It is evident from an analysis of two data sources that an evolution in the instructional role of the library media specialist did occur from 1950 to 1984. A clear pattern of progressive development of the instructional role has persisted in the standards and the literature. The changes in the library media specialist’s role from study hall monitor to curriculum designer can certainly be termed substantive.
The Changing Instructional Role of the High School Library Media Specialist, 1950–84: A Survey of Professional Literature, Standards, and Research Studies
First set of national standards for school libraries K-12
School Libraries for Today and Tomorrow published by the American Library Association
These standards linked the quality of school libraries to the size of book collections and the frequency of classroom teacher use of the library. Further, the school librarian was beginning to be seen as an instructional leader for the “mental, emotional and social growth of young people.”
Linda Jean Underwood, “ A Case Study of Four School Library Media Specialists’ Leadership in Louisiana ,” Phd dissertation, W. VA University, p. 23.
The decade between the close of World War II and the mid-fifties was termed by many educators as a decade of American complacency. Americans had emerged victorious from a world war and were exulting in their acknowledged super-power status. School librarians floundered in a wave of anti-intellectualism and the conformity that was precipitated by technological democracy and the Cold War.
Teaching, despite the noticeable increase in audiovisual services offered by school libraries, was still dominated by the textbook.
The launching of Sputnik in 1957 was the catalyst that halted America’s complacency and expedited the educational process.
At this point, federal funds were made available for the purchase of the school library as a resource center, and not merely a depository. By the late 1950s, schools began to focus on learning rather than teaching, and on curriculum methods that permitted a broader instructional role for the school librarian.
In school library development and education in general, the 1960s can be described as a decade of ferment. “rhetoric and ideas abounded as to what education would do to solve a number of pressing social issues—from integrating the schools racially to promoting a love of reading among the disadvantaged or disinterested.”
The school’s new emphasis on “diversified learning materials—both printed and nonprinted—for all subjects and levels of ability” finally brought to school librarians the opportunity for [a] greater instructional role. . .
The Knapp Foundation supported curricular innovations that included collaborative teaching with the school librarian. For the first time, the role of the school librarian changed from a keeper of materials to an active participant in the academic process. Thus, the Knapp Foundation recognized the importance of the school librarian as an active participant in schools that embraced the new reforms.
Underwood, “ A Case Study of Four School Library Media Specialists’ Leadership in Louisiana”
ALA and the DAVI of NEA publishes Standards for School Media Programs, national guidelines that unify the roles of librarians and audiovisual personnel under the terminology of library media program and library media specialist.
School Libraries , Education Encyclopedia
School library media specialists were now responsible for non-print materials such as tape recorders, records, filmstrips, and film loops, which required expertise in technology.
This period witnessed an actual, rather than merely a proposed, change from passive learning on the part of students to an environment in which students and teachers actively participated together in projects and activities that served to convey information previously provided by a textbook or a teacher.
Within this environment of change, the school library finally receives assurance that its educational goals and objectives, which in many cases were ahead of the times, were now appropriate.
Media Programs: District and School (AASL and Association for Educational Communications and Technology (DAVI of NEA became AECT in 1971))
The 1975 standards . . . gave more attention to systematic planning providing guiding principles for both site-level and district-level decision-making. By this point, the school library specialist was seen as an integral part of the total instructional program.
Program Standards School Library Media Specialist Preparation (AASL and NCATE, 2003), p. 5.
While the instructional role of the school library media specialist from 1980 to 1984 could be characterized as a period of adjustment concerning the implementation of instructional design activities, the introduction of computers presented library media specialists with a new set of problems.
There is evidence that more systematic approaches were being followed for instruction and that library media specialists were being urged to consider their educational role within the framework of the total program.
The major development in 1988 in terms of standards was the publication of the new school library media guidelines, INFORMATION POWER (AASL & AECT, 1988). This document presents an active, forward-looking role for library media programs based on the library media specialist functioning as information specialist, teacher, and instructional consultant. Discussions of the guidelines are just beginning to appear in the literature; however, the document has already been presented to educators at all levels.
Trends in Library and Information Science: 1989 . ERIC Digest
Inspired by the vision of Information Power (1988)
Library Power programs established in 700 schools in 19 communities nationwide
“ Faithful adoption of Library Powers core practices, along with widespread acceptance of these practices, can lead to permanent change; similarly, as similar policies are implemented elsewhere institutionalization of these practices is more likely.”
“ What Works”: Research You Can Use: The National Library Power Project Teacher Librarian, 27 (2) (1999, Nov-Dec).
See also Library Power Executive Summary: Findings from the National Evaluation of the National Library Power Program
See the Standards for the 21st-Century Learner in Action
DRAFT 2 for Public Comment
This publication . . . provides support for school library media specialists and other educators in teaching the essential learning skills defined in Standards for the 21st- Century Learner . In the latter sections, it presents Action Examples for putting the Standards into practice, divided into grade-level sections by Benchmark Grades 2, 5, 8, 10 and 12.