Should librarians be the keeper of edtech? One blogger says yes, others disagree

Doug Johnson at the Blue Skunk Blog opines that primary school "library media specialists" (formerly known as librarians) are the best folks to manage education technology in K12 schools.
Written by ZDNET Editors, Contributor on

Doug Johnson at the Blue Skunk Blog opines that K12  "library media specialists" (formerly known as librarians) are the best folks to manage education technology in K12 schools. His lists of reasons suggests a divide between schools' tech coordinators and educators. The librarian is essentially the diplomat in the middle, cajoling teachers into embracing tech and reminding the techies the "ed" in "edtech" describe not where they work but why they work there.


1. Librarians have a healthy attitude toward technology. The LMS considers and teaches not just how to use technology, but why and under what circumstances it should be used.


2. Librarians are understanding and empathetic when technologically related stress occurs in the classroom.

3. Librarians view technology as just one more, extremely powerful tool that can be used by students completing well-designed information literacy projects. Many “technologists” are just now getting this.

4. Librarian have become excellent collaborators with classroom teachers, successfully strengthening the curriculum with information literacy projects.

5. Librarians are familiar and comfortable with technology. The library’s automated library catalogs, circulation systems, electronic reference materials, and student accessible workstations all showed up well before classroom technologies.

6. Librarians can teach and train teachers to use technology. A flexibly scheduled LMS is a real asset to teachers learning to use or integrate technology. The LMS can work with the teacher in the library, lab or classroom. The LMS is available for questions that might otherwise derail a teacher’s application of technology.

7. Next to the principal, the LMS has the most inclusive view of the school and its resources. The LMS can make recommendations on where technology needs to be placed or upgraded.

8. Librarians uniquely understand how to vet online resources. Students will need to have the skills to self-evaluate information; understand online copyright laws and intellectual property issues; and follow the rules of safety and appropriate use of resources. Who but the librarian worries about this stuff?

Some of Johnson's readers agree, some find it a hoot. John Thompson wrote:

Glad that you have such a positive view of your profession. Unfortunately, my prior K12 experience does not bear out your views or your assumptions or your conclusions, Doug. IMHO, it's not really the position or job title that is important. It's finding the right individual in each school. Putting any one job title in charge of tech based soley on the job title alone is suspect. Better to find that one right person and give him/her the respect and support to get the job done.

 And Brian Crobsy notes:

 In some schools where I've taught I would agree - but in others (including where I am now) - I couldn't think of a worse person on staff to handle that responsibility. Elementary librarians in my district are not certified - are paid as classified employees - don't show up until the first day of school - library doesn't open until the second week of school - closed Monday mornings for librarian meetings - close the library 2 - 3 weeks before school is out to check in all the books and do inventory - leave after lunch the last day of school.

 Still, says Chris Harris, all too often tech coordinators lose sight of the educational goals of technology.

I "escaped" from the inst. technology world a bit over a year ago and my worldview has changed quite a bit from being in the library world. Last week I was asked to present on new programs to technology coordinators from the region. As I sat waiting, I heard the tech coordiantors talking about nothing but security and locking things down. It wasn't about meeting student needs, but rather about preventing students from doing anything "bad." What a negative view, and so very different from the librarian perspective!


Editorial standards