Friday, March 13, 2009

California Authorizes School Library Standards

Cause for celebration during the darkest days for California school libraries, when many school library staff are getting pink slips in anticipation of job cuts due to inadequate school budgets. California School Library Association President Connie Williams and California Department of Education Library Consultant Barbara Jeffus shared the good news: The State Board of Education today cast a unanimous vote to authorize "...the State Superintendent of Public Instruction to develop statutorily required standards for school library services, as model standards."

This action has taken YEARS. This is excellent news. Thank you, California State Board of Education! And thanks to the many, many advocates over the past 20+ years for making this happen. PORTIONS FROM California School Board March 2009 Agenda:


The California Department of Education (CDE) recommends that the State Board of Education (SBE) authorize the State Superintendent of Public Instruction (SSPI) to develop statutorily required model standards for school libraries.


September 1977: The SBE adopted California Code of Regulations, Title 5 (5 CCR), Section 16041, regarding the resources that may be provided in school libraries.

March 1972: The SBE adopted 5 CCR Section 16040, definition of “school library services” and “school library.”


California Education Code (EC) Section 18101 requires that “The State Board of Education shall adopt standards, rules, and regulations for school library services.”

The SBE adopted 5 CCR for school libraries that defined school library services and listed resources that may be in school library collections.

Other than providing definitions of various aspects of school library services, specific standards and rules for school library services have not been adopted.

Standards for school libraries should include the intersection between information literacy, including technology skills, or what many are calling 21st century learning skills, and the content area standards. The emphasis is on what students should know and be able to do. In addition, quantifiable numbers could be included for staffing, collections and resources, and facilities. The proposed standards will provide guidance to schools and districts to implement effective school library programs.


The CDE has published documents that relate specifically to school library programs. They include:

School Libraries in California: A Report to the California Legislature Pursuant to Chapter 1650, Statutes of 1963, and Chapter 1337, Statutes of 1965 (1968).

The Crisis in California School Libraries, A Special Study. Prepared by Program Evaluation and Research Division, CDE (1986).

Check It Out! Assessing School Library Media Programs: A Guide for School District Education Policy and Implementation Teams (1998).

The CDE conducts an annual survey of school library programs and publishes the results as part of the CDE Fact Book and Curriculum Frameworks and Instructional Resources Web pages.

The resulting California School Library Model Standards document should include the following elements:

  • Background including EC sections with links to more details and a current snapshot of California school libraries based on survey data and national comparisons.

  • Summary of the research base with links including, but not limited to, studies in 16 states, new California research, access to books studies, Florida study on library circulation and reading scores.

  • California school library content standards, also known as information literacy or

21st century learning skills, and correlation with California academic content standards as appropriate.

  • Quantifiable standards for staffing, collections, and resources, including technology and equipment, and facilities based on national and state statistics and research.

  • Appendix: May include research process options, sample policies that relate to implementing standards, links to resources, examples of integrated information literacy skills and state content standards, Commission on Teacher Credentialing regulations, and distinguished schools matrix.

Proposed time line:

March 2009 SSPI begins discussions with interest groups and experts

March 2009 SSPI proposes project to SBE

April 2009 Public Input

March – August 2009 CDE staff prepare draft document

September – October 2009 Online field review of draft standards

October – November 2009 Final edits

January 2010 SBE approval


The estimated cost to edit and publish the document is $24,000. The CDE will work within existing resources and request in-kind assistance from the California School Library Association and other interested parties. Meetings will be held via teleconference and other cost-effective uses of technology or in conjunction with previously scheduled and funded meetings.

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