Maine Effective School Library Program Standards

Prepared by the Maine Association of School Libraries Committee on Library Standards

July 2017


The aim of these Maine School Library Program Standards is to provide an aspirational road map to excellence in quality school library programs. Changes in technology, pedagogy and philosophy have wrought fundamental shifts in the services and functions of a school library program. While some school libraries in the state function primarily as literacy resources and materials management centers, others are focusing on information literacy and technology integration, while still others are embracing the maker movement and fostering partnerships with civic, crafts and business organizations to expand learning opportunities beyond the walls of the school.

All of these pursuits are worthy endeavors for a school library program and no one library can excel in all areas simultaneously. Rather, the intentionally planned and administered library program works with school and district leadership to determine the most relevant and necessary areas of growth for its school based on the learning needs of the student population, local resources, staffing and physical space.

Highly effective school library programs cannot be created by a single individual. They are built through a common mission, vision, and investment by the whole school community. The activities of the library program are guided by its mission and vision statements that aligns with school and district goals for student achievement. It is our intention to create clear, concise and actionable standards for the planning and evaluation of elementary, middle, high school library programs. Our vision is that these program standards will provide a common language, where librarians and administrators could work together to select areas of focus for future growth.

We have divided out 22 standards into three domains, reflecting various areas of school library service: 21st Century Learning, Learning Commons Approach & School Librarians as Leaders. Within each domain are standards with three levels of implementation: developing, effective, and highly effective. The highly effective designation is meant to be a rigorous standard of excellence that goes beyond what would be expected of an effective school library program. Additionally, each standard lists “Examples of Evidence” that illustrate how a standard might be brought to life through practice. These are intended as examples only, as there may be more ways to realize the ideals stated in the standard.

Domain I. 21st Century Learning: Curriculum Design, Instruction and Assessment Overview

The primary function of a school library is to impact student learning. From managing access to educational resources, providing alternative learning spaces, to creating a culture of reading and inquiry, to providing direct instruction on 21st Century Skills, school libraries are focused on learning outcomes.

This strand of the standards addresses the various areas of curriculum design and instruction school librarians are uniquely trained to provide. Our roles vary according to the needs and staffing needs of a school. We may be providing direct instruction and assessment; we may be co-teaching; we may be training classroom teachers; or we may be working with district staff on curriculum design.

School libraries have always embraced the academic pursuits of the individual and strive to help students become independent lifelong learners. The Maine Guiding Principles, or skills of the 21st Century Learner, encompass the values of the school library in that they focus on producing adults who are ethical and effective not only in college and career readiness, but also civic engagement, social interaction, and creative pursuits.

Our work spans the academic disciplines, but falls loosely in the categories of: information literacy, literacy support, and digital citizenship. Research has shown that these skills are best retained and generalized by students when they are taught collaboratively, and systematically integrated into the curriculum across disciplines and grade spans.

Domain I. 21st Century Learning: Curriculum Design, Instruction and Assessment Standards

1A. Curriculum

Students will receive comprehensive instruction on information and digital literacy following an inquiry-based process across grade levels and content areas.

1B. Collaborative Planning

LMS will collaborate with teachers to develop curriculum, integrate standards into classroom instruction and co-teach information and digital literacy skills in the classroom.

1C. Instruction

The LMS is an expert co-teacher and instructional leader, advocating for personalized, rigorous inquiry-based learning opportunities to ensure that all students develop skills to ask questions, evaluate sources, use information responsibly, and self-assess their learning process.

1D. Assessment

LMS develops a consistent means of assessing students based on the curriculum and standards in conjunction with teachers.

1E. Reader Advisory

LMS encourages students to become independent, lifelong readers by promoting reading, providing access to diverse and leveled resources, and organizing school-wide literacy events.

1F. Literacy Instruction

LMP reinforces literacy strategies as outlined by district literacy goals.

Domain II. The Library as Learning Commons: Collection Development and Library Management Overview

School libraries have always been physical spaces that students and staff could use to access physical materials and occupy to perform tasks related to learning. It is no surprise to anyone that school libraries house books, have individual and small group study areas, provide access to copiers, computers and audiovisual materials and equipment. As our tools and methods of teaching and learning have expanded, so too have the kinds of spaces and materials that are available in school libraries. The common term for the 21st Century Library is the Learning Commons, which embraces a philosophy of dynamic learning spaces, seamlessly integrated with the newest technology where learners not only access and consume information, but also create new information. The new school library that embraces a learning commons model will have flexible spaces, with furniture that can be easily moved, 24-hour access to digital materials through a dynamic presence both on the web and social media, and technology for creating, combining, and presenting all forms of media. Some school libraries have makerspaces, 3D printers, video and music production studios as well as collections of high-interest and up-to-date books and periodicals.

