Discussion: School Libraries, Reforms, and Collaboration

With educational reforms, it is necessary for students to acquire and perform specific skills on cue. Tests are developed to gauge progress and assure that students are prepared to move forward with their education. The reforms have redirected benchmarks of the past: Kindergarteners were expected to focus on social skills, but new emphasis has been placed on reading and writing. The pressure on teachers from the strict state-mandated requirements provide opportunities for librarians to reinforce concepts and introduce creative play.

Leadership restructuring has shifted the role of the superintendent from educator to business person. Funding is often sparse and the allotment of funds must be justified (often by student performance). With the arrival of No Child Left Behind and Common Core State Standards (CCSS), performance is evaluated by standardized testing. These educational reforms often leave teachers exhausted with the overwhelming task of preparing students for specific tests rather than allowing them room to focus on lifelong learning and skill development. The Mandate for Change discusses teacher quality. The notion that the quality of the teacher can be determined based on their student’s standardized test scores is hotly debated. Librarians are able to lessen the burden on teachers by helping implement materials to prepare students for these tests – all the while teaching both educators and students to use innovative technologies that aid in the development of necessary skills for lifelong learning. A major aspect of these new technologies centers around online education. This innovative learning style is encouraged not only for academic achievement but also for its impact on the learning process as a whole.

Policies and technologies are always changing: as such, it is vital that school libraries and librarians are constantly learning, adapting, and paving the way for students, educators, and administration. Educational reform policies have made it even more necessary for school librarians to assert the importance of themselves and their centers. Funding is limited. By adopting an engaged leadership position; pioneering new technologies; and advocating for students, the librarian assures both the allocation of funds and job security.

It is essential for teachers and school librarians to work collaboratively to help students find, evaluate, and synthesize information (especially with the constant evolution of new technology). Librarians can reinforce concepts and integrate meaningful technological tools and learning skills that teachers often overlook or don’t have time to emphasize on their own. School librarians strive to be leaders of new technologies: they aid educators in the navigation of programs such as online classes and virtual learning. More appropriately titled, “Resource Brokers,” librarians assist teachers by providing materials and instructional guidance to build a curriculum that promotes a vision of lifelong learning.


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