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13 Point Checklist 2009

Last August, I put out a draft/revision in progress version of this document. I appreciate the feedback I received. Here is the final? product. Thanks especially to Donna Baratta, Library Media Specialist at ME Strang Middle School in Yorktown Heights, NY and Kate Burgher, retired DPI Library Consultant in Wisconsin for their suggestions which strengthened this tool. Modify it, use it, share it as you will.


13 Point Library Media Program Checklist for School Principals, 2009 

Doug Johnson

Rapid changes in technology, learning research, and the library profession in the past 20 have created a wide disparity in the effectiveness of school library media programs. Is your school's library media program keeping current? The checklist below can be used to quickly evaluate your building’s program.

1. Professional staff and duties

  • Does your library media center have the services of a fully licensed school library media specialist (SLMS)?
  • Is that person fully engaged in professional duties? Is there a written job description for all library media personnel: clerical, technical, and professional?
  • Does the SLMS understand the changing roles of the SLMS as described in Empowering Learners: Guidelines for School Library Media Programs (AASL, 2009)?
  • Does the SLMS offer staff development opportunities in information literacy, information technologies, and integration of these skills into the content area?
  • Is the SLMS an active member of a professional organization?
  • Is the SLMS considered a full member of the teaching faculty?


2. Professional support

  • Is sufficient clerical help available to the SLMS so that she/he can perform professional duties rather than clerical tasks?
  • Is sufficient technical help available to the SLMS so that she/he can perform professional duties rather than technical tasks?
  • Is there a district media supervisor, leadership team, or department chair who is responsible for planning and leadership?
  • Does the building principal, site leadership committee and staff development team encourage the library media personnel to attend workshops, professional meetings, and conferences that will update their skills and knowledge?
  • Does the SLMS participate in a Professional Learning Community and Personal Learning Networks?


3. Collection size and development

  • Does the library media center’s book and audiovisual collection meet the needs of the curriculum? Has a baseline print collection size been established? Is the collection well weeded?
  • Is a variety of media available that will address different learning styles?
  • Have electronic and on-line resources been added to the collection when appropriate? Are there sufficient hardware and Internet bandwidth for groups of students to take advantage of these resources?
  • Has a recent assessment been done that balances print collection size and electronic resources? Have some print materials been supplanted by on-line subscriptions? Has space formerly used to house print materials been effectively repurposed?
  • Are new materials chosen from professional selection sources and tied to the curriculum through collection mapping?


4. Facilities

  • Is the library media center located so it is readily accessible from all classrooms? Does it have an outside entrance so it can be used for community functions evenings and weekends? Can computer labs be reached directly from a hallway instead of through the library media center?
  • Does the library media center have an atmosphere conducive to learning with serviceable furnishings, instructional displays, and informational posters? Is the library media center carpeted with static-free carpet to reduce noise and protect electronic devices? Is the library media center climate-controlled so that materials and equipment will not be damaged by high heat and humidity, and so that it can be used for activities during the summer?
  • Does the library contain general instructional areas, a story area (in elementary schools), and spaces for individuals to work?
  • Does the library media center contain a computer lab or wireless laptops/netbooks for students and teachers working with a class or independently in the library and for the SLMS to use to teach? Does the library contain and support multi-media workstations and digital video production facilities?
  • Is the library media center fully networked with voice, video and data lines in adequate quantities? Does the library media center serve as the "hub" of these information networks with routers, file servers, video head ends, and technical staff housed there?
  • Does the library maintain a useful, up-to-date online presence with resources for students, staff and families?


5. Curriculum and integration

  • Is the SLMS an active member of grade level and/or team planning groups?
  • Is the SLMS an active member of content curriculum writing committees?
  • Is the SLMS a part of grade-level or content area professional learning communities?
  • Are library media center resources examined as a part of the content areas’ curriculum review cycle?
  • Are library media and information technology skills taught as part of content areas rather than in isolation? Are the information literacy skills of evaluating, processing and communicating information being taught as well as accessing skills?
  • Is the safe and appropriate use of online resources a part of the information and technology literacy curriculum?


