Image source (by Jennifer LaGuarde aka Library Girl)
At an Apple event last Thursday, the Spring Lake Park (MN) school superintendent stated that part of the success of his district's 1:1 initiative was replacing the school librarians with technology integration specialists. I didn't see too many eyebrows go up or hear any audible gasps when he said it. But anymore, I don't really expect such reactions.
I can't deny that schools need technology integration specialists to help teachers learn to use new tools in powerful ways. But what I don't get is why more schools don't add "tech integration" specialist to the job description of the school librarian.
Here's the deal:
If you hire a tech integration specialist, you hopefully get an experienced teacher who is knowledgeable about technology and how it can be used in a variety of ways in the classroom, can do a little tech trouble-shooting, and can offer professional development experiences on the use of technology.
If you hire a professionally trained librarian and give them tech integration responsibilities, you get an experienced teacher who is knowledgeable about technology and how it can be used in a variety of ways in the classroom, can do a little trouble-shooting, and can offer professional development experiences on the use of technology. And you get...
- A children's/YA literature expert who can help increase Free Voluntary Reading (and reading scores) by getting kids reading.
- An expert in information literacy (research skills) who can teach students how to find, evaluate, use and communicate information in multiple formats.
- A building expert in intellectual freedom, copyright, and digital citizenship.
- A building resource for helping teachers find good analog and digital materials that support their curricula.
- An evaluator, selector and promoter of both analog and digital materials - materials that will actually support the curriculum and get used.
- A manager of a space (the library) that offers students a place for social learning, a place of safety and welcome, a place where personal interests can be explored, and the services of an information and literature expert.
- An experienced team-teacher, collaborator and leader.
Call the position what you want - librarian, tech integration specialist, media specialist, whatever - but get the most bang from your staffing dollars by getting someone who swings both ways - tech and libraries.