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April is School Library Month


Where Learning Never Ends: The School Library Media Center
 

School Library Month poster from American Library AssociationThis year, during the month of April, schools across the country will bring special attention to their libraries and to the professionals who staff them, as part of the 30th anniversary celebration of School Library Month.
 

The American Library Association (ALA) first designated April as School Library Month on April 1, 1985, and it has been recognized annually ever since. In this anniversary year, the ALA is returning to its inaugural theme of “Where Learning Never Ends: The School Library Media Center.” While the theme is as fitting today as it was then, school libraries have changed, and the role of the school librarian/media specialist has been redefined in the 30 years since School Library Month was introduced.
 
“Every month is School Library Month for the students at K.C. Heffernan Elementary,” said KCH librarian Margaret Middleton. “They love coming to the library each week to learn about books, research and technology.” 
 
Changing role of school libraries
Many parents may recall their elementary school library as the place where they fell in love with classic story books, learned to use the card catalog and maybe watched a filmstrip or listened to a book on tape. School libraries still provide special, outside-the-classroom experiences for students and lessons on how to use the library. But today they are more likely to be fully integrated, centralized hubs of learning led by professional educators who are increasingly important partners in advancing student achievement.
 
The school library of the 21st century houses rich information resources along with useful technology tools, including literary and resource databases, e-books, instructional media and computer hardware and software. No longer simply a traditional warehouse of books and information, school libraries play a proactive role in educating students who live in a technology-rich environment.
 
“Here at KCH, there’s a strong collaborative connection between the library, teachers and students,” Ms. Middleton said. “Working together we have been able to instill a love of reading and information literacy skills within our school community.”
 
In many school libraries, students are being introduced to software and apps that aid learning, storytelling and research. To assist teachers and librarians, the American Association of School Librarians each year names several “Best Apps for Teaching and Learning.” Some of these apps are free and can be used by parents and students at home. They include:
 
  • Instagrok: Research any topic with an interactive concept map that you can customize and share http://www.instagrok.com/index.html
    All grade levels.

     
  • Photo Editor by Aviary: Fun and simple way to edit photos. https://www.aviary.com
    All grade levels.

     
  • Pocket: When you find something you want to view later, put it in Pocket, which enables you to view your materials on a variety of devices.
    https://getpocket.com
    Grades 3-12.
     
  • Duolingo: Learn a new language for free with Duolingo. https://www.duolingo.com
    Grades 3-12. 
  • Umano: Listen to your favorite news stories with Umano. https://umano.me
    Grades 6-12. 
 
Libraries key to Common Core learning 
In the era of the Common Core Learning Standards, it is more important than ever to make students feel at home in the library.
 
The Common Core Standards, adopted in recent years by states across the nation, were created to ensure that all students graduate from high school with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in college and career, regardless of where they live. They include a set of clear standards for kindergarten through grade 12 in English language arts (ELA) and mathematics. Together with administrators and teachers, along with students and parents, school librarians have a critical role to play in the successful implementation of the Common Core Standards.
 
From the early grades forward, the Common Core ELA/literacy standards put a stronger focus on nonfiction reading and analysis and research using primary source documents. Science and social studies curricula also are guided by these new standards. The emphasis on “informational text” and research has given school librarians, as content and media specialists, increased opportunities to be instructional leaders. In many cases, classroom teachers consider school librarians to be essential partners in today’s more challenging learning environments.

The changing role of school librarian is an important —and challenging — one. The emphasis on informational text is one of the most significant curriculum shifts under the Common Core. For example, fourth-graders now are expected to read the same amount of fiction, or “literary” works, as informational texts. By grade 8, the same students are expected to read 45 percent literary and 55 percent informational texts and by senior year of high school, the expectation is 30 percent literary works versus 70 percent nonfiction texts.
 
More than ever, the school library provides an i
nformation- and technology-rich environment where the school librarian serves in a key position to help guide student achievement and encourage learning that will last a lifetime. During April, it is important to recognize what these educators contribute every day, throughout the school year.
 
Copyright 2015. Capital Region BOCES School Communications Portfolio. All rights reserved. For more information or permission to use, call 518-464-3960.


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