LIBRARY EQUIPS STUDENTS TO BE GLOBALLY COMPETITIVE
Baltimore County Public Schools
Each year, the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) hands out the National School Library Program of the Year (NSLPY) Award. This award recognizes a single school or district-wide program that meets the needs of the changing school and library environment while being fully integrated into the school’s curriculum. Sponsored by Follett, the 2017 award winner was Baltimore County Public Schools in Maryland, led by Fran Glick. Committed to producing globally competitive graduates, Glick and her staff strategize and collaborate with all departments to create a learning culture of deliberate excellence. As a result, the library program at BCPS was honored with an obelisk – the symbol of school library excellence – and $10,000 toward its school library program. But the story doesn’t end there.
21ST-CENTURY SKILLS FOR ALL STUDENTS
Baltimore County Public Schools (BCPS) is the third-largest school district in Maryland and the 25th-largest in the United States. It serves more than 112,000 students in 173 schools, programs and centers. The district’s vision is to produce graduates who have the content knowledge, skills and attitudes to reach their full potential as responsible, productive citizens.
To earn the coveted 2017 NSLPY Award, Fran Glick, coordinator of the Library Media Team at BCPS, worked with her staff to fulfill the district’s vision, called Blueprint 2.0. “We’re committed to equipping every student with the critical 21st-century skills needed to be globally competitive,” said Glick. “So much of that begins in or involves the library, and as a district, we’re dedicated to making sure every school has an equitable, effective digital learning environment, and every student has equitable access to a library program that supports those goals.”
Glick recently described the various efforts that made the program worthy of the award, and how their program’s journey caught the judges’ eyes. “Over the past several years, Baltimore County Public Schools has made significant strides in rebranding the role of the school library media specialist,” Glick said. “We have examined our past and set a path to the future. Our collective experience, systemic initiatives and our work with Future Ready Librarians affirm our growth and drive its continuing evolution. The transformation of teaching toward customized and personalized student learning in all BCPS classrooms is equally evident in our school libraries.”
Glick, a former elementary teacher and secondary librarian, also described how the administration at her district values the expertise of its library media specialists and empowers her staff by making them critical instructional partners in BCPS schools. “We are grateful for the support of our former superintendent, Dr. Dance, as our champion of the school library program,” Glick said. “Our school system’s philosophy regarding school libraries – and their place at the heart of student learning – is affirmed by a staffing model that ensures all schools are staffed by a full-time certified school library media specialist.”
LIBRARY MEDIA SPECIALISTS ARE TEACHERS FIRST
Glick points out how, above all else, her district sees her staff as teachers, and as such they have the support of district and library leadership teams as they create learner-centered environments with equitable access to technology in school libraries. This includes rethinking the use of space, furnishings and resources, with input from students and staff and a focus on building 21st-century skills, using new technologies and accommodating diverse learning needs.
BCPS library media specialists all serve as leaders in their school communities. Elementary library media specialists have fixed schedules and teach the K-5 library media curriculum, which outlines a consistent and rigorous standard of what elementary students are to learn and library media specialists are to teach during the 50-minute weekly library media periods.
Secondary library media specialists teach collaboratively with classroom teachers, teaching students how to research effectively while infusing them with 21st-century digital citizenship skills such as copyright, fair use and plagiarism.
Additionally, Glick explained how the leadership team provides lesson-planning resources to align library instruction with AASL Standards for the 21st-Century Learner, Common Core State Standards, P21 Skills and content learning standards. Library media specialists implement digital citizenship lessons to promote students’ ethical and responsible use of information and technology.
FUTURE-READY IN EVERY SUBJECT, EVERY CURRICULUM
The NSLPY awards committee chair, Eileen Kern, pointed out how Glick’s program stood above the competition to snag top honors. “In Baltimore County Public Schools, the dynamic school library program is embedded in the culture of the district,” Kern said. “Talk to the students in Baltimore County Public Schools and you will hear about the wonderful and exciting things happening in their libraries.”
Glick explained how it isn’t a list of programs or events that make her district’s library program future-ready. Instead, it’s everything and everywhere. “BCPS library media specialists have knowledge of and experience with the ever-changing information landscape,” she shared. “We regularly collaborate with and offer professional development support to colleagues, and we are experienced in the use of technology tools for teaching and learning.” Furthermore, the library media specialists support communities of learners from preschool to college-and career-ready high school seniors by delivering instruction that focuses on student needs. As instructional partners with colleagues, BCPS library staff design and facilitate inquiry-driven lessons that require students to communicate, collaborate, think critically and create.
Additionally, BCPS’s library spaces have shifted into physical and virtual “learning commons” to support student inquiry and collaboration both during and outside of the school day. “Makerspaces have been created in many of our school libraries to provide students with hands-on, interest-driven, collaborative learning opportunities that socialize learning and design,” Glick said.
Among other Future Ready efforts, the library program at BCPS offers:
A year-long independent research course designed for high school students
Resources for digital citizenship and leadership
Professional development tools and opportunities for school library media specialists
Curated resources and digital tools for teaching and learning
BCPS’s public library partnership
Glick is thrilled with the recognition the award brings to her district and her staff. “The best part of the honor is the affirmation it brings to the entire BCPS library media specialist community. They make a difference in their schools daily and have joined us in growing our program over the past several years. Their willingness to adopt new practices, re-imagine physical space and redefine the program is to be celebrated.”
“From district-level leadership to administrative support to strong building-level school librarians, BCPS provides effective school library programs that focus on student learning,” said AASL President Audrey Church. “Through access to quality resources, instruction in digital literacy, collaboration between librarians and classroom teachers, promotion of books and reading, and connection to community, Baltimore County school libraries are vibrant spaces where learning is transformed. I commend them for their excellent work.”
“Follett has been a valued partner in BCPS for many years. Our relationship is truly a partnership that includes an openness to learning and growing together – it is much more than products. Follett is a national leader in the school library community and their support of school library program quality is evidenced by their generous support of the NSLPY award.”
Coordinator BCPS Library Media Team
“Baltimore County Public Schools is honored to be recognized for our work to leverage highly effective school librarians as part of our system-wide teaching and learning transformation. Either through collaborating with other educators or working directly with students, our school librarians help students gain in-demand 21st-century skills, including constructing meaning through research, problem solving, creativity and communicating new knowledge.”
DR. S. DALLAS DANCE