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I have discovered the same thing with our students.  I am now including
very detailed instruction on using OPAC with our big 9th grade  research
project.  The students are continually amazed to learn about some of the
features.  And it is certainly not for lacking of teaching prior to high
school.  I can tell you exactly what the problem is .  In our elementary
and middle school, there have never been a sufficient number of
computers in the libraries to accomodate full classes of students.  The
students are certainly taught how to use OPAC.  However - when it comes
time for the children to practice what they were just taught - there are
only 2 computers for them to use.  Consequently - they have virtually no
opportunity to practice the skill they just learned about.
Additionally - since most of their library time is in large groups -
students continue to have very limited access to OPAC .  They have to
rely on their own ability/willingness to browse or ask a library staff
person for help.

I think districts sometimes fall into a trap.  Money is limited - so
they decide to start out with the high school libraries.  Problem with
that is that they often never get around to providing the same number of
terminals for the lower grade level libraries.  Or they decide to outfit
only an instructional computer lab, figuring that the libraries can
share the computers with everyone else in the school.  They often don't
comprehend that access to books is via computer as well and needs to be
available to students consistently at point of need.  Those of us in
this situation really need to advocate for increasing the number of
computer terminals in ALL school libraries, no matter what grade level -
so that students at all levels can practice the skills consistently.
Computers are the gateway to ALL our materials - whether print or
online.  Libraries with too few computers can't help but give the
message to students that books are just too hard to deal with and it is
easier to go to Google and be done with it.

Currently, as the high school librarian, I am trying to advocate for
the elem and middle school libraries through the district curriculum
committee.  Our Technology Committee seems to be a rather closed group -
but I plan to see how I can reach them as well.  Hopefully the "powers
that be" will begin to understand the problem.

I will be very interested in seeing a hit on this topic!


"The Librarian, whose job is to heal ignorance, to keep life safe for
poetry and to put knowledge smack dab in the middle of the American

From The Philadelphia Inquirer, 9-20-03
Jacquie Henry, MLS
Ruben A. Cirillo High School (GHS)
Gananda Central School District
3195 Wiedrick Road
Macedon, NY  14502

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