In the search for K-6 libraries that are harnessing Web 2.0 technologies and or at the very least online was an interesting exercise. It has been a struggle to find information and research about social networking in K-6 school libraries. It brought to mind a few questions from the outset of this task – Why are K-6 school libraries not embracing social networking via digital devices? Most that I discovered had an online presence via a website but no way to interact or begin conversations between the library and its users and definitely not much scope for the users to interact with each other. This then would be the first reason I would use to persuade school libraries to be on social media or at least starting to expose students to social networking. Connecting the library with its users and making connections between the users themselves.
This then leads to another reason why school libraries should use social media to build community by encouraging connection. A big part of learning in primary school is how to get along with a diverse number of people. It is where students start to realise that they have opinions and they don’t always agree with others. Through using social networking then school libraries would allow students to read and to write in response to differing comments.
Another question I had was if K-6 school libraries are trying to set foundations for (digital) citizenship and information seeking, then why aren’t K-6 schools able to provide a space for ‘hands-on’ learning? Social networking does not have to use social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Linked In and Instagram, as most people like myself equated social networking to be. The addition of a blog or wiki in a primary school can allow students safe spaces to contribute and participate in the online space and to utilise the affordances of Web 2.0. If we are using the apps and the tools such as GAFE to create, then shouldn’t we be providing a space to share with an audience, otherwise, how is it different to making a poster and pinning it to the classroom wall. Preparing students for their future is what education is about and their future is being able to interact, use and share what they can do using digital tools and technologies with a more global audience. Primary schools need to be aware of keeping students safe but how can we develop global tolerance, knowledge and skills if we don’t allow them to participate.
Another reason, I would suggest that school libraries need to use some form of social networking is that it showcases the value of the library and promotes the school community. The teacher librarian aligns themselves and what they do with the mission and learning vision of the school. School libraries are central to the school environment and for some students can be the first contact they have with a library. It is interesting to note that when our Principal has interviews with prospective Kinder parents one of the comments that is made is about the library and how their child loves books.
Advocacy then is another big reason for school libraries to have an online presence. Libraries are so much more than books on shelves and what the user sees when they walk into the space. Primary school libraries have digital collections, makerspaces and quite often are safe havens for students who feel lost in the playground. Primary school libraries are spaces where students can not only experience the formalised learning of information literacy, reading, digital literacy and whatever other ‘new literacy’ term one can think of but spaces where they can create their own informal learning as well.