About barupatx

Retired IB-MYP Middle School Librarian and at-risk alternative High School Science Teacher, still wanting to help teachers and students.

Looking Forward: Does a 21st-Century School Need a Library?

Looking Forward: Does a 21st Century School Need a Library? - Certainly a high-tech modern school doesn't need the kind of library that has been the norm for the past 50 years because the world we live in now has much different needs for educating our students. But a School Library with a certified School Librarian is critical for meeting the needs of today's youth. Ten years ago the controversy about high-tech schools not needing a library became the hot education issue. If recent LM_NET posts are any indication, the debate continues, along with assorted arguments about size, configurations, furniture, and print vs. digital collections. To my mind, the key issue has not changed—What do the students in this school need? That should be the primary consideration, whether elementary, middle school, or high school. Reflecting on my years as the surrogate librarian (while teaching in an at-risk alternative high school) through my years as a certified Middle School Librarian, brings to mind conflicts about what would be best for students and their School Library.

School as Library

My first battle was in the alternative school: I wanted to disperse the several-hundred books housed in the very small, never-used “library” to the classrooms where students could finally use them. Concerns about how to keep track of where the books were and how to check them out were met with my response that students would only use books in the classroom, and the computerized library circulation system had a field for location of small collections. I followed through on my plan; the teachers and students were thrilled, and the books were used constantly. We called it “School As Library.” Alas, two years after I left to become a middle school librarian, the library director had all the books put back in the “library”—to the chagrin of faculty and kids—and they once again faded into obscurity.

Wisdom is about asking the right questions.Interestingly, it seems School as Library may become the next “hot” topic. In a recent LM_NET discussion, an elementary School Librarian, on a committee to plan for new and renovated libraries, wrote ” We are being told that the future of libraries is to reduce the space of the actual library and have books in mini satellite stations around the school. We are also being told that book cases should all be on wheels so the collection is more portable.” She asked for input, and among the responses were:

  • Satellite stations of books cuts off access to students. The library of the future is the Learning Commons which doesn’t involve reducing library space or moving books outside of the library.
  • Mobile book shelves create spaces within the library for different reasons. Mobile tables and chairs serve the same purpose. Have satellite/collaboration stations within certain areas of the campus, but not have shelving for check outs.

The post prompted contributions about problems with new library design:

  • A brand new building was not given enough book shelves, so they’ve been forced to use portable round wire racks.
  • In a new high school building the shelves are too short. There are huge display cabinets with glass shelves, but shelves for books would have been much more useful.
  • Architects ignored the need for a certain amount of linear feet of shelving and that library shelving comes in three-foot-wide sections. They drew less furniture “so it looks open and spacious” ignoring the need to accommodate certain class sizes in different seating areas.
  • The architect couldn’t grasp that a section of the checkout area needed to be lower for patrons in wheelchairs.
  • Electrical outlets were mounted at floor level instead of high enough to be useful for charging stations.

Barbara Braxton, a retired School Librarian in Australia (and one of my gurus) had this to say:

School Library Design: If we are not invited to contribute, we have to speak up anyway. If we want the best for our students, being silent is not an option.Certainly the concept of libraries as having more flexible spaces is a driving force in design and the tale of architects not consulting those who use them is common. Don’t assume that administrators, let alone architects, have any idea about best practice in 21st century libraries—we are the experts and we need to tell them. (edited for brevity)

The consensus was to campaign for an architect/designer who has experience designing libraries; identify the essentials and why, particularly for work safety, work flow, and user access; measure and do a floor plan; and keep standing your ground – it pays off in the end.

I am bewildered by elementary libraries with 7-foot high shelving and high school libraries with 3-foot high shelving. I’ve suggested to elementary librarians complaining about lack of shelf space, to put teacher materials on the top shelves above the associated Dewey numbers of student books (to have all topical materials together) and thus open up more lower shelves for the itty-bitties to access. And while some high school librarians like their shorter mobile shelves (which are extremely heavy when loaded with books), for those who don’t I suggest they remove wheels from some of the bookcases and stack one atop another in a permanent location, attaching flat brackets to secure them together.

I had plenty of 5-foot high bookcases in my middle school and it was the perfect height for my students. I didn’t load the bottom shelves with books, but rather added extra slanted shelves to display new arrivals or thematic reads. This drew students attention down so they would also notice books on the shelf below waist height.Slanted shelves added to bottom shelf of bookcases to display new arrivals or thematic books.

