All libraries need vision

Research shows that effective library programs have significant impact on student achievement. Conversely, ineffective programs can hurt everyone, especially when asking for tax increases or when facing budget cuts. These issues are prevalent for school and public libraries at every level. A good library vision will help alleviate many of these problems and ultimately have a great impact on kids.

Overhauling two schools

With the support of my principals, I completely overhauled the library program at 2 separate schools, both of which were in desperate need of change. The library played a critical role for one school which went from being on “Corrective Action” to performing “average” on state standardized tests, a

monumental improvement. The other school went from averaging 30-40 daily patrons to over 200! At each school, we abandoned the old, traditional library program that was overly strict, ineffective, and unliked by almost everyone. It took a clear vision and quite a bit of effort, but the payoff was well worth it.

Define, or re-define, your library vision

As you read through this article, ask yourself whether or not your library truly addresses the needs of boys. It all begins by defining your library vision – using research based best practices! Read books, ask colleagues, search online, and read through all the information available at There are tons of good resources available to help you create a successful library program that includes boys. It all starts with a clear vision.

Start with administration

After you have researched and defined your vision, the first critical step is to get support from your administrators! Tell them about the problems with boys and reading and share your ideas and thoughts. Describe your willingness to make the necessary changes and how important it is to have administrative support. Convince them to be your partner. Getting support from administration is critical is critical when making program changes.

Get your staff on board

After administration is on board, ask to speak together at the next staff meeting, side by side. Explain to your staff your research and resaon for crewating your vision. Ask staff to give you input. Change occurs much faster as a team!
Discuss your vision with everyone that works in the library, including any volunteers and student assistants. The more your staff understands the issues at hand and the library vision, the more willing they will be to do their part to make it succeed.

Host library orientations

It’s very important to host a library orientation at the start of each year, yet many librarians don’t do it. Perhaps their school seems too big, it’s too much work, or it’s seemingly unimportant by certain staff members. Whatever the excuse, a library orientation is important because it helps:
·        make students feel comfortable
·        students and staff learn how their library can be a valuable resource
·        promote the library, especially the library goals and vision
·        make connections among the library staff, students, and teachers

Example of Our Shared Vision:

We want our library to make a difference! The following components are part our shared vision:
    We want students and staff to feel good about coming into the library.
    We want the library to be a busy, active place. We envision a variety of activities occurring, often at the same time.
    We want students to learn that a library can be a life long resource. We envision students using print and electronic resources to help them learn.

It’s important to publicize your vision

  • When creating your vision, get input from students, teachers, parents, and especially administrators
  • Post huge banners of your vision, viewable as you enter and leave the library
  • Discuss your vision at library orientations and staff meetings

Do an Extreme Library Makeover

Be sure to read my upcoming article, titled, “Extreme Library Makeover.” It explains the steps I took to make some major changes!

Things to discuss

What components could be added to this article?
What obstacles can deter librarians from redefining a library program?


Posted in: Adults, Content

{ 3 comments… add one }

  • THSPirate

    Annual Orientation is a necessity to create an Open Door and Welcoming invitation. Majority won’t venture in on their own. Web based video might be my option to reach everyone and will play in the cafeteria entrance during opening week. Trying to go through English classes is great but a huge number of students are missed. The flyer and walk-through are also great ideas. Will work on these during summer break. Thanks for this website and the encouragement to reform. So exciting to hear from others who are ‘on the same page’!!!!!

  • Sue

    We also have a student population of approximately 1100. Rather than going through English classes, last year I approached department heads about using 1 period each day to do a Library Orientation with Grade 9 students. Having chosen Period 1, for example, I developed a schedule of classes (Grade 9 math 1 day, Grade 9 Geography the next, Grade 9 English the next etc etc) until all the Grade 9s have received orientations. I think it went really well because it helped students to realize that the Library is not just about getting novels for their English class and the teachers have been really supportive of the idea!

    I also love the flyer! I’m going to take parts of the Powerpoint presentation I designed and put that information into a flyer that can be distributed around the school. I’ve also done that in the past with new books lists (generally on a monthly basis) and it also seems to draw in students and staff that are interested in new items in the collection!

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