by Renee Smith-Faulkner, Asst. Superintendent of Technology Services, Castleberry ISD; 2015 Winner, TASL Distinguished Library Service Award for School Administrators
Please share this post with any and all administrators and librarian colleagues who may not read this blog. Ms Smith Faulkner is truly our advocate. Use the tools she recommends. D.Hand, Editor
I would like to begin the blog post by thanking all of the librarians, teacher-librarians, hybrarians, and Twitterbrarians across the state for the leadership and support you offer your campuses, teachers, students, and the community each day. Districts and administrators that employ you as a vital resource and recognize the potential return on their investment have the best opportunities for transforming student learning on their campuses.
Since receiving the Distinguished Administrator of the Year Award at TLA last year, I have had the opportunity to meet some of the most dedicated librarians in the state via face-to-face, email, and through participation in the #txlchat. However, when I speak with them, I hear a common theme amongst them. Can you help change school administrators’ perceptions of the library program and educate them on the evolving role of the librarian as a 21st century campus leader? How do you begin the re-branding of a library program and implementing a transformative vision?
First, I assure librarians that although Castleberry ISD has some great things happening in their libraries, this can be the story of every school library. Administrators can develop a Transformative Library Vision and turn it into a reality by starting with these 10 strategies we implemented in our district.
- Create a Shared Vision for the Library.
- Create a Library Improvement Plan. Present the plan to the school board and report progress on goals and objectives. Without a district-wide plan, internal and external stakeholders might not recognize the library as an integral component of the school community.
- Staff Your Library with a Full-Time Librarian.
- Value their expert knowledge. With the exponential growth in digital information, it is more important now to have an expert that can assist students in deciphering the validity of digital information.
- Ensure Librarians are a Member of the Campus Leadership Team.
- Librarians provide insight on the campus culture.
- Involve Librarians in Planning and Facilitating District-Wide Professional Development.
- Librarians can help others create a strong Personal Learning Network which provides individualized professional development based on campus and teacher needs.
- Provide a Budget to Equip Your Library with Digital Resources and Technology Equipment.
- Be careful, librarians are instructional experts and not meant to spend their day on technical support. Use them to transform the learning culture that encourages collaboration, communication, and supports innovation.
- Schedule Meetings with Your Library Staff Regularly
- Do your librarians have a scheduled time to meet collaboratively, plan, and create a common vision to bring about purposeful change and establish one clear voice?
- Meeting regularly with the campus administrator helps build a positive relationship between the library and campus administration. These meetings can change how the library program is perceived.
- Transform the Library Space to Accommodate Collaboration and Personal Learning Networks
- Allow librarians to have conversations about what these spaces should look like and what tools should be available to support these learning spaces. Yes, coding, makerspaces, and gaming should be funded and implemented in the library.
- Share Library Success Stories through a Hashtag Embedded on the District Website
- Promote your library programs through the power of technology, and this can make all of the difference in your library program. If you don’t have a district, campus, or library hashtag, create one now.
- Don’t Be Afraid to Take a Risk
- Don’t roll the dice and bet the farm, but instead be willing to put transformative ideas “out there” and don’t be afraid to present ideas that are outside of the box.
- And Did I Say, Staff Your Library with a Full-Time Librarian
- Librarians make a difference and impact student learning.
Personally, I can’t imagine what our district would be like without the leadership of our teacher-librarians. We meet monthly as a group to assess the progress of our District Library Improvement Plan, so necessary adjustments can be made to ensure goals and objectives are reached. In addition, technology coaches are often invited and planning for campus professional development and teacher support networks are established. Then, the teacher-librarian for each campus reports progress on library initiatives during campus improvement monitoring meetings held each six weeks with the campus principal, assistant principal, technology coaches, and myself. During this time, standardized student resources are shared so all stakeholders can support key collaborative initiatives for the year such as the creation of student digital portfolios, student blogs, teacher Canvas classes, and flipped lesson resources.
In our district, it has become second nature for our administrators to view teacher-librarians as a vital member of the campus leadership team. Our administrators embrace and advocate for creating and supporting libraries designed to accommodate a “collaborative” and “connected” learning pedagogy that elicits 21st century learning.
The transformation did not come easy or without a few bumps in the road. However, my experience has confirmed that an investment in your library program is well worth the return!
Administrators, for more information, I encourage you to contact me using any of the following methods: