Pasco Schools Aim for More Modern Media Centers

While going through the Sunday paper I cam across this article on the front page of the Pasco Times section of the Tampa Bay Times.  Last year, the Pasco School Board decided to remove Media Specialists from the Media Center in an effort to balance the budget, which resulted in an outcry of support for the men and women who hold those positions.  You can read my post on it and find links to the articles I was able to find here.

The title of the print version of the article is what caught me eye: Media center? So last year…

Wait, what?

“After rewriting media specialists’ jobs, Pasco County school officials have turned to redesigning media centers,” the article says.   Ohh, now that makes more sense.  I think.

It seems the goal is “to ensure that the rooms are more than stacks of infrequently used books.”  I thought that’s what they already were.  I seem to recall the media center at my high school having three corrals of computers for students who came into the media center could use, and a lab stationed in the fiction section for teaching classes.  Plus, a futon and an area with comfy chairs in front of the magazines.  That sounds like more than just infrequently used books to me.

In this revamping one elementary school used the books in the media center to make classroom library’s to support a new reading program.  According to the article, the media center now only has a single shelf of nonfiction books.  Fiction books that didn’t go to classrooms are now in the old computer lab, now a reading room.  And the computers?  They went to classrooms too.  The media center now has a circle of leather chairs for group conversations, and it has become a place for lessons with whiteboards, smart boards, projectors, and moveable furniture.  Now all that new stuff sounds great, but why get rid of the books?  Couldn’t all that new stuff have been added to enhance what was already there?  Students now only have access to the books in their classroom instead of all the books the school posses.

Some of the ideas mentioned sound great, and keep with what public libraries are trying to do.  But one idea sounded awfully familiar to me. “Another is to become a productivity center, where students can come to find materials and then use the available technology and expertise to do their work.”  I don’t know about you, but that’s what my media center was like throughout school when I lived in Florida (my schools in New Jersey barely had a library, one didn’t have a librarian, I don’t know about the others, but that’s a whole different discussion).

I’m all for them revamping media centers to add more technology, more computers, those smart boards, and having more collaborative learning there, but removing the books is kind of counter productive if you want students to go there to use the resources.  I await more news on this front to see how this is going to go over county wide, or if this is going to come back and bite the school board on the butt like a lot of people think it is.  After all, revamping media center and making them a fun learning environment with lots of resources is useless with out a media specialist in it.

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