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updated: 3/19/2014 2:33 PM

Dist. 203 LRC director to help plot future of school libraries

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By Faith Behr
Naperville Unit District 203

The role of the school librarian has changed.

There has been a general shift in the way people -- including students -- consume literature and content. No one knows that better than Josh Mika, LRC director at Naperville's Beebe Elementary School. Mika recently was selected to participate in the Illinois Librarians Explore, Apply and Discover program, a yearlong initiative of the Illinois State Library.

Mika will serve as an instructor in the program, which is designed to help library staff throughout the state in brainstorming and developing cutting-edge uses for libraries. Exactly what school libraries -- and public libraries -- will look like in the future is open to debate. The ILEAD U program helps determine that future.

Participants take part in three 4-day sessions over the course of nine months. Teams identify and tackle a large-scale project that would help respond to patrons' needs. The projects would apply technology, respond to user needs and could be easily replicated by school libraries throughout the state.

As an instructor, Mika will provide guidance, instruction and mentoring to the teams.

"We are excited about Josh Mika's opportunity to represent District 203 as a part of the ILEAD U program," said John David Son, director of instructional technology in District 203. "Josh's experience, collaboration and learning from this program will serve as (a) valuable resource as we continue to evaluate, review and implement the appropriate resources and tools for our students and teachers within the LRC."

"I'm excited to have the opportunity to collaborate with our state library association to help redefine the role of the teacher-librarian," Mika said.

The first session begins March 24-27 and continues in June and again in October.

The Illinois State Library received a Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to implement ILEAD U.