Accelerating Promising Practices for Small Libraries: Transforming School Library Practice

WebJunction /

OCLC served as a mentor organization for two cohorts of small, rural U.S. school libraries participating in the Institute of Museum and Library Service's (IMLS) Accelerating Promising Practices for Small Libraries (APP) initiative. OCLC valued this opportunity to mentor and support school library grantees, beginning in September 2019 with the first cohort of ten school libraries, and continuing with the second cohort of five school libraries in September 2020. OCLC was one of three mentor organizations selected to support the IMLS APP initiative; Wisconsin Library Services and Kansas City Public Library also served as mentor organizations in separate grant categories.

As a mentor organization, OCLC supported each cohort through a facilitated community of practice hosted by WebJunction, three multi-day convenings (in-person or virtual), training, technical assistance, and coaching, as the grantees transformed their school library practice to better serve their communities. Individual grantee projects involved redesigning their libraries for 21st-century learning, advancing staff skills, strengthening partnerships with stakeholders, and enhancing programs and services that will further prepare their students for success. OCLC used a discovery process to ‘meet grantees where they are’ and support both individual and cohort needs as they strengthened the role of their libraries as dynamic learning centers.

The project wrapped up in the summer of 2023, following Spring workshops with Washington state school library practitioners and partners, and a WebJunction webinar, School Librarians Lead Learning and Transformation. We provide an outline of the workshops (doc) we offered, with activity ideas and instructions, as well as examples so that you can include these in your own professional development activities at your schools.

Transforming School Library Practice: A School Librarian’s Information Shelf

A School Librarian’s Information Shelf draws on information shared through the APP Transforming School Library Practice program, connecting grantees, and now other library staff, to a collection of videos, workbooks, tools, and recommendations to meet school library transformation goals. These resources can help your library promote powerful storytelling for advocacy, cultivate compassionate makerspaces, implement virtual teaching and learning practices, and design student-centered spaces that prioritize inquiry-driven learning.

Browse resources

Participating school libraries

For more information about the participating school libraries and their projects, see Transforming School Library Practice Grantees.

Round 2 school library grantees

  • Brooklyn Center Community School District, Brooklyn Center, Minnesota
  • CeDin Laboratory School, Marginal Avenida Lomas Verdes, San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • Hominy Public Schools, Hominy, Oklahoma
  • North Middle School, Great Falls, Montana
  • Wahluke High School, Mattawa, Washington

Round 1 school library grantees

  • Aurora Public School East Side District #131, Aurora, Illinois
  • Fort Benton Schools School District 1, Benton, Montana
  • Freedom Public School, Freedom, Oklahoma
  • Hillsboro-Deering School District, Hillsborough, New Hampshire
  • Laurens County School District 55, Laurens, South Carolina
  • Milford Central School District, Milford, New York
  • Orleans Central Supervisory Union, Barton, Vermont
  • Osage Hills Public School District (Osage County Interlocal Cooperative), Bartlesville, Oklahoma
  • Regional School Unit 63, Holden, Maine
  • Worcester County Public Schools (Board of Education of Worcester County), Newark, Maryland

Learn more about the project in this 2021 Hanging Together blog post, OCLC’s mentorship of K-12 school libraries: reflections on transforming their practice.

This project was made possible by support from OCLC and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (project number LG-00-19-0289-19).