In many of the one-to-one schools that I visit the media center director, aka librarian in some schools, is central to the success of the program. They often serve officially and sometimes unofficially as a technology director or technology assistant. That includes not only dealing with technology problems, but also coordinating professional development. Many also serve as mentors to teachers who need a little extra help as they try to use technology as a tool to transform teaching and learning. Some have certainly become leaders in their schools by totally redefining what it means to be a librarian.
I don't think the same can be said of the physical place that most of us identify as the library or media center. Many media centers, even in one-to-one schools, look relatively similar to the way that they did before the transition to one-to-one. Maybe that is OK, but I think they can become so much more. I'm not calling for a mass book burning, or anything that drastic. I still read physical books VERY frequently. What I would argue is that student research has made a drastic shift from physical books to online resources in the past ten years. That shift by itself should be enough to generate conversations about how the look of our media centers should change. I don't know exactly what these new media centers would look like, but I do have some ideas.
What if media centers......
became the most technology rich room in technology rich schools.
reallocated their budgets to focus on technology.
served as the "test lab" for new technologies before implementing them in the entire school.
included, or were in close proximity to, virtual reality rooms, media editing and production rooms, etc.
began providing book check-outs on devices such as the Nook, iPad or Kindle.
I'm also not naive about the state of most school budgets, but I also don't think drastic changes aren't possible. Schools would have to make some tough decision about how they allocate resources. For most schools, it would be unlikely that all of these changes could happen at the same time, but with proper planning a major transformation could take place. Many of the possibilities that I mentioned are not actually terribly expensive.
This is just a short list and I'd actually like to hear from you. Feel free to leave comments about other things your school is doing, or things you are dreaming of doing with your media center.
For those of you who are college football fans, you may have heard some of the poor press my beloved Iowa Hawkeyes received this week. After the arrest of one player on drug charges last week, rumors started circulating about other players at the beginning of this week. By Monday afternoon, Twitter was erupting with these rumors. It never made the trending topics list, but I'd imagine it had to be close. Those tweets included speculation that as many as 23 additional Hawkeyes had failed drug tests and would be suspended for the bowl game. The tweets went so far as naming names, and there were some big names listed. By the time the University called for a press conference to be held the following day, all Hawk fans were fearing the worst. Along with the tweets suspecting the drug issues, there was also speculation that our coach was going to resign at the press conference. At the press conference the following day, we learned that all of the rumors were false. It was a sigh of relief for many Hawkeye fans, but it left me wondering how the situation could have been handled differently.
So what does this have to do with education?
The way that the University handled or failed to handle this situation can serve as a learning experience for any organization. That lesson is simple......
If your organization doesn't provide information in a timely fashion, people will make up their own stories!
Whether we like it or not, the public today expects information immediately. They don't and won't wait around for a press conference or weekly newsletter. If you don't provide information to them, they will go out and find information on their own. Unfortunately, the information that they find may not always be accurate. In the example of the University of Iowa, I believe that a great deal of damage was done to the program even though the rumors turned out to be false. All organizations including schools must embrace social media! The public expects it.