Most importantly, school libraries provided access to rigorous and relevant learning opportunities for all students and staff. An investment in the school library positively affects all the members of the school community, regardless of ability, curriculum, or background. Highly effective school libraries serve to “level the playing field” for learners of diverse populations. And provide a welcoming safe space for everyone in the school community.  

Likewise, highly effective school libraries extend learning opportunities to their school community beyond the walls of the school itself. They provide a space for speakers, visiting artists, and access to virtual meetings with experts and peers through digital communications. The library program can help connect students a staff to relevant resources through expertise in connecting through the use of social media. The Library Media Specialist curates digital resources through well-designed research guides and carefully selected databases.

Domain II. The Library as Learning Commons Standards

2A. Materials and Resources

Student needs for learning resources are met through well-developed collections of materials in a variety of formats.

2B. Access

Students have flexible and equitable access to the library and its resources that support their academic and personal learning  and meet diverse learning need. Library materials are considered part of the school curriculum and every effort is made to provide free and open access.

2C. Funding

The LMP has adequate, sustained funding to support students needs to attain the learning standard and achieve school mission, goals and objectives. The LMPS acts as a responsible steward of its funds, making careful and judicious purchases and seeking out free resources and outside funding opportunities whenever possible.

2D. Space

LMP facility is conducive to learning and flexible to meet every student’s and community group’s needs.

2E. Environment

Students seek opportunities to participate in the school’s LMP, a recognized center of learning and diversity with an inviting atmosphere of exploration, interaction, reading, and expression.

2F. Technology

Technologies to impact student achievement are integrated into teaching and learning through the LMP.

2G. Library Media Specialist (LMS)

Student learning is increased through access to a certified LMS.

2H. Support Staff

Student learning is increased through access to well-qualified support staff guided by a certified LMS.

Some programs, facilities, and levels of service will require more than one support staff member for each professional.

2I. Schedule

The LMP operates on a flexible schedule throughout the school day to allow equitable and responsive school community access to library staff and resources.

Domain III: Librarians as Leaders: Professional Development and School Leadership Overview

The highly effective Library Media Specialist is a leader in the school community.  This domain of the program standards focuses primarily on the Library Media Specialist and the role that he or she serves in the school community.

With professional training both in library science and education, a Maine state certified Library Media Specialist is a uniquely trained staff member, and as such, he or she can play a strong role in helping to guide instruction in the school community at-large.

The Library Media Specialist is recognized as resource for all members of the school, including teachers and students, administration, support staff and families. Being visible, trusted and respected is an important part of being an effective school librarian.

The leadership of a Library Media Specialist can take many forms in response to the needs of the school and direction of the administration.  Library Media Specialists might serve on building leadership teams, enrichment committees, curriculum teams, or similar professional groups. They might provide staff development on the meaningful use of technology, the stages of the inquiry process, skills for 21st Century learners, or promoting children’s and young adult literature. School librarians often provide building leadership on the ethical use of information, including protecting intellectual property, ensuring intellectual freedom, and protecting the safety and privacy of students online.

Additionally, a Library Media Specialist commonly manages paraprofessional and volunteer staff members. The Library Media Specialist has a clearly articulated vision and goals for the library program and effectively guides the work of other Library Media Program staff towards that end.

Finally, because a Library Media Specialist has a unique role in the school community, it is important that he or she maintain active professional relationships with librarians within and beyond his or her school district. The Library Media Specialist may seek to work with other district librarians, participate in state organizations (like MASL, ACTEM, and ISTE) or engage in social media networks. Being aware of new technologies and resources to share with the school community, as well as the standards that guide school library programs, is an essential part of the highly effective Library Media Specialist’s job.

Domain III. Librarians as Leaders: Professional Development and School Leadership Standards

3A. Professional Development

Student achievement is increased through professional development and improvements in knowledge and skill.

3B. Instructional Leadership

Decisions in the school community that affect student learning benefit from the expertise of the library media staff and program.

3C. Administrative Support

Student achievement is increased through administrative and community support of the library media program.

3D. Ethical Use of Information

The Library Program provides instruction and leadership for the school community on intellectual freedom, intellectual property and privacy.