6. Resource-based teaching

  • Does the SLMS with assistance from building and district leadership promote teaching activities that go beyond the textbook?
  • Do teachers and administrators view the SLMS as an instructional design and authentic assessment resource? Does the library program support inquiry based and student centered learning activities throughout all curricular areas? Does the SLMS collaborate with students and teachers to create a wide range of opportunities that enable the development and practice critical thinking skills and responsible digital citizenship?
  • Does flexible scheduling in the building permit the SLMS to be a part of teaching teams with classroom teachers, rather than only covering teacher preparation time?
  • Is a clear set of information literacy and technology benchmarks written for all grade levels available? Are these benchmarks assessed in a joint effort of the SLMS and classroom teacher? Are the results of these assessments shared with the student and parents?


7. Information technology

  • Does the library media center give its users access to recent information technologies such as:
    • computerized library catalog and circulation system for the building collection
    • access to a computerized union catalog of district holdings as well as access to the catalogs of public, academic and special libraries from which interlibrary loans can be made
    • full on-line access to the Internet
    • a wide variety of online reference tools like full text periodical indexes, encyclopedias, atlases, concordances, dictionaries, thesauruses, reader's advisors and almanacs
    • a wide variety of computerized productivity programs appropriate to student ability level such as word processors, multi-media and presentation programs, spreadsheets, databases, desktop publishing program, graphic creation programs, still and motion digital image editing software
    • access to collaborative learning/networking tools such as wikis, blogs and other online sharing programs and cloud computing resources such as online productivity tools and file storage?
    • production hardware such as multi-media computers, still and video digital cameras, scanners, and LCD projection devices.
    • educational television programming and services
    • access to desktop conferencing equipment and software
    • educational computer programs including practices, simulations and tutorials that support the curriculum
  • Are the skills needed to use these resources being taught to and with teachers by the SLMS?


8. Telecommunications

  • Is the school linked by a telecommunications network for distance learning opportunities for students? Are there interactive classrooms in the building?
  • Does the library media program coordinate programming which can be aired on the local public access channel?
  • Does the library program coordinate in-house video broadcast programming?


9. Reference, networking and interlibrary loan

  • Does your SLMS have the expertise needed to provide effective and timely reference services to the building students and staff?
  • Is your school a membedr of a regional multi-type system or library consortium?
  • Does the SLMS use interlibrary loan to fill student and staff requests that cannot be met by building collections?
  • Does the SLMS participate in cooperative planning opportunities with other schools, both locally and distant?


10. Planning/yearly goals

  • Does the library media program have a district-wide set of long-range goals?
  • Does the SLMS set yearly goals based on the long-term goals that are tied directly to building and curriculum goals in collaboration with building leadership?
  • Is a portion of the SLMS’s evaluation based on the achievement of the yearly goals?
  • Is the library media program represented on the building technology planning committee? The district technology planning committee?


11. Budgeting

  • Is the library media program budget zero or objective based? Is the budget tied to program goals?
  • Does the SLMS write clear rationales for the materials, equipment, and supplies requested?
  • Does the budget reflect both a maintenance and growth component for the program?
  • Does the SLMS keep clear and accurate records of expenditures?
  • Does the SLMS write grant applications when available?


12. Policies/communications

  • Are board policies concerning selection and reconsideration polices current and enforced? Is the staff aware of the doctrines of intellectual freedom and library user privacy? Do these policies extend to digital resources?
  • Does the district have a safe and acceptable use policy for Internet and technology use?
  • Does the SLMS serve as an interpreter of copyright laws? Does the SLMS help others determine the rights they wish to put on their own intellectual property?
  • Does the SLMS have a formal means of communicating the goals and services of the program to the students, staff, administration, and community? Is the library's web presence professional, easy-to-navigate, current and useful?


