Meeting the needs of the 21stC student

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I enjoy visiting Sunnybank Hills Library, it’s a place where many people feel comfortable and welcome to interact in a variety of ways. I see this site as exemplifying the ideals of a dynamic, seamless, flexible 21stC learning hubs which provide resources and services to meet the community’s needs (Hay, 2009, p.17; Kuhlthau, 2010, p.17).

This local library is larger than many of the other surrounding Brisbane City Council libraries, and obviously receives a higher level of funding to meet the needs of a greater number of members. The library provides a wide range of services and resources for young people to access and participate in. Apart from a wide collection of texts in traditional format, the library also provides students with the opportunity to access other artefacts of popular culture. Young people can borrow audio books, music CDs, DVDs of television programmes and movies, and hire computer games. The library also offers electronic books, music and audio books which can be downloaded to personal computer and eBook readers, and accessed through the library website. Members can access computers and the internet free of charge, providing significant opportunities to bridge the increasing “digital divide” (NMC, 2012 p.8), providing access for those young people who may not have access to these tools at home.

In contrast to the local public library, the local school library struggles to meet its objectives to be “an information-rich learning environment which supports the needs of the school community” (ALIA, 2004, Standard 2.1). The local school library I visited is restricted in budget, and caters for 600 primary school students. The only popular culture resources which are available to students are in traditional book formats. The Teacher Librarian is acutely aware of the deficit in the resources available in the school library, and therefore actively recommends students access and visit the public library.

The local library is a positive example of how libraries can become dynamic learning centres and hubs of activity. Public education requires a fundamental shift in thinking to ensure that school libraries keep up with the changing and diverse needs of students. Through increased funding and awareness of the value of the school library in education, school libraries can become the hub of the school community, providing access to resources and information in a multitude of formats. Students should not only be able to access resources in the library, but should feel welcomed and encouraged to engage in sharing, communicating, collaborating and demonstrating their knowledge in a dynamic and multi-modal environment.

 

References

ALIA (2004). Standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians. http://www.alia.org.au/policies/teacher-librarian.standards.html

Hay, Lyn. (2009). School libraries building capacity for student learning in 21C. SCAN, 28(2), 17-26.

Kuhlthau, C. C. (2010). Guided Inquiry: School Libraries in the 21st Century. School Libraries Worldwide, 16(1), 17-28.

NMC. (2012). NMC Horizon Report: 2012 K-12 Edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.