November/December 2012, Volume 4, Issue 10
Check Your Calendars!!
Picture Book Month
Native American Heritage Month
National Novel Writing Month
International Games Day
American Education Week
SDLA Legislative Day
ALA Midwinter Meeting
Digital Learning Day
Featured e-Resources of the Month
Full-text reference books, new and updated, at your fingertips 24/7
What does the Common Core have to do with public libraries?
By Daria Bossman, Interim State Librarian
Have you heard about the Common Core State Standards? These are standards (and a new way of addressing the education of our children) which have been adopted in nearly every state in the U.S., including South Dakota (doe.sd.gov) While these new standards are primarily affecting schools, teachers, school librarians and school curricula, public libraries may soon be affected. Our local students and teachers are, after all, our patrons as well.
In fact, the Common Core may be a unique catalyst for school/public collaboration—something long overdue, especially in small and rural communities and in these difficult economic times. From your print/media collections to our statewide SDSL online resources, there may be simple ways for public libraries to market their services, collaborate on trainings or coordinate programming. All this will help our local schools—most especially our local students and teachers. At the same time while we partner with our schools, we gain a valuable ally in the school administration and local school board. We are also increasing our value in the eyes of our governing body which supports us and funds our annual operational budgets and special projects.
On Sept. 25, 2012, Kiera Parrot posted on the ALSC blog (Association of Library Service to Children) an article entitled, "Common Core in the Public Library?" Here are some of her suggestions for collaboration and to get quickly "up to speed" on this educational revolution sweeping our country:
- Ask your local school media specialist (your school librarian) to speak to your library board about the Common Core. Likewise, if there is a teacher's "in-service" (training) scheduled at the school, ask the principal if you can send several board representatives. After all, the more you know, the better equipped you'll be to position your library as a future partner.
- Learn the lingo. Students and parents may soon be asking for more "rigorous" informational text. What does "rigor" mean? Terms like "text complexity," "rich text" or "inquiry-based learning" may be bantered about. Here is a website that can give you a good overview: corestandards.org
- Common Core has a strong focus on informational text, or nonfiction reading. Now is the time to "weed" (deselect) those out-of-date science and technology books. Acquire newer, more contemporary nonfiction materials for all age groups and reading levels. Highlight nonfiction available via e-books and the SDSL online resources.
- Ms. Parrott suggests that "the purpose in reading all that nonfiction is to make connections to the wider world. The process involves comparing, integrating, synthesizing and evaluating books (and all kinds) of information." Starting a "nonfiction book club" for teens or for adults might be one simple way to promote the Common Core. See our State Library website for book club ideas.
- Get ready! Plan to purchase more nonfiction in all formats. "As publishers feel the implications of the Common Core, more narrative nonfiction and rich text are going to be published. Make sure you are ready to adapt and clear some room on your shelves." This is Ms. Parrott speaking, not just the consultants here at the State Library. Weed those old, unused books!
- Keep in mind it is not all about the older students. Informational text begins in pre-K. Use nonfiction in storytime and stay tuned-in to the local pre-school curricular themes like "animal week," "safe play week" or "what-mommy-and-daddy-do-at-work week." Use these opportunities to show-case the complimentary materials already in your library. This will bring new folks to the library and endear the parents and preschool educators in the area to the public library.
- Collaborate with your local school. I can't say this enough. Call them up, drop by and get to know them. Talk to your local teachers, the school's administrators and your local school board. Be sure you position your public library as a place for life-long learning—an educational institution working with all patrons to support the school system.
You have heard this before—serving our public in the 21st century will necessitate quite a few changes in how we purchase and organize our materials and our facilities. Technology is a key component. However, programming (for all age groups and interests), marketing those services and collaborating with local educational institutions have never been more important and vital for your continued relevance to your community.
In the coming months, keep your eye open for State Library RACE webinars explaining more on how public and school libraries can work together to give our children and all patrons richer, deeper educational experiences.