School librarians and new standards

By on

The school librarian is at the hub of all learning activities in the school, connecting leaners and teachers to prepare students for success in the classroom and beyond.

To guide them along this path, the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) has released a new set of National School Library Standards for Learners, School Librarians and School Libraries.  The standards were unveiled Nov. 9 at AASL’s National Conference & Exhibition, held in Phoenix, Arizona.

AASL, a division of the American Library Association, engaged with more than 1,300 school librarians and stakeholders in a process that began more than three years ago, said Sylvia Knight Norton, AASL executive director.

Two groups, an editorial board to write the standards and a task force to implement them, worked through a process that involved focus groups, late nights and a lot of lost sleep.

Marcia Mardis, who chaired the editorial board, said, “We began by revisiting the common beliefs. And these are the inarguable values that we share as a profession and want others to know about us. The first being that the school library is a unique and essential part of a learning community. The second, qualified school librarians lead effective school libraries. The third being that learners should be prepared for college, career and life. The fourth being that reading is the core of personal and aesthetic competency. The fifth being that intellectual freedom is every learner’s right. And the sixth being that information technologies must be appropriately integrated and equitably available.”

The standards provide an integrated framework for learners, school libraries and school librarians.  Criteria are set out that will help schools, school districts and states effectively measure school librarian performance.

The standards recognize the five roles of the school librarian: Leader, instructional partner, information specialist, teacher, program administrator.  They are anchored by six Shared Foundations—Inquire, Include, Collaborate, Curate, Explore, and Engage-and four Domains- Think, Create, Share and Grow within those foundations.

Within the foundation of Inquire, for example, learners progress from the Think stage, in which they ask questions rooted in their knowledge and curiosity, to Grow, in which they make personal connections, to Share, where they share designs, solutions and evidence with their peers, to Create, where they create new knowledge.

The other foundations encourage learners to appreciate different points of view, use a variety of communications tools, organize information and use information technology and media responsibly.

At the launch, Norton said, “These standards are a commitment to the future, for our profession, to our fellow educators and to our students.”  Addressing the librarians at the conference, she exclaimed, “When you look at this work, doesn’t it make you proud to be a school librarian?” to the applause of listeners.

She added, “These are your standards. These are our standards. It’s through your input, your willingness that AASL has established the national school library standards for learners, for school librarians, for school libraries.”