ERIC Identifier: ED308857
Publication Date: 1989-08-00
Author: Meyers, Judith K.
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on
Information Resources Syracuse NY.
Implementing Information Power. ERIC Digest.
"Information Power: Guidelines for School Library Media Programs," published
jointly by the American Library Association (ALA) and the Association for
Educational Communications and Technology (AECT) in 1988, is the most recent in
a series of efforts to articulate and encode professional program and practice
standards which has spanned the twentieth century. Begun in 1983 by a joint
writing committee of the AECT and the American Association of School Librarians
(AASL), "Information Power" focuses on the building level library media
specialist's role in planning and providing leadership in the establishment of
partnerships for the delivery of resources and services. Resources and services
vary according to the goals and objectives of the school. Physical and
intellectual access to information, increasingly through networks extending well
beyond the school, is the central unifying concept of the guidelines.
LEVELS OF IMPLEMENTATION
There are several levels on which
the new guidelines for school library media programs can be implemented: (1)
national, (2) state, (3) regional, (4) district, (5) building, and (6) personal.
Activities planned at the national level have included two nationwide
teleconferences, several receptions, an ALA pre-conference, the AASL President's
Program, four implementation workshops, an AECT Pre-Conference Workshop, and a
speakers' bureau. In addition, buttons, magazine articles, a newsletter, a
discussion guide, a planning guide, transparency masters, a public relations
guide, a checklist, a compilation of national, regional, state and local
guidelines, a brochure, a personal professional development plan, and lobbying
suggestions have been produced.
Similar activities may be adapted and conducted at the state level. Each
state has been urged to name a coordinator and develop a state plan for carrying
out implementation activities. A rich variety of projects is being undertaken
among the states.
Regional level implementation has several definitions. Primarily, it means
those activities conducted by the regional media centers within the various
states. However, it may mean activities conducted with the purpose of
influencing regional accrediting associations, such as the North Central
Association and the Southern Association. It also means activities conducted by
the regions of the American Association of School Librarians and the Association
for Educational Communications and Technology. Each of these regions is a viable
arena for guidelines implementation activities. Plans for implementation of the
guidelines at the district level are those made by the library media
specialist(s) serving in districts where there is more than one school. They may
be led by the district director where one is available or they may be the
unified efforts of all the specialists working in a given district under a
designated or elected chair.
At the building level, implementation plans are compatible with district
level plans, but they may differ from them in any number of aspects according to
the different goals, objectives, and priorities which govern the scope and
direction of the building level program.
Finally, each specialist should have a commitment to personal professional
growth and development derived from the new guidelines. One should continuously
strive to be in position, prepared to undertake implementation and program
development activities whenever the opportunity presents itself. A checklist for
personal professional development has been designed to assist individual library
media specialists in these efforts.
THE IMPLEMENTATION CYCLE
Implementation is a cyclical
activity, renewing itself again and again in an ongoing quest for educational
excellence. The implementation cycle presented here is a standard one which can
be applied at any level of implementation planning. It comprises eight steps:
(1) analyze organization, (2) gather data, (3) set goals, (4) establish
priorities, (5) develop plans, (6) take action, (7) evaluate effectiveness, and
(8) revise plans.
ORGANIZATIONAL ANALYSIS AND POLITICAL CULTURE
effectiveness of organizational analysis can be increased if the prevailing
political culture is taken into account. There are a number of research-based
analysis techniques that can aid the implementation process in this regard. In
their work supported by a grant from the National Institute of Education
(NIE-G-83-0138), researchers Frederick Wirt, Douglas E. Mitchell, and Catherine
Marshall applied the ideas expressed by Daniel Elazar in "American Federalism: A
View from the States" (1966) and later explored in depth in his "Cities of the
Prairie" (1970) in which he identified three distinctive types of political
1. Traditionalist Political Culture (TPC): Government's main function is
maintaining traditional patterns, being responsive to a governing elite, with
partisanship subordinated to personal ties.
2. Individualistic Political Culture (IPC): Government is a "marketplace"
that responds to demands, favors economic development, and relies heavily on the
political party as the vehicle for satisfying individuals' needs--hence a heavy
emphasis on partisanship.
3. Moralistic Political Culture (MPC): Government is a means for achieving
the good community, or "commonwealth," through positive action; non-governmental
action is preferred but social and economic regulations are legitimate and
sought, parties are downplayed, and bureaucracy is viewed positively as an agent
of the people.
Wirt and the others surveyed the state education policy elite in six states
representing each of the three political cultures (MPC: California, Wisconsin;
IPC: Pennsylvania, Illinois; and TPC: Arizona, West Virginia). The policy elite
were: a chairman and minority leader in the committees on education and
education finance of both houses; the governor's chief education policy aide; a
chief state school officer and staff aides responsible for seven state policy
areas; lobbyists for teachers, superintendents, principals, and school boards;
knowledgeable observers from academia; and a major newspaper. Through the
survey, strong support was found for the existence of Elazar's political
cultures among the education policy makers in the states.
