Library Services Staff of the Santa Clara County Office of Education. (2000). Where do I start?
A school library handbook. San Jose: Santa Clara County Office of Education.
This is the first edition of the handbook; a second edition, published in 2012, is available for purchase on amazon.com.
While this 156-page handbook is helpful for any library service staff entering into work with schools, I focus my attention here on two sections: Library Overview (which includes sections on copyright and acceptable use, and selection policies) and Library Collection. The areas I read but am NOT covering here are Library Space (organization, displays, safety), PR/Marketing, Library Programs, Internet and Technology, Library Procedures (purchasing, filing rules), and Library Automation, and contains an index and glossary for easy reference.
Within the handbook the SCCOE Library Services Staff has several sample policies and guidelines. The first that I found particularly helpful is part of the section called “Library Overview.” In it is the Sample Library Selection Policy, wherein the purpose is noted thus: “To ensure that students and teachers are provided access to a wide variety of appropriate print and nonprint resources” (p.9). It goes on to detail the procedure by which new materials are selected for the collection. Ironically, our district LMT group was scrambling recently to locate a similar document--not that any complaints have been made, but in preparation for the possible eventuality. This guide and the sample policy will really help us to cement our district procedures.
The collection development section of the handbook identifies four activities that work in a circular path (nothing new here--we’ve already learned this from Dr. L): knowing patrons, their needs and interests, knowing the purpose/mission/vision of the library (on its own, and as related to school mission/vision), knowing what’s in the collection and getting rid of the stuff that doesn’t belong, and knowing how to select the best materials to fill in gaps in the collection (p. 57). Just as we’ve done in Dr. L’s class, the handbook suggests surveying teachers about what they need from us! While it’s important to study the standards and frameworks, it’s important to recognize the leeway granted by CCSS and NGSS to allow teachers flexibility in the way they teach toward essential learning outcomes (ELOs). Aside from textbook selection, which is often in the hands of subject departments and the teaching and administrative staff, there is the development of the library collection. In chapter 2 of our Collection Development Using the Collection Mapping Technique text, we are counseled to form library advisory committees, who help with collection development. Many of our California libraries are impacted by lack of funding, and although the numbers are shifting toward more library service, a majority of schools lack sufficient library service representatives to form advisory committees. So the school library handbook also recommends both checking district selection policies and seeking counsel from other district librarians (if available) before making library selections, especially if the library in question is being run by volunteers or paraprofessionals. (p.1,3, 75).
Ultimately, the handbook’s goal is to provide library service training to this group of people, those who are handed a key to the library, but who are given very little training on how to implement school library services and programs. Inasmuch as library courses in the iSchool program offer to fill the gaps that a handbook like this leaves, I find the manual to be instructive in the essentials.