Print vs. Digital, Physical vs. Online

My first squabble as a middle school librarian was about purchasing online subscription reference databases. At the time, the 2-yr-old middle school was a prototype high-tech school with a 1-to-3 computer-to-student ratio. With a small beginning-print collection, it was hard to meet student research needs so the advantage for online access should have been a consideration, but because I hadn’t reached the state-recommended books-per-student ratio, I was told I could purchase only print books with district library funds. Fortunately my principal had been involved in the design of the school as a model of technology, and he saw the absurdity of using old-school standards for a modern, high-tech school, so he provided extra funds for online services that would support our curriculum.

I remember the “What will they do when they get to college?” argument to justify print resources, but even then most colleges and universities were online-resource rich—I did nearly all of my graduate work online. Online resources are simply faster and cheaper to update. (Back in 2007 a major encyclopedia publisher ceased its print version in favor of online-only.) Of course we still try to convince students that ‘not everything is on the Internet’, but as the number and variety of online subscription database services has multiplied, the argument of “It’s faster to find information in a good reference book than on the Internet.” has vanished and students now need to be more proficient at choosing & using online services than print resources.

As an avid Star Trekkie, I don’t remember seeing a print reference resource on any TV shows or movies. There were incidents where books were read and appreciated, but for reference they always used “Computer.” In the original’s “Court Martial” episode, the law books Cogley piled up in Kirk’s quarters seemed to glorify books over computers, but it was the dilution & homogenization of information put on the computer that was criticized—much as we lament the poor quality of information on the Internet/WWW. And at the end of that episode, it’s still the skillful use of the computer as a reference resource—not Cogley’s books—that finds the real culprit. (I wonder: if Lexis-Nexis had been digitized back then, would Spock have convinced Cogley that it was far easier to search L-N for information than to wade through his hundreds of books?)

Most School Librarians have drastically reduced their print reference materials in favor of online subscription resources. The struggle now is training teachers to accept and assign our online subscription services and topical e-books instead of print. A corporate boss isn’t likely to say, “Joe, we need you to compile some information for the annual report, and we want you to use an encyclopedia, a book, and a newspaper, but only one website,” yet teachers persist in giving these kinds of directions for assignments, or in the supreme case of laxity, just let students search for and submit information from any site on the Internet.

As students go from elementary to middle school to high school, leisure reading declines due to increased academic demands, so the Fiction section of a high-tech secondary School Library might be smaller. Purchasing lower-cost paperbacks can keep it current and inviting. Using e-readers, tablets, or smartphones for reading is now a popular strategy for many secondary schools, although some students say they prefer ‘a real book.’ That tired old refrain about the difficulty of “curling up with a good computer” persists.

To Have or Not to Have … a School Library

In a podcast many years ago, David Warlick said students need a place to go in order to find, synthesize, and produce information, and the School Library is the logical place for an Information Production Center. He admonishes that students must have the opportunity to develop as effective communicators in print, video, audio, and digital formats, or their “voices” will simply not be heard. Now THAT is a powerful argument for having a School Library—to have no such place in a school would be irresponsible.

I continue to believe that curriculum needs and student demographics ought to determine a School Library’s resources. We need to make strong assertions about providing students with information from a variety of high-quality resources, about needing to teach Information Literacy Skills for any kind of assignment, and about the one person in the school who can bring curriculum, technology, and communication together: a certified Teacher-Librarian.

Does a 21st-century high-tech school need a library? Certainly a modern school doesn’t need the kind of library that has been the norm for the past 50 years because the world we live in now has much different needs for educating our students. But a School Library with a certified School Librarian is critical for meeting the needs of today’s youth. 

Looking @ the ‘Giants’ Who Empowered This Teacher/Librarian

Looking @ the 'Giants' who Empowered this Teacher/Librarian - True mentors empower us to make a difference in the lives of students and teachers. Sir Isaac Newton captured my thoughts perfectly: "If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." This blog post is dedicated to the 'giants' who have influenced my life.In an earlier blog post I mentioned joining the Edublogs Club, which provides members with a weekly set of prompts. Here’s the introduction for the week of October 5th, dedicated to World Teachers’ Day.

World Teachers’ Day has been held annually since 1994 and commemorates the anniversary of the signing of the 1966 UNESCO/ILO Recommendation concerning teachers’ rights and responsibilities on a global scale. World Teachers’ Day 2017 will be celebrated under the theme “Teaching in Freedom, Empowering Teachers.”

