School libraries become learning activity hubs
School libraries no longer only are places to quietly sit and read, or to check out books. They are incubators of 21st-century skills and the heart of the school community. School libraries are transforming into learning commons that are giving students opportunities to cultivate their critical thinking skills. They collaboratively are working to solve real-world problems through academic and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) activities, tinkering and experimenting. As the physical environment changes, so does the role of school librarians. They no longer are the strict, shushing librarians of the past. They are educators fostering innovation and community.
When schools shuttered more than a year ago, educators across the country scrambled to flip classrooms to teach remotely and maintain relationships with students. School librarians were, and are, an integral part of keeping our diverse and inclusive school communities connected. Librarians swiftly moved to help teachers integrate technology into their virtual classrooms and shifted library funds to obtain more webcams, microphones and Wi-Fi hotspots. They sent out lists of free and open access resources to use in the classroom. The library became a technology resource hub.
With the physical school library closed, they swiftly expanded the digital collection of e-books and audiobooks. Curbside pickup became available and remains in place as many students continue virtual learning.
Increasing book access, librarians loaded bookmobiles, or the back seats of their cars, and brought books to students right in their neighborhoods. Makerspaces went virtual and at-home STEM activities widely became available. These initiatives supported student academic success and provided an opportunity for escape as children were restricted to their homes.
As a middle school teacher, I know the importance of the school library to our learning community. Join me as I applaud school librarians across the nation for the hard work and dedication to our students, schools and communities.