Maximizing Their Impact
As school librarians enact equity, diversity, inclusion, and intellectual freedom (EDII) in their collaborative work, the school community will help them reach for social justice for all students. In schools with effective school librarians, EDII extend beyond the library and permeate the entire school culture. When school librarians collaborate with classroom teachers, specialists, and administrators, all students will experience the benefits of an EDII-infused learning environment.
Through coplanning, coteaching, and coassessing student learning outcomes, collaborating school librarians advocate for EDII in their daily work and influence the instructional practices of their colleagues. Effective school librarians integrate the diverse resources of the school library as they coplan and coteach. They ensure equitable student access to resources in all formats and to assistive technologies. School librarians coplan and coteach for student choice, voice, and differentiation in teaching and learning strategies, student activities, and learning products. Alongside their colleagues, they guide students in reading for learning in order to make sense and critically analyze and use ideas and information.
In schools with effective school librarians, collaboration results in instructional improvements for educators, including school librarians, and improved learning outcomes for students.
A Collaborative Culture of Learning
How can school librarians be leaders in co-creating a values-centered culture of deeper learning?
Instructional Leadership: What If?
Given the emphasis on literacy and reading in schools and districts, it makes intuitive sense that students’ reading and writing proficiency and standardized scores would be better in schools with strong library programs.
Research also bears this out. Decades of research indicates that there is a positive correlation between learners’ attending schools with full-time, state-certified school librarians and higher scores on standardized reading tests (Gretes 2013; Lance and Kachel 2018). As Todd notes, deep reading for comprehension and meaning making is the foundation for constructing knowledge (2015, 13). If school librarians seek to guide students in making meaning from texts and creating new knowledge, then the school librarian’s role in reading is critical.
“The school librarian is an instructional partner who models and supports independent reading and the development of reading comprehension through curricular planning, instruction, resources, and literacy activities. School librarians:
- Co-design, co-implement, and co-evaluate interdisciplinary lessons and units of instruction that help learners increase reading proficiency through inquiry learning experiences.
- Collaborate with classroom educators and specialists to integrate paper and online reading comprehension strategies in library instruction that supports learners’ development” (AASL 2018).
How can school librarians maximize their impact on student outcomes in the areas of reading and writing while centering EDII in their work?
Collaboration and Leadership
If school librarians are to be instructional leaders, then aligning their expertise in teaching/coteaching information literacy skills through inquiry and research with effective strategies for elevating students’ reading and writing proficiency is essential. Bringing school librarian values to the collaboration table helps spread EDII and principles of social justice throughout the learning community.
In order to be information literate,
students must be able to comprehend the information they read/view/hear.
Intentionally addressing comprehension strategies during information literacy instruction is a pathway to success for students. One critically important reading comprehension strategy is activating or building background knowledge. When readers connect to ideas and information that reflect their experience, they are more likely to be motivated to read because they have a foundation of knowledge on which to build new understandings. Readers who lack such background knowledge will struggle unless they are guided to build such knowledge or if they havealready incorporated this comprehension strategy into their reading toolkits.
Coplanning for and coteaching reading comprehension and writing strategies must be central to school librarians’ work. Providing students with equitable intellectual access to ideas and information is a way for school librarians to bring principles of EDII into the classroom curriculum. Through diverse, inclusive collection development and coplanning with other educators to enact student-centered practices, school librarians can help all students succeed while they influence the values of their colleagues.
In order to reach their capacity, school librarians must diffuse their value for equity, diversity, inclusion, and intellectual freedom throughout the school learning community. They do this by collaborating with others and in the process, achieve leadership and enact social justice.
In order to achieve a school culture of deeper learning, what role have you played or will you play in bringing conversations and actions related to social justice (EDII) to the fore in your teaching, school, district, and community? (Moreillon 157).
Core Values in School Librarianship: Responding with Commitment and Courage Book Study
This is the final blog post in this book study of companion writings to support the content of the book. The contributors to the book and to this book study resource hope we have given you some examples, inspiration, and motivation to further your own values-centered practice in the areas of equity, diversity, inclusion, and intellectual freedom. “We hope you will use your voice to affirm your commitment to library values and have the courage to enact them in collaboration with library stakeholders” (Moreillon 2021, 157).
Working together in collaboration with others, school librarians can transform teaching, learning, and the cultures of schools and communities. Together, they can stand up for the hard things that lead to social justice in education.
American Association of School Librarians. 2018. “Position Statement: The School Librarian’s Role in Reading.” ALA.org. Available at https://www.ala.org/aasl/advocacy/resources/statements. Accessed December 27, 2021.
Gretes, Frances. 2013. “School Library Impact Studies: A Review of Findings and Guide to Sources.” Harry & Jeanette Weinberg Foundation.
Lance, Keith Curry, and Debra Kachel. 2018. “Why School Librarians Matter: What Years of Research Tell Us.” Phi Delta Kappan Online. Available at http://www.kappanonline.org/lance-kachel-school-librarians-matter-years-research. Accessed December 27, 2021.
Moreillon, Judi. 2021. “Collaboration.” In Core Values in School Librarianship: Responding with Commitment and Courage, ed. Judi Moreillon, 139-158. Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited.
Todd, Ross J. 2015. “Evidence-Based Practice and School Libraries: Interconnections of Evidence, Advocacy, and Actions.” Knowledge Quest 43 (3): 8–15.