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School libraries under threat: How to ensure survival?
How to ensure
LIB 600 Libraries and Education 2014
The economy is
stormy, and principals
are looking for ways
to save money.
That threatens school
libraries and school
librarians, and they
are often among the
first to succumb to the
• As with other public-school districts, Mesa
Public Schools are not required to have a
certified media specialist operate their
libraries and have cut the positions because of
Imagine a newly modernized school
with a built-in library/media center
— but no books to put on the shelves. Actually, you
don’t have to imagine.
Read about what’s going on with libraries in D.C.
public schools (DCPS) in this open letter to Mayor
Vincent Gray from D.C. resident and school library
advocate Peter MacPherson. He’s been fighting a
move by DCPS to cut funding for dozens of school
Read MacPherson’s letter at
Succes story: From cuts . . .
. . . to capers
• Spokane Moms campaign is
grass-roots success story
• Spokane Public Schools is
restoring some of the funding
cut from elementary libraries
last year, thanks largely to the
lobbying efforts of three women
who have become heroes among
• “They call us the Spokane
Moms, which I think is so
funny,” said Lisa
• June 25, 2008 - Updated: June 30, 4:10 p.m.
School Librarians Must Build Support
before the crisis happens!
• Step 1 - Know Your Stakeholders
– Students, Parents, Teachers, Administrators, Community
• Step 2 - Alignment
– Align your goals with those of the stakeholders
– Use the latest research you can find
• Step 3 - Program Promotion
– Build promotional efforts around stakeholder needs
• Step 4 – Evaluation and Evidence
– Collect and analyze relevant data about programs,
resources and services
– Measure what is important to stakeholders
• Step 5 - Share Findings
– Organize and utilize the data that shows
contributions to educational goals
Crisis Planning when the unthinkable looms
• Define the situation
• Know your mission
• Determine a communication structure
• Identify the stakeholders
• Craft the message
• Share the message
• Get people involved
• Ask for letters of support
AASL Crisis Toolkit
We Need a Little Insurance!
We need to
What does AASL say?
• Empowering Learners (2009)
– GUIDELINE: The school
library media program is
built by professionals who
model leadership and best
practice in the school
• ACTION: The school library
media specialist . . . uses
research to inform practice
and makes evidence-based
Organized evidence about your own school library
• Action research
– Action research is any systematic inquiry
conducted by teacher researchers, principals,
school counselors, or other stakeholders in the
teaching/learning environment to gather
information about how their particular schools
operate, how they teach, and how well their
• (An excerpt from Geoffrey Mills book Action
Research) reproduced as part of Unit 1:
What is and why use action research on
1. Identify the problem
From Action Research Powerpoint -
Presented at November 7, 2005 Delsea
Regional High School In-service.
(no longer available)
What makes a good problem statement?
• State it as a question that should
• How can the library promote reading,
writing and listening skills with English-
– “Ipods and English-Language
Learners: A Great Combination.”
Teacher Librarian 34, no. 5 (2007).
• Does collaboration with the school
librarian make a difference for the
senior research paper?
2. Collect data
• What data?
–How are we going to measure what we’re
• What does “make a difference” mean?
–Operationalize! See Operationalizing Variables
• “Difference” suggests a comparison
» Compare what?
» Final products?
» Compare research papers of two high school classes—
one where the librarian was involved, and one where
the classroom teacher worked alone?
» Or interview the students about their experience?
Example of action research
• Improving research paper
– English teachers and the school librarian
collaborate to gather data in a
qualitative action research study that
investigates the effectiveness of an
assignment that requires primary
research methods and an essay of two
• Gordon, Carol. Students As Authentic
Researchers: A New Prescription for the
High School Research Assignment School
Library Media Research vol. 2, 1999
Goals of action research
• Making things better!
– Ghaye, T. (1997). Some Reflections on the Nature of
Educational Action Research. School Libraries Worldwide,
A New ALA/AASL Initiative