May 2019 marks five years since I completed the practicum to earn a Master of Science degree in Library Media Education (LME) from Western Kentucky University. The LME Practicum requires 120 field hours—with 40 of these hours being completed in a school library media/educational technology center under the supervision of an experienced library media/educational technology specialist.
The goal of the LME Practicum is for graduate students to be able to apply library media education skills in instruction, technology, collaboration, and administration under the supervision of a certified school librarian. Performance is assessed using the supervising media specialist evaluation, video conferencing, student time log, practicum evidence presentation, and a practicum reflection. Not much has changed regarding the practicum and its requirements since my experience five years ago. What has changed is the fact that I am no longer the one completing the practicum. Now, I am the supervising librarian.
Jessica Eaton is my practicum student. She is a first-grade teacher at my school who is an aspiring school librarian. Jessica has been teaching for four years and is dedicated to connecting students with literature, information, and technology. During Jessica’s practicum in the library she has assisted with student research projects, taught digital citizenship skills, organized shelves, promoted the book fair, and attended the regional Kentucky Association of School Librarians’ workshop. Jessica definitely has what it takes to be a future ready librarian.
I interviewed Jessica to better understand the perspective of a future, future ready librarian. I found her responses more than enlightening; they were inspiring. Even after Jessica successfully completes her practicum, I will continue to delight in her enthusiasm for library resources, services, and opportunities. I wonder if the graduate program realizes that the practicum impacts the supervising librarian as much as it does the student. That might have been their plan all along.
1. Why did you choose to pursue a master’s degree in library media education?
When I graduated college with a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education, I was hired as a Library Aide in a PreK-8 school. It was during that time that I really began to think about pursuing a master’s degree in Library Media Education. I have always enjoyed reading and helping others find books that they enjoy, so working in the library that semester was a great experience! I learned so much about the ins and outs of a school library. I knew I wanted to continue learning about school libraries. On the technology side, I love learning about new ways to incorporate technology in my lessons. This program has introduced me to many technology resources that I have been able to share with my coworkers and implement in my classroom. We live in a digital world, and I am very passionate about helping younger students develop the technology skills needed to be successful in the future.
I loved the children’s and young adult literature classes. I was exposed to many new titles and different ways to introduce and teach books in my classroom. My favorite class from the graduate program is LME 537 – Principals of Technology Applications. The course introduced me to tons of new technology resources. I made videos, animations, flyers, and more. I used programs that I had never heard of at the time, but use in my classroom now. For example, my students used ThingLink to create interactive writing pieces where they uploaded information to sections of an image. Not only was it fun and engaging for my students, but it went right along with the 21st-century skills I am trying to build for my students.
3. What have you noticed are some current library trends?
We have learned a lot about makerspaces in this program. They seem to be a trendy thing to have in a library right now. I’ve also noticed libraries integrating and supporting STEM activities. The school library is no longer a place for students to just check out books; libraries are becoming a hub for all things technology and science based.
4. If you could design or remodel a school library, where would you start?
If I could design a school library, I would definitely include a large area for a makerspace. Not only would it be a great space for students to think critically and creatively, but it would be engaging and fun as well! I would want flexible seating options, lots of technology (Chromebooks, iPads, robotic resources), and a comfy reading area. While it’s fun to add in all of the science and technology resources, it is important to remember that a library should be a space where students can discover books, characters, and authors.
5. How do you plan to promote reading as a school librarian?
I would love to have students create book trailers to present to their peers. Book displays can catch students’ eyes when looking for a new book. I would also like to do a book challenge. At the library I worked in as an aide, they did the Kentucky Bluegrass Award book challenge, and students were very eager to complete the list.
6. Do you think a makerspace is an important part of today’s school libraries?
From my experience as a first-grade teacher, science is the first subject that gets thrown out. I am so busy trying to teach reading and math that I hardly ever get to really dig into the science standards. I am sure that I am not the only elementary teacher to feel this way. I think that a makerspace in the library could help teach the science standards that my students miss out on when focusing on core reading and math. A makerspace could give students the opportunity to work with subjects that are important, but aren’t taught in the classroom. Subjects like design, coding, and robotics could be explored through the makerspace.
I think a major challenge that I could face as a librarian would be collaborating with classroom teachers. Collaboration between a classroom teacher and a librarian could be very beneficial for students, but a lot of times scheduling prevents the collaboration from happening. When library is a “special area” and is constantly having class, teachers cannot meet with the librarian during their planning time. As a librarian, I hope to offer short professional development workshops after school to support collaboration between the library and classroom teachers.
8. What steps will you take to continue learning and growing after you graduate?
After graduation, I intend to join professional organizations to continue learning about the school library world. Joining organizations could help me make connections with other librarians. I also plan to attend conferences in order to stay in the know with what is trending among school libraries.
Dossin, Lia. “Future Ready Librarians.” Future Ready Schools. Accessed March 12, 2019. https://futureready.org/program-overview/librarians/.
Author: Sam Northern
Sam Northern is a National Board Certified Teacher-Librarian at Simpson Elementary School in Franklin, Kentucky. He currently serves as President of the Southern Kentucky Association of School Librarians and Secretary of the Kentucky Association of School Librarians. In 2014, Sam was selected for the Fulbright-Hays Summer Seminars Abroad Program where he spent four weeks in China. Since then, Sam has voyaged to Antarctica as a National Geographic Grosvenor Teacher Fellow and worked aboard a research vessel on the Atlantic Ocean as a NOAA Teacher at Sea. From January to April 2018, Sam traveled to Finland as part of the Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program to research best practices for project-based learning. Connect with him on Twitter @Sam_Northern and Facebook @themisterlibrarian.