The 21st Century Librarian

I’m just starting to get caught up on all of the podcasts I missed when I was on vacation. A couple weeks ago, the guys over at EdTechTalk hosted LibraryFest, a webcast on the role of libraries and librarians in 21st century schools. Their primary guest was Joyce Valenza, a dynamic, forward-thinking, technology-focused school librarian from the Philadelphia area.

The discussion is online, along with the related chat. If you’re not familiar with EdTechTalk, they host a weekly audio discussion online about educational technology. People participate by using Skype. At the same time, a text chat is taking place, where listeners and participants can share reactions, resources, and related information about the primary discussion. It’s the perfect medium for the multitasker. If you’re listenting to the program after-the-fact (like I do), you can read the text chat transcript to get the links and related information.
LibrarianAmong the many things discussed, Joyce contends:

  • Audio books can actually motivate students to do more reading.
  • There’s no “best” search tool.
  • Students need media resources 24/7.
  • Students need challenging projects that ask them to analyze, compare, synthesize, and draw conclusions.
  • TurnItIn and citation generators can be used to teach students how to write original work instead of simply policing plagiarism.
  • Schools have to be consistent about fair use and copyright law. Looking the other way with a wink and a smile doesn’t cut it.
  • Subscription databases are an information goldmine.
  • Blogs are the ultimate primary source. If you want to know what’s really happeneing in Iraq, read a soldier’s blog.
  • Google works best when asking very focused questions. “Which 20th century president did the most to promote civil rights?” is a hard question to answer with Google.
  • Researchers have to use multiple sources and compare and validate information.

As we continue to examine the role of media centers and librarians in our schools, this episode really helps hit the high points of how school libraries can continue to be the centers of our learning communities. If nothing else, it’s definitely worth investing an hour to listen to the program.

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Author: John Schinker

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1 thought on “The 21st Century Librarian”

  1. John,
    Finally got around to looking at this. Some interesting tidbits. I’ve thought about the audio books for awhile but dismissed them as being too easy to break, lose, etc. I think it’s time to break/lose a paradigm and order a few and see how it goes. Also, I created a new lesson this year about Primary and secondary sources of information. Didn’t even think of blogs, but yes, a great first hand source.

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