Christopher Marsh’s Review of “Leading Learning to Advance Canada’s School Libraries”


Leading Learning to Advance Canada’s School Libraries (K5)

Jeanne Conte, Instructional Coordinator & Educational Librarian, Peel District School Board, President Ontario School Library Association
Carol Koechlin, Education & Library Consultant

Article by: Christopher Marsh

A library learning commons is defined as the “physical and virtual collaborative learning hub of the school.” In their presentation Leading Learning to Transform School Libraries, Jeanne Conte and Anita Brooks Kirkland discuss the new framework for transforming school libraries into library learning commons entitled “Leading Learning.” Conte and Kirkland revealed the necessity for this framework by elaborating on its standards, key steps for its implementation, and its focus on measuring impact on learning.

“Leading Learning” provides five core standards of practice that would allow for school libraries to be transformed into creative commons and spaces that meet the needs of students in the future. Amongst these standards are important concepts “designing learning environments to support participatory learning” and “advancing the learning community to achieve school goals.” The five standards of practice are further divided into themes and put on growth continuums to allow for the measurement of success and library development.

Conte and Kirkland also pointed out the key steps to successful implementation. One is that school principals need to be involved and provide substantial leadership. Other key steps included the development a leadership team composed of students, teachers and librarians, and the need for change to go beyond the library itself and into the whole school.

The presenters also highlighted the importance of determining success by ‘measuring the impact on learning’ as opposed to ‘measuring output.’ In old rubrics that measured library effectiveness through ‘outputs,’ a library could be perfect without the students actually learning. By putting less focus on ‘outputs’ and more on ‘impact on learning,’ “Leading Learning” allows you to ensure that your library practices are helping students learn.

The “Leading Learning” document establishes the standards in a way that I feel every library should replicate. The document’s emphasis on evidence-based practice and measurable growth continuums reflects a dedication to ensuring that your library is engaging in the best library practices and constantly improving. The emphasis on the whole-school approach and inclusion of a library learning commons team is a great approach to implementing successful policies.

The standards and themes are well designed and reflect the necessary qualities that school learning commons should have in the future. There is a great deal of focus on technology for learning and this an essential part of meeting the needs of students in schools. The idea that libraries can never reach the end of the continuum for these standards is essential, as I believe that the success of creative commons and the frameworks that guide them will be dependent on the idea that they must constantly adapt to their surroundings and the needs of the students.

While the document is good in theory and has been developed as a result of the collaboration of a great number of professionals, the framework can only be deemed successful after implementing and evaluating these ideas at the school and district levels. Despite this, “Leading Learning” has many positive attributes that allow school libraries to meet the needs of their future students.

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