Digital Libraries in Schools: The Best Practices of National Board Certified Library Media Specialists

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This study investigated the digital library integration behaviors of school library media specialists (SLMSs) who have achieved certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS). A qualitative interview study design was chosen to convert tacit knowledge related to digital library use into explicit knowledge that can be shared with others. The goal of this research was to identify behaviors and techniques that exemplary SLMSs share when using digital libraries to support the curriculum in K-12 schools.

The researcher interviewed and collected artifacts from 10 local National Board certified SLMSs and analyzed the resulting transcripts and materials using thematic analysis. A preliminary coding scheme was derived from the NBPTS Library Media technology innovation standard, which requires candidates to demonstrate expertise in providing technology access, teaching effective technology use, engaging learners with technology, and using technology to enhance the curriculum. Themes related to these four areas emerged from the data, as did sub-themes in the form of barriers the SLMSs encountered and strategies they developed to meet the standard. The barriers are discussed using Ertmer's (1999) first- and second-order classifications. The strategies are the SLMSs' best practices.

To provide digital library access the SLMSs made themselves and their assistants available to learners; demonstrated mental and resource flexibility when they encountered obstacles; and, implemented creative funding strategies. To teach digital library use they used the research process to help students bridge knowledge learned in various contexts; provided training; remained abreast of digital library innovations; and, offered suggestions to product developers. To maintain engagement with digital libraries they used proven teaching techniques that build on strong instructional design principles. Finally, they relied on collaborative relationships when integrating digital libraries. They increased collaboration by building trust among colleagues; extending their reach beyond the SLMC in person and virtually, diversifying their role within the school, and gathering curriculum information to incorporate information literacy skills into lessons.

Key implications: encourage SLMS-teacher collaboration, build a knowledge management system that captures expertise and supports SLMS communication, reconsider blocking social networking tools in schools to bridge the disconnect between students' home and school information-related behaviors.