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About Media Specialist Keys Effectiveness System (MKES), an Advocacy/Self-assessment Tool

Dr. Phyllis R. Snipes, University of West Georgia


During the past year, a group of media personnel from across Georgia developed a powerful document for school library media advocacy. It addresses the roles of the school library media specialist (SLMS) based on the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) national standards and is a tool that is desperately needed as we strive to define our essential role in the educational lives of our students. A brief history of the crafting of this document follows.

In Fall, 2014, a Georgia School Library Media Consortium was organized and met at the University of West Georgia to discuss major issues of concern for media programs in the state. The group consisted of university professors, media coordinators, and media specialists who met with a goal of identifying content that should be required for SLMS preparation programs. A secondary goal was to initiate a plan to develop a media specialist evaluation instrument so that role expectations could be consistent across the state.

During the following year, the Consortium met at various intervals to craft the document, Media Specialist Keys Effectiveness System (MKES), using the Gwinnett County document as a base. The MKES documents were completed at the end of Summer, 2015, and presented to DOE representatives. We were encouraged to distribute the document as a valuable resource for SLMS in Georgia.

Presently, the tool that has been developed is a very strong document for advocating for media programs. It is an excellent way to inform all educators and the public about what the role actually is. Since some media specialists do not have the opportunity to meet all requirements in the instrument (locked into specials, not allowed flexible scheduling, media center closed at times, media specialist having to do duty outside the center, etc.), it may be unfair to them to use the instrument for evaluation right now. This means we need to be extremely proactive about publicizing this document so ALL will know what the role is supposed to "look like" based on our national AASL standards. If administrators and those in school leadership positions are informed of the power and impact on student achievement that a strong media program can offer, perhaps more direct support of SLMS will be the result.

After a period of time and publicizing, the goal is that administrators will recognize the value of providing needed help to develop strong media programs: flexible scheduling, paraprofessional support, funding, constant access to facilities, technology support, TIME to teach! Eventually, the MKES may default to being the instrument most schools use for media specialist evaluation, but if not, it remains a very well designed document for advocating for support of media specialists and programs!

The Time is NOW!

NOW is the time that the essential role of the school library media specialist should be made known to legislators, administrators, teachers, parents, community members, and even library media specialists themselves! In many districts across Georgia media specialist positions are being threatened and it is imperative that evidence of strong media program impact on student achievement be emphasized and demonstrated.