School Library System History

  • NBSLS History
    In 1984 Joseph Shubert, New York State Librarian, convinced the New York State Legislature to authorize the establishment of forty-six school library systems. School library systems became the third partner in a statewide network of library systems with public library systems and academic and special library systems.  This statewide network would foster the sharing of resources and information to benefit all residents of New York State. Nassau County was ready to begin.
    In the late 1970's Nassau BOCES administrator Anne Fitzpatrick convened a group of school library media specialists selected by local superintendents to meet periodically to discuss common concerns.  Nassau County Area Council (NCAC) was formed.
  • For the next several years NCAC met regularly at Nassau BOCES. Committees of school library media specialists developed bibliographies, discussed the need for Interlibrary loan and under the aegis of BOCES participated in several grant projects. Dr. Amy McComb, library director at Baldwin UFSD led the group and Nassau BOCES administrator Dr. Albert Inserra provided the necessary support.
    Nava Krieger, Nassau BOCES, and members of NCAC wrote the required plan of service and on April 25, 1985, an application for the establishment of the Nassau BOCES School Library System (NBSLS) was signed by Amy McComb of NCAC and Dr. John Murphy, representing Nassau BOCES. Forty-seven school districts and private school administrators signed statements of support.
    An Advisory Council of NCAC members was formed to bridge the transition to the proposed Nassau BOCES School Library System. (Today several members of that  original group are still serving NBSLS in various capacities).
    Vivian Doremus and Arlene Soifer, Nassau BOCES administrators and Madeline Hendrix representing NCAC conducted interviews for a director. In September 1985  with Carol Kroll as NBSLS director, the Nassau BOCES School Library System officially came into being.
    Initially, only thirty-seven of the fifty-six Nassau County school districts joined the System. Wherever possible the NCAC representatives became the liaison to NBSLS. A unique situation existed for the first year of NBSLS' existence; NCAC and NBSLS functioned side by side. Madeline Hendrix from Sewanhaka Central High School District was elected the first Chair of the NBSLS Advisory Council and Sheila Salmon, Uniondale Free School District served as Chair of NCAC. At the end of that year NCAC voted to merge with NBSLS, since its members needs were being met by the new organization. All 56 school districts now belonged to NBSLS.
    Liaison Structure

    Each district superintendent designated a school library media specialist to serve as liaison to NBSLS. Then, as now, liaisons attended four full day meetings each school year and brought back pertinent information to their districts. At these meetings the mornings were devoted to a pertinent topic. Outstanding speakers provided stimulation and insight into the role of the school library media specialist, current educational practices, library legislation and NBSLS responsibilities. Liaisons were required to join one of the NBSLS committees to address identified needs and issues. In the afternoon, these committees met and addressed issues such as automation, intersystem cooperation and interlibrary loan, reading guidance, public relations, coordinated collection development and library service to special students.
    Today a liaison group of one library media specialist from each member district continue to meet four times a year. Liaisons report district needs to NBSLS so that workshops, courses, resources and services can best strengthen library media programs. Speakers from across the country present the best thinking in a wide range of educational areas to inspire and influence instruction delivered to Nassau county students.
    Staff Development

    Keeping school library media specialists informed about new technologies, curriculum developments, and research skills instruction became increasingly significant. To determine priorities and focus for the coming year, a summer planning session was held annually at Caumsett State Park. The past year's activities were reviewed and evaluated and an assessment of needs developed. 
    Perhaps two of the most significant programs created during summer meetings were the development of Cluster groups for peer support and the creation of an NBSLS  newsletter. With Queens College Professor Ken Tewel as consultant, facilitators were trained in leadership skills. The facilitators then volunteered to lead elementary, middle and high school Clusters and share their ideas and concerns with colleagues throughout Nassau County. For this initiative NBSLS received the AASL ABC CLIO Leadership Development Award in 1988. 
    Sharing of Resources and Interlibrary Loan

    A committee of NBSLS members developed an Interlibrary Loan Manual with procedures for resource sharing. Although reluctant at first, member library media specialists soon realized the benefits to students and teachers when books and periodicals from more than 300 school libraries became available to them. A special committee of "quilters" (NBSLS library media specialists) joined together and created a colorful storybook quilt picturing characters from beloved children's books. This charming wall hanging is available for loan.

