Libraries in the Digital Age: Conceptions of the Next Gen School Libraries

Ross Todd


This paper reports on selected findings from the New Jersey School Library research study One Common Goal: Student Learning that provides insights into the future of school libraries, and their evolution and transformation in the digital age.  The research was undertaken by scholars in the Center for International scholarship in School Libraries (CISSL) at Rutgers University in two phases from 2009 to 2011. Collectively the findings showed that New Jersey school libraries and school librarians contribute in rich and diverse ways to the intellectual life of a school, and to the development of students who can function in a complex and increasingly digital information environment.  Phase 2 of this study examined  12 public schools in New Jersey whose school librarians reported high levels of instructional collaboration with classroom teachers.  It sought to understand the dynamics of these successful school libraries, particularly through the eyes of school leaders and classroom teachers. Data were collected from 97 participants in focus groups in these schools. The findings provide a framework for conceptualizing Gen Next School Libraries for a digital world, which center on five core dimensions: (1) the school library as a learning and pedagogical center, and the school librarian as a co- teacher and information learning specialist for faculty and students; (2) the school library as an inquiry learning center; (3) the school library as a center for digital citizenship; (4) the school library as community connector; and (5) the school library as a surrogate home.

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