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YOU ARE THE KEY...

Program Development

Introduction

Students today live in a challenging but exciting world of exploding information explosion. Both within our particular societies, and in our increasingly interdependent global society, knowledge has rapidly become the key resource from which all other assets are constructed. It is imperative that students become information literate, and effective media programs are the key to information literacy.  Dynamic, student-centered library media programs foster information literacy and lifelong learning. In this context, school library media specialists' opportunities to construct authentic, information-based learning experiences have never been greater. Along with these opportunities come significantly increased responsibilities.

If these exciting learning opportunities are to be realized, and if the growing responsibilities of library media specialists are to be met, then effective and efficient planning of library media programs is a key requirement. Three basic ideas -- collaboration, leadership, and technology – support the vision of library media programs described in Information Power: Building Partnerships for Learning (2001, p.47). These broad concepts offer unifying themes for planning and administration of effective, student-centered library media programs. In this spirit, a clear and creative vision is essential for planning and guiding strong and vibrant programs, which ultimately serve the learning community of students and others in our rapidly changing world. Moreover, by embracing such a vision, library media specialists may ultimately share the rich rewards that come from serving and living in learning communities of active, creative, lifelong learners.

Program planning has several components, and we have provided these as sequential steps below.  We do not wish to give the impression that program planning is a simple matter.  Before beginning it is imperative that a media specialist be thoroughly familiar with Information Power.  We also recommend A Planning Guide for Information Power (AASL, 1999) as an essential tool in the program planning process.

In order to meet the challenges set forth in media centers today, program plans should address the following elements:
 

1. Philosophy: describe the media center’s educational philosophy, the role of the media specialist, and the purpose of the media center.  This portion should reflect  your own philosophy of media service and mission.

2. Mission statement:  Summarize and condense the media center’s philosophy into a single action statement.

3. Evaluation:  Evaluate your program against past goals and standards.

4. Long range goals:  at least 4 goals, written to be accomplished over a 5-year span.  These goals should be grounded in Information Power.  At least some of your goals should be directly focused on moving your program from one level of achievement to a higher level.  It is acceptable to focus on a few targets at a time.  The key is to make progress every year.

5. Objectives (or short range goals):  in order to accomplish the long range goals, list component goals that can be worked on over the next year.  Some long-range goals may not be addressed by these short-range goals.  Short range goals must relate logically to the long range goals.  Goals (short and long range) should align with your philosophy and mission statement.  It may help to think of short range goals as activities.  Given your long range goals, what activities can you conduct in one year to help you make
progress on this goal?

6. Facilities:  What changes need to be made to improve facilities in order for your program to align more closely with the ideas of Information Power?  Include technology and equipment in this needs assessment, if improvement is needed.

7. Budgeting Plan:  What moneys does your media program have access to? How will you divide this money to accomplish your goals?  Break the overall amount down into percentages to spend in categories. A prominent consideration should always be collection development. Categories may include books, periodicals, hardware, software, equipment, personnel, special projects, etc.

8. Media Committee: Describe the role of the Media Committee in relation to program planning.  Including this explanation in this document will distribute ownership of the Media Program throughout the learning community, and help ensure that it has an advisory role in important media decisions.  Describe how is it chosen, how often it meets, and the specific actions it performs.

9. A plan for planning:  describe your annual review process, to include program evaluation and strategic planning.  How will you know when your goals are met? What data will be collected?  Who decides what needs to be done, and when?
 

Steps in Program Planning

Step 1.  Define the philosophy and mission statement for your media center.
 

The Philosophy portion of a planning document justifies the existence of the media center as a central element of a school.  It should support goals for the media program, and integrate them within the overall school plan.  Once written, the philosophy statement can be used in many documents pertaining to media planning, and may change little from year to year.  Most important, the Philosophy statement should harmonize with principles set forth in Information Power.  It should also reflect established vision and goals fo the local school system and the school itself.

Two examples of a philosophy statement follow:
 

 “The Library Media Center provides all members of the school community with access to information, reading and research assistance, and instruction that supports the curricula and educational goals of our school.  Integration of the Library Media Center Program with the curricula fosters a partnership with teachers and ensures that information skills are an integral part of learning so that students will be able to function successfully in the information society.  The Library Media Program extends and enhances classroom experiences and stimulates the development of a lifelong love and appreciation of reading and learning.”

 “Our philosophy for the Media Center will focus on the integration of library media instruction with classroom learning.  Instruction will be designed to teach literacy and information skills that meet all instructional areas.  Our collection will be chosen with care to reflect the needs of all students and staff.  Our collection will provide an abundance of quality resources in all formats to meet a wide range of learner abilities, developmental levels, and modalities.”


