Happy, happy 1st birthday to the National School Library Standards for Learners, School Librarians, and School Libraries!
If you were in Phoenix last November, you will remember the standards’ release at the 2017 AASL National Conference. Maybe like me you have attended and/or presented a standards workshop. Or perhaps like me, you have developed training about the standards for administrators in your district. What a whirlwind this year has been!
Join me in celebrating this milestone, the 1st birthday of the standards that evolve our practice, our craft, our art, and our science of school librarianship. Let’s take a glimpse at the underpinnings that align our work with a monumental paradigm shift. Let’s peruse the ideals that are the core of the standards that enrich our work as learner-ready school librarians in learner-ready school libraries!
The Common Beliefs, born out of the work of generations of school librarians, are the foundation of the National School Library Standards for Learners, School Librarians, and School Libraries. Looking back at our school library ancestry, our heritage, if you will, these re-energized Common Beliefs took root decades ago and have blossomed and flourished in our hearts and in our practice. These Common Beliefs resonate now by providing the base underlying a vibrant, transformational practice. As you connect to the standards and why they are important, consider the Common Beliefs the backbone of teaching and learning in your learner-ready school library, the focal point of the school community.
Now let’s blow out the candle on the standards’ birthday cake by re-reading the Common Beliefs:
1. The school library is a unique and essential part of a learning community.
As a destination for on-site and virtual personalized learning, the school library is a vital connection between school and home. As the leader of this space and its functions, the school librarian ensures that the school library environment provides all members of the school community access to information and technology, connecting learning to real-world events. By providing access to an array of well-managed resources, school librarians enable academic knowledge to be linked to deep understanding.
2. Qualified school librarians lead effective school libraries.
As they guide organizational and personal change, effective school librarians model, promote, and foster inquiry learning in adequately staffed and resourced school libraries. Qualified school librarians have been educated and certified to perform interlinked, interdisciplinary, and cross-cutting roles as instructional leaders, program administrators, educators, collaborative partners, and information specialists.
3. Learners should be prepared for college, career, and life.
Committed to inclusion and equity, effective school librarians use evidence to determine what works, for whom and under what conditions for each learner; complemented by community engagement and innovative leadership, school librarians improve all learners’ opportunities for success. This success empowers learners to persist in inquiry, advanced study, enriching professional work, and community participation through continuous improvement within and beyond the school building and school day.
4. Reading is the core of personal and academic competency.
In the school library, learners engage with relevant information resources and digital learning opportunities in a culture of reading. School librarians initiate and elevate motivational reading initiatives by using story and personal narrative to engage learners. School librarians curate current digital and print materials and technology to provide access to high-quality reading materials that encourage learners, educators, and families to become lifelong learners and readers.
5. Intellectual freedom is every learner’s right.
Learners have the freedom to speak and hear what others have to say, rather than allowing others to control their access to ideas and information; the school librarian’s responsibility is to develop these dispositions in learners, educators, and all other members of the learning community.
6. Information technologies must be appropriately integrated and equitably available.
Although information technology is woven into almost every aspect of learning and life, not every learner and educator has equitable access to up-to-date, appropriate technology and connectivity. An effective school library bridges digital and socioeconomic divides to affect information technology access and skill.
Join me in unwrapping our birthday gift from AASL:
Looking for more gifts to unwrap? There are many more free standards-related materials at standards.aasl.org.
In addition, there are many standards materials for purchase at standards.aasl.org/shop.
Celebrate the standards! Use the AASL National School Library Standards for Learners, School Librarians, and School Libraries to be a relevant learner-ready school librarian in a learner-ready school library!
Author: Kathryn Roots Lewis
AASL President 2018-2019