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Managing 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.

The objective of this lesson is to discuss the most effective ways to implement and monitor information technology policies and procedures in a school Library Media Center.

Legal Considerations in a School Library

Because a library should be an open resource for all within a school setting, there are legal considerations specific to a school Library Media Center. Intellectual freedom or the Constitutional right to both look for and find information from any point of view is a cornerstone for library services. Additionally, censorship or the removal of material that is considered objectionable is a sticky decision in the realm of a school library. Mostly because in 2000, the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) was enacted to require schools to implement certain filters to qualify for certain federal funds. Opponents argue this law limits the school's ability to provide free and open access to information. School libraries can often be caught in the middle of this debate.

Creating Information Technology Policies

When creating informational technology policies, the Library Media Specialist (LMS) has many duties, including:

  • an awareness of and ability to use various formats of informational and technology resources
  • a knowledge of how to access such information
  • consideration of legal, moral, district, and school laws/policies
  • adept knowledge of a student's legal rights to information free from censorship

Additionally, a LMS is often held responsible (legally and morally) for the policies that exist within a particular school library. The development of these policies should involve the input and approval from many stakeholders, yet a quality LMS knows that the purpose of his or her job is to protect a student's rights while balancing legal, district, and school requirements.

Implementation

Assuming you have a need for and have now created some policies to protect students' legal rights, it's time to implement them. In a school setting, the purpose for information technology policies serves various clienteles. How the policy is presented to administration, IT, teachers, staff, students, and other stakeholders will look different depending on the user's role.

There are times when a LMS is in charge of the filtering system a school uses. Other times, this is the administration or IT department. Whoever is in charge, it must be carefully checked to not over-filter. This infringes a student's rights to information. Additionally, administrative approval is needed when implenting a new policy. This ensures that there is a member of the district who is signing off on the policy as legal and acceptable for the students in the district.

Whenever possible, give teachers and staff adequate time to prepare for any changes that must be made on their end when a new policy is going into effect. There are few changes that must be made with such speed that there is no time to inform stakeholders.

For example, say the anatomy class gets to (legally) override the filter for their research on breast cancer. If the policy for opening the filtering software now requires a week's notice (instead of no notice like the teachers were used to), communicate early and often. This will protect the students' legal rights, but it also will make sure the library's policies aren't creating an unneeded strain on the users.

Remember, it is ineffective to implement a new policy without properly communicating it to those it affects. Setting everyone up for success is the goal of implementation.

Monitoring

Monitoring is the stage where you determine how effective the information technology policy is at achieving the designated goal. To do this, you must have already created and implemented the policy.

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