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Developing IT Policies & Procedures in School Library Media Programs

Instructor: Emily Hamm

Emily has B.S. in elementary education and a M.S. in educational technology. She teaches full-time, works as an adjunct professor, and is a freelancer.

In this lesson, we will discuss ways to either develop new or update existing informational technology policies in a Library Media Center. Find out how legal considerations such as CIPA and censorship are considered as factors for policy development.

The Future of Technology

You are not allowed to wear glasses in this class! No watches either! Put them in your locker, or I will be confiscating them!

Can you image these exclamations being uttered by frazzled teachers in a classroom of the future? This may seem extreme; however, wearable technology is becoming an ever-growing industry. So, what happens when technology develops to the point that students have devices that could also be considered medically necessary, but also, used for entertainment or research purposes? At what point are current technology policies infringing upon a children's rights?

Obviously, in the face of such quick and wide-swept changes to technologies and thus, culture, a school library center needs to be prepared to develop or update informational technology policies.

Informational Technology Policies

Generally, a school's Library Media Center (LMC) outlines policies for various uses of technologies. These policies include physical technologies like hardware, software, and Internet use; as well intangibles including ethics and legal rights. Although a LMC isn't the only place technology use exists in schools, there are special considerations that are required of a person who is developing or updating such policies.

Children's Internet Protection Act

In more recent history, a major factor when considering creating technology policies for a school Library Media Center is the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA). This act states that in order to receive certain types of federal funding school libraries need to use filtering software. This software is intended to prevent minors from having ready access to obscene materials.

Opponents argue that the purpose of a library is to provide free, open access to information. Given that the use of digital devices has vastly changed since 2003, those against CIPA hold that schools usually over-filter as a means to guarantee they are within the legal guidelines.

This is a topic that is likely to continually be debated and possibly even revoked or changed in the coming years. Staying on top of legal changes as they relate to a Library Media Center is important to prevent infringing on the legal rights of students or errors as an employee.

Censorship

Censorship , or the suppression of information, books, news, film, etc. is another major issue in the realm of Library Media. This is considered to be part of the First Amendment Rights. Intellectual Freedom , which is freedom to search for and find information from all points of view, is an ongoing consideration for a Library Media Centers.

Updating Existing Policies

Imagine if the policies that were first implemented when the computer lab was built in a school were still standing. The archaic nature of the rules developed for a different generation of students, physical space, and technology use means that outdated information technology policies must be updated.

Updating is the process of taking existing policies and editing them to fit current needs. When updating preexisting policies, consider following these steps:

1. Consider when and under what circumstances the policies were written.

2. Research legal changes to technology policies. The American Library Association (ALA) has newsletters that can help stay on top of current trends.

3. Analyze the policies in relation to the library's purpose and mission statement as well as its assigned role within a school system from administration, educators, etc.

4. Consider the role technology has within the school. Policies should be written to help guarantee students will have access to information.

5. Involve various stakeholders in the updating process including but not limited to the LMS, teachers (inexperienced to veteran), administration, students, and community members.

Developing New Policies

The development of written information technology policies happens:

  • in small parts as new technologies and considerations develop and need to be added to existing policies
  • in places where there have been no policies in place at all
  • when the policies were so outdated that updating would be more time consuming than drafting new ones

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