CHICAGO — Hinsdale Township (Ill.) High School District 86 is the recipient of the 2012 National School Library Program of the Year (NSLPY) Award. The NSLPY recognizes school library programs that meet the needs of the changing school and library environment and are fully integrated into the school's curriculum. Sponsored by Follett Library Resources, each recipient is recognized with a crystal obelisk and $10,000 for their school library program.
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.”
“I would like to congratulate Hinsdale Township High School District 86 on their NSLPY recognition,” said Carl Harvey, AASL president. “Their program embodies AASL’s guidelines for school library programs and empowers students to be critical thinkers, enthusiastic readers, skillful researchers and ethical users of information. In a word, the program is exemplary and truly deserving of the award.”
Hinsdale Township High School District 86 and other AASL award winners will be honored at AASL's Awards Luncheon during ALA's 2012 Annual Conference in Anaheim, Calif. The luncheon will be held Monday, June 25. Carmen Agra Deedy, best-selling author and ardent supporter of libraries, will attend the ceremony courtesy of Peachtree Publishing. Ticket information can be found on the AASL website at www.ala.org/aasl/annual.
Established in 1963, the NSLPY Award honors school library programs practicing their commitment to ensure that students and staff are effective users of ideas and information, as well as exemplifying implementation of AASL’s learning standards and program guidelines. The award recognizes exemplary school library programs that are fully integrated into the school's curriculum. Each winning program receives an obelisk – the symbol of school library excellence – and a $10,000 prize donated by Follett Library Resources. Learn more about each of these school library programs at www.ala.org/aasl/awards.
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.