Looking to illustrate an abstract concept from a novel she’d read, an Oklahoma high school student turned to her building-level school librarian. Then, with the school librarian’s encouragement to tinker in the makerspace, the girl sculpted a clay model of a kneeling woman balancing a 3D-printed replica of the earth on her back.
Future Ready Librarians expands concepts of literacy—from books to tech to STEM. The initiative also drives the nationwide transformation of libraries, as librarians take the lead in creating makerspaces in their districts.
Teaching research skills once meant asking students to turn stacks of library books into essays on the poetry of Emily Dickinson or the causes of the Civil War. But today, it’s just as likely to mean asking second-graders to design a museum exhibit on the physics of flight or encouraging a 10th-grader to make the case for backyard chicken coops.
Transforming school libraries into communal learning “playgrounds” offers students technology support, remote access to research resources and expanded opportunities for creative exploration. One of the biggest trends is “makerspaces” where students use their imaginations to create crafts, electronics, videos and other projects.
Providing students with the right academic resources is crucial to their success. Whether it’s finding printed books, e-books or other research materials, new software can help librarians organize materials and make them easy to find.
Taking away clerical work such as manual card cataloging and checking out books means librarians can spend more time working with students on research skills and digital literacy. With today’s automation software, librarians can give book recommendations and users need only a single portal to search for digital and print resources.
About one-third of public schools do not have a full-time, state-certified librarian.
Members of the American Library Association call it a national crisis, as colleges and careers increasingly require students to have expansive digital literacy skills. Some 20 percent of public school libraries do not have any full- or part-time state-certified librarians, according to a 2013 report from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).