Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Library Transformation


Let me begin about 18 months ago. I took the position of Director of Educational Media and Technology at an Independent School. In plain English, that means that I am in charge of the technology and the library of the school. In the first 12 months, I have been working with teachers and faculty to transform the way that technology is used in the classroom, but in the last 6 I have changed my focus to the school's library.
To give a simple picture, our school library is in a new building (4+ years old) and we have a good sized collection of books, that include reference, fiction, nonfiction and graphic novels. Our librarian keeps our collection up to date. Over the summer we converted our catalog system to Follet Destiny, with the add-on of Destiny Quest.

Other than that, we were using the model that had been at the school for over 10 years. PK- grade 2 classes would have scheduled library time, the teacher would drop them off and leave them for the librarian to read a book to and maybe start a discussion. For grades 3-5 teachers still have scheduled time, but they stay with their classes and use the space as they see fit. Some use it as computer time, others as silent reading time, some use it for regular class time in a "new" location.
This signaled to me that there was a need for a transformation, a way to re-frame the library space and give people extended options for its use and the use of its print, electronic, and human resources. The beginning of the transformation was a meeting with the library staff to develop a shared vision of what a library should be. While our ultimate goal was to get to the library to a 21st century library model, we knew this would be a process. Our first step was to market the library as a HUB of learning. We needed both students and teachers to see that the library is more than a space with a lot of books.
Our first change was to show that the library was a home for all types of resources. Our librarians began to offer their skills as information gatherers. We shared with teachers that we would help gather resources for class projects and units. For this we use a handy web 2.o tool called fur.ly (http://fur.ly).
This tool allows multiple URLs to be compiled into one tiny url that gives access to all of these resources. The advantage of this for our library was to enable our librarian to research any number of websites on a given topic and return one single url to the teacher. The teacher can then publish this to their website or any other resource list for students.
As we add transformative practices to our school library, i will be adding them to this blog.

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