Conducting Action Research to Evaluate Your School Library

Conducting Action Research to Evaluate Your School Library

Conducting Action Research to Evaluate Your School Library

Conducting Action Research to Evaluate Your School Library


Teacher librarians need to get directly involved with the research process in the learning commons in order to create actions and strategies that will enhance student learning and benefit their own professional development as well as demonstrate accountability through their action research efforts. This book provides practical tips and work spaces for educators at the local, state, and national levels, clearly modeling and explaining the process and the tools for conducting action research in a school library setting that will identify the program's strengths and weaknesses.

The author coalesces current expert opinions on the topic of action research in the school library environment and highlighting what other teacher librarians in the field have identified as the pros and cons of using the process. Readers are directed to focus on mitigating the "cons" through the use of specific working pages and templates and by initially exploring "five favorite" links, thereby encouraging those who are new to action research to try what might otherwise seem a daunting process. School principals K 12 who read this book will be better equipped to support their teacher librarians and teachers in this important professional process."


“The things which are most important to us are the hardest to measure.”

—McBeath, 1999

“Celebrate the understood, not the found”

—Todd, 2003

Teacher-librarians today may find themselves in a variety of precarious positions. They are either at the leading edge of innovative educational pedagogy in their schools or districts; or they are fighting for their programs and positions. I have found that situations vary considerably among states, provinces, and countries—even among schools themselves—and are highly dependent on the school or school district culture as well as the leadership of the principal. Some of this variance is due to the fluctuating economy; some of it is due to rapid changes in technology, educational theory, and librarianship itself; however, there is also a great deal of misperception, unawareness, and stereotyping in the broader educational community about the role of libraries and teacher-librarians in schools, particularly related to learning and teaching as well as the impact collaborative planning and teaching of curriculum can have on student learning and school culture.

As school principals struggle with balancing budgets and leading schools (Sykes, 2002a), often the school library is viewed as superfluous, a luxury, or a place—book warehouse—where students sign out books, perhaps as remembered from their past, an outdated commodity, with few taking notice of the centrality of learning that transformational school libraries can and have provided to students. This impact on the centrality of learning a school library can have is notably addressed and championed as a “transformation to a learning commons perspective” in the work of David Loertscher, Carol Koechlin, and Sandi Zwaan. The transformation from a school library to a learning commons requires a shift in whole school culture, where a key indicator of collaborative inquiry and pedagogical change often involves a “professional learning communities” approach (Eaker, DuFour, and DuFour, 2002) that focuses on each student’s success through personalizing learning based on a wide range of student learning data. This learning commons perspective permeates within and beyond the school environment 24/7 and is guided by specialists such as . . .

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