Thursday, July 10, 2014

Digital Divide Series: The End of the Digital Divide?

Dear education administrators,

This letter is about the digital divide and how it relates to school libraries.  Here is a quote about net neutrality an issue that will impact your students and staff’s access to quality information in the future.   

“To control traffic is to control information”-David Carr

The purpose of this letter is to nudge administrators to become more active supporters of school libraries. Yes I understand that your educational courses may have not included information about school libraries but I am here to help clarify the potential of a school library. Those administrators who make it a priority to include school libraries with their action plans thank you.   

Here are some points to consider. Working as a teacher librarian our primary role is help others become effective users of information. A teacher librarian works well in the areas of technology, information literacy, research, and reader advisory.  I know that you are busy but if administrators aren't investing their energies to improve library resources that produces higher academic achievement, how are Iowa teacher librarians suppose to meet the criteria for the Outstanding School Library Award? Excelling in the categories below increases the likelihood that a school library will earn the award and I believe lessen the consequences of the digital divide.

  • Qualifications of Staff
  • Teaching and Learning
  • Library Management
  • Administrative Support

How do you view your school library program? Here are a series of questions that you can reflect upon.

  • Can your teacher librarian successfully apply for the Outstanding Library Award? What can you do to help?  
  • What percentage of your budget are you allocating to school libraries? After legislation was passed in Iowa a few years ago there is no requirement of a specific percentage of the budget designated to spend in school libraries.  
  • In terms of the digital divide, how can we keep an even playing field as much as possible? What roles do innovation and imagination play to find solutions?
  • Does your curriculum align with standards in a way that is clear and cohesive? Do you have a Information Literacy Program for K12?
  • How can you rely more on your teacher librarian to bridge the interests of teachers, tech and administration?

Librarians are your secret weapons to push the possibilities during the digital information age.  Feel free to read and ask questions about my previous posts about the digital divide.  My passion in the library is to help people find and apply the information that they need.  By adopting and adjusting our job descriptions to promote our skills, we can benefit educational systems so they can reach its highest potential. For starters check out the Department of Education School Library webpage. Let’s think about what motivates students to be efficient users of information so they are prepared to understand the possibility of “hiding information is a powerful tool of social control” (Popular Resistance).

Still Not Convinced?

Yes I understand that traditionally in Iowa educational decisions are made at the local level but we can make technology less daunting and more empowering by maximizing the skills of a teacher librarian.  Information literacy is here to stay and I think that your staff will rise to the occasion if you raise the bar for technology.  This is important because It is our duty to match our curriculum with jobs skills of the 21st century.  Since technology is changing so rapidly we must be equipped with the ability to adapt our perceptions, react proactively, and encourage collaboration in a positive manner to work towards bridging the digital divide together.  

Expectations, Challenges, and Tools or Potential Solutions

Expect more from your teacher librarians than checking and checking out books. I challenge you to think twice about setting him or her out to supervise more than one school library unless absolutely necessary. We value deep thinking. We need people to view the library as everything between the librarians ears.  Students have varying skills and abilities.  How much more can we widen the gap before bigger and economic and social problems arise? School libraries promote democracy.  By pumping resources into school libraries we are fueling ideas to deal with the issue of the have and the have nots by looking at solutions instead of blaming the victims.  Supporting school libraries means enabling people to take of themselves and each other with the power of knowledge.

The future of America

Sources of My Irritation

Digital Divide...Net Neutrality
Why not invest in libraries? How can you afford not to?
Expectations...teach higher level education to the few?
Communities dying
Worthlessness value less
No relevancy…your help is not needed here
Losing connections, we need connections for human progress
Triumph of the self. Are you opting out?
Resistance to it...learn what you can...move on
Educational equality...access is everything....keeping libraries progressive.
Shout it out! Information is Power!

Recommended reading from President Christine Sturgeon