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How the Library Stays Relevant Even As Traditional Books Do Not

How the Library Stays Relevant Even As Traditional Books Do Not

National Library Week is coming up, meaning it’s a perfect time to pay tribute to how the modern-day library has adapted to fit today’s needs.

Even though traditional books are becoming less and less favored over digital resources thanks to trends like Open Educational Resources, the importance of the school library isn’t diminishing as it adapts to the needs of 21st century students. Here are some of the ways the library is as important as ever.

The Makerspace

One of the biggest roles of the modern library is to offer space for the “makerspace,” or an area designated to allow students to build and create with tools such as 3D printers.

According to The Times Union, makerspaces have helped libraries become the “third place,” or the place that community members gravitate to that is not school or work. h

By offering makerspaces, libraries are offering students places to engage with others as they also learn skills through creating and building. Find out how to make a makerspace in your school library here.

Offering, Implementing Technology Services

Many of the technology services that schools have to offer are available through the school library. In many of America’s schools, librarians are responsible for keeping up with the latest technology and being familiar with how to help students use it.

In a Watertown, MA school for example, the school librarian was given the task of helping students test out Google Expeditions. Google Expeditions is a virtual reality kit that is in its pilot stage; the reality kits are currently being tested out on students throughout the country in schools that asked to participate.

Reading background information beforehand, the school’s librarian Leah Moroni-Wagner led students through destinations like Pearl Harbor, the Auschwitz-Birkenau memorial and museum, and countries like Iceland and Greece.

In 2012, a report from the Research Journal of the American Association of School Librarians found that a majority of school librarians have adopted the role of leading technology integration in schools.

Similarly, in 2014, a report from Digital Promise analyzed the work of librarians in Vancouver, Washington and found that many had a hand in leading digital citizenship, guiding digital content decisions, coaching teachers in educational technology, and curating educational resources. 

In other words, as schools rely more and more on edtech, so do they on the school librarian to help facilitate implementation.

Providing Reliable Wi-Fi to Community Members

Because not all students may have access to Wi-Fi at home, libraries serve as an important place for students to use while completing schoolwork. 

In some areas, especially rural ones, the library serves as one of the few providers of Wi-Fi.

Some libraries are even taking a more involved stance with closing the digital divide- or the divide that affects low-income community members with a lack of access to digital resources.

In early 2015, CitiesSpeak detailed the efforts of libraries that are part of Hotspot Lending Programs, or programs that "offer low-income patrons access to devices that provide wireless broadband internet access at home; these hotspot devices are pocket-sized, easy to use, and connect multiple devices.”

Several libraries in New York City teamed up to offer over 10,000 families internet access at home.

So yes, while the traditional textbook is not as relied upon in today’s times, that doesn’t mean the library is suffering from the same fate. Both school and community libraries have adapted to become important places for students to learn and grow.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor


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