Monday, June 30, 2014

Learning for Life (L4L)

AASL has a group of representatives from each of its affiliated state school library organizations who are responsible for helping their members implement Standards for the 21st Century Learner and Empowering Learners: Guidelines for School Library Programs.  This initiative is called Learning for Life, or L4L. The group meets at each ALA Annual Conference and Midwinter Meeting to share the work they are doing in their states, along with achievements and challenges to their school library programs. MSLA's L4L Coordinator is Amy Short, Director of Library Media for the Boston Public Schools and also our Boston Area Co-Director on the MSLA Executive Board.

At the meeting at ALA Annual this year, we learned that we are not alone in our struggles to find qualified candidates for open positions and maintain school library programs, and that terrific work is being done in many states to promote the AASL Standards and Guidelines among affiliate members. L4L Coordinators have their own area on ALA Connect, an virtual meeting place where those involved in ALA and AASL initiatives, task forces and committees can collect and share information and support. L4L Coordinators use Connect to share the resources they have developed with their colleagues across the country.

Here is the report Amy submitted for today's meeting:
Successes in our state: We held the following L4L session at our Annual Conference. There were approximately 60 attendees at the session:  Learning4Life: Think, Create, Share, and Grow! What is ALA's "School Libraries @ the Core of Education"? Learn about this new initiative as well as how to navigate the American Association of School Librarians free tools, including the Learning 4 Life (L4L) Lesson Plan Database and the Common Core Crosswalk. Find out how you can use these tools to align your library program with the Common Core standards, collaborate for teacher and student success, and develop/implement SMART goals. Think, create, share, andgrow with L4L!

Bill S.1906 has been introduced on MSLA’s behalf by state legislators. Bill S.1906 establishes a commission to evaluate the status of school library programs in each school district in the Commonwealth in terms of staffing, materials, and program requirements or guidelines. The bill has been passed as an amendment to the MA House budget and prior to that, the MA Senate also passed it as a separate bill, so as soon as the Governor signs the budget, it will become official. Once that happens, the Guidelines will be referenced in developing long range goals for school library programs. 
MSLA has been working the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) to develop a school librarian-specific performance evaluation tool. The committee working on this is creating an overlay document that adapts the teacher evaluation tool to make it more effective and specific and aligned with the Guidelines.

District-determined Measures (DDM’s) to be used for performance evaluationsare a hot topic in Massachusetts. The Tool for Real-time Assessment of Information Literacy Skills (TRAILS) ( is a MA DESE-approved DDM. MSLA holds monthly Twitter chats (#MSLA). One of our recent chats was about DDM’sIt was evident that from the number of chat participants and the even larger number of people who accessed the Twitter chat archive afterwards that our MSLA members are very interested in learning more aboutDDM’s. Therefore, we are planning a day-long professional development session around DDM’s for late summer/early fall, in time for school librarians to plan their SMART goals and measures for evaluation.

L4L Resources: Resources can be found on the MSLA website

Major problems facing our state: We are facing a major shortage of licensed school librarians to fill openings in Massachusetts; we have many openings and a very small pool of qualified applicants.

Next steps: One thing we might want to consider for the future is to recommend that librarians have one SMART Goal related to implementing the Standards or using the Guidelines.