Professional Organizations & Literature for Media Specialists

Instructor: Emily Hamm

Emily has B.S. in elementary education and a M.S. in educational technology. She teaches full-time, works as an adjunct professor, and is a freelancer.

This lesson will discuss professional organizations and their publications/literature that are available for those involved in a school's Library Media Center.

Never Alone

The chill of despair envelops and the echoes of silence bounce around your ears. You look around in horror only to realize you are completely and totally alone.

While this might sound like a line from a horror novel, it is an all-too-true reality for those working in a school's Library Media Center (LMC). A Library Media Specialist (LMS) can often be completely independent in their running of a quality LMC program at a school level. Sometimes this independence is beneficial, but at other times it is isolating to be alone in your professional pursuits. Thus, it is important for the LMS to know and understand the professional organizations which are designed to change this feeling of aloneness into a thriving collaborative effort.

American Association of School Libraries (AASL)

This organization is a sub-category of a well-known group, the American Library Association (ALA). Its focus is upon the school (as opposed to the community) library and the stakeholders within the school community.

Publications from this group are numerous and vast. Books include reference materials designed to aid the modern Library Media Specialist (LMS) with specific practices, issues, and concerns. Titles such as Standards for the 21st-Century Learner and Empowering Learners: Guidelines for School Library Programs are a few options available through the AASL's online catalog. The books from AASL are focused on the needs of a Library Media Specialist in the professional role within a school system, so they are poignant, current, and address the needs a LMS may have.

In addition to books, AASL has periodicals such as Knowledge Quest, which is delivered bi-monthly throughout the school year. This journal is ongoing, which enables it to deliver the most up to date information on research and best practices for those working in a school library system. Because it is often the case that Library Media Specialists work alone within a school building and possibly even within an entire district, having resources that connect to others in the field is invaluable.

Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA)

The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) is also a division of the ALA. However, the focus of YALSA is not specific for school libraries; it focuses on the engagement and needs of teens or young adult readers in any library. The age groups serviced through this organization range from 13-18, so in a school context it would be most beneficial for the secondary LMS who works with middle or high school students.

Publications for YALSA include books designed for those working specifically with teens in a library context. Such books include Excellence in Library Services to Young Adults and Annotated Booklists for Every Teen Reader: The Best from the Experts at YALSA.

The Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT)

The AECT is an organization that brings together individuals whose goal is to improve teaching through technology. This group isn't primarily focused on the library's role of book dissemination; rather, it helps teachers and Library Media Specialists implement technology and produce communication media. This is not only an organization for teachers. It encompasses myriad other professions including higher education, hospitals, libraries, business, and industry.

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