Educating Stakeholders about the AASL Standards and the School Librarian’s Role at a Grassroots Level

The Vermont School Library Association (VSLA) was thrilled to learn this past May that we had been named one of the four recipients of the 2020 AASl’s Past-Presidents Planning Grant for National School Library Standards. This $2,500 grant, awarded in honor of AASL past presidents, will be used to engage all Vermont librarians in a comprehensive grassroots effort to build resources for each Shared Foundation and each targeted stakeholder group. We would like to express our gratitude and sincere thanks to Roger and Susan D. Ballard for sponsoring this award in honor of Gail K. Dickinson.

School librarians in Vermont are already doing the work to implement AASL’s National School Library Standards. We do a wonderful job of letting each other know what we are doing; however, we need to inform the general public of what exactly we are doing. We need to not only inform, but instruct and provide solutions for educators, parents, and other stakeholders at a grassroots level, while simultaneously furthering the promotion, usage, and implementation of the AASL National School Library Standards in the state of Vermont and ultimately across the nation.

To accomplish this task we are critically examining how the Shared Foundations apply to the defined stakeholder target groups and personalizing their use in each school district, as necessary. We are then organizing Shared Foundations by specific stakeholder target groups.

We are purchasing digital tools with the grant funds, which include Smore digital posters and Book Creator e-books. We will use these tools to create and publish stakeholder-specific material for each Shared Foundation. These digital tools are the perfect means for us to create stakeholder resources that are inclusive (Book Creator e-books have an audio component, among several other inclusive features), and they can be linked to any website, tweeted, and/or embedded into web pages. They are a perfect tool to provide consistent messaging to all our stakeholders at a grassroots level.

Vermont school librarians are creating innovative, digital informational works, such as the exemplars listed below:

The e-book Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and Differentiated Instruction (DI): Creating Deep Learning Experiences by Developing Strategies to Meet Individual Needs and Give All Students Access to the Same High-Quality Content is one example of an informational text that addresses the Include Shared Foundation. It has been created for the teacher stakeholder target group. It will be disseminated along with associated Share Foundation materials.

The e-book titled Inquire: Thinking Critically Online is an example of a mini-lesson/review/exercise that addresses the Inquire Shared Foundation. It has been created specifically for educators and would be disseminated along with associated Shared Foundation materials. This version of the same book is targeted specifically for parents.

Once we have created the digital resources we will disseminate the materials to various organizations to be linked to websites throughout the state of Vermont. The first target date to start disseminating information is October 2020. We will post to and target the following websites and organizations:

  • School library websites throughout the state
  • Vermont State Department of Libraries
  • Vermont National Education Association
  • The Vermont Agency of Education
  • Social media outlets
  • Parent-teacher organizations
  • The Vermont Superintendents’ Association
  • The Vermont Principals’ Association
  • Mental health organizations
  • Pediatric offices

We will speak at local, state, and national conferences about our grassroots efforts and communicate through local and professional articles, blog posts such as this one, and other PR outreach opportunities. We will continuously search for and evaluate other/new outreach outlets that provide PR and will conduct informational webinars on the materials we create. In addition, we will invite the Vermont Virtual Learning Cooperative (VTVLC) to include our digital materials in their virtual learning management system, which the Vermont Agency of Education has adopted “to provide an optional virtual learning management system (LMS) to support SUs/SDs, Career Technical (CTE) and Adult Education and Literacy (AEL) centers as they shift to remote education statewide” (DeCarolis 2020).

Vermont school librarians are collaborating with each other using the digital tools mentioned above and are working with a shared calendar. All resources will be curated on a shared website. This collaborative method of producing consistent messaging to our stakeholders at a deep, grassroots level will prove to be very effective, powerful, and very necessary, as we progress through these very difficult times during the current COVID-19 pandemic. Our hope is that voices will be heard and that our stakeholders will gain a deep understanding of what we do and how very important the role of the school librarian is now and in the future, as we inquire, think critically, identify problems, and create resources that are grounded in the National School Library Standards and are truly meaningful to Vermont stakeholders.

Vermont school librarians are excited to be a part of this great endeavor! We look forward to making 2020 a brighter year by utilizing the grant money to spread our knowledge and wisdom amongst our stakeholders. Funds from this grant will also help us provide ongoing professional development opportunities and create an abundance of valuable AASL Standards resources. This grassroots level of messaging has the potential to be replicated in all states across the country, which will have a profound impact upon our profession on a state and national level. We are truly thankful and humbled for receiving the 2020 AASL Past-Presidents Planning Grant for National School Library Standards in honor of Gail Dickinson and sponsored by Roger and Susan D. Ballard. Thank you all so much!

Work Cited:

DeCarolis, Jess. 2020. Scaling Vermont Virtual Learning Cooperative to Support Continuity of Learning. Vermont Agency of Education (Apr. 5). (accessed Oct. 18, 2020).

Author: Deborah Ehler-Hansen

Categories: Awards Spotlight, Community

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