Mega M. Subramaniam
iSchool at Maryland
Over the past 100 years, education in the United States has grown in size and–even more–in complexity. Part of this development has involved the developing recognition of the importance of the library media program as an integral part of the educational system. In order to function effectively within that system, school library media specialists (LMSs) must understand a number of elements that affect their position in the school: the historical, organizational, and contemporary contexts of library media programs; the principles of teaching, learning, and information literacy that underlie the library media program; and the leadership role that LMSs can play within the school community. This course introduces students to all these elements, concentrating on the various roles of the LMS in supporting student learning.
The roles are derived from the mission statement first adopted in 1988 by the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) and the Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT) to guide the development and improvement of library media programs nationwide. This mission statement was reaffirmed in 1998, and expanded in the revised guidelines for the field, Empowering Learners: Guidelines for School Library Media Programs, published by the American Library Association in 2009. As stated below, the mission statement underlies the College’s School Library Media Specialization and LBSC 640, which is designed to introduce students to the specialization and to the information professions in general:
The mission of the school library media program is to ensure that students and staff are effective users of ideas and information. The school library media specialist (LMS) empowers students to be critical thinkers, enthusiastic readers, skillful researchers, and ethical users of information by:
- collaborating with educators and students to design and teach engaging learning experiences that meet individual needs.
- instructing students and assisting educators in using, evaluating, and producing information and ideas through active use of a broad range of appropriate tools, resources,
and information technologies.
- providing access to materials in all formats, including up-to-date, high-quality, varied literature to develop and strengthen a love of reading.
- providing students and staff with instruction and resources that reflect current information needs and anticipate changes in technology and education.
- providing leadership in the total education program and advocating for strong school library media programs as essential to meeting local, state, and national education goals.
The course also will introduce students to the Standards for the 21st Century Learner, launched by AASL in October 2007. This document outlines the skills that students need for understanding, thinking and mastering subjects; the dispositions that guide their thinking and intellectual behaviors; the responsibilities that reflect behaviors used by independent learners in researching, investigating and problem solving; and the self-assessment strategies that enable students to reflect on their own learning.
American Association of School Librarians. 2009. Empowering Learners: Guidelines for School Library Media Programs.
Donham, J. 2008. Enhancing Teaching and Learning: a Leadership Guide for School Library Media Specialists, 2nd edition revised.