This week, libraries across the country have been celebrating National Library Week using the theme of “Libraries = Strong Communities.” It is true that as times change, the tools and resources available to a successful community must adapt. Today, school libraries are continuing the trend of adapting to best meet the educational needs of students.
All five Champaign County schools are moving towards greater technology availability for students because it is true that technology has improved our access to information and content. Information is available in much greater volume than in years past and as technology advances access to information has increased.
During the school day, all students have equal access to computers. Technology in school has made it easier for students to continue to keep pace whenever they miss a school day, including snow days. Having 1:1 technology ratios is great to ensure every student has access to technology. What is challenging is trying to ensure that equal access continues when the school day is over. Yes, technology provides access to online books and improves communications with teachers, but how does a student access that online technology if they do not have internet access at home? The Champaign County Library has helped numerous students with assignments to complete in Chromebooks but needing an internet connection. The library has Wi-Fi hotspots available to check out in large part to satisfy this need.
Today’s school libraries are also continuing to evolve as destinations for students to work and learn collaboratively. Electronic books and resources may no longer require going to a school library but the library setting has always been a neutral playground for shared learning experiences. Libraries are indeed vital to contemporary learning.
Facilitating a love of reading has always been a core library mission because the more students are encouraged to read, the better those students perform in school and later in life. “Reading” in today’s world has changed over the years as well. The consumption of information has increased tremendously as information continues to be delivered in more easily accessible formats. Graphic novels are great for encouraging reluctant readers but they also inspire learning and creativity in different ways than traditional print books. There’s something to be said for the feel of that print book in your hands as you begin a new adventure and learn a new skill.
It’s exciting to see how libraries continue to evolve to best meet the needs of their users. Technology is a great tool but can only go so far as the user’s ability. By helping students expand their knowledge, libraries are helping to create better citizens and demonstrating every day how “Libraries = Strong Communities.”