As a Future Ready Schools® (FRS) district, Baltimore County Public Schools (BCPS) served as the host of the recent Digital Promise League of Innovative Schools (League) meeting. The theme of this meeting was focused on equity and showcased the many ways BCPS is making strides toward providing access and opportunity for all students. Access and opportunity are the hallmarks of BCPS’s school library program and visiting district leaders engaged in programming organized around the theme of “innovative libraries.”
BCPS’s superintendent, Dr. Dallas Dance, is a champion of the district’s school library program. Our school system’s philosophy regarding school libraries—and their place at the heart of student learning—is affirmed by a staffing model, which ensures that all schools are staffed by a full-time certified school library media specialist. Our long collaboration with neighboring Towson University enables us to recruit teachers who have a passion for school libraries and are invested in matriculating for a master’s degree. To date, 75 percent of our school library media specialists are a product of this collaborative professional development effort.
Over the past several years, BCPS has made significant strides in rebranding the role of the school library media specialist. We have examined our past and set a path to the future. Our collective experience, systemic initiatives, and our work with Future Ready Librarians affirms the district’s growth and drives its continuing evolution. The transformation of teaching and learning toward customized and personalized student learning happening in all BCPS classrooms is equally evident in our school libraries. For BCPS, school library media specialists are critical instructional partners in its schools.
Uniquely qualified to teach information and technology literacy, BCPS library media specialists have knowledge and experience of the ever-changing information landscape, regularly collaborate with and offer professional development support to their colleagues, and are experienced in the use of technology tools for teaching and learning. They support communities of learners from preschool to college- and career-ready high school seniors by delivering instruction that focuses on student needs. As instructional partners with colleagues, they design and facilitate inquiry-driven lessons that require students to communicate, collaborate, think critically, and create.
BCPS’s library spaces have shifted into physical and virtual “learning commons” in order to support student inquiry and collaboration both during and outside of the school day. Today’s twenty-first-century learners enjoy learning spaces that meet their needs; therefore, our school library media specialists manage these programs and spaces with careful consideration of the physical spaces, collections, technology, and delivery methods to best accommodate our constituents. Makerspaces have been created in many of our school libraries to provide students with hands-on, interest-driven, collaborative learning opportunities that socialize learning and design.
The League’s fall meeting attendees were provided with an opportunity to observe instruction, interact with students and staff, and participate in a showcase of program elements. BCPS highlighted its continued progress to connect to the “gears” of FRS and the Future Ready Librarians framework as our school libraries support learning and advocacy.
District leaders explored our connections to FRS via
- physical spaces designed for inquiry and collaboration;
- instructional partnerships and curriculum-aligned inquiry-based lessons;
- a year-long independent research course designed for high school students;
- resources for digital citizenship and digital leadership;
- professional development resources for school library media specialists;
- curated resources and digital tools for teaching and learning; and
- BCPS’s public library partnership
BCPS’s strategic plan regarding twenty-first-century teaching and learning is characterized by a student-centered model, where all students are engaged in constructing meaning through research, exploration, problem solving, creation, and communication of new knowledge. We see school libraries, highly effective school library programs, and the critical role of qualified library media specialists as essential to this work. We are proud to share BCPS’s progress and gather feedback as we continue to create FRS library programs. We hope you’ll continue to follow our progress on Twitter via #bcpslms.
ABOUT FRAN GLICK
Fran Glick serves as coordinator of the office of digital learning for Baltimore County Public Schools (BCPS). She is a former elementary teacher and elementary and secondary library media specialist. In her current role, Glick supports instructional technology and the K–12 school library program for BCPS. She was a member of the Standards and Indicators Task Force for the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) and contributor to Standards for the 21st-Century Learner in Action (AASL, 2009). Glick is a passionate advocate for re-imagining school librarians and libraries.