Library Media in the 21st Century: How we Shifted Perceptions

In my role as a Director of Learning, Instructional Technology & Library Media at the Kettle Moraine School District, I’m lucky enough to work directly with a team of six library media specialists. Over the past year and a half, we’ve worked together to try and develop a common vision for our program, as well as develop our instructional technology skills to meet the needs of our staff and students.

When I was a kid, I was obsessed with reading. No, seriously- one of my parents’ favorite stories to tell about me involves a reading competition that my 1st grade teacher held. My obsession with reading and my competitive nature were given unbridled freedom… and when the tallies were counted at the end of the year, the total number of books I read [in 1st grade] had reached a grand total of 597. Yikes.

Most parents punished their kids by taking away their video games; my parents used to punish me by taking away my books. Instead of being a deterrent, this only fueled my obsession even more: I began to look at reading as a guilty pleasure, and I knew I had to behave if I wanted access to the rich stories I found between the covers of each book.

I spent all of my free time at the library, and my days were filled with the rich language I found on each page. I became engrossed in trying to unravel symbols and metaphors and allusions. I was enraptured by characters who were mischievous or melancholy or manipulative. I found perspective in the dystopias and totalitarian governments and futuristic worlds. Every story was built upon thousands of years of history and insight, and I felt privileged that I was allowed access to that much human knowledge.

The library was a magical place, and the librarians were my heroes.
Something happened in the last twenty years. These stories began to grow, and they were no longer just between the pages of physical books. I began to watch these stories on my television. I became a character in these stories in my video games. I downloaded these stories on my tablet. I created these stories on my laptop. The Internet gave me access to these stories 24-7, and I was no longer just a passive observer in these worlds. I was given the freedom to interact, comment, and create.


The way we share stories and information has grown, and the field of library media science has grown because of it.

In my role as a Director of Learning, Instructional Technology & Library Media at the Kettle Moraine School District, I’m lucky enough to work directly with a team of six library media specialists. Over the past year and a half, we’ve worked together to try and develop a common vision for our program, as well as develop our instructional technology skills to meet the needs of our staff and students.

In the past year, two members of our team became Google Certified Trainers, three became Google Qualified Individuals, and our newest member shared her love for teaching coding across all of the elementary buildings. These six ladies helped drive classroom website adoption in all of our buildings (we’re now at 100% adoption, using a Google Site template we built less than a year ago), and have spent countless hours holding workshops, after-school sessions, and one-on-one meetings with teachers. They’ve revamped the digital citizenship curriculum, they’ve deployed hundreds of student website portfolios, and they’re continuing to drive innovation by partnering closely with teachers on inquiry-based learning projects.

While they’ve done all of this, they’ve continued to curate digital resources and maintain physical library spaces, run student television production clubs, manage volunteers, and serve on school leadership teams. I honestly don’t know how they do it all, and I feel so lucky to be a part of this passionate, motivated, dedicated team.

The two videos below were created to highlight some of the work they are doing in our district, as well as the shared vision we have of what we think library media should look like in the 21st Century.

Twenty years later, librarians are still my heroes. I hope these videos help portray why.


Part One: Physical Spaces & Student Projects
This video starts out with Stephanie explaining the importance of flexible seating and collaborative spaces in a media center. As Debbie shows off her remodeled space, she says, “I don’t live in this space like I used to… I can be in the classroom much more, because the technology has moved to the classroom”. The team also talks about some of the student projects they are facilitating. Holli shares a student choice project that has students developing movies, video games, cartoons (etc.) to individually meet their learning goals.



Part Two: Technology & Outreach
This video starts with Elizabeth explaining some of the many different tasks that she does throughout a day, and how she has to continuously learn to stay on top of the changing ideas and technologies that are available. The three members of the team talk about how they decided to go through the Google certification process together to better support students and staff with their technology skills. Kim shares the student portfolio project she is working on with students. Joanne shares the digital citizenship course she created, which is now being used during advisory across all grade levels at the high school.


One Comments

  • Pat

    December 3, 2013

    Very proud of the work occurring in our libraries and across our district. Thanks for the leadership that supports this type of innovation.

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