Manifesto for 21st Century School Librarians (Updated for Urgency)

By Joyce Kasman Valenza


A few years back a young librarian at our state school library summit, asked:

We’re all doing different stuff. The other school librarians I know are not doing what I am doing. Some don’t even know about the state databases. Some maintain websites and blogs; others do not. Some have seriously retooled; others have not. In the 21st century, what does a school librarian do?


You know you are a 21st century school librarian if you . . .

Reading


Digital School Library and the Information Landscape
  • Know that searching various parts of the Web may require emerging tools as well as traditional ones. You offer an array of search tools that reach into blogs and wikis and Twitter and images and copyright-friendly media and scholarly content, as well as your databases.
  • Make sure your learners and teachers can (physically & intellectually) access developmentally and curricularly(?) appropriate databases, portals, and websites, blogs, videos, and other media.
  • Think of your web presence as a knowledge management for your school. This is collection too, and it includes student-produced instruction and archived (celebrated) student work, handouts, policies, and collaborative wiki pathfinders to support learning and research in all learning arenas.
  • Organize the Web for learners. You have the skills to create a blog or website or wiki to pull together resources to meet the information needs of your learning community. That presence reflects your personal voice. It includes your advice as well as your links. You make learning an engaging and colorful hybrid experience. You intervene in the research process online while respecting young people’s need for independence.
  • Are helping learners put together their own information spaces using blog widgets, and iGoogle gadgets, and browsers like PageFlakes and NetVibes. You seek ways to help students learn to use push information technologies.
  • Consider new interactive and engaging communication tools for student projects--digital storytelling, wikis, podcasts, streaming video as possibilities beyond the mortal powers of PowerPoint. And you are rethinking what PowerPoint should/could be!)
  • Expanded your notion of searching. You work with learners to set up RSS feeds and tag clouds for research. Your own feeds are rich with learning content, evidence of your networking. You embed widgets and gadgets (including your own database widgets) wherever students live, work, and play.
  • Know that communication is the end-product of research and teach learners how to communicate creatively and engagingly for new audiences. We have a whole new realm of 2.0 possibilities as well as new ways to make a difference, to participate as digital citizens. You consider new interactive and engaging communication tools for student projects--digital storytelling, wikis, podcasts, streaming video as possibilities beyond the mortal powers of PowerPoint
  • Rethink what PowerPoint, what presentations should/could be! (See PowerPoint Reform Tools)
  • Are integrating dynamic web 2.0 features in the library's web page such as Google calendars and forms, RSS feeds, delicious bookmarks, photo galleries, slideshows,blogs, surveys, "request for materials" boxes and others as ways to interact with and teach students.


Collection Development

The library is not just a place to get stuff, it is a place to make and share stuff.
Think outside the box about the concept of “collection.” Your collection--on- and offline--includes student work. Collection might include: ebooks, audiobooks, open source software, streaming media, flash sticks, digital video cameras, laptops, and much more! You help students use bookmarking sites and RSS feeds.


Facilities
  • Know your physical space is about books and way more than books. Your space is a libratory, a learning commons. You welcome media production—podcasting, video production, storytelling--producing and presenting.
  • You welcome telecommunications events and group gathering for planning and research and social networking.
  • Cope with ubiquity. No, learn to love it. Ubiquity changes everything. In one-to-one schools, students may visit the library less frequently. In such environments, in all modern, truly relevant environments, library must also be ubiquitous. Library MUST be everywhere. Librarians must teach everywhere, in and outside of the library. One-to-one classrooms will change your teaching logistics. You realize you will often have to partner and teach in classroom teachers’ classrooms. You will teach virtually. You will be available across the school via email and chat. You know that laptops can actually walk back to the library.


Access , Equity, Advocacy
  • Include and collaborate with the learner. You let him/her in. You fill your physical and virtual space with student work, student contributions—their video productions, their original music, their art.
  • Are concerned about a new digital divide: those who can effectively find quality information in all media formats, and those who cannot.
  • Consider just-in-time, just-for-me learning as your responsibility and are proud that you own the real estate of one desktop window on your students’ home computers 24/7.
  • Consider your role as info-technology scout. You look to make “learning sense” of the authentic new information and communication tools used in business and academics. You figure out how to use them thoughtfully and you help classroom teachers use them with their classes.
  • Know that one-to-one classrooms will change your teaching logistics. You realize you will often have to partner and teach in classroom teachers’ classrooms. You will teach virtually. You will be available across the school via email and chat.
  • Don’t stop at “no.” You fight for the rights of students to have and use the tools they need. This is an equity issue. Access to the new tools is an intellectual freedom issue.



Digital Citizenship
  • You recognize that the work your students create has audience.
  • You recognize that they may share their ideas and their knowledge products to participate in dialogs beyond the walls of the library or classroom.
  • You see the potential for student knowledge products--for sharing knowledge global, for creating powerful networks, for making social and political impact.
  • You share with students their responsibilities for participating in social networks.


