Library Power: An International Perspective

Article excerpt

The goals of the Library Power Program are generally applicable to any school library reform project aiming at increased awareness of the importance of school libraries in an educational setting. Many practical approaches to improving school libraries were tested and found effective during the Library Power program, and these approaches have international relevance. The ideas that were found to be productive and successful in the Library Power program can be imported into other types of schools and settings, even without additional or special funding. However, for this to occur, there must be a commitment from the educational authorities to make this kind of school library work possible and feasible. There also must be a commitment from school librarians to enhance their role in the educational setting through professional development.

Introduction

The Library Power program has existed in the United States for more than a decade. The program was initiated in New York City schools and has been implemented in 19 other sites across the country. The evaluation of the library power program was undertaken by a team of researchers under the leadership of Dianne McAfee Hopkins and Douglas Zweizig from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Library Power has been evaluated at the building level, the community level, the district level, and the national level to assess the impact on teachers, students, and the school community as a whole. This evaluation of the relevance of Library Power for the international community is based on two questions: (a) What lessons can be learned from this national program that can be of relevance to professionals in other countries with different educational systems, and can the international school library community utilize any part of the outcome of the Library Power project? (b) Are the questions that Library Power addressed universal questions related to school librarianship?

Assessment of International Relevance of Library Power Unlike the authors of the other articles in this special issue of School Libraries Worldwide on the Library Power Program Evaluation, I have not been involved with Library Power at any stage, I have not seen it in action, and I have not participated in any of the evaluation efforts. My assessment of the international relevance of the Library Power program is based on an examination of the articles prepared by members of the Library Power evaluation team as well as some of the materials describing the Library Power program.

I have looked at the findings of the evaluation carried out by the Library Power evaluation team, based on and informed by my personal knowledge of school libraries and librarianship in various countries. Before taking up my current position at NORDINFO, I was a professor in Library and Information Science at the University of Iceland where I have taught since 1975, including courses in school librarianship. Before that, I worked as school library director for the city of Reykjavik, Iceland, as a reference librarian in Michigan, USA, and as a consultant in Trujillo, Peru. I have been active in the international school library scene since 1982 and have traveled to about 60 countries. I was president the International Association of School Librarianship (IASL) from 1995 to 1998. I have been a longstanding member of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) Standing Committee of the Section of School Libraries and Resource Centers. I was Chair of the IFLA Working Group on the Education and Training of School Librarians; our work resulted in the publication School Librarians: Guidelines for Competency Requirements. My knowledge of school librarianship around the world has also been enhanced through my membership in other associations such as the American Library Association, the Library Association (United Kingdom), the Association for Teacher-Librarianship in Canada, and IBBY, the International Board on Books for Young People. …