Two particular prompts inspired me:

  • Share a story of a teacher who made an impact on you.
  • Why did you become a teacher?

From my earliest years I heard about teaching experiences from my paternal grandmother, and my mother told me I talked of being a teacher even before I began school. Throughout my own schooling I admired all my teachers and worked hard to be a good student, even if sometimes my behavior would tax their patience. I loved learning, and I often helped other students understand complex concepts or work through assignments they struggled with. In high school and college, especially, students I didn’t even know would approach me to help them, having heard from others of my willingness to tutor peers.

I spent my first 2 years of college in Science, the 3rd year in Business, then switched to Social Science, but inevitably I realized my inner desire to become a Teacher and got my teaching certification—an extra year of studies, but I found my true purpose in life.

The joy from seeing someone finally “get it”
cannot be surpassed!

I later became a School Librarian to expand my teaching beyond a single classroom, and that’s another decision I know was right for me. Being a School Librarian has enlarged my vision of education to encompass every student, every teacher, every subject, and a myriad of effective teaching strategies for any need. When health issues made it necessary for me to retire, I decided to continue sharing my expertise through this blog, through LM_NET, and through my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

During my writing journey for this blog (and for a future book) I frequently think of those who have most influenced me as a writer, as a Teacher, and as a School Librarian. As I read the World Teachers’ Day theme, “Empowering Teachers” is the phrase that made me realize my mentors did that—gave me the power to make a difference in the lives of the students and teachers with whom I came in contact.

Thus I share with you readers a dedication to the incredible people who have most influenced my life path, helped me become the Teacher and School Librarian I wanted to be, and who continue to inspire me to share with others, so they, too, can realize their dreams.

Dedication to those who have helped me become what I am and to do what I do.

Looking Back @ 3 Ways to Use Quotes in the School Library

Looking Back @ 3 Ways to Use Quotes in the School Library - A great quote can prompt student questioning and creative thinking in ways that a mere statement, or even a good question, cannot. School Librarians can use quotes as teasers to arouse interest in reading, to enhance concepts during Library Lessons, and as promotional displays to advocate for the School Library.Quotes are very popular on social media and blogs because people find them inspiring and motivating. Quotes are also useful in the School Library—a great quote can prompt student questioning and creative thinking in ways that a mere statement, or even a good question, cannot. As a School Librarian I use quotes in 3 different ways:

  • As a teaser to arouse interest in reading a book.
  • To highlight or enhance a concept at the start of or during a Library Lesson.
  • As promotional displays on bulletin boards and library walls to advocate for the School Library.

Quotes as Teasers

it is for me appMany School Librarians include quotations when they are doing booktalks. I often ‘tease’ a book by quoting the first line or so on the first page. We all know how enticing the first line of a book can be: “Call me Ishmael.” “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.” Two of my favorites: “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.” and “I considered saying no.” A book’s teaser and the first page of a book are items on my IT IS FOR ME! checklist to help students choose a good book.

We can involve students in reading promotion, too. A librarian colleague who has a wall of windows looking out into a hallway has students use brightly colored markers to write a favorite book quote on the glass. I don’t have large enough windows, but when students talk about a good book, I give them a color 3” x 5” index card to write a quote or review and staple it to their their grade level bulletin board (see below).

Quotes to Enhance Library Lessons

I realized the value of a quote to begin a lesson from a student teacher during my 3rd year as a School Librarian. We were collaborating on a folktales lesson and she wanted to begin with a quote from John Lennon, Reality leaves a lot to the imagination.” We displayed it on a presentation slide as students entered the library, and you could see the anticipation building as students read it and wondered what the lesson would be about. After that experience I began to use quotations to give students a taste of the forthcoming Library Lesson. (A particularly stimulating one is pictured near the end of this article.)

I also use quotes during Library Lessons to illuminate a concept that may be outside a student’s normal understanding. My Renaissance Brown-Bag Biography Lesson is the year’s first research project for 6g gifted/talented students. These high-level students cannot comprehend a time when there was no public education and few could read, so I begin my lesson by saying that ‘1450 is the most important date in history’: with the invention of the movable type printing press, reading became a crucial skill to have. I then read excerpts from the book Disappearance of Childhood by Neil Postman, including these:

So powerful—perhaps even magical—was the capacity to read that it could save a man from the gallows. “The said Paul reads, to be branded; the said William does not read, to be hanged.” (p.32)

Of 204 men sentenced to death for a first offense …, 95 of them pleaded “benefit of clergy,” which meant that they could meet the challenge of reading a sentence from the Bible, and therefore, would be spared from the gallows. (p.40)

After my reading, students become much more interested in researching a time period when the ability to read could literally save your life!

