Envisioning Change and Extending Library Reach for Impact in Underserved School Communities

Envisioning Change and Extending Library Reach for Impact in Underserved School Communities

Michelle Kowalsky (Rowan University, USA)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 18
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9108-5.ch011
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This project aimed to improve and promote the school libraries in a K-12 district which serves primarily African American and Latino students. Surveys about the libraries were distributed to each teacher, student, and parents. Students independently and overwhelmingly reported that they enjoyed the author visits, the new books, and the library research projects which utilized them. Reactions to this district-wide library initiative contributed to the students' positive reviews of these aspects of their school libraries in roughly equal parts; in other words, students don't only appreciate the ability to surf the internet. Students in this underserved population mentioned that their class research projects turned out better, that they were able to find more information in books and online via new library computers, and that they found exciting new materials to read. Students, teachers, and parents consistently reported that they felt more interested and more successful in library research after their school library was updated and its resources were promoted.
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School library media professionals are able to transfer an understanding of that real-world value to the needs of the classroom. They introduce students to various types of information on a daily basis. Specifically, they require students to understand, critique, and create new information to showcase their learning of information literacy concepts and skills. Strong school librarians are able to meet national standards of the American Association of School Librarians (2018) and the International Society for Technology in Education (2018).

The young people we educate in K-12 classrooms are the same young people who will enter college and the workforce in the near future. They will be our future healthcare workers, retail salespeople, and financial advisors, and ultimately move our society forward. In fact, today’s middle and high school students will be in their prime when we educators are old and need their help to fix our cars, to find cures for our diseases, and to negotiate our country’s diplomatic relations. All of these jobs are important. Therefore, we most certainly want our students to know what they are doing!

Teaching our young people to navigate a messy world, rather than providing them with a simpler or abstract version of that world, helps them get used to using authoritative and accurate information in searching for solutions. Many educators do not have any models of what future learning should look like in a school which prepares students for the complexity of the real world. And, since formal schooling is steeped in the traditions of the past, momentum for new ideas and approaches is often constrained by the very infrastructure in which teaching and learning operates.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Information Literacy: Synonym for information competency or information fluency, in which a person recognizes an information need and locates and evaluates needed information as it is found.

Teacher: An educational professional whose interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary focus is on teaching students how to access, interpret, and create new information.

Information Communication Technology (ICT): The hardware, software, and network connectivity that enables online research, two-way communications about information, and teaching and learning.

School Library: A designated space within a school which serves the reading, research, and information literacy needs of its students.

School Librarian: Synonym for school library media specialist, educational media specialist, or library media teacher whose interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary focus is on teaching students how to access, interpret, and create new information.

Underserved Community: A town or municipality with a majority of its population under the poverty line, or struggling with opportunity or access to affordable housing, educational opportunities, jobs, food, and other quality of life factors.

Library Research: The act of using the resources of a library, either in print or online, to find information which satisfies a need or answers a question.

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