Introduction to Libraries & Librarianship
Why are school libraries important?
Research studies conducted since 1990 show that school libraries can have a positive impact on student achievement–whether such achievement is measured in terms of reading scores, literacy or learning more generally–in the following key ways:
• A strong library program that is adequately staffed, resourced and funded can lead to higher student achievement regardless of the socio-economic or educational levels of the adults in the community;
• The quality of the collection has an impact on student learning;
• Test scores are higher when there is higher usage of the school library;
• Collaborative relationships between classroom teachers and school librarians have a significant impact on learning, particularly in relation to the planning of instructional units;
• A print-rich environment leads to more reading and free voluntary reading is the best predictor of comprehension, vocabulary growth, spelling and grammatical ability and writing style;
• Integrating information literacy into the curriculum can improve students’ mastery of both content and information seeking skills; and that
• Libraries can make a positive difference in students’ self-esteem, confidence, independence and sense of responsibility in regards to their own learning.
Haycock, K. (2003). School Libraries and Student Achievement. Teacher Librarian, 31(1), 34.
Library Research Service. (2013) School libraries & student achievement [Infographic]. Library Research Service. https://www.lrs.org/documents/school/school_library_impact.pdf?lrspdfmetric=no
Our first assignment was to use a simple drag and drop comic creation program to introduce ourselves in a fun, imaginative way, while getting a chance to acquaint ourselves with technology that can be used in everyday librarianship.
Teacher Librarians: The Networking Begins
In this assignment I was able to connect with Nicole Wallace from Journey Middle School, a librarian from my district. This was a great opportunity to meet someone within our districts to build relationships with while learning about the nuances of the job.
The Crisis in BC School Libraries
After spending some time networking, in this section of the module we dive into some literature and look at some of the challenges librarians and schools have faced in British Columbia. We then had the opportunity to network with colleagues and discuss some of the concerns we have with our libraries and the vitality of our profession. The following is their feedback:
1. Do you think there is value in the district making a degree or certificate a requirement for obtaining a TL position?
At all times, it is best practice to have “qualified” personal. With most postings there are “preferred qualifications”. Teacher experience and adaptability plays a part. Considering past experiences certainly is an asset. It is an incredibly challenging position and being up to speed on the latest methodologies for Library Science should be a fundamental part of the requirements. Alternatively, is it possible for applicants to have the skillset of completing the role and responsibly of TL without holding a degree/certificate? Possibly yes.
2. What do you see as the value/benefit of having TL’s in our schools?
Building community and offering collaborative time with teachers on projects. Guiding teachers and offering resources that support student learning. In addition, the TL encourages students to read. It is such an important position. They are helping to develop literacy throughout the building by getting students excited for books. Having a weekly book talk does so much for the classroom teachers.
3. What do you feel should be the duties of a TL moving forward in the Learning Commons?
The learning commons should reflect a space for student engagement that is collaborative, inspiring and inviting. Shifting a focus towards informing and educating on 21 century literacy skills/GAFE/digital citizenship. Management and organization of technology and providing accessibility and account management. Offering choices to students and teachers to a variety of tools to find and locate information using multi-literacies. Familiarization with engaging in platforms that encourage student learning and engagement. Familiarization of school resources and accessibility.
4. Do you think teachers and TLs should be allotted collaboration time to work together to utilize the learning commons more effectively in order to do projects and assignments?
Certainly. The TL is able to team teach and help develop resources for units. I regularly have the TL put together a collection of books and introduce them for my climate change unit. They also do a fantastic job of developing literacy bins on themes being taught in the classroom.
5. What role do you feel technology should play in the learning commons model?
I think it should be a major part to the Learning commons going forward. While technology is important the most important job continues to be inspiring students to develop an interest in reading. Reading does so much for their ability to function and focus on tasks. It also helps them with their knowledge of the world, an ability to make connections, and with their writing. Technology can assist in these areas however the work of the TL in helping to develop units with teachers and encouraging literacy remains most important.
Teacher Librarian Job Description
We have all come to this course in hopes of following a career path for many reasons. I myself fell into a temporary position and found passion and excitement for the job unparalleled to any of my previous roles. In this section of the module we get a chance to look at the TL role more in depth.
