The teacher librarian must be an proactive professional committed to creating a community of lifelong learners.

Over the past several decades the focus of the library media program has shifted from building a warehouse of materials to an emphasis on creating a collaborative community of lifelong learners. The chart below shows other shifts in thinking and programs:

Backward Thinking
Forward Thinking
print materials
information in all forms
information literacy
as separate subject
information literacy
across the curriculum
catalog cards
automated systems
book-based budget
multi-dimensional budget
single funding sources
multiple funding sources

eye means read

In recent years, Dallas Independent School District cut library funding about twenty percent. Despite the cutback, the Marsh library inititated a grassroots fundraising effort to fund needed renovation. The effort involved students and moved toward a vision for a more active, inviting library for them. View the videoclip (Mar 2011): Marsh Middle School Students Take Back their Library (3:03 min). Advocate photojournalist Danny Fulgencio talked to librarian Mary Virginia Meeks about how these students and their library are thriving in a time of budget cuts.

Why are school libraries important?

Unique in the school, the library media program has the potential to reach every aspect of teaching and learning. However this is only possible through collaborative planning related to curriculum, collection, and facilities development. The quality of your program is directly related to your ability to positively impact teaching and learning.

As a library media professional, you must be an advocate for school libraries as well as teachers and learners. This means collecting evidence about the effectiveness of your program, while highlighting your efforts as well as the efforts of others.

eye means readExamine What Research Tells Us About the Importance of School Libraries (Access requires login) by Keith Curry Lance (Sept Oct 2002), Teacher Librarian; 30(1), 76-8. Retrieved from Library Lit & Inf Full Text database.
Compare the above article's ideas to the author's remarks to Daniel Callison in the interview: Enough Already?: Blazing New Trails for SchoolLibrary Research (2005).

Also skim the address made by Kathleen Smith to the White House Conference on School Libraries (2002): Building Student Learning through School Libraries (pdf document).

A problem in arguments that advocate the importance of school library media programs is the overwhelming reliance within our field on the many state studies completed across the nation that correlate student achievement and SLM programs. Several years ago Danny Callison and others pointed out that the positive correlation in these type studies is more likely due to socioeconomic factors (Income, local interest / support of schools, etc.) within school communities. Much as I would like to say that a SLM program is directly linked to student achievement and academic success, making that connection from the research is a fallacy. It is not based in scientific study. As teacher librarians, you should be aware that the relationship between school libraries and / or school library media specialists and test scores can NOT be characterized as causal - -

"In every Colorado-style study, the strongest available predictor of test scores has been socio-economic conditions, as indicated by the percentage of students eligible for the National School Lunch Program. This single variable has explained half to two-thirds of the variation in test scores in states where studies have been conducted. Further, the strength of this lone variable is the likeliest explanation for the failure of other school and community variables (e.g., teacher-pupil ratio, per-pupil school spending, adult educational attainment) to demonstrate the impact that conventional wisdom and other research attributes to them.

In other words, because the economic variable is so strong, and because it confounds the effects of so many other variables of interest, it is time to explore new methodological options. In some states, at some grade levels, these confounding effects have actually precluded performing the type of analysis (i.e., regression) that separates and measures the impact of multiple variables simultaneously."

Excerpted from Callison, D. (2005). Enough Already?: Blazing New Trails for School Library Research: An Interview with Keith Curry Lance, Director, Library Research Service, Colorado State Library & University of Denver [computer file].

eye means readDownload and read the article by Todd, Ross J. and Gordon, Carol A. (May 2009:. School Libraries, Now More than Ever (PDF document) from the Center for International Scholarship in School Libraries at Rutgers University.

eye means readFor another perspective, read Kristin Fontichiaro's (April 2010) It's Not About You posting at the School Library Monthly Blog.

eye means readSkim through the Survey Overview of AASL's 2009 National Longitudinal Survey of School Library Programs.

Check Your Understanding

How have you seen school libraries change over the years? What do you see as the major changes in curriculum, collections, and facilities? What do you see as changes in philosophies, perspectives, and approaches? Can you envision them in the near future - - five or ten years from now?

Words of Wisdom

practicitioner"The most important resource in the building is not the Media Teacher or the Classroom Teacher. It's not the Gym Teacher or the Counselor. It's the learner. If we all put the learners first in our own ways, then everyone is right." Pete Caggia, Media Specialist, NC. Comment posted (Feb 2010) to an interesting discussion began by All Hail the Mighty Media Specialist by Bill Ferriter.

"The only reason to study school library media management is to create an environment inside school that fosters and supports great learning. That's Why We're Here. Nothing profound, nothing that hasn't been said before, but it reminds me of why we do what we do. Every policy and procedure, every cataloguing decision . . . is about being driven by that goal. It changes how we look at libraries. And that's why I'm a school librarian." Kristin Fontichiaro's posting (Jan 2010) at the School Library Media Blog.

Make It Real

Consider how school library media programs changed over the past fifty years? How have they remained the same?

Talk with a library media specialist about how his or her role as evolved. Also, talk to an experienced classroom teacher about how they've seen their school library change. Do you think their experiences are typical? Why or why not?

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