Recently, I was fortunate to present at the Louisiana Teacher Leader Summit to school, district, and state leaders on the importance of having full-time, certified school librarians at every school. I spoke to the fact that we are one of the only educators that actively teaches every student in the school, and showcased the types of programming school librarians are capable of when fully supported by administration. Many of the school leaders were just not aware that a modern school library involves so much more than just checking out books to students. On my way out of the conference the following day, two administrators stopped me to let me know that they would be changing things up next school year to allow their school librarians to embed into the classroom and have time for more teacher collaboration. This conversation delighted me and had me reflecting on the top 5 things I could tell school leaders about school librarians.
- School librarians not only support students, but we also support the faculty, administration, and community. We can collaborate and co-teach with any subject area in the school on lessons to help classroom teachers meet their standards; we can provide resources for parents to help keep them informed; and we can partner with community organizations to further enrich our school.
- Many studies link strong school libraries staffed with certified school librarians to student achievement. In Keith Curry Lance and Debra Kachel’s article, “Why School Libraries Matter: What Years of Research Tells Us,” they cite research that shows the following:
Data from more than 34 statewide studies suggest that students tend to earn better standardized test scores in schools that have strong library programs. Further, when administrators, teachers, and librarians themselves rated the importance and frequency of various library practices associated with student learning, their ratings correlated with student test scores, further substantiating claims of libraries’ benefits. In addition, newer studies, conducted over the last several years, show that strong school libraries are also linked to other important indicators of student success, including graduation rates and mastery of academic standards. (2018)
- School librarians can help implement literacy initiatives at the school, district, and state level. Too often I see literacy initiatives that do not include school librarians. We are your book experts, know how to develop a well-rounded collection, and many of us are reading specialists and/or taught English language arts in the classroom before stepping into our roles as school librarians. We know what kids love to read and how to connect students with the perfect book. Utilize this knowledge.
- School librarians need full support from their administrators. We are often left out of the free professional development opportunities offered to classroom teachers and have to seek it out and pay for it ourselves. School librarians are also often bogged down with “extra duties” that have nothing to do with doing the job of a school librarian. Offer training and professional development opportunities to your school librarian, and ask us what we could do more for the school if we weren’t tied down with all of these extraneous tasks. We have the ability to help transform the learning environment if given the chance.
- School librarians are often on the forefront of the latest educational technology tools and best practice research. We can provide resources and tutorials on how to use this technology, as well as lesson ideas and resources for implementation. Want to know about a new resource, website, or app to help meet standards? Ask your school librarian. An article by Doug Johnson also noted that school librarians can also share their expertise in locating and evaluating resources:
While it may come as a surprise to many students (and a few teachers), not all information on a topic is available on the first page of Google search results. The best search engine, the best search terms, and the best search strategies are essential knowledge for locating reliable data. A professionally trained librarian has the skill set to use multiple means of locating reliable information and can teach effective web searching and other techniques to colleagues. (2019)
I am fortunate to have an administration that sees the importance of my job as school librarian and allows me to reach for the stars, but not every school librarian is as lucky. I’d like to invite school librarians, as well as school leaders, to learn more by visiting these advocacy links and by attending my free upcoming webinar with school librarians K.C. Boyd and Courtney Pentland on July 7 at 11 a.m. CST to continue the conversation on why every school deserves a full-time, certified school librarian.
Author: Amanda Jones
Amanda is the 2021 School Library Journal Co-Librarian of the Year, a 2021 Library Journal Mover and Shaker, the 2020 Louisiana School Librarian of the Year, and a 21 year educator from Watson, LA. She’s a teacher-librarian and certified reading specialist at a 5-6 grade middle school. She is Vice President of the Louisiana Association of School Librarians and is the 2019 AASL Social Media Superstar Program Pioneer. Amanda is an active member of several committees for AASL and is on the Louisiana Young Readers’ Choice Awards Committee. Visit her library website at lomlibrary.org and/or find out more about her at http://librarianjones.com/.