Thursday, January 29, 2009

'21st Century Media Center' Video

'21st Century Media Center' Video Drives Home the Need for Certified Library Media Specialists in Michigan Schools 2009 January

More than three years in the making, the Library of Michigan and Michigan Department of Education today announced the availability of the "21st Century Media Center" video, a collaborative effort showcasing the essential need for fully supported school library media centers with qualified staff - all for the benefit of Michigan's K-12 students' educational success.

The full video is geared toward the stakeholders who influence school library media programs in Michigan schools (superintendents, building-level administrators, school boards, parent groups, community leaders, legislators and educational associations) and can be viewed at

State Librarian Nancy Robertson applauded the efforts of Library of Michigan and Department of Education staff, along with partners that included the Michigan Association for Media in Education, the Michigan Association for Computer Users in Learning, Wayne State University, and representatives from several intermediate school districts and regional educational media centers.

"We started in the summer of 2005 with the simple question of what could we at the Library of Michigan do to best support school library media centers and powerfully tell the story of just how valuable these centers are?" explained Robertson. "We invited people to the table who made sense to be a part of the planning process, people from the K-12 and university learning communities, the ones who see firsthand and understand the variety of educational challenges facing today's students."

The Michigan School Library Initiative Group, as it came to be called, met twice that first year for preliminary discussions. As more members joined the group, Robertson said it made sense to divide the focus into two areas: a standards subcommittee, to focus on "Guidelines for Michigan Library Media Programs," a document crafted in 2003 by the Michigan Association for Media in Education; and a marketing subcommittee geared toward finding the "right product" to best illustrate the value of school library media center standards and programs.

According to the Partnership for 21st Century Skills - an organization which seeks to position 21st Century skills at the center of U.S. K-12 education by building collaborative partnerships among education, business, community and government leaders - today's schools must align classroom environments with real-world environments by infusing the following skills:

* Information, media literacy and communication skills;
* Thinking and problem-solving (critical thinking and systems thinking; problem identification, formulation and solution; creativity and intellectual curiosity);
* Interpersonal and self-direction skills (interpersonal and collaborative skills; self-direction; accountability and adaptability; social responsibility);
* Global awareness;
* Financial, economic and business literacy, and developing entrepreneurial skills to enhance workplace productivity and career options; and
* Civic literacy

Robertson believes that properly staffed school media centers are indeed the best place to nurture such skills for today's students. "There is so much information out there and available to kids today, and not all of it good," she said. "It's not about just clicking the mouse and seeing what answers you can find; it's about learning how to navigate myriad informational resources and developing the 21st-century analytical skills that will help students of any age determine a course of action."

Robertson said that the Michigan School Library Initiative Group felt a video would be the most powerful and accessible tool with which to education the stakeholders it was targeting, because it would be simple to include a variety of illustrative examples on the benefits of school media centers, and it would also be easy to make the video accessible to a very wide audience. She commended the efforts of Nancy Larsen, Clarkston Community Schools media specialist, who wrote the script; and video specialist Mike Maison of the St. Clair County Intermediate School District, who was integral to seeing the production through to completion.

"This is a compelling video that clearly tells the story of why school library media centers matter a great deal to the success of Michigan's K-12 students," said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Mike Flanagan. "If Michigan is to turn out highly educated and information-savvy students who can confidently make their way in life, in business or in any setting, then our school media centers must be considered an integral part of the education process."

Robertson agreed. "This is a conversation we must have over and over and over again, with statewide educational associations, parents, teachers, government officials and anyone else who cares about the educational success of our kids," she said. "Our schools need and rely upon well-funded and fully staffed library programs, and it's a need that our kids can't afford for us to ignore."

The Library of Michigan is part of the Department of History, Arts and Libraries (HAL). HAL is dedicated to enriching quality of life and strengthening the economy by providing access to information, preserving and promoting Michigan's heritage and fostering cultural creativity. The Department also includes the Mackinac Island State Park Commission, the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and the Michigan Historical Center. For more information, visit

Read more press releases from the Department of History, Arts and Libraries (HAL).