Quotes as Promotional Displays

My favorite quote, from Louis L’Amour’s The Walking Drum has been displayed on a huge sign in my classroom and my school library for 23 years, during which various at-risk alternative high school students and transient Title I middle school students have told me it helped them better appreciate the importance of school. I now display it on my blog, top right, to inspire others who visit me here.

At my first staff development as a new librarian, my principal shared a quote which I placed in large letters on the ceiling drop above my circulation desk and often used it to encourage students:

“Everything you need for your success is within you.”
(I wish I knew where he got it.)

I use the 4 bulletin boards in the hallways surrounding my School Library to promote the School Library Program to students, faculty, administration, and visitors. I customize the 3 bulletin boards near grade level hallways to coordinate with that grade’s classroom activities, and teachers appreciate that I tie their Subject areas into reading and using the library. Each bulletin board features:

  • An English/Language Arts sign with a quote related to the grading period’s theme, along with pictures of related books. For example:
    • Prejudice & hatred arise from seeing only differences. Tolerance comes from recognizing similarities.
    • Open books encourage open minds.
    • What we see depends mainly on what we look for. (John Lubbock, statesman)
  • A sign with a quote promoting that grade’s Special Social Studies Collection with the related reading log bookmark in a paper pocket so students can grab one if they need it. I add pictures of books related to the grading period’s Social Studies curriculum content.
    • Reading is a window to the world.
    • The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. (Thomas Jefferson)
  • I create infographic signs, with the title below, of online services for research projects that bring other Subject Area classes to the library, along with pictures of Dewey number books related to other Subject’s grading period content.
    Get Better Grades! Use Library Online Services!

I use the 4th bulletin board—visible to everyone on their way to the cafeteria—for general School Library promotion, and I try to include at least one quotation related to the month’s theme.

  • September, November, February, and April are Heritage Months: Hispanic, Native Americans & other Indigenous People, Black History, and Asian/Pacific American (a month early, see below.) I include photos of our culturally diverse teachers with a book about their heritage—some wear native garb and some contribute accessories to dress up and draw attention to the board. For Black History Month we also make a timeline around the exterior walls of the library and each day we add a student-created sign with a quote about a significant event or person of note.
  • October is for National Red Ribbon Week, and through the years I’ve collected some very creative and graphic advertising and posters with quotes about alcohol, smoking, and drugs. Students help choose items and prepare the display, and they sure know how to draw attention to the bulletin board and this issue!
  • March is Women’s History Month, with quotes, pictures, and book covers.
  • May is for our Night of the Notables 8g culminating project. I center this quote from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, also the teaser for the first Library Lesson, and surround it with small pictures of the 200+ chosen Notables. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow quote

Personal Inspirational Quotes

An earlier blog post shared a few quotes that may be personally inspirational for school librarians, one of which I like to keep posted near my desk so my Library Lessons are succinct and relevant:

Kids have a long attention span, but a low tolerance for boredom.

A final quote reminds me how important our educational work is; it, too, is permanently here on my blog. One of my former principals, who knew how meaningful it is to me, gave me a pin of the quote, which I wear often. It can certainly be as inspirational shared with students as it is to teachers. It’s all the more poignant for remembering whence it came:

I touch the future; I teach.
(Teacher-astronaut Christa McCauliffe)

Looking Back @ Teaching Online Subscription Resources

Looking Back @ Teaching Online Subscription Resources - By crafting and scaffolding relevant Library Lessons about online subscription resources, and by focusing on types rather than format, students and teachers learn a wide range of information resources, and understand that both print and digital resources can contribute to student success.At first glance, a School Library today looks much the same as a half-century ago: rows and rows of books. However, a second look reveals the influx of technology with desktop, laptop, and tablet computers. By the turn of the millenium, computers and their associated digital applications, along with online subscription database information resources available through networking and the Internet, had already begun to significantly change schools and School Libraries.

So Many Online Services, So Little Time!

Online subscription resources in K-12 schools began as add-ons to print resources and were distinct—digitized copies of familiar print resources, like encyclopedias and periodicals, and a few specialty databases, like biographies. They were costly, so most schools had only one, or just a few. As online subscription services proliferated, they became affordable, and now may be the primary reference resource in many schools. Service providers began to combine different types of reference into their brand-name tools, so now a single resource can provide multiple forms of reference beyond what the tool’s common name would suggest.

