AASL announces school library programs of the year

Contact: Melissa Jacobsen
AASL Communications Specialist
(312) 280-4381

For Immediate Release
May 4, 2010

CHICAGO – Two schools have been given the title of School Library Program of the Year by the American Association of School Librarians (AASL). New Canaan High School (NCHS) in New Canaan, Conn. and Perry Meridian Middle School in Indianapolis, Ind. are the recipients of the 2010 National School Library Program of the Year (NSLPY) award.

The recipients were judged on their mission statement; the implementation of their mission statement; how they implement AASL's learning standards; how well the library program is integrated into the curriculum of the school; and the school librarian's efforts to make their educational communities key stakeholders aware of the importance of a good library program.Â

With 1,296 students in grades levels 9-10, NCHS school library's mission statement asserts that the program "aspires to help each student excel and achieve maximum potential by providing a 21st century learning environment, fostering a love of reading and promoting the effective use of information and communications technology." The library staff includes Chris Russo, Taffy Rodell, Michelle Luhtala, Tony Psenicnik, Mariana Psenicnik, Marilyn Block, Scott Koehler, Paul Cunha, Sue Jacobsen, Tomo Honohan and Cathy Swan.

In addition to nurturing a love for reading, NCHS holds up its mission statement by creating a learning environment equipped with the tools and resources to make its students 21st century learners. An online book discussion forum, open-source, online course management software and video tutorials on various social networking sites makes the school library the "hot spot" for gaining essential 21st century skills. The library website offers on-demand access to resources, instruction and real-time help. Since the inception of the school library's website in 2005, the number of page views has increased by 380 percent.

NCHS school library is a key part of the school’s curriculum planning. School librarians have even collaborated with the NCHS's physical education department. The librarians work with classroom teachers to raise student performance; with parents to teach ethical use of social media; and with community organizations to co-develop reading activities. Via "Friday Notes," the school librarians showcase program successes to the board of education. The program is regularly featured in the school newspaper and television network, and local press cover major events, like special author visits.

NSLMPY chair Terri Kirk said, "The New Canaan High School library is outstanding with its use of Web 2.0 tools integrating information literacy throughout the curriculum. The students enthusiastically embrace learning through the technology and also have passion for personal reading."

Perry Meridian Middle School has 1,154 seventh and eighth graders. Its Instructional Media Center (IMC) is headed by Leslie B. Preddy. Its mission statement states that the staff "work collaboratively with teachers and administrators to plan, implement and evaluate instructions to promote reading and to provide resources and services that allow students and teachers to be effective users of information in a variety of formats." The IMC's website shows this collaboration also extends to parents, with resources on the homepage to help parents instill a love of reading and learning.

"At Perry Meridian Middle School, literacy initiatives emanate from the library," said Kirk. "Students are reading for pleasure every school day in every classroom and content area. One administrator was quoted as saying, 'You have to have a champion for children, and this library program is the champion.' The impact of the library program on the entire school community is palpable."

The IMC's many activities, clubs and events further the mission to promote reading. Forty students meet once a month for New Books Club to read, post book reviews and make recommendations. The Family Read-In experience each semester fosters adult interaction in children's reading by having the adult and child read a book together and participate in home activities. Families then come together at the IMC for an evening celebration of book themed activities. A calendar of literacy events keeps the entire school community reading and coming to the IMC for curricular support.

The school librarians promote the IMC through an e-newsletter sent to families, the Toilet Paper Press, which is distributed to stakeholders through displays in the school's public restrooms and in PDF format on the school's network. Local press is notified of upcoming events and is provided post-event pictures. At the end of the year, stakeholders receive an IMC annual report. The magazine style report provides a review of the year in the IMC and showcases upcoming activities for the new school year.

The American Association of School Librarians, www.aasl.org, a division of the American Library Association (ALA), promotes the improvement and extension of library services in elementary and secondary schools as a means of strengthening the total education program. Its mission is to advocate excellence, facilitate change and develop leaders in the school library field.