Since the launch of VSL
Although small and not generalizable, the VSL data collected still may offer some insight into remote needs. Most questions come from educators and administrators. The questions center on information curriculum support, source use instruction, and virtual access. Specific to online reading literacy access and curriculum support questions have been generated from administrators, educators, and students. Database usage statistics will be reviewed to better decipher the needs of districts without school librarians. Those who collaborated appreciated the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s Commissioner Riley’s mention of the Virtual School Librarian in his Weekly Update, April 21, 2020.
Our efforts did take into consideration the MSLA membership concerns who asked if a district’s cost-saving efforts would replace active certified school librarians with the VSL site. The MSLA board pointed out that for now, research provides evidence that face-to-face rather than virtual education has better educational results. We then provided an editable copy of the Ask the librarian form for all MSLA members to build a virtual question capacity within their districts and to strengthen community relationships.
The Massachusetts School Library Association Advocacy Committee learned a lot throughout the building of the Virtual School Librarian website. Through our collaboration conversations, future considerations emerged. Those in MSLA need to better inform MBLC and MLS the curriculum and safety considerations school librarians must factor into managing and supporting a student population within an educational setting. We all realized better understandings will help to collectively petition for state and federal supports. Our data reaffirms, that while districts have public library access to State-funded databases, they are inefficacious without the instructional support and proper curriculum connections.
We do not know the future of the Virtual School Librarian site past the Covid-19 experience and a return to face-to-face learning. We certainly hope VSL helps our Massachusetts community. However, it is really only a band-aid for the larger issue of the need for a certified school librarian in each K-12 school library setting.