Recent postings by a variety of people including David Warlick, Doug Johnson, Joyce Valenza, and Stephen Abram asked or answered the question “Are libraries obsolete?” Another response was posted by Will Sherman at idegree tutor. Stephen Downes and others responded. Will Richardson wrote this article entitled “Online powered libraries” in District Administrator.
I began to wonder why people believe that libraries and credentialed teacher-librarians are not important to have in schools. Partly as a response to this and partly because I recently attended the 21st century partnership for schools conference, I began to look at schools that do not have libraries and in particular, high schools known as “high tech” schools. After e-mailing several of the administrators, I discovered that none of these so called high tech high schools have a space called a “library” nor a person on staff who is a credentialed teacher-librarian. Here are these well publicized high-tech high schools without libraries or credentialed teacher-librarians.
- Napa Valley, California – New Technology High. This school was one of the first “High Tech” high schools built in California in 2000.
- Several High Tech High Charter Schools in California – San Diego, Redwood City. Ben Daley, Director, replied via email: “We don’t have either because it is hard to run a public charter school in CA on $6,000 per pupil and we have to make choices about priorities.”
- Denver School of Science and Technology, which opened in 2005 and was recently highlighted in Business Week. Principal Bill Kurtz responded to my email: “We do not have a library because 1) budget – didn’t have enough money and 2) everyone has a wireless laptop, so research can happen real time in the classroom.”
- Philadelphia – Microsoft’s School of the Future opened in 2006 and was discussed in Macleans magazine. Mary Cullinane from Microsoft stated in the article, “When you use the word library, people immediately get the sense that I need to physically go to a place to access information or do research…in the world in which these kids are going to exist after they graduate, that is a ridiculous idea.”
No doubt there are other high tech high schools out there that did not include a library in their plans and there will be others in the future. Teacher-librarians, along with all types of librarians continually re-tool themselves to better meet the information needs of 21st century learners. However, it is very short-sighted to not include a space called a library nor a crednetialed librarian as part of these schools.