November 17, 2017

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One-to-One: Let’s Have One Librarian for Every 1:1 School | Pivot Points

Spring has arrived. Despite seasons of budget cutbacks, education leaders are spending again. In the last several months, two separate districts in the Portland (OR) area have visited our district looking for guidance as they seek to invest in technology. One-to-one devices are a favorite. According to TheJournal.com, worldwide spending on K–12 classroom technology exceeded $13 billion in 2013. The report, “Technology in Education: Global Trends, Universe Spend and Market Outlook,” found that technology investments “should continue to grow at a compound annual rate of eight percent through 2018. That’s being driven in large part by the rise of mobile devices, which accounted for a full 62 percent of all instructional technology spending in K–12.” How might teacher librarians support this strategic work?

“Building and Sustaining 1:1 Programs” was one of five strategic categories identified by education leaders at the Fall Meeting of the Digital Promise League of Innovative Schools. This column has looked at strategic partnerships and digital content and curriculum. As more districts seek to implement 1:1 programs with mobile devices, there are opportunities for teacher librarians to help move their schools ahead.

In a 2014 SLJ Leadership Summit keynote event, Dr. Mark Edwards and district librarians shared how librarians in award-winning Mooresville (NC) Graded School District are supporting an established district-wide 1:1 program. Similar success can be seen in Vancouver (WA) Public Schools where a Digital Promise case study has showcased how teacher librarians are supporting similar digital initiatives.

A different kind of library program

With mobile devices, students are no longer limited by a textbook or access to the library. When the researchable moment occurs, students have just-in-time access to ideas, information, and resources. This means thinking differently about the library. With 1:1, the reason for students to visit a library may be less about tapping resources than gaining access to space and other students.

During a recent visit to Jesuit High School in Portland, OR, I talked to Library Director Gregory Lum. This is the first year in which students have iPads at Jesuit. Lum’s library is large enough to easily accommodate four classes at a time. With 20-foot high ceilings, large windows, a skylight, and copious seating, the facility immediately invokes library envy. Despite this, Lum said that plans are already underway for renovations to better meet the needs of iPad-enabled patrons. The library already offers computers, comfortable furnishings, and a rich array of digital content. Students continue to fill the library for regularly scheduled classes for library instruction or research, and on their own time. Lum hopes to add enclosed spaces so that whole group instruction can occur without bothering other patrons and small conference rooms to facilitate group collaborations. Fixed shelving may give way to more movable and flexible fixtures. “We want to provide a warm environment for students and faculty,” Lum said. “From meeting/team rooms to a balcony or loft to an enclosed instructional space, the new library space will have multiple uses.”

Digital library resources also gain importance. With devices in hand, students are increasingly likely to enter the library not through a door, but through an app or a website. The ability to download textbooks and library books and retrieve information from databases means that the 1:1 device serves as an important access point to library materials. If libraries do not provide suitable alternatives, students will turn elsewhere.

Digital literacy should come hand in hand with this increasingly digital environment. Teacher librarians need to work aggressively to make information literacy and problem-solving not merely library lessons, but also part of the instructional fabric of the school. Librarians need to shift their teaching from locating and accessing resources to evaluating, curating, and effectively using information—especially if it doesn’t come from the library’s walled garden.

Whether at school or at home, students are already taking research into their own hands.

Recently, I listened to a friend’s middle school daughter talk about how she and a friend were up in arms about a planned development that would threaten a dog park near their home. Her source? Facebook.

Ray-Mark_Contrib_WebMark Ray (Mark.Ray@vansd.org) is the director of instructional technology and library services at the Vancouver (WA) Public Schools.

This article was published in School Library Journal's March 2015 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

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Comments

  1. Although I understand the impact of the 1:1 initiative; I would have been happier to hear a move to having a school librarian in each school building. In order to embrace 1:1 initiatives effectively, integration of information fluency as well as training in the technology itself makes 1:1 more powerful than a focus on technology alone. Let’s hope that as money gets freed up as the author contends, that the value of reinstating the thousands of school librarians that have lost their jobs since the Wall Street debacle becomes a reality.

  2. Jeani Littrell-Kwik says:

    It is through the implementation of the 1:1 program that the Bellevue School District is returning teacher librarians to secondary schools (in the form of Research Technology Specialists). As laptops are expanded to district schools, so, too, is a Research Technology Specialist. There are two additional positions open beginning with the 2015-16 school year. To learn more: https://bsd405.tedk12.com/hire/ViewJob.aspx?JobID=453