In my medium-sized district, our middle schools have access to nearly 50 different online subscription databases—4 encyclopedias, 9 periodical databases, and more than 30 specialty reference databases and e-books. Imagine that long list of resource names on a school webpage: teachers and students, pressed for time to find information, are too bewildered to determine which to use for their information need, and the numerous features of each service make resource selection even more difficult for the intermittent user. It’s no wonder they become discouraged and simply type some search terms into Google.

It’s unrealistic to expect teachers or students to be told about and remember all the online subscription database services—if it isn’t relevant to classroom learning, it’s meaningless and quickly forgotten. These online subscription services do provide online help about the features of each resource, but it’s even more unrealistic to expect teachers or students to examine the ins & outs of these database services in order to use them.

School Librarians are the professionals who are trained in information resources; we are the educators who are familiar with everyone’s curriculum; we are the FutureReadyLibrarians who curate, manage, and integrate digital resources for our students and teachers. It’s our responsibility as School Librarians to know what each of these online subscription services offer, and to determine when and with whom to use each feature of each resource. So, rather than telling teachers or students what’s available, we need to integrate specific features of specific tools into classroom activities, progressively building their skills so students become proficient in the use of our online subscription database resources before they leave our campus.

Integrating Online Subscription Resources

I treat online resources the same as the collection of print materials. I don’t introduce all the Dewey Subject books at once, but rather, each topical group as it applies to a classroom assignment. So also, I introduce online resources during subject area visits, focusing on features that fulfill the purpose of the library visit, and avoiding anything that does not achieve that purpose.

My Library Lesson Curriculum Matrix - Composite example of an older version for the 1st grading period.

Sample Library Lesson Matrix

I use my Library Lesson Matrix to organize online resource lessons. Just as I began with one subject curriculum guide to identify the need for a library lesson/visit, so I also pick a single online subscription service to begin adding online resources to my Library Lesson Matrix. I examine each feature to see how it works and which middle school curriculum need it can satisfy, that is, it provides the subject information needed and is suitable for the grade level. I record the brand name into the subject unit on my Library Lesson Matrix; then I move on to the next feature to see what it can provide for curriculum needs. It takes some time to go through all the services, but I become comfortable enough with each tool to correctly integrate it and teach it to students.

How I Teach Online Subscription Services

Carefully crafted Library Lessons, customized for each grade level, scaffolded throughout the school year, and aligned with classroom curriculum activities, help students (and teachers) become adept at determining which online subscription resource feature to use for their information need. It takes a lot of time and curriculum savvy to create these lessons, but we can use them year after year if we keep the same online services.

WebQuests are my favorite way to introduce online subscription database services. Using the term “WebQuest” to introduce these online resources emphasizes to students that they are the first, best choice for gathering information online. My WebQuests are designed for a single class period, with only 3 different online resources and just 1 or 2 features of each resource. Teachers appreciate the guided online introduction to high-quality resources, and, because students respond on a printed or digital worksheet, they have an instant daily grade for the class period.

I believe an encyclopedia is the best reference tool for students to begin research, so the first WebQuest of the school year introduces a grade-appropriate online encyclopedia, and it’s used for that grade’s online lessons throughout the school year. By repeatedly using a familiar tool, we activate prior knowledge and students become comfortable using the tool, and we can develop online browsing and searching skills that they can apply to other online resources.

As an example, my first two 6g WebQuests—one for Science, one for Social Studies—occur about 2 weeks apart. The only difference is in the features I introduce to meet the needs of the two different subjects.

6g Science Biography WebQuest 6g Social Studies Countries WebQuest
  • introduce WebQuest concept
  • introduce WebQuest structure
  • introduce grade-appropriate encyclopedia
  • 2 features of encyclopedia & search strategies
  • biography database
  • periodical database
  • same WebQuest concept
  • same WebQuest structure
  • use same encyclopedia
  • 2 new features of encyclopedia & search strategies
  • countries database
  • map database

Any following 6g WebQuests begin with the same encyclopedia and offer two additional resources that meet the needs of the subject, the project, the research, and the lesson. 6g students learn to locate and use features of all the online tools relevant to their grade-level; I bypass other tools, which I assure them they will learn about in higher-grade-levels.

