I am writing this post as part of the weekly #EdublogsClub. This week's prompt asks that we write about leadership.
Numerous recent events have demonstrated the inability of many Americans to distinguish real from fake news, demonstrating a serious gap in information literacy skills (1) among our citizens. And, equally disturbing, this problem is not being adequately addressed at school. A recent research study by the Stanford University History Education Group concluded that “Overall, young people’s ability to reason about the information on the Internet can be summed up in one word: bleak. Our ‘digital natives’ may be able to flit between Facebook and Twitter while simultaneously uploading a selfie to Instagram and texting a friend. But when it comes to evaluating information that flows through social media channels, they are easily duped.”
Clearly, if these students graduate without more preparation in information literacy skills, the problems adults are having interpreting information sources will only get worse. So, what is needed? In my view, our schools need to take leadership in making information literacy a priority. And, while such instruction should be the shared responsibility of teachers in all subject areas, the logical leaders of this curriculum are teacher librarians. (2) Why? Teacher librarians, through their training and academic preparation, have special expertise in information literacy. They are also natural curricular leaders in their schools, since they are aware of and work with classroom teachers in every subject area. They know which classes are the most effective places in which to include information literacy instruction and to collaborate with classroom teachers in delivering it. Finally, they are also leaders within their communities on educational technology, so savvy in how to leverage it for such instruction.
If you are a teacher librarian, make sure that you are being that leader, championing efforts in your school or district to assure that information literacy is taught to all students.
If you are a classroom teacher in a school with a teacher librarian, please be sure to contact him/her and ask for support teaching information literacy to your students.
And, finally, if your school lacks a certified teacher librarian, please advocate to have your school hire one! In addition to the desperate need for instruction in information literacy, your students - all students - need and deserve access to a quality school library program with a teacher librarian for lots of other reasons, including providing quality, curated print and digital collections; promoting reading; teaching digital literacy and digital citizenship skills; connecting students with the world; and championing equity.
1. The Association of College and Research Libraries defines information literacy as “the set of integrated abilities encompassing the reflective discovery of information, the understanding of how information is produced and valued, and the use of information in creating new knowledge and participating ethically in communities of learning.”
2. Teacher librarian is the terminology used in California to identify certified school librarians who possess a teacher credential and an additional credential in library services. In other states and countries, the terminology may vary, including school librarians and library media specialists.