My friend and colleague Jane Prestebak, Director of Media and Instructional Technology for the Robbinsdale (MN) public schools, shared this visionary diagram at a recent meeting.
What is the current and near-future role of the library media specialist in schools?
I liked this diagram very much. Our roles continue to evolve and I believe the change will not just continue, but quicken.
The pressure on library supervisors and others who advocate for librarians in schools in our area comes from teachers, principals, and other administrators to replace librarians with tech integration specialists. And the pressure is understandable with the number of expensive technologies being placed in schools with "ready, fire, aim" planning too often the norm. In other words, we got the gizmos, but how do we make meaningful use of them? The focus being on the technology, not the whole life skills that the technology allows teachers to teach more effectively.
By putting or retaining a qualified and modern librarian in the role of "tech specialist," I believe teachers and students get a "two-fer." Not just a professional who understands technology, but advocates and teaches its most powerful use - as a tool to access, evaluate, process, communicate and evaluate information in multiple formats to solve problems and answer questions. But also an information freedom fighter, a children's and young adult reading specialist that can improve reading by putting the right books and materials in the right hands at the right time.
A few years ago, I created some diagrams that asked what a librarian should be teaching. These can still be found here: http://doug-johnson.squarespace.com/blue-skunk-blog/2008/1/12/so-just-what-should-librarians-be-teaching.html
My suggestion to Jane and others in creating job descriptions for current librarians is to call out how technology and digital information source expertise is needed, especially as schools begin to replace or supplement traditional (and increasingly ineffective) resources like text books and worksheets with learning management systems that need to be populated with carefully curated readings and meaningful activities to provide differentiated instruction.
Librarians, what does your "pictorial" job description currently look like? What should it look like? What skills are you teaching? What innovative instructional practices are you supporting?
Don't be replaced with a tech integration specialist. Please. You bring too many other essential skills and values to the school.