Copyright/Information Ethics
  1. Did the unlicensed use transform the material taken from the copyrighted work by using it for a different purpose than that of the original, or did it just repeat the work for the same intent and value as the original?
  2. Was the material taken appropriate in kind and amount, considering the nature of the copyrighted work and of the use?
From the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy Education


New Technology Tools
  • Are beginning to consider iPods and iPhones as learning tools and storage devices and reference sources. You know that when you interrupt a student she might be in the middle of a chapter, recording a podcast, transferring data, taking audio notes.
  • Know this is only the beginning of social networking. Students will get to their Facebook and MySpace accounts through proxy servers and their cell phones despite any efforts to block them. You plan educationally meaningful ways to incorporate student excitement (and your own) for social networking. You establish classroom or library guidelines for their use during the school day.
  • Grapple with issues of equity. You provide open source alternatives to students and teachers who need them. You lend flash sticks and laptops and cameras and . . . You ensure your students can easily get to the stuff they most need by using kid-friendly terms and creating pathfinders. You ensure that all students have access to audio and ebooks and databases.
  • Use new tools for collaboration. Your students create together, They synthesize information, enhance their writing through peer review and negotiate content in blogs and wikis and using tools like GoogleDocs, Flickr, Voicethread, Animoto and a variety of other writing or mind mapping and storytelling tools.
  • Consider ways to bring experts, scholars, authors into your classroom using telecommunication tools like Skype and Internet2.
  • Help students create networks for learning activities. See our Nings: http://globalstudies.ning.com and http://seniorseminar.ning.com


Professional Development and Professionalism
  • You build your own personal/professional learning network!
  • You guide your teacher colleagues in setting up professional learning networks.
  • Seek professional development that will help you grow even if you cannot get professional development for that growth. You can't "clock" these hours.
  • Read both edtech journals and edtech blogs, not just the print literature of our own profession.
  • You learn by visiting the webcast archives of conferences you cannot attend. You visit David's Hitchhikr to discover new events. You visit sites like edtechtalk.
  • Seek out a professional learning network using social networking tools
  • You share your new knowledge with others using social bookmarking tools like Delicious
  • You set up blog feeds to read the blogs of experts and educators you respect.
  • You follow selected educators,experts, authors, etc. with microblogging apps like Twitter
  • You join a Ning, for instance:
  • Classroom20Ning
  • TeacherLibrarianNing
  • English Companion
  • NCTE Conference Ning
  • SLJ Summit Ning
  • BLC Conference Ning
  • VoiceThreadForEducatorsNing
  • NECC Ning
  • Future of Education


Teaching and Learning
  • Understand that learning can (and should) be playful.
  • Understand that learning should be authentic.
  • Understand that learning can be multi-modal, media-rich, customized to the needs of individual learners.
  • You continually seek ways to support classroom instruction and student achievement.
  • You know the potential new technologies offer for interaction–learners as both information consumers and producers. You understand that in this world learners have the power to create and share knowledge.
  • Are concerned that, when it matters, your students move beyond information satisficing. They make solid information decisions.
  • Your website includes lessons, assessments, and artifacts of student work.
  • Understand that exploration and freedom are key to engaging students in a virtual environment to promote independent learning
  • Think Web 2.0. You know the potential new technologies offer for interaction–learners as both information consumers and creative information producers.
  • Are concerned about what you can do that Google or Wikipedia cannot. What customized services and instruction will you offer that will not be outsourced to Bangalore?
  • Are concerned that students learn to evaluate, to triangulate information in all media formats. We must guide them in an increasingly complex world, to make information decisions, to evaluate all their information choices, including books, blogs, wikis, streamed media, whatever comes next.
  • Share new understandings of searching, and evaluation, and analysis and synthesis, and digital citizenship, and communication, integrating and modeling our new standards, dispositions and common beliefs.
  • Understand that exploration and freedom are key to engaging students in a virtual environment to promote independent learning
  • Think Web 2.0. You know the potential new technologies offer for interaction–learners as both information consumers and creative information producers.
  • Ensure that the library provides an independent learning environment that connects students and teachers in a social, digital, community.


Into the Future (acknowledging the best of the past)
  • Unpack the good stuff you carried from your 20th century trunk. Rigor, and inquiry, and high expectations, and information and media fluency matter no matter what the medium. So do excitement, engagement, and enthusiasm.
  • Continue to consider and revise your own 20/20 vision. Do you look ahead for what is coming down the road? Are you scanning the landscape? As the information and communication landscapes continue to shift, do you know where you are going? Do you plan for change? Not for yourself, not just for the library, but for the building, for your learners. Are you really leading? What does the information professional look like today? Ten years from today? If you do not develop strong vision, your vision will be usurped by the visions of others. You will not be able to lead from the center.
  • See the big picture and let others see you seeing it. It’s about learning and teaching. It’s about engagement. If you are seen only as the one who closes up for inventory, as the book chaser, and NOT as the CIO, the inventor, the creative force, you won’t be seen as a big picture person.
  • Continue to retool and learn.
  • You represent our brand (who the teacher-librarian is) as a 21st century information professional.

What would you add or change?