Media Matters

May 6, 2015

This is how librarians can lead the digital transformation

Despite being pressed for time and resources, librarians can serve as change agents in their schools’ digital transformation

Recently, as I was serving on a panel at the Texas Library Association’s 2015 Annual Conference, one attendee explained to us how she is trying to keep up with the new technologies coming into her school. How, she asked, could she implement them successfully while continuing to provide the same services for which her library is known

It’s not an easy question to answer, but it’s one that the panel—part of Follett’s Project Connect [2], which is aimed at shedding light on how librarians can be a solution to the many challenges that arise from a digital transformation—was well-poised to answer. Based on my experiences as director of library media services for Nebraska’s Lincoln Public Schools [3], I was able to come up with two suggestions.

First, pace yourself and determine what is coming off your plate. We need to continually re-think why we are doing what we are doing. Yes, we feel we need superhuman powers because our jobs are getting busier, but in order to sustain ourselves, school librarians really do need to determine which pieces of our work can no longer be priorities, and then let them go.

Second, and this is the big question to keep in mind, what’s best for the kids? We need to keep this at the forefront of our thinking. What do our students really need to help them become informationally and digitally literate? What will be most helpful for students to know and be able to do to be successful consumers and creators of information? How will we empower teachers to best serve our students?

In my district, our information-rich environment is now getting even stronger with our CLASS (Connected Learning for the Achievement of Students and Staff) Plan, which puts devices into the hands of each of our students, grades three through twelve, and in classroom learning centers in K-2. Our librarians have taken the lead in aligning our digital and print resources. While we have had digital resources, such as online periodicals, encyclopedias and databases for many years, these rich resources will now be accessible to all of our students on a daily basis.

We’ve also looked at how we share our resources. We have worked very hard to establish an online presence throughout the district. Each of our 56 schools has a school library web page, the portal to the wealth of information available to our families, with links our online catalog and purchased digital content. However, the best way we are addressing the needs of our students and staff is by providing curated packages of the resources aligned to the curriculum—by unit and by lesson.

Curating resources may take a great deal of our time but we realize the importance of analyzing the curriculum and determining where essential questions and inquiry lessons with deep, guiding questions are woven into the content areas. It’s also essential to locate the most developmentally appropriate resources, both print and digital, and to put those resources into a framework for ease of access. This is how we build bridges and form partnerships with classroom teachers and curriculum specialists.

Just as we pored over our professional review sources to choose the best print resources for the students, our librarians are now selecting the best online resources and guiding students to that content through our Library Media Services [4] online presence. Whether curating your resources using LibGuides [5] or LiveBinders [6], or purchasing a product such as Follett Shelf Classroom Connections [7] and WebPath Express [8], your students will be choosing their resources from the most appropriate content available.

Today, whenever we are asked why the digital conversion is so important, we have a solid response: We have the opportunity to open the world of learning, questioning, and thinking to our students in ways we have never had the capacity to do before.

It is exciting. It is challenging. It is transformative. Every child must succeed, and they will if we continue to determine the resources most important to that task, and if we continually ask ourselves: What’s best for the kids?

Mary Reiman is the director of library media services for Lincoln Public Schools in Lincoln, Nebraska.

[Ed. note: In addition to Mary Reiman, the TLA’s “Librarians as Change Agents” panel presentation featured Jennifer Boudrye, director of library programs, District of Columbia (Washington, D.C.) Public Schools; Mark Ray, director of instructional technology and library services, Vancouver (Wash.) Public Schools; and Scott S. Smith, chief technology officer, Mooresville (N.C.) Graded School District. The entire panel presentation is available by clicking on these links: Part 1 [9]; Part 2 [10].]

5 Empowering and Inspiring Videos for Students, Teachers from Soul Pancake

Set up your own digital media lab for next to nothing

GREAT Idea for your Media Centers

A green screen and a Mac turn a storage space into a hi-tech playground

Back when I was in school, class projects were limited to written reports, dioramas, and posters—things we could create with pencils, paper, Popsicle sticks, and glue. To say our students today have many more options available to them would be the understatement of the 21st century.

With the advent of lightning-quick computers and gorgeous digital media tools, students are now dreaming up PowerPoint presentations, Prezis, websites, wikis, Photo Stories, and more—things limited only by their imaginations. Creating these types of digital projects has become second nature to them, and they have no concept of a time when these technologies were not available. In fact, creating digital media has become a very personal matter. Just look on Facebook, YouTube, Vine, Vimeo, Instagram, Twitter and you will see that our students are creating and sharing digital content on a daily basis.

As educators, it behooves us to find ways to provide opportunities that allow our students to engage in learning activities relevant to their lives. As a library media specialist, I know there’s no better place to provide them with these opportunities than a school’s own library media center.

With all of this in mind, I recently decided to renovate an old storage room in our school library into a cutting-edge digital media lab. My plan was to provide a space where students and staff could explore their creativity using digital media, and my hope was that they would use these tools to create authentic, curriculum-related projects.

I’m happy to say, that’s exactly what happened. Our students are now creating weekly newscasts, commercials, book trailers, weather reports, and much more. They have become roving reporters, interviewers, editors, directors, commentators, producers, and musicians. They have become creators of content and not just consumers. And, amazingly, I was able to do it all without breaking the bank.

If you think you would like to create a digital media lab in your school, here are some tips to get started.

Find a space: You don’t need a large space, especially if you are using a green screen. Our newscasts appear to be set inside a spacious studio, but they are actually recorded in our 12-foot by 12-foot storage room. Even if you don’t have a separate room, you can easily set something up in a corner of your classroom or library.

Purchase equipment: Believe it or not, you don’t need a suite of pricey computers and peripherals to get started. Right now, the extent of our equipment is a Mac. We use the built-in camera for recording and we began with iMovie for editing the video and for green screen keying (recently, we upgraded to Final Cut Pro for more advanced video editing). If a Mac is out of your budget, don’t fret: there are some great iPad apps that will do the trick.

You will need a green screen, which I was able to purchase for less than $20.00. You can also paint a wall green. We actually painted our entire digital media lab green and threw in some green foam flooring for the total package. Some photography lighting is helpful, but not necessary if you have sufficient lighting in your space.

Recruit some students: Once you have everything in place, find a couple of tech savvy students who are willing to experiment. The first few months, I had some students come in during their free periods to play with the equipment and software. We learned a lot and I can honestly say, I learned more from them than they did from me.

Create some sample projects: In order to pique teachers’ interest in assigning projects using the digital media lab, the students and I created some samples, including a cloud project for a science class and a book talk video for English. We also began creating newscasts incorporating the school’s daily announcements. Our newscasts have since become a weekly production that our students really look forward to and these days our lab is regularly used for student projects.

So what are you waiting for? Keep in mind, you don’t have to be a technology expert to start a digital media lab. While not all of us are “tech savvy,” we need to keep in mind that many of our students are. All we need to do is provide them with the tools and the opportunity and I believe they will do the rest.

The next time you assign a project, think about allowing the students to create a piece of music, a newscast, a movie, a podcast, or some other digital project. Let them express themselves in a way that is most comfortable for them. I think you’ll be as pleasantly surprised as I was.

]Donna DeLuca (@DonnaDeLuca22 [3]) is a library media specialist at Accompsett Middle School in Smithtown, N.Y. She is a professional development trainer and a Google Certified Educator. To see some of the projects created by students in the digital media lab, check out her website at

Posted By Stephen Noonoo On April 17, 2015 @ 6:00 am In Featured on eSchool News,How-to,Innovation Corner,Money Matters,Top News