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Internet @ Schools

EDITOR'S NOTES: School Librarianship in the New Era

By David Hoffman - Posted Mar 1, 2007
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It's coming! Internet at Schools, along with Computers in Libraries, is next month—specifically April 16-17 in Arlington, Va. I talked in some detail about the conference last time in this space, so I won't do so again, except to point out two important things: 1) There's an insert on pages 32-34 telling you all about the conference, the sessions, and the speakers. You can check out the same information and register online from the conference Web site at And 2) be sure to look for the group discount information at the online registration page. Groups of LMSs and other educators from a school, a district, or a media or library association who join together to attend will qualify for considerable savings. It's worth it.

The Era of Outreach and Community

You're practicing your profession in a new era. It's wrought by technology that enables you, your library, and your school to extend your reach and services; it also enables your students to reach you and everyone else in the world with ease. Some might qualify that with frightening ease. The tech tools are everywhere, and the opportunities they create are many. While the minefields implicit in their use are, well, there … they can and will be dealt with, since ignoring the tools and opportunities is not an option.

Virtual or online learning is a case in point. As Nancy Rohland-Heinrich and Brian Jensen note in this month's cover story, new tech tools are enabling librarians and other educators to push the envelope in this realm. They write: "Online social environments that libraries can use for educational- service purposes include chat or instant messaging, gaming, and other virtual spaces traditionally used for socialization such as MySpace or Facebook." In other words, leverage social "tools" for learning! "Adapting these traditional virtual social spaces to be used for library support services can be effective in meeting students on their own virtual turf while enhancing the online environment for more educational purposes." Great insights. Read more in their feature, Library Resources: A Critical Component to Online Learning (p. 8).

Or Not?

Uh-oh. It is indeed the era of outreach and community, but the above insights notwithstanding, fear of the "minefields" can still hold sway. Stephen Abram always has a lot to say about creatively using new tools, but this time in The Pipeline, he first rails against "Draconian policies and implementations" that are "driving the use of Web resources underground where kids are forced to learn about them on the street. Sound familiar?" Then he returns to his usual optimistic and creative mode, offering three strategies to encourage informed debate and to combat the fear. Wanna "be the river, not the rock?" Read his column, Shooting Themselves in the Foot (p. 17).

David Hoffman , editor

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