IASL 2015

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Collaborative Leadership in School Library Learning Commons: New Canadian Standards and New Possibilities

Paper by Carol Koechlin and Anita Brooks Kirkland
Collaborative Leadership in School Library Learning Commons: New Canadian Standards and New Possibilities  pdficonS

Presented by Dr. Dianne Oberg on June 30, 2015 at the conference of the International Association of School Librarianship (IASL).
IASL2015_LeadingLearningKoechlinKirklandOberg  pdficonS


LL_IASL2015“Learners have a right to expect good school libraries in every school in Canada.”

Now schools in Canada have a brand new tool to help them not only reach this goal but also advance learning for the future. Leading Learning: Standards of Practice for School Library Learning Commons in Canada was officially launched May 30th, 2014 at the Canadian Library Association (CLA) Conference in Victoria, British Columbia.

This document has many purposes. Primarily it provides a guide for the transition of school libraries to vibrant centres of teaching and learning responsive to the diverse needs of learners today and into the future. It also serves as a measurement tool to help schools determine where they are now with library facilities and programs and where they want to advance to. Standards can indeed help measure practice, but Leading Learning does much more. By focusing on the needs of the learner, Leading Learning provides a framework for growth. Every school, no matter the status of its library program, can find itself in this framework and decide on tangible steps for improvement.

The development of Leading Learning brought together input from every province and territory in the country, and successfully developed standards for growth that are meaningful within this very disparate context. The process of writing the standards was very unique and modeled the benefits of working collaboratively in a networked world.

The Royal Society of Canada’s expert panel report, The Future Now: Canada’s Libraries, Archives, and Public Memory (2014) summarized research into the transformation of school libraries, citing Leading Learning and the Ontario School Library Association’s Together for Learning: School Libraries and the Emergence of the Learning Commons: A Vision for the 21st Century and Leading Learning as persuasive in prototyping the development of the school library learning commons in Canada. The expert panel made a call for the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC) to frame a national policy consensus on the most appropriate model for school library / learning commons, and for provincial ministries of education to provide sustainable funding for such a model. The expert panel expressed its grave concern about the lack of policy when it comes to the nation’s school libraries. “What does not make sense to us is the absence of either the school library or the learning commons or their amalgam in so many of the nation’s schools.” (RSC, 2014)

A serious re-investment in school libraries as learning commons is a sustainable investment in school improvement and learning to learn today and into the future. The new Canadian standards document is a practical tool to inspire transition journeys and to ensure success. Leading Learning can be the catalyst for change, addressing the grave concerns expressed by the Royal Society’s report. We strive for educators in Canada and worldwide to consider this potential. The time to re-invest is now!