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Chapter 1--Historical Perspective of the School Library

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History of the School Library
The good, the bad and the ugly!
Early Beginnings
• 1835, New York state leads the way
allowing school districts to use tax monies
to establish and maintain school libraries.
• Several other states followed
• Basically failed start because:
Contained mainly textbooks or teacher materials
Market flooded with poor quality texts
Poor on no facilities to house
Rise of the public libraries competed for monies
Dewey love Dewey or What?
*1876 Date of Modern Library Movement**
• Melvil Dewey helped create the American
Library Association (ALA)
• First issue of Library Journal (Dewey helped
• Dewey helped draft a bill that passed the
legislature in 1892 providing for matching funds
for school districts for purchasing library books.
– Only books on approved lists
– Collections to remain in the school at all times
• Occasionally lent out materials for two week periods
– Classroom teacher serve as librarian
• The Library Section of the National
Education Association is created in 1896
after Dewey gives an impassioned speech
on the importance of libraries in education
to the their convention.
• New York, 1892, School Library Division of
Department of Public Instruction formed
which issued a report in 1900 that stated
the first standards for libraries in
elementary schools:
– “…suppose it to consist of five hundred to one
thousand books, containing the best classic
stories, poems…the best books of this
character should be found in every grammar
Good Beginnings?
• 1914, Many developments show gradual
and encouraging growth:
– New York recognizes librarians as teachers
rather than clerks.
• Salaries comparable to teachers and
recommended librarians be graduates of approved
library school.
• In truth school libraries lagged behind
development in other library areas.
Competing forms of school library
service during this time
1. Rural areas relied on traveling or “package”
libraries to schools
2. Urban areas used the public library resources
3. Branches of public libraries created in the
schools themselves to supply services to
children and adults
4. Branches of public libraries in schools
exclusively for students and teachers but
administered by the public libraries.
Outside Forms of Library Service
• The result was that the library was never
an integral part of the school program but
was considered an outside agency
• Still, many of these forms persisted until
the mid 50’s
• The pattern that finally emerged was an
independent library in individual schools
under the control of an education board.
Further Developments post WWI
Rapid growth in education and libraries
due to:
1. General population increase
50% rise in school population between 19001930
Faith in the importance of general education
Less child labor
School attendance regulations
Centralization of schools
More money to afford libraries and librarians
Further Developments post WWI
• Teaching methods undergoing many
– Stress on individualized instruction
– Recognition of differences among children
– New curriculum structures based on John
Dewey (no relation to our beloved Melvil!)
stressed the need for a variety of educational
Other Developments
• Charles Certain chaired an NEA committee on
the status of the school library.
• The “Certain Report” was published by ALA in
1920 and painted a dismal picture of the school
• The recommendations of the report such as:
Physical size
Librarian qualifications
Collection size
Media center concept
– Were extremely important as they provided a
yardstick to evaluate libraries and became the
framework from which other accrediting agencies
developed standards.
1960’s – Great Period of Library
• Standards for School Library Programs
• Department of Audiovisual Instruction
(DAVI) later became the AECT
(Association of Educational
Communications and Technology)
– Recommendation that library and audiovisual
collections be combined
Federal Monies
• Passage of the Elementary and
Secondary Education Act in 1965 had
tremendous impact.
– Title II of this act provided millions for school
libraries and created tremendous growth in
school libraries.
Model Libraries
• Knapp School Library Project funded the
establishment of several ideal school
libraries across the country from 19631968.
– Thousands of educators visited these
demonstration centers or learned about them
through the written word and thus had a
conception of what was possible.
– Hundreds of new libraries founded.
Emergence of the School Media
Center mid 60’s
• New emphasis on basic principles of student
learning led educators to try new strategies and
break with traditional methods:
– Children learn as individuals
– Children learn at various rates
– Children learn according to different styles and
– Education is a continuous process
• Resulted in the adoption of a unified media
program administered through a school library
media center.
• In Media Programs: District and School by
– Greater emphasis is placed on executing the
instructional program rather than just support
– Recommended at least 10% of the average
per pupil cost expended by local boards be
used solely for materials and equipment
within the district.
Declining Financial Support, 1980’s
• Cutbacks in government spending delayed
implementation of recommendations by
the White House Conference on Library
and Information Services to guarantee
adequate media services in each public
– Declining enrollments
– School closings
– Elimination of staff
Growing National Conservative
Outlook, 1980’s
• More censorship cases
• Landmark Supreme Court Decision
involving book banning handed down in
June 1982: Island Trees vs. Pico.
– Lawsuit brought by 5 students led by Steven
Pico against Island Trees school district for
the school board’s removal of nine books from
the high school library.
• Books met valid selection criteria
• Appeared on conservative list of objectionable
Island Trees vs. Pico
• In a 4 to 5 decision the Court limited the
power of public school officials to remove
books simply because they found them
objectionable by ruling that the school
boards must defend their motives in court.
• Led to strengthened resolve by ALA/AASL
to fight for intellectual freedom.
1988 Information Power
• AECT and AASL jointly released
– Information Power: Guidelines for School
Library Programs
• Guidelines to foster quality school media programs
• Promoted the school library media specialist as a
proactive initiator and partner with other educators
as an instructional team.
• Defined three roles of the school media specialist
– Teacher
– Information specialist
– Instructional consultant
1990’s, Political Activism
• National Library Legislative Days
– Librarians all over the country meet to support
legislation for library funding.
– Some of the most important legislation to
come out of this effort involves technology
• Copyright and Distance Education Laws
• Opposition to filtering requirements
• Telecommunications Act of 1996 to provide
discounted telecommunications e-rate for libraries
Internet Problems
• ALA opposed the Children’s Internet
Protection Act since it required schools
and libraries receiving federal funds to use
technology to block or filter material
harmful or inappropriate for children but it
was upheld by the Supreme Court in 2003.
Library Power Project
• DeWitt Wallace-Reader’s Digest fund to
improve elementary school libraries.
(private funding)
– $45 million for 10 year period to nineteen
communities in the USA to improve teaching
and learning through school library media
• Schools agreed to:
Employ full-time media specialist
Provide matching funds
Flexible scheduling
Emphases on the instructional role
1990’s Rapid Technological Growth
• Early 90’s, few school media centers
• In ten years the majority of school library
media centers had automated and Internet
access was commonplace.
Technology = Big Change
• Computers and Internet access
– Changed the way students and faculty would
do research forever
– Changed the way librarians worked with
students and faculty since information could
be found so quickly
– Schools moving toward an Internet-enhanced
Changes in the Role of the Library
Media Specialist
• Site based management where decisions
made at the local level required librarians
to become leaders and proactive members
of the decision making team with teachers
and administrators.
• Become information literacy advocates
and instructional collaborators.
Information Power, 1998
• New standards reflected the expanded
role of the school library media specialist.
– Instructional partners
– Program administrator
– Informational specialist
– Teacher
Information Literacy
• Information Power, 1998, placed
Information Literacy standards at the
center of the focus in the guidelines.
• The proliferation of information throughout
our society means students must have
information literacy skills to live and
function successfully in society in the
• Shortage of Library Media Personnel
• Libraries becoming more virtual reality
entities – access from other than location
• Research showing connections between
student achievement and good school
media centers
• More attention
The End
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