Sunday, October 16, 2011

Library Media Specialists Must Lead

As I progress through the LIS program the stakes for Library Media Specialists get higher and higher. Obviously with my experience in education, I understood the importance of a LMS to a school building and district. It seems that with each new topic or issue I learn about, the importance of the LMS doubles. The stakes are high for education in the areas of literacy, information literacy and technology competence. The latest example is Internet Safety. To be honest, it was not something I had really pondered in my role as LMS. But the reality is our students will perform most of their tasks online througout their lifetime and the ability to do so securely and safely is an essential life skill. Further, it is a skill that the education system is failing to address.

In essence, education is failing to succeed in most of the areas in which LIS excels. Standardized testing has narrowed the focus in education to "core subjects". But worse still, standardized testing has often hamstrung "core subjects" into random facts or narrow views that teachers feel compelled to prep their students to address. One of the byproducts has been that education has patch-worked essential skills rather than having the freedom to focus on them. LMS have traditionally been apart of this process, filling in and providing services to address essential skills.

I believe that the time has come for the Library Media Specialist position to transition from being a "go to person" to being a leader within a school and district. The skills addressed through LIS have become increasing crucial to student success as technology exploded and manufacturing jobs have drastically decreased. LMS need to rise to positions of influence and leadership in school communities. LMS need to take charge of committees not simply serve on one. LMS need to interject themselves into courses and departments not just be a resource or aid. LMS need work to be a trusted source for administrators and a factor in district decision making. The reality is that decisions are made all the time in education by those who do not understand these issues. The time has come for Library Media Specialists to lead education reform and capitalize on the new opportunities.

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