Posted by: eheino | March 30, 2013

Making Priorities Clear and Palatable

One of the greatest challenges facing teacher librarians in the present and into the future is increasing awareness of the importance of the library program to the school community. Many school leaders and classroom teachers are unaware of the importance of the continuing relevance of school library programs and simply see the library as a storehouse for resources, and a place to send students while classroom teachers have RFF. It is the responsibility of all teacher librarians to change this perception by making library priorities both clear and palatable to the school community.

All members of the school community place emphasis on student education and achievement. Phrasing library priorities in a way that emphasises the ways that the library positively affects student education and achievement is an obvious way to make these priorities palatable to the school community. However just saying that the library can do these things for students is not enough. Librarians need to collect evidence to prove their effectiveness in this regard. This can be done in a number of ways:
• teacher librarians can collect their own evidence by documenting impact of collaborative lessons on student achievement
• collect questionnaires from students about successes of library lessons
• bring current successes to the attention of the school community
• present current research to the staff and school leaders that identifies the effectiveness of library programs

The library and the teacher librarian need to be visible to all members of the school community if not daily, then on a weekly basis. This can be done by:
• establishing a regular spot at weekly staff meetings where the librarian can showcase any achievements, new resources etc
• writing a section in the school newsletter about what is happening in the library, and providing useful links for students
• promoting the library via a website, or a section of the school website
• teaching collaboratively with classroom teachers
• serving on curriculum committees
• Public relations events (Lamb & Johnson, 2004-2010) – such as speaking or having a display at parent information nights, being part of numeracy and literacy information sessions and explaining how library programs can support learning in these areas
• having an open door policy, and encouraging parents to visit the library by displaying student work on the walls

By proactively promoting the library and its priorities, all members of the school community are more likely to view the library as an essential part of the school, and are therefore likely to support the transition to a 21st century school library.

References:
Lamb, A. & Johnson, L (2004-2010) The School Library Media Specialist: Accountability. Retrieved from http://eduscapes.com/sms/program/accountability.html
Lamb, A. & Johnson, L (2004-2010) The School Library Media Specialist: Evaluation. Retrieved from http://eduscapes.com/sms/program/evaluation.html
Lamb, A. & Johnson, L (2004-2010) The School Library Media Specialist: Evidence-based Decisionmaking. Retrieved fromhttp://eduscapes.com/sms/program/evidence.html
Todd, R.J. (2003).Irrefutable evidence: How to prove you boost student achievement. In School Library Journal. Retrieved fromhttp://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/article/CA287119.html

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