AASL just changed its Mission Statement to the extremely succinct and very powerful, “The American Association of School Librarians empowers leaders to transform teaching and learning.” It assumes that librarians are and will be leaders and it’s putting its resources behind the concept of transforming how students are taught and what they should be able to do as a result of their learning. For years ALA has been talking about how libraries transform communities. And it’s quite true that libraries can be and often are community anchors providing free information and services without regard for anyone’s ability to pay.
It needs to be equally true that school libraries transform the educational community. When there is an active, certificated librarian with adequate funding for the library program, this is the case. School librarians instill a love of reading (leaving it to teachers to teach the “how”) and guide students to discover how to develop research strategies so the information they find is relevant and accurate, crafting (hopefully in collaboration with teachers) projects which connect them to a global perspective where they create new content of value to others. In addition, school librarians are skilled tech integrators and help teachers incorporate the latest advances, websites, and apps into the curriculum.
But this ideal doesn’t happen everywhere. It certainly isn’t present in schools that have closed their school libraries or put them in the hands of well-motivated but untrained volunteers. The transformational potential of school libraries is also usually absent in schools where the librarian is overworked and underfunded.
What is needed with this new mission statement and directive is a transformation of school librarianship. School librarians must re-evaluate how they do business, what they should do to be more effective, and how they can communicate what they are able to bring to students, teachers, administrators, parents, and even the wider community. I am looking forward to seeing how the new mission will be put into action as part of AASLs new strategic plan as well as hearing how librarians are living this in their schools.
How does this new statement affect the Mission Statement you have for your library? Now is the time to be thinking of it so you are ready when school starts. And if you need help – just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m here to help you be indispensable.