Students are increasingly turning to digital forms of educational material.

For generations of Australian students, the school library was a staple of daily life. Whenever kids had a book they wanted to read or a topic they wanted to research, the library was right down the hall. Now, the paradigm is starting to shift.

Students can read entire books online without ever venturing away from their computer screens.

But does this mean libraries will die out entirely? Or, alternatively, does it mean they should shift their priorities and become allies with the 21st century student? There's still a clear opportunity for schools to provide students with resources they can use to enrich their education and their lives. It just might require a new, digital-first approach.

How should libraries look in the 21st century

As digital technology continues to improve, and students become increasingly comfortable getting information in other places beyond libraries, it becomes important that school systems evolve and find ways to keep up.

According to the ACT Government, one fundamental way to do this is to present the library as "the centre of knowledge creation and knowledge consumption." In other words, the internet is out there to be used, and that should be acknowledged, but librarians should be there to guide the process and help students get more out of their time online.

We may be moving toward an era in which self-directed learning is king, but we're not there yet. Students still need to be taught how to find the most enriching educational materials online. Where can they find reliable, useful information, and where will they only find noise they should be tuning out? How can they tell the difference? If students attend schools with good library management systems and savvy librarians overseeing them, it will be easier to answer these questions.

The changing role of the librarian

Libraries need to evolve if they're going to stay relevant in the 21st century; so, too, do the librarians running them.

Teachers need to be more hands-on with managing libraries nowadays.Teachers need to be more hands-on with managing libraries nowadays.

It's crucial that library professionals reshape their skill sets if they want to stay relevant. According to survey data from the Australian Council for Education Research (ACER), the number of teacher librarians in primary schools dropped from 5,600 to 1,300 between the years 2010 and 2013. This means that many schools find themselves trying to operate libraries with a lot less manpower, which can be taxing.

We're fast approaching an era in which educators need to wear multiple hats, effectively serving in "teacher librarian" roles. ACER found that there's a positive correlation between student achievement and access to an effectively managed, well resourced library. Even if there aren't many staff members around to keep libraries humming along, someone has to step up.

eReserve Plus makes the process more efficient

Whenever you're looking to tackle any job with less manpower than you're accustomed to, it's essential to find shortcuts to improve efficiency. Running a library is no exception to that rule – you need a library management system that will save educators time and alleviate their headaches about curating educational materials.

That's what eReserve Plus can be. As a streamlined tool for managing books and other resources while handling copyright compliance issues, eReserve Plus will save educators many hours of work in the long run, making it easy to compile reading lists and maintain compliance all the while.

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