The Philosophy portion of the plan can be as long as necessary.  The next step is to condense this philosophy down into a much shorter mission statement.  The mission statement should be no longer than a couple of sentences reflecting a broad but concise overview of the school media center’s educational goals.  Mission statements are sometimes called “vision statements.”  Two examples follow:
 

“The Library Media Center will develop lifelong readers and effective users of information.”

“The mission of our Media Center is to guide, motivate, and inspire our students toward becoming productive and educated citizens who are effective users of technology and lifelong readers.”



Step 2. Evaluate media program services to determine areas for improvement, expansion, addition, or deletion.

Once the philosophy and mission are in place, the next step is to examine the current media program and determine how well it reflects this philosophy.  The Media Committee should perform and coordinate an annual evaluation of the media program.  Aspects of the media program to evaluate include:

  • Specific concepts expressed in the Philosophy

  • Performance on media center goals and objectives, as laid out in previous Media Plans

  • External criteria from national, regional, state, and local standards offer guidance in improving media programs (such as Information Power and SACS).


Evaluation is a difficult undertaking, but many resources are available to guide you through the process.  The Media Committee should develop or modify appropriate appraisal instruments.  Input should be sought from teachers, students, administrators, parents, media staff, and the local community.  Results should be compiled and used to revise and develop media center goals and objectives.  Data from evaluations should be preserved from year to year as a record of progress.

 



Step 3. Identify needs.

Performing an evaluation process as described in Step 2 will highlight areas where the Media Program is not meeting the needs of the school, areas where the Media Program could contribute to the mission of the school, and resources that are currently not available.  At this stage of the planning process, needs are not so much missing “things” (like computers, books, etc.), but shortcomings in important areas of the media program.  For example, if standardized tests indicate that reading scores are falling, and part of the media center mission is to support reading achievement, then one need would be to improve support for reading instruction.

Again, standards set forth by the local board, the state, and SACS will offer guidance in identifying media program needs and deficiencies.  Once these service needs are identified, move on to naming resources which would help rectify them.  Make sure to consider facilities, funding, staffing, and technology, instructional materials, and print resources.

 



Step 4: Establish goals and objectives.

Information collected from media services evaluation and needs assessment will assist the Media Committee in determining strengths and weaknesses in the media program. This outline may help:
 

1. Identify problems
2. Brainstorm possible solutions
3. Evaluate possible consequences of each solution
4. Choose the best course of action.


On the basis of this information, formulate five to ten realistic goals. Goals, also known as “long-term goals,” should be broad. Objectives should be specific and measurable. Goals may take three to five years to attain, while objectives can be attained within one year. Two or more objectives should be written to meet each goal. After establishing five to ten realistic goals, give the administration and faculty a rough draft for their review and comments. Make revisions as needed and disseminate again with a summary of previous comments.

Examples:
 

Goal 1:
Implement an information literacy program for students and teachers through the use of technology
 

Objectives:
A. Plan an information literacy program for students and teachers, including staff development
B. Educate and assist students in acquiring information through the use of the Internet and available software/hardware
C. Purchase software that supports school curriculum while simultaneously encouraging information literacy


Goal 2:
Improve the media center learning environment so that it is more conducive to constructive student activity by providing more adult supervision and assistance

Objectives:
A. Develop a plan for recruiting volunteers, including incentives and guidelines
B. Develop a training program for media center volunteers
C. Implement plan and assess after one year



Step 5. Place goals and objectives within a five-year rolling Media Plan.
 

In generating the media plan, the media committee should focus on the goals and objectives established in Step 4.  Also, identify an evaluation for each goal.  This evaluation should answer the question, “How will we know that this goal has been met?”

Once the courses of action have been decided upon, they should be organized into a five year rolling plan.  Evaluate and modify the plan yearly.  At the beginning of a new year, the previous year is dropped, and the plan is revised and edited to include the new fifth year.

This process must be continuous to be effective.

 


MEDIA PROGRAM  PLANNING WORKSHEET

STEP ONE (Philosophy)

Philosophy:


 
 
 
 
 

Mission Statement:


STEP TWO (Evaluation)
 
 

Questions to consider

Supporting evidence: How do you know that this is so?

What program services need improvement or expansion? 
 

 

 

What program services need to be added? 
 

 

 

What program services should be deleted? 
 

