Today's school libraries must meet student needs as both a physical and
virtual space. Existing both offline and online, they must offer
around-the-clock access as well as instruction and guidance that support the
face-to-face interactions of students with librarians and classroom
teachers. Although students are often technologically proficient, they
little about technology as it relates to academic research. The school
virtual library and library staff can guide learners through the data maze with
customized, user-centered interfaces that create order as they offer
instruction. From a library homepage, users access search engines,
databases, references, and general library information. A virtual library
can also become an integral part of the instructional culture of the school.
Serving as a school's instructional archive, the site shares collaboratively
developed lessons, WebQuests, rubrics, handouts, and organizers
In her article The Virtual Library, Valenza goes on to say.
Designed and maintained by scbool libraries, vinual libraries are multipage
online resources devoted to the needs of their specific leaming communities.
From a home page, users access search engines, databases, references, and
general library and school information.
When I first listed to her manifesto podcast, I thought she said librarians should be available around-the-clock and I thought that was nuts. Thankfully, it being a digital recording and I had the ability to go and read the transcript I was no longer left thinking she was nuts. It also got me thinking how vailid her words were.
Students are learning in a different world than I did (which I am realizing is longer ago than I would like to remember). They are learning in a world that breaks information down into little pieces and a world that allows them to listen and relisten, watch and rewatch what they want with ease (well, relatively, for them being a technological age they seem - as a very general statement- have more problems on the computers than I do - mind you, they are all very adept with their cells and ipods).
Students have incredibly busy schedules and many are juggling school, extra-curricular, external courses and for some, even families. Learning has to happen at various paces to accomodate this learning . Not only are students busy but their parents are busy too. Face to face contact with many parents is non-exist at our school, conflicting work schedules is one of the largest difficulties I see virtual libraries as a great way to help extend the learning beyond the walls of the school and help validate what is going on within.
Many have pointed at teachers are no longer the experts. A student can go online and find out more information about a subject than a teacher can know. Doesn't it make sense then that teachers redefine their role from being the 'expert' to being the guide. Assisting students through selection of resources, sites and knowledge.
Valenza in "Open the doors and let'em in" suggests going even further by having students help create the virtual library that serves themselves and others. What a great way for helping create a learning community. The ideal of schools. I wonder at our schools whether some of the stuff would be permissible in sharing/posting knowledge, student works etc. Grade 11's and 12's are able to sign their own permission forms to have things posted online but grade 8's - 10's have to have parent consent forms on record (every school year) to allow for images/information/work to be published outside of the school's walls. A virtual library definitely extends beyond the school walls.
Somewhere I have to find time to help develop our site... It is disasterous and an informal pole with my students demonstrate that rarely do they past the school's homepage... more on that in to come