By Mary Keeling, Chair, AASL Standards and Guidelines Implementation Task Force, and Marcia Mardis, Chair, AASL Standards and Guidelines Editorial Board
Who has ever had a sleepless night before the first day back at school? I’ll bet most of us have! Anticipation frequently travels with her anxious companion, Fear.
But as the first day of school unfolds, we usually find
- old friends chatting with new colleagues,
- new expectations and tools woven into familiar routines, and
- pleasure in how our students have grown and matured over the summer.
We also anticipate the release of the new National School Library Standards for Learners, School Librarians, and School Libraries, and we wonder: How will this change my practice? What will be different? How will I adapt? There is no need to lose sleep! You will find the standards are new but familiar, just as the first day of school is the beginning of a new year of learning and growing.
Old Friends, New Colleagues
You will recognize old friends in the standards because they are research-based, and the research focus was on YOU! The standards editorial board researched YOUR needs, priorities, and practices through national surveys, state-level focus groups, and a peer review panel. You will find your values well represented in the standards, because they are based on what you said you like about the current standards and what you think should be changed.
New Tools and Expectations, Familiar Routines
Be on the lookout for new tools to help you learn and apply the new standards. You told us that you wanted streamlined standards documents. The editorial board, composed of researchers and expert practitioners, has created integrated standards frameworks for learners, librarians, and school libraries; each in-depth framework supports the other to ensure that your learners, school library, and your own practice are seamlessly woven together. In addition, the implementation task force has worked alongside the editorial board to create tools to personalize your learning and application of the standards. You told us that you wanted different materials for different users. This fall we will release an array of one-pagers and infographics to help you get started. Look for other opportunities to learn about the standards through twitter chats, webinars, print media, and other avenues.
School libraries and school library standards have been in place in the United States for 100 years. While common themes connect us to our past, we continue to grow and change. For example, school librarians have always supported student learning through access to resources. In 1918, those resources were printed, purchased, cataloged, and housed in a central location. Today, our resources include ideas printed on paper, encoded on tape or digital media, and stored on servers throughout the world. We provide access as we teach students to toggle between catalogs, tags, and Boolean logic. We’ve outgrown the standards of 1918! But as a child doesn’t jump from the first grade to high school in one year, school libraries have grown and matured incrementally, and so have our standards. The new National School Library Standards do not replace what came before; they are refreshed for our current educational climate.
The new National School Library Standards, like a new school year, offer a fresh look at a familiar world and new growth opportunities in a cherished profession.