Libraries have existed for millennia. Their purpose has always been focussed on knowledge acquisition and sharing for the development of society. In the 21st century, school libraries are re-engineering themselves to focus on learning, curriculum and the skills needed for 21st century learning.
The evolution of school libraries into flexible, dynamic, high-tech learning centres designed to prepare students as responsible digital citizens to function effectively in a complex information landscape is dependent on visionary leadership and strategic planning to reach this level of functionality.
The concept of a knowledge commons or learning commons becomes the physical and virtual catalyst for inquiry, imagination, discovery, creativity and innovation. The school library becomes the hub for networking, information access, digital literacy instruction, learning and knowledge creation – a shared space for all students and the school community.
The advantage of a ‘commons’ approach is it provides an opportunity to re-engineer the school library into a place/space that brings together the library, information technology and a qualified team of information, technology and learning staff whose combined knowledge, skills and expertise collectively support the integration of 21st century learning into the curriculum.
The new mission of teacher librarians is a return to the original purpose of libraries, that is “to improve society through facilitating knowledge creation in their communities” (Lankes, R. D.)
In The Atlas of New Librarianship, R. David Lankes offers a guide to this new landscape for practitioners. He describes a new librarianship based not on books and artifacts but on knowledge and learning.