School librarians help provide needed digital citizenship skills

For Immediate Release
Tue, 11/29/2011

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CHICAGO – According to supplemental questions asked as part of the 2011 School Libraries Count! (SLC) national longitudinal survey of school library programs conducted by the American Association of School Librarians (AASL), an overwhelming majority of schools across America are including digital citizenship – appropriate and responsible technology use - as part of their curriculum. Survey findings also indicate the school librarian serves as one of the primary educators when it comes to digital citizenship.

Seventy-one percent of school librarians surveyed as part of SLC responded that digital citizenship is included as part of their school or district curriculum and 52 percent indicated they were the primary teacher in their school or district.  Collaborative efforts between school librarians and other educators within the school were also reported, including those between school librarians and classroom teachers (36 percent) and school librarians, classroom teachers and technology instructors (33 percent).  Eighty percent of respondents preferred this collaborative approach to teaching digital citizenship, however, while 42 percent of respondents indicated a lack of a collaborative curriculum as the biggest barrier to instruction. 

When asked what areas of digital citizenship are incorporated into the curriculum, the more traditional citizenship content of plagiarism, copyright and creative commons garnered the highest response, 95 percent.  The more common school library program materials  that teach how to evaluate electronic content received 85 percent of responses.   Cheating and dishonesty were the top two behaviors addressed (82 and 79 percent respectively) in digital citizenship curriculum.

With regard to online safety, frequently taught curriculum areas included electronic responsibility for actions and deeds (79 percent); cyber-bullying, harassment and stalking (70 percent); electronic precautions to guarantee safety, including personal information sharing (68 percent); and appropriate postings on social networking sites (47 percent).  While bullying is often included in digital citizen instruction (72 percent), other malignant behaviors such as slander (32 percent) and hacking (24 percent) are included less often.

The School Libraries Count! National Longitudinal Survey of School Library Programs aims to gather data on changes in the field to gain understanding of the state of school library programs nationally. While national estimates are developed on the basis of survey responses from public schools, all K-12 schools, public and private, were invited to participate on a voluntary basis.  In addition to annual survey questions, starting in 2008, AASL began adding supplemental questions to address a current issue within the school library field. In 2011 AASL focused these questions on Digital Citizenship. Data on this and previous School Libraries Count! longitudinal studies can be found at www.ala.org/aasl/slcsurvey.

The American Association of School Librarians, www.aasl.org, a division of the American Library Association (ALA), promotes the improvement and extension of library services in elementary and secondary schools as a means of strengthening the total education program. Its mission is to advocate excellence, facilitate change and develop leaders in the school library field.