Though the papyrus scrolls and clay tablets of Alexandria have been replaced by optical disks and flash cards, the library has remained at the center of academic endeavors. The modern school library media center remains critical to our need to have a central repository for knowledge that is available to everyone.
When John Harvard gave his collection of books to the fledgling university, it was called a school library. Over the coming centuries the library would experience an evolution of the ways that information is stored and retrieved. During the 1920s, the National Education Association (NEA) enacted school library standards which paved the way for the storage of non-print media and libraries became known as instructional media centers (Wiegand, 2007, p.58) Today artifacts, digital media, and printed material of all types are networked together with the aid of massive databases. Digital electronics has made the storage and retrieval process faster, more compact, and less costly than ever before. Today the school library is more aptly known as the school library media center.
Much of the evolution and restructuring of the school library media center has come as a result made by the demands to store and retrieve information in an environment of rapid technological change. After World War II film strips began to be added as they came to be viewed as items worthy of legitimate academic study. The invention of microfiche (a system of greatly reducing photo copies of documents) in 1961 started a major revolution in the media centers' long-term storage strategy (Raider, 2006). The 1969 Standards for School Media Programs published by the NEA united librarians and audio-visual specialists under the terminology of "library media program and library media specialist" (School libraries, 2008). The 1969 standards made recommendations regarding the new media of "8mm films, 16mm films, tapes and discs, slides, graphic materials, globes, maps, microforms, and transparencies (Mariea, 1998, p.182). The standards additionally defined storage space and environmental requirements. The age of the Internet has added additional information available as digital media sources are catalogued in massive databases.
The ability to digitize magazines, newspapers, books, and journals has made the information available at any school library media center almost unlimited. This has required another tier of media management as databases are responsible for cataloguing and maintaining archival issues of periodicals. Companies such as EBSCO, Thomson-Gale, and JSTOR store past issues of periodicals that are available as a subscription service. These databases, that can be accessed via the Internet, have made almost all recent periodicals, and many books, available to library patrons in digital format. Today's post-modern school library media center is a virtual library that makes vast amounts of information available almost anywhere in the world.
The ability to store information in a compressed form has been accomplished by using a wide variety of media formats. Information can be stored on paper, film, plastic, and solid state electronics. This has presented the challenge of creating an environment