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Exemplary School Libraries: Presentation made at the Ontario Library Association Camp, OISE, University of Toronto, August 7/09

Exemplary School Libraries: Presentation made at the Ontario Library Association Camp, OISE, University of Toronto, August 7/09

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  • 1. STRIVING FOR EXEMPLARY SCHOOL LIBRARY PROGRAMS Elizabeth A. Lee Queen’s University Gay Stephenson People for Education
  • 2. The Goal of Our Research
    • Understand the functioning of exemplary school library programs.
    • Describe the role of administrators, teacher-librarians and teachers.
    • Describe those factors that supports or hinder exemplary school library programs.
    • Highlight teachers’ and students’ use of exemplary school libraries.
  • 3. What was Already Known Prior to our Research
    • Ontario data suggest that library staffing is linked to student achievement and literacy attitudes.
    • International data supports the links between the of presence professionally trained school librarians and student achievement.
    • Deteriorating collections and declining levels of staffing in Canadian and American school libraries.
  • 5. Principals
    • Provide key support for the school library
    • Regard the teacher-librarian as key teaching member of their staff
    • Protect the librarian from excessive preparation time and coverage.
    • “ We consider the library as the core place for the school for the success of learning and teaching.”
  • 7. Classroom Teachers
      • May have been reluctant (at first) to develop partnerships or share teaching with the T-L
      • Appreciated flexibility in their T-L
      • Successful partnering/shared teaching went beyond the “traditional” activities .
    • Effective partnerships with the teacher librarian supported teaching and learning
    • “ I wish that we could multiply our teacher-librarian because she’s involved in so many things.”
  • 9. Teacher Librarians
    • Created a vibrant place for learning and teaching.
      • A hub in the school
      • Collaboration, partnerships, shared planning, teaching and assessment.
    • Are under-utilized instructionally if they are not able to work full-time.
    • “ One of the important qualities makes the program successful is that a lot of it is open flexible partner time. We all bring different strengths so that when we plan a unit, or when we are teaching or marking it; we all bring different perspectives.”
  • 10. Exemplary School Library Programs
    • Two common features:
      • Exemplary programs have teacher librarians who maximize teaching time.
      • Exemplary teacher librarians continually strive to modify the existing contexts.
    • Exemplary programs are defined as being exemplary within the context they operate.
  • 11. A Continuum of School Library Programs
    • Context creates a continuum of school library programs.
      • It is not set of attributes.
    • Each level identifies contextual factors that facilitates or hinders the school library program.
    • Differentiated by a greater emphasis on instruction and deeper integration of the library program into all aspects of the school.
  • 12. Facets of the Continuum Program Unconnected Coordinated Integrated Admin-istration Peripheral Not central Central Pro-active Shared decisions Systemic under-standing of library role Finance Regular Allocation Occasional Additional funding Structured additional allocations Firm foundation for finances Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Level 4
  • 13. Continuum of School Library Programs Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Level 4 Library’s role in school Operates within school culture Partnerships are building Library is central to learning Ongoing systematic support Teacher-librarian’s role in school Peripheral resource Important resource Equal partner Instruction Parallel or independent teaching Cooperative teaching Collaborative teaching
  • 14. Level 1 School Library Programs
    • Current context: Many limiting factors
      • Part time position.
      • Flexible open scheduling difficult.
    • Prep coverage & basic library functions rather than instruction.
    • Teachers & principal have limited understanding of the instructional role of the library.
    • Teacher librarians provide independent instruction that is not systematically coordinated with the classroom.
  • 15. Agents of Change
    • The kids are all trained on book exchange so when I'm not here the classes come in.
    • Initiate procedures that free time to provide instruction and begin to work more directly with teachers.
      • Efforts to implement change are difficult and may encounter resistance.
      • Teachers may perceive these partnerships as additional, time consuming work.
      • Looks for opportunities to build.
  • 16. Level 2 School Library Programs
    • Current context: Fewer constraints
      • More administrative support
    • Principal has broader view of the role of the library within the school culture.
    • Principals provide partial funding of prep coverage so librarian can focus on instruction.
    • Teachers more open to working cooperatively.
  • 17. Agents of Change
    • It's been a process. If you'd have come the first year it would have been … finding the teachers you know would be on board
    • Proactive efforts to change the way the library is used.
    • School culture changing due to librarian’s efforts.
    • Able to have an increased emphasis on coordinating their instruction.
    • I can’t even imagine a literacy program without the support of your library and librarian
  • 18. Level 3 School Library Programs
    • Current context: Enabling
      • Prioritized support and funding by administration
    • Focus on student learning.
    • Ongoing Collaborative teaching a given.
    • Library has a critical and integral role supporting students, staff, and the school’s mandate and mission.
    • Staff share a vision of the library as a place for learning and teaching.
  • 19. Agents of Change
    • Teacher librarians provide ever-changing support to teachers based on shared needs.
    • Continuous improvement model, with an ever moving target for their program
    • Teacher librarian recognized the challenges faced by their schools but interpreted these as opportunities.
    • Life-long learners, seeking opportunities to acquire new skills and enhance their program
    • I took a full year of drama training and created a literacy through drama program and reported on drama expectations for the teachers
  • 20. Level 4 School Library Programs
    • Imagine a Level 3 program with systematic administrative support at the school, board, and provincial levels, both in funding and policy.
    • Trained teacher librarians with continuous opportunities to build skills.
  • 21. The Reality
    • We could not find examples of Level 4 school library programs.
      • Intermittent support
      • Need to continually justify school role
    • This lack of systematic support hinders the development of library programs.
      • Hard won expertise and knowledge vanishing from the educational system
  • 22. What do students think ?
  • 23. What students told us: “ I f I could change one thing about the library I would keep library period everyday.”
  • 24. Asking questions…
      • A video contest at the University of Waterloo: http://www.lib.uwaterloo.ca/contests/lovelibrary/contestwinners.html
  • 25. Single Best Thing about Our Library…
    • Number of books available (55%) .
    • “ I t has SO MANY BOOKS!”
    • “ T he amount of books we have and how interesting they are.”
    • Physical space, organization/atmosphere of library (34%) .
    • “ It’s extremely quiet, so no one can bother you.”
    • “ Everything in the library is neat and tidy.”
    • Librarian (34%) .
    • “ W e have a great librarian that is smart, nice and is always a happy person!”
  • 26. One thing I would do to improve our school library would be to …
    • Get more books (46%) “F inish all the unfinished series because some of the series are cut off and you have to run to the public library.” “G et more NEW books.”
    • Change the physical space or arrangement (27%). “M a ke it bigger and spacier (sic). It’s too crowded.” “B e more organized with the books.”
  • 27. You can ask too!
      • Our research included a student survey – you can do one too!
      • Have you tried www.surveymonkey.com ?
  • 28. Facing the ongoing challenges
    • THE CONTEXT: Facilitates or hinders implementation of library programming
    • ADMINISTRATION: Gaining the principals support.
    • PREP TIME: Excessive coverage means missed opportunities for integrated teaching.
    • FUNDING & POLICY: Libraries require adequate funding and support from all levels:
    • Ministry, Board, School.
  • 29. Exemplary School Libraries in Ontario
    • http://www.accessola.com/osla/bins/index.asp
    • Follow the “Hot Links” button
    • Or go to:
    • http://www.peopleforeducation.com/school-libraries
    • Elizabeth Lee [email_address]
    • Gay Stephenson [email_address]