School libraries are evolving into complete resource and media centers, and the changing role of media specialists has become much more central to providing complete educational resources.

The Changing Role of Media Specialists

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At Millbrook Elementary School’s resource center, students Emily McCollum and Mickaela Atterberry couldn’t stop giggling and laughing as they played an interactive software program.

“It helps us learn,” said Emiliy, like her friend a second-grader. “It gets our brains working.”

The game was part of “Martha Speaks”  the PBS program that includes vocabulary words and is indeed designed to get young brains working with games and other activities.

Media specialist Michelle Goings said such resources can be fun for kids, even as they help them continue to improve their reading skills.

“We want our kids to be more engaged in the library,” she said. “It’s not just a place where they only can go and read. It’s also about active learning.”

In the last 20 years, media specialists have played a major role in the evolution of school libraries. Certainly the technology advances have expanded annually, but also in how the specialists work with classroom teachers. Jackson Middle School librarian Sally Brady recently worked with English teacher Kendra Brown on a science program. They introduced sixth-graders to electricity and to building circuits as a way to integrate science and language arts.

The Changing Role of Media Specialists

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Students at Kennedy Middle School stopped by the library on Friday morning – seeking recommendations from media specialist Michelle King on good books to read.

“That’s one of the favorite parts of my job,” she said. “I know what I have in here, and I ask them what they’re interested in, books that will connect to them.”

At South Aiken High School, Carole Wise has served as a media specialist since 1989. She was joined by Liesl Williams in 1998.

Each year, students bring about 6,000 “footprints” in their visits to the media center. That doesn’t include teachers bringing their classrooms for specific projects.

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