The researchers then ranked the policy influentials in all six states. The
following is a list of the major "Policy Groups" ranked in order from high to
low. The phrase in parentheses following each group characterizes the kind of
influence each group wields: (1) Individual Member of the Legislature
(Insiders); (2) Legislators as a Whole (Insiders); (3) Chief State School
Officer (Near Circle); (4) All Education Interest Groups Combined (Near Circle);
(5) Teacher Organizations (Near Circle); (6) Governor and Executive Staff (Near
Circle); (7) Legislative Staff (Near Circle); (8) State Board of Education (Far
Circle); (9) Others (Far Circle); (10) School Boards Association (Sometime
Players); (11) State Administrator Association (Sometime Players); (12) Courts
(Other Forgotten Players); (13) Federal Policy Mandates (Other Forgotten
Players); (14) Non-Educator Interest Groups (Other Forgotten Players); (15) Lay
Groups (Other Forgotten Players); (16) Education Research Organizations (Other
Forgotten Players); (17) Referenda (Other Forgotten Players); (18) Producers of
Educational Materials (Other Forgotten Players)
The schedule above combines all six states. When states were analyzed
individually many differences appeared, confirming that state policy systems are
quite complex. History, current crises, recent power shifts, and other elements
contribute to many differences among the states.
The work of Wirt, Marshall, and Mitchell holds several implications for
1. The definitions of the political cultures can be used to identify the
political cultures of other states through analytical methods or replication of
2. Evidence of the political cultures can probably be found among district
and building level policy makers.
3. Effective promotion of the school library media program should differ
according to the political culture in which it is established:
a. In a Traditional Political Culture, emphasis should be placed on
preserving the fine tradition of the school library media program.
b. In the Individualistic Political Culture, emphasis should be on the
efficiencies and economies achieved by the school library media program.
c. In the Moralistic Political Culture, emphasis should be placed on the
popular support for the school library media program and the role it plays in
providing information for community goal setting and program development.
4. The list of the policy elite may be applied in identifying the policy
elite in each state.
5. The circle of influence may be applied to rank the policy influentials in
each state, comparing it to the pattern for all six states as needed.
6. The circle of influence may be adapted for use in identifying policy
influentials at the district and building levels.
7. The policy groups identified in the circle of influence may be targeted
for activities to promote the implementation of school library media programs in
THE REMAINDER OF THE IMPLEMENTATION CYCLE
In gathering data
about one's organization, state statistical records are the best sources of
comparison. "Information Power: Checklist for School Library Media Programs" and
"Information Power: National, Regional, State, and Local Compilation"*,
disseminated at the implementation workshops conducted by AECT in late summer
1988, should also be of assistance in identifying and assembling the kinds of
data needed to promote the development of school library media services. Not all
the guidelines are of equal importance. Not all goals can be accomplished
immediately or even within a year.
Developing a system of priorities for achieving goals is highly recommended.
Priorities can be translated easily into short-, medium-, and long-range plans.
"A Planning Guide for Information Power: Guidelines for School Library Media
Programs" and "Information Power: Checklist for School Library Media Programs"
include forms for the development of action plans. A good action plan will have
a device to assist the planners in evaluating how successful they were in
carrying out the plan. Application of the checklist a second time is another
approach to evaluation. The compilation of state, regional, and national
standards may also be used as an evaluation model. Finally the plan is revised.
Guidelines implementation is no mysterious process. It is a systematic
undertaking, beginning with a carefully and clearly thought out plan, followed
by patient and persistent pursuit of a selected set of achievable goals. As each
goal is met, another takes its place and the cycle begins anew.
* A number of publications supporting "Information Power: Guidelines for
School Library Media Programs" were published by the AASL and AECT in 1988.
Elazar, Daniel Judah. (1966). American
Federalism: A View from the States. New York: Crowell.
Elazar, Daniel Judah. (1970). Cities of the Prairie: The Metropolitan
Frontier and American Politics. New York: Basic Books.
Mitchell, Douglas E., Wirt, Frederick M., and Marshall, Catherine. (1986).
Alternative State Policy Mechanisms for Pursuing Educational Quality, Equity,
Efficiency, and Choice Goals. Final Report. Unpublished manuscript, University
of California, Riverside. (ED 280 177) -----------------
This digest is a condensed version of the original article, "Implementing
Information Power," by Judith K. Meyers, in TECHTRENDS 34(1), January/February
1989, pp. 35-38. Printed with permission of the Association for Educational
Communications and Technology.