1. Which Aspect of the job appeals to me most and why?
Working in the library this year has given me a renewed sense of community. Being in the epicenter of the school information bank, I find the most appealing thing about the job is the opportunity to work with all students, regardless of their grade, their reading level or their individual challenges. Thus, creating the space to build lasting relationships through a mutual appreciation for ideas, information and literature. The librarian’s role in the educational process can seem to be so undervalued. However, when you see a student choose to come to the library for help, or a teacher reach out to collaborate, or kids getting excited during book talks it is hard not to get excited about the job! The American Association of School Libraries and my district both list “Developing and maintaining a teaching and learning environment that is fun, inviting, safe, flexible, collaborative, inclusive and conducive to learning.”as part of the job description. This is the one thing that really appeals to me above all else as it allows me to get to know the names of all the students and work on building relationships with all of them. It really makes me feel a part of the whole school. While allowing me the opportunity to learn how to inspire students to access information and literature through the learning commons.
2. Which aspect of the TL job descriptions might present a challenge for me and why?
The part of the TL job description and role that I find the most challenging is the “all other duties deemed appropriate.” Weisburg and Toor put it aptly when they state “on the other hand, there will be times when you feel pulled in many directions simultaneously” (Weisburg and Toor,p. 10). There have been so many times before Christmas where I was being spread way too thin. I had colleagues asking for me to help with classes, demands for book talks, admin ask I cover for classes, process laptops, process books, organize a oversee a fundraiser, be the lunch monitor, and open the library. Can you please have it done NOW! By the time the holiday break rolled around I found myself having trouble computing what people were saying and feeling like I was inept at my job. Thankfully, it was also at this time I received a mentor. She has been amazing in helping me breathe. She has taught me to keep a planner and to prioritize what needs to be done and then move forward trying my best to check things off the list knowing that it will never be clear. It will be a living document that I can add tasks, alter importance, and navigate my way through while being flexible enough to collaborate with colleagues to ensure I can incorporate the different tasks being thrown my way.
3. What have you learned from Weisburg and Toor that will help you “take on these [additional teacher librarian] tasks with a positive attitude” (p. 9)?
I have learned to breathe. To be accommodating. To be a team player. Know the job is evolving and will take on many facets of day to day life in a middle school. I agree with them in that how I react and respond will go a long way in building lasting relationships with the Administration, the teachers, and most importantly with the students. Its ok to prioritize tasks and be there for my colleagues and students. By doing so the relationship will become reciprocal when I need support of my colleagues or students. This was evident when I had to organize delivery of our chocolates from our Purdy’s Chocolate fundraiser. I had colleagues and students step up and help me organize, sort and deliver the chocolates to the entire school. I feel my willingness to be flexible and accommodating helped set the stage for me to create a warm inviting atmosphere in the learning commons where colleagues and students alike were willing to utilize the space but also feel like a part of it. My can do attitude did lead to burn out but it also led to me being willing to set boundaries that have been respected enough that teachers are now asking if I could help rather than telling me I had to help. It has helped me create mutually respectful relationships within the school community. By taking on projects, doing Dewey Decimal System scavenger hunts, covering classes, and being flexible with checkout times I was able to demonstrate “the diversified ways I can contribute to the school community.” This sentence really resonated with me as I truly feel a part of the team and community today and not just a temporary TL.
Top Teacher Librarian Blogs
In this part of the module we were asked to research librarian blogs to get inspired for the position and see what others are doing across the world. It was a great chance to collaborate with my peers in the course to see what the world wide web has to offer. The following are a few of the blogs I and my colleagues found interesting and useful:
Advocating for School Library Programs
To conclude the first module we were given a chance to review all our readings and come up with a summation of the importance of libraries to our schools. I chose to write a script of an interaction with myself, students and a visiting a school trustee.
Blackett, Kathryn, and Don A. Klinger. “Canadian Study Strengthens the Link between School Library Staffing and Student Achievement and Reading Enjoyment.” School Library Monthly, vol. 23, no. 3, Nov. 2006, pp. 56–58.
Canadian Library Association (CLA). (2014). Leading Learning: Standards of Practice for School Library Learning Commons in Canada.
Haycock, K. (2003). School libraries and student achievement. Teacher Librarian. 31(1), 34
Klinger, D. (2009). Exemplary school libraries in Ontario : a study .
Library Research Service. (2013) School libraries & student achievement [Infographic]. Library Research Service.
OBERG, D. (2012). Ignoring the Evidence: Another Decade of Decline for School Libraries. Education Canada, 52(2), 31–34.
Valenza, J. K., Boyer, B. L., & Curtis, D. (2014). Chapter 4: Curation in School Libraries. Library Technology Reports, 50(7), 27–35.