Leading From the Library
GLMA as Future-Ready Leaders
by Sarah Sansbury
Four years ago, when I switched careers from ELA teacher to media specialist, I exchanged my classroom of thirty students for a new classroom, the entire school. As a school librarian, I found myself situated to be highly influential in the area of school improvement. AASL Knowledge Quest blogger Coleman (2020) aptly describes why and how librarians lead from the middle:
School librarians are in the unique position of reaching all areas of the school: curriculum and learners. This role gives school librarians an amazing opportunity to be a leader in the school community and contribute to the culture and direction of the school. (p. 12)
One might ask: What about counselors, principals, and other admin? The librarian isn’t the only role that gets a bird’s eye view of the entire school, right? In Enhancing Teaching and Learning: A Leadership Guide for School Librarians, Donham and Sims (2020) address this thought and present the argument that librarians are especially unique in their leadership role:
Situated with a cross-grade-level and cross-disciplinary perspective, a school librarian knows the curriculum content and the teaching strategies in each classroom. Although the principal and the guidance counselor are also in touch with each teacher, their relationships to classrooms usually focus on managerial issues or individual students’ personal concerns. The librarian’s connection with each teacher focuses on what is being taught and how it is taught. Such a relationship may place the librarian in the position of knowing more than any other professional in the building about the total curriculum. Such knowledge is valuable for curriculum articulation. (pp. 27-28)
When I describe where I work, I am intentional with wording: It is not my library; it is our school community’s library. The library programming isn’t a separate entity; it is an extension of the school and a pathmaker leading the school towards improvement and achievement of the school’s strategic, long-term goals. Librarian leaders Miller and Bass (2020) echo this belief: “...libraries can serve as a catalyst for change and, if harnessed, can become one of the most important connectors in a building” (p. 11). For these reasons, I identify myself (along with many other librarian leaders) as a Future-Ready Librarian. Our work at the school empowers our school community for current successes as well as readies it for future successes.
For more information on how to be a future-ready librarian, visit https://futureready.org/
Coleman, M. C. (2020). School librarians take the lead collaborating on professional development. Knowledge Quest, 49 (2), 10–18.
Donham, J., & Sims, C. (2020) Enhancing teaching and learning: A leadership guide for school librarians. (4th ed.). American Library Association.
Miller, S., & Bass, W. L. (2019). Leading from the library : Help your school community thrive in the digital age. International Society for Technology in Education.