And Then There Were Five

One of my goals this semester is to read the new Empowering Learners: Guidelines for School Library Media Programs (AASL, 2009).  As you well know, this document replaces our beloved Information Power (1998).

This book is more concise that IP, overall.  However, the Mission of the School Library Media Program has actually grown – as have the Roles of the Media Specialist.

Some of us remember that the 1988 Standards listed three Roles for the media specialist.  IP listed four: Instructional Partner, Information Specialist, Teacher, and Program Administrator.   This document lists five – the new one is Leader.

At first I was a bit dismayed at this change, because the job description of the school librarian is already somewhat schizophrenic and dauntingly comprehensive.   The diffusiveness of responsibilities usually means that too much is attempted and too little accomplished due to lack of focus.  It also means that outsiders have a hard time understanding what SLMSs do.  It seems that adding a fifth role will simply compound this problem.

However, viewed another way, this language simply restates more accurately the way successful programs work.  The leadership role has always been there; now, it’s stated in black and white.

In simple terms, leadership means that school librarians serve on schoool leadership committees.  My guess is that most  already do that, at least most years. Further, it means that the program seeks ways to support the goals of the school and perhaps takes responsibility for specific learning standards.  It means constantly scanning the horizon for new learning resources, technologies, and methods to bring to the faculty for consideration.  It means, in a word, proactivity.

Another thing about these new standards: the terms “school librarian” and “school library” make a reappearance, while “media specialist” and “media program” are still used as well.  I, for one, welcome the return of the “library” word!

This time next month I’ll be in Charlotte at AASL (which is why I regretfully can’t attend COMO next week – I had to choose between the two).  I look forward to the official launching of this document and perhaps seeing some of my Georgia colleagues there!

Mary Ann Fitzgerald, University of Georgia

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Posted on October 5, 2009, in Standards. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. So when are you going to make your students buy this? 😉

    • Hey now, we already bought enough books this semester!

      And I am also glad to see the word library making a comeback. I hate to say it, but when I hear media specialist, I think about changing out bulbs in overhead projectors.

      • And I know it doesn’t lightly trip off the tongue, but I’m favoring “teacher-librarian” these days to kind of show off what we do, since there seem to be many out there who forget we’re teachers (in the most awesome classroom in the school!) and well.

  1. Pingback: AASL Standards for the 21st Century Learner in Action « Georgia Library Media Association

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