The 21st century student utilizes the internet as a major information source. In Carol Grantham's article Virtual library: e-ssential (2007) she states that the internet has opened the door to an abundance of online resources and the school library can either respond to the needs of students by embracing these new technologies or be seen by students as irrelevant. She goes on to say that many students choose the Internet as their preferred information source but most have a limited understanding of how to search effectively and efficiently.
Joyce Valenza, librarian at Springfield Township High School, observed that students need more instruction as well as the assistance of improved system design if they are to become effective seekers and users of information. Virtual libraries can address these needs. According to Valenza, through virtual school libraries, teacher librarians can 'guide and serve learners where they live, play and work'(The Influence of School Virtual Libraries on the Information-Seeking Behaviors of High School Students,2004)
Valenza in her information on workshops that she offers on School Library Websites: State of the Art Information Landscapes for 21st Century Learners states, 'Our libraries should now have two front doors, and one of them should be virtual. The effective virtual library pulls together, in one unified interface, all of a library's resources..print and electronic. It can be a vibrant, media-rich knowledge management tool for the entire learning community.'
This concept is developed further in her wiki page, A WebQuest About School Library Websites (2007). She discusses the fact that an effective library web page is available 24-7, and provides immediate support and intervention. Valenza makes a very valuable and valid point when she explains that the school's virtual library projects the image of the librarian as a 21st century teacher and information professional. According to Valenza, the library website represents the library program as it offers guidance and instruction while it fosters independent learning, it supports reading, learning and the building of knowledge.
One of the gurus of virtual libraries, Joyce Valenza has shared many valuable thoughts and ideas on this topic.