The Role of the Librarian in 21st Century Learning

The Role of the Librarian in 21st Century Learning
Posted on 12/17/2015

By Deborah Nuttle, Library Media Specialist at Ocean City Elementary School

Librarians were at one time considered “keepers of the information”.  That information was housed in a well guarded library.  Now with the advent of the digital age, that world changed as libraries became Media Centers and librarians became media specialists.  Both are no longer just keepers of information, but dispersers of information, materials and ideas, along with becoming teachers of technology.  In addition, the media centers became a welcoming place for all to browse, borrow, explore and create!

A successful media center provides opportunities for the overlapping applications of Information Literacy, Reading Skills and Technology Skills.  The elementary school library media center may place more emphasis on Reading Skills, as the ability to read defines success in the use of Information Literacy and Technology Skills.  By providing high interest materials at a variety of reading levels that meet the developmental needs of students, we hope to inspire students to question, ponder and seek out information.

Communication and collaboration with the staff concerning curriculum helps the media specialist be supportive in the teaching of media lessons that coordinate with the classroom.  Media specialists look at curriculum, assignments, and learning in terms of the information resources, processes, and technologies required for student success.  The collaborative effort of the media specialist and the classroom teacher is key to both the success of the staff and the student.   The media specialist provides current curriculum related print and non-print materials.  Students are taught to consider the information resources they need and then taught to use the appropriate technology to find resources and information.  These skills, information literacy, media literacy and technology literacy, support the set of abilities that students need to succeed in the information age.

Combining research skills and lessons with classroom teachers offers an opportunity for the media specialist to supply current sites and search strategies and critical thinking skills for the students.  This partnership between the media specialist and the classroom teacher fosters students’ academic growth.  As students are exposed to increasingly more complex text, whether it be a book or an online resource, they know they have the support from their teacher and media specialist.

The school media specialist empowers students to become critical thinkers, enthusiastic readers, skillful researchers, and ethical users of information.  The ability to relate to and provide materials, no matter the format, to enrich and excite students to explore further is crucial to a child’s ongoing success in this 21st Century learning environment.

If you’d like more information about the exciting work of a library media specialist or the resources available through our media centers, please contact me at Ocean City Elementary School by calling (410) 632-5370.