    In February 1990, NBSLS received approval for a two-year pilot Library Automation Services Project. A committee of thirty district computer specialists and school library media specialists chose the Mandarin library automation system. Seven school library media centers' shelf lists were converted to machine readable records and catalog databases created; hardware and software were purchased and installed during the 1991-92 school year. Today the majority of Nassau school libraries have automated collections.
    Public Relations

    Inaugurated in 1987, the ADMINISTRATOR OF THE YEAR award is presented annually at a joint Administrator/School Library Media Specialists Breakfast. Dr. Glenn Grube, superintendent of Valley Stream Central High School District (CHSD) was the first recipient in this continuing initiative.
    Intersystem Cooperation and Partnerships

    In 1990, the Nassau Library System (NLS), NBSLS and the Nassau County Library Association joined together to sponsor an all day, all county celebration of children's literature, THE CHILD AND THE BOOK. Caroline Ward of NLS spearheaded the program. Standing room only crowds of public and school librarians listened to outstanding authors and illustrators of children's books and then met in small groups to discuss a variety of titles.  This program still continues today as LitFest sponsored by NLS & SCLS.

    In 1994, Hofstra University in partnership with NBSLS gave Internet access to NBSLS member libraries by providing 15,000 Internet passwords. Scores of school library media specialists, administrators and teachers were trained at Hofstra to use the Internet. In 1995, Dr. Karen Chapman, Assistant Superintendent for Business, Hewlett-Woodmere UFSD conceived of the idea of an Internet training lab at the NBSLS offices in Greenvale. Installation was completed later that year.

    NBSLS recognized the need to inform legislators of the importance of school library media programs. Members visited legislators in the local offices, attended the annual Legislative Breakfasts in Nassau County, traveled to Albany on "Lobby Day", and served on NYLA's Legislative Committee. Assemblyman Ed Sullivan, chair  of the Assembly sub-committee on Libraries spoke at an NBSLS Liaison meeting. Assemblyman Tom DiNapoli received an NBSLS award for his support of school libraries.

    One of the great strengths of NBSLS was the high level of communication available to members through its newsletters NET NEWS and Link-up. These publications, begun in 1985, kept library media specialists, administrators, BOCES personnel, legislators, and the statewide library community informed of news, relevant activities and upcoming events.  Today we continue to provide a high lever of communication through the use of a Listserv, Twitter and a LibGuide.
    Advisory Council

    The NBSLS is guided by an Advisory Council as required by the Commissioner's Regulations of New York State. Selection of Council members is detailed in the NBSLS By-Laws. 
    NBSLS Size

    NBSLS is the second largest school library system in New York State, in terms of school districts served. We serve library media specialists who in turn support the information needs of 202,320 pupils in 56 school districts and private schools contained within 292 square miles .
    NBSLS Funding

    Funding is part of a New York State Legislative initiative. State aid is allocated by a formula that provides a base grant and takes into account the number of member school districts, the number of pupils served, the square mileage of the system service area and also includes a categorical grant for automation. Non-public schools that meet membership criteria may also join a system. 

    NBSLS Services Access

    NBSLS provide schools access to the library holdings of member schools and to libraries of all types across the State through:
    • Development of an electronic database of the holdings in school libraries.

    • Interlibrary loan of books and periodicals throughout Nassau County, New York State and beyond.

    • A professional library and makerspace items are available.


    NBSLS brings together a community of school library media specialists through:
    • Workshops, courses and other training sessions to upgrade library media programs.

    • Workshops for new library media specialists.

    The NBSLS staff is available to consult with district library media specialists and administrators to help redesign library facilities, establish online catalog and circulation systems, integrate information skills into the school curriculum, and interpret the role of the library media center within the State Education Department and American Library Association guidelines.

    Education law requires each school library system to operate according to a Plan of Service approved by the Commissioner of Education. 
    NBSLS Today

    Twenty years after its inception, NBSLS is at the hub of library services in Nassau County. NBSLS is positioned as one of five significant strands in the BOCES department of Curriculum, Instruction and Technology and is recognized as a national leader in library services. NBSLS provides a vision and direction for the integration of library services into the instructional program of its 355 member schools from 56 school districts and 35 private schools. Guided by both an Advisory Council and Commissioner Regulations 90.18, the goals and expected outcomes of the school library system are contained in a Plan of Service.

    Nassau BOCES School Library System Directors
    Judith Ashby from April 2020 to Present
    Donna Rosenblum from July 1, 2016 to March 13, 2020 
    Carl Vitevitch from March 2013 to June 30, 2016
    eva efron from 2003 to March 2013
    Arlene Weber Morales from 2001 to 2003
    Carol Kroll from 1985 to 2000