B.Sc.(Hons),Certified Cisco Associate,IFLA Designation: C.E.O of Virtual Soft International (Pvt) Ltd-SA Branch.




Introduction In modern times importance of library is well known library has proved as a powerhouse for information. The thirst for knowledge is increasing everyday at various levels and on various subjects .In the modern age recorded or communication knowledge is considered information. It has been growing at a very faster rate .In almost every fields of human activity to handle enormous amount of information library has to continuously search faster use more efficient and accurate device or tools for processing it. Access rather than ownership has become virtually the motto of library and information centres. Libraries must be active not passive in emphasizing the delivery of information rather than its storage. Libraries are now evaluated interms of what they offer than what they have. The need to transform the Library from a fortress into an information pipeline is growing and libraries must take a lead role in providing information otherwise its role will be usurped by other bodies like internet Cafes.School libraries as organizers of information cannot afford to ignore computers or approach them in a piecemeal fashion to do places the library at risk of becoming less valuable and less supportive of the school curriculum. The library media specialist is an essential link in a new educational learning community which includes students, teachers, administrators, and parents as well as local, regional, state, national, and international communities. The new learning community is not limited by time, place, age, occupation, or disciplinary borders but instead is linked by interests, needs, and a growing array of telecommunications technologies. As a teacher, the library media specialists works with students and other members of the learning community to analyze learning and information needs, to locate and use resources that will meet those needs, and to understand and communicate the information the resource provides. The library media specialist is knowledgeable about current research on teaching and learning and skilled in applying its findings to a variety of situations particularly those that call upon students to access, evaluate, and use information from multiple sources in order to learn, to think, and to create and to apply knowledge. In short, the library media specialist teaches students to use information for critical thinking and problem solving using the Information Literacy Standards for Student Learning set forth in Information Power, the national standards for school library media programs (ALA, 1998).

As an instructional partner, the library media specialist joins with teachers and others to identify links with curricular content, learning outcomes, student information needs, and information resources. Working with the entire school community, the library media specialist takes a leadership role in developing policies, practices, and curricula that guide students to develop the full range of information literacy skills. The library media specialist works closely with individual teachers in the critical area of designing authentic learning tasks and assessments and integrating the information and communication abilities required to meet subject matter standards. As an information specialist, the library media specialist provides expertise in acquiring and evaluating information resources in all formats; in bringing an awareness of information issues to teachers, administrators, students, and others; and modeling for students and others strategies for locating, access, and evaluating information within and beyond the library media center. Working in an environment that has been profoundly affected by technology, the library media specialist both masters sophisticated electronic resources and maintains a constant focus on the nature, quality, and ethical uses of information available in these and in more traditional tools.

As a program administrator, the library media specialist guides and directs all the activities related to the library media program. Confident of the importance of the effective use of information to students' personal and economic success in their future lives, the library media specialist is an advocate for the library media program and provides the knowledge, vision, and leadership to steer it creatively and energetically in the 21st century. Proficient in the management of staff, budgets, equipment, and facilities, the library media specialist plans, executes, and evaluates the program to ensure its quality and relevance in the learning community.

Gary Hartzell, professor of education at the University of Nebraska, refers to library media specialists as "invisible" professionals (1997). He argues that in many school districts, library media specialists should be participants in the decisions affecting technology, curriculum, and resources at the school and district level. He also points to the widespread trend of cutting library budgets and, in some cases, library media positions to ease school financial problems. Hartzell points out that there are very few courses in any major school of education in this country that focus on the use of library and information in learning and teaching. Few teacher training programs mention the roles of the library media program and the library and information professional at all. Some library media specialists are reluctant to promote themselves to fellow educators and the school administration because they do not clearly communicate the nature and role of library and information work. Library media specialists need to do a better job of clearly articulating their roles in preparing students for the information- and technology-rich workplace of the future. It is essential for library media specialists to commit themselves to the central principles that define their roles as information specialists and educators-helping students to achieve optimum use of information literacy.

What kinds of technology tools will be available to schools in the near future? Some trends appear clear-we will have more connectivity and technology that is customized to individual needs. Technology will be integrated seamlessly. Processing tools, communication tools, and information tools will be connected with common access mechanisms and interfaces. Clearly, future technology will present a special challenge and opportunity for education. Library media specialists are part of the solution. As noted, librarians are the original information specialists. We call this "the information perspective," and it means that library media specialists look at curriculum, assignments, and learning in terms of the information resources, processes, and technologies required for student success. Library media professionals have tried to teach students to consider the information resources they need and then to use the appropriate access technology to find resources and information. Library media specialists have been pioneers in teaching information skills and integrating technology skills into the information problem-solving process. One of the most popular approaches to integrated information and technology skills is the Big6 approach, developed by Mike Eisenberg and Bob Berkowitz (1988). The Big6 approach is a six stage, non-linear model for information problem-solving. The Big6 and other models of the information process (such as those by Kuhlthau, 1993; Stripling and Pitts, 1988; and Pappas and Tepe, 1995) define the path

that students take to solve information problems. When the focus is on the problem-solving aspects of learning, technology assumes its rightful place as a tool.

