School librarians build research & critical thinking foundations
This is a great and timely question for librarians. I have worked in a public library, but my full-time library career has been as an elementary school librarian. Many of the issues we see with adults and working in the public library start at the earliest stages of inquiry for students. The top five things I think we can do are as follows:
1. We have to ensure and continue to advocate that licensed librarians are in schools in every state and that these librarians have access to training and professional development, and that librarians are able to carry out their job as intended.
2. As school librarians, we should scaffold skills from our youngest researchers to our high school students on understanding how we find information, how we chose which information to use, the purpose of that information, and how to detect the author’s point of view, and in some cases, bias.
3. Mandate research and inquiry skills be part of all curriculum and subject areas. The more students are exposed to these skills, the better they will be able to use and understand them.
4. We need open and honest conversations with our fellow teachers and students about misleading information, disinformation, outdated information, and the power that communication can have in our digital world. This includes how social media affects how information is consumed.
5. Promote ourselves as a resource to finding answers to questions, and use that as an opportunity to teach skills.
There is plenty of room for collaboration with teachers, administrators, news organizations, and other associations to cross-promote these endeavors. Some of this could also be used in other library fields. I would also be curious to see if there is a link between the widespread cut in school library funding or taking licensed librarians out of schools and the rise in the acceptance of misinformation by significant portions of the public