Building on Others’ Contributions: The Story of AASL’s 2016 Collaborative School Library Award


Debbie Floyd, A.B. Westrick (author), Stephanie Stargardt, and Josh Forbes

Being selected as winners of the AASL 2016 Collaborative School Library Award has been such an honor and a career highlight! “Brotherhood, a Novel:  Making Connections to Richmond (Virginia) from Reconstruction through Present Day” is a collaborative lesson that was designed using the Guided Inquiry model to produce a Project-Based Learning experience that offered students an authentic learning experience. After the field study, we were overwhelmed by positive responses from the learning community. At that point, it was evident that we needed to share it with others. It has been such a compliment having librarians throughout our state and beyond contact us and share how they have been able to follow the design of the lesson to develop a similar experience connecting students to their community.

Although Debbie Floyd, Josh Forbes, and Stephanie Stargardt are the names that appear on the plaque, this award represents the contributions made by all members of the planning team. In addition, being active members of the Virginia Association of School Librarians has proven to be invaluable. Through presenting and participating in annual and regional conferences, we have been able to attend informative, relevant, creative, and inspirational sessions. Ideas shared by fellow librarians throughout our state were borrowed and included as key components of this lesson. Because these amazing librarians share their ideas, bits and pieces of what we learn can be meshed together to fit the needs of our teachers and promote collaboration for any content area! The biggest winners are our students.

The American Association of School Librarians and the American Library Association offer so many FREE resources! AASL’s Learning Standards are comprehensive and represent the vision and the mission for empowering learners. Chesterfield County’s Instructional Specialist for Library Services, Lori Donovan, has promoted and used these standards to transform libraries throughout our district. So, it is no coincidence that the foundation of the Brotherhood unit is rooted within these standards. Many thanks are extended to AASL and ALA for representing our profession with lawmakers. We have been elated to receive letters of commendation from local officials, from state government officials, and from our U.S. Senator.

Throughout the AASL Awards Ceremony it was evident that recipients receiving an award or a grant all had one thing in common…their students.  Throughout the country, amazing lessons and programs are designed and implemented using AASL learning standards as the foundation. As a collective group, we are “Transforming Our Libraries, Ourselves” in so many creative ways!

As a result of our experience, we encourage our fellow librarians to share, to borrow, and to celebrate your talents. Join your state and national library associations; each has so much to offer. Take the time to review and research awards and grants that are available. Along with Upstart, the sponsor of our award, companies are supporting our library programs. Take a chance, and complete the application.

Author: Stephanie Stargardt

Categories: Awards Spotlight, Community

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