VCSU program honored nationally

The American Association of School Librarians division of the American Library Association has recognized the library and information technologies concentration of Valley City State University’s online master of education program as a quality school librarianship program.

VCSU is the only university in the North Dakota, Minnesota, South Dakota and Montana region with a nationally recognized program of this type.

Doug Anderson, VCSU marketing and communications director, said Monday the honor is important to the university “because it is a fairly unique program for us and addresses a shortage of school librarians.” Anderson said many librarians are nearing retirement age.

“It is a pretty distinctive recognition,” Anderson said.

VCSU is also pleased the recognition covers the university’s online master of education program. “Online programs can stand out with the quality and nature of the program,” Anderson said.

“School library preparation programs that attain national recognition status from the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education and the American Association of School Librarians have undergone a rigorous peer review process that examines a diverse array of data and key components tied to national standards recognized by the profession,” said Carl Harvey, AASL President. “Nationally recognized school library preparation programs have demonstrated a strong commitment to excellence on behalf of their candidates and the P-12 students and communities they serve. By virtue of their recent national recognition, VCSU’s faculty and staff have positioned themselves as strategic leaders in 21st Century School Librarianship.”

Donna James, grant project director and Graduate Library Education Director at VCSU, said, “One of our goals for the original IMLS grant was to develop a high quality program that would qualify for ALA/AASL recognition. It is certainly rewarding to receive this notification.” James is an advocate for library education in North Dakota and former North Dakota Library Association (NDLA) president.

The AASL reviews school librarianship programs affiliated with NCATE-accredited units. VCSU has been accredited by NCATE since 1954, and the University’s online Master of Education has been accredited since 2005. The recognition is listed on the AASL web site and is available on the NCATE web site, and is effective until 2015 when NCATE will conduct an institution-wide review.

The LIT concentration is designed for practicing librarians who wish to further their careers with graduate-level credentials, or teachers outside the library wishing to add new credentials to their backgrounds. Previous recognition the program has received includes a $573,909 IMLS grant in 2007 and an ALA/AASL statement of commendation in 2008.

The curriculum and assessment tools were developed by a team that included Konnie Wightman, retired Library Media Coordinator for Bismarck Public Schools, and Gay Galles, Program Manager for Library Media Services for the Moorhead Area Public Schools (both also evaluate student data and are adjunct instructors in the program). The curriculum was designed to meet the AASL standards to prepare school librarians which focuses on preparing school librarians who teach 21st century information literacy skills, collaborate with colleagues, advocate for the school’s library program, and lead the school community in the effective and ethical use of information.