Hannah Gbenro

Tacoma, WA

Interests: 21st century learning,...

  • Posted 2 Years ago
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Library Programs & Future Ready Learning

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The world has changed around us. Think about what you’ll do this Friday night. Me? I’ll probably stream a video on Netflix and order pizza delivery on my phone. Ten years ago, I would have driven to the video store and picked up a pizza next door. Many people have changed the way they shop, too – I rarely go to the store. My primary stores are Amazon (which delivers) and Safeway (which delivers). Our patterns, lives and priorities have changed.

Too often, educational leaders talk about what 21st schools should look like – the reality is that we are 15 percent of the way through the 21st century already and the majority of our students have only lived in the 21st century

Just as many of us have changed our patterns, lives and priorities outside of the school setting, we need to identify how to make that shift within our schools and work lives. Some schools are leveraging teacher librarians as information literacy specialists in today’s Age of Information. Teacher Librarians are leading the way with digital literacy supports for classroom teachers and students to truly transform our schools and support Future Ready learning. 

What is digital literacy?

Digital literacy is “the ability to use information and communication technologies to find, evaluate, create, and communicate information, requiring both cognitive and technical skills” (Visser, 2012).

“The power of individual digital media—a printing press and television production studio in your pocket—is truly active only when the power is accompanied by the new social skills that apply to networked publics. Knowing how to craft a blog post, edit a Wikipedia page, edit and upload a video is only part of the picture. Now we need to know how to behave in an online community, grow a personal learning network, and ethically share cultural productions…where else but the school library, and who else but school librarians are better equipped to facilitate these new literacies?” (Rheingold, 2012)

Which districts are leading the way?

All of these district are moving, or have moved, to a model where teacher librarians are the site-based leaders around digital literacy. Many districts are calling this a transition to Future Ready Libraries or Libraries of the Future, which goes hand-in hand with the recent National Educational Technology Plan supporting Future Ready Learning (released December, 2015). 

Note: If your district has, or is moving toward, a Future Ready Library Model please note it in the comments.

What’s so different about this idea of a Future Ready Library?

In general, here are some of the trends though the logistics are different within each district…


Traditional Library Program

Future Ready Library Program

Role of Teacher Librarian

Teacher Librarians teach, or co-teach classes in the library. Many of them teach lessons around digital citizenship, research, literacy supports, etc.

Sometimes Teacher Librarians are used for “coverage” to provide classroom teachers with planning time. (This is often seen at the elementary level.)

Teacher Librarians push into classrooms to co-plan and co-teach content specific lessons that integrate technology.

 Teacher Librarians have a role similar to many instructional coaches; they’re valued for their expertise in instruction, assessment, and digital literacy.


The library is often used by Teacher Librarians to teach, and co-teach, lessons. Students checkout books from the Teacher Librarian or a clerk.

A clerk often coordinates more traditional activities in the library such as book check-in/check-out, small group student access to databases, etc.

It’s an exciting time to transform our learning landscape to support Future Ready Learning! 

Questions to ponder:

  • How are your students the same/different than 20 years ago (in the mid-1990s)? How is the way your students learn the same/different than 20 years ago?
  • How’s your classroom/school the same/different than 20 years ago (in the mid-1990s)?
  • In your school/district…
    • How has the role of classroom teachers shifted over the last 20 years?
    • How has the role of Teacher Librarians shifted over the last 20 years?


Rheingold, H. (2012). Stewards of Digital Literacies. Knowledge Quest,41(1), 52-55.

Visser, M. (2012). Digital literacy definition. ALA Connect. Retrieved from http://connect.ala.org/note/181197

Hannah Gbenro is a doctoral candidate in Educational Leadership at Seattle University and a Project Manager on Special Assignment for Instructional Technology in Washington State. She's served as an elementary dean of students/principal designee, middle school assistant principal, high school teacher, and K-12 district instructional technology specialist. Hannah is an ASCD Emerging Leader (2011) and serves on the Board of Directors for Washington State ASCD. Contact: HannahGbenro@gmail.com

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