3E. Program Planning and Evaluation

Progress in student achievement in the library media program is monitored, assessed, and analyzed to inform decisions.

3F. Communication & Reporting

Impact of library media program policies and services on student achievement is communicated throughout the school community.

3G. Program Advocacy

A focus on student achievement guides an advocacy plan that builds support of decision makers, and actively seeks resources and funding, for a highly effective school library program.

Definition of Terms

Library Media Specialist (LMS) and Library Media Program Staff (LMPS): We intentionally use the term Library Media Specialist (LMS) in places where professional certification is required. As professional educators, Library Media Specialists, can design curriculum and assessments, collaborate with other professional colleagues. They have specialized training in collection development and learning commons philosophy. Library Media Program Staff (LMPS) may include librarians, educational technicians and/or clerks. Library Support Staff may be responsible for the materials management part of a library program and, like other educational technicians, provide instruction under the guidance of a professional in accordance with their certification.

Library Media Program: The Library Media Program encompasses the activities of the library and it’s staff. Depending on the school, this will include the technology resources and staff.

Learning Commons: A learning commons expands the use of a traditional library from a repository for physical materials to a flexible, technologically-rich, shared space for a school community to learn, create and collaborate.

Inquiry-Based Learning: Inquiry-based learning is an active learning model based on constructivist theory. It emphasizes students actively asking questions and seeking meaningful answers, rather than being presented with established facts. The teacher is viewed as a facilitator of the inquiry-process, providing metacognitive strategies and reflection tools.

Information Literacy: “Information literacy is a set of abilities requiring individuals to "recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information." 1 Information literacy also is increasingly important in the contemporary environment of rapid technological change and proliferating information resources. Because of the escalating complexity of this environment, individuals are faced with diverse, abundant information choices--in their academic studies, in the workplace, and in their personal lives. Information is available through libraries, community resources, special interest organizations, media, and the Internet--and increasingly, information comes to individuals in unfiltered formats, raising questions about its authenticity, validity, and reliability. In addition, information is available through multiple media, including graphical, aural, and textual, and these pose new challenges for individuals in evaluating and understanding it. The uncertain quality and expanding quantity of information pose large challenges for society. The sheer abundance of information will not in itself create a more informed citizenry without a complementary cluster of abilities necessary to use information effectively.

Information literacy forms the basis for lifelong learning. It is common to all disciplines, to all learning environments, and to all levels of education. It enables learners to master content and extend their investigations, become more self-directed, and assume greater control over their own learning. An information literate individual is able to:

--Association of College and Research Libraries

Digital Literacy: For the purposes of this document, digital literacy is a part of the broader term information literacy (defined in detail above). As the knowledge and information landscape becomes increasingly infused with technology, the demarcation of digital versus analog become less relevant. The American Library Association Digital Task Force defines digital literacy as, “Digital Literacy is the ability to use information and communication technologies to find, evaluate, create, and communicate information, requiring both cognitive and technical skills.”

Flexible/Fixed Schedule: Information and digital literacy is best taught with a common scaffold through disciplines and across grade levels. Therefore, library instruction best happens in collaboration with classroom teachers in context. Flexible scheduling allows information literacy skills to be taught in context and promotes collaboration between teachers and the school librarian.

Authors and Contributors

Project Lead: Jennifer Stanbro: South Portland School Department  K-5 Library Information Integrator; K-12 Library Department Coordinator; MASL Advocacy Chair; Contact information:


Megan Blakemore: South Portland School Department Dyer Elementary School K-5 Library Information Integrator

Amy Denecker: Windham High School

Amanda Kozaka: Cape Elizabeth Middle School, Library and Instructional Technology Specialist, MASL President-Elect

Cathy Potter: Falmouth Middle School, School Library Media Specialist, MASL Secretary

Meg Rooks: Portland Public Schools, Middle School Library Media Specialist

Amy Ryder: RSU 73 Spruce Mountain Schools District Librarian pK-12

Sherry Wyman: Maine Department of Education School Library/ Technology Integration Coordinator

Endorsed by the Maine Association of School Librarians

Special Thanks to New York State Education Department


American Association of School Librarians

Empowering Learners: Guidelines for School Library Programs

Colorado Department of Education

Highly Effective School Library Program

Future Ready Librarians

International Society for Technology Educators

New York State Education Department

School Library Media Program Evaluation Rubric

South Carolina Department of Education

South Carolina Standards for School Library Resource Collections 

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