By guest author John Marcus, director of technology and libraries for Sharon (MA) Public Schools: School libraries, just like classrooms, have been forced to reexamine their design and purpose in light of the influence of recent technology shifts. But, rather than staunchly adhering to traditional practices, many successful school library programs are joining forces with technology departments. This merger has helped both the technology and library teams to maintain a laser focus on teaching and learning with technology as the tool to help student and adult learners succeed.
In my district, we are now the Digital Literacy Team (DLT). The DLT derives its mission from the goals of the library team, which hopes to advance learning, instill a love of literature, teach excellence in research skills, and promote digital citizenship. Our DLT meets regularly to continually reexamine our work, write curriculum that would take advantage of the skills of our tech and library staffs, and develop public relations pieces extolling the virtues of the DLT.
As the two staffs grew more aligned, a couple of interesting things happened. First, the push for more mobile devices increased at all levels throughout K–12. This demand caused the technology side to focus on getting into classrooms more frequently to support learning. At the same time, the library teachers began reimagining their spaces as more of a learning commons, where configurations of furniture and equipment could be more flexible—and this also required more mobile technology. By the end of the year, we were creating makerspaces in each library and again calling on the shared work of the dynamic duos of tech and library teacher teams to develop programs that promoted learning using technology tools that are now the purview of library teachers as well. Continued shared work, along with a healthy dose of positive public relations, will allow us to grow the model and help others succeed over the next several years.