Online-Powered School Libraries
With all the buzz about "Web 2.0 technologies" and the implications that new social Web tools such as Weblogs, wikis and the like have for education and information literacy, it's no wonder that school libraries are suddenly on the front lines of change.
But what exactly does a "School Library 2.0" look like, and how does your library stack up? (No pun intended.) Is your library a "24/7 digital workspace," a "learning-centered laboratory," and/or a "participatory, social, user-centered space"? They are all descriptions that came from the recent School Library 2.0 Summit (sljsummit.pbwiki.com) sponsored by School Library Journal. Libraries were also described as places where "librarians are connectors," where there is a "community of trust emphasizing personal responsibility," and a place for "interactive learning and collaboration with others." In other words, today's libraries are much different from how they were in the past.
So how are libraries and schools being reinvented in this much more social, connected, always-online world? The following are groundbreaking models and examples.
Librarians are now launching blogs, not only to give updates on resources but also to interact with users and host collaborative discussions. For example, one of the earliest and best school library blogs comes from Galileo High School in San Francisco, where librarian Pat Delaney uses a "Li-Blog-ary" to identify resources for classes, update the school community on new offerings, link to online databases, and publish student reviews. Similarly, the library blog of Mission Read at Chiddix Junior High School in Illinois involves students in online conversations. The Blogging Libraries Wiki offers a list of related K12 library blogs.
Social Networking Sites
Taking blogging one step further, libraries are connecting to teen readers by creating pages on social networking sites such as MySpace.com. An example is the Stoneham, Mass., public library site which comes complete with hip hop music, notices on recently arrived CDs, and links to teen authors who have their own MySpace sites.
Libraries are also using wiki sites to get staff and students involved in creating online library-related resources. Examples include the Teacherlibrarianwiki site hosted by Joyce Valenza, a librarian/blogger, from the Springfield Township High School in Pennsylvania to collect information from staff members, and the Moncrief Library Wiki in Texas, developed by freshmen at Fort Worth Country Day School to help other students learn to use library resources.
Podcasts and Videocasts
There are now growing numbers of podcasts and videocasts in the library ranks, including RES Library Learners podcasts that Randolph Elementary School in Virginia offers, and student book review podcasts posted by Grandview Elementary School in Monsey, N.Y.
RSS and Social Bookmarking School libraries are also offering Real Simple Syndication (RSS) tools that allow users to subscribe to online information so they get new content as soon as it goes online. One example is the Media Center site of Nashville Community High School in Illinois, which uses RSS to compile dynamic pages of constantly updated local and world news from various sources. Other useful Web 2.0 technologies include social bookmarking tools such as del.icio.us, where you can find online resources that people have labeled with specific topic tags. For example, searching on "library 2.0" will identify several thousand recommended resources.
Web 2.0 technologies are transforming the ways in which school libraries operate and deliver their services in this fast changing online social and collaborative world. The sites on the previous page offer models and resources for your staff to consider.
Will Richardson is a contributing editor to The Pulse: Education's Place for Debate.