Virtual School Libraries – Audrey Church

Audrey Church works as a professor in library science at Longwood University.  In this article from Multimedia and Internet@Schools, she encourages teacher librarians to get their resources onto the internet in accessible ways for students.  Why?  So that students have access to assistance when they get information from the internet for their research.  The virtual library would be a place where students could get guidance and assistance on research tasks from their own homes.  Several virtual school libraries are showcased in the article:  Thomas Dale High School, Springfield High School Virtual Library and Murray High School.   Seeing these websites creates a terrific challenge for teacher librarians and teacher librarian wanna-be’s like me!  What an opportunity to create a support network for students working from home.  My question is only, how do we assist students without access to these resources at home?  Not every student will have at home internet access.  We need to guard against creating scenerios that further disadvantage the less advanteged members of schools.  Real libraries with real in-person teacher librarians or librarians cannot be replaced by these resources which is not what Audrey Church is suggesting.   Real libraries need virtual identities as well.  I’m very excited about the possbilities in my school division.  I wish I knew more about what has been attempted in the past and under which circumstances.  Is the virtual library coming soon to Saskatoon Public Schools and will it be produced by teacher librarians, computer specialists or information services personnel?  I hope I have a chance to contribute.

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2 Comments

Filed under education, library

2 responses to “Virtual School Libraries – Audrey Church

  1. Donna Desroches

    I agree with you that real libraries need virtual identities and have long admired Joyce Valenza’s virtual library and the doctoral work that she is doing to document their effectiveness.

    I don’t see virtual libraries as only essential for students to access from home. Access will only become more ubiquitous — one-to-one computing, PDA’s, cell phones, etc…in schools themselves and the physical library may no longer be needed to access information. That means that our virtual libraries will become the vital entry point.

    I loved part in the Da Vinci Code when they are on a bus and Tom Hanks says “I need a library!” – she runs to the back of the bus, grabs someone’s cell phone, accesses a data-base and get the information he needs. Too cool! — and a sign of the future. We need to be ready for it.

  2. I believe the physical library is necessary. There are some things that computers do less well than real books and above all that real in-person teachers can do that virtual teachers can not. Teaching is about relationships and although we are moving into a realm where relationships can be developed online, I believe that the kinesthetic element of in-person contact can not be completely taken away.

    We need to extend the function of the library into the online environment and be careful not to supplant the physical library with a virtual one. We do need to be deliberate in our choices of materials – online versus physical availability. We need to make sure that teachers are involved in the conversation and that the decisions reflect their classroom needs and the needs of the students that we serve. Again there is a push and pull here. We need to push teachers into the online environment, while we continue to support their pull to stay in the physical environment.

    No easy choices!
    Susan

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