Ola Camp Aug 7


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

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Ola Camp Aug 7

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