What is a Strong School Library?

Here are five questions you can ask in order to better understand if a school has a strong library program. Does the library have…
  1. A full time, certified teacher librarian and a full-time paraprofessional working as a team. This allows the teacher librarian to collaborate with classroom teachers in co-designing instruction which incorporates information literacy into the curriculum. Measurement: The national average is one school librarian to 856 students. California’s average is one librarian to 5,240 students.
  2. Lots of carefully selected books, databases, and other learning resources. Resources must reflect the school curriculum and the research and recreational reading needs of the students. Measurement: The national average is 22 books/student.
  3. A program which provides instruction and activities for students to use the research process in finding the information they need. Research is a process, not an end product. It is the thinking process whereby students learn to access, evaluate, and use information to solve a teacher’s research project requirements. Measurement: The American Library Association (ALA) has created nine information literacy standards that are best taught when embedded in content-area standards-based units of study through collaboration between the site library media teacher and classroom teachers. Is your library media teacher routinely practicing collaborative teaching? California state content standards are infused with independent reading as well as information literacy. Is your library media teacher promoting reading for purpose as well as for pleasure?
  4. Technology, including hardware, software, and networking that form a virtual library without walls linking students to the world of information, a cybrary that fully supports the school curriculum, 24/7. Measurement: Do all schools in the district have access to the same level of technology-based resources? How do your school library eResources compare with other school districts’ eResources?
  5. Its doors open before, during and after school hours, with liberal circulation policies. This means access to the school library, its resources, and staff. Measurement: Compare the number of hours your elementary, middle and high school libraries are open. Compare your district to others.
These questions and more are on a "thank you" handout especially created for you to share with your "Best Sellers". You can share the URL or print it and personally deliver the 2-sided page. You could also enlarge the document and post it prominently in your library, where you can invite students and staff to sign up as "Best Sellers." It is your program! You and your school community together can build a strong school library. After all, a strong school library program is the cornerstone of a healthy school.