Library science has transformed in the last decade, and Walt Disney Magnet School’s library exemplifies best practice in the functioning of contemporary library for the 21st century. Students no longer sit silent and alone poring over a single print volume as the one true source of knowledge, as they did in an industrial economy. Students in an information economy need to be able to do research drawing on multiple resources, to discriminate between accurate and inaccurate information, to collaborate with others, and to integrate text culture with visual culture. The library becomes an essential site for students learning to ask questions, to gather and organize information, to prepare and provide presentations
of new understandings, and to evaluate these performances of knowledge. The librarian is not just a guide to an incredible range of resources, but also teaches essential information literacy (how to access and evaluate information). In doing so, the library is at the forefront of the school’s and its students’ futures. The school’s extraordinary print text collection (over 16,000 titles, with over 40,000 books circulated each year, including an exemplary collection of award winning graphic novels) is thoroughly integrated with on-line resources.
A visitor to the library is likely to see students in research groups engaged in lively, problem-solving conversation; or learning about the safe use of social media; or deeply engaged in a real time virtual tour of the San Diego zoo. In addition to the wide range of on-line resources available through Chicago Public Schools, Walt Disney Magnet School also provides its students with access to PebbleGo (the premier on-line non-fiction data base for primary grade students, integrating text, image, and audio) and to myON (a site that provides on-line personalized access to high quality books based on students’ interests and reading history). Walt Disney Magnet School’s library ensures that its students not only learn how to be good consumers of knowledge, but to also be creators of knowledge.
“There is something special, as a librarian, about getting to seeing students’ growth in so many different areas over their years at the school, and to see students becoming increasingly self-directed, as well as becoming each others’ students, teachers and mentors.” Grades Pre-K to 4 receive Disney’s special Art-Science instruction, in which hands-on art activities reinforce abstract science concepts.