Tuesday, January 26, 2010

C. C. Certain & School Library Standards

This year is the 125th anniversary of the birth (exact date unknown) of Casper Carl Certain (1885-1940), the father of school library standards. In 1920 (90 years ago), the American Library Association published Standard Library Organization and Equipment for Secondary Schools of Different Sizes. Because C. C. Certain (as he was better known) was chair of the committee that developed the standards they became widely known as the "Certain Standards". The "Certain Standards" were developed by the Committee on Problems of High School Libraries of the National Education Association's Department of Secondary Education. Certain also chaired the joint committee of the National Education Association and the American Library Association that produced the report Elementary School Library Standards published by ALA in 1925. Jean E. Lowrie has written a biography of Certain in the Dictionary of American Library Biography (Libraries Unlimited, 1978). In that article she quotes Certain on the importance of school librarians: "First, only a person with special training can fulfill the many functions described and second, no school can reach its highest efficiency until it provides for the systematic and broad use of reading materials which the presence of a trained librarian insures. That instruction has traditionally been altogether in the hands of classroom teachers ought not to blind boards of education or superintendents to the imperative need in a modern school for a more extensive use of reading materials. If this need is recognized, there will naturally follow the transformation of the study-room into a library and the assignment of the supervision of the library to a trained librarian." The Lowrie biography is also reprinted in Pioneers and Leaders in Library Service to Youth: A Biographical Dictionary edited by Marilyn L. Miller (Libraries Unlimited, 2003) Cawood Cornelius has written an excellent article for the Georgia Library Media Association's blog which provides a timeline for the history of school library standards.

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