Education Week - November 9, 2016 - 27
In many places across the country, budgets for
school libraries were cut significantly during the
Great Recession. Church said she hopes this vulnerability will change with the passage of the new federal K-12 education law, the Every Student Succeeds
Act, which emphasizes school library programs and
"We are very hopeful that some of the funding that
comes as a result of that legislation might go toward
school library programs," Church said. "School librarians are needed now more than ever. Children are
digital natives, but they're not digitally literate. School
librarians can make that connection."
Teaching students how to navigate the internet is
the "key motivating question behind what we do,"
Whiting said. She and Luhtala work to build students' repertoire of skills so they can encounter information online and discern whether it is credible
"This," Whiting said, pointing to the stacks of
books in the library, "is a curated text collection.
There is no book in this library that is going to waste
a child's time. But on the internet, that's not the case.
We can start by curating a digital library for them, but
really, what's important in their digital-literacy skills
is learning how to curate that library for themselves."
New Canaan is an affluent community just an hour
and a half outside New York City. In 2014-15, the
high school's per-pupil expenditure was $18,641.
In comparison, the average expenditure per public
school student on a national level was $12,296 in
2014-15, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
This allows the library to have both the resources
and the staffing to support the co-teaching and the
focus on digital skills and literacies.
Luhtala's situation, AASL's Church said, "is kind of
what librarians would aspire to, knowing that their
reality is very different from her reality."
Not all schools have the devices and internet connection to effectively teach digital-literacy skills, she said.
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