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Librarians' roles are changing with the Common Core
THURSDAY, MAY 28, 2015 17:22 PM

One of the most important themes within the Common Core State Standards is their focus on college and career readiness. Whereas many high school curricula previously focused on giving students the tools they needed to graduate, the Common Core aims to better prepare students for what lies ahead. And it isn't solely teachers who are shifting their methods for these new learning objectives - the change is actually affecting librarians as well. Here's how librarians fit into the Common Core:

Assisting students with informational texts
A major focus on nonfiction and informational texts is one of the key shifts in the Common Core Standards across all subjects. In fact, by the time students are in their last year of high school, they should be reading about 70 percent informational and 30 percent literary texts. Librarians are uniquely qualified to take on this shifting focus to informational texts. They can work with teachers to choose engaging nonfiction reading that has a clear point of view for their lesson plans. Plus, they are able to work directly with students to find, comprehend and analyze texts they may need for a school project or research paper.

Recent research from the Library Research Service found that librarians can greatly affect students' overall reading skills. The study, which looked at schools in Colorado, discovered that students at schools with endorsed librarians scored better on standardized reading tests than students who didn't have access to a librarian. With the Common Core's emphasis on reading comprehension, this means librarians are more important than ever.

Teaching research and technology skills 
Hand in hand with helping students discover informational texts is teaching them how to find effective sources on their own. What type of primary source should they use for a project on the Revolutionary War? And how can they take advantage of the library's resources to find it? 

This also means instructing students on using technology for research. In many schools, the library and media lab are the only rooms with computers, which means librarians are often in charge of teaching students to look for and use online sources. And since students these days are already experts in using technology and searching the Internet, librarians should now be teaching students to differentiate between reliable sources and questionable ones, as well as helping teachers integrate technology into their lesson plans in unique and interesting ways. 

Librarians can have a great impact on students' overall learning, but they should also be used as a resource for teachers, administrators and school districts as they're trying to build Core-aligned curricula, lesson plans and projects.