woman flyingWhether you're planning a Reading Month promotion, designing a new layout for your nonfiction book collection, or developing a technology plan for your entire school district, the problem solving process is the same.

Of course the length of the process and complexity of the solution will vary depending on the project, but the data that you collect and the stages you go through will be similar.

When is planning important?

Program planning is not a "one shot" activity done at the beginning of the year or when applying for a grant. As you consider all the aspects of your role as a library media specialist, always keep in mind the importance of taking a systematic approach to problem solving.

Example - as you design your materials collection, you'll need to identify the strong and weak areas of your collection, establish program goals, make selection decisions, acquire materials, and evaluate the collection.

Example - as you develop a volunteer program, you must identify where you need help, recruit potential volunteers, match people with tasks, provide training, and examine the results.

Example - as you plan your budget, you should examine the financial needs of the program, establish priorities, make decisions, and refine the budget.

Example - as you collaborate with teachers on unit planning, you'll identify standards, analyze learners, select materials, develop lessons, and assess students.

All of these planning activities involve collaboration with various members of the learning community.

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What are the steps in planning?

Regardless of whether you're planning a lesson, presentation, event, or promotional activity, the process is the same.

Connect to Mission. The foundations of your program can be found in your mission statement and supporting materials such as the Library Bill of Rights, Freedom to Read Statement, and the Freedom to View Statement from the American Library Association. Also, examine the Information Literacy Standards for Student Learning from Information Power (p. 8-44) as well as the rest of Information Power.

eye means readTo learn more, explore the section of this course called The Library Media Program.

Analyze Needs. Conduct an analysis of those activities that are already established in your school. There are probably many excellent projects and promotions already happening on your school's calendar. The annual science fair and media fair are two examples. Your school may have a long traditional of promoting Reading Month or Black History Month.

eye means readTo learn more, explore the section of this course called Program Analysis and Community Analysis.

Explore Evidence-based Approach. Explore all the potential ways that you might address the need you have identified. Then, select an approach.

eye means readTo learn more, explore the section of this course called Evidence-based Decision making.

Plan. Collaboratively develop a blueprint of your lesson, presentation, grant proposal, event, project, or activity. This may involve a formal committee of people or an informal group of interested members of the learning community. The key is to build buy-in from all the parties that will be actively involved. Everyone should have a sense of ownership and commitment to the success of the project.

Your plan should address the following areas:

Implement. Do it. Hold the event, teach the lessons, or submit the proposal. Follow the plan and revise it as needed. Collect data along that way that can be used to make future evidence-based decisions.

eye means readTo learn more, explore the section of this course called Approaches to Data Collection.

Evaluate. Collect data about the strengths and weaknesses of the program. Reflect on the experience and consider the future.

eye means readTo learn more, explore the section of this course called Evaluation and Accountability.

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Do I need a master plan that encompasses everything?

When library media positions are eliminated at school board meetings each spring and budgets continue to be cut, a good plan can determine the life or death of your program. Planning is essential for survival in a rapidly changing world. Your center needs a master plan that can serve as the overall guide for program operations. This plan will guide the problem solving process for other projects and ensure that your individual projects and programs all fit together into a unified voice.

Information power stresses four aspects of planning: comprehensive, collaborative, long-range, and strategic.

Comprehensive. A comprehensive plan must be far-reaching and encompass the entire learning community. Rather than focusing on the details of book collections or library promotions, a comprehensive plan provides a big picture of the key elements that contribute to an effective library media program.

Example - the teacher librarian develops a wheel diagram with the children in the hub, five spokes representing five goals, and the learning community as the rim.

Collaborative. A teacher librarian can't develop a comprehensive plan in isolation. Partnerships must be established with all the members of the learning community connected to the library media program.

Example - the library media specialist develops an advisory team including teachers, administrators, students, parents, and community members. Rather than traditional meetings, a discussion forum is established for sharing ideas and reviewing drafts.

Long-Range. A teacher librarian needs to think in terms of both short and long term goals. Rather than a series of initiatives and projects, consider developing a program that evolves over time and builds on the growing skills, experiences, and resources of the learning community.

Example - the library media specialist teams with the public library to develop an ongoing relationship that begins with sharing resources and evolves into the development of cooperative programs over several years.

