New York Library Association. - The eBulletin

Texting School Librarian Connects Students with the Library

By Sue Kowalski, School Librarian Pine Grove Middle School

Seldom a conversation happens these days without mentioning Twitter, Facebook, texting, blogs, YouTube and other avenues for social media.  When I see something go viral in minutes, it seems only logical to tap into such forums to get the word out about our school library.   As educators we have to balance student safety and responsibility with the opportunities social media put at our fingertips.  

Personally, I would rather err on the side of exposure to social media with guidance, support, and instruction for safe use as opposed to eliminating access for appropriate communication tools. There isn't one simple formula. Provide unlimited access to various outlets and risk dangerous and inappropriate exchanges taking place: limit access to these conversations and we are stifling opportunities for valuable and productive collaboration.    

At Pine Grove Middle School in the East Syracuse – Minoa Central School District, I've had success with a program called Textmarks where I can send messages to a list of subscribers via text message and can use to promote activities, contests, and services available at the library.   Many teachers use it as well for homework reminders, conversation starters, and resource distribution. I've also used it for ski club and various field trip groups. I'm active on Twitter and have acquired some student followers on that as well and the interest seems to be growing in that circle. Though a possible Facebook page for the library caused some concern, our initial go at it yielded little interactions.  We may try again with a renewed focus and increased student ownership.  Many of our teachers use blogs and wiki as collaborative environments as well with a focus on idea exchange and sharing with an authentic audience.  Our District has an active Facebook page as well as a Twitter account and both of these forums provide ways to promote student achievements, recognitions, news feeds, and opportunities for collaboration.  As a school librarian I am always on a mission to efficiently provide outreach and solicit feedback to and from my stakeholders.   Safe and thoughtful use of social media can provide powerful opportunities for this to happen and be a tremendous vehicle for libraries.

Following Sue Kowalski on twitter @spkowalski