Remember a long time a go when you spent the day at the library learning how to find books and getting aquatinted with the card catalog system? There was a time when the one computer in the library was used to find books and to locate useful resources for a book report or for that big science project you had to do. Then came the Internet and it made its way into the library system. First it was a great way to see what other libraries had and a way for librarians to keep tabs on new books and where to send people if they needed a specific book. So for a while the librarian needed to know basic computer skills and how to read the card system. Welcome to the new library age.

Librarians face a new job. On top of their traditional roles, many are required to help students use computers aside from finding books. Powerpoint presentations fill the classrooms as students are well versed in the computer world, therefore librarians spend a lot of their time showing students how to use the information they have gathered as part of their presentations. Other programs that are used on a normal basis include word ( a typing program) as well as the Internet itself.

For new students, the Internet is a house-hold name, but many many do not have access to a computer or have never ventured into the digital world. Here the librarian must be well versed in the language of Google and similar search engines so they can help that 3rd grader find resources outside of the library for their book report. Many books on the shelves have outdated material or not enough material, so going online helps expands on resources. Librarians around the nation and around the world are 

“part of a growing cadre of 21st-century multimedia specialists who help guide students through the digital ocean of information that confronts them on a daily basis. These new librarians believe that literacy includes, but also exceeds, books.”

The Internet is like an ocean- if you don’t know how to search properly, you can drown in the abundance of useful and not-so-useful material. Knowing how to navigate these waters is a critical skill that goes beyond the classroom and is used everyday- including at work. Knowing this, librarians, like teachers make up lesson plans to help students better understand how to use the Internet in a way that will get them the information that thy are looking for and how to pick out information that is false or irrelevant. Far gone are the days of “just re-shelving a book,” as stated by Ms. Rosalia, the school librarian at Public School 225, a combined elementary and middle school in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn. The responsibilities of  the new digital librarian parallel that of many school teachers.

Yet with the economy the way that it is and with the tendency of schools to cut back, librarians are one of the first to be cut out of the school system.

“Mesa, the largest school district in Arizona, began phasing out certified librarians from most of its schools last year. In Spokane, Wash., the school district cut back the hours of its librarians in 2007, prompting an outcry among local parents. More than 90 percent of American public schools have libraries, according to federal statistics, but less than two-thirds employ full-time certified librarians.”

Parents, teachers, school administrators are all well aware that librarians are a crucial part to the educational system. However a non-certified librarian in the end cost less. More and more schools are cutting back. That means that a certified librarians are becoming rare at an alarming rate. 

The Internet is part of everyday life. If you step into a classroom, whether elementary or college level, many teachers use the Internet as an aid in the classroom. Not having these skills can impair a students chance of excelling or getting the job they want.

Librarians are faced with a new challenge in this digital age. Is it as important to be certified or knowing how to harness the powers of the computer? Schools are meant to educate. Teachers are certified in order to provide the best quality of that education. A school can not function properly without the right resources. Cutting back on these resources such as knowledgeable librarians can have serious implications to the students. How does a school rightfully decide to cut back on librarians, when now more than ever, they go beyond indexing books and keeping the shelves tidy?

Watch the NY Times video related to the article quoted in this blog!

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