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But what does it look like? Colorado paints the picture

Becky Russell, School Library Senior Consultant, Colorado Department of Education wrote this week to share an exciting project relating to the State’s retooled Power Library Program.

The program and its competencies are closely tied to the newly revised Colorado Academic Standards, which integrate 21st century skills across grade and content area.

It is a highly inclusive program.

Becky writes of the urgency for action and for gathering as many as possible at the table, regardless of their skill level:

In Colorado, school librarians are in a crisis, to put it mildly.  Currently only about 30% of our schools have a licensed librarian at their respective schools.   We have been looking at ways to provide growth opportunities for our school librarians while simultaneously changing the mindsets of non-librarians (and, unfortunately, some librarians).  This new “Highly Effective School Library Program” model encourages participation by ANY school librarian, no matter what their growth or educational level.  We hope to provide learning opportunities for participants in the forms of webinars, mentoring, coaching, and workshops.

The program happens to be launching at a particularly opportune time, coinciding with the re-vamping Colorado’s teacher evaluation system.  Becky and her team hope that:

CDE will use these competencies/rubric as a guideline for school librarian evaluations.  The legislation mandates that a portion of teachers’ evaluations will also be based on evidence of student growth.  To that end, we will be tasked with showing how school librarians help raise student achievement. Therefore, in the rubric, we aligned our terminology of “Highly Effective,” “Effective,” “Progressing Towards Effective,” and “Ineffective” with the same language that the Educator Effectiveness Unit is now using as they develop the core teachers/principals’ evaluations rubrics.

Because Becky, together with Power Libraries coach, Judy Barnett, and a number of Colorado colleagues wanted to share what it looks like, they went beyond rubrics and print descriptions of competencies to produce a series of YouTube videos to illustrate what it looks like when it works.

We thought the videos would be an appealing and fun way to give non-librarians (and traditional librarians) a snapshot of how school librarians can impact student achievement in the 21st century.

Check out these films on the competencies collaboration and instruction:

Colorado’s inclusive statewide program presents a replicable model to inspire other state efforts.

Resources for Colorado’s Power Libraries Program:

Joyce Valenza About Joyce Valenza

Joyce is an Assistant Professor of Teaching at Rutgers University School of Information and Communication, a technology writer, speaker, blogger and learner. Follow her on Twitter: @joycevalenza


  1. Colorado is 1 hour ahead of Washington state, and a couple of steps along on a path we’re talking about at WLMA. Both CO and WA library associations hold their annual conferences October 13-15th. Both Power Libraries, and WA’s LIT Library Program framework, are developing common language around what vital and enduring school library programs will look like. Check for LIT.

  2. Thank you, Craig! I was thinking that WLMA would be working on similarly brilliant guiding documents. I can’t wait to hear more. How about a guest post on the work you’ll be sharing in October? And may I share your document here?

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