School Libraries: Leading the Way into the Future

School Library Connection is pleased to collaborate with ALA President Julie Todaro and her school library group Task Force to provide access to a selection of key professional development articles aligned with essential professional competencies for school librarians. We’ll be posting at least one article a day between now and April 15. These articles were hand selected from our archives by an expert panel of librarians chaired by Susan Ballard, Dorcas Hand, and Sara Kelly Johns, who describe the project and their process here:

ALA President Julie Todaro’s initiative, Libraries Transform: The Expert in the Library, builds on the ongoing ALA Libraries Transform campaign that focuses more on libraries in general, including the facility and the program. However, that facility and program are nothing without a librarian.

In discussing her initiative, Julie always outlines the work and shares how the school librarian members went into high gear, “Our teams met in October, decided on our vision in the morning and met in small groups in the afternoon. The school librarians had a structure, existing content, a rough draft of new content, and had lined up YouTube testimonials and best practices by the following day at lunch. I am always proud to say, ‘I have my all-level certification to be a school librarian.’”

Julie’s Task Force consists of representatives from public, academic, special, and school libraries. The school library group is co-chaired by Susan Ballard, Dorcas Hand, and Sara Kelly Johns, who worked with a subcommittee of outstanding school librarians. They, in turn, were assisted by the school librarian Expert Panel members (Blanche Woolls and Debbie Abilock) who review the School Library Team’s efforts before they go live at ALA Annual 2017 in Chicago.

After Susan Ballard adapted the Professional Standards for Education Leaders (PSELs, from the National Policy Board for Educational Administration) to reflect school library expertise, the school library group identified eleven competency areas–the original 10 plus Literacy and Reading–for building-level school librarians, developed a rubric for practitioners to self-assess their school library leadership competencies, and compiled a dynamic list of resources in order to build their expertise. Our competency list is entitled School Librarian Competencies Based on the PSELs; the competencies, the rubric and the supporting documents list will be available with the Todaro Expert in the Library materials beginning at ALA Annual 2017.

Thank you, Libraries Unlimited and School Library Connection, for supporting this initiative with access to these articles.

Competency 1: Mission, Vision, Core Values

“School Libraries: Leading the Way into the Future” by Carolyn Foote.  School Library Connection, October 2015

“We need to develop the capacity to think of a library as a developing enterprise rather than an established institution.” — Joan Frye Williams at ALA 2014 “Libraries from Now On” Summit (paraphrase)

Our campus become a 1:1 iPad campus four years ago, and watching the transition’s impacts on student learning and the library has made Joan Frye Williams’ words resonate for me personally. Going through disruption in our own library just as I was writing this article made it clear to me how much we need to build better internal capacities and mindsets to support ourselves in times of change. Both schools and libraries need to begin thinking of themselves as fluid enterprises, not fixed monoliths. Ultimately, we need to be sure that our deep love affair with libraries centers around our deep love for students and their learning. We can serve our communities and student learning best if we are tracking, aware of, and acting on trends to which our schools and libraries need to be responsive.
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