4 Reasons Why School Libraries Still Matter
- September 2, 2021
- Anthony Bowie
Author: Dr. Christina Counts
From K-12 to higher ed, a shift in school needs and technology has led school libraries to reimagine how they support students and educators in their learning communities. Schools are implementing new learning standards, and many have integrated technology-enabled instruction into their daily curriculum. This has created an environment of student-directed learning, resulting in changes to the roles of school libraries and librarians.
As school libraries adapt to this educational shift, they must learn how to recalibrate the services they provide and the physical spaces they offer to accommodate new instruction and learning practices. These future-ready libraries are able to respond to these changes to meet student, educator, and librarian needs, remaining relevant and functional assets to the school community.
Research has found a correlation between high-quality school libraries and student achievement. Studies show a positive relationship between full-time certified librarians and student scores on standards-based tests. The benefits of a strong library program are particularly helpful to at-risk learners, including minority students, low-income students, and students with disabilities.
Future-ready librarians are a powerful partner for districts building student-centered programs that prepare students for college and careers. A future-ready librarian helps to inspire and support students’ reading goals. These librarians also design collaborative spaces that empower students as creators and are equitable learning environments for all. Future-ready librarians are advocates for students and lead beyond the school library, making them a crucial part of the school community.
Both students and teachers view school libraries as an extension of the classroom that offers a space for deeper learning. Students are able to use libraries as a space for independent productivity and group study or projects, with so many important resources available at their fingertips. Educators value this space for research and an extension of technology resources that aren’t always available in the classroom, such as the tools and technology found in a makerspace.
School libraries support a productive environment of collaboration and technology. Many libraries are evolving to provide flexible and unique spaces, such as makerspaces, where students can explore ideas, think creatively, and gain new technology skills. Libraries are also transitioning to become a social learning environment, and library design reflects this with flexible and transitional layouts that can accommodate quiet, independent activities as well as more active group activities.
School libraries are still a crucial part of school communities, providing important spaces, services, and resources to students and teachers. While the traditional role of school libraries has changed, new future-ready libraries are adapting to the new needs of school communities. As these spaces evolve, we will also see a shift in the way the physical environments in libraries are designed in order to meet these new requirements.
To learn more about how school libraries are adapting to meet ever-changing school needs, and to read about how Charleston County Public School District librarians support students with these future-ready principles, view the white paper, Do School Libraries Still Matter?
Dr. Christina Counts, VP of Strategy and Development for MiEN Environments, is a proven leader with a successful background in transforming learning spaces to modern engaging learning environments. Dr. Counts has worked in education for over 17 years with experience as a classroom teacher, district instructional leader, school administrator, and digital and innovative learning designer. In her most recent position, Christina leads a team of professionals that support schools making the transition to a flexible, collaborative, & student-centered learning space. She holds a doctorate in K-12 Educational Leadership, National Board-certified, and Google & Apple certified. Dr. Counts envisions a learning space in which educators are empowered to transform education through design, technology and innovative instructional pedagogy to create learners ready for any future!