My question to reflect on is: How have you provided ongoing support for digital media including Internet sites, school or library sites, online encyclopedias and reference materials, and social networks such as facebooks and blogs.
I have made a few school websites over the past ten years and created my first library website four years ago. The ability to keep the library open longer (at least digitally) has been a net benefit to all users. I do not have the financial resources to keep my library open for very long after the school day is complete, neither do I have the time or resources to even have the library open during the lunch hour. The lowcost solution is providing digital access to my patrons. Just having students able to access the library catalog from home to plan their next library visit and know beforehand what they want to read has led to more successfull reading experiences for at least a few of my patrons. Now that my students have the ability to recommend, review and discuss books using their own personal profiles in DestinyQuest there is an added vibrancy and sense of community surrounding our library collection.
Providing the school community with access to Worldbook Online, The Encyclopedia of BC and Culturegram has been a great support to students and parents. A web presence with access to Internet links, databases, OPAC access, news and some advice has helped us begin our transformation into a learning commons. Our library is breaking down its physical walls despite the lack of resources to staff for longer hours before and after school.
Just as an aside, our working towards being more of a learning commons has also involved two open houses a year that are opportunities for parents to learn about and learn to use the digital resources from our school. We have also created a SMARTBoard equipped teaching area that is not only used with library classes but is access by classroom teachers and is used as the gather area for staff meetings, PAC meetings and various school clubs.
Providing access to Internet websites has been an ongoing challenge. Years ago I spent a good deal of time making links to websites. The amount of time and effort required to keep these resources organized, working and current was unsustainable. I have changed to providing teachers access to our school's home page in Destiny Library Manager so they can add links for their classroom and I maintain links that support what classroom teachers are doing for the school year and what I cover in my teaching. I often start new at the beginning of the school year. It is better to teach people good search skills then it is to anticipate all the possible resources students and teachers would want to access. I need better tools and knowledge if I am to re-engage in the process of organizing Internet websites.
There are some tremendous digital resources out there. Access to cataloged streaming video web services is something I highly desire but have no hope of affording. The challenge for elementary school libraries is the same everywhere. We need to maintain and renew our book collections which is extremely costly. Now we also have many costs associated with annual subscription fees for OPAC services and their added features and for the quality encyclopedias and databases to which we subscribe. We also have a great deal of computer equipment to purchase and maintain. Our funding has not kept pace with the services we need to offer.
In terms of social networking and blogs I have limited my students to the MyQuest accounts they have through DestinyQuest. I restrict this to grade 4 and 5 students. It is social networking environment that has a limited scope and can be easily monitored and restricted to our school community. Opening my students to a much wider world has not appealed to me at present as I feel uneasy about relinquishing control and feel they are too vulnerable. In my technology classes we talk a lot about social networking and use the Passport to the Internet curriculum. I can see this being expanded as I learn to access tools and sites that allow the creation of restricted online communites. We can only afford to use free resources and still we just have the pure limits of time and access to computers (one lab of 32 computers and another pod of 15 computers located in the library and 300 student users).