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BFTP: Why librarians should be in charge of educational technology

A weekend Blue Skunk "feature" will be a revision of an old post. I'm calling this BFTP: Blast from the Past. Original post February 20, 2006. I got fairly well blasted for this post five years ago with the number one comment - "But my librarian is nothing like you describe." Don't worry, folks, the non-tech librarians won't be around after this round of budget cuts.

If you want well and appropriately used educational technology in your school, turn its planning and implementation over to your library media specialists because they have:

pnjeff2.jpg 1. A healthy attitude toward technology. The LMS considers and teaches not just how to use technology, but why and under what circumstances it should be used. (A sexist syllogism: Most librarians are women.  Women have a heathier attitude toward technology than men. Therefore most librarians have a healthy attitude toward technology.)

2. Good teaching skills. Unlike technicians they are more likely to use good pedagogical techniques and have more developed human relations and communication skills. Librarians are understanding and empathetic when technologically related stress occurs in the classroom.

3. An understanding of the use of technology in the information literacy process and its use in fostering higher level thinking skills. We view technology as just one more, extremely powerful tool that can be used by students completing well-designed information literacy projects. Many “technologists” are just now getting this.

4. Experience as skill integrators and collaborators. Integration of research and information literacy projects has been a long-term goal of school library programs, and as a result many LMSs have become excellent collaborators with classroom teaches, successfully strengthening the curriculum with information literacy projects. Librarians know kids, know technology and know what works.

5. Been models for the successful use of technology. The library’s automated library catalogs, circulation systems, electronic reference materials, and student accessible workstations all showed up well before classroom technologies. Teachers rightfully see the LMS as the educator with the most comfort with technology as well, which in turn bolsters their own self-confidence.

6. Provided in-building support. A flexibly scheduled LMS is a real asset to teachers learning to use or integrate technology. The LMS can work with the teacher in the library, lab or classroom. The LMS is available for questions that might otherwise derail a teacher’s application of technology. This as a primary advantage of the LMS as opposed to a classroom teacher having primary responsibility for staff development in technology.

7. A whole school view. Next to the principal, the LMS has the most inclusive view of the school and its resources. The LMS can make recommendations on where technology needs to be placed or upgraded as well as on what departments or teachers may need extra training and support in its use.

8. Concerns about the safe and ethical use of technology. Students will need to have the skills to self-evaluate information; understand online copyright laws and intellectual property issues; and follow the rules of safety and appropriate use of resources. Who but the librarian worries about this stuff?

Your reasons why to turn tech over to librarians?

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Reader Comments (8)

I love this article! Shared it with my networks and my State Education Department. :)

February 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea Ange

I absolutely agree with each point, even #1, though I am one of the rare male K-12 librarians. Many of us demonstrate a holistic, healthy attitude toward technology - I see tech as a tool to enhance teacher performance and student learning.

In the district in which I work, our ITS (Integration Technology Specialist) staff must also have a teaching background, but I can certainly see how a non-teaching technician would have a hard time with a roomful of antsy students (or teachers) as they try to resolve a technology-related issue.

I have had significantly more experience co-teaching than any ITS with whom I have ever worked, so #4 certainly applies in my case.

We have worked hard to establish the library as the hub for technology on our campus, even though many other places and teachers use it to a high degree as well. We have tightly integrated technology into our everyday work, and teachers have appreciated us trying out new methods of using technology and taking some of the guesswork out of how they can implement those methods in their classrooms.

Add all of this to our flexible schedule, multiple student workstations, our holistic view of the entire educational program at our school, and our experience in teaching students, it is easy to see that while librarians are already super busy, turning tech over to librarians is a good move, especially in districts where the tech specialist is not a teacher first. School librarians are always teachers first, and a busy librarian is an employed librarian.

February 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLen Bryan

Totally agree with this article. The LMS at our school is doing everything you mentioned in this article and then some, she is amazing with supporting technology K-12. Love the part about non-technological LMS's being gone after this round of budget cuts, so true.......

February 20, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterkhammers

Well worth repeating, Doug's plain talk makes sense and is hereby certified jargon-free (TM pending:-) We've reposted here in WA state to school librarians...And I'll be including in a letter to my principal. Read, think, learn, share.

February 21, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCraig Seasholes

Thanks all.

I appreciate the confirmation!


February 22, 2011 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

How do you work this in if you aren't flexibly-scheduled? They are trying to turn over all the tech to the Media Specialists next year - not by taking anything away, but by adding an extra 10 30-minute classes a week to our already fixed schedule (I have 31 40 minute classes a week; we have two Media Specialists covering 3 elementaries). This would, in effect, take up the entire Media time, leaving no extra time for collaborating with teachers on projects, or doing anything remotely flexible, or even keeping up our database. Supposedly the 40 minute time will be the "Media/Technology" time (in other words, the technology time - I won't have time left to teach anything else), and the 30 minute time will be book check-out. Any and all suggestions as to how I could manage this would be welcome - I already work a LOT of hours per week, but they want to give the elementary teachers more prep time, and they see all these "holes" in my schedule. :(

February 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLaura Bate

I just filled the role of educational technologist which was formally filled by an IT help desk guy. I have been told that the difference between me and the help desk guy is like night and day. I have a BEd, a Masters in Educational Technology and have taught for 8 yrs at the college level. I understand and have experienced technology in the classroom so my experience has been invaluable to the people I support (both students and profs).
I have always said you need a professional educator to educate educators on educational technologies.

February 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJulie Whitehead

Hi Laura,

You ask a great question. In our district the elementary librarians are on a fixed schedule but get an extra prep period everyday to help with technology related issues. Were that to go away, I am sure their technology role would also go away.


Hi Julie,

Amazing the perspective that actually having been a teacher gives to IT positions! Good luck with your new job.


February 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDoug Johnson

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