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College of Information and Communications

  • Valerie Byrd Forte and Cocky read to a class.

The heart of the school

For many students, March 2020 became a pivotal moment. Classes went online, and teachers began rescheduling deadlines while trying to figure out how exactly the pandemic would affect learning. Luckily, school librarians have played a critical role in helping everyone adapt.

“I’m in charge of devices, figuring out copyright laws, how to use Google classroom and getting the best quality content to students,” says 2019 School of Information Science alumna Mary Anne Mouthaan, a teacher-librarian at Oakland Elementary School in Charleston. “I aggregate as much digital content based on different teachers’ comfort levels all to make sure that the students’ needs are being met.”

Many families have struggled to keep up with technology, information and other resources required by schools —  teacher librarians are helping to fill those gaps. “I make sure every parent and student has an outreach,” Mouthaan says. “I can get them the resources they need.”

Mouthaan has implemented her studies of different resources and technology into her day-to-day librarianship.

“Technology really pushed us to get out of our comfort zone,” she says. “It pushed us to innovate, and the exposure to so many different tech tools has made any new thing easier to figure out.”

Teacher-librarians play an important role in modern education and shaping how literacy is taught.

“Information literacy is critical, and that’s definitely a school librarian’s expertise,” says Valerie Byrd Fort, an iSchool instructor and coordinator for Cocky’s Reading Express.

Fort stresses that librarians are in a good position to promote the importance of literacy in South Carolina and use their knowledge of informational resources and technology to aid schools.

“They had a little bit of an advantage over classroom teachers because they were already knowledgeable about some things,” Fort says. “It’s not just a person who is checking in and out books — that person plans lessons, they select books, they do programming and they encourage the love of reading.”

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.