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School Library Technology in the New York Times

Submitted by Daniel A. Freeman on February 17, 2009 - 12:29pm

Much of the discussion on our blog centers around public and academic libraries, and we often neglect an extremely vital player in the library technology world--school libraries. School librarians are, in many respects, the gatekeepers of library technology. They help teach basic technology skills, particularly library technology skills to our future public and academic library patrons (and employees). They interact with younger users of this new technology and do hands-on work to make these skills practical learning tools. Because they work with these young student users, school librarians can provide insight into the application of these technologies that librarians who work primarily with adults cannot.

I was thrilled to see this article in Sunday's New York Times, which goes a long way towards providing some of the coverage (both print and video) we haven't been able to:

[Stephanie] Rosalia, 54, is part of a growing cadre of 21st-century multimedia specialists who help guide students through the digital ocean of information that confronts them on a daily basis. These new librarians believe that literacy includes, but also exceeds, books...

...Some of these new librarians teach children how to develop PowerPoint presentations or create online videos. Others get students to use social networking sites to debate topics from history or comment on classmates’ creative writing. Yet as school librarians increasingly teach students crucial skills needed not only in school, but also on the job and in daily life, they are often the first casualties ofschool budget crunches.

Mesa, the largest school district in Arizona, began phasing out certified librarians from most of its schools last year. In Spokane, Wash., the school district cut back the hours of its librarians in 2007, prompting an outcry among local parents. More than 90 percent of American public schools have libraries, according to federal statistics, but less than two-thirds employ full-time certified librarians.

For many children, school libraries an extremely important place to develop computer skills. If a child doesn't have Internet access at home or their parents don't have the time or knowledge to teach them how to use a computer, the school library may be the only place to learn.