National School Library Program of the Year Award
Established in 1963, the National School Library Media Program of the Year (NSLMPY) Award honors school library media programs practicing their commitment to ensure that students and staff are effective users of ideas and information, as well as exemplifying implementation of Information Power. The award recognizes exemplary school library media programs that are fully integrated into the school's curriculum. Each winning program receives a $10,000 prize ($30,000 total) donated by Follett Library Resources.
In the past, the three award categories were defined as: Large District (enrollment equal to or greater than 10,000 students), Small District (enrollment less than 10,000 students) and Individual School (including single schools that exist as a school district). The new categories, starting with the 2006 application year, are one District Award and two Single School Awards.
Hinsdale Township (Ill.) High School District 86
Hinsdale 86’s application starts off with a question: “What do Hornets and Devils have in common?” The answer: “They’ve both been ‘stung’ by ‘red-hot’ library programs!” The district is comprised of two high schools, Hinsdale South (the Hornets), located in Darien, Ill., and Hinsdale Central (the Red Devils), located in Hinsdale, Ill. The heat behind Hinsdale 86’s “red-hot” library program consists of six full- and one half-time school librarians and eight full- and one half-time support staff members who strive to provide a variety of resources to meet the needs of the curriculum and of the overarching school community.
Librarians from both schools collaborate to set common goals and yearly growth plans for the district’s library programs and individually adapt the district goals to recognize the diversity of each school's unique student population. Library directors meet monthly to evaluate established goals and objectives. In the 2011-2012 school year, the district began conducting action research using the Tools for Real time Assessment of Information Literacy Skills (TRAILS) program. The information gained will be used to inform decision-making regarding the library curriculum and teaching practices. Hinsdale 86 also seeks student feedback to assess the library program. Results from formal and informal student surveys are used to improve library activities and lessons.
Promoting reading for pleasure and lifelong learning is the cornerstone of Hinsdale 86’s school library program. District librarians collaborate closely with classroom teachers and have continuing projects with the English department. Together, the educators design and implement lessons with a focus on teaching students how to gather, use, manage, synthesize and create information in an ethical manner. Through these projects, students learn to read critically, construct effective search strategies using a variety of sources in a variety of formats and create a final product that exemplifies 21st century learning.
Hinsdale 86 school librarians dedicate the majority of their promotional budget to advertising their reading programs. They ignite and share their enthusiasm for reading with programs such as One Book, One School; Reading Marathon and Caught You Reading! One series of book talks pairs books with their audio version in order to assist struggling readers with reading comprehension. To provide students with a large selection of reading materials, Hinsdale 86 recently collaborated with a local consortium of high school libraries to purchase a subscription to the OverDrive digital media database. Additionally, the district has adopted a collection development procedures manual which closely follows the library program’s mission.
Librarians at Hinsdale 86 are very active inside and outside of the buildings. Librarians serve on the Response to Intervention Reading Committee, focused on intervening on behalf of struggling readers. They also participate with teachers in various technology training sessions, not only to utilize new applications, but to assist other building educators in their use during instruction. The district views the school librarians as the driving force behind their Hinsdale Academy professional development program. As such, librarians are encouraged to present information about the program at several state and national conferences such as the American Library Association, the Illinois Computing Educators and Computer Using Educators.
“The committee was very impressed with how Hinsdale 86 was very deliberate in the co-building planning and communications,” said Bonnie Grimble, award committee chair. “There is a very strong team approach to building the curriculums in both buildings. Their programs are data driven and are constantly assessed, which allows Hinsdale 86 to continually adapt and reinvent themselves. This way, they stay on the forefront of providing their students with high quality education.”
South Texas Independent School District (STISD)
STISD serves junior high and high school students who live in the Rio Grande Valley region along the southernmost tip of Texas. The district is composed of five magnet schools, with three school libraries serving 3,237 students and 400 faculty and staff members: Bilioteca Las Américas, located in Mercedes, provides resources for students attending the South Texas High School for Health Professions and the Science Academy of South Texas. Located in Edinburg, Gateway to the World Library, serves high school students attending the South Texas Business, Education, and Technology Academy and junior high school students from the South Texas Preparatory Academy. The third library, Med Tech Library located in San Benito, serves high school students studying at the South Texas Academy of Medical Technology.
The school libraries in STISD provide inviting and supportive environments rich in technology and resources that support the requirements of each school’s focused curriculum. All librarians work closely with teachers and students to select materials and provide instruction in relevant and rigorous project-based learning. To maximize reach and provide each student with equitable access, STISD school libraries are open during extended hours and are available to the public for onsite use. In addition, all three libraries have flexible, online scheduling.
To complement the technology available to students inside each physical library – each library hosts computer labs and labs dedicated to multimedia creation and editing – students have access to an impressive and extensive virtual collection. Each library has 30NOOK e-readers in circulation, with 130 titles preloaded on each device, and STISD plans to expand their e-book circulation with a “bring your own device” (BYOD) initiative in the 2012-2013 school year. This initiative will allow students to download library materials to personal e-readers. Also available to students are district-wide database subscriptions that support each school’s specialized curriculum and reflect the diversity of its students and staff. These databases are available to students online 24 hours a day, seven days a week from either home or campus. In the future, students will also be able to access these materials from their school buses, as STISD plans to provide Wi-Fi on buses during long rides.
Each STISD library encourages collaborative involvement from all stakeholder groups. Students can join advisory groups or book clubs or become a library volunteer or peer tutor. The libraries also host art exhibitions, contest, rock and classical music concerts, karaoke contests and brown bag lunches featuring community guest speakers. Parents are invited to visit the dedicated parent center which contains print and video resources, computers, printers, scanners and a satellite television monitor. Each library also holds parent focused activities and trainings, book clubs and author events.
In addition to the collaborative planning of lessons, STISD librarians work closely with teachers and other school and district staff. Each library has an online system so that staff may log in to schedule library areas, request items for delivery/purchase and request training or collaborative planning time. Librarians also serve on district level committees such as the educational improvement council, the student health advisory committee, the leadership team and the strategic planning committee. School librarians are engaged in the development of professional learning communities within the district and in the larger educational community and in 2010, all STISD librarians attended professional learning community training and became Web-instructor certified for Texas Virtual Schools.
“The library program is embedded in the culture of South Texas Independent School District,” said Bonnie Grimble, award committee chair. “Collaboration consistently occurs and teachers really believe and buy into the culture. Librarians and teachers base all initiatives on best practices and the students were clearly engaged. A student first/student centered environment was highly evident at each school.”