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What Role Do Librarians Play When it Comes to the CCSS?

by Lynn Rutan and Stephanie Squicciarini
 | May 08, 2013
Q. What role do you see librarians play in the adoption of the Common Core State Standards? How can teachers work with librarians as they begin to address the issues the CCSS raise?

Lynn Rutan: A school librarian’s job description is what the CCSS are all about! This is what we do and have done and I am really excited that the educational pendulum has swung back to an inquiry and process model. It’s a wonderful opportunity for school librarians to step up and do what we do best: collaborate with teachers on units of study, co-teach, provide expertise on materials and resources, assist and instruct students on research skills, and support the learning process.

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One of the things that concerns me is that as school librarians have been marginalized in so many districts, teachers either won’t have a building librarian or won’t have had any experience with the help they can provide. In our district, for example, elementary librarians now spend most of their day teaching technology skills and the secondary librarians each serve two enormous buildings. In many districts, there are no professional librarians at all.

I think there is a real danger that administrators who want a quick solution to CCSS implementation will jump to purchased programs instead of supporting the actual intent of the CCSS with training, time for collaborative planning, and resources.

I think these collaborative efforts are the real key to success with CCSS implementation and I hope librarians and teachers will be given the opportunity to put their joint expertise to work for students.

Lynn Rutan is a former middle school librarian and current book reviewer and blogger from Holland, Michigan. You can read more of her reviews over at Bookends: A Booklist Blog, which she co-writes with her longtime pal and fellow librarian Cindy Dobrez.

Stephanie Squicciarini: Speaking as a public librarian, I would say our role is to be aware of the Common Core Standards and educate ourselves on what they mean for students. And communicate with our partner school librarians as the shift continues. While I don’t think we can be expected to become experts on the standards, we need to work with our colleagues to ensure that resources are provided to students.

For me, it has meant purchasing not just more quality nonfiction, but also multiple copies of titles that seem to fit well with the topics being studied. The YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction, the finalists, winner, and nominee list, will prove invaluable for this.

School librarians will hopefully communicate with their partner public librarians on shifting topics and titles they find that work well for students and teachers. Public libraries will more than likely not be able to provide all the titles for school curricula as that is not our primary mission, but we should be able to supplement and complement the resources the school libraries provide.

Communication, I think, will be critical in these early stages of the shift.

Stephanie Squicciarini is the teen services librarian for the Fairport (NY) Public Library, as well as the founder of the wildly popular TBF Live! teen book festival.

We want to know: What do YOU think? What role do you see librarians playing in the implementation of the CCSS?

© 2013 International Reading Association. Please do not reproduce in any form, electronic or otherwise.

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