Sunday, July 7, 2013

School Library's Impact on Student Learning

In past years, I've pretty much just stuck to the Auditorium Speaker Series, the President's Program and exhibit hall when I go to ALA.  I thought that was all my modestly priced registration option gave me.  But this year I realized that there's tons more stuff I could go to, and so I did.  One of them was a talk on school library's impact on student learning.

It was done by the University of South Carolina School of Library Science lead by Gerry Solomon, Donna Shannon and Karen Gavigan.  They gave a very comprehensive presentation and provided resources on tracking your school library's program and how it impacts student learning.  They created a wiki with resources which I highly recommend you take a look at. 

They began by talking about why it's essential to document the school library's impact.  The first is to inform.  You need to be able to demonstrate the program's contribution to student learning and effectiveness with evidence.  Having this evidence allows you to advocate for you school library program.  A key is to shift from what the librarians do to what the students achieve.  The emphasis should be on outcomes (evidence based practice).

A variety of factors informs school library instruction.  The Common Core Standards, the AASL information library standards, your state's benchmarks.  And, of course, whatever it is the your school wants to emphasis and make sure students have.

It was stressed that you don't need to keep track of and evaluate every single thing you do.  You just need to do enough sampling over the course of a given year.  Make sure you hit all grade levels.  It doesn't have to be time intensive, but what you gather does have to be meaningful.  Keep samples of lesson plans, keep track of notes and monitor progress as you go along. Take a look at the Tools section on the wiki for different ways to gather evidence of student learning.

Assessment should be a part of each lesson.  This allows you to see what the students have gotten out the lesson.  Assessment  should be a mix of for the learning and of the learning.  Of the learning involves testing, rubrics and checklists.  For the learning is more reflective and might us something like a learning log.

Most importantly, start where you are.  Track your resources and services, build partnerships with faculty, increase collaborations and develop a long-rang plan for assessing and documenting.  And link the library mission with the school mission!

I found the talk very helpful and will definitely start using some of the tools that were about.

You can take a look at the outline of the presentation on the wiki.


  1. Thank you so much for sharing this!! As I start my first year as a school librarian (finally!), I'm sure this will be a great resource for me. I can't wait until next year, I hope to save up enough money to go to ALA.

    1. I'm so glad it was helpful! Good luck with your first year!

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