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School Library Report


Abstract

The report was commissioned by the School Principal to document how the school library will be used as a learning space and resource centre to accommodate twenty-first-century learning. It was informed by the ongoing technological changes in the information age and their impacts on learning and reading.

A careful review of pedagogical developments, changes to information landscape, curriculum and learning needs, technological issues and the need for physical and virtual learning spaces was conducted. Leadership capabilities of the teacher-librarian and other staff were also reviewed.

The findings showed the need to provide the required resources to transform the library to meet needs of young learners and other patrons. It was concluded that the school library would be modernised to support learning and reading in the 21st century.

Rationale

Given the transformations in the learning environment occasioned by the changing informational landscape and developments in technology, the School Principal requested for a report that documents how the school library will be used as a learning space and resource centre to accommodate twenty-first-century learning.

Changes in information landscape and developments in technology have led to scrutiny of the role of libraries and librarians.

It is recognised that Web-based contents, including eBooks and other online learning materials have transformed the information landscape for readers while electronic media such as digital reading devices have influenced how readers get and consume learning materials. These developments have transformed the dynamics of library activities and mission.

Modern libraries offer wireless services, Internet services and provide computers for visitors to enhance studying, collaboration, research and readership. These are onsite services. They also provide online access to various digitised learning materials from archives, offer eBooks, audiobooks, music, videos and other materials available on digital platforms.

The roles of teacher librarians and other support staff have dramatically changed. Teacher librarians in this changing information landscape and digital age find themselves offering access, guidance and training to users on both materials found physically and online. In addition, teacher-librarians must remain on “the leading-edge of the vast digital databases available”.

The School Principal has recognised these transformations and noted that the Internet has brought about changes to roles of the library and teacher librarians in schools. The school library must, therefore, adjust to accommodate them.

The school library must be more relevant than ever before, enhance student personal growth, promote reinvention of learning, help learners navigate learning materials in the information age and continue to play the role of collecting and preserving materials and information that relate to culture while promoting civic and cultural engagement.

Library Vision Statement

A modern library that supports learners and faculty through application of information technology to provide school curriculum resources, information services and programmes that enhance lifelong learning

The school library will achieve this vision through the following methods:

  • Promote early learning and a culture of reading by providing a variety of collections and resources, services and programmes that would engage young learners
  • Adopt modern technologies to offer enhanced access to school curriculum materials, information, services and user-teacher librarian interactive sessions
  • Remodel library physical space to be open and flexible for computer lab with an interactive whiteboard, an Internet browsing area, moveable lounge for informal classroom setting, discussion and collaborative learning and even additional space for chatting, eating, drinking, using mobile phones, playing computerised games, watching videos and talking in the common areas. These changes would meet the dynamic changing needs, other library patrons, services and develop interests of learners.
  • Change the virtual space to make learning resources available to learners 24/7
  • Collect and preserve rich Australian history and culture and make the heritage available to society

Through these new ideas, the school library will provide a learning space that would ensure that learners and learning are more productive and successful in the long-term. It is believed that the library learning space will provide capabilities to meet new learning paradigm, needs and expectations of the technology-savvy learners.

Thus, the school library, as a critical component of the learning space, must be redesigned to optimise learning outcomes in the age of information technology and changing information landscape.

Strategic Planning

Pedagogical developments/educational change and changes to the information landscape

In Australia, like any other developed countries, pedagogical developments or educational changes are mainly driven by developments in technologies that support teaching and learning. These technologies have transformed instructional and content delivery modes through multimedia platforms.

Within the context of teaching and learning, media platforms provide the means to create, store and delivery instructional contents. These platforms include books, computers, chalk, projectors, document cameras, video projection, slide projectors, audio systems, and a combination of sound and video systems.

In addition, there are latest mobile devices such as Kindle reader, iPad and Google Nexus, among others. Multimedia instructional tools combine most of these elements to deliver instructional contents. Today, computer-based technologies have shaped multimedia for learning and teaching and even created virtual learning spaces.

The Australian Curriculum has undergone reforms to reflect new realities in the education system with the aim of strengthening the Melbourne Declaration. Within the context of resourcing, it emphasises the need to collect learning resources and equipment, organise, enhance accessibility and circulation of different school learning resources.