 

 


 
 

STEP THREE (Needs)
1. In what ways does the existing library media program not support the media center philosophy?
 
 
 
 

2. In what areas are additional instructional resources needed?
 
 
 
 
 

3. What instructional resources are needed to meet these weaknesses/deficiencies?
 
 
 

STEP FOUR (Goals):
 
 
 
 

Goal/Objective 

Goal 1

Goal 2

Goal 3

What is your long term goal? 

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How does this goal relate to the media center mission? 

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According to your service evaluation and needs assessment, where are you in relation to the goal? 

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What objectives will support your goal?(Think of these as short-term goals.) 

a.
b.
c.

a.
b.
c.

a.
b.
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What resources/personnel will be needed to implement your objectives? 

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What specific problems do you anticipate? 

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What are possible solutions to these problems?Which is the best alternative (given personnel, time, resources, money, space)? 

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How will you measure progress toward your objectives? How will you know when your objective is reached? 

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STEP FIVE (Rolling Media Plan)

MEDIA PLAN

________ School Year

Shade the years to which each goal/objective applies.



 
 
 

Goals/Objectives

Year 1
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Year 2
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Year 3
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Year 4
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Year 5
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1a. 

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1b.

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1c.

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2a.

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2b.

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2c.

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3a.

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3b.

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3c.

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Step 6.  Establish a budget.

Each year, the state provides a sum of money for each media center based on Full Time Equivalency (FTE) counts.  Your local school system distributes this money, which is then divided into funding categories (or “lines”).  In some systems, media committees may decide how to divide money between categories, while in others the percentage per category is established in advance.  In some systems, “moving” money between categories is allowed. Learn as much as you can about your local budgeting situation.  Together with your media committee, do your best to match your funding allocation to your goals.

When establishing a budget for a media program, it is important to focus on your previously established goals and objectives.  Allocation of funds should continue to support the improvement of the media program including advances in technology and changes in curriculum.

Examples of dividing budgeted funds according to the media center’s needs may include:
 
 
 

Goal

Planning Objective (Short-term goal)

Budget Categories

To enhance information literacy achievement among students

Purchase productivity software for each media center computer so that students may create resource and inquiry-based projects

Software 

To support the curriculum

Purchase titles to support newly adopted reading series

Books 

To improve the media center learning environment

Replace old, heavy, squeaky chairs with new, mobile, stackable, and quiet chairs

Furniture 

These decisions must be discussed and approved by the members of the media committee at your local school.
 


The Duties of the School Media Committee

The school media committee addresses media concerns at the school level and provides input to the system media committee.  Members of this committee should include an administrator, the media specialist, a teacher representative from each grade or department, a student representative, and a community or parent representative.  Since the role and structure of each committee is defined by learner needs and the school’s instructional program, committee composition may differ from school to school even within the same system.

The school media committee:
 

  • Develops procedures for implementing the system’s instructional media and equipment policy.

  • Establishes media program objectives and priorities based on instructional goals in order to develop immediate and long range plans for the media program.

  • Assesses available media resources as related to instructional needs and recommends priorities for media budget proposal.

  • Participates in evaluating and modifying media services.

  • Recommends media policy revisions.

  • Establishes procedures for the participation of the total school community in media selection.

  • Recommends procedures that insure accessibility to media services for all.

  • Informs the community of the procedures for formally challenging materials used in the school and responds to those challenges.

  • Creates and promotes procedures for copyright awareness.

  • Assists in identifying and planning media or technology –related staff development activities.

  • Recommends applications of technology for inclusion in the media and instructional programs.


References
 

American Association of School Librarians, & Association for Educational Communications and Technology. (1998). Information power: Building partnerships for learning. Chicago: American Library Association.

American Association of School Librarians. (1999). A planning guide for Information Power: Building partnerships for learning with School Library Media Program Assessment Rubric for the 21st Century.  Chicago: ALA.

 


Authors
 

Kristi Bearden

Cathy Garmon

Greg Odell

Anna Burdett

Shann Griffith

Julie Richardson

Paula Bond

Kelly Gruhn

Laura Ryan

Lisa Campbell

Amy Hamilton

Suzy Searcy

Eden Clark

Buffy Hamilton

Bonnie Smith

Julie Criser-Pate

Candice Hamilton

Laura Smith

Katie Dirr

Heather Johnson

Stephen Smith

Vicki Dobbs

Ann LoCicero

Jason Thomas

Mary Ann Fitzgerald

Michelle Mercer

Cathy Wojcik

Paula Flageolle

Karen Mobley

 

 

 

 

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