School libraries and librarians are vital to the educational community. The school library is a unique and essential part of the learning community, and when led by a qualified school librarian, prepares all learners for college, career, and life.
ALA President Jim Neal writes, “School libraries are about innovative technologies and creative spaces. Through school libraries, students understand issues like privacy, confidentiality, intellectual freedom, open access, fair use, and how these relate to their work as learners. Students view libraries as a positive and essential part of their lives.”
Collaborate is one of the six Shared Foundations that anchor the AASL Standards Integrated Framework.
The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), signed by President Obama in 2015, reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and replaced the No Child Left Behind version passed in 2002. For the first time, the legislation included language on “effective school library programs” and student learning outcomes.
School librarians and administrators are not alone in creating the state ESSA plans. The American Association of School Librarians (AASL), as the national organization for the school library profession, is following ESSA and tracking individual states’ approval. State workshops were offered by AASL and the ALA Office for Library Advocacy in 2016–2017, with more than 40 states participating. These workshops were not only designed to inform school librarians about the legislation, but most importantly to walk them through developing a personalized, state-specific, advocacy and coalition-building plan to ensure that school librarians were included in the state ESSA plan. Follow-up interviews (PDF) with workshop participants indicated a significant increase in general comfort level in advocating for school library programs. This will have a lasting impact on all state-level advocacy efforts.
AASL’s release of National School Library Standards for Learners, School Librarians, and School Libraries is a groundbreaking publication that provides school librarians with a structure to develop curriculum tailored to their local priorities and accommodate learner growth through personalized experiences. The AASL Standards Integrated Framework, featured within the book, reflects a comprehensive approach to teaching and learning that demonstrates the connection between students, librarians, and standards.