Bookmarking and compiling articles into created folders is a feature now offered by most online subscription services, so we can guide students to specific topical information within the limited time frame they are given for an assignment. Once we create a named folder within a service, we can use that same folder and its articles for the same lessons in following years, as long as we have the online service.

I use the bookmarking feature across all 3 middle school grade levels for an English/Language Arts unit on expository text. The unit theme (technology & the power of information), content skills (summarization, inference, and interpretation), required resources (non-fiction books, newspapers, magazines, memoirs, speeches), and the final product (an expository essay) are all perfect for using bookmarked online articles. I can progressively build student Info-Lit skills using different formats of resources to activate prior knowledge and lead into new experiences.

6g 1) Examine components of non-fiction print books (table of contents, index, glossary, graphics).
2) Learn how to summarize a print magazine article.
3) Access a librarian-chosen subscription database and read a bookmarked online magazine article for an expository essay poster.
7g 1) Compare non-fiction print books and e-books.
2) Locate and summarize bookmarked online magazine article from a new librarian-chosen subscription database.
3) Access the same subscription database and read at least 2 topical online newspaper or magazine articles for their written essay.
8g 1) Examine print memoirs from the Biography area.
2) Access and compare a topical non-fiction print book, an e-book, and a free Web-based memoir.
3) Access various online services and read bookmarked and self-searched articles to produce an online e-zine.

Once students have learned how to access and use grade-appropriate online subscription services, I guide them less formally to relevant online resources through customized Resource Lists. Others may call it a Subject Guide, Library Guide, or Pathfinder, but I use the term “Resource List” because that’s what it is—a list of resources which drive a research assignment. (Academic librarian Patricia Knapp devised and named the “Pathfinder” in the 1960s as course resources for college students.)

I build a Resource List using my Library Lesson Planner, just as I would any library lesson. Why so much work?

  1. I want to be sure the Resource List fulfills subject & information literacy standards and meets research requirements of the final product.
  2. Teachers typically intend a library visit as an introduction to a research project, so I want a short, meaningful lesson to cultivate the requisite Information Literacy skills along with presenting the Resource List.
Resource List Example

LibLessonPlanner example

As I fill out my Library Lesson Planner for “Resources students will use,” I refer to my Library Lesson Matrix to glean print and online resources I’ve already selected as grade and subject appropriate for the assignment. I also enter any guidelines from teachers or subject curriculum guides to help me choose other Web sites that will be helpful for students.

I organize my Resource List according to the problem-solving model I’ve chosen as best for the particular research assignment, and I create it as a webpage so students can access it 24/7 (and so I can make changes or additions without issuing a new handout). Here is a brief enumeration of what I might include on my Resource Lists, as applicable to the project and the problem-solving model:

1. Problem-solving model as organizational structure
2. Recommended resources for background reading/investigation
3. Guidelines for creating questions about the research topic
4. Search strategies for different resources
5. Reminders about citation and creating a bibliography
6. Reminders about paraphrasing and summarizing
7. Resources available in the library (books, reference, other)
8. Recommended online subscription resources
9. Recommended Web sites chosen by the librarian or teachers
10. Reminders about assignment requirements (from the teacher’s checklist)

Correct Use of Informational Materials

There’s continuing confusion about requiring students to use print or digital or online resources for their assignments. I believe that the format of information (print vs digital vs online) is NOT important, but rather we need to focus on the TYPE of resource and its content value:

  • Encyclopedias for general information and overview of topic;
  • Content-specific resources for in-depth information;
  • Periodicals for short, current articles.

Encyclopedias and periodicals, in print, digital, or online versions, are pretty obvious, but content resources aren’t as obvious to students and teachers, so I always include specifics about these:

  • Print content includes all those specialty tomes we have in our reference area or topical books in the Dewey area.
  • Digital includes CDs and DVDs that we got for teachers to use but actually students can be using them, too.
  • Online includes e-books, subscription services (like a biography database), and Web-based books (like Google Books, Project Gutenberg, Digital Book Index).

I collaborate with teachers to articulate the different types of resources available and recommend what is best for students to use for the assignment. Through my Library Lesson I then teach students about the types of resources and how to use whichever format is accessible—print version, in-house digital version, or online version—when they are working on the assignment. This is especially important in a digitally-divided school where students may or may not have online access from home.

By crafting and scaffolding relevant Library Lessons about online subscription resources, and by focusing on types rather than format, students and teachers learn a wide range of information resources, and understand that both print and digital resources can contribute to student success.