The new AASL Standards for the 21st Century Learner were unveiled on October 25 at the 13th National AASL (American Association of School Librarians) Conference in Reno, Nevada. 

“The new standards were developed by some of the best minds in the school library field,” Johns said. “AASL hopes that these standards will provide a foundation for a strong library media program in every school, where our students will research expertly, think critically, problem-solve well, read enthusiastically and use information ethically. Our students will succeed.”

Early in 2006, acting in accordance with the AASL strategic plan, the AASL Board of Directors voted to establish the Learning Standards Rewrite Task Force, whose charge was to develop new AASL standards for student learning in the 21st Century. The task force included co-chairs Cassandra Barnett and Gail Dickinson, Eugene Hainer, Melissa Johnston, Marcia Mardis and Barbara Stripling.

“The new AASL ‘Standards for the 21st-Century Learner’ are both a reflection of the current landscape and a vision for the future,” said Gail K. Dickinson, task force co-chair. “Good standards have to be practical enough to teach today but flexible enough to be able to teach tomorrow.”

The task force began with an intensive face-to-face meeting last September and worked virtually and during conferences over the next several months. To ensure that the new standards reflect the best of our thinking as a profession, the task force gathered input and feedback from the membership and other library media professionals throughout the whole process. Drafts were posted on the Web site for comment, AASL held an open forum for discussion of the draft during the 2007 Midwinter Meeting and a wiki was utilized for further input from the field.

The standards and common beliefs include:

Common Beliefs

The learning standards begin by defining nine foundational common beliefs:

  • Reading is a window to the world.
  • Inquiry provides a framework for learning.
  • Ethical behavior in the use of information must be taught.
  • Technology skills are crucial for future employment needs. 
  • Equitable access is a key component for education.
  • The definition of information literacy has become more complex as resources and technologies have changed.
  • The continuing expansion of information demands that all individuals acquire the thinking skills that will enable them to learn on their own.
  • Learning has a social context.
  • School libraries are essential to the development of learning skills.

The Standards

The Standards describe how learners use skills, resources, and tools to

  1. inquire, think critically, and gain knowledge;
  2. draw conclusions, make informed decisions, apply knowledge to new situations, and create new knowledge;
  3. share knowledge and participate ethically and productively as members of our democratic society;
  4. pursue personal and aesthetic growth.

You can download the Learning Standards as an eight-page full-color pamphlet (PDF, 4 mb).

Do our practices as teachers and students truly reflect these beliefs in our school philosophy, learning activities, and teaching practices?  Do the mandates of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) intersect in reality with these new standards and beliefs?   How do we use these beliefs and standards as a framework for teaching and learning at Creekview High?