1. Assessing and StrengtheningSchool Libraries in theEnglish Montreal School BoardPresentation for 81st ABQLA Annual Conference, 9 May 2013Gelber Conference Centre, Montréal, QCJulian Taylor,LibrarianPedagogical Services Department, EMSB
2. Abstract School libraries have a number of obstaclespreventing them from being their best for ourstudents and teaching staff. While this is not a newphenomenon, the idea of doing an objective board-wide assessment of our libraries and the needs oftheir school communities, in order to collectivelywork towards making our school libraries morereflective of our students needs and becoming morerelevant in their minds, is relatively new idea. Thispresentation aims to explain the planning andprocess of this assessment at the English MontrealSchool Board, as well as the results it has achievedand its long term goals.
3. Assessing Library Service?Used with permission from “Unshelved.com”http://www.unshelved.com/2002-8-30
4. Assessing Library Service? What is actually being measured / assessed? Is the person involved getting good data? Is the person involved reporting the data from anunbiased point of view? “Data for the sake of data” or “to serve a purpose”?
5. Why Assess Our Libraries? Need to objectively and universally understand whatthe current state of our school libraries is. Stories are often told out of context and with no conceptof it being an isolated issue or a common / systemicproblem. Need to determine what the common needs are inour schools in order to: better utilize limited funds and resources, work collectively with school-based personnel towardsmaking our school libraries more reflective of the needsour modern students and teachers.
6. Why Assess Our Libraries? Need to use the language and tools of administratorsand other decision makers to: demonstrate to them what an underutilized resourceschool libraries are that school libraries need to be improved.
7. Context ~ 38 Elementary Schools Most have a library technician 2 days a week See all students by class in each school in those 2 days time Very little time to do anything other than basic library operations. ~ 14 High Schools Library open and staffed by a library technician 5 days a week. ~30 library technicians and 3 librarians in our schools. For the sake of brevity, “Library Personnel” will be used whendiscussing all school-based library technicians and librarians. All library personnel handle the day-to-day library operationscompletely alone.
8. Context Assessment is a current and powerful trend in the worldof education over the last few years; very business modelapproach. Libraries often overlooked as a part of theschool community. The superior of all library personnel is a former teacherturned administrator; not someone with specific librarytraining or background. School libraries are often the last spot on the hand-me-down list for computers or other technological equipment. School libraries have often been one of the first placesadministrators look when it comes to reducing budgets.
9. Outdated LibrariesCard Catalogs at the Library of CongressEric Spiegel CC BY-NC 2.0
10. Background Hired into new position in April 2009. A number of projects aimed at improving libraryservice across the school board in specific targetedschools. 21st Century Library Project (ABQLA presentation May 2010) Basically, school by school projects with limitedimpact and long term gain.
11. Development Spring 2011 Addition of Danielle Juneau to the “team”. QSLiN G. Nadeau and D. Robert, typologie des bibliothèques scolaires Fall 2011 Launched a board-wide initiative to meet with each principal and theirlibrary personnel in their school. Winter 2012 EBSI Intern reviews with fresh eyes Numerous revisions 2011-2012 school year Visited 14 Elementary Schools and 5 High Schools. Fall 2012-Spring 2013 ...
12. Questions, Questions, Questions... Survey broken into 3 sections: Pre-Survey Dealt with some of the more time consuming questions abouthow long certain activities took and how often they wererequired Meeting with the Principals Questions concerning the library from the point of view of theadministration and the school as a whole. Meeting with the school’s library personnel Why Principal and school library personnel separate?
13. Standard Operating Procedures “Who are these librarians and what do they wantwith my school library?” “We aren’t the library police.” Reassure all parties that we are not looking for problems,just trying to help. Same person always asks the same questions & thesame person always records the responses. To increase consistency between surveys.
14. Questions, Questions, Questions... Pre-survey for the school’s library personnel How many days / year do you spend purchasing books (inbookstores or placing orders from the school)? How much time, or how often during the year, do you taketo evaluate your collection for the purpose of planning,develop and diversify the collection? How many damaged books are repaired per year? How many damaged books per year are removed fromthe collection?
15. Questions, Questions, Questions... Meeting with the Principal 20 to 45+ minutes Often other members of the administration took part. Library Budget Role of Volunteers Their Vision of the Library Open ended, Personal stories about the school library.
16. Questions, Questions, Questions... Meeting with the school’s library personnel ~1 hour Questions about: library services, library usage, budgets, role of volunteers, nature of the collection and its development, physical layout of the library Physical measurements recorded and photographs taken.
17. General Findings So Far... Much of what was known unofficially is now being seenas part of a recognizable pattern; carries more weight. Budgets Volunteers Communication between administrators and librarypersonnel is often the root of any problems. Many administrators do not have a clear understandingof what a library technician or librarian does or could do. A large number of inspiring programs are taking place inour schools, many of which are now being shared.
18. Long Term Goals Publicise and share the great innovations and projectstaking part in our libraries. Show how library service in our schools is not all it couldbe, and potentially not even as good as people feel it is. Demonstrate what could be done with increasedresources and time to make our libraries meet thedemands or today’s students and teachers. Push for increased staffing at the elementary level,without reducing staffing at the secondary level.
19. Unintended Results Higher visibility of board level librarians Drastic increase in the number of school administratorsand school-based library personnel who requestassistance from board level librarians. Exceptionally good PR tool. Higher visibility of school libraries and theirpersonnel Wide-spread increase in desire to involve libraries andtheir personnel in school wide issues.
20. Development Revisited 2011-2012 school year Visited 14 Elementary Schools and 5 High Schools. 2012-2013 school year Visited 2 Elementary Schools and 1 High School. Main focus diverted from the assessment project towardsprojects that are brought to us by school-based personnel,very often as a result of doing the survey. 3rd Board Level Librarian, Annette MacIntyre, added to theteam. 2013-2014 school year Renewed focus on the assessment tool in order to achieve ouroriginal goals.
21. Assessing and StrengtheningSchool Libraries in theEnglish Montreal School BoardPresentation for 81st ABQLA Annual Conference, 9 May 2013Gelber Conference Centre, Montréal, QCJulian Taylor,LibrarianPedagogical Services Department, EMSB