The changing role of technology in education will increase opportunities for information literacy educators. As technology becomes more prevalent in learning and teaching, there is even a greater need for information, library, and technology work in schools. The word "disintermediation" is discussed in reference to future technologies. Disintermediation is the idea that as technology becomes more advanced, users will no longer require assistance to use it (Gillian, 1996). The development of the World Wide Web has revealed a very different story. We have seen a dramatic increase in the use of question-and-answer services (such as Ask ERIC, in the past five years. As the Web becomes more complex, users need more help to find what they want. Information and technology specialists are well equipped to help users find information.

* Principle One: School libraries have no boundaries. The "library" is not a place; rather, library is everywhere. This means that school library media specialists should not be cloistered within the walls of the library and within the constraints of scheduled library time. Beyond the school environment, students will need to make library skills part of their daily lives. Information problem-solving skills help students on a daily basis. * Principle Two: Library and information professionals should be flexible. In the opening chapter of Information Power: Building Partnerships for Learning, the authors describe a vision of the library media specialist in the information-rich society of the future. In their view, library media specialists of the future will need to wear many professional hats. These roles include four basic categories: teacher, instructional partner, information specialist, and program administrator (1998). * Principle Three: Ensure that students are effective users of ideas and information. This principle describes the central vision of Information Power. This is also one of the central tenants of the library profession. Additionally, it highlights the most important and enduring role that the library media specialist plays within the school-that of the provider of information services and skills instruction. All members of the school community need to understand that the library media specialist is uniquely qualified, valuable, and able to provide essential information literacy instruction and valuable information services. * Principle Four: Information is everywhere, essential, and central. Principle Four and Principle One are closely related. Information resources exist inside and outside the library. Students need to master the information literacy skills they will use in everyday life. The idea that information is everywhere is a basic premise of information literacy (Spitzer, Eisenberg & Lowe, 1998).

Educators must assume a leadership role to ensure students learn. But how can we make this vision a reality? Here are a few steps for library media specialists to consider in creating a promising future: * Learn and absorb: Read and learn about information literacy and share that knowledge with * Get involved: Become actively involved in the information and technology program. Other teachers, administrators, and parents need to become aware of the importance of library media efforts to help students learn essential skills. * Be a leader: Assume an active role in decision-making and planning. Become involved with your school's technology committee, and come to meetings with your own vision of what the school's technology policy should contain. These efforts are not optional. As educators, it is our responsibility to equip our students with the skills and understanding they will need. Clearly, this task will require high-quality library and information technology programs to meet students' needs in schools or in electronic, networked, or virtual learning environments.

VIRTUAL SOFT INTERNATIONAL AROUND SOUTHERN AFRICA We have gone to nations around the SADC region especially Swaziland, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Lesotho initiating what we call SCHOOL ICT DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS which includes the following activities per school: • •
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Library Automation. Digital Library Setting and Development. Design of an interactive Database Driven School Website with e-learning facilities. Supply and Installation of four Interactive Whiteboards per School. Intensive Training of school librarians. Educational Softwares i.e. the Digital Schools Initiative. Training of Teachers on ICTs in Education Grade Book and School Management System.

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Here in South Africa we are currently initiating our School ICT Projects currently undertaken in the Gauteng and Mpumalanga provinces for FREE respectively.Schools can contact our Public Relations and Customer Services Departments to book for the project. However our challenges are the following:
1. Capacity. There are many schools in SA and around SADC countries that need this

project, however the company needs more ICT tools to freely serve all schools i.e. Sufficient Funding or Sponsorship. 2. Attitude.ICT use changing schools? No educator involved in schools during the past decade could be oblivious to the expanding body of literature surrounding the introduction of computers into classrooms. Their own knowledge of this new tool was limited, and teaching styles and expected educational outcomes seldom included using computers. For those who were early excited about the possibilities of information and communication technologies, frequent opportunities arose to meet and discuss ways computers could be used to enhance classroom activities 3. Lack of a conducive ICT infrastructure for the project at the school. 4. Need of strong vehicles to reach remote schools. 5. Internet connectivity is not consistent bringing challenges to the adoption of our elearning initiatives. The information community is about connectivity. Virtual Soft International is currently doing an e-schools project whereby the sharing of knowledge and internet based learning through the school website is the ultimate motto. Our aim is to see schools being Information Ecosystems which has the appropriate ICT infrastructure inhabited by information literate citizens with the School Library Media Specialist being the node of every ICT related development within the school. THANK YOU

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