CHICAGO — Swan Valley High School, located in Saginaw, Mich., is the American Association of School Librarians' (AASL) 2013 National School Library Program of the Year (NSLPY) Award recipient. Sponsored by Follett Library Resources, the NSLPY annually recognizes up to three school library programs that meet the needs of the changing school and library environment and are fully integrated into the school's curriculum. Each recipient receives an obelisk – the symbol of school library excellence – $10,000 toward its school library program.
In the award application, school librarian Kay Wejrowski writes, “Our bookends don’t match. Most of the furniture in our library is from the seventies. And yes, we still have some giant box computer monitors. But the patrons in our library don’t even notice. What they do see, however, is a safe place where their questions are answered, their thirst for knowledge is quenched, and their educational, and often social and personal needs, are met.” The students and staff of Swan Valley agree. One teacher told the NSLPY award committee that the library is a welcoming place that “sucks you in.” Students name the library when asked what is special about their school. A 9th grade student simply stated, “When you come to the library, you come home.”
“It was clear from meeting with administration, teachers, counselors and students that the Swan Valley school library is firmly ensconced in every aspect of the school,” said Katherine Lowe, award committee chair. “Everyone knows that the library will have or find the answer to their problem. Kay reads widely, listens to teachers, and intuitively understands the integration of library materials and skills across the curriculum, as well as supporting technology access in the library and across campus.”
Though library staffing and programming was cut in every other building in the Swan Valley school district, Principal Mat McRae fought to maintain the high school library. He further vowed before the superintendent and school board that as long as he was principal, there would be no cuts to the library program. In his letter of support for Swan Valley’s NSLPY consideration, he writes “The forces of technology, imaginative spirit, personal drive and resourcefulness of our school library program have combined to create a learning environment where all of our students can and do learn. Our community, our staff, and most importantly our students cannot envision our school without our library. It is one of the reasons Swan Valley High School is a special place to learn and achieve.”
"On behalf of the organization, I applaud the recipients of this year’s National School Library Program of the Year,” said Susan Ballard, AASL president. “I congratulate them, and the learning communities they serve, on their commitment to develop and maintain an exemplary program that is a true embodiment of the AASL learning standards and program guidelines. As exemplars of best practice they help us to focus attention on the value and importance of effective school library programs in promoting student achievement. I would also like to thank Follett Library Resources for their ongoing support of this award and their unwavering belief that quality school libraries make a difference.”
Swan Valley High School and other AASL award recipients will be honored at AASL's Awards Luncheon during the 2013 ALA Annual Conference in Chicago. Author, illustrator and school library advocate Jarrett Krosoczka will speak during the luncheon held Monday, July 1. Ticket information can be found on the AASL website at www.ala.org/aasl/annual.
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.