By Elizabeth Wroten
Redux: Teens, Research, Embedded Librarians
On 29, Nov 2012 | In Redux | By Elizabeth Wroten
Just about a month ago Pew Research came out with a report on teens and research. The long and the short of it, in their words, is that:
“…the internet has opened up a vast world of information for today’s students, yet students’ digital literacy skills have yet to catch up…”
Obviously this has a lot of implications for libraries, but it got me thinking about embedded librarianship again. This may be an old term for integrating library skills, time, instruction, and assistance into an existing department or program, but I think it still is an important idea. An idea that needs to be embraced by more libraries and schools.
The Pew Research study revealed that teachers believe students have better and more access to information, but are not necessarily better at navigating the information or finding credible information. The study then found that,
“47% of these teachers strongly agree and another 44% somewhat believe that courses and content focusing on digital literacy should be incorporated into every school’s curriculum.”
I found this to be a little worrisome. Maybe it’s just me, but less than half of those teachers really want to see these skills taught to their students? Yes, if you add in the other 44% the vast majority kind of want them taught. But, really? Only “somewhat”? I think the desire should be a lot stronger. And if it was, I think libraries and librarians would have a powerful ally in convincing the administration that its necessary to offer these skills.
And that’s where embedded librarianship comes into play. Teachers, at least the ones I have worked with, are loathe to give up their precious classroom time. And for good reason: time is finite and the amount of material they need to get through is vast. Students, at least the ones I have worked with, hate lessons that don’t feel relevant to what they are learning. And for good reason: they want to get away with doing as little work as possible and they don’t want to waste precious time on stuff they don’t think they need to know. If you embed these library skills lessons into the classroom and into what the teachers are already teaching, though, its a win-win-win. Teachers don’t lose any of their classroom time and still get through the material they need to. Students don’t end up with extra work and can immediately see the applicability of the skills they are learning (at least you hope they do!). Librarians get to teach the digital literacy they are so passionate about and they demonstrate their relevancy to students and teachers alike.
I don’t really think that any of what the Pew study said was news to librarians, but I think the more the message is spread the easier it will be for librarians to demonstrate a need for our profession.