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The School Libraries Network Program (SLNP) was launched in 1996 by the Ministries of Education and Culture, aiming to install and develop libraries in public schools at all levels of education, providing users with the necessary resources for reading, access, use and production of information in all formats and media.
Coordinated by the School Libraries Network Agency, the program articulates its action with other services of the Ministry of Education, regional educational services, municipalities, municipal libraries and other institutions - universities, training centers, foundations and national and international associations.
As the main goal of the SLN program is to install and develop libraries and library service in schools, it is essential to ensure the connection between the SLNP Agency, schools and the different local partnerships. This connection is the responsibility of local coordinators that supervise and organize a number of schools, determined by the SLNP Agency, according to the circumstances and geography of the territory. These coordinators also give technical and pedagogical support to teacher librarians and library teams.
Teacher librarians are responsible for the operation and management of school libraries, curriculum-based activities, reading and literacy development. They manage libraries in order to make them spaces of knowledge and variety of resources, implicated in the change of educational practices, in the support to learning, and to the curriculum, in the development of digital, media and information literacy, in the training of critical readers and in the construction of citizenship. Teacher librarians must also guarantee a library service to every school in their group of schools. Since the beginning of the SLNP, the training of teacher librarians and library teams was considered a structuring issue, critical to the enlargement of this network. The legislation concerning teacher librarians, dates back to 2009 and guarantees that qualified and specialized human resources, in this area, are responsible for the management and use of library resources.
Application to the program
Each year, schools apply to integrate the SLN and those that present better conditions and the most consistent projects are selected and supported to install their school libraries and library service. The SLNP also supports the modernization of libraries that are already integrated in the network. Presently, all middle and secondary public schools and many elementary ones are integrated, but the Program maintains its effort to include as many schools as possible.
The SLNP supports innovation and excellence projects in several areas that show a more qualified intervention in the improvement of literacies and learning outcomes and in the involvement of the school community. Ideias com Mérito (Valuable ideas), aLeR+ (Reading more) and Newton gostava de ler (Newton enjoyed reading) are some of those projects.
The SLNP develops a network philosophy, through partnerships with different educational agents, municipalities, the civil society and with other projects of the Ministry of Education, namely the National Reading Plan.The SLNP is also known internationally, through the participation in different forums, meetings and conferences and integrates the most recognized institutions and associations in this area, as IASL and IFLA.
Creating documents and tools for the dissemination of information, communication, exchange of experiences and ideas, has been another area of this program. The SLNP offers a range of services through its Web page, blog, mailing list, social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) e-learning platform and individual school library catalogs. There has also been the development of municipal (school and public) libraries networks, with their own webpages and collective catalogs.
Curriculum support and literacy development
The SLNP develops its efforts in order that the school library, as a place of knowledge and diverse resources, is engaged in changing educational practices, in supporting learning and the curriculum, in the development of digital, media and information literacy and in the education of critical readers and citizens. The set of standards Learning with the school library guides this core area of school libraries work.
The evaluation of school libraries is done through a model developed by the SLNP and used in all middle and secondary schools, and in some elementary ones. It has been a benchmark for the management of school libraries and a tool for guidance and internal improvement.
An external evaluation of the SLN program was carried out in 2008 by a Portuguese public university (ISCTE/ CIES).