Library Services in Schools

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Success Stories

Moving from Fixed to Flex Scheduling

I am the head librarian at a PK-12 college preparatory school with a busy library of over 27,000 materials. Information instruction is a vital part of our services as we prepared our students for college. Over the years, and under several different head librarians, our library fell into the practice of offering a PK-5 fixed schedule and a flexible schedule for 6-12 grades. We tried for many years, via accredidation self-study, to upgrade the PK-5 program to flex-scheduling. In 2011, instead of just repeating the same recommendations, I decided to take action, came up with a new program that wouldn’t scare our teachers with too much change, and sought and received permission from administration to make the change. Here are our accredidation recommendations:

  • While weekly check out and story time should continue on a fixed schedule, a flexible library research schedule should be created for lower School students, modeled after the middle and upper school. Library research time would be scheduled to meet the needs of each class, facilitated by the librarian, as required to support an actual project. This would include library availability for class research, book reports, curriculum-based units, and any other special classroom requests.
  • There should be no special area grading criteria/designation of the library, except for grade 5. The library needs to return to a focus of providing research and literary assistance, and fostering a love of reading. It should not be looked upon as a “special area” where students must participate in weekly lessons taught outside of actual classroom projects. The special area designation, which began many years ago to justify a separate LS library program, is outdated and contrary to our school’s library mission and flexible open-door policies.

Here is the final program we will institute in 2011-2012, which gives teachers who are afraid of change a “fall back” of both fixed/flex scheduling. Hopefully, are new program will encourage lower school teachers to visit more instead of less!

Library Changes beginning August 2011: 1. PK Program: 4 year olds will have a weekly literature/check out time and 3 year olds a monthly time. Parents will be encouraged to come in to check out books at any time. Parent involvement will be fostered with a library resources session for PK families every 9 weeks facilitated by the Head Librarian. No special area designation/grading criteria 2. K-3rd grade Program: Weekly library literature/check out time of 25 minutes. Additionally, teachers will be encouraged to set up library research days when they have projects. All project-based learning units will be facilitated by the Head Librarian. No special area designation/grading criteria 3. 4th grade: Weekly skills/check out time of 30 minutes. One hour monthly research skills set scheduled at the convenience of the teacher. Additionally, teachers will be encouraged to set up library research days when they have projects. No special area designation/grading criteria 4. 5th grade: Weekly 45 minute library class in the traditional sense. This class will continue to be graded. Additional research/flex time as required by teachers.

Great Ideas for School Library Lessons

These are some examples of "Best Practices Lessons" from Rhode Island's Educational Media Association:

(Place your lessons here.)

Here are some districts that have their own "Best Practices" wikis:

Anaheim Union High School District, CA [1]

Useful Handouts

ILA Session on The Teacher Librarian



Hi, I am Michelle Luhtala, Library Department Chair at New Canaan High School in New Canaan, CT. We were recipients of the AASL National School Library Program of the Year Award in 2010, and I was named Outstanding Librarian by the Connecticut Library Association in 2010. We attribute our program's success to three factors: 1. We deliver our library program in a hybrid online/face-to-face format 2. Our practice is evidence-based 3. We use social media & collaborative technologies to embed 21st century and right-brain skills/senses into our program

If you'd like to learn more, please join my FREE online webinar series, Using Emerging Technology to Improve Your School Library Program, at It runs for 12 months, starting in July 2010. All webinars are archived and available for asynchronous viewing. Continuing Professional Education credit is available.

Hi, I'm part of a group of media specialists in a Minnesota school district looking for great sources on best practices. We are searchiing internet and publishers' offerings. If you have suggestions for books or articles that we absolutely should not miss, please e-mail me at Maybe this is an inappropriate use of a wiki. Haven't tried creating a wiki yet but will be bringing it up at our next district tech meeting. Very interested in setting up a high school forum.

Hi back from Iowa. I am a media specialist in an Iowa school district looking for a way that teens, young adults, and adults can share great books together. Check this new wiki out: Better yet, Minnesota and the rest of the world, add your two cents worth at the wiki. The password is booktalk. Please share where you are from at the Optional login. We need to get the ball rolling with good book ideas. If you wish to improve on the wiki, that is fine, too. My address is:


I'm Donald Maclean, used to be a school librarian based in Scotland, UK. I've just finished a blog which looks at best practice (my viewpoint, obviously!), which lives here: [2] I now work in Higher Education and am based at Perth College, Scotland [3]. I very much enjoyed my time as a school librarian, and wanted to create a resource which might be useful for newly qualified librarians, or those with a passing interest in web 2.0 and new technologies. Hope this might be of some use. Nice wiki, fine idea!

Donald Maclean

Hi, My name is Amy Marquez. I will be a new school librarian this year. I have taught elementary and middle school in Texas for the past 8 years. I am currently working on my Master's degree at Sam Houston State University, in Huntsville, Texas. I am maintaining a blog ( tracking what has and hasn't worked for me, as well what I am learning through my experiences in the library. I am also completing the 23 Things program. If you are a new librarian this might be helpful for you. I would love to hear your comments or suggestions on my blog. I hope some of you might find it useful.

Sincerely, Amy Marquez

HI, I'm Wouter Laleman elementary librarian at the American School in Japan. Some successful programs we are running in our library are Storysports, a combination of improv writing and improv theater invented by New Zealand author Brian Falkner, Picture This! a program where students are invited to write their own stories and I have them illustrated by illustrators who are members of the SCBWI Tokyo chapter, the Sakura Medal, our equivalent to the Newbery and Caldecott for kids in International Schools in Japan and the accompanying Brainbowl. Have a look at the my website for more details on all of these.