New Standards For Texas School Libraries
Briefing Information for Elementary and Secondary Principals
Senate Bill 1, passed by the 74th Legislature in 1995, states, "The Texas State Library and Archives Commission, in consultation with the State Board of Education, shall adopt standards for school library services. A school district shall consider the standards in developing, implementing, or expanding library services."
Following nearly two years of discussion, input, comment, and consideration, the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) adopted new standards for Texas school libraries on May 19, 1997. The standards were approved and became effective on July 17, 1997.
The Texas State Library and Archives Commission accomplished this responsibility by working with a committee of librarians, teachers, parents, superintendents, former school board members, and principals, including:
- Thomas Petray, principal Walzem Elementary School, Northeast ISD
- Bill Moore, superintendent Muleshoe ISD
- Shari Emmons, first grade teacher Birdville ISD and past-president of the Association of Texas Professional Educators
- Chester Toothman, former school board member Eanes ISD
- Lucila Garza, Alternative Education Consultant ESC Region 13
TSLAC held more than thirty meetings around the state from February to May 1996. Notices of the meetings were sent to school superintendents, district media coordinators, and local media. Information about the meetings was also distributed through Tenet and other Internet lists. More than 1,000 librarians, teachers, parents, and school administrators attended these meetings and several hundred more submitted written input.
An additional committee which advised TSLAC in the development of new School Library Standards represented the Texas Library Association and included school library administrators, school librarians, and library educators.
The new standards establish guidelines for school library programs at four levels. Designations for the program levels parallel terminology used by the Texas Education Agency's Academic Excellence Indicators. Although school libraries are not rated as part of that process, the terminology is familiar to educators and administrators. Because school districts are to "consider the standards in developing, implementing, or expanding library services," they needed to be both visionary and pragmatic. Librarians and administrators indicated that they wanted high goals and expectations to guide library programs forward, but they also needed specific guidelines against which their programs could be benchmarked.
Because of the diverse conditions, needs, and opportunities in Texas school districts and campuses, the standards also needed to include both flexibility and specific targets. These standards are for principals, teachers, and librarians; they must be tailored, refined, and implemented locally. TSLAC and the librarians of Texas look forward to working with you in our joint effort to improve library programs for all students.
As principals, you know how vital the school library is to your total school community: every student, teacher, staff member, and administrator is involved in using library staff, programs, materials, and services. You play a key role in ensuring that your school library provides the best program possible so that every student succeeds in learning and in life.
School Library Programs: Standards and Guidelines for Texas
Title 12, Part I, Chapter 4, Sections 4.1-4.7 of the Texas Administrative Code establishes guidelines to assist the public, school boards, school administrators, librarians, and teachers to evaluate the adequacy of their school library programs. The sections describe four levels of school library programs ranging from exemplary to below standard. Each program level describes the library learning environment, integration of library programs with the school curriculum, library resources, management of library programs, and facilities that a school library operating at that level would have. Better information about the adequacy of school library programs should lead to gradual improvements in the programs. Checklists, information documents, and support information are being developed to assist school administrators and librarians evaluate their programs, determine areas for improvement, and plan for change.
Excerpts from the criteria for the ACCEPTABLE program level include:
Library Learning Environment
- The school library program develops skills and attitudes enabling students to successfully complete curriculum assignments.
- Access to facilities or resources is occasionally offered beyond the instructional day.
- Students have adequate but controlled access to professional staff, library facilities, and resources.
- The librarian will teach library media lessons and provide individual reference assistance and introduce students and teachers to the use of technology as a tool for accessing, gathering, and using relevant information.
- Learners will complete teacher-directed or library-specific projects.
- The school library program will provide a balanced collection of at least 9,000 books, software, and electronic resources (or 15 items per student if enrollment exceeds 600 ADA).
- Library materials must be cataloged, inventoried, and disseminated through the library and be available to all users.
- The learner will access information easily and frequently, from a number of sources in multiple formats.
Library Program Management
- Based on the school's student enrollment, the library program provides appropriate professional and support staff to facilitate access and equity for learners and to provide for periodic collaboration with teachers and some integration of resources into the curriculum. (Every library will be staffed by a certified librarian. A staffing chart, based on student population establishes levels for staffing.)
- The learner will have access during the instructional day to a certified librarian who will provide access to information and provide instruction in library use.
- The school library program receives appropriate funds for staff as indicated in the staffing chart and receives sufficient funds to acquire library materials, equipment, and supplies in support of its services.
- The school library is an accessible place for research, browsing, reading, and basic listening and viewing by individuals and classroom groups.
- The learner will be provided limited opportunities to participate in creative activities, as well as in decision-making, reasoning, and problem-solving processes.
A complete copy of all criteria for all levels of school library services may be found on the web at http://www.tsl.texas.gov/ld/schoollibs/index.html. You may request a print copy or additional information from: Christine McNew, firstname.lastname@example.org