13. Evaluation

  • Does the SLMS determine and report ways that show the goals and objectives of the program are being met and are helping meet the building and district goals? Does the SLMS create an annual library report for administrators, staff and parents that include qualitative and quantitative measurements?
  • Do all new initiatives involving the library media and technology program have an evaluation component?
  • Does the district regularly evaluate the library media program using external teams of evaluators as part of any accreditation process?
  • Do the SLMS and school participate in formal studies conducted by academic researchers when requested?



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Reader Comments (11)

Thank you, and your collaborators, for this 13 Point Library Media Program Checklist for School Principals, 2009. It is comprehensive, reflecting traditional as well as 21st century School Library Media goals and objectives. We are in the midst of a ten-year projection for all areas of the Shelton School & Evaluation Center <> and I will use part of your model in the Library Long Term Plan. I have had my share of being "kept awake at night" worrying about being "ready" and having my librarians always eager to try new ideas, but I feel that we are on track in all but two of the areas!

October 25, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKathy Fester

Thank you for the checklist! I am getting ready to write my yearly professional goal and I think I will attach this for my principal.

October 26, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJune

Thanks for posting this extensive checklist. This may seem a little weird, but I'd like to use at least portions of this checklist to show how far behind the times our school libraries are! Seriously, if I or an evaluator went through this checklist with any of our District libraries, we would fail miserably. So, I'm thinking about going through this with my principal and perhaps even the superintendent; they will see how lacking our libraries are. This might seem like I'm condemning myself, but I believe it will show how really understaffed, underfunded, and MISunderstood we media specialists are.

Thanks again and I'll try to let you know how this turns out for us.


October 26, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRobert Follmuth

Doug -
Found this through Twitter! Where'd your twitter account go? =-)
From Joyce Valenza: Doug Johnson's revised 13 Point Library Media Program Checklist for School Principals, 2009

One suggestion/request: somewhere in #6 or #7 (Resource Based Teaching and Information Technology) - you might make a reference to the ISTE NETS
Students, teachers and administrators are going to be held accountable to these technology standards - or something like them.

October 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDan Brooks

Hi Kathy,

Thanks for your kind words. I guess it pays to dust off and polish up some older work! The tool was meant to be useful to librarians for the very reason you gave - to share it with administrators for collaborative improvement of programs. It's good to know you are using it in such a way.


Hi June,

Nice to know the checklist is helpful. You are using it in just the way I hoped it would be.

Thanks for the comment,


Hi Robert,

I am hoping the tool can be used as a means of helping improve libraries, not necessarily grade them. I believe all library programs have strengths and weaknesses. But I do hope this tool proves helpful to you.

All the best,


Hi Dan,

I gave up Twitter for Lent and never took it up again ;-)

Good suggestion about the ISTE Standards - or the AASL Standards. Or the 21st Century Skills standards, Or ...

All the best,


October 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDoug Johnson

If given the article, would my principal even understand what he'd read?

October 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDisheartened

I will send this on to my Principal. Even though I am in a private high school, I can say that we are doing well with this checklist.

October 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJane Rolnick

Bravo, Doug (and collaborators). This is a comprehensive document. I will use it in the school library management course I teach at Texas Woman’s University. (I'm delighted to note that you have included flexible scheduling as a prerequisite for resource-based teaching!) And congrats on the link in American Libraries Direct…

Will you be disseminating the checklist to members of ASCD?


November 1, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJudi Moreillon

Succinct and comprehensive -- as usual. Gret job. It needs to be disseminated widely. I am going to post this URL on my state's listserv.

November 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterHilda Weisburg

Just got a good comment from the NJASL listserv that Resource-bases instruction is a dated term and to move to Inquiary Based learning instead.

November 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterHilda Weisburg

Thanks, Hilda, for the head's up. What no "information fluency"? Personally, I still like the term "research!" I think I always give folks the right to modify any of my work if it suits their needs.

All the best,


November 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDoug Johnson

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