Adjusting to being back in school has obviously been a huge focus of this school year, but it’s not the only challenge librarians have been dealing with.
“The greatest concern I have about school librarianship today is the misconceptions surrounding the work we do, which have led to incredibly detrimental decisions for libraries and librarians at the cost of our students,” says Andrea Trudeau, library information specialist at Alan B. Shepard Middle School in Deerfield, Ill.
Trudeau has observed a steady stream of librarian jobs being cut back or eliminated, including in her own district, where the library assistants in all six local schools were reduced to half-time without any input from the library information specialists. “This has seriously impacted the critical work I do in my library and the immense support I work to provide my school community,” she says.
“And it steals so many powerful learning opportunities—both academically and socially/emotionally—from our students in a time when they need these supports and offerings more than ever.”
I was serving on a public desk the other day, when a student came up and asked me to help him find something in our discovery system and to walk him through the search process. I swiveled the computer monitor his way so he could watch me go through the search, started the process, and saw that he was busily working on his smartphone. I figured he was taking notes and thought he’d look up at the computer monitor in a second to see what I was showing him.Not so. He continued to thumb busily on his smartphone. So I proceeded to describe the steps as I went through them, and he continued to thumb his phone. He didn’t acknowledge that I was there, or that the computer screen was there, or that he was following anything I said or showed him. I went through several searches to locate the item he sought, demonstrating how to do the searches and narrating what to do when the system located the item; this took about five minutes. Throughout that time the student never looked up at the screen, or at me—he went on thumbing the smartphone.
We hear a lot about how college students “only search in Google these days” or “never look past the first page of results.” How true are such commonly held assumptions? Are they supported by recent examinations of student research behaviors? For answers, I looked at seven studies published within the last three years. Here is what I learned:
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