Monday, October 19, 2009

Types of Libraries: Media Centers

“Studies demonstrate consistently that well-equipped, quality school library media centers that have professional staff involved in instruction contribute to the academic success of their students.” (Rodney, Lance, & Hamilton-Pennell) “MEAP reading performance for Michigan schools with and without librarians indicates that the presence of a qualified school librarian can make a tremendous difference in the reading achievement of a school’s students.” (Rodney, Lance, & Hamilton-Pennell) This information was gathered by the State of Michigan to further educate the school boards and political figureheads on how important our media centers truly are. The statistics show that elementary grade school that have access to a media centers are 35% more proficient in the reading portion of the MEAP test and 8% more proficient on a high school level. (Rodney, Lance, & Hamilton-Pennell) It is apparent how important these services are in aiding children to get a better education and have a better understanding of what their options are in terms of research and literature.

Many media centers are being pushed to the wayside due to budget concerns and financial instabilities, which only takes away a very important part of their curriculum. Teachers sometimes rely on the library as a way to give a more hands on experience in getting information for projects and in most of these cases a media specialist is the one that takes over a part of the teaching role in these circumstances. Many media specialists are able to offer a more in depth tutorial on how to use equipment and other technologies because they pursue up to date training on many of these items, and are more qualified to teach students in these areas than some of the school faculty.

“Specially trained and knowledgeable in the use of information technology, library media specialists have become one of the most important instructional partners, working with teachers and administrators to change what is possible in the classroom.” (Weil) Media centers work hand in hand with their schools to offer items that are needed for advanced reader lists, computer access for reports, and equipment like video cameras and sound equipment so that students can add an audio-visual approach to their studies. Media centers are also vital in supplying reader’s advisory information for students and staff, and developing collections that will be important for the student’s literary growth.

The educational requirements for the media center library are the most different than any other type. Although there are an increasing number of graduate level students that are pursuing this area of librarianship, it has been primarily run by those with an undergraduate level of education or less. Many of the schools simply cannot afford to pay for the services of a librarian with an MLIS in the same terms as a public library or an academic library can. Also this position may find that it is a one-person job depending on the schools budget which can mean a great deal of responsibility in terms of teaching, collection development, processing items for circulation, etc. There are some communities that may have a larger media center staff, but these would have to be more affluent and/or well populated areas.

A great deal of new ideas are revolving around media center libraries as they can be exactly where the new technology and information is being processed at a faster speed due to the age level that they usually work with. Many have suggested having gaming seminars and using education computer software that may have historical references of social networking as ways of communicating with students better. “Most schools require that students leave cell phones, iPods, and video cameras at home because administrators and teachers find that type of electronic equipment disruptive. However, instead of fighting kids in regard to the use of digital devices, we should be encouraging their use in education. We need to find out how we can take advantage of these tools instead of discouraging their use.” (Weil)

As media centers are proving to be the forefront for technology and aiding kids to be better students, it is disappointing to see that many of these wonderful resources are being lost because they are not deemed important enough to keep around. The reason for this could be that media centers are not always held in the same esteem as other types of libraries, but it is important to remember that they are providing information just as efficiently as any other type and they are key influences on K-12 students, their choices and their futures.

Rodney, M. J., Lance, K. C., & Hamilton-Pennell, C. (n.d.). The Impact of Michigan School Librarians on Academic Achievement: Kids Who Have Libraries Succeed. Retrieved 10 12, 2009, from State of Michigan:

Weil, E. (n.d.). Meet Your New School Library Media Specialist. Retrieved 10 10, 2009, from Scholastic:


Lover said...

I think Media Centers in schools are extremely important. I grew up in a rural area and though I didn't appreciate or realize it at the time I was so lucky to have a media center in my high school. It was the first place I ever used a computer! I didn't even OWN a computer until my second year of college and without the experience I had in my school media center I would have been left behind in terms of the technology I needed to succeed. The one failing I would say was that the print portion of the library was sorely lacking. However what we did have was so extremely important for me and for I'm sure the many other students who didn't have computers or the internet at home.

Nicole Lesperance said...

In response to your comment about the actual print portion of the media center, I had to do a project for a class where we interviewed several media centers in our area. A great many students came back with the information that their media centers did not have a budget at all for new books and their collections existed only because of donations. Some of the more lucrative areas had budgets that were decent, but as I said before many times the funding is cut there first, and many communities are lucky to even have a media center with the doors open, let alone new books and magazines on their shelves. I was very surprised and deeply saddened by this, as they are, like you said, so important!

J Moses said...

Sadly, I have watched the Media Center at our school digress in just 6 short years. The "state of the art" media center used to have a beautiful tech lab attached to it and the media specialist would incorporate its use in lesson planning. Now, the tech lab is a pre-school...the new tech lab is in a commons area... and any teaching that is to be done in the new lab is by the class room teachers (because they don't already have enough to do in a day...). Our media specialist does her best to incorporate the use of technology in her lessons, but now, she has to fight for reservations on the schools lap tops and unfortunately, she needs them for 6 hours worth of lessons and the batteries only last for 2. Not an ideal situation. I wish that more people would recognize the value that a true media center brings its students.

Unknown said...

This is just another example of the schizophrenic attitude toward public education. Lawmakers feign outrage at the state of our public schools, raise expectations and requirements, and then use public school funding as a pawn in their party politics. With the recent proposed cuts to Michigan school funding, one can almost guarantee that many of the first cuts will come at the expense of media centers with the jobs being passed on to paraprofessionals. Forget the fact that NCLB requires that educators be 'highly qualified.' Forget the fact that the state, in recent years, has created and implemented a list of Grade Level Content Expectations in the area of technology. Who will teach these expectations? A paraprofessional? Classroom teachers who are already teaching more content to more students? This is highly doubtful and a major concern not just for the library community but for all educators.