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Share with school leaders: Douglas Reeves video

School Libraries in the 21st Century came across the AASL listserv a couple of days ago. It’s a bit different from the other advocacy videos we’ve been sharing.

Douglas B. Reeves, founder of the Leadership and Learning Center, speaks to school administrators about a place you might not have been very recently, and that’s your school library.
Reeves does not address librarians as thoughtful integrators of technology, or as curators of quality online content, or specifically as teachers. But he does make a powerful argument for the role of  libraries and librarians in fostering critical thinking, evaluation of resources, and in promoting effective nonfiction reading, writing, and research.  He points to library as an important social space in school–as a safe place to be smart.
Here are some highlights–much of it my paraphrasing–from Dr. Reeves 5-minute talk:
  • As budgets are cut across the nation, many school libraries and librarians who choose to run them are some of the first things to be cut.  Before you make the same mistake, I’d like you to reconsider the central role that the library can play in your school.
  • Reeves points to evidence regarding the value of the skills learners will need and learn in the library.
  • Research, writing, and analysis are essential skills for university students and they are essential skills the job market.  But, in fact, nonfiction writing and research are increasingly rare in the secondary curriculum.  Libraries teach the skills needed to read and write nonfiction writing.
  • Reeves describes the limits of Wikipedia and suggests that students and teachers should not be satisfied with Wikipedia.
  • Students need real articles, substantial research sources.  We want our students not to be mindless cutters and pasters of the internet, but to be critical thinkers, to use primary and secondary sources, to be critical searchers of truth.
  • The library is a social place in the best sense of the word. It is a safe place to be smart. [Love this!]  A place where students can read, think, debate ideas, enjoy the feel of a book.  No matter how advanced technology gets, that does not go out of style.
  • Books remain at the very heart of the culture of our society and they remain the best way for students to think about extended deep and reflected ideas.
  • High tech is not bad. High touch, human relationships precede high tech. High tech can give the illusion of precision, the illusion of accuracy, that demands to be double checked by thoughtful reference to multiple sources which takes us right back to the library.
  • At the end of the day, the library is not simply a place where kids go when the classroom teacher is otherwise busy.  The library must be the heart of research, writing, thinking and analysis for every school. These are skills students need now more than ever.
Joyce Valenza About Joyce Valenza

Joyce is an Assistant Professor of Teaching at Rutgers University School of Information and Communication, a technology writer, speaker, blogger and learner. Follow her on Twitter: @joycevalenza

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