Connecting to Information Resources Beyond the School Library

Instructor: Susan Graziano

Susan has taught high school English and has worked as a school administrator. She has a doctorate in Educational Leadership.

Knowledge is power. Providing information to your students empowers them. In this lesson, you will learn how to creatively connect your students to quality information resources, both inside and outside of your school library media center.

Creating Community Connections

The school library media center is a ''one-stop shop'' of information resources. There are often books, periodicals, reference materials, and a wide variety of online resources. Depending upon the budget and available resources, however, the school library media center's resources can be significantly limited. With a little bit of creativity, the library media specialist can provide countless additional resources to the school community.

Types of Resources

Information resources are any kind of reference that we consult for instruction, data, guidance, or general knowledge. The school library media center contains many different types of resources. There is also a wide variety of information resources beyond the media center. Following is a list of the different types of information resources that would benefit any school community:

  • Reference materials
  • Books
  • e-Books
  • Journals
  • Websites
  • Newspapers
  • Magazines
  • Videos

Databases are also excellent sources of information. Databases are digital collections of information. The sources of information can be any of the above types of information resources. They are generally organized by topic, theme, audience, or type. For example, Literary Reference Center, a popular database for high school students, contains a wide variety of information about literature. Databases are most often subscriptions, so there are typically annual fees to maintain access.

Partnering Up

Let's say your school library media center has thousands of books, reference materials, journals, newspapers, and magazines lining the bookshelves. You also have over fifty computers and subscriptions to at least a dozen databases. What more could you possibly need?

Here's the thing: You may very well be spending your precious budget dollars on some resources that you could acquire for free. You could also be missing out on an opportunity to secure additional resources for your school community. Below are some suggestions for partnering with local resources.

Partner with your Local Library

University Library

This goes without saying. There are many benefits that local libraries provide that could easily be offered at your school as well. When your students sign up for a library card, they can unlock many resources for no additional charge. Overdrive, for example, is a program through which library card holders can check out eBooks and audiobooks from their computers, or even their phones. All you need to sign up is a library card.

Consider holding a combined event either at your school library media center or the local library. Collaborate with the local media specialists, advertise on both of your websites, offer some fun experiences or prizes, and see where it goes from there. You can have all those in attendance sign up for a library card. This helps your school community obtain additional access to information resources and the local library increase membership at the same time.

Partner with Local Colleges & Universities

Think of your collection of information resources. Then, multiply this number by five, ten, or more. Local colleges and universities are bursting at the seams with resources. While many require patrons to be active students, there is nothing that says that you can't reach out and see what kinds of opportunities you could create that would be beneficial to both organizations.

Partner with Community Organizations

There are many non-profit and community organizations that could benefit from your resources. You could also benefit from theirs. There are literacy councils, organizations designed to work with students with disabilities, and organizations designed to inspire a love of reading, to name a few.

Reach out to these organizations to see how you can collaborate. Your students and families could benefit from their services, and you could provide a central meeting location for community events.

Partner with People

This may sound too obvious, but human resources are often overlooked. No doubt, you have a wide variety of resources in your school community. People have different professions, different connections, different information that they would like to share with your students and their families.

Consider holding a community night or inviting parents or alumni in to present information to your students, staff, and other members of the school community.

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