recently due to the need for teaching staff, it has been reduced to one and a half days of actual Library time with two and a half days in class teaching.  It is increasingly difficult to support the staff and the students, in finding and selecting information to support their learning, not only in the traditional hard print areas of the library but the technological forums of the digital age.  There is little understanding of how important the role of a trained teacher librarian is educating and supporting the students and teachers in this changing environment.   Our role is changing, it is now necessary to be the organisers and evaluators of digital collections and online information.

In Vancouver, Washington the Vancouver Public Schools (VPS) have recognised that their Teacher Librarians play an important role in the digital transformation of school libraries.  As students increasingly use the internet to research outside of the library and as technological tools continue to advance, the need for trained librarians to help students and teachers navigate this technology is paramount.   In response to this, the VPS has been investing in training and support for its Teacher Librarians with a view to improving student outcomes (Digital Promise, 2014).

There is a lot of information out there on the internet and it is essential that we teach the students to be critical researchers in the face of so much information.  How do they navigate their way through?  We need to be able to teach students how to research using these digital tools, to understand complex texts and read for information.  As Librarians we are uniquely situated to be instructors for digital literacy and digital citizenship.  Students often think that they already know about their digital foot print and its impact on their lives, but often this is only a shallow understanding and in this regard it is important that they are taught about their online safety, digital identity and data security and how to be responsible users of digital information (Digital Promise, 2014). We, as Teacher Librarians, can be leaders in the adoption of new technologies to enhance student learning and at the same time support teachers and teach students the necessary skills to be responsible, discerning and critical researchers.  We have to be our own advocates and as such, is it possible that we should take a leaf out of the ‘Vancouver book’ and form collaborative groups of TL’s to work toward the implementation of such programs here?

Reference

Digital Promise, Accelerating Innovation in Education (2014) “The New Librarian: Leaders in the Digital Age.”  http://digitalpromise.org/2014/10/01/teacher-librarians-chart-a-new-course-in-vancouver-public-schools/  Accessed:  30, September 2016.

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