JACKSON TWP — About 15 librarians from Grove City to Pittsburgh school districts met at Seneca Valley Middle School on Nov. 12 to view Web tools that align with Common Core education standards.
Under the new standards, students must be digitally savvy. They must know how to access digital information, how to cite it, and how to use technology to effectively present it.
“If you truly become the information hub of the building you’re in, that’s a way of modernizing your role,” said Susan Ennis, Seneca Valley Middle School librarian, whose district offered the workshop, partnering with Intermediate Unit 4, Grove City.
Web tools, including new databases purchased from vendors, webinars and other Web-based resources, are among the key tools librarians use to help students and teachers meet Common Core curriculum challenges.
The Common Core is a group of national education standards that 45 states, the District of Columbia and three U.S. territories adopted so that all American students graduate with the same skill sets.
The Pennsylvania Department of Education further refined the national standards, breaking out specific skills for each major subject area. The state standards must be integrated into schools’ lesson plans by the fall of 2014.
Not surprisingly, librarians say they are finding themselves more in demand at a time when shrinking budgets force them to choose between purchasing databases or books; when staffs have been cut, and when new computers often end up in cyber labs. That doesn’t mean they’ve given up.
Librarians at Seneca Valley routinely act as facilitators, Ennis said, providing resources for teachers and conducting classes for students.
In the Slippery Rock School District, Elma Anschutz, a research librarian, said students must pass a research class to graduate. She spends half her time teaching students and half her time in the library, she said.
Lauren Kubiak, a Butler junior high school librarian, said students are so inundated with information that they have no research skills. She wants students to learn the process of research, including evaluating Web-based information, synthesizing information from multiple sources and summarizing.
Formal classes on library use often end when students are in middle school.
“Library is no longer a class, it’s a classroom,” Ennis said, “a place to gather information.”
Librarians are turning to databases for the multimedia presentations of information they offer students, as well as for age-appropriate materials that keep students on task. Some states are purchasing databases for their schools, although Pennsylvania has not, she said.
“I think databases are the future,” Ennis said. “More and more (information in multimedia formats) is going to be added to databases.”