San José State University School of Information assistant professor Dr. Mary Ann Harlan gave a keynote presentation at the California School Library Association Southern Region’s Fall 2016 Workshop on the importance of teacher librarians and information literacy.
In “Navigating the Future Now,” Harlan discussed the positive characteristics of librarians functioning as educators. According to the Library Research Service, studies conducted over the past two decades in Colorado and across the country show students in schools that have endorsed librarians score better on standardized achievement tests in reading compared with students in schools that don’t.
Having endorsed librarians in schools, where they can mentor students in information literacy, teaching the skills to critically process and use information, does more than improve test scores. Information mentors also support the “democratic ideals of informed citizenry,” Harlan said.
As she noted, information literacy isn’t neutral. “Books and other library resources should be provided for the interest, information and enlightenment of all people of the community the library serves. Materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation,” Harlan said.
Harlan will be attending the 2017 CSLA Conference coming up in February. She encourages current students, future students and alumni to join her for the iSchool meet-and-greet.
“It’s a good time to network with both classmates and alumni in the field,” she said. “I usually can make introductions to people in the field to current students, especially if they are geographically close or share similar professional interests."