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Why are 1/3 of librarians unhappy about 1:1/BYOD programs?

In response to the post about the results of Jennifer LaGarde and my survey of librarians on 1:1/BYOD programs, Scott McLeod asks:

Interesting that nearly 1/3 said the impact on the library program has been negative. Would love to unpack that a bit and learn more about what they're seeing...

Great observation. As I look back through the responses, I find a few likely culprits.

1. It's early in many schools' 1:1/BYOD initiatives and librarians are in the "trough of disillusionment" with 81% of librarians reporting that their school has been 1:1/BYOD for 3 years or fewer.


Let's face it - everybody's grumpy when starting a new project and reality sets in. When I get time, I'll do separated the responses short term and long term and see if the positive/negative ratings correlate.*

2. Tons of technical tasks (inventory, management, tracking, repair, etc.) were given to many librarians, according to the comments, and nothing was taken away. Mobile device management is a complex, changing, and frustrating job - especially with inadequate tech support.

3. Librarians were not part of the planning process with nearly half saying they had NO input. I personally have a tough time getting behind a program in which I've had no hand in design. 

4. E-resources are new and may have a steep learning curve. It means re-writing lessons for both library skills and helping teachers do so as well. It means new resource management skills.

5. New means of getting people into the library need to be found. Kids coming into the physical space to get books, use the computer labs, do research is no longer happening. It takes time and inspiration to redesign a room for new purposes. And a new sense of mission.

6. I suspect many librarians were content with the books and traditional library programs. We all love change in concept and when it applies to others, but not so much to ourselves. Librarians have seen value in books and quiet study areas and learning to do traditional research in the past. I think it is OK to mourn the passing of something we love and value.

Scott, I am a little surprised that ONLY 31% found the change negative (and only 4% found it very negative). I wonder if one polled classroom teachers during the first few years of a 1:1 program what their satisfaction rate would be?

To me this survey shows the remarkable ability of librarians to adapt, to change, and to be team members in efforts to restructure education. 

What's your interpretation? Librarians?

*I did a quick analysis of suggestion 1- that libraries may be in a "trough of disillusion," comparing negative/positive responses of librarians in schools with new vs established 1:1/BYOD program. Here is what I found: In schools with 1-3 year old programs, the negative response rate was 35%; in schools with 4+ year old programs, the negative response rate was 18%. Not a large sample size, but perhaps telling.

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Reader Comments (4)

Our school will be 1:1 in the next year. Although I believe the library is a service and not always a place, I fear the administration and community values our "numbers" too much to understand this idea. When you walk through our library now you see a planned chaos. When kids are out in our new university center with their new device, we lose the perspection of having a valuable purpose.

January 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCalypso

Hi Calypso,

Well, that is why Jennifer and I are writing the guide to 1:1/BYOD for librarians - to help the profession discover their new role in a growing new environment. Let me know if you'd like a draft of the guide.

You're lucky to have good leadership in Norman. I'll bet Kathryn Lewis has your back.

Good luck!


January 30, 2014 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

Knowing what we know about the culture of school and the habits of digital immigrants (including yours truly), I'd say the key would be found in numbers 3 & 6 here. While it is generally difficult to bring along roughly a third of folks when major change happens, it is impossible to bring them along if they are not a meaningful part of of it. Personally I can't imagine overseeing such a process that excludes major professional stakeholders, but I know it happens all the time, particularly where the Technology Deciders are not also educators.

January 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBill Storm

Hi Bill,

I appreciate your observation. Funny how the results of this survey have become sort of a Rorschach test for those reading them too! I know my list of possible reasons is certainly personal.

We've worked very hard to include teachers, librarians and other stakeholders in our 1:1 initiative - but still haven't gotten total buy in. I guess you do what you can do.


February 1, 2014 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

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