Elementary Library Teacher Participates in AASL “National School Library Standards” Revision Process

In February, Library Teacher at Hardy and Thompson Elementary Schools, Laura Atlee, joined library educators from Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Texas to talk about how the current library standards work and share ideas on how to make them work better. The American Association of School Librarians (AASL) invited Ms. Atlee to be part of the focus group based on her answers to a survey they had distributed. The National School Library Standards are for all school libraries at all levels, and provide guidance to librarians on what and how to teach students and other learners. They are designed to be flexible in order for teacher librarians to work within them as well as meet their individual local standards.

Ms. Atlee reports that being in the focus group was “...a wonderful experience” and she adds that “We had open, frank discussions about how the standards currently worked and how we could see them working better for us. It is extremely difficult to create a national standard that everyone can use in their respective school districts. As a result, the standards can feel vague and difficult to apply in meaningful ways. Our main focus is on how to make standards more practical. We want examples that can be woven into our day-to-day lessons.”

Ms. Atlee wants to be sure that members of the Arlington Public Schools community know that a Kindergarten through fifth grade curriculum is taught throughout the district. Created by the Library Department, the curriculum relies on the Massachusetts Frameworks as well as the National Standards. Ms. Atlee describes the goals of the curriculum this way: “We strive to explore an incredible number of varying topics with our students including how to make research less scary, what to think about when looking at information online (fact vs. fake), and why it is important to read books from all different points of view and experiences.”

This is Ms. Atlee’s first year as a licensed teacher, having completed her practicum while working as a library paraprofessional at Clarke Middle School in Lexington. She spent the previous 18 years working as a lawyer, with most of that time spent in Brussels, Belgium. She reports that there are three key things that drove her to become a teacher librarian. These are:

  • “Gaining knowledge is empowering and I have always loved helping people get to those ‘ah-ha’ moments where they figure something out, regardless how old or who they are.”
  • “Troubles and worries can fall away when you find an engaging book and we all need that, particularly our students.”
  • “The library is a constant in our students’ lives.  It is a safe space where our students never need to be alone.”

If contacted as the AASL does follow-ups throughout the standards review process, Ms. Atlee would be glad to participate further. In her words she says, “I believe that overhauling the standards is going to be a labor of love that will take us through the next school year.”