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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

The new role of a librarian....every online/hybrid school needs to have this resource

The new role of a librarian....every online/hybrid school needs to have this resource

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So what does a 21st Century librarian do for a school? The new role of the librarian is much more than just ordering and checking in and out books. The new librarian is a “project facilitator” in a digital world. This person is responsible for helping students and teachers connect to the outside world with comprehensive projects, activities and technological media. This type of library is needed not only in a blended learning school but online as well. As one colleague put it, “Well don’t the students just use Google?” Librarians need to be trained and schools need to adjust to this new role. One of the most effective library teams is George and Carolyn Breaz at the Advanced Technologies Academy in Las Vegas, Nevada. They have rebuilt the whole concept of a library and librarian. It did not come easy but is now an accepted part of the culture of this Blue Ribbon School. They have created the ultimate digital library, where students and teachers not only have access to the outside world but are trained on how to do projects/activities, help the teachers facilitate the projects so that the teachers can teach and not worry about the technology they need to do their projects. Do you need this type of person and help in your library? I would think so! Do we really need librarians? Yes, if they are as capable as the Breaz’s are in their school.

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Keith Heggart's picture
Keith Heggart
High School Teacher from Sydney, Australia

Hi Thomas,
I think your description of the Breazs is fantastic, and precisely the kind of thing that is required in schools - both online and in the real world. We must realize, as a profession, that information has become increasingly dynamic and active, as have our ways of interacting with that information. A metaphor that I like to use when talking about the new role of librarians is the idea of a librarian as a digital curator; what I mean by this is that they have a whole range of different 'exhibits' - like search engines, and online tools, and resources and so much more, and, as a curator, they are responsible for helping the public (in this case, students) with learning about them and how to use them best. They are also there to ensure that the public respects each other and the tools!

What do you think?

19Pencils's picture

After having volunteered in our childrens classrooms we built a free service for teachers, where they can search, save, and easily website resources.

After describing the free website to our school district I was enlightened to see how happy they were to know that it would also be useful to librarians as well. Although our service was initially intended for teachers, it's a logical extension to think that librarians essentially need to search, save, and share resources as well.

As Thomas confirms above, often librarians are a great digital resource for teachers, but as our district noted often are excluded from classroom-centric budgets. I realized that with 19Pencils librarians can save web content via 19Pencils and as such make it easily accessible to teachers and students at their school.

Keith I concur, librarians really are the ultimate search engine!

Marielle - 67331's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I completely agree with Keith's description of school librarians as digital curators, that is exactly our role!

Hubert V. Yee's picture
Hubert V. Yee
social media and marketing manager of startup

I love libraries and I think they are such an important aspect of keeping students and the general public educated. Critical to libraries are the librarians of course. What are some core or critical skills that 21st century librarians need? What would their profile/job description be like?

Keith Heggart's picture
Keith Heggart
High School Teacher from Sydney, Australia

That's a million dollar question, Hubert. I reckon one critical skill for 21st century librarians is excellent digital literacy. This is so important as more and more information - and high level academic information - moves to online-only access.

Hubert V. Yee's picture
Hubert V. Yee
social media and marketing manager of startup

So true Keith. I see librarians at public libraries actually teaching their community members how to use a computer and the programs on it. Libraries now have full computer labs. I can only imagine how the role of a librarian will continue to change as a majority of the resources for schools will be digitized and moved to "the clouds."

Thomas Stanley's picture
Thomas Stanley
Educational Consultant-former teacher in high school

You are right but I think it is more than just learning about a computer. 21st Century skills are designed for students and teachers to build their own library of information using international, national, and local resources. The digital librarian is a critical part of that plan. Each school should be not only connected to the world but the librarian has to help make the mass of information available on the web make sense. The librarian needs to organize these resources to complete course competencies, extend research, and to open new doors for innovation and change. That is what the Breaz's do, step-by-step and teacher-by-teacher.

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