By Audrey Church
“Why don’t school administrators understand school librarians?”
“Why are librarians and library programs generally not valued within school systems across the nation despite all the benefits to learning they provide?”
“What makes an effective school librarian?”
“How can we help school librarians who have the capacity to implement and share reproducible research to connect the need for this reproducible research with their daily work activities?”
Inquiring minds want to know. Library researchers want to know. School librarians want to know. To find the answers to these questions, we conduct research studies. And AASL is there to support us.
In April 2014 AASL held Causality: School Libraries and Student Success (CLASS), an IMLS-funded national research forum. The resulting white paper issued in December 2014 (1) captured the discussion from the forum, (2) proposed a three-phase progression of research projects to determine causal relationships between school libraries and student learning, and (3) outlined mechanisms for the creation of a community of scholars.
At present, three teams of researchers are working on the first phase of the proposed CLASS research project: foundational research consisting of meta-syntheses of theory, best practice research, and policy.
On April 7 forty-four doctoral students and professors attended the AASL 2016 CLASS Summit in Washington, DC. This community of school librarianship scholars spent the day working in small groups, sharing their vexations, and discussing their ventures, possible approaches, and answers to the above questions and more, such as:
- “Can school library STEM programming impact youth interest in STEM?”
- “How do school librarians and classroom teachers collaborate to create inquiry-based science lessons in the library?”
- “What are the prerequisite skills or background knowledge we assume students know before they come into the library for research or instruction?”
- “How do districts handle BYOD in their technology policies?”
- “What components of technology-enabled learning and makerspace settings most contribute to student growth in systems thinking and in problem solving—skills necessary for academic success across all disciplines?”
- “What kind of longitudinal surveys on reading for pleasure have been done with K-12 students?”
- “What makes reading interesting for teenagers in the 21st– century?”
- “How can school librarians ensure that the collection promotes and supports cultural knowledge development?”
- “Do school librarians see themselves as agents of informational and social justice?”
- “What impact does the library media center have on student academic achievement in alternative placements?”
- “How can school librarians support English Language Learners’ academic success?”
Yes, inquiring minds want to know. Stay tuned!