South Texas Independent School District named National School Library Program of the Year

For Immediate Release
Tue, 05/01/2012

Contact:

Jennifer R Habley
Manager, Web Communications
American Association of School Librarians (AASL)
800-545-2433 ext.4383
jhabley@ala.org

CHICAGO — South Texas Independent School District (STISD) 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.

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: Biblioteca 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 30 NOOK 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, contests, 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.”

“I would like to congratulate South Texas Independent School District 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.”

South Texas Independent School District 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.