School librarians have a key role to play in creating an informed citizenry — one that finds common ground in shared facts.
I. SCHOOL LIBRARIANS ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR SELECTING CREDIBLE INFORMATION SOURCES FOR THEIR PRINT AND DIGITAL LIBRARY COLLECTIONS.
It is important for librarians to clearly understand the difference between selecting information sources that are credible (a key step in the collection development process) and selecting information sources that express only certain views (censorship).
When developing a nonfiction collection, credibility is the most important criteria to consider (along with price, relevance etc.). School librarians do not have the time to thoroughly research each item they select for their collection. However, school librarians do have time to consider i) whether materials have bibliographies, ii) whether materials look reliable, iii) whether materials were published by a reputable publisher, iv) whether materials were favorably reviewed by X, Y or Z, etc.
II. SCHOOL LIBRARIANS NEED TO PUT EFFORT INTO DEVELOPING DIGITAL LIBRARY COLLECTIONS AND SHARING THESE DIGITAL LIBRARY COLLECTIONS IN A WAY THAT IS EASILY ACCESSIBLE.
School libraries are competing with Google. To be useful, digital library collections need to consist of sources that are credible and support schools’ curriculums. It is also important for school librarians to share digital library collections in a way that makes it easy to search and browse for credible sources.
III. SCHOOL LIBRARIANS SHOULD BE COLLABORATING WITH CLASSROOM TEACHERS TO EFFECTIVELY TEACH RESEARCH SKILLS.
In addition to selecting credible materials for their library collections, school librarians and teachers and are responsible for teaching students research skills — including how to distinguish fact from fiction.
The Common Core Standards are the current set of teaching standards guiding K-12 education in 42 out of 50 U.S. states. These standards spell out what schools are required to teach students. Specifically, schools are required to teach students to conduct research projects, draw on several sources to answer questions, gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility of each source, draw evidence from texts to support analysis, reflection and research. According to these standards, K-12 students are to be taught to assess the credibility of sources when undertaking research from first thru twelfth grade. By the time students graduate from college, assessing the credibility of sources should be second nature.
School librarians and teachers are still working on implementing the Common Core Standards effectively. It could be helpful for school librarians and teachers to collaborate to share approaches that are working, exchange lesson plans, and develop best practices. We also need trained, full-time school librarians in every school and school schedules that enable school librarians to collaborate with classroom teachers.