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Libraries Transform: The Expert in the School Library: AASL National School Library Standards

Content to support school librarians’ expertise to effectively impact student achievement and school communities.

Overview of the AASL National Standards for Learners, School Librarians and School Libraries

All material and images excerpted from AASL and National School Library Standards for Learners, School Librarians, and School Libraries by the American Association of School Librarians, a division of the American Library Association, copyright © 2018 American Library Association. Used with permission.


The AASL publication, National School Library Standards For Learners, School Librarians and School Libraries, is the authoritative work that guides learning communities in the realization of an “effective school library” which, as defined by AASL, “has a certified school librarian at the helm, provides personalized learning environments, and offers equitable access to resources to ensure a well-rounded education for every student.” (AASL Position Paper) The Standards are designed to guide school librarians in interactions with learners, educators and stakeholders, as well as help them to engage in deep, effective professional practice.


Structure and Purpose of the Standards* Like other sets of learning, professional, and program standards, the AASL Standards are not a curriculum; rather, they provide you with guidance and structure as you develop a curriculum tailored to your local priorities and needs.



The contents of the Standards are designed to be used two ways:


1. As personalized guides: Learners and school librarians can enter the Standards at the point most appropriate to the learning task or professional activity and use the Standards to guide decisions about actions to develop specific competencies.

2. As progressions: Learners and school librarians first engage with the Standards at the level of Think, and once mastery of the competencies related to Think are achieved, progress through Create, Share, and Grow.


The AASL Standards are composed of Shared Foundations, explanatory Key Commitments, Domains, Competencies, and Alignments. These core components are presented as individual Frameworks for learners, school librarians and school libraries. Each standards framework contains five levels:


     Shared Foundations--core values that learners, school librarians, and school librarians should reflect and promote.

     Key Commitment--Essential components of the Shared Foundations, expanded definitions of the Shared Foundations. 

     Domains--school librarians' roles are translated into the learning categories of Think, Create, Share, Grow.

     Competencies--continuum mirroring the inquiry process, a progression of knowledge, skills and dispositions.

     Alignments (School Libraries)--the Key Commitments are expressed by the Alignments in each Domain. 


*AASL Standards, 17-18.

Alignment of AASL Standards with Libraries Transform: Expert in the School Library

The AASL Standards and the Libraries Transform: The Expert in the School Library resources connect in several ways, but in particular the PSEL’s for School Librarians in the LibGuide are a complementary tool that can be used in conjunction with the AASL Standards to help you create a personal baseline of where you are in your practice.  They serve as an entry point by providing an opportunity to develop a keen professional self-awareness, preparing school librarians for deep immersion in AASL Standards implementation.

In a Knowledge Quest blog post “Improve Your Professional Practice with the AASL Standards and School Library PSELs,” Steven Yates (AASL President 2017-18) notes:

“The AASL National School Library Standards (2018) offer competencies that interweave learners, school librarians, and school libraries while the School Library PSELs offer a focus to improve personal practice. As learners, school librarians strive for continuous improvement to further develop their skill sets and build on their expertise throughout their careers. School librarians will want to explore both the school librarian framework found in the AASL National School Library Standards and the School Library Professional Standards for Educational Leaders."

Eleven articles, one for each SL PSEL competency, align the AASL National School Library Standards with the SL PSELs to support users of both resources. They are detailed in another tab - Standards Alignment Articles - on this LibGuide and are also linked individually in the Resources for each SL PSEL competency.

AASL Standards Resources

The AASL Standards are supported by a wealth of resources in the AASL Standards portal which are regularly updated with new content. Resources include a downloadable copy of the AASL Learner Framework as well as graphics, messaging, templates, one-pagers for educators, administrators and librarians, videos, a hashtag bank for social media, links to webinars and Knowledge Quest blog posts.

Additionally, resources found in this LibGuide can be used by school librarian to authenticate their value through measurable evidence, affirm their leadership and collaboration skills, and provide a variety of tools for use in developing stakeholder awareness, understanding, and commitment to a shared vision of excellence.

Shared Foundations and Key Commitments

Librarian Competencies