This past November, I saw a posting on our North Carolina State Library blog about the new Competencies for Librarians Serving Children in Public Libraries that were just issued. After reading the blog post I followed the link to the competencies out of curiosity to see how they compared to our North Carolina School Library Media Coordinator Standards. Similar to other states, our NC SLMC standards are based on guidelines from AASL, ISTE, Partnership for 21st Century Skills, ALA/AASL Standards for Initial Preparation of School Librarians, and other state standards. After reading this document and noticing it is geared toward those serving ages birth to 14, I decided to also check out YALSA’s Competencies for Librarians Serving Youth since I am in a high school setting.
My thoughts were to see if there were areas where we overlapped that might be used to promote more collaboration between school and public librarians. I noticed that we had some very similar standards although some of our elements may come under different standard headings. Some key places for collaboration are on educational practices, resources and digital access, professional development and advocacy. Under these topics I have listed standards from ALSC and YALSA that I viewed correlated with our NC school librarian standards. You can match up your own state’s school librarian standards where mine are listed.
ALSC Standard I.5. Understands current educational practices, especially those related to literacy and inquiry.
ALSC Standard II.2. Instructs and supports children in the physical and digital use of library tools and resources, information gathering and research skills, and empowers children to choose materials and services on their own.
YALSA Standard II.1. Become familiar with the developmental needs of young adults in order to provide the most appropriate resources and services.
YALSA Standard VII.5. Instruct young adults in basic information gathering, research skills and information literacy skills – including those necessary to evaluate and use electronic information sources – to develop life-long learning habits.
NC SLMC Standard 1.a. School library media coordinators lead in the school library media center and media program to support student success.
NC SLMC Standard 4.a. School library media coordinators use effective pedagogy to infuse content-area curricula with 21st Century skills.
In order to facilitate your local public librarians’ ability to keep up with educational practices, make a point of sharing any new state educational guidelines that are issued and also any school improvement initiatives that your particular school is implementing. They may be able to facilitate your school meeting some of your initiatives. Each semester I have the public librarians and the college librarians come in to do a session with me for our seniors before they start their Graduation Projects. We instruct them on accessing the resources at the school library and also at the public and college libraries and review proper citation guidelines for using resources. We are discussing also having them come in next year to do sessions with our juniors.
Resources and Digital Access
ALSC Standard II. 1. Creates and maintains a physical and digital library environment that provides the best possible access to materials and resources for children of all cultures and abilities and their caregivers.
YALSA Standard VI. 5. Be an active partner in the development and implementation of technology and electronic resources to ensure young adults’ access to knowledge and information.
NC SLMC Standard 3.a. School library media coordinators develop a library collection that supports 21st Century teaching and learning.
There are a number of public librarians from different states that are creating student access policies with school librarians so students can have easier access to digital and print resources. Charlotte-Mecklenburg in NC has successfully been running their One Access collaboration format for a year now. Our county is looking into developing a similar program. Currently our high school librarians have worked with the public library to provide digital access for our students. If there is a resource that you think would benefit your students and it is something that your library cannot afford, see if it is available at the public library and if there is a way that your students may be able to access it.
ALSC Standard III.7. Delivers programs outside or inside the library to meet users where they are, addressing community and educational needs, including those of unserved and underserved populations.
YALSA Standard VII.3. Provide a variety of informational and recreational services to meet the diverse needs and interests of young adults and to direct their own personal growth and development.
NC SLMC Standard 4.c. School library media coordinators promote reading as a foundational skill for learning.
Who doesn’t want help with running a special program or author visit to your school? Public librarians are also good sources for book talks, helping with Battle of the Books events or collaborating on a makerspace activity, especially if you haven’t created one of your own yet. If your public library is located where your students live, see if you can help with afterschool programs or a weekend program, that way your students can see you in a variety of libraries and become aware that both librarians are there to support them.
ALSC Standard VII.9. Participates in local, state, and national professional organizations to strengthen skills, interact with fellow professionals, promote professional association scholarships and contribute to the library profession.
YALSA Standard III2. Develop relationships and partnerships with young adults, administrators and other youth-serving professionals in the community be establishing regular communication and by taking advantage of opportunities to meet in person.
NC SLMC Standard 5.b. School library media coordinators link professional growth to their professional goals.
We all enjoy going to state conferences for the benefits of learning and meeting and exchanging ideas with fellow librarians but usually they are librarians in similar professions either school librarians or public and academic librarians. There is also the consideration of time and funds for attending state conferences. Why not set up a local one-day conference that would include school, public and academic librarians? I am a member of the Azalea Coast Library Association which covers several area counties, and we are about to have our first one-day conference with participants from all types of libraries including librarians from our local hospital. No one has very far to travel and the very low registration fee includes lunch. The conference will provide us with the opportunity to learn more about different programs ideas we have done in our settings. Another idea is to set up an afterschool or workday coffee break with your public librarians to share information about what is taking place in your libraries, it will also provide you with the opportunity to put faces to names if you have not done any collaboration with him/her in the past.
ALSC Standard V.6. Communicates and collaborates in partnership with other agencies, institutions and organizations serving children in the community, to achieve common goals and overcome barriers created by socioeconomic circumstances, culture, privilege, language, gender, ability, and other diversities.
YALSA Standard III.3. Be an advocate for young adults and effectively promote the role of the library in serving young adults, demonstrating that the provision of services to this group can help young adults build assets, achieve success, and in turn, create a stronger community.
NC SLMC Standard 1.c. School library media coordinators advocate for effective media programs.
Working by yourself to advocate for a strong library program for your students and faculty may be difficult at times, but working with all local librarians together may provide opportunities to showcase the benefits to the community of not only the school library program but also the public library program. By collaborating on joint ventures, you will be better able to make the community aware of how library use from toddlers through young adulthood creates life-long learners, which benefits the community as a whole.
Sometimes especially if you are the only librarian in your school you might feel with budget and time constraints that you have a difficult time meeting your own standards for evaluation. Remember that there are also public librarians that you can collaborate with to make it easier for both of you to meet your own individual goals. Look through ALSC’s and YALSA’s competencies to find areas that you both share and that would benefit your program. There are many more standards that overlap with our own school librarian standards that I did not touch on. Feel free to post any ideas that you have for connecting one of your school librarian standards with ALSC’s and YALSA’s standards or if you are a public librarian point out a standard that you feel you would be able to collaborate on with a school librarian easily.
YALSA’s Draft of Updated Competencies *(YALSA’s revised standards are due to be published in the summer of 2016).
Author: Joann Absi
I am the media coordinator at Eugene Ashley High School in Wilmington, NC. I have had positions at elementary, middle and high school libraries during my career. I am a past president of NCSLMA. Currently I am serving as the Communications Chair for NCSLMA and a member of AASL/ALSC/YALSA School/Public Library Cooperation.