3 Important Takeaways on the Future of School Libraries

3 Important Takeaways on the Future of School Libraries | At SLJ Leadership Summit 2016, the future of libraries was an issue that was front and center.  Here are my three takeaways from the event.

The future of school libraries is something that I spend a lot of time thinking about.  In October, I had the honor and privilege of attending School Library Journal Leadership Summit in Washington, DC.  As I looked back over my notes from the event, I realized that our future was front and center in all the topics discussed.  Here’s my top three takeaways from the event.

Takeaways from SLJ Summit 2016 and the Future of School Libraries

There were many sessions and activities throughout SLJ Summit.  There were amazing keynotes, fantastic panels, a makerspace playground and lots of social events.  While not always a direct issue, pretty much every session was looking ahead to the future of libraries (and education) in one way or another.

My Sketchnotes from the opening keynote

My Sketchnotes from the opening keynote

Our students need a sense of purpose (and so do we)

Karim Abouelnaga‘s opening keynote was powerful.  His personal story was inspiring.  The emphasis of his talk was on the power of having purpose.  It’s critical for us as librarians to ask ourselves the questions:

  • Why is this important to me right now?
  • Why am I the right person to be doing this work right now?

It’s crucial for us to have a sense of purpose in all that we do.  We also need to instill that purpose in our students.  Too many of our kids fall behind because they see no reason to be in school, no purpose for their presence there.  We need to find a way to reach ALL of our students and help them find purpose.

We need to find a way to reach ALL of our students and help them find purpose. Click To Tweet

STEAM in the library is still a growing field

At the Hackathon event, groups worked together to brainstorm solutions to various problems in the school library world.  The table I was at focused on STEAM.  Having been at a STEM magnet school for seven years and running a makerspace for three years, I realized that I had become somewhat out of touch with how many people are still struggling to integrate STEAM into their program.

Many of the people at our table shared about the need for resources, mentors and exemplar programs.  I’ve done a lot to share about my program and others on this blog and through other platforms, but I’ve realized that there’s still a lot more work to be done.  We talked about creating a digital, searchable platform that would have curated STEAM resources.  I’m working on finding a way to make this a reality 🙂

ESSA has huge potential and we need to be advocates

There was a LOT of talk about the Every Student Succeeds Act throughout the conference.  I was really encouraged by the fact that it includes a lot of language that recognizes the importance of school libraries and our roles in education.  It’s vital for us to become well versed in ESSA and to become advocates within our districts and states.  A lot of funding will be left on the table if we don’t act.  As was mentioned during From Policy to Placemaking, we can’t just “stand behind our desks and hope”.  We need to get out there and be advocates for our programs, our schools and our students.  Change won’t happen if we just sit around waiting for it to come.

We need to get out there and be advocates for our programs, our schools and our students. Click To Tweet

Diana Rendina, MLIS, is the media specialist at Tampa Preparatory School, an independent 6-12 in Tampa, FL. Previously, she was the media specialist at Stewart Middle Magnet School for seven years, where she founded their library makerspace. She is the creator of the blog RenovatedLearning.com & is also a monthly contributor to AASL Knowledge Quest. Diana is the winner of the 2016 ISTE Outstanding Young Educator Award, the 2015 ISTE Librarians Network Secondary Award, the 2015 AASL Frances Henne Award & the 2015 SLJ Build Something Bold Award. She is an international speaker on the Maker Movement and has presented at conferences including AASL, FETC & ISTE. Diana co-authored Challenge-Based Learning in the School Library Makerspace with Colleen and Aaron Graves and is also the author Reimagining Library Spaces: Transform Your Space on Any Budget.