At River City Books, shoppers can easily find books written by local authors by perusing the local author shelf in the store’s Alaska section, on Friday, Dec. 14, 2018, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Victoria Petersen | Peninsula Clarion)

At River City Books, shoppers can easily find books written by local authors by perusing the local author shelf in the store’s Alaska section, on Friday, Dec. 14, 2018, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Victoria Petersen | Peninsula Clarion)

Opinion: Library science isn’t just about finding books

When we hear the word library, many of us remember the library of our childhood — a silent space where children listen to stories and adults read books and newspapers. If we were fortunate enough to have a school librarian, he or she read us stories and helped us find books that would spark our interest. As we got older, the librarian might have helped us learn to use the dictionary, encyclopedia or other reference sources to answer questions and complete our school work.

Although today’s librarians still work to foster a love of reading in our students and help students find information, libraries are much more than just a book repository and librarians are much more than book managers. Today’s school librarians are responsible for empowering our students to not just find information but also evaluate it, use it and communicate their resulting knowledge. They do this in a world where students must sift not just through an encyclopedia but through a tumultuous and confusing array of information online, much of which is often misleading or incomplete.

Today’s school librarians are teachers who collaborate with classroom teachers to provide engaging, inquiry-based learning opportunities for students in all grade levels that enable learners to investigate questions of personal and curricular significance. Students use library maker spaces to create products that demonstrate their learning and help them engage in real world problem solving.

Unfortunately, our Alaskan school librarians are operating with Library/Information Literacy standards that were adopted in 1999. These standards, which guide school librarians in their instruction to students in K-12 schools, focus on how to find information and cite sources. Almost 20 years ago, these standards helped us assure that our students were able to engage in a basic level of research. Today, they are outdated and irrelevant.

Luckily, in 2017 the National School Library Standards were published by the American Association of School Librarians. These standards are exactly what our teachers and students need. The standards are composed of six shared foundations: inquire, include, collaborate, curate, explore and engage. These concepts cross all academic disciplines. Whether a student is engaging in history, science, math or art, they need to be able to inquire, include, collaborate, curate, explore and engage. When addressed by school librarians and other certified educators, the standards can help ensure that our students are prepared to become lifelong learners in career, college and/or the community.

Our school librarians are already doing so much more than our Alaska Library/Information Literacy Standard suggest. Let’s bring our standards into the 21st century, and help ensure our students are ready for it too.

• Deborah Rinio is the Secretary for the Alaska Association of School Librarians. She lives in Fairbanks.


• Deborah Rinio is the Secretary for the Alaska Association of School Librarians. She lives in Fairbanks. My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire.


More in Opinion

Web
Have something to say?

Here’s how to add your voice to the conversation.

(Juneau Empire file photo)
Letter: SEARHC’s goals seem likely to limit, rather than expand, health options in Juneau

Max Mertz’s comments at the Bartlett Regional Hospital public forum about SEARHC’s… Continue reading

Former President Donald Trump arrives at Trump Tower after he was found guilty of all counts in his criminal trial in New York on May 30. (Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times)
Opinion: Trump’s new fixers

“Alaska Republicans back Trump after historic conviction in hush money case,” the… Continue reading

(Juneau Empire file photo)
Letter: Allow locals to have their town back once a week during the summer

Perhaps Nate Vallier shrugs when he sees eagles and bears (My Turn,… Continue reading

Juneau School District administrators and board members listen to a presentation about the district’s multi-million deficit during a Jan. 9 meeting. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
My Turn: School board recall not a cure for ‘failure to thrive’

Decline happens over time. Kinda like the way we gain weight and… Continue reading

Two skiers settle into a lift chair as they pass trees with fresh snow at Eaglecrest Ski Area on Dec. 20, 2023. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
My Turn: Eaglecrest Ski Area attempting to do too much without sensible leadership

Ever wonder what the 50-year-old clearcut above the beginner slopes at Eaglecrest… Continue reading

A Carnival cruise ship is berthed Juneau’s cruise ship docks during the summer of 2022. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire file photo)
Opinion: Ignoring the consequences of ship-free Saturdays?

Backers of a cruise initiative to block large cruise ships from docking… Continue reading

Juneau School District administrators and board members review the updated budget for the current fiscal year during a Board of Education meeting April 16 at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
My Turn: School board recall is about more than ‘angry moms set on being vengeful’

It’s time to set the record straight about the school board recall.… Continue reading

The 1,094-foot-long Norwegian Bliss docks in Juneau on April 9 to begin this year’s cruise ship season. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
My Turn: Consider the far-reaching and harmful consequences of Saturday cruise ship ban

The Juneau Arts and Humanities Council expresses our strong support for Protect… Continue reading

(Juneau Empire file photo)
Letter: Don’t believe doom-and-gloom predictions for ship-free Saturdays

As a 54-year resident of Juneau I have seen the summer cruise… Continue reading

About 20 people gather in Marine Park at midday April 9 for a rally calling for a ban on large cruise ships on Saturdays in Juneau. Some of the participants are members of a committee planning to gather signatures for a petition to put the question on the ballot for local voters. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Opinion: Cruise ship free Saturdays seems like a reasonable compromise

Three years ago, I opposed the local initiatives to limit cruise ship… Continue reading