Schools face change Schools face issues daily as they work to change and meet the needs of students. Some problems are systemic and some are unique to each campus. School leaders do have a powerful but sometimes overlooked ally in dealing with these issues–their teacher-librarian. At SXSWEdu, Joyce Valenza, Miguel Figueroa and I examined some ways that libraries/librarians can hack these problems for their schools in our session Hacking Education through Libraries. Issues like equity, access, technology adoption, information overload, and digital literacies, and trends facing schools like microschools, alternative education, personalization, and OER are all areas where libraries can help hack problems and provide leadership. Questions we face
- How can schools break the model of “compliance” and encourage more independent or self-directed learning? Libraries are the ultimate anti-silo–where every grade level, individual student, or teacher can pursue their own interests via the resources the library has and the expertise and connections the librarian has. Librarians can also help lead Passion Projects, Google 20% time, or independent study research with students.
- How can schools better provide equity or access? Libraries provide a diverse set of materials and resources for all students–including physical materials like books, GoPro cameras, computers, etc., but also provide access for all. Librarians notice the needs of students and work to meet them through budgets, fundraising, DonorsChoose and more in order to provide equity.
- How can schools approach the DOE’s #GoOpen initiative with Open resources? Librarians are the experts in organization of information, curating and compiling sources, and also are well-vested in locating materials for the campus. They know the tools for organizing lots of sources effectively.
- How can campuses help students cope with digital citizenship issues? Tech savvy librarians can team with instructional technology staff to help build a collaborative and consistent curriculum, host Lunch n Learns, convene student discussions, and more.
- How can campuses better hack self-directed teacher professional learning? Librarians can help curate print, ebook, and online resources of collections for teachers, can help match teachers with their interests or needs, and help with developing independent learning platforms.
Hacking through libraries
Libraries cannot fix everything of course, but librarians are sometimes overlooked as allies who have the skills, abilities, and dispositions to help campuses address these issues. Our SXSWEdu session asked participants to “hack their own” ideas for how libraries can address problems schools face — 3 years out, 5 years out, 10 years out. One group suggested that libraries can hack issues around civic responsibilities, holding forums and bringing in speakers and resources, for example. We invite all of you to identify a problem and consider how a library could help “hack” that problem for your school! We also invite you to check out the trends work that Miguel Figueroa is doing at the Center for the Future of Libraries, Joyce Valenza’s work on curation, and my articles on Reinventing Libraries for the Future Parts 1 and Part 2 for Internet @ Schools magazine. Our slides are below.