School Media refers to all of the literary, digital, and technological resources available to educators that compliment a traditional curriculum. This can mean anything from physical books, to e-documents, to DVDs and information technology support systems. Often, these resources are housed in a school library or in a school media center and can be utilized to help engage students.
Those who work in school media are concerned with the comprehensive education of pre-k through 12th grade students in all areas of literacy and technology fluency. School media falls under the general umbrella of “library and information science” but focuses on information technology and the proper management and use of media in schools specifically.
“Library media specialists empower students to be critical thinkers, enthusiastic readers, skillful researchers, and ethical users of information,” says Sara Kelly Johns, president of the American Association of School Librarians.
The Importance of School Media
In a similar manner to top-level school administrators, librarians (specifically those with school media expertise) interact with every member of the student body and faculty in one way or another. They are influencing curriculum, student performance, and school technological capabilities on a daily basis and, as such, are integral contributors to a school’s success.
As technology and digital resources become more and more prevalent in society, the roles of librarians continue to expand. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, “during the 2011–12 school year, 79,000 of the 85,500 traditional public schools in the United States reported having a library media center”. The management and effective use of these media centers are vital. Media centers, and the staff who run them, are extremely helpful in actively educating students and collecting and managing information. This is reflected in the increasing presence of media centers in school libraries.
School Media as a Career
The traditional model of the school librarian has been reimagined to include the education of students on how to navigate the web and gather information using online resources. It is imperative, too, for teachers to understand these skills so that they can properly integrate tech learning into their curriculum. It's common for librarians, in today’s heavily digital age, to have to wear many hats throughout the course of their day. The emphasis on school media renders librarians leaders in education technology and experts in information management. Some examples of career paths for those interested in school media are outlined below.
Library Media Specialists:
Library Media Specialists, among a laundry list of responsibilities, are revolutionizing the classroom to accommodate the digital age. They are specially trained in many realms of information technology as it pertains to education and work with teachers and students to expand comfortability with digital resources.
Read an interview with a Library Media Specialist.
Teacher Librarian Consultants:
Teacher Librarian Consultants work on a variety of topics aimed at making school libraries as high functioning as possible. They help promote teacher-librarian communication and aid schools in utilizing libraries and technology to their fullest potential.
Read an interview with a Teacher Librarian Consultant.
Curriculum Directors help build class content from the ground up to make them as effective and engaging as possible. They often utilize a variety of resources to design a holistic curriculum that touches upon many different educational areas. Today, media and technology play a huge role in the design of educational content and, as such, curriculum directors are tasked with knowing the ins and outs of school media.
Read an interview with a Curriculum Director.
The National Center for Education Statistics released a report that states “recommend staffing levels for libraries and media centers are not being met by many schools; however, where staff are present, they do influence the content of instruction.”
Although media centers in schools are more popular than ever, staffing needs have not yet responded adequately. As a direct result, librarians with expertise in school media are needed, and are going to continue to be needed, in the coming years.
How to Become a Library Media Specialist
A Master's degree from an ALA-accredited Library and Information Science program is required for most positions within the realm of library science. Many schools are now offering concentrations in school media to better prepare librarians to hold high-tech positions in K-12 schools.
Curriculum for Library Science in School Media varies from a traditional MLS curriculum. Take a look at a sample course catalog for a specialized master's degree in school media vs. a traditional master’s in library and information science.
Masters in Library Science - School Media:
- Information Technologies in Educational Organizations
- Youth Services in Libraries and Information Centers
- Motivating 21st-Century Learning
- Library & Information Services to Students With Disabilities
- Literacy Through School Libraries
Traditional Masters in Library Science:
- Introduction to the Library and Information Profession
- Information and Information Environments
- Reference and Information Literacy Services
- Library Planning, Marketing, and Assessment
- Information Resources: Organization and Access
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