From School Librarian to "Information TeAchnician":
School librarians have a unique opportunity to adapt their professional
skills to meet the challenges of the "Information Age". As electronic access
to information proliferates in K-12 schools, librarians can model the adventure
of lifelong learning by teaching faculty and students how to search the
Internet for pertinent information, evaluate the reliability of information
retrieved, analyze and synthesize the information to construct personal
meaning, and apply it to informed decision-making. Library/media centers
can be transformed from static repositories of print and audiovisual materials
into dynamic and evolving information technology centers.
a Challenge for the Information Age
Cynics have noted that previous technological revolutions have failed
to reform education, pointing to the intransigence of institutions or the
resistance of teachers. In my experience, discussions of information technology
too frequently focus on hardware, infrastructure and data as if these tools
and resources alone will automagically reform educational practice to produce
competent lifelong learners. Experienced educators know that we must add
an "A" to "tech"; technology in isolation ignores the "a" in "teAch". School
librarians have the professional training and expertise to guide information-processing
learning activities, so let's call them "information teAchnicians".
School Librarians and the New World of Information
Teachers must be given professional development opportunities to learn
to use new tools; they must have adequate time to explore these resources
in a supportive environment with ongoing feedback and assistance. (See
is for Dogs: Teachers Teach, Teachers Learn.) Margaret Fryatt critically
examined several models of professional development in Proposed
Models for Successful Internet Implementation. Her analysis may be
useful to librarians who have assumed the role of technology leaders in
their schools. .
Librarians at all levels have been exceptionally quick to recognize
the potential of an electronic "library without walls". They also have
been particularly proactive in identifying and analyzing issues pertaining
to Internet use. Three professional organizations have guided policy-making
and standards development:
The American Library Association adopted Access
to Electronic Information, Services and Networks, an interpretation
of the Library Bill of Rights, in January, 1996. Information
Literacy Standards for Student Learning, a joint project of AASL and
AECT, identifies nine standards and 29 indicators of proficiency in information
literacy, independent learning, and socially responsible use of electronic
American Library Association
American Association of School Librarians
Association for Educational Communications
Peter Milbury's List
of School Library Home Pages demonstrates the extent of school librarians'
leadership in emerging electronic publication. The Librarians Information
Online Network (LION),
maintained by the Philadelphia School District, is an exceptional resource
for K-12 librarians. ICONnect, a
project sponsored by AASL, offers online courses in Internet applications.
Basic Starting Points
To learn about the Internet, explore Hobbes'
Internet Timeline by Robert H Zakon, hosted by the Internet Society.
Use a well-designed tutorial to introduce teachers to online research:
Exploring the World
Wide Web, a workshop tutorial on Internet applications, combines text
Elementary teachers may prefer The
Internet Island, a Web tutorial for teachers, because of its graphic
replication of the Netscape screen.
Harnessing the Power of the
Web for Classroom Use: A Tutorial focuses on student projects on the
web, and is also available on CD-ROM.
New and novice users frequently complain that finding pertinent and relevant
information is like searching for Waldo in the popular children's books!
Three guides to Internet research designed particularly for K-12 users
may be helpful:
More detailed and comprehensive references for teachers and high school
students can be found at:
Searching the 'Net is a series of interlinked,
short pages with some introductory exercises to help students focus on
electronic searching skills.
Info Zone: Research Skills
was compiled by the Assiniboine South School Division in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Kathy Schrock's Guide for
Educators features instructional exercises in addition to a well-organized
collection of curriculum resources.
Two university-level resources are also quite valuable:
a compilation of guides to research and a wide variety of search engines.
Tools for Finders and for Wanderers.
Research: A Hypertext Guide from Cornell University.
Information on the Internet: A TUTORIAL from UC Berkeley.
Rapidly expanding access to the Internet compels school librarians to emphasize
the importance of evaluating information retrieved. In addition
to Searching the 'Net and Kathy Schrock's Critical
Evaluation Surveys for students, three resources in particular can
help guide teachers' thoughts about using the Internet in the classroom:
Educational Web Sites.
Critically about World Wide Web Resources.
Blue Web'n Learning
Applications lists their rubrics for evaluating the educational web
sites they have included in their "library of Internet-based instruction".
School Librarians and Larger Issues
For librarians to successfully redefine themselves as "information teachnicians",
they must also keep informed about the larger issues pertaining to the
use of Internet in schools. Andy Carvin's EdWeb
is an excellent hypertext online "book" which explores technology and school
Safety on the Information Highway is another hypertext guide which
is suitable for concerned parents.
Defining adequate acceptable
use policies requires thoughtful consideration and experienced leadership.
Resources to guide the successful implementation of technology in schools
abound on the Internet, although, ironically, one already must have Internet
access in order to benefit from them.
Librarians who find themselves propelled onto the information
superhighway without adequate skills and preparation can use their Internet
connectivity to guide their own growth. The map is in the glove compartment!
Janet Murray, Librarian
Kinnick High School,
[This essay was adapted from a workshop presentation at the Texas Computer
Education Association annual conference in February, 1997. Many more Internet
resources are linked to the workshop page, From
School Librarian to Information TeAchnician.]