Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Re-Visioning a School Library

For nearly twenty years our school has had the "Media Resource Centre" (MRC) as our school library.  The space is physically located at the centre of the school building and houses a mainly fiction collection of books and nearly 30 computers.  Out of necessity, the school made the decision to use computers, the internet and on-line data bases as the main source for students to access non-fiction resources (we do have a limited non-fiction collection).

In conjunction with this, the MRC has a vast collection of high interest fiction books for students - evidenced of by the fact that nearly 300 books are checked out weekly (not bad for a school population of 500).

Our Media Resource Centre also doubles as a working space for learning assistance for students, an audio visual/video editing studio, independent study and class research.  The MRC continues to be a hub of activity from 8 am to 4 pm daily.

This place of learning (and the people that have worked within it) has served the school extremely well over the years.

Nonetheless, the time has come for a "re-visioning" of our MRC.

This year we have embarked on the process of updating our Media Resource Centre to better meet the needs of our students and teachers as they full immerse in the data rich world we live in.

The first step was the hiring a new Media Resource Teacher/librarian/technology coordinator - call it our version of a "Techbrarian"

This teacher has already embarked on some interesting shifts in practice to support students and teachers and transform the space to be even more functional.

Here is listing of some the initiatives that have begun or will be beginning soon:

Co-teaching for research skills and using technology
The Media Resource Teacher has already begun working with individual classes to review, discuss and complete activities about online research techniques – tailored to projects within specific subjects.

Some of the topics covered this far include:
  • Identifying credible sites (common domains, truncating back, searching links, author’s background)
  • Plagiarism, proper citing, how and how much to paraphrase, crediting other types of creative works such as music and images
  • Creating a wiki for class learning, student groups contribute to each subsection of a given topic to create an evolving document that they can learn from to prepare for a class
This teacher is also assisting teachers - via our Building Experts Professional Learning Teams  - as a springboard for technology integration.  She will be hosting a workshop for teachers dealing with such things as website creation, wikis, voice threads, etc.

The construction of a new MRC website that will include:
  • Making our library management software capable of  web based search; students will be able to search our collection of books from anywhere they have internet access
  • Will have a link to our library’s group on "goodreads" for book recommendations by students and teachers
  • Will include pages for research projects for other classes with info, instructions, tools, links, etc.
  • A Interactive Research Guide with embedded links to various tools for completing any written work requiring citing or research (thanks to the good work of our Social Studies Department for laying the foundation of this work)
Digital citizenship and digital literacy
The creation of a comprehensive and streamlined (scope and sequence)  digital citizenship and digital literacy curriculum for grades 8 to 12.

This process will meet the needs of the students, take into account what’s already being done and most importantly integrate the curriculum into the existing system to cover the gaps

Renovation of the Space
This past summer we updated all 30 networked computers in the MRC.  These devices are now the fastest and most up to date machines in our building - capable of handling basic internet searching to complex video editing.

Moving forward we are looking at creating an even more comfortable and collaborative space for students and teachers to work and learn together.

As we continue to roll out our school's vision for "21st Century Learning" the Media Resource Centre will play an exceedingly important role. 


  1. I hope that you will begin to "think bigger" - or "more transformatively" - as this prontury'cess unfolds. School libraries will either disappear or completely transform, depending on their response to this century's transformed learning core activities: to quote Dr. Pam Moran, from Read-Write-Publish-Recall (the Gutenberg/Reformation Paradigm) to Search-Connect-Communicate-Make (the present).

    Libraries will thus need to be MakerSpaces, not just coffee shops (in the oldest meaning of that term, Watering Holes for human information exchange), not just central parks, not just creativity kitchens, and not just studios, but all of those.

    So, first, let me suggest you join us, physically or virtually, for the School Library Journal Summit 2012 http://www.sljsummit2012.com/ and the Oct. 22nd, 7 PM ET #engchat w/ @pammoran and @irasocol on Role of Libraries in Schools. But then let me offer some thoughts:

    1. BYOD - it is the only way to a universally designed school library. You need, obviously, an open WiFi network and you should have various kinds of mobile computing for students, but outside of media production work, there is little need for the hardwired desktop computer.
    2. A rethink of what "the book" is, with an understanding that books exist in many forms. Paper, Digital, Digital with Screen Reading, Audio (machine read or actor read), Audio via YouTube, Video, and that writing includes many forms - keyed, handwritten, dictated to text, videoed, audio recorded - all of which need to be embraced in your library.
    3, It is time to begin a rethink of "cognitive authority" and plagiarism to reflect this century and not 1850 http://www.academia.edu/216723/Irreconcilable_Authority_Cognitive_Theory_Culture_and_Technology_in_the_21st_Century_Classroom because unless you reconsider this, you will be enforcing, not convincing.
    4. Food, Drink, and Especially Comfort http://youtu.be/yfzMnoUheGI

    Best in this effort,

    Ira Socol

    1. Thanks for your comments and suggestions. I should have indicated that we also have a robust wifi network in conjunction with a BYOD policy- which has already transformed this space. I like your suggestions and they have already sparked some conversation.