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The School Librarian Part 1: Endangered or V.I.P?

The School Librarian

Part 1: Endangered or V.I.P

School librarians are some of the most valuable staff members in any school. At

least they should be, right? School librarians are resourceful; they are multi-

taskers; they are servants to multiple grade-levels; they are the knowledge-

keepers and the information-seekers. Indeed, they are the wearer-of-many-hats.

Yet lately, it feels as though the school librarian has been added to an

“endangered species” list?

Throughout Georgia, there are more and more instances where school librarians

are not being replaced when they leave their school; or they are being replaced by

faculty who are not certified in school library media such as paraprofessionals,

substitute teachers, or classroom teachers who are certified in other areas. Why is

our profession seemingly becoming “endangered”? What can be done to stop

this? How can we prove our worth?

The answer is that the burden of proof rests on our own shoulders. We must toot

our own horn because WE are the ones who know what we do best! Many school

librarians have administrators who are very supportive of their efforts; but sadly,

they don’t have a clue what a school librarian does all day, every day. And when

it’s time for the annual evaluation, many times administrators will go to the

school librarian and ask what they do that supports the various standards listed

on the evaluation (an evaluation instrument that doesn’t have anything to do

with the job of a school librarian, by the way). If you are one of the lucky ones,

your administration already utilizes the SLEI (School Librarian Evaluation

Instrument), in which case you have already won half the battle! But even in

those cases, you most likely still have to prove to administration what your “day

in the life of a school librarian” looks like.

So, what can be done to keep our profession from becoming an endangered

species, or even extinct? Make everyone “AWARE” of who we are, what we do,

and why we are important to keep around!

1. Advocacy and access – Inform your learning community about reading

events; send personal invitations to faculty, staff, and administrators to

attend activities in the school library; create a brochure advertising your

services. The more you “advertise” your worth, the more valuable you will

become! Provide equal access to all learners for all services and resources.

2. Walk the line – Show leadership by serving on committees; collaborate

with teachers to plan library/research lessons; abide by copyright/fair use

laws; and model ethical use of information.

3. Advertise – Make a BIG deal when new books arrive, when you plan to

offer a new series of lessons, or when access to new resources becomes

available; advertise on morning news shows, during schoolwide

announcements, on social media, and with BIG signage within and outside

of your library space.

4. Reflect and respond – Always reflect upon your day. What worked?

What didn’t work? What could be done better or more effectively next

time? How will you improve the process next time? Respond by

documenting the highlights of your day using a journal or daily calendar.

You never know when you may be asked to produce evidence of your daily


5. Environment – Ensure a welcoming environment that meets the needs of

all your learners. This includes physical spaces, virtual spaces, learning

spaces, and the overall climate of the school library. If your library isn’t

welcoming, your worth will dwindle.

By making our learning communities “AWARE” of our existence, we make our

case for the importance of our position, how it fosters student engagement, and

how it promotes student success; thereby keeping our profession off the

“endangered” list and on the V.I.P. list!

Note: Stay tuned for Part II of this blog series for more in-depth information

about a great school librarian evaluation tool that will highlight everything you do

for your students, your faculty and staff, and your community!

Dr. D. Laverne Hill

M.Ed/Certification-Only School Library Media Program Coordinator

Supervisor of School Library Media Clinical Experiences

Department of Leadership, Technology, and Workforce Development

Valdosta State University

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