The Evidence-Based Manifesto for School Librarians

The Hyperlinked Library

This article shows the importance of the school library making a difference and being an important center. It also reinforces everything I learn at Dominican. Thank you, dear friend, for sending it my way.

 

Every fall, School Library Journal hosts a national Leadership Summit that brings together a mix of school librarians, administrators, other educators, researchers, and university professors, as well as policy makers and elected officials. While the topics change, the Summit always focuses on an issue of critical importance to school librarians. Our goal? To jump-start the conversation and create a ripple effect throughout the profession.

The 2007 Leadership Summit, “Where’s the Evidence? Understanding the Impact of School Libraries,” dove head first into evidence-based practice (EBP). (To learn more about last year’s Summit see “Peak Experience,” p. 41.) Evidence-based school librarianship, according to Ross Todd, director of Rutgers University’s Center for International Scholarship in School Libraries (CISSL), “is an approach that systematically engages research-derived evidence, school librarian-observed evidence, and user-reported evidence in the ongoing processes of decision making, development, and continuous improvement to achieve the school’s mission and goals. These goals typically center on student achievement and quality teaching and learning.”

Much of what follows draws upon the Summit’s closing session, which Todd led. Here the 200 participants worked at small tables, capturing ideas on paper which they then shared with the larger group. They defined core beliefs about evidence-based practice, identified the challenges ahead, and determined the key actions that needed to be taken—Brian Kenney

Evidence-based practice in school libraries hasn’t emerged out of nowhere. In fact, it’s centered on several beliefs, which most school librarians already share.

  • The fusion of learning, information, and technology presents dynamic challenges for teachers, school librarians, administrators, and students in 21st-century schools. Providing the best opportunities for children to learn and achieve in today’s educational environment, and knowing that they’ve done well, is at the heart of quality teaching and learning, and is the driving force behind evidence-based practice.
  • School libraries as schools’ information and knowledge centers are essential for addressing curriculum standards, the complexities of learning, and quality teaching in information-intensive 21st-century schools.
  • School librarianship derives its mandate from a diverse body of theoretical and empirical knowledge, and active engagement with this knowledge is what enables the profession to continuously transform and improve. Leading this transformation is the professional expertise of certified school librarians who possess expertise, insights, and skills based on the knowledge that they apply in practice.
  • All students can learn through engagement with school libraries. School libraries play a transformative role in the lives of students—not only by helping them develop intellectually, as measured by standardized test scores—but by encouraging students’ intellectual, social, and cultural development.
  • The transformation of information into knowledge, and the development of attitudes, values, and beliefs are enabled through carefully designed instructional interventions and reading literacy programs that guide and engage students.
  • The value of a school library can be measured. Learning outcomes, as well as personal, social, and cultural growth, can be documented.
  • Evidence of the school library’s crucial role in student achievement is not fully understood, nor seen, nor acknowledged by many stakeholders.
  • Accountability is an essential component of sustainable development of the school library profession. Accountability, as a blueprint for professional integrity and significant outcome, is a commitment to growth through examining progress and practices. It brings alignment, innovation, collaboration, introspection, and effectiveness.
  • Sustainable development through accountability requires a move from rhetoric to evidence, from a “tell me” framework to a “show me” framework, and from a process framework to an outcomes framework.
  • If we do not show value, we will not have a future. Evidence-based practice is not about the survival of school librarians, it’s about the survival of our students. This is the social justice and ethical imperative for evidence-based practice.

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