Read School and Public Library Relationships: Essential Ingredients in Implementing Educational Reforms and Improving Student Learning by S.A. Fitzgibbons in School Library Media Research, 3, 2000. This paper explores the range of successful, cooperative relationships between public libraries and school library media centers.

Strategic. A strategic plan not only details goals and objectives, but also places emphasis on specific activities and actions. This plan involves an assessment of current strengths and weaknesses, identification of specific goals, an examination of opportunities, and immediate and future calls for action. Focusing on the dynamic nature of your center, a strategic plan explores all aspects of your program including staffing, budgeting, programs, and technology.

The strategic planning process calls for much more than a document. It calls for:

Example - the teacher librarian create charts within the plan detailing the who, what, where, when, and why for each activity planned.

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What do school library media plans look like?

What is the mission of the library media program? What are the goals and specific objectives for the library media program and how will these be evaluated? What does an action plan look like?

Examine the following resources. Compare the elements of each plan.

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Check Your Understanding

info powerInformation Power - Program Administration: Principle 5.

Comprehensive and collaborative long-range, strategic planning is essential to the effectiveness of the library media program.

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Make It Realstudent working


Select an action plan to evaluate.

Critique this action plan.

What are the strengths and weaknesses? What suggestions would you provide?


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Read More About It

Alt, Alisa C. Strategic Planning: An Essential Tool for Organizational Success and Growth. New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants, Oct. 2000.
Without a plan, one is tossed, rather than guided, into the future.

American Association of School Librarians. A Planning Guide for Information Power: Building Partnerships for Learning. Chicago: AASL, 1999. ISBN 0-8389-8073-2.

Johnson, Doug. 12 Point Library/Media Program Checklist for Building Administrators. Book Report, Jan. 1996, revised 1999.

Beyond Proficiency: Essentials of a Distinguished Library Media Program from Kentucky Department of Education
Points out the need for a versatile educator as library program administrator, a teacher, instructional partner, and information specialist - - Lists evaluation of proficiencies of the skills and professionalism required of library media specialist aka teacher-librarians. Use this as a measure of your level of development in the role.

Emergencies from Library Preservation at Harvard.
Related Website:
Libraries Preservation Department at University of California, San Diego

Oberg, D. & Easton, E. Focus group interviews: A tool for program evaluation in school library education, Education for Information, 13(2), 117-129, 1995.
From the analysis of the focus group interview data, six themes emerged: taking a leadership role, developing the school library program, managing the program, coping with technology, sequencing of learning, and modeling and mentoring.

Hartzell, Gary. Controlling Your Own Destiny. School Library Journal, Nov 2002; 48(11), 37. (Access requires login) . . .
Why vision and mission statements are indispensable.

Hartzell, Gary. Promises You Can’t Keep. School Library Journal, Dec 2002; 49(12), 29. (Access requires login) . . .
There's only so much a librarian can realistically accomplish.

IMPACT for Administrators: A Resource for Evaluating Media and Technology Programs and Personnel from Instructional Technology Division, North Carolina
An 80 page pdf file outlining the importance of the media and technology programs in school achievement of students.

Latrobe, Kathy. A Case Study of One District’s Implementation of Information Power. School Library Media Research, 4, 2001.
One district sought to institutionalize the implementation of Information Power: Building Partnerships for Student Learning into its established planning and evaluation activities.

Minkel, Walter. Charting a Clear Course. School Library Journal, Sept 2002; 48(9), 60. (Access requires login) . . .
Curriculum mapping takes the guesswork out of what students are learning-and what they're not.

Minnesota Standards for Effective School Library Media Program from Minnesota Educational Media Organization (MEMO), 2000.
46 page pdf file that outlines the standards of the library media program and documentation of improved literacy with strong library support.

School Library / Media Center Friends

School Library Webpage Award from School Libraries Online (IASL)
The aim of the Concord School Library Web Page Award is to promote the involvement of school librarians in the development of the Web and to promote excellence in the Web sites of school libraries.

Wall, Barbara. Rolling Five Year Plan. Knowledge Quest, 32(2), Nov/Dec 2003.
Sample planning list.

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