Second, the Australian Curriculum wants to ensure provision of resources and information for the general community. Third, it promotes accessibility of learning contents and maximum flexibility by ensuring that materials are well organised and accessible through various platforms, including online.

The school library will have a critical role to play in this new dispensation. It will continue to collect, organise and provide learning resources, materials and information in ways that meet demands of different learners, including traditional or Web-based modes (Brown, 2000).

Teacher librarians and other library personnel must continue to play their roles as experts in information who organise, acquire and retrieve learning resources and materials for various library patrons. At the same time, they must recognise their new roles within the ongoing developments to be:

  • More innovative
  • Apply technologies in different ways to deliver resources and services
  • Conduct research on usability
  • Engage in other broader roles such as resource management, training, advisory, and selector and information technology experts among others.

Changes to the information landscape have been gradual but have transformed learning and reading. The school library will have to maintain its relevance by providing learning resources and materials in formats that meet needs of different library patrons.

Major issues that need to be addressed in terms of both curriculum and learning needs in a 21st century setting

The Australian Curriculum has established consistent national standards to enhance learning outcomes for all young learners. It highlights contents, expected achievements, contents to be taught and subsequent progresses.

It reflects aspects of future learning, growth and enhanced learner and community participation. However, there are impending gaps that must be addressed by the school to implement the curriculum. They are priority areas for teacher librarians.

  • It is difficult to tell whether the library meets the need of the community by providing locally relevant contents that support the Australian Curriculum in addition to other diverse needs of individual learners and the school. This is highlighted in the Shape of the Australian Curriculum 2.0.
  • Currently, sharing and reusing of readily available curriculum contents is generally low. The teacher-librarian will be encouraged to make the most use of available learning materials and resources. The school library will have to encourage the curriculum planning and resourcing to reduce costs associated with additional investments in selection, organisation and access on different platforms.
  • Access to all curriculum resources has been poor. Teacher librarians will have the key role of assisting library patrons to find curriculum resources.
  • While the current Australian Curriculum was agreed upon to meet current needs, it is not known whether the curriculum continues to reflect ongoing changes in the information landscape and learning needs.
  • It is difficult to ascertain the extent to which the current Curriculum can engage learners. Teacher librarian should assess the level of engagement.
  • Learners come from diverse backgrounds influenced by socioeconomic factors, and not all of them are technology savvy and therefore engaging them with technologies could be a challenge.
  • Learning resources may not be adequately distributed in the current school library set up, i.e., there might be few learning resources available for a given subject, class or faculty.

Issues related to technology (includes virtual services and environment)

The school must address certain technology deficiencies in order to create a library that will be used as a learning space and resource centre to accommodate twenty-first-century learning. The current school library system must be reviewed and updated to account for the following:

  • Virtual whiteboards for interactive learning
  • Wireless services to support virtual services and environment
  • Ensure that all learning resources and materials are accessible online
  • Create multimedia platforms for various content formats
  • Provide a variety of resources for different learners
  • The school library will mostly likely to experience the challenge of integrating various aspects of the new learning spaces.

At all times, virtual learning services and environment must remain safe for learners. Thus, cybersecurity will remain an important factor in modernising the school library.

Changes to the physical and virtual environments and learning space requirements

The school library will have to be renovated to meet emerging needs. A physical space will be provided to accommodate only relevant books. Therefore, some bookshelves will still be in the library. Empty wall spaces will be effective for accommodating these shelves.

The open floor will be created into a learning space to serve different learners and patrons. The open space will ensure flexibility for other roles. Several subdivisions will be created, including a computer lab area with a whiteboard, an Internet surfing section, semi-permanent lounges for informal classrooms or discussions and areas for collaboration.

In addition, there will be additional common spaces for even chatting, eating, drinking, using mobile phones, playing computerised games, watching videos and talking. Specific numbers of learners for every space will be determined based on space availability.

The library will have a multimedia lab mainly for IT learning. It will have video production, digitisation, and music production space. This will ensure that the school library can produce its own multimedia learning materials. This would meet both consumption and creation roles of the library.

The school library will ensure that a virtual library is created to meet the increasing need for digital contents. The online public access catalogues and adoption of various learning apps such as Google Apps for Education will aid the school library in delivering such contents. This would ensure that learning contents are available to library patrons 24/7.

For learners who may not have devices such as Nexus, iPad or Kindle Reader for online contents, the library may offer some devices to drive the initiative. It is believed that virtual space will enhance learner involvement and empower them to perform better because they will have opportunities to control their learning spaces.

The leadership capacities of personnel who will be involved and their specific abilities and responsibilities

It is expected that teacher-librarians will have the expertise, skills and experiences to meet the needs of the school library. On this note, teacher librarians will possess:

  • Leadership and managerial qualities to drive the intended changes
  • Thorough professional knowledge of Australia’s standards for library and information management
  • Curriculum advisory roles
  • Information professional and resource management skills
  • Skills as educators
  • Extensive knowledge on acquiring, organising and retrieving vital elements of the Australian Curriculum

In addition, there are other roles, which teacher librarians may perform, but not mandatory. On this note, the school library will account for emerging roles in the library by providing new staff.

  • Library patrons’ trainers
  • Internet trainers, technology advisors and troubleshooting technicians
  • Network administrators
  • Cataloguers

Strategic Implementation

The School Principal will provide the overall leadership, management and administrative roles to ensure that the entire change process is successful. Teacher librarians will play critical roles in driving the change and they are “best personnel to take the school library into the information age”. The teacher librarian must possess the following skills.

  • Comprehension of appropriate pedagogies and learning styles
  • Collaborative, teaching practices and assistance to faculty with the curriculum implementation
  • Develop new information strategies for enhanced learning outcomes
  • Assess learner use of library services to improve programmes
  • Effective library management
  • Ensure cataloguing standards, metadata use, and database retrieval expertise

Library technicians would assist to ensure successful change process.

  • Observe operational and technical elements of library roles, including maintenance of all systems to ensure acquisition, organisation, storage and management of learning resources and the library.

Greater collaboration is expected from learners, faculty members and other stakeholders in the library during this change process.

For resources and other technical aspects, the school library must evaluate its current capabilities, identify areas of weaknesses, and mitigate these weaknesses for change.

Summary of Final Recommendations

  • The school library must be developed to be used as a learning space and resource centre to accommodate twenty-first century learning
  • Resources should be provided for this change process
  • The School Principal will lead the overall change process
  • The teacher librarian will be the best personnel to transform the library and realise the new mission

References

Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority. (2015). . Web.

Australian School Library Association. (2014). Statement on teacher librarian qualifications. Web.

Brown, M. (n.d). Learning Spaces. EDUCAUSE Quarterly. Web.

Brown, S. (2000). Growing up: Digital: How the web changes work, education, and the ways people learn. The Magazine of Higher Learning, 32(2), 11-20.

Brown, M. B., & Lippincott, J. K. (2003). Learning Spaces: More than Meets the Eye. EDUCAUSE Quarterly, 26(1), 14–16.

Credaro, A. (2006). THe Role of the Teacher Librarian: A Discussion Paper. Web.

Doherty, J. J. (1999). Teaching Information Skills in the Information Age: the Need for Critical Thinking. Library Philosophy and Practice, 1(2), 1.

Fleming, L. (2014). New & Improved Libraries. Tech & Learning. Web.

Kuhlthau, C. (2010). Guided inquiry: School libraries in the 21st century. School Libraries Worldwide, 16(1), 17-28.

Mitchell, P. (2011). Resourcing 21st century online Australian Curriculum: The role of school libraries. Web.

Poole, B. J., & Sky-McIlvain, E. (2009). Education for an Information Age: Teaching in the Computerized Classroom (7th ed.). New York: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins Publishers.

Probert, E. (2009). Information literacy skills: Teacher understandings and practice. Computers & Education, 53(1), 24-33.

Rendon, F. (2013). The Changing Landscape For Libraries & Librarians In The Digital Age. Web.

Siemens, G. (2005). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning, 2(1), 3-10

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IvyPanda. 2020. "School